By MEGAN MANNING, UW News Lab
The meeting room at the Ballard Public Library was packed with concerned Ballard residents and city personnel last night for the monthly Ballard District Council Meeting. The public gathering concentrated heavily on the proposed cannabis zoning regulations that might be implemented in certain communities within Seattle, as well as the growing problem of the city’s homeless inhabiting vehicles around the Ballard neighborhood.
“Seattle is a little challenged because there are cities around it that say they won’t have dispensaries or anything to do with marijuana,” says Sally Clark, President of the Seattle City Council, about the cannabis law. “It puts a lot of pressure on Seattle’s neighborhoods.”
The objective of the zoning regulation is to constrain the growing, processing and dispensing of medical cannabis in certain neighborhoods around the city. This would serve the purpose of limiting the cannabis–related activity within those regions, while at the same time allowing access to dispensaries for suffering patients with a marijuana license.
Regarding the situation of the homeless around Ballard, it was recommended that Seattle increase the support and funding for programs such as the Safe Parking Program, which would open up designated parking spots for people who sleep in their cars. Members of the Ballard community were very outspoken in their vehemence against the current problem.
“Residential streets were never made to be an RV park,” stated one troubled resident. “Just because you can’t find an appropriate place to put them doesn’t mean you cam put them in an inappropriate place. They don’t belong there, period.”
“Many complaints happening about people in vehicles are about cleanliness and hygiene,” admitted Graham Pruss, Chair of the Ballard Committee Taskforce on Homeless & Hunger. The taskforce discovered, while gathering data on the vehicle–bound homeless, that the lack of available facilities in the surrounding area demanded a certain amount of public indecency in the way of urination and defecation. Pruss recommended that some sort of access to public restrooms and accommodations for hygiene be considered. No permanent solution to the problem was reached.
The meeting concluded with the annual election of officers for the Ballard District Council.
(MEGAN MANNING is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory.)