News Blog for Seattle's University District Neighborhood

 

Crime prevention coordinators face layoffs

October 19th, 2010 by master

Unless the budget changes, three of the seven crime prevention coordinators in Seattle will lose their jobs. As for the remaining four coordinators, including the one serving the U-District, no one is sure if they’ll be forced to cut back on their hours or cover larger areas to fill the holes.

Crime prevention coordinators, civilian employees in the Seattle Police Department, work directly with residents doing everything from setting up block watches to going door to door to warn about recent crimes. They’d been part of the police budget up until last October, when the positions then became paid for with federal grant money that runs out in the spring.

With the help of the nonprofit Common Language Project and communications students at the University of Washington, we take a closer look at what the loss of these coordinators could mean to our neighborhoods.

Continue reading “Crime Prevention Coordinators Face the Budget Axe”.

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UW argues against hike in commercial parking tax

September 14th, 2010 by master

A proposal to raise Seattle’s commercial parking tax from 10% to 12.5% is being met with opposition from the University of Washington.  The additional $5 million a year  would be used to start funding a new Elliott Bay seawall.  During this morning’s City Council’s Transportation Committee meeting,  UW director of transportation Josh Kavanagh said a parking tax hike would seriously hurt students and staff.

“Frankly, we represent 10 percent of the commerical parking tax receipts for the city of Seattle presently,” said Kavanagh.  “With an increase in that tax to fund the seawall, we’re looking at UW commuters funding 10 percent of the seawall replacement.  I have serious concerns about that.”


Seattle seawall from WSDOT

Kavanagh also said the proposed hike would jeopardize the future of the U-Pass, which provides students and staff with low-cost transportation options from buses, commuter train service, light rail, vanpooling and carpooling.  The money collected from parking at the UW is used in part to subsidize the U-Pass.  If the UW has to pay more in commerical parking tax, it has less money to funnel toward the U-Pass.  The result would be higher prices for the U-Pass, which has already seen a significant drop in the number of people using it.  The U-Pass recently jumped from$50 a quarter for students to $99 a quarter.

“I encourage the committee to look into ways to lessen the burden on the University of Washington’s U-Pass program and not go down the road of making it cost prohibitive in the near future,” said Andrew Lewis with the Associated Students of the UW.

An amendment that would exempt or partially exempt UW from the commercial parking tax was brought up during today’s committee meeting, but was withdrawn after members decided more discussion was needed to potentially include hospitals and community colleges.  The plan to raise the tax to 12.5% was passed along to the full Council for a final vote.

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City budget hearing set for North Seattle, vote for your favorite ideas

September 9th, 2010 by master

As the City Council dives into the 2011-2012 budget, they’re once again asking for the public’s input.  One of three public hearings will be held at the Northgate Community Center gym at 10510 5th Ave NE.  It takes place Wednesday, September 29 starting at 5:30pm (please arrive by 5pm to sign up to speak). 

In the meantime, the Council has set up a web page where you can submit ideas to balance the budget and vote on other suggestions.  You can find that page here.

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Fight breaks out as city council tours The Ave

June 24th, 2010 by master

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.”

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U-District graffiti survey

May 4th, 2010 by master

Tagging on private and public property has always generated a lot of controversy in the U-District. Now, the City of Seattle wants to know how they’re doing in response to graffiti.

City Councilmembers Tim Burgess and Tom Rasmussen have asked the Office of City Auditor to review and evaluate the current response to graffiti and then make recommendations to the Mayor and the City Council. The ten-question survey asks if graffiti (both public and private) is an issue for you, how often your property has been marked with graffiti, and what improvements can be made in the city’s graffiti response.

Here is the link to the questionnaire. It must be filled out by Monday, May 10th.

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Legislation aims to curb aggressive solicitation

April 19th, 2010 by master

Interesting story by William Dow in The Daily on Monday. This story talks about a new piece of legislation proposed by Seattle City Councilmember Tim Burgess designed to cut down on the kind of aggressive solicitation and panhandling that you might see on the Ave.

Mayor Mike McGinn has said he will try to veto the measure.

Here’s a passage from the story with quotes from Burgess:

“Burgess, a former Seattle police officer, wrote that he knows about the current laws, but that the city is “approaching a dangerous tipping point” where perceptions of an unsafe city could negatively impact the area.

His legislation, he said, would prevent this without criminalizing the homeless. Those who aggressively panhandle may do community service rather than pay a fine, and the city attorney does not always prosecute, he said.

Burgess said the bill would help Seattle businesses and make residents feel safe as they walk Seattle’s streets. To that end, police have increased foot patrols downtown, but not in the U-District.”

We’ll keep you updated on what happens with this proposed legislation.

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