Making Downtown Safe

A program in Seattle to increase public safety, called “See it, Send It” as covered in the story from the Seattle Times, excerpted after the Wikipedia excerpt, might be something Sacramento should emulate.

Seattle, a beautiful city I lived in for a year about 35 years ago, has not been able to control or stop the emergence of very large tent cities, which, as Wikipedia notes, continue operating in the city, which has everything to do with the problems downtown.

 An excerpt from Wikipedia.

Share/Wheel is self-help organization run by many homeless individuals in Seattle. Share/Wheel has created 4 Tent Cities through the years. The first Tent City set up in 1990 at the Goodwill Games. It later became a self-managed homeless shelter at a Metro Bus Barn. It eventually moved to the Aloha Inn and created a self-managed Transitional Housing program. Tent City 2 was established on Beacon Hill against the objections of the City of Seattle. The City invited the residents to a joint discussion, and while the campers attended the meeting, the Police bulldozed the camp site, including private possessions. Tent City 3 was created on March 31, 2000, on private land. The police did not intervene, but the City of Seattle sued the host over unpaid permit fees. SHARE/WHEEL and the City of Seattle settled out of court with a “Consent Decree  when a Superior Court judge warned the City that it would lose the case. Tent City 3 moves from location to location every 60–90 days. Tent City 4 split from Tent City 3 and shifts from place to place on the East side of Lake Washington. Tent cities shelter homeless persons who can not or do not wish to attend a public shelter for various reasons. The City of Seattle does not approve of these tent cities. Effective March 13, 2012, the Consent Decree between SHARE/WHEEL and the City of Seattle ended.

“Another “tent city” in the Seattle area is Nickelsville, which has no formal connection to SHARE/WHEEL”.

An excerpt from the Seattle Times article.

“Outside the Inn at the Market, a small, boutique hotel at the Pike Place Market, general manger David Watkins has seen a young man selling drugs day after day.

“In the past, Watkins has called 911, but said he didn’t see any police response. Last week, Watkins emailed a photo to police and City Council members of an apparent drug sale by the man as part of a coordinated effort by the tourism industry to bring a sense of urgency to city leaders over illegal and unsavory activity downtown.

“If you walk from the convention center to the Market, you pass open-air drug dealing, kids with pit bulls, aggressive panhandling and other disturbing behavior. This is one way to make city officials know what’s going on,” Watkins said.

“The effort, called “See It, Send It,” was launched last week by Seattle’s Convention and Visitors Bureau. It asks businesses and tourism professionals to send descriptions and photos to elected officials of activity that they say makes both visitors and locals feel unsafe.

“Tom Norwalk, president and CEO of the visitors bureau, in an emailed message to city and county officials, said Seattle’s visitor experience has reached a tipping point.

“The situation is getting worse, not better, and we are hearing increasing negative comments from key convention, business and leisure travel customers and clients.”

“Among the comments forwarded to city leaders was a letter from a Seattle native now living in Chicago who was in town for last month’s Seahawks game against the Dallas Cowboys.

“The aggressive panhandling and the sheer number of homeless are frightening. We could not walk five feet without someone literally standing in our path and asking for money,” she wrote. “Many Cowboys fans I talked with were shocked at the filth of Seattle and the number of homeless at the Market and Pioneer Square.”

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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