Now that 2021 is officially over, here’s a look at what’s happening in Auburn in 2022.
Health Through Housing
In July 2021, King County purchased the 100-room Clarion Hotel in Auburn to house people experiencing homelessness through the county’s Health Through Housing program. The hotel should begin housing people sometime in 2022. At least 15% of the rooms will be reserved for people experiencing homelessness in Auburn. Kent Hay, Auburn’s homeless outreach coordinator, has been working to get as many people in Auburn signed up for housing at the hotel as possible. Health Through Housing follows the “housing first” model in which housing is provided before any other services. Studies have shown housing first can more effective and less expensive compared to the staircase model in which a person must address other issues such as drug abuse or mental health prior to receiving housing.
Jeffrey Nelson’s trial
Auburn police officer Jeffrey Nelson is scheduled to appear before the King County Superior Court on July 27, 2022, for his trial in the assault and murder of Jesse Sarey. In 2019, Nelson fatally shot Sarey while trying to arrest him for jaywalking in Auburn. Nelson is the first police officer in Washington to face murder charges in 30 years. He is also the first police officer to be charged with murder since the passing of I-940, which changed the burden of proof for prosecution of police homicides.
Auburn police officers will be outfitted with body-worn cameras this year. In 2021, the Washington state Legislature passed House Bill 1223, requiring police to electronically record most interrogations starting on Jan. 1, 2022. In response to this, the Auburn City Council authorized Mayor Nancy Backus to enter a contract with Axon for body-worn cameras and Tasers. The contract will cost the city over $2.2 million over the next 60 months. The city also hired several full-time employees to manage public records requests and archive evidence from the body cam footage.
Auburn has two new park projects in the works this year. First, the 104th Avenue park project. Auburn is in the process of building a park on the Green River with a playground, lawn, parking lot and some gravel trails. Because the park will be located on the river, Auburn has several hoops to jump through in the permitting process. The second park project is the Cedar Lanes bike park. Auburn is building a bike pump track on the existing Cedar Lanes park. The track will feature two sections; a pump track for younger kids and a skills course for more experienced cyclists.
A new activity center is opening in Auburn on Jan. 7, 2022. Ohio-based Airhouse Adventure Park is opening its third location at the Outlet Collection mall. The adventure park will feature a variety of activities including laser tag, trampolines and dodgeball.
Auburn voters elected two new officials over the 2021 elections: Kate Baldwin for Auburn City Council and Melissa Laramie for Auburn School Board. This year will be the first stint holding public office in Auburn for Laramie and Baldwin.