Park exclusion: ‘I really think it’s working’

A group of concerned citizens gathered at the Ballard Library last night for a follow-up meeting about crime in the three central Ballard Parks.

Two months ago, Parks Superintendent Tim Gallagher created the exclusion zone for Ballard Commons, Bergen Place Park and Marvin’s Garden. And last night he announced, “I really think it’s working.” Seattle Police Sgt. Dianne Newsom said they’ve issued 13 park exclusions in Ballard, 4 currently in effect. Officers have given 36 “drinking in the park” citations, including a record 5 citations to a single individual. Sgt. Newsom said undercover officers have been unsuccessful in their efforts to buy drugs in the parks because dealers have been careful only to sell to customers they know.

Dan Iverson with the Parks Department said that they’ve approved a vendor permit for a hot dog stand at Bergen Place, and Thaiku may open a take-out window on Marvin’s Garden and add some tables for people to eat. And they’re still working on bringing free WiFi to the central parks, hopefully by next spring. “It would be very cutting edge and very exciting for Ballard,” he says.

One family that lives near Gilman Playground (just south of Market St. between 9th and 11th Ave.) told the group that they’ve noticed an increase in homeless people camping there in the last few months. “It’s been really bad,” they said, raising the concern that the exclusion zones in Central Ballard are pushing the homeless to nearby parks. Superintendent Tim Gallagher welcomed the feedback. “We have to hear from the public. That’s an important ingredient,” he said. The next parks safety meeting will be next April.


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Alysse Martyn
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Alysse Martyn

I hope Mr Gallagher is willing to continue the dialog and not just wait until April. There was one very aggressive panhandler at Bergen Place who doesn't seem to be there the last 2 weeks. Maybe this is working?

chopper_74
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chopper_74

It's definitely having an effect. It's also creating issues for some of the neighboring parks. The laws that exist should still be enforced, we have to make certain that we are informing the police and the parks department of issues as they come up.
Knowing which individuals that have been trespassed would help a lot, right now I don't know how we could find that out, to report if they return.

royhobbs
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royhobbs

As I noted over on Fremont Universe's forum, there is a new and more aggressive set of homeless that I've been seeing in Fremont. I haven't asked, but I'm thinking that they may have been pushed there from Ballard.

ZephyrV2
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ZephyrV2

Whoever brought up Gilman Playground…thank you for attending the meeting and bringing this up! I pass through that park nearly every day with my dog. And while the homeless there so far seem harmless, I worry that it's just a matter of time that more are drawn to the park that aren't so nice.

I see the parks dept maintenance crew there regularly and they seem to ignore the people who clearly live at the park, camping under the trees and in the dugouts.

In addition to these folks there are also a lot of cars with live-ins and cars filled with junk that are often parked on along the park border.

I have been trying to temper my concerns with the fact that these folks have to be somewhere and as long as they aren't harming anything, I should turn the other cheek. But it is a good to know that I am not the only one who has noticed the situation and has concerns.

NoraBell
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NoraBell

That's the problem with exclusion zones being the only method used. Not that I don't love that plan, things do seem a little better here, but are we just pushing them into neighboring neighborhoods?

chopper_74
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chopper_74

Yes, but remember, many were pushed out here from downtown. I'm not saying it's the best fix, but push we must.

pinpaul
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pinpaul

There's definitely a push eastward, seeing a lot more campers between 15th Ave NW and 3rd Ave NW, and south of Market.

girlnextdoor
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girlnextdoor

Actually, no, we musn't. What makes our nighborhood so special that we get to make our problem someone else's. And yeah, they were pushed from downtown, but that doesn't make it right.

Luckily I don't think for one minute that bloggers here represent the heart of Ballard. Shame on you and your selfishness.

NoraBell
Guest
NoraBell

Agree on that (sorry, Chopper). It's the equivalent of sweeping dust bunnies under the rug. You can't see them anymore but….
Guess what? They're still there!

NWKitty
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NWKitty

Girlnextdoor, Obviously you are not the one picking up the needles or watching the drug dealers selling to kids. If you are for that, then you are in the minority. This is not about chasing homeless people out of the area. It is about stopping the drug deals and drinking and stopping them for selling drugs to and buying alcohol for teens. These people are not all homeless. The general mentally ill homeless are not a problem but it is a few newer groups that have come in and taken over.

chopper_74
Guest
chopper_74

Selfish, like letting them take over property that WE own, sorry, but you may attack me all you want, it won't change what is absolutely wrong with the entitlement mentality of those individuals.
If you want to sweep them into your yard, into your neighborhood park, start spilling addresses. They'll be there before the end of the day.

chopper_74
Guest
chopper_74

NoraBell, we may disagree, but you need not apologize.

stopthebuzz
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stopthebuzz

do you think that drug deals will stop just because they can't hang out in 3 of ballard's parks?

treating symptoms doesn't cure a disease.

chopper_74
Guest
chopper_74

And 'someone else', like our Mayor, made it our problem by pushing these folks on us. Why aren't you screaming of the patent unfairness of that?

girlnextdoor
Guest
girlnextdoor

Yes to both actually. I still don't think it's right to push “our” problem to an adjacent neighborhood. Just as I don't think it's right that others neighborhoods “chased” them to us.

chopper_74
Guest
chopper_74

Yes, as it has already, or have you missed that.

girlnextdoor
Guest
girlnextdoor

I passed some homeless folks sleeping in the park by my house on the way to the bus stop this morning. I don't own the park. If they were in my backyard or front porch I might ask them what gives. As it was, I let them sleep.

You might want to keep your own sense of entitlement in check if you think you have more of a right to a city park then a homeless person.

girlnextdoor
Guest
girlnextdoor

You are the same as the mayor when you advocate the same tactics.

cma319
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cma319

Why do people think the homeless have been pushed out of downtown? I've worked downtown for years and there's been no decrease in the homeless there, nor have I ever heard of any effort to get them out of downtown.

I wonder if the increase is due to either: increased services in Ballard (not sure if this is the case or not), or less of a police presence than downtown (remember, downtown and Belltown have the private security patrols too) and so they're able to get away with more in the neighborhoods.

chopper_74
Guest
chopper_74

Oh, that's rich. Expecting our parks to be safe and free of illegal activity is 'sense of entitlement'.
The sense of apathy is appalling.

stopthebuzz
Guest
stopthebuzz

it has what?

NoraBell
Guest
NoraBell

It's just sending them to other parks. Not a solution to the main problem.

megan noel
Guest

i eat lunch at Gilman Playfield most days and yes, there are often as many as 10 homeless there. Sometimes they are there less in the summer when there are a lot of kids (when the wading pool is filled, but it has not been this summer.) also there is usually a group at the Pea Patch gardens on 14th (just South of Safeway) in the mornings. I think they sleep there. and there are a few who have vehicles parked in that area.

girlnextdoor
Guest
girlnextdoor

Being homeless is not illegal. It's not apathetic to walk by sleeping people. If they were selling drugs or shooting up I would make a call.

Midwest
Guest
Midwest

You are most likely right; services, less cops, almost no foot/bike patrols, combined with various neighborhoods attempting to remove the homeless from their part of the city. Move on, but to where..?

Feels like whack-a-mole. Sad we don't have a society than can address this problem; we end up with unwanted people, problems, and worried citizens wondering if they are safe.

Where would we put these people if we had a choice?

There's a few categories of homeless, and probably different solutions would work with different groups.

The more criminal/predatory types are the chronic problem folks, followed by the mentally ill, and then there are many more categories beyond that, all the way to a down-and-out family living in their car, looking for employment and housing.

With a broad spectrum of problems, ideally a broad range of solutions would be available. Yet again, sad we do not have this.

The couple that harasses folks all the time (“can I ask you a question?”) need to be dealt with very differently than the mentally ill lady living by OfficeMax.

I wish we had better solutions.