Seattle residents, business owners urge city to clean up Downtown

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by NATALIE SWABY / KING 5 News

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KING5.com

Posted on October 10, 2012 at 10:53 PM

SEATTLE - More than a 150 residents and business owners have come together and asked that new efforts be made to make Downtown Seattle safer.

Cory Chigbrow is a Belltown restaurant owner, and he signed the letter.
 
"In the past few months I've noticed crime is starting to pick up," said Chigbrow.
 
Open air drug dealing and aggressive panhandling are some of the problems neighborhood leaders noted in a letter that city councilmembers received Wednesday.
 
"My impression is that they are right. There continues to be a quality of life issue downtown," said councilmember Bruce Harrell.
 
 "The police want to do their job, but they need direction from city council, the mayor's office and budget," said Chigbrow.
 
Sgt. Sean Whitcomb with Seattle police said they are in the process of hiring, and their goal is to have officers out of their cars and interacting with people.
 
"We want to make sure that they see those uniformed officers and they make people feel more comfortable," said Sgt. Whitcomb.
 
Chigbrow just wants nightlife downtown to not be a nightmare.
 
"I want residents of Seattle to see us as a vibrant neighborhood and not as a place that is full off crime," said Chigbrow.
 
The city is currently in budget talks. Here is a look at the proposed 2013-2014 Budget for the city of Seattle: http://www.seattle.gov/financedepartment/13proposedbudget/default.htm
 
Below is a copy of the letter sent to the Seattle City Council.
 
October 9, 2012
Seattle City Council
600 4th Avenue, Floor 2
PO Box 34025 Seattle, WA 98124-4025
Dear Councilmembers,
We write to you as Downtown Seattle stakeholders; voting residents, employees, visitors, hotel managers, retailers, property owners, human service and housing providers, small and large business owners, and neighborhood leaders who strongly believe that new efforts must be made to make Downtown Seattle safer, cleaner and more welcoming for everyone.
Today, Downtown’s urban experience and its public and private spaces are threatened and impacted by rampant drug dealing, aggressive and illegal behavior and individuals living on the streets with mental illness and addictions who aren’t getting the services they need to improve their lives. These problems are not confined to one or two areas, but occur in neighborhoods across Downtown. Drug dealers take over much of Hing Hay Park and other corners in Chinatown/ID. A recent video taken in Belltown depicts a man being mugged, robbed and left for dead. Last month, an intoxicated individual harassing and aggressively pursuing guests and fans at a hotel near Century Link Field, required the resources of at least three different government entities to respond. Every day, Metropolitan Improvement District Ambassadors and private property owners remove human waste, needles, litter and discarded alcohol canisters from sidewalks, public plazas and private property.
We fear the situation in Downtown neighborhoods is getting worse, not better. Immediate steps are needed to improve the quality of Downtown’s public realm and the real and perceived safety of employees, residents, visitors and those seeking human services in Downtown.
As you begin your review of the 2013 proposed City budget, we urge you to consider how City investments, programs and contracts across departments, including SDOT, SPD, Human Services and Parks, can be enhanced and modified to make Downtown safer and more welcoming for everyone. The Mayor’s proposed budget includes a number of important new investments, which we support and urge you to build upon. We acknowledge and appreciate the City’s recent efforts to engage the community in specific neighborhoods in Downtown to improve the safety and the vitality of public places. These efforts provide an important foundation for additional actions and investments.
The City budget is perhaps the most significant policy decision made by the City Council each year. It is a document intended to reflect the priorities of the community. As stakeholders representing Downtown neighborhoods, our number one priority is improving public safety and the urban experience for the millions of people who live, work, shop, visit and play in Downtown.
We respectfully urge you to consider the following strategies and investments to improve public safety and public spaces as you undertake your review of the 2013 budget:
1. Increase the presence of foot and bike police patrols, especially in areas such as the Pike/Pine corridor, Third & Pine, 7th & Pike, Westlake Park, Central Waterfront, Pioneer
2 Public Safety Coalition Letter 10.9.12

Square, the Chinatown-International and Stadium Districts, as well as Belltown to reduce the open buying and selling of drugs, aggressive solicitation and other prevalent illegal behaviors.
2. Increase police enforcement and prosecution of existing laws to reduce aggressive and illegal behaviors that negatively impact the urban experience.
3. Increase outreach to individuals most in need and in Downtown. Use law enforcement, human services and mental health professionals to develop and implement plans for individuals most in need in Downtown to move them into treatment and supportive housing and reduce the number of people sleeping unsheltered in Downtown.
4. Enhance the stewardship, safety and programming of Downtown parks to create safe, clean and welcoming places for everyone
5. Enhance the stewardship and management of public spaces in Downtown to minimize litter, graffiti, illegal vending, pedestrian interference and other illegal activities in public spaces.
Thank you for your consideration of our comments and input.

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