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Lynnwood Community Outraged Over Proposed Opioid Clinic Near Boys and Girls Club

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The frustration is palpable. A brand-new opioid clinic is scheduled to open in the next few months inside this Lynnwood office building on 196th Street SW in the Alderwood neighborhood. 

A neighbor, Yucong He, fears the consequences for the neighborhood, as the clinic will be surrounded by multiple businesses, residential streets, and is just a few hundred feet from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Snohomish County. 

Zhiguo Ye, another neighbor, says that “even though it’s a treatment center, it often times will attract drug dealers.”

Another neighbor, Jessica Hernandez, says, “It’s going to encourage more of the transients to come in.”

While many here say they believe a clinic like this can help drug addicts get clean, Vivian Dong questions how well this was though out: “Like there was no data, no analysis shared. How many other cities they considered?” 

Lloyd Knight says they were all caught off guard: “It feels like this was railroaded in as quickly as possible to be able to say, “Oh we gave you notice, and tough luck if you can’t make it.”” 

For some reason, the Washington State Department of Health decided to hold a virtual public input meeting on December 29, when many residents were off for the holidays. 

The few neighbors who did attend were all against this facility and say they found out last minute through the Lynnwood Times newspaper or word of mouth. 

Lynnwood City Council members George Hurst and Jim Smith say they were left in the dark by the Department of Health. 

Smith says, “We should have known about this. Those of us who actually live here and are affected by this are being ignored.”

George Hurst, council president, notes, “The City Council was caught off guard. That’s not fair to the residents. That’s not fair to the council that’s supposed to be setting policies.”

I’m still waiting for the DOH to address these questions and there’s no word yet from Lynnwood Mayor Christine Frizzell on any possible pushback by the city. 

The program will be managed by Acadia Healthcare, the nation’s largest operator of these types of clinics. During a virtual presentation, company representative Dan Hymas said that 18% of the heroin related deaths in Washington come from Snohomish County and they were moving the clinic from Bothell to Lynnwood because of the concentrated need in this area. He noted, “We have over 100 CTC [Comprehensive Treatment Center] patients that live within five miles of the proposed location.” 

And Democratic State Representative Lauren Davis went on to say this clinic will help people overcome fentanyl addictions, one of the drugs devastating this region. She said, “Which is why it’s so important and imperative we have access to methadone in our community specifically.

But for the many neighbors who live just minutes away, none of these are assurances are enough.

As neighbor Andrew Matteson summarized the situation, “They’re needed, but I didn’t know anything about it so.  It was kind of quick I guess.”

The bottom line is neighbors want more time to process.  And they want to have a say if it’s coming into their backyard.  

Jonathan Choe

Journalist and Senior Fellow, Center on Wealth and Poverty
Jonathan Choe is a journalist and Senior Fellow with Discovery Institute's Center on Wealth and Poverty, covering homelessness issues for its Fix Homelessness initiative. Prior to joining Discovery, Choe spent several years as one of the lead reporters at KOMO-TV, consistently the top rated television station in Seattle. His in depth stories on crime and deep dive investigations into the homeless crisis led to measurable results in the community, including changes in public policy. Choe has more than two decades of experience in television news behind the scenes and in front of the camera for ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, and Tribune. He has also been nominated and honored with multiple industry awards including an Emmy. Choe spent several years teaching classes on emerging media and entrepreneurship to under privileged youth in inner city Chicago. As an independent journalist, Choe also contributes regularly to the Mill Creek View and Lynnwood Times and has reported on exclusive stories in the past year for Daily Wire and The Postmillennial.