House approves Hayes’ bill prompted by Burlington motel meth contamination

A bill that would allow officials to take action when transient accommodations are contaminated by hazardous chemicals gained unanimous approval Wednesday in the state House of Representatives.

House Bill 1757 would add transient accommodations to the list of properties subject to inspection, condemnation and decontamination when contaminated by certain hazardous chemicals.

The measure’s prime-sponsor, Rep. Dave Hayes, said the bill was prompted by the inability under state law for the city of Burlington to evict residents from a local motel that was severely contaminated by methamphetamine.

“There had been nearly 600 calls to local law enforcement about this motel. Of the 42 rooms, 40 were severely contaminated by meth,” said Hayes, R-Camano Island. “Unfortunately, the city’s hands were tied by the law. City officials wanted to move the people out, but they were told by the Skagit County prosecutor’s office they couldn’t legally do it based on the law’s current definition of hazardous chemicals. That definition requires manufacture on site for officials to act, not just presence. This bill would fix that problem should it happen again.”

In November, the city advised residents of the Sterling Motor Inn to leave the motel after testing found meth contamination in nearly all the rooms. One contaminated room was found to have 173 times the state standard for methamphetamine residue. As many as 50 people were staying at the motel, either long- or short-term, including children and senior citizens with medical conditions. Although the city offered transportation and up to a 10-night stay at a nearby hotel for displaced residents, some were reluctant to leave, having no place long-term to stay.

The bill expands the definition of hazardous chemicals to include methamphetamine in amounts exceeding decontamination standards set by the Department of Health when found in transient accommodations. The state requires cleanup when meth contamination exceeds 1.5 micrograms per 100-square centimeters. The measure also expands the definition of property to include transient accommodations used in the manufacture, distribution, storage or use of hazardous chemicals.

The measure now goes to the Senate for further consideration.


Washington State House Republican Communications