Members of the Seattle City Council got a first hand look today at some of the problems along The Ave during a walking tour focusing on safety issues. In fact, a pushing and screaming match broke out across the street as they talked with local merchants. We were there as University Police quickly moved in to calm down the fight over a broken iPod.
University of Washington Police respond to a fight during the City Council’s tour.
“We get a lot of weird people doing things like that,” the owner of Gargoyle Statuary said of the altercation. “On our block is a lot of the drug selling. They’re not here all the time but they’re running back and forth. You see it all day.”
Councilmembers take a walking tour of The Ave.
Councilmembers Tim Burgess, Sally Bagshaw and Sally Clark, all members of the council’s Public Safety and Education Committee, took part in the tour that stopped in front of several businesses along University Way to hear the problems facing the neighborhood. One common message was the need for more police.
“Something bad will happen and people will perceive that The Ave is unsafe,” said a manager for Pagliacci. “There will be an influx of police officers. But then things will calm down, police will go away, and it starts over again.”
Business owners voice their concerns over drug dealing, panhandling, and graffiti.
Other businesses owners pointed to graffiti and aggressive panhandling. There was even talk of possibly diverting commercial vehicle and bus traffic off The Ave to help cut down on noise, or even making The Ave a pedestrian boulevard. But some worry that could only make things worse for businesses trying to survive.
“It’s a great community, it’s a vibrant community, but it certainly has its challenges,” said a representative of the University Bookstore. “We’d like to see some of this behavior leave.”