Wash. neighbors take on ‘420 Gate’

9-18-13-420 gate
It's known as "420 Gate" -- an area in Vancouver neighbors say is overrun with disrespectful kids and even drug dealers next to Mountain View High School. (KOIN 6 News)

VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — It’s known as “420 Gate” — an area in Vancouver neighbors say is overrun with disrespectful kids and even drug dealers.

“We have had enough, it’s our neighborhood,” said one neighbor.

Now neighbors are joining forces to take back their streets.

The “420 Gate” sits just next to Mountain View High School.

It has been a gathering spot for years, but neighbors say recent teen drug activity has forced them to get involved.

The term “420” gate is a drug-use reference. Every day, anywhere from 20 to 50 kids gather at the path leading to Mountain View before, during and after school. And what they’re doing there is what people who live in Mountain View aren’t happy about.

“I pull into my driveway and I see a kid come out from between my house and my neighbor’s house,” said Mountain View home owner Marsha Johnson. “And he’s been back there peeing.”

Johnson is the one who finally reached the end of her tolerance for what she describes as a disrespectful group of kids who take over the street near her house on SE 147th next to Mountain View High School. Neighbors said the language, the litter, drug sales and use, kids blocking traffic, small acts of vandalism and at least one recent theft have become intimidating.

“It got bigger and bigger each year,” said neighbor Kevin Burke of the gatherings. “And the kids basically told us they owned it — this was theirs.”

Homeowner Mike Carter told KOIN 6 News “We’ve let it go on,” he said. Now, “we’ve just said ‘That’s enough; we have had enough.”

They’ve had enough to organize into neighborhood patrols. Several homeowners patrol before and after school, watching for mischief and illegal activity. A 911 call is their weapon of choice.

There were no kids at the gate when the KOIN 6 News van showed up late Wednesday afternoon, since the kids had early-release from school. But not far away, at a convenience store along Mill Plain Boulevard, some of the kids from the gate sought us out to tell their side of the story.

Zoe Claborn said she knows some bad things are happening — and she’s glad neighbors are trying to clean the gate area up.

“There’s a lot of stuff we don’t like at the gate that we try to take care of,” the teen said, “but — to a certain extent — what are we going to do?”

For Claborn and others it’s the place between school and home — a comfort zone to hang out with friends. She said it does have excesses and some illegal activity, but she says not all the kids at the gate are there to make trouble.

Vancouver police have been working with neighbors to let them know what they can and cannot legally do concerning the crowd of kids in the street. Both the kids and the home owners are expected to be at this gate Thursday morning, beginning at 7:15 a.m.

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