Ballard Commons S#it Show

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  • #80862

    The Bunny
    Participant

    Am I the only one noticing the s#it show going on on the east side of the commons??? A bunch of people (a lot of the homeless regulars I have been seeing lately) along with new ones?/people have been sleeping during the days in the park literally in sleeping bags. And Thursday (when I went by ~4pm) had set up a make-shift shade structure attached to trees over a blanket and set up a bike fix-it station and sleeping area. Among the 12-14 people, two were drinking in the open. It was pretty brazen and straight up “setting up camp” in the park. I think there is a fine point of using the park as a citizen and taking advantage. I’ll side on the later. It’s uncomfortable to walk through that area of park as if it’s monopolized. I called the police at 7:15pm to report open drinking (that’s actually when I saw it) in the park and them setting up camp in the park. Police called me back at 8:15pm to let me know they have not been by and asked if they still need to. I said yes. I went to QFC at ~9:45pm and no change. Seems police are turning a blind eye to this and they obviously are not patrolling. They had bike patrol come by one time that I know of two months ago. I’m on the verge of giving up trying to get things done. Homelessness has never bothered me in Fremont or Ballard in my 23 years living in these two neighborhoods (21 in Ballard) until these last few years in Ballard. I think we can have homeless along side us but there’s a point of taking advantage and/or being inconsiderate that has been going on for a long time.

    And fast forward to Monday, on my walk home past the closed Wiggens funeral home along 57th (across from Cheryl Chow Court) where right on the sidewalk someone took a dump next to a discarded pack of Winstons cigarettes. This was not dog crap unless it was a Bull Mastiff that uses toilet paper. Never mind the two porta potties in St. Lukes parking lot and the one in the Commons that are within blocks.

    I could not make this up if I tried. Good times.

    #80863

    Kate
    Participant

    Hey Bunny,

    It’s really discouraging when you feel like the parks and/or the neighborhood has been taken over by bums. I complained about stuff on the B-G trail from a guy who slept next to it for about a week and left a bunch of trash, including sh*t, behind. It took 3 months for the city to clean it up. However, I had an interesting experience a couple weeks ago. I biked to Pike Place Market and decided to rest in Victor Steinbruek park. It was a nice day and the park was full. The north end had a lot of tourists and the south end had a lot of bums and druggies. The south end also had the only shaded seated, which was what I wanted. So I found a spot an empty on a shaded bench, took off my bike helmet and exposed my gray hair. Withing about 15 minutes the tourist started drifting into that part of the park. I think they felt safe because I looked safe. After the tourists started drifting in, some of the druggies started drifting out. I don’t know how long it lasted because I left after about 20 minutes once I was rested. I guess my message is to use the park, regardless.

    #80864

    61stMama
    Participant

    It is a very disturbing trend to see the steep decrease in public safety/decency throughout the neighborhood and lack of proactive police support, especially when it is at its worst at a central neighborhood park that was designed to be family-friendly. I like Kate’s idea. Two other simple measures that might help raise awareness: (1) use the city’s “Find It Fix It” app if you have a smart phone. When I am walking the dog, I often report stolen/abandoned shopping carts and other public dumping, graffiti, abandoned cars, broken street signs, potholes, etc. It’s quick and easy; issues are routed to the correct city dept. Some respond faster than others. I would hope that increased reports from a certain neighborhood (Ballard!) might raise awareness with city govt that we need better services to match our exploding population. (2) Get an account with NextDoor.com and express your frustrations with crime/safety there because the police have begun participating in dialogue and it can only help if they are hearing directly from a variety of engaged citizens. I am also curious to see if the city’s micro-community policing plans have any positive effect over the coming months (http://www.seattle.gov/police/MCPP/) and look forward to seeing any reporting back and evolution of that program.

    I’m sure there are many other ways frustrated citizens can help raise awareness and hopefully bring about positive change in public safety. Despite the wide spectrum of opinions about how to “help the homeless,” hopefully we can all agree that public safety for ALL citizens has certain levels that need to be encouraged and enforced.

    #80876

    The Bunny
    Participant

    Well, the MCPP was to include bike patrols in these neighborhood hot spots. I talked to the bike patrol I saw that one day in April. I have not seem them since. It seems like the MCPP may be just one more iteration of the police having something on paper but not executing the plan except for the initial introduction and fanfare press releases. And as for the abandoned carts, etc. I did call in to the city public dumping line (it’s called something else actually) and had them remove all the carts and debris homeless were storing at the SW corner of 57th & 22nd where the construction is going on. It grew to an alarming amount (four carts, spare tire, gold club bag, and more). Since then (I think the city actually picked it up and discarded it), no more storing there. They seem to keep their carts with them which includes wheeling them on to the grass at the commons and also store them in front of St. Lukes. But it does not matter, just seems to creep right back. The city agencies I have tried to work with seem to not want to address the issues and so what then happens is the issue grows and turns into a sense of entitlement (if that makes sense). At that point, it becomes increasingly hard to enforce instead of just simply enforcing the RCW’s as they currently stand. Why that’s so hard, I do not understand.

    #80877

    Anonymous

    Bunny, you are not the only one who’s noticed. I’ve also noticed people setting up camp in the park lately and feel the same way you do, that people are taking advantage and being inconsiderate. As someone who lives in the neighborhood, I’m frustrated that the park has become a place I don’t feel comfortable going. It is not OK for people to set up camp in the park and strew their belongings around. It is perfectly justifiable as citizens, residents and taxpayers to demand that our parks and public spaces are not taken over by drug use and open drinking, that people are not defecating on our sidewalks, that some community standards of decency are imposed.

    61stMama’s suggestions to post on NextDoor Ballard and use the “Find It Fix It” app are good ones. I would also encourage you to keep contacting the North Precinct directly.

    #80878

    The Bunny
    Participant

    I am on NextDoor Ballard (Ballard North) but do not see it as being any different than MyBallard. And when I looked at the members map, it didn’t seem like too many in Ballard are on it (compared to the population). That being said, I do not know how many are on MyBallard. I have not looked at FixIt app but will. As for my continued efforts, I’m losing steam as my efforts seem and feel singular as I watch no effective change; just worsening. Working full time, etc. keeps my energy limited. Just want to enjoy the neighborhood but seemingly not lately. I do see some introductions from north precinct on the site but what good are those if I am calling the precinct directly and they do not even show up and that’s not the first time. I’ve asked for follow up on calls before and have not received a follow up. How would nextdoor be more effective than direct contact?

    #80879

    Kate
    Participant

    I wonder if it’s worthwhile to ask the local grocery stores to start using locking carts- either the sort that won’t go past the boundaries or the sort that you have to pay to use and get money back on return. I believe it would cut down on the amount of trash that gets distributed around the neighborhood.

    #80880

    VeganBiker
    Participant

    Bunny – I think it is a good idea to post these complaints on Nexdoor Ballard just because SPD and the Mayor’s office are active on the site and someone reads the posts, also it lets possibly more of our neighbours read about the issues that are of concern to us all. As to whether anything will get done about it, well that is the question, but at least you have put it out there in the universe and people can respond. This sort of thing does seem to get worst in the warmer weather but it is not acceptable and we need to do something about it.

    #80881

    VeganBiker
    Participant

    Kate – good idea. I wish they would get the type where one has to deposit say 50 cents and that unlocks the cart and when you return it you get your money back. Some enterprising folks could make a few dollars by going around and returning any that had escaped. :)

    #80882

    Anonymous

    I sent the link for this thread to the officers at the SPD North Precinct and asked them to please read it and understand that neighborhood residents are frustrated. I asked what could be done and how we could help. Officer Mike Cruzan wrote me back right away and asked me to give him a call. I left him a message today. I’m encouraged by the fast response.

    #80891

    The Bunny
    Participant

    Thanks Compass Rose. Interesting that you received an immediate response. I logged into my NextDoor account and sent a message to Sargent Dianne Newsome (who made an introduction of sorts on NextDoor for the north precinct) yesterday afternoon (4pm) about these concerns. I did not hear back from her. I’m glad you made some tractions. And good idea Kate about the locking carts with small deposit. Perhaps you can ask QFC/Ballard Market/Safeway about this? My guess it’s a cost/benefit. The high cost of getting those versus the loss of a few carts (in their mind). It would be a “good neighbor” thing to do and that would probably be the best approach.

    #80892

    The Bunny
    Participant

    And to Compass Rose, if Officer Mike Cruzan would like to speak with me directly, send me a message (private or on this thread) what his contact phone number is and I will call him. Thank you.

    #80893

    JM98107
    Participant

    Will it get worse when the Urban Restroom opens?

    #80894

    The Bunny
    Participant

    JM98107… I tend to agree… back about 17 years ago, I worked right by the one on the north end of downtown (I think it was pretty new at that time). It was a constant sh#t show and adversely effected the mom & pop shop convenient store that was located next to it. Some of us at work stopped using it because of the vibe/issues/etc. And the owners were having increased problems with shoplifting too. That last part was hearsay as I didn’t talk with him directly. I doubt all the users of URS were to blame but it only takes a handful to make that experience turn the immediate area into what it was. My Credit Union is by it on the north end now and I’ve gone into my CU a few times. Seems like sometimes it’s just people hanging out outside URS and sometimes just sitting on the sidewalk hanging out. Not sure how it works now but the fact the URS has messaged to Ballard the rule set and how it will diligently enforce it says a lot. The fact that those rules are in place and having to have someone on site to enforce them means those rules are likely broken on a routine basis. I have read the narratives on this and so it’s not just an off the cuff opinion.

    When I bring in a renter into my home (I sometimes rent a room), I certainly don’t need to have a list of behavioral rules like that.

    #80904

    JM98107
    Participant

    Commons campground? All the good camp sites under the Washington Convention Center, Capitol Hill and along the I-5 freeway have been taken, so Ballard is the next frontier.

    #80905

    BuffaloHawk
    Participant

    This could be interesting if enforced at the park

    http://www.komonews.com/news/local/Controversial-smoking-ban-enacted-at-Seattle-city-parks-305486541.html

    Seattle’s Parks and Recreation Board voted unanimously on Thursday to ban smoking from all 465 city parks.

    But some people say the controversial ban is in reality a backhanded attack on Seattle’s homeless population.

    #80916

    The Bunny
    Participant

    It’s official. Commons Campground just opened. I was just at QFC and someone actually pitched a tent in the commons in the NE area. I am not kidding.

    #80917

    Kate
    Participant

    Did you report it?

    #80918

    The Bunny
    Participant

    I did (yesterday when I saw it). Police say there is nothing they can do. It’s technically not against the law to pitch a tent during park hours, sleep in the park during park hours. Evidently sleeping on the sidewalks in front of the library and in the planting strip area adjacent to the park is ok too. Nice, Seattle needs to grow a backbone. You can call in and report on 911 any illegal activities such as drinking alcohol, drug use, amplified music, fighting (even arguing that looks like it could escalate). That gets things logged against the park and maybe next year it will take effect or something.

    #80934

    feeltheburn
    Participant

    It looks like we got just what Reverand Olson at St Lukes was hoping for…a camping area for his clients. And they haven’t even opening the urban rest area yet. Rev Olson and the folks that run the bridge care center (behind st lukes) don’t care about our community. Have you ever seen them out in the park picking up garbage or the used needles their clients leave around? All they care about is bringing more and more bums to Ballard.

    The only chance we have is to keep repoting the issues; on occasion the parks dept will clean out the camp sites. in the longer term, we have to elect a district council member and mayor who aren’t 100% beholden to homeless advocacy groups like the current ones are.

    #80939

    Salmon Bay
    Participant

    I rode through the park last night a little after 6:00 p.m. It was surreal. I was pretty much the only one in the entire park. Not one homeless person. No tent…

    #80945

    The Bunny
    Participant

    Per my June 1st posting, when I called in I requested a visit from a police officer. The police officer did roll up to my house, stopped, rolled off. He came back about 20 minutes later. He said he had to go because of a fight called into police at the commons. Awesome. I had a long discussion about the issues, etc. Explained camping issues on the planting strips, in front of the library, etc. That is in addition to the in the commons day camping/sleeping/partying/etc. I highlighted my and others perceptions of inaction by SPD. I also formally requested more foot and bike patrols in the area. This last bit has to be done in person to a police officer; I suggest more people do this. Maybe my succinct efforts, high lights of specific past failures to come out when I call, etc have them simply being more in their face about the issues. I don’t know.

    As for the comment above about St. Lukes and Bridge Care Center, I suggest people take a look here: http://www.bridgecarecenter.org/. They do not offer real help to fix the issues. No real counseling. Read it. In short, it just gives them a place to hang out, get clothes, something to eat, use the internet. It’s not empowering them as I see it which just feeds the issues of the neighborhood. What bothers me about the Bridge Care Center is it is actually run by Quest Church (located at 3233 15th Ave. West). Why don’t they run this from their own location just across the bridge? They have an ample building with a huge parking lot. Right off the bus line; it’s right at Dravus & 15th! Why not offer these services in their own house?

    #80947

    Marigold
    Participant

    Quest Church recently bought the Mars Hill Church near Ballard Blocks and are moving in later this summer to be closer to the Bridge Care Center which will stay where it is. The location in Ballard where it stands is beneficial to the homeless because of all of the central services. Shuffling the homeless off to an industrial area doesn’t really sound like the compassionate thing to do. A patch of grass is a nice thing for everyone!

    There are a few folks who may be taking advantage of the lack of policing, ie drinking beer in the park or worse, but how exactly to handle the bad eggs? I say if you don’t want those folks to feel too welcome then get to the park more often. A heavily used park by community members is a good thing! Croquet flash mob anyone?

    P.S. I see beer drinking kickball games weekly in the park in my microhood. Drink all you want, but if you play Journey’s “Can’t Stop Believing” one more time I’m gonna plotz. Or come over and steal your beer. In the park. No tent, but I’m bring a chair.

    #80948

    The Bunny
    Participant

    Marigold, I use the Commons Park as I do many of the Seattle Parks. Finding used hypodermic needles, garbage left by homeless (and I’m stating first hand seeing it, not assuming it), partying, loud music, etc. is taking advantage of the situation. Yes, the park is for everyone… that means for me too. I’ve lived in central Ballard for 20 years. I’ve never had an issue with certain homeless elements until these past two years. Homeless do need help and organizations wanting to offer help are welcome in my opinion, but those organizations also need to take responsibility what happens in the community they are a part of. To me it’s no different than taking responsibility for a family member under my own roof if/when they do something wrong outside of the home. I do not see that happening here. It’s not just a few folks now.

    #80949

    Marigold
    Participant

    I’m only by that park weekly so I only see it sometimes. I did see the tent business this past weekend, which seemed like a new one. Have you seen those particular folks using the Bridge Care Center? I think those are just the ones “living off the grid” and getting away with it, but I could be mistaken. Is this an unintended effect of the 9 1/2 block crime sweep downtown that they are doing?

    I fear it will get worse before it gets better. Check out this piece on heroin use in Seattle: http://kuow.org/post/seattles-heroin-use-through-eyes-street-sweepers.

    Stay vocal, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. But if no laws are being broken, there is nothing SPD can do. Do we change laws? It would be nice if we had more beat cops, but who will pay for them? Another property tax levy?

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