Exclusion zone approved for 3 Ballard parks

At a community meeting tonight about criminal activity in Ballard parks, Seattle Parks Superintendent Tim Gallagher announced that he’s approved an exclusion zone for Bergen Place, Marvin’s Garden and Ballard Commons Park. The zone was requested by dozens of businesses owners and residents who have been concerned about drug and alcohol use, drug dealing and sexual behavior at Bergen Place and Marvin’s Garden. “This is not a homeless issue. This is a drug trafficking problem,” said Graham Graham, co-owner of the restaurant Thaiku, which is right next door to Marvin’s Garden.

Under the ordinance, Seattle Police officers can exclude an individual from all three parks at once for violating park rules. “All this will do is, say, if you’re excluded from one, you’re excluded from two more,” Gallagher said, adding that the zone will help but not be a “solution to the problem.” Exclusions can last 7 days for a first offense, 90 days for a second and a full year for a third. Gallagher said the zone would take effect immediately, and he also promised to have a “serious discussion” about Salmon Bay Park.

Seattle Police Sgt. Dianne Newsom, who heads up the North Precinct’s community police team, listened to concerns from residents and business owners. Some have taken photos (above) and video at Bergen Place and Marvin’s Garden and provided it to police. But because citizen photos don’t prove criminal behavior (and that’s why we blurred the face in this photo), police say they can’t make arrests unless officers catch them in the act. “Hopefully this summer we’re going to try to get more people out on bicycles,” she said, explaining that the officers can use binoculars and quietly sneak up on criminal activity. Currently, bicycle officers patrol Ballard every few weeks. When pressed for daily enforcement to tackle the drug trafficking problem, Newsom promised to take the concerns to her lieutenant.

Seattle Parks also encouraged residents to “activate” the parks by organizing activities, and members of Friends of Bergen Place said they were considering offering free WiFi. Other ideas included allowing Thaiku to set up tables in Marvin’s Garden, bringing in a food vendors, hosting concerts and coordinating with Tuesday’s in Ballard. Seattle Parks offered to work with residents on ideas, and Gallagher said he’ll plan a follow up community meeting in August.

Geeky Swedes

The founders of My Ballard

98 thoughts to “Exclusion zone approved for 3 Ballard parks”

  1. If they can site those people while still sitting in their cruisers then i think something may get done…

    It is a good first step. I think we could also not allow cheap liquor to be sold in our grocery stores or convenience stores in the area. That's what they did in Pioneer Square and that was about the time Ballard got flooded with homeless. Unfortunately for me i kinda like crappy beer… And i kinda like some of the homeless in ballard. There is a few real nice people. A little off but pretty cool to talk to from time to time.

  2. Look out Salmon Bay here we come! Plus we'll have a bum shelter nearby, that'll help us 'blend' into the neighborhoods new look.

  3. So more cool things will come to “our” parks to rid the schlub problem eh? Why can't a few guilty floks right here on the blog simply take some home, today. Today is a great day to take that first step to redeem yourselves. How much longer until the fine ACLU begins to “tell us all what to do”? If this occurs the “homeless” will merely take over with a new tent-city. If I were you guys I'd just keep up that guilt. It'll certainly (like hope does) make everything just go away. Stop hand-out to then. Stop giving 'em YOUR $$. This is no longer a cute situation. It is howver a sign of weakness in our hood. That, and a huge lack of leadership. Maybe hizzoner can just hand us all horse blinders so we just can't see this mess? Might work? I want to know what the “exit strategy” is for bums/ schlubs/drunks/druggies?????????????

  4. I really wanted to go to this meeting, but could not. Great coverage. This is a step in the right direction.

    I'm going to seriously start brainstorming about how to “activate” the parks with some sort of activity.

    Perhaps a meet and greet of Ballard Dog's of the Myballardblog? A low rent low maintenance event where people bring leashed animals, sit about and sip coffee, and smell butts at some hour.

  5. great idea, Edog! I could not make the meeting either but i am more than open to these park ideas and also think it is at least now being looked at, identified as a problem, and at least we seem to have many folks attempting to brainstorm on how to help. As you all have said earlier, great start!

    bella and i would LOVE to be a part of the meet and greet type java thing in the parks! just let us know what you need, and we will be there! i will even attempt to cook up a little snack or treat or something to bring with us. bella can bring extra doggy biscuits to share with her “new friends”. Dogs or no dogs, it sounds like a fun, positive way to get this turnaround started!

    I think i will pass on smellin' butts however….

  6. The bottom line is the Seattle police should do more when there is a problem. It is illegal to sit in a public park and get drunk/deal drugs. They should just pull up, search the swines, and then arrest them. I am tired of everyone feeling sorry for the people that do nothing but, beg, get drunk, and make the place unwelcoming for the rest of us.

    I paid to live in a nice area, why should so called do gooders have the right to turn the place into an area that addicts, drunks, criminal, and yes homeless should be welcomed.

    Absolutely NOT IN MY BACKYARD!

    I want Ballard to be the nice place it was when I moved here.

    I don't want soup kitchens, food banks, tent cities, and shelters, and criminal behaviour or any kind tollerated.

  7. i think it's funny that those bums can smoke crack and drink in the park all day long but if i wanted to drink a beer out there i would get arrested/cited so fast.
    maybe i need bum camo or something

  8. sounds great, edog. feel free to contact me off post and i will help in anyweay i can! i am in the loayal heights neighborhood. bella would love to meet your dog in your dogatar!

    travel safe this weekend:)

  9. I have been going to Gilman ball park (sort of behind Mc. Donald”s) for many years for Little League gems and there has always been one or two homeless. (almost always drunk)
    Yesterday there was about 20.
    I'm guessing that the number will explode now that we have the regulations for those 3 parks and not for Gilman.
    These regulations need to be in place an inforces and EVERY other park in the city.

  10. Sounds great except what does arresting them do?

    It doesn't solve the problem because the person they arrest will be back on the street within hours. It also takes a cop off-line for a few hours which means less police presence. That's a lose-lose proposition.

    The courts can prosecute them but what good does that do? These people don't have the money to pay the fines and the jails don't have room to keep them locked up. Building more jails isn't an option because of the NIMBY types who will fight new jail construction and the cheapskates who don't want to pay more in taxes to fund new jails.

    Much as I'd like to see these people be gone I fail to see how arresting them is going to help in the long run. In the long run the only real solution is to force these people to change by requiring them to go through substance abuse treatment, getting them the mental health care they need (and which the police are not even remotely trained to handle), and helping them become employed tax payers who can afford a place to live. Simply arresting them over and over again isn't going to work and in the long run it's going to cost a lot more of tax payer money.

    As for soup kitchens, homeless shelters, etc. I don't mind them being in the area (they have to go somewhere). What bugs me is that most of them do nothing more than offer short-term assistance and completely fail at actually helping people in the long-term. That makes them as useless as arresting people. These services need to learn to work together and develop a realistic, long term plan to help people get back into society. Giving them free handouts isn't going to accomplish that. People shouldn't get something for nothing. People who pay taxes should be able to collect unemployment because they paid taxes. If people want to stay in a shelter or receive food from a food bank it's only fair that they should be required to pay something in return. Since they don't have money why not make them spend a few hours cleaning up parks, picking up litter, etc? Gives them a job and keeps them occupied. Certainly beats the current system.

  11. yeah, hear that.
    btw, if an officer went undercover, wearing the latest bum fashions, with a couple tall boys in a bag, they'd be able to clear the parks out in a matter of hours.
    Oh, and a free lunch would be in the offing too.
    Just a thought.

  12. wow, glad that you are as crazy as I am. Beware, a lot of folks will flame about your callousness…
    Community service should be a no-brainer for public services.

  13. “In the long run the only real solution is to force these people to change by requiring them to go through substance abuse treatment, getting them the mental health care they need (and which the police are not even remotely trained to handle), and helping them become employed tax payers who can afford a place to live. “

    Yeah right. Good luck with that. Isn't it possible that there is simply a hard core group of homeless that are beyond salvation and spending money on them, rather than folks who truly want to try straighten out their lives, is a waste? For the most part, the ones you see shuffling around Ballard these days don't want help. Well fine, **** *** to where ever you came from.

  14. I do think there's a difference between charity and simply giving people something for nothing. I'm all for charity – a civilized society shouldn't allow people to just rot away in the streets. If we do then we're no better than places like Haiti. As the old saying goes, the Lord helps those who help themselves! I'm not a church going type but it's hard not to agree with that one.

  15. If the problem is drug trafficking, let's give free drugs away..
    ..the strong people will get used to the drugs and have a happier existence,
    the weak would soon die from too much use and complications.
    Problem solved. Next…

  16. Yeah, there are definitely hard core homeless. So what's your solution, beyond complaining? At least I'm offering something, even if it's not perfect. What would you do?

    Also I'm not talking about offering people that choice. Don't give them the *option* of attending rehab, getting help, etc. – force them to do it even if it does mean locking them up against their will for a while.

  17. yes, however, I'd add that not addressing the issue in some long term manner will cost us a lot more, and not just in money, but in human life.

  18. How much are we giving out for free?
    When the 'free' supply runs out (and it would) we'll see a huge rise in muggings and robberies. That's the dumbest suggestion I've heard on this thread thus far. Anybody here who knows somebody with a substance abuse problem can tell you they will do anything (and I mean truly anything) for the next fix.
    Not to mention that's less like natural selection and more like mass murder.

  19. I would put addicts and alcoholics in cheap housing and let them keep drinking/using. Make staying out of trouble and not being a nuisance a part of the agreement that lets them stay there.

    There's a place like this at Denny near I-5 and it actually seems to be keeping people off of the street. Waaaay cheaper than jail, too.

    If they manage to get their lives together, hey! Bonus!!

  20. Well, I understand that the effort has been experiencing some success.
    I goes against what I would choose, but I'm not going to knock anything that works, is fiscally sound, and keeps the community safe.
    Yeah, I'd hope they clean up before they drink themselves to death, but that would be a personal choice.

  21. “What would you do?”

    Tell them to move on……it is not Ballard's role to save humanity. A few local bums are fine, almost picturesque but what we have now is a full-on invasion of low lifes because some of our 'compassion' neighbors just love the idea of feeding pigeons but don't have a friggin' clue why everyone's homes then get covered in bird s**t.

  22. It will be interesting to see how the exclusion zone works.
    I appreciate that a serious discussion on Salmon Bay park has been promised for the future.
    I have lived here for a long time……don't know about what a “nice place” it was then, remember taking the kids on picnics at Marvin's Gardens and noticing old guys sleeping in the bushes. That was way back in the '90's when the hotel was above Olson's Meats. Figured that was the way of the city. Always enough good neighbors around to help us feel safe as we played. My grown kids now say it is still the same…..that it is I who have changed and am paranoid and suspicious of everyone.

  23. I would rather donate to a prison system where individuals that mess up pay the consequences not get given a free meal and a place to stay in a shelter. Hard time, not compassion is what is needed. Why should we let a few rotten apples spoil our barrel?

    I am all for a prison in the area as long as it is not right bang in the middle of a residetial area.

  24. Look, the world has always had, and will always have bums/transient/vagrants. You are NEVER going to get rid of the problem. If anyone tells you they can, hide your wallet, because all they will do is $uck you dry and discover these folks are, in fact, bums.

    So what option is left? Kicking them down the road. Yes, it's called NIMBYISM and is how the world has always worked. I'm not the least bit embarrassed at being a NIMBY. In fact, I'll make at t-shirt and proudly wear it.

    NIMBYISM means understanding that in this world there are people who 1). Can never be helped and 2). Don't want to be helped and 3). there are people who will take advantage of naive, do-gooders and will destroy our neighborhood and our investments in it in the process of achieving nothing.

    No let's join together as a community and tell these bums and druggies: Not In My Back Yard!

  25. you can try to change the understanding of NIMBY all you want. But you can't change the fact that it means people who just want to hide from problems instead of trying to change the situation. Be proudly ignorant all you want. I welcome you and your comments. Though you will probably be pretty frustrated in your fight to acheive nothing.

  26. When did it become my problem?

    NIMBY, it is my back yard, I don't want to invite someone in my backyard if I don't want them there!

    It should be the responsibility of many of these individuals families. I don't want to help some of these individuals, if you do then put them up in your house, don't expect others to like it when they are forced to help them.

    It is not my job to find a solution and it is not your job to push a problem on me in some cases.

    If something is against the law, uphold the law, don't ever make excuses for breaking it.

  27. “Be proudly ignorant all you want”

    I know exactly what the problem is and know it's unsolvable not matter how many tax dollars you throw at it (and there's is a limit you know). I'm not changing the meaning, I'm being proud to be a NIMBY, it's what separates nice neighborhoods from ****holes.

    Someone who thinks they can change the situation, and get bums off the streets, is the ignorant one. My proof? 10,000 years of recorded human history.

  28. The people of Ballard were 'handled' and placated. Period. New rules and laws do not matter if the ones that exist are NOT enforced! Since citizen photos cannot be used for evidence or enforcement and we can't 'exclude' people ourselves, so who do you think is going to do the excluding? No One! Business as usual. We need a law enforcement presence. The muggings and robberies have increased. More drug users and criminals are coming to Ballard because it is easy pickings. Send them to SeaSpiders backyard for the short term while the long term is worked out. THere are violent crimes being committed, not just harmless drug use and loitering. Many of these people CHOOSE to not work, to drink all day, to commit crimes. They are content with their lives. Seattle Police Sgt. Dianne Newsom said 'hopefully' they will get people out on bikes sometime this summer. Read between the lines folks. She is playing you. She says On bikes they can sneak up on people. The criminal activity is so blatant that you can see it from the street as there is minimal attempt to hide it. Get cops in Ballard NOW!

    The exclusion rule doesn't pertain to the people robbing, mugging and car jacking. Doesn't have any bearing on thugs going to Golden Gardens with loaded AK47s in their back seats as happened the other day. Police patrols, not stupid PR measures are what we need for the short term while the bigger issues are being worked out.

  29. Exactly.

    If you don't want Ballard to be a magnet for bums, STOP MAKING IT ATTRACTIVE FOR THEM! Stop with the handouts, with the “welcoming”, the easy-going attitude towards drugs, trashing public spaces, crapping and peeing out in the open, and the general hands-off approach. Stop making them feel like we're glad to have more and more of them – duh!

    Make them feel unwelcome every chance you get. Hassle them. Arrest them. Tell them to go the hell home and get out of this neighborhood. They can find someplace else where the locals are naive enough to “welcome” them.

  30. Amen, brother.

    Anybody who sneers “oh, you're just a NIMBY” should STFU unless they're going to invite the scumbags to come live in THEIR backyard (or living room).

  31. You are being silly – 10,000 years or recorded human history tells you that there always going to be bums in the streets? Can I smoke some of the stuff you smoke? Oh, wait, I don't want the depressive backlash when I go off it. Geez – and all we have to look forward in the future is the day the sun goes supernova.

  32. Does anybody have any case studies to share? I'd love to learn from a neighborhood that had a similar problem and dealt with it. There is a problem. Someone has to have solved it before.

  33. Well Belltown and Pike Place are dealing with it now: run them out of the neighborhood. Hence the scumbags are settling in Ballard. Time to slam the door shut and drop kick the dopers, druggies and street scumbags out. Where they go? Who cares.

  34. So put them in someone else's backyard? Why should someone else put up with something you won't put up with? What makes you so damn special? Seriously, just shuffling people around won't work.

  35. Other neighborhoods in Seattle – mostly downtown and in the Central district have petitioned the Parks Department and City of Seattle to create similar exclusion zones. I have not read of any case studies of the impact of these zones. Case studies may well exist and I am just a wimp when it comes to researching what goes on in other peoples back yards.

  36. These comments are mostly depressing. This is very simple: Public drinking, drug use, and sex are illegal. The conduct should be reported to police. Police should cite or arrest the offenders. The bad behavior shouldn't be tolerated.

    Why is this so hard?

  37. Very adult argument, there.

    Another case of someone here disagreeing with someone else's post, and they try to shut them down. Oh dear, oh dear, we can't allow anything that's not positive to be said about Ballard!

    The solution is to stop making Ballard “the best place in the world to be homeless” – this was a quote from a homeless person recently.

    Really, exactly what about this is so hard to understand? You make this place a magnet for bums, and we get more bums. I'm shocked – SHOCKED!!

    It's not complicated.

  38. Of course it will. The reason we've got so many bums here now is because people in other neighborhoods stopped making it so nice and welcoming for them.

    Make it less attractive here and they'll go someplace else where the locals are clueless.

    Hassle them enough, they'll move along. Problem solved. It's not complicated.

  39. Most neighborhoods around Seattle would qualify.

    Ballard isn't the only place with bums, but we've got an awful lot more of them than most places. There are reasons they're here and not elsewhere.

  40. The ones run out of Pike Place and Belltown came back. Shooing them off into another neighborhood is not a solution. Never has been.
    A police presence and the parks being used for neighborhood events would at least keep the public displays of illegal activity to a minimum.

  41. There's the rub: these activities ARE reported to the police.

    You're right, the bad behavior should not be tolerated. But it is.

    That's why Ballard has turned into bum central.

  42. Sometimes the police choose not to respond.

    2 years ago my car was broken into at the Ballard locks at the time when there were several tents located in the alley behind the Lock Stop fish and chip place. I called the police and told them that my car had just been broken into and my wifes coat and a grocery bag were stolen.

    They just gave me an incident number and told me nobody was even going to come down!

    I told them I was going into the area with the tents armed with a hammer (that's all I had in the trunk) to look for my stuff. They advised me not to do anything and just speak to my insurance company. I went in, got my stuff back, then the police arrived, and did nothing.

    That is my only experience with the police and I have to say I am very disappointed.

  43. Every occur to your vast intellect that your “solution” might be how we got them in the first place? Someone else probably shuffled them our way. Duh. Kind of proves my point. We send off somewhere else and those people will send them right back here.

  44. I don't disagree: someone else pushed them away by making life unpleasant for them. Good for them! We should take a page from their playbook!

    So you see, we agree: the bums follow the path of least resistance, and they go where the locals make it easy for them.

    I say we stop making it so nice for them here, and they'll go someplace else. Don't make Ballard “the best place in the world to be homeless” – make it the worst. You'll see Bergen Place improve quickly!

    Where will they go? Someplace else. Exactly where, I really don't care. There are plenty of places where people are naive enough to “welcome” the bums. They can have them!

  45. Good for you.

    You're lucky the police didn't come and arreest YOU for disturbing the precious bums who broke into your car and stole your stuff.

    Sometimes it's bizarro-world out there….

  46. You still gotta feed 'em in prison.

    I'm not sure of the exact amounts, but I've heard that keeping someone in jail is unbelievably expensive. Like maybe five times as much or more than ordinary low income housing. I would guess it's the structural requirements of a prison in combination with the monitoring personnel. There's also the public defense attorney, police being called into court to testify, etc.

    Plus I hear that Jail is a place you can learn a lot of new skills. Not necessarily things that benefit society at large.

  47. I know it's off topic but our dog died in December too. Sorry to hear about yours passing too. We still have a younger dog but she's a pitbull – very sweet but lots of people are instantly afraid of her.

  48. I read an article about that place – it's not a “cheap” place to live, I think it's free. After a couple years they did an analysis of much tax payer money was spent on this housing compared to how much is spent on police work to arrest these guys and put them in jail and emergency homeless shelters and apparently it saved the tax payers a lot of money. Still – there are sooooo many people who've chosen to live like that I don't know if there'd be enough room in industrial areas to house them for the rest of their lives. And yes, I did say choose. It's hard to stop whatever you're addicted to but other people have done it so it's possible. No one is pouring the booze down their throats or holding them down forcing them to smoke crack. Every day they wake up and choose to live that way.

  49. I have plenty of friends who live in Monroe and they don't have a quarter of the problems that Ballard does even though there is a state penitentary in their backyard.

  50. I agree. I've been wondering how bad Salmon Bay, Loyal Heights and Gilman are going to get now. But I also wonder if the city will care because it's all residential and there're no businesses to make the city listen.

  51. All the usual suspects, including Maria ….. I thought you divorced a bum, why would you want them camped out permanently in Ballard?

  52. Thank you. His ashes have a place of honor in my home.

    I don't demonize breeds, I love ALL dogs. I would LOVE to meet your pitbull. They can be the sweetest dogs in the universe!

  53. Funny. I had a similar thing happen when my car was broken into at my Ballard home, and my brank spankin' new car stereo was lifted. I called the cops, and the nice girl (she sounded like a girl) said, “I'm sorry that we can't do much.” But she tried to be sympathetic: “My stereo was stolen a year ago. Doesn't it make you fee violated?”

    Yup. Inspires confidence.

    If the problem is the police, then we shouldn't be banning losers from the parks. We should have better (and more) police. Not hard, is it?

  54. Super simple, just no-where in the budget.
    We need to save the money for stripper gate, the Belltown beautification plan, scalper gate, the city park gun-ban signs, and pending litigation, oh, and Key Arena improvements, so we can get another crappy basketball team…
    Those are the priorities, public safety is not.

  55. “As for soup kitchens, homeless shelters, etc. I don't mind them being in the area (they have to go somewhere).”

    There aren't any services for the shelter residents in a residential neighborhood. There's a reason why the shelters and soup kitchens are located downtown and it's a good one. Any social worker or real homeless advocate will tell you the same.

    Attention-grabbing media whores like SHARE/WHEEL have no interest in helping the people they claim to serve, only in directing publicity to themselves.

    Unfortunately the police are helpless in this matter because of a small but very vocal number of ultra-enablers. If they had the support from the people, this wouldn't be a problem.

    Personally I would welcome the reinstatement of beat cops in the neighborhoods like they have in downtown Chicago to keep the peace and keep an eye on what's happening on the street, but I doubt the general public would be able to deal with that.

  56. The fact that police don't do anything is what makes me angry. I really wonder sometimes why there isn't an outbreak of vigilantism here.

    “Citizen photos aren't evidence” – so then what are citizens supposed to do to reduce crime?? There have been incidents posted all over My Ballard about the cops being called about a crime in progress, and the cops choosing to do nothing, maybe out of laziness, probably out of the budget cuts brought on by the tanked economy.

  57. AndreaL, truthfully, even in this economy, the revenues to the city and state have increased this year, as well as the year before, and so on. The stimulus provided by the feds increased the coffers even further. The problem is that the funds are being allocated elsewhere. (Including, spending money that won't even be there.) To exacerbate the issue, we, the citizens, have rolled over and taken it. There is no outcry against the budget priorities that have been decided.
    Chances are, there will be no accountability handed down for that fact.
    I'm sick about it, some others are as well, but clearly, this minority has lost the debate, will continue to be shouted down in the future, and will be ignored.
    However, if the majority gets just as sick of what's being done, things will change.
    At least, that's my hope. For all of us.
    Remember to vote.

  58. I think lunchtime or early evening concerts would be cool too – like the “out to lunch” concerts they do (or used to do?) downtown. Maybe unplugged to start . . .

  59. Maybe some of the local businesses should stop serving the bums booze, that would get them to move on. 7-11 and the Golden Dragon are the “Soup kitchens” for the drunks around here, they should show their commitment to the community by not serving the visibly drunk and the visibly homeless.

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