Seattle Weekly: King County Youth Detention Center Moves Forward Despite Opposition As community criticism of the project mounts, King County tries to take a middle road

By Thursday, July 19, 2018 10:15am

As construction moves ahead on the new King County youth detention center at 12th and Alder in the Central District, anti-incarceration activists continue the fight against the controversial project.

The $210 million youth detention center—which will replace the current facility in central Seattle—will feature 112 inmate beds and additional court rooms. King County officials refer to it as the “children and family justice center,” while the activists opposing its construction have dubbed it a “youth jail.” Ever since funding for the project was approved by the voters back in 2012, it has been one of the most contentious issues in Seattle politics, generating a sustained campaign of public protests and legal actions.

Activists argue that the new facility will perpetuate the disproportionate incarceration of youth of color, that youth detention is psychologically harmful to juveniles, and that the county should invest in alternatives to detention. County officials, on the other hand, claim that the existing, aging detention center—parts of which date back to 1952—needs to be replaced and that overall youth incarceration has decreased over the years. (Minority youth are still disproportionately overrepresented among incarcerated youth in the detention center, however.)

At a July 17 press conference held in front of the project construction site, No New Youth Jail Coalition members touted the growing number of local organizations that oppose the new facility and decried the county’s decision to push ahead with construction.

“We’ve sustained a campaign for six years and we are now at a point where 120 organizations—and still counting—to date have signed on to a moratorium saying that King County must stop building this building, that we must move into a period of redesign, and we must put something in place that heals and does not do harm,” activist and former mayoral candidate Nikkita Oliver said at the event. “There is a growing consensus in King County that Dow’s agenda to build this jail actually reflects Trump’s agenda. That it reflects the same ideas of perpetuating a racist system that is built on the backs of black and brown bodies.”

Elected officials—including Seattle City Councilmember Mike O’Brien and Federal City Councilmember Jesse Johnson—and representatives from organizations such as the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Columbia Legal Services, and environmental advocacy group Got Green also stood by anti-incarceration activists to condemn the project.

“What we have realized—and what brain science now realizes—is that every person that is institutionalized is harmed; that in and of itself, locking someone up is inhumane,” said Merf Enham, executive director of Columbia Legal Services. “I call on Dow Constantine and our organizations to stop building this facility.”

Research has supported the notion that youth detention is psychologically damaging and ultimately counterproductive to public safety goals. A 2011 study by the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (a subdivision of the U.S. Department of Justice) found that long-term incarceration of youth does not reduce the chance that they will reoffend. Other studies have shown that detention exacerbates existing mental and behavioral health conditions in youth, and, in fact, increases odds of recidivism.

Malou Chavez, deputy director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, said at the press conference that the public should view the new youth detention center in the same negative light as the federal government’s incarceration of undocumented immigrants. “Let’s extend that same outrage and support to [youths] currently incarcerated and separated from their families here, and not just [the ones] in ICE custody,” she said.

Attempts by activists to halt the project through the courts have had mixed results. Following the passage of the 2012 tax levy financing the project, years of continued public protest ensued. In 2016, Ending the Prison Industrial Complex (EPIC)—an anti-prison advocacy group that has been aggressively campaigning against the project—sued King County, arguing that the the county misled voters in their description of the 2012 tax levy.

The case has gone all the way to the state Supreme Court, and could pose serious financial problems for the county if the levy is invalidated. According to emails obtained by anti-youth jail activists through a public records request, King County Budget Director Dwight Dively told county staff on that if the county were to lose this case before the state Supreme Court, they would have to turn to bonds for financing, and the annual debt service payments would have a “potentially catastrophic” effect on the county’s general fund, which is already spread thin. (Alex Fryer, a spokesperson for Executive Constantine, declined to comment on the emails or on potential future financing issues.)

In 2017, EPIC also filed an appeal with the Seattle Hearing Examiner’s Office to revoke a master use permit issued to King County by the City of Seattle in December 2016, which allowed them to go ahead with construction of the facility. If the permit had been invalidated, construction on the project would’ve ground to a halt. (The facility is currently slated to open in 2019.)

But EPIC’s appeal was dismissed by the hearing examiner, who argued that they didn’t have the authority to weigh in on the permit. A subsequent appeal to the King County Superior Court was also dismissed on grounds that EPIC failed to file its appeal within a mandated time frame. The group then pushed the case to the state Court of Appeals, who affirmed the lower court’s verdict on May 29. Knoll Lowney, EPIC’s attorney on the case, told Seattle Weekly that while the group hasn’t decided whether or not they are going to further appeal this ruling, it likely wouldn’t halt construction of the project at this point.“[The county] keep building, so it’s unlikely that a permit appeal is going to have a lot of impact given how slow the Supreme Court works,” he said. “The jail is being built. So, short of a judge requiring it to be torn down, it’s unlikely that the overall envelope is going to be changed.”

In the face of continued activist pressure, the county has maintained that they have to continue with the project while also attempting to appease activists’ intent to eliminate the incarceration of youth in the county. Early last year, Executive Constantine directed county to pursue the goal of “zero youth detention,” and then placed responsibility for restructuring the juvenile detention system with King County Public Health. Then, the county commissioned a review of the new facility’s design from researchers at the University of Washington’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. The analysis, authored by Eric Trupin (vice chair and professor in the university department), made a slew of recommended architectural and programming changes (195 in total), such as reducing the overall number of secure beds from 124 to 92 to account for the declining average daily inmate population, which has fallen from 105 in 2006 to 51 in 2016. Additionally, Trupin called on the county to eliminate truancy beds, refuse the booking of youths under the age of 12, and extend family visitation times to five times a week instead of the current three.

Immediately after the report was published, King County Executive Executive Constantine tried to tame expectations for the timeline of achieving zero youth detention. “We cannot simply decide that as of tomorrow we will have zero detention because we don’t have the kinds of robust alternatives or community facilities and programs we would need to be able to take on those kids and keep them safe and keep the community safe,” he said, according to KUOW.

In Executive Constantine’s response to the report, his staff noted that the county is either already pursuing or pursue numerous the recommendations, such as adding wood paneling to the facility’s interior to move it away from the traditional aesthetics of American correctional facilities and providing mandatory training to detention center staff and judges on cultural competence, implicit bias, institutional racism, and crisis intervention. Kelli Carroll, director of special projects in the executive’s office, told Seattle Weekly that the county is implementing or will implement (even if only partially) at least 75 percent of the recommendations.

But Constantine wouldn’t budge on some of Trupin’s most crucial recommendations. His staff argued that the secure bed count could not be reduced due to the fact that the facility is already under construction, and that the suggested number would not provide enough separated secure spaces for 20 youth convicted as adults for serious felony charges (such as rape and first degree murder) who were recently relocated to the existing youth detention center from county adult correctional facilities. On increasing family visitation hours and truancy beds, he argued that the policy decisions are in the purview of King County Department of Adult and Juvenile Correction and the state legislature, respectively. (A bill that would have eliminated the law allowing truant kids to be placed in detention stalled over the 2018 legislative session.)

Trupin told Seattle Weekly that the executive could be much proactive and publicly vocal in pressuring county departments and lobbying for changes in state law to make changes called for by Trupin and activists. “I think that executive leadership and energy and direction around these strategies has a great impact … he can’t necessarily dictate what the court does but he conveys a mission and a vision,” Trupin told Seattle Weekly. “I don’t think ‘just saying this is out of our purview’ is enough, because it is the county executive who laid out zero youth detention.”

Omid Bagheri, a clinical instructor in the University of Washington School of Public Health and a critic of the new youth detention center, said that, “They continue to move on with the same bed count. This new jail will look nicer, it will have a nicer name, but it still stands to uphold a system that directly impacts black and brown and native youth. That isn’t fundamentally different from other jails we’ve seen around the country,” he told Seattle Weekly. “The commitment to zero youth detention, that is calling for a fundamental change and this jail is not a fundamental change.”

The county is currently developing a “Zero Youth Detention Road Map” report due at the end of August 2018, which will reportedly inform future reforms.

But, for activists, all the county’s alleged attempts at reform feel hypocritical when the county is still investing in a new detention center. “It’s not too late for Dow to change his mind. and it’s not too late for us to change course,” said Oliver. “All Dow has to do is listen to the community voices that have been reaching out to him for six years.”

 

Federal Way City Council Member Jesse Johnson Endorses People’s Moratorium

“I support the No New Youth Jail Coalition and People’s Moratorium because I understand our need for culturally responsive prevention, intervention and diversion services to decrease youth incarceration and dismantle the prison industrial complex. Federal Way is 3rd in highest referrals to the juvenile system in King County and 82% of these referrals are youth of color. This is not just a question about the vision for the future of our county but about the soul of our community and we must advocate for preventative strategies to youth incarceration that will prevent further escalation into the system. ” —Federal Way City Council Member Jesse Johnson

Seattle Times: Opposition to King County youth jail grows as immigrant-rights group joins effort to halt construction

Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Columbia Legal Services and King County’s Department of Public Defense among more than 120 groups that oppose building the facility.

Malou Chavez from Northwest Immigrant Rights Project endorsing the #PeoplesMoratorium.

High-profile rights groups, including one that works on behalf of immigrants, have joined activists trying to stop construction on a prison for youth that’s being built in Seattle’s Central District.

Demonstrators on Tuesday gathered outside the construction site on 14th Avenue, just blocks away from Garfield High School, to reassert their disapproval of spending public money to build the facility instead of directing the funds to other needs such as housing. The umbrella effort, referred to as the People’s Moratorium, announced that more than 120 groups have joined the cause, including Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Columbia Legal Services and King County’s Department of Public Defense.

The rally is the latest effort by the No New Youth Jail Coalition to stop the project. In 2012, voters approved a $210 million levy to pay for a replacement of the existing juvenile-justice complex, of which $40 million was slated for the detention portion of the Children and Family Justice Center. The remainder was planned to fund courtrooms and community resources.

Maru Mora from Northwest Detention Center Resistance endorsing the People’s Moratorium.

“This is wrong. This is harmful. This is traumatizing,” activist and former mayoral candidate Nikkita Oliver said at the rally outside the Children and Family Justice Center, which is being built to replace the aging Youth Services Center. “This system is inherently broken.”

Opponents of the new detention center have filed a number of legal challenges to the project, including one over the language presented to voters who approved the measure and a second contesting the city’s issuance of a master-use permit for the project.

The appeal against the permit’s issuance was dealt a legal blow in May when the state Court of Appeals sided with an earlier King County Superior Court ruling that determined it missed the filing deadline. Opponents also claim King County provided flawed language in the ballot measure to approve construction and that voters had actually only authorized collecting property taxes for the project for one year.

King County spokesman Alex Fryer has said the county believes voters understood that it was a 9-year-levy they approved.

“This facility and all prisons are vestiges of slavery,” Merf Ehman, the director of Columbia Legal Services, an advocacy group that last week endorsed the People’s Moratorium, said at Tuesday’s rally. “We want to use the law to dismantle these facilities.”

Newly Released County Records Show that County Officials Have Warned Dow the Jail Could Be “Catastrophic” for the County

Hamacher Letter PAO released docs

July 17, 2018 rally and press conference naming 120 new organizations endorsing the People’s Moratorium.

Newly released King County documents reveal that even County officials have warned that the project could be “catastrophic” to King County’s General Fund.

In September 2017, the Washington Court of Appeals ruled that King County has been unlawfully collecting property taxes for the proposed youth jail, a ruling that effectively eliminates the majority of the funding for the project. County records revealed that one day after the court decision, King County Budget Director, Dwight Dively, emailed officials, stating that, if the County is unsuccessful in the appeal, the project would need to be “paid from the General Fund, resulting in even more financial pressure on other services.” Specifically, the County would be required to issue bonds with an estimated annual debt service of $11.4 million dollars for the next 30 years. Then again, in December 2017, Mr. Dively emailed officials, stating that, a loss could add $50-200 million to the General Fund, and that the “effect is potentially catastrophic.” Click here for Dively’s email. Nevertheless, without any alternative funding source in place, King County continued construction on the $210 million project.

Another recently released letter seems to suggest the Executive did not follow advice regarding the project. It also suggests that the Executive was not cooperative with the council in providing information to answer legal and policy questions.

Pressure is increasing on Dow Constantine, who has continued the project against mounting opposition. Constantine has defended the project, arguing that he supports “zero youth detention” as a goal and promoting the county’s investment in “Best Starts for Kids,” which provides grants to local organizations serving youth. Organizers, however, pointed out the disparity between King County’s willingness to fund “Best Starts for Kids” for only six years, while continuing construction on a punishment facility designed to last for fifty years with uncertain funds. Organizers vowed to continue the growing fight to put King County on a better path.

Endorse the People’s Moratorium Now!

At this morning’s press conference, our campaign announced that over 120 organizations have endorsed the people’s moratorium. We heard from leaders from endorsing organizations, making the powerful connections between work for environmental justice, immigrants’ rights, queer and trans liberation, labor, Black freedom, youth liberation, housing for all, and the call to stop the construction of more jails and courts in King County. Your organization can endorse the People’s Moratorium, too! Tell Dow to STOP CONSTRUCTION NOW!

100+ Organizations Endorse People’s Moratorium: Rally and Press Conference at Jail Construction Site

Contacts: Andrea Marcos, (408) 621-7170, andrea.emily.marcos@gmail.com, Devon Knowles, (646) 288-8332, devoncknowles@gmail.com

Over 100 Organizations Call to Halt Construction of King County Youth Jail

Broad cross-section of groups opposing youth jail and courts to rally and present recent revelations on internal documents describing ongoing Construction as Potentially “Catastrophic” to County Budget

What: Press Conference and Rally at Youth Jail Construction Site

Where: 12th and Alder, King County Juvenile Detention Facility

When: 9:00 am, Monday, July 17th

At a press conference and rally this morning outside the youth jail and courthouse construction site in Seattle, representatives from over 100 organizations endorsing the People’s Moratorium gather to announce their shared push for a halt on construction. Newly released King County documents reveal that even County officials have warned that the project could be “catastrophic” to King County’s General Fund. Speakers from endorsing organizations, including Got Green, the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, and Columbia Legal Services, as well as elected officials, will take the stage to demand that King County Executive Dow Constantine halt all building activities at the new youth jail and courts pending negotiations with community members to redesign and repurpose the facility to meet basic human needs.

The 100+ organizations that have now endorsed the moratorium include a broad array on constituencies from across King County, from legal organizations to immigrant rights groups, faith-based organizations, and unions. Endorsers include the King County’s Department of Public Defense, the Public Defender Association, the Washington Defender Association, Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network, Centro de la Raza, Legal Voice, Columbia Legal Services, the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Team Child, Got Green, Real Change News, and Muslim Association of Puget Sound – American Muslim Empowerment Network.

In letters sent to Executive Dow Constantine, the organizations explained their opposition to the project:

Northwest Immigrant Rights Project and Columbia Legal Services:

“King County and the nation are at an historic crossroads in how we treat children caught up in the criminal justice, dependency and immigration detention systems … Continuing to build a new youth jail moves us all away from realizing King County’s commitment to Zero Youth Detention. The time is right to halt construction and truly dig into how King County can reach that vital goal.”

OneAmerica:

“In the six years since the vote on the now imperiled tax levy to fund the jail, much has changed. There is a growing consensus backed by research that incarceration for youth does not work. It does not keep our communities safe, and it wreaks havoc in the lives of youth and families, mostly families of color, whom it touches. Please listen to the growing consensus that building a youth jail takes us in the wrong direction. We know that contact with law enforcement and penal system marks members of community for immigration enforcement. By pausing construction and moving away from a model that is bound up arrest and detention, the County will also affirm it will keep children in our neighborhoods out of ICE’s hands.”

King County Department of Public Defense

“Juvenile jails and prisons traumatize young people and make communities less safe. When young people are incarcerated they are ripped away from their homes, schools, and communities. … Those harms disproportionately fall on young people of color, who make up more than 80 percent of the young people incarcerated in King County. Rather than being locked up, young people should be supported in their community.”

Concerns about the project have only worsened as new information has emerged about how legal challenges to the jail’s funding scheme could cause the cost of the jail to end up being paid by the County’s General Fund. In September 2017, the Washington Court of Appeals ruled that King County has been unlawfully collecting property taxes for the proposed youth jail, a ruling that effectively eliminates the majority of the funding for the project. County records revealed that one day after the court decision, King County Budget Director, Dwight Dively, emailed officials, stating that, if the County is unsuccessful in the appeal, the project would need to be “paid from the General Fund, resulting in even more financial pressure on other services.” Specifically, the County would be required to issue bonds with an estimated annual debt service of $11.4 million dollars for the next 30 years. Then again, in December 2017, Mr. Dively emailed officials, stating that, a loss could add $50-200 million to the General Fund, and that the “effect is potentially catastrophic.” Nevertheless, without any alternative funding source in place, King County continued construction on the $210 million project.

Pressure is increasing on Dow Constantine, who has continued the project against mounting opposition. Constantine has defended the project, arguing that he supports “zero youth detention” as a goal and promoting the county’s investment in “Best Starts for Kids,” which provides grants to local organizations serving youth. Organizers, however, pointed out the disparity between King County’s willingness to fund “Best Starts for Kids” for only six years, while continuing construction on a punishment facility designed to last for fifty years with uncertain funds. Organizers vowed to continue the growing fight to put King County on a better path.

Full list of moratorium endorsers, full text of endorser’s letters, and King County internal documents will be available at the press conference.

For Live Updates, Visit www.facebook.com/NoNewYouthJailSeattle or nonewyouthjail.org.

KUOW Got the Facts about the Jail Wrong, Here We Clear It Up

Debunking the “Fact Check”

By Devon Knowles and Nikkita Oliver

On May 7th, after interviews with both Dow Constantine and Nikkita Oliver, KUOW published an “fact check” entitled Why Does Seattle Need a New Youth Jail?” In responding to the arguments made by Oliver against the youth jail, KUOW staff relied heavily on uncited comments by County employees. These statements cannot and should not be considered “facts” about the youth jail or King County’s approach to supporting systems-involved youth and communities. Although KUOW later published Oliver’s tweets in response to their conclusions, we believe it is essential to fully respond to the commentary.

KUOW “fact” #1:

If we did not have this youth detention facility, the only other options for violent offenders would be King County jail or the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent, where we have historically housed juveniles charged as adults.

The real facts:

The above statement presumes some children need to be locked up. The options are not either to lock up kids in a youth facility or lock them up in an adult facility. The third option is to not use jail as an option for kids, and instead to rely on the alternative programs already in place and develop more alternatives. While RCW 13.16.030 which makes juvenile detention facilities a mandatory function of the county, it does not specify that the center must be a jail or how many children need to be detained. The County has the ability to interpret the statute and is actively choosing to build a multi-million dollar youth jail.

Also, it is not true that if we did not “have this youth detention facility,” we would rely on adult facilities as a youth jail already exists at 12th and Alder. In fact, while the County points to the need to keep children out of adult jails, it is seeking to build a facility that even its own experts describe as troubling. Specifically, “the incorporation of mezzanines (pods) reminiscent of adult-correctional facilities totaling a large bed count (112) runs contrary to best practices.” \

KUOW “fact” #2:

Patricia Murphy: The project budget adopted by the King County Council is $219.2 million, according to Alex Fryer, a spokesperson for King County. Fryer also says the $638 million figure is incorrect. He says the county spent $359 million in 2017 through the Department of Juvenile and Adult Detention, prosecuting attorney’s office and other agencies.

According to the county’s March 2018 report, average daily population in secure juvenile detention was 53, down from 90 ten years ago. The average stay in secure juvenile detention was around 11 days in 2017.

According to King County’s website, the number of detention beds at the new facility is capped at 112, which is down from 212 beds available. Many of those beds may go empty. Most kids charged with crimes are not in detention but in diversion programs.

The real facts:

The County adopted $638 million for policing and prosecution (targeting communities of color) in the 2017-2018 Biennial budget. In spending $359 million in 2017 alone, the County is already on track to exceed that budget.

KUOW did not provide a link to the March 2018 report and there is no citation supporting the County’s claim that more youth end up in diversion programs than in detention. What we do know is that, while the number of children incarcerated is decreasing, racial disproportionality is increasing. This suggests it is primarily white children who are given the opportunity to participate in diversion programs, while youth of color remain incarcerated.

Moreover, the County’s aim to build a detention center that will hold twice as many children belies its stated commitment to zero youth detention. If the additional beds are to account for the County’s population growth over the next 50 years, we can only assume that the County intends to continue locking kids up for decades to come.

Finally, the County should be ashamed in touting the average detention period of 11 days. Doctors, children’s advocacy groups, and juvenile justice policy organizations have repeatedly concluded that any amount of incarceration results compromises a child’s mental, emotional, and physical health, and that even less than one month in jail results in negative health outcomes as adults. See, e.g., https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5260153/; http://www.justicepolicy.org/images/upload/06-11_rep_dangersofdetention_jj.pdf

KUOW “facts” #3 and #4:

Patricia Murphy: The report Oliver references is from a facility inspection in 2011. It does describe the facility as in “generally good condition,” but it also describes water penetrating through concrete block walls and leaking through window frames. The number Oliver mentions is the total project cost for addressing issues in the exterior and HVAC.

Constantine told Bill Radke it would cost more to remodel the old facility than to build a new, smaller facility that can reduce its secure detention facility over time. The County estimates repairs would cost $40 million.

The real facts:

The new facility cannot be a healthy place for children to live or to receive services. Children will be separated from their families, will have their education disrupted, and will experience trauma in this facility.

The current jail is not a safe place, but it does not follow that the County needs to spend $220 million building a designer jail. KUOW does not provide a citation for the County’s claim that repairing the existing facility would cost $40 million. Even assuming repairs would cost $40 million, however, the County’s statement that “it would cost more to remodel the old facility than to build a new, smaller facility” is utterly nonsensical. The new facility is slated to cost at least $219 million dollars – a difference of $180 million.  

KUOW “fact” #5:

Patricia Murphy: I have heard criticism that services are in the wrong place. Less than 25 percent of referrals to detention come from Seattle; most come from South King County (e.g. Tukwila, Federal Way and Auburn). Some families have to travel significant distances to participate and that can be a huge strain. Constantine told Bill Radke you can scatter the diversion programs but not the courts.

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg told me that regional services are a great idea but at least a decade away.

The real facts:

Constantine’s answer confuses services with courthouses. We do not need to decentralize courts in order to decentralize services. Dan Satterberg provides no citation or reasoning for his statement that regional services are at least a decade away. The truth is likely a matter of funding, in which case we need to be spending the $219 million towards achieving this goal of truly supporting youth.

KUOW “fact” #6:

King County has made significant investments in trying to keep kids out of jails.

For example, $62.6 million in the Best Starts for Kids in 2017. But what they do not have yet is critical mass, meaning they don’t have enough people doing enough of the work yet. A lot of that isn’t about a lack of willingness. It usually comes down to funding, training and even liability concerns.

The real facts:

The County dedicates far more resources towards traditional policing, prosecution, and detention than it does to any types of diversion programs or therapeutic courts. The adopted 2017-2018 budget reflects that the County allocated about $22 million to “therapeutic courts” (mental health court, family treatment court, and drug courts), totalling approximately $11 million per year.  

Similarly, it appears as though the County is spending significantly less resources towards diversion programs, instead relying on outside funding or requiring families who participate to pay fees. The budget’s specific allocation for juvenile diversion programs is limited to the Family Intervention and Restorative Services (FIRS) program and accounts for $1.3 million over the course of two years (although the budget does add one full-time position (FTE) for diversion and reentry programs as part of the behavioral health budget and $200,000 to the prosecutor’s office, it is unclear how much of this will be allocated towards juvenile diversion). It is worthwhile to note that the County funds 892 FTEs for adult and juvenile detention alone (not including policing or prosecution).   

The County claims that they are not able to invest in programs to keep children out of jail because of “funding, training and liability concerns.” This is telling. Although the proposed project is funded by a levy, the reality is that the County does not have the funding because it chooses not to – it chooses to invest in policing, prosecution, and jailing, not in youth or communities.

The question of funding is a critical one and again reflects the County’s values. As it stands, the Washington Court of Appeals has ruled that the language on the ballot precludes collecting funds beyond the first year, leaving the County with at least a $150 million deficit. Although the Washington Supreme Court has accepted review, it is unlikely to issue a decision within the next six months. In the event that it affirms the Court of Appeals ruling, the County will be required to draw from the general fund to make up the difference. The choice to proceed pending a decision is extremely reckless and dangerous given the County’s severe housing crises and depleted general fund.