Seattle is at a critical juncture. As a city, we face our toughest challenges in nearly 100 years. From the continued health risk of the pandemic to the devastating impacts on our economy. To move forward and make progress, Seattle leaders and community members must work together. We must listen to each other. We must be thoughtful, inclusive, and deliberate in our response to the significant health, economic, and social challenges we face. While we undertake this important work, we should be also committed to keeping our city safe for all. We cannot sacrifice community safety without a concrete plan tied to measurable results. We must maintain 911 response times for serious emergencies.
- We must reduce crimes against people and property crimes.
- We must have a compassionate, but proactive response to unsanctioned tent encampments that take hold in high-traffic areas of our city.
- We also must be able to maintain and manage our parks and public spaces to ensure safety and usability for all.
- We must eliminate open-air drug-markets that prey on vulnerable people and concentrate on illegal activity.
- We must provide services to individuals dealing with mental illness.
Most importantly, we must build a broad consensus on public safety strategies and outcomes and restore the public’s confidence.
It’s important the city knows what activities are occurring at Junction Plaza Park, a park owned by Seattle Parks and Recreation, located in the Junction. Recently, the Junction director sent a statement in the Junction newsletter. The Junction is actively involved starting conversations with the Hygiene Station team around the escalating violence and drug use in the park. We are focused on advocating for a responsible approach to re-imagining mental health services and policing to keep every person safe in our city.
Can you help?
Send an email to Human Services. Together, we can work to elevate the need for more mental and drug counselors at the park. Let’s get people to the services they need, and support accountability:Copy/paste into the send line of your email Tom.VanBronkhorst3@seattle.gov; Frank.Coulter@seattle.gov; Bill.Benzer@seattle.gov; Tess.Colby@seattle.gov; Lisa.Gustaveson@seattle.gov; Donna.Waters@seattle.gov cc: Lora@wsjunction.org
Or Call Human Services Tom Van Bronkhorst Office: 206.233.3954Read the West Seattle Blog article here Watch KOMO 4 coverage here Watch KING 5 coverage here Watch KIRO 7 coverage of a Lake City park here Watch KIRO 7 coverage of letter the business neighborhoods sent to elected officials here Joint City Parks & Public Space Letter – 10-26-20 A Loophole that Effectively Legalizes Most Crime in Seattle The Seattle Times – Encampments, conditions at Seattle parks draw scrutiny as coronavirus pandemic draws on Capitol Hill Blog – Business and community group letter: ‘Spiraling public health and safety crisis’ in Cal Anderson and Seattle’s parks Puget Sound Business Journal – Crisis makes some Seattle parks unusable, business leaders say Westside Seattle – Business associations make urgent appeal to city to address crime, drug use and more in city parks KIRO-TV – After scathing letter on parks, Seattle council votes to restore funding for outreach Capitol Hill Blog – Seattle mayor makes ‘Clean Cities’ push to launch $5.6M for increased trash pick-up and proactive cleaning The Seattle Times – Durkan proposes $5.6M plan to address trash in Seattle parks, public spaces KOMO-TV – Seattle parks response team removes nearly 3,000 pounds of trash from Williams Place Park Seattle PI – Seattle neighborhood groups, businesses write letter to city regarding park conditions KOMO-TV – As Seattle parks perish, pandemic slows city’s ability to restore green spaces KOMO-TV – Letter to city officials warns of public safety crisis in Seattle’s parks KCPQ-TV – City leaders: Seattle parks ‘spiraling’ into danger and chaos at a time when they’re needed most
Junction Plaza Park Public Safety Meeting Tuesday, October 13th, 2 PMLisa Herbold – D1 Councilmember (until 2:30 PM) Tess Colby – Senior Advisor, Office of the Mayor Tom Van Bronkhorst – Strategic Advisor, Department of Neighborhoods Bill Benzer – Seattle Public Utilities Aaron Burkhalter – Project Manager LEAD Joe Everett – Precinct Liaison Attorney City Attorney’s Office Sina Ebinger – Operations Lieutenant Seattle Police Department The format was: Introductions How the panel member intersects with public safety Read questions posed via the WSB Open to questions on the call Closing and next steps
The Junction is capturing the most recent complaints from our neighborhood community members, we’ll add your voice:
“A couple of nights ago, one of the men from the park, according to witnesses, was extremely agitated and screaming for quite a while outside of the QFC across the street. That eventually led to this man using very large stones and empty bottles to completely destroy all of the windows on the SW side of the store. By the time police arrived, the man was completely naked, and still screaming. He was arrested. Then, last night, my partner and I were having dinner in my kitchen, which, unfortunately overlooks the park. What started as an all day long drinking party ( drugs were also likely involved, they tend to not try to hide it) eventually led to two of the men Getting into an extremely violence fist fight. Both men were wearing nothing but a pair of shorts by this time both took a really extreme beating to the head, among other injuries. My neighbors and i called 9-1-1 to report this, and before officers arrived the fight had made its way out into passing traffic. I saw one of the men throw the other into a car stopped at the intersection. Police came and went making no arrests, but the noise, screaming, and vandalism to the park continued all through the night, and is currently still underway. I have watched the Honey Buckets get pushed over again and again for the last week or so! 3 or 4 times just last night! Not only are the conditions of the park scary, they are unsanitary, and unsafe. Between the constant violence, the camp site full of food waste, garbage, and human waste ( even with porta- potties i see people back there relieving themselves!) We have complained several times about the rats too. There is so much constant filth that they run out in broad daylight to eat food scraps! My neighbors and i can no longer walk our dogs in the park either. Firstly, because we don’t feel safe in general, but on top of that the constant broken bottles and other glass containers has made it unsafe to really walk through. I also wanted to add that the Parks crews DO COME and clean this mess up periodically, but as soon as they leave the campers destroy it, seemingly on purpose. I also see a sanitation crew come for the honey buckets, but if their contents is being thrown all around inside throughout the day, how clean is it really? I realize these folks are homeless, but we need to figure something else out. The efforts by Seattle Police have been fruitless. I am very concerned that if changes aren’t made, someone is going to be hurt or even killed.” -AT “I’d like to include an additional account of my experiences at the Junction Plaza Park. Since the beggining of the year that my partner and I have been at the Campbell Building, the park campers have been active though not entirely out of control. There has always been overt drug use and drinking, needles and trash, etc., however, recently, the climate has become incredibly agitated. The homeless population of the park has increased along with occasional bonfires, fist fights, screaming day and night, folks wandering into traffic, threatening pedestrians and more. Even more recently, while I was sitting on a bench in the park trying to comb my dog, a young man approached me and accused me of staring at his girlfriend, then promptly flashed a large knife at me and told me to leave the park. I didn’t even bother calling the police because they rarely if ever do anything apart from show up and leave. I know this is not your problem specifically but it is apart of a larger problem that you are connected to. More than anything I want to emphasize that park is unsafe to the point of violence. That it is a huge public health risk, littered with constant trash and broken bottles, human waste and dirty needles scattered about. Did you know that the hazmat receptacle made to contain dirty needles is merely zip tied to the side of the port-a-potties? It is routinely ripped off and/or busted open laying somewhere in the park. I understand the delicacy and interconnectedness of this issue, not only in the park but city wide. However this is our neighborhood and it is unsafe to live in, something must be done. Looking forward to your thoughts and more importantly your actions on these pressing issues.” -CP “The junction plaza park that has become overrun with homeless and drug addicts/belligerent folks. I no longer feel safe even walking on that side of the street next to the park anymore, much less walking through it. I witnessed assaults and property destruction there last week while sitting Eating with my kids in a la mode pies last week. I reported same to police.there was a police response as a belligerent and violent man was accosting his fellow transients but also two innocent men who were literally just walking by on the sidewalk. An employee of the pie shop said that as soon as the port a potty, hand wash station and shower went in, the park has been overrun with transients who basically get in fights and are wasted every single day. He said people from the park stole their tip jar as well. I have to think the QFC rampage Sunday was related to someone who frequents the park.” -KS “I am reaching out to see if there has been any outreach to the city yet regarding what has been happening at Junction Plaza. There seems to be no upkeep of the park in recent months, with bushes overgrown and trash in the garden areas. Moreover, the congregating in the park has become a nuisance. We have had instances of our tenants being verbally accosted while trying to cross the street at that location and an instance where a colleague was chased by one of person s congregating in the park. I am all for providing sanitization stations for those who do not have readily access but I question whether the middle of a business district is the best place location. At the very least if the city is going to insist this is the best location then additional attention is needed to make sure the park is kept up to its previous standard or higher.” -MB “I am a West Seattle resident and am writing to express my concern and frustration towards what is occurring in and around Junction Plaza Park. The park has seemingly turned into a camp/drug site and now local businesses are experiencing vandalism. I don’t feel safe at the park or even walking past and am concerned for everyone’s safety. Some are attributing these issues to the hygiene station that was recently added to the park. Whatever has contributed to this situation at the park and surrounding area, it should be the city’s responsibility to provide safe and enjoyable public spaces. There is obviously a need to have drug and/or mental counselors dispatched to the park and services offered to these people who are in need. West Seattle residents expect accountability and a clean and safe environment in our neighborhoods.” -BF “Junction Park has always been a hangout for people with nowhere else to go but in the past few months the situation there has worsened considerably. I walk by that park most days on my way to QFC and am alarmed by the site of people milling about, camping in the park, people selling and using drugs, and people in the midst of mental health issues. I do not think that adding the port-a-potties was an improvement to this park. These are some of the same people who used to hang out at the bus stop in the Junction before the extra bench was removed. I know that area very well and believe me, it was dangerous at times. The lax attitude on the part of city government is unacceptable. This park and the people who spend their days at the park need help. The public needs to be reassured that the city actually cares about citizens walking by the park minding their own business. The recent events at QFC where the glass in the main doors were shattered, and the story of a man being held at knifepoint tell me this situation has deteriorated to a dangerous degree. Please tell me that you will do something to improve this situation. I’m assuming you are not recommending citizens arm themselves before passing by this park. Give us another alternative.” -KB “I am a concerned resident of Junction area of West Seattle and frequently walk past this park to QFC and the YMCA. Please prioritize your efforts to have mental health and drug addiction resources available to the many park occupants who seem to be in a state of distress. This is not new. I have been verbally accosted as I was simply walking on Alki Beach last year by someone who was high on drugs. I am not interested in a repeat experience near the Junction Plaza Park.” -NL “Please remove the portapotty and sink at Junction Plaza Park. Ever since these were plopped down in the center of our very small park they have created nuisance problems which have been exponentially rippling out in criminal ways that negatively affect businesses and citizens. Park squatters have intimidated others from entering the park and harass unsuspecting pedestrians (the fore-mentioned structures are close to a well traveled sidewalk). Thank you in advance for helping us with our situation!” -JB “The Junction Plaza park has become an eye sore, unsafe to walk by and unusable by children or any other citizen that do not want to have profanities yelled at them. In the past few months a group of addicts and mentally ill people have been occupying the park day and night. As a homeowner within 5 blocks of this park, I have witnessed people being verbally harassed, I, myself have been verbally harassed, my husband has witnessed a man peeing in public near the park, my neighbors have reported to me that they have seen drug use at that park, and our beloved local small and large business have been vandalized. I pay taxes for the city to take care of these type of problems when they arise. Placing a “hygiene station” at this park has only brought in more people with the same issues. The problem needs to be solved. “In the past few years I could name several incidents that I have witnessed around the city that would rarely be seen in Seattle, but every year it gets worse and worse. It makes me wonder if we have become the dumping ground for other cities’ addict and mentally ill issues since we tolerate the problems. STOP tolerating these types of problems. Please clean up our parks, force the addicts to get help in a facility that will help them and keep them until they are sober. What our city has been doing this past 5 years is not working. Come up with a better plan. Citizens are counting on you so our communities are SAFE, small businesses are not run-out of our neighborhoods, and tax-paying citizen’s home and our neighborhoods are not devalued.” -TT “What can be done about the lawlessness and drug use that has infested out beautiful community park in West Seattle? My kids and I are forced to use the other side of Alaska St. when we pass by the park. Recent violence across the street at QFC by the loiterers that in inhabit Junction Plaza Park is unacceptable.” -WL “I am writing you in hopes of trying to bring attention to the growing problems in Junction Plaza Park and the Alaska Junction in West Seattle. As a resident of West Seattle for almost 10 years, I have seen that park be a place where residents could take their dogs, sit with their cup of coffee or eat something they just bought from the Farmer’s Market. The park has changed. It is no longer safe for residents of near by apartments to take their dogs, for residents to sit and enjoy the park or to even walk by. I have watched while drug deals are taking place right next to the line to get into the Sunday Farmer’s Market. Also, In the last few months, I have witnessed these events in the Alaska Junction: 1-A violent shirtless man walking down California smashing trash cans and yelling at others 2-A violent homeless woman camped out on a bench in front of one of the storefronts who got violent with one of the Junction Business Owners 3-Needles left in the Free lot behind businesses 4-Mentally ill people walking into Junction businesses and having to be forced out This area has already been hit so hard with the Pandemic and now I fear that the violence in the Park and in the Junction will drive more people away. We need more services for these people. Putting them in jail doesn’t work. This city has a big problem and it will only be solved when help is given to all those affected by drug abuse and mental illness. The Junction Association, Business Owners and Police can only do so much. This problem needs your attention.” -NS “We live and own a business in West Seattle. We often walk near this park and shop at the stores directly adjacent to the park. It used to be rare to see a homeless person sleeping on a bench, but it has become an ongoing occurrence to see groups of vagrants and people in obvious mental distress drinking, shouting, intimidating passers by, sometimes fighting or just passed out on all the benches, in the grass, on the sidewalk. It’s become filthy as a regular state- there is always litter and debris, clothes, bottles, broken glass, the stink or urine and I’m sure worse within the inner areas and brush landscaping. Sadly, we just stopped going near there at all, out of fear for our own safety. We still try to shop in the area- QFC is a major grocery store near us- but we make sure to park on the opposite block to the park and enter the building at the farthest entrance. With the recent incident there, however, I don’t know that we’ll even continue to do that. It’s just not worth it. And this is a park that’s directly adjacent to the middle of the West Seattle business and commercial district. The farmers market happens a half block from there. Shoppers, residents, visitors all frequent the area, increasingly at their own personal risk. This situation is sad, concerning, alarming. Residents and visitors just can’t be in the area and certainly can’t use the park- even walking through the park is a risk. We support the Junction Associations effort to bring attention and help to this issue. To leave these people on their own is inhumane. Drug and mental health professionals would be a start- getting these people who are in obvious need of help into an environment where they can get that help and not be a risk to their own and others safety is a must. I implore you to please take needed action and not just turn a blind eye to this eroding situation.” -RS “Hopefully you are paying attention to the safety and sanitary complaints regarding Junction Plaza Park. We have lived in the neighborhood going on 14 years and I have never been afraid to walk around my neighborhood. I am afraid now. Get the junkies out and clean up the park. Don’t it because it’s your job or because I don’t feel safe walking anymore, do it because it is TOTAL BS that I can no longer walk with my children through the area.” -KS “I would like to echo the WSJA call for attention to the plight of the situation at the West Seattle Junction Park. The park has attracted a dangerous element. I personally have been harassed as I left the adjacent QFC. You need to do something to restore safety in the area, and allow the park to be used for a short rest as was originally intended.” -RK “I just called the police again after another violent fight between two men from the park broke out around 2:15pm. The fight started in the park, out into traffic, and all the way over to Jefferson Square. I called to report the fight, but also reported several open containers of alcohol, which likely added to the level of violence. The handful of men in the park had been drinking at least since i woke up around 9:30am. The dispatcher told me that assuming the fight ended by the time officers arrived that they would at least go talk to them about the open containers. Around 3:30pm i saw SPD handcuffing and arresting one of the men involved in the fight, but as of 5:30 or so, he has returned to the park with beer in hand. I assume they drove him elsewhere and let him go, and he just came right back. During the arrest, i was out walking my dog, and ran into a couple of neighbors just outside the building. While we talked a man in the park ( in front of SPD) started behaving aggressively towards us over the fence, and then proceeded to come around the fence toward us. We retreated into the building to avoid dealing with the clearly drunk, and unmasked man. Also, as of last night we have tents going up. There is currently only one. I also wanted to let you guys know, that in the last week or so, I have seen one of the homeless guys with a stun gun, and a knife. Just for the knowledge of anyone who makes an attempt to contact them face to face. They MIGHT have weapons in the park.” -AT “We are writing to add our voices to that of Lora Radford, Executive Director, West Seattle Junction Association, the West Seattle Blog, as well as countless other West Seattle residents. We and our children are frustrated and frightened by the escalating violence and drug use in Junction Plaza Park, and the lack of response from Human Services. We are concerned about the safety of both the vulnerable people in the park, as well as neighbors, visitors and shoppers in the Junction area. This has been going on for too long, ever since the hygiene station was installed. Our community needs more support from the City in the way of a response and action for the significant health, economic, and social challenges everyone is experiencing. Please heed our call the for more mental and drug counselors at the park. Let’s get people to the services they need, and support accountability.” -RW “I am reaching out via the West Seattle Blog story on the Junction Plaza Park. I am a West Seattle resident, and supporter of many non-profits around the area, including Transitional Resources. It seems that the non-profits can only do so much to help the tremendous problems affiliated with homelessness, mental illness and drug addiction in this area. It is increasingly unlikely that I will allow my middle school daughter to walk around the junction with friends. I think this is a pretty huge statement. We all deserve a safe place to walk around in our neighborhoods. Not only the Junction, but everywhere. Can the city utilize the service of mental health and drug counselors to alleviate some of these problems? Are there any suggestions for what the residents and in particular the parents living in the area can do to help? There are a lot of us that are willing to help out if we have some direction! We hope the city can intervene and help us with some of these overwhelming problems.” -MA “As I am sure you are all aware, or at least should be if you are listening to the many West Seattleites that have raised this issue, the deterioration of the West Seattle Junction Park has reached crisis levels. The West Seattle Junction is one of the truly vibrant neighborhood business areas in the entire city, and is really a Seattle jewel, yet the City’s action, or rather its’ inaction, is seriously jeopardizing the future of this community asset. The City must immediately and proactively address the recent explosion of problems, criminal behavior, and dangerous situations which are the direct result of turning the park into a center for homeless services, and an apparent haven for drug users. Your response to the WS Junction representative was ludicrous, and made very clear the fact that the City could not really care less about the folks in this community that follow the laws, pay their taxes, and in general support social services designed to help folks dealing with drugs or homelessness, or both, to find a better way of life. But to simply dump these folks into the middle of a community with minimal efforts to control the negative behavior which we are seeing on a regular basis at the park, at all hours of the day, is to essentially tell us you just don’t give a damn about our opinions or needs. Instead of “de-funding” the police, we need to see them more visibly in the Junction. And instead of spending City funds to defend Council member Sawant in the recall effort under way, as recently was reported in the news, those funds should be spent to relocate the folks causing this situation in the Junction to better, more supportive locations, where they can not only be safe, but also have the services to address their obvious needs. And frankly, if they don’t want to relocate, or if they feel that somehow the City needs to let them live their lives in the lawless manner they are living them, the City needs to not give them that option. Civilized society demands that those who follow society’s norms be safeguarded from those that don’t. If you fail to do that, don’t be shocked if West Seattleites begin to take matters into their own hands.” -GM “I am writing this as a concerned citizen, community leader, and someone who has personally invested significantly in the establishment of and continued improvements to Junction Plaza Park over the years. I was involved early on in the establishment of and fundraising for the park when it was simply a vacant lot on the corner of 42nd and Alaska. When it came time to physically do the work of planting and landscaping, myself and a group of people from my church community were there to give hours to the project and then for the next several years we invested in its upkeep. As a board member on the West Seattle Junction Association I was involved in annual usage and programming including speaking at the tree lighting for several holiday seasons. In addition, I also have 20 years of paid and unpaid experience working with and advocating for the unhoused, addicted, and mentally ill in our city. I am also an advocate for creating inclusive community spaces that all are capable of enjoying. I am greatly disappointed in the environment that the city has created since this past Spring and your lack of response as the escalating issues have continually been brought to your attention. While I understand the initial thoughts behind this of bringing bathroom and sanitation stations to those on the streets, it troubles me that there is little to no realization that these efforts do not work as they might for people who are able to make better life choices for themselves. This is not merely a “homeless” issue, it is undoubtedly a mental health and addiction issue and it is only exacerbated by your providing an incentive to occupy what had been an otherwise safe for all public space. Despite your repeated claims of desiring the “humane” response, this is anything but. The mentally ill and addicted have little or no ability to self-govern or coexist with others in this type of environment. Do not mistake this as another NIMBY response … it is anything but. Any type of “humane” solution needs to be serviced by trained people who will walk alongside those who are struggling and help them succeed. You can’t simply drop Honey Buckets and call it good. Due to your unresponsiveness to this it has become a very hostile and volatile environment that is going to continue until a fatal or near fatal incident. When that happens it (not if) this city will absolutely be complicit. This is not going to go away. My sentiments are reflected by thousands more with the same concerns. This neighborhood deserves more and these people that you have attempted to help with a bandaid deserve more. I want you to know ahead of time that you will hear from me and others like me repeatedly each and every day until you have resolved this and returned the park to the safe community space it was intended to be.” -DJ “It frustrates me to have to write this email, but enough is enough. I am a business owner in the junction in west Seattle and the park has become littered with people who really need help and you’re refusing to do so. They are homeless, violent, and harassing members of our community. They are destroying business’ and scaring away customers. Do you have ANY idea how hard we’ve had to come during this entire pandemic to STILL be open?!? It’s time that you start taking this seriously and start doing the job you are payed to do. Scoffing in the face of your constituents is hardly that and you should be ashamed that you’ve continually done that very same thing each time this issue is brought to your attention. Human Services: “Human services is an interdisciplinary field of study with the objective of meeting human needs through an applied knowledge base, focusing on prevention as well as remediation of problems, and maintaining a commitment to improving the overall quality of life of service populations.” Isn’t this what you are, am I missing something?” -AH “I was just having coffee as i get ready for work watching the folks in line for the farms market squirm while several unmasked homeless men in the park kick garbage around, weave throw the line for no apparent reason, scream at each other/ threaten each other, and then lastly, one of the men walked back into the bushes in the encampment and as if no one could see him began to urinate! Also, Last night when i got home from work, my partner and i went out together to walk our dog. Out of one of the dark corners of the park someone threw a full Big Gulp size beverage container at us, but thankfully missed! Which brings me to: If we can’t manage to get the park under control, can we at least get the park better lit? So we can see the threats coming out of the darkness at us?” -AT “I am writing as a concerned citizen to any parties who have any control or solution to the recent “Hygiene Stations” that have been placed in Junction Plaza Park. I ask that you reconsider this strategy. These toilets are not hygienic and have made the park a zone of litter, trash, and drug activity that is creating a larger a health concern for residents who are living near there. This unsanitary station is not a solution, in fact it’s making this area more dangerous for the law abiding citizens who pay a premium to live here. I actually live across the street from this park at Junction 47 apts. I’ve lived in the West Seattle Junction for 5 years. Recently, I have been accosted on the street by people gathering at this park while simply trying to walk and get groceries at the QFC. If there is not a change in strategy on real and effective efforts to actually assist these people gathering in the park and creating a safe environment, I will be moving and I know I won’t be the only one. Everyone deserves to feel safe in this neighborhood and right now the residents‘ safety is not the priority.” -MW “I am writing to you about the condition of the Junction Plaza Park in West Seattle. I was not surprised to see articles start coming out about how dangerous the park is now. When I google searched the park, the images that I see are from years when the park was beautiful. Unfortunately it is now very gross, dangerous, and forgotten about. Conditions have changed a lot since it first opened and it appears that there has been no effort by the city/ parks dept. or the Junction Association to fix this. There is trash littered around the park, broken glass all over the ground, the tables and chairs and ground have graffiti and huge spills that have stained the ground. Gardens are overgrown and dead, the trash and recycle are overflowed. There are homeless people sleeping in the bushes. People who are dealing with mental health problems drinking liquor straight out of the bottle. These people also approach civilians and have approached me. AND the “sanitation station” has brought all this upon the park and really done the opposite of what it should be doing as there are reports of people going to the bathroom outside of the port a potties in the park. Why is this park full of port a potties? I get the effort to help homeless people but it is not working and it has degraded the park beyond recognition. The city shared a statement about the station which reads, “Seattle Parks and Recreation staff and Seattle Public Utility contractors clean and service the Junction Plaza Park Hygiene Station three times a day, addressing any trash or litter and ensuring the facilities are in working order.” This is hilarious to me because it’s a blatant lie because those stations and the park itself are NEVER cleaned. No one cares! Just the other week there were drunk homeless men gathered together in the park with loud music and open liquor and they were ramming their heads into the port a potties. Also fist fighting. Doesn’t the city hear our complaints?! First the bridge cutting us off from the rest of Seattle and now this!? People should be able to walk their dogs in this park and not be met with true dangers to their safety and even their dogs safety as there is broken glass all over the ground! I am shocked and disappointed to see how much the park has been let go. I attached pictures of the park. Google it to see what it used to look like. Where are our tax dollars even going if not to things like this?” -KC “Please help us help you. Our community needs your support and services. Ignoring West Seattle and our cries for help is not an option.” -MS “I walked past the park yesterday on my way to the market. In the park, immediately adjacent to the market line, four transients sat at a table drinking beer. One of them was using a switchblade knife to finely chop something on the table in front of him. It was not food. There are needles strewn along the Alaska side of QFC. There were other groups of unmasked, mentally ill transients harassing people and deliberately getting in their faces. Another issue is accessibility. Husky Deli has been allowed to take over the sidewalk. The sidewalk is already narrow and cluttered in that stretch. The HD outside tables leave only about two feet of passable sidewalk, forcing pedestrians to creep by single file in very close proximity to unmasked diners. Many people are squeezing between parked cars and walking in traffic to avoid the bottleneck. This is an illegal blockage of a right-of-way in the best of times, but a dangerous violation in the time of Covid-19. There is a similar situation at Grand Central (?) a few doors down, where the sidewalk tables obstruct the sidewalk. Add to that the Bakery Nouveau line, and that block has become virtually impassable, especially to mobility challenged seniors like myself. Even with many restaurants either closed, or open for pick-up only, I would love to be able to get some take-out lunch or do some grocery shopping. While Covid-19 is a contributing factor to some of the obstacles to doing business in the Junction right now, it is far from the primary one. The Junction has become a sh!thole. Once a pleasant place to have lunch and spend a few hours, it has instead become a place to avoid at all costs – if one can even get there in the first place.” -IM “We are writing to express our dismay at the condition or Junction Plaza Park and the increase of the crime rate in West Seattle.There are syringes, trash and tents in our public parks, Our children are not safe and our stores are being vandalized. As citizens of West Seattle I would like to see aproactive policing and a responsible approach to keeping every person safe in our neighborhood.” -ST “The families and businesses in the West Seattle Junction need your help. While there isn’t an easy answer to the mental health and homelessness issues, at the end of the day, my 8yo daughter shouldn’t be terrified to walk past Junction Plaza Park on the way to Petco. Just yesterday, we walked by to hear profanity, witness blatant littering, but more concerning, my daughter screamed in fear as someone continued to stare at her as we walked to the store. Obviously the hygiene station has attracted people who lack facilities but how can you support this without compromising the safety and well-being of other citizens? Why was this station added if there’s a portable restroom one block away? Why is the behavior at the park different from that facility? My walking around the block to protect my daughter’s emotional or physical well-being is a small sacrifice. But what will be the true impact if this issue is not addressed soon? Will more families avoid the area altogether and impact the local businesses that make the Junction what it is today? Will the situation escalate beyond damaging storefronts? Actually, it’s a matter of When and not Will it happen. So the real question is: what will it take for the City to take action?” -DQ “Our business is a block from the park, and I have to walk right past the park to the parking garage twice a day. Last night about 6:00 when I walked by there was a man stripped to the waist yelling loudly. The portable sink was knocked over as was the trash can and there were soda cans and other debris all over the park. Is there any chance of removing the porta potties and sink from the park? In my opinion having them there only encourages these men to congregate there. The park should be a place of enjoyment for the whole community, and it is not a place that any family would go for any reason. Even before all the violence, the park was not cared for. There was still trash everywhere, weeds and leaves throughout and the grass was unkept and dried up and yellow. The park is not only an eyesore, but it is now dangerous! There have been men camping in the back corner of the park for over two weeks now. Sending counselors is not helping. The enabling must stop before someone is hurt or worse!” -KH “Once again, on Tuesday evening 9/29 I was walking from the junction parking lot on 42nd Avenue to Cross Alaska street to go to dinner. I had my two young children with me. A belligerent white male, in his 40s’ (I am guessing), was throwing debris, kicking Porta potties and slamming in to them trying to over turn them. I grabbed my childrens’ hands and ran them across Alaska street against the light–which in itself is not safe, and not what I want to teach my children–to avoid the wrath of this man and potential assault on me and my family. According to my husband, who walked the same path a minute before and witnessed the same man, his name is Mark, and his fellow transients were trying to get him to calm down. While sitting with my family in a restaurant across the street minutes later we saw another man pick up a glass bottle and throw it into the middle of Alaska street, shattering it right in front of a car. ALL of the trash and recycle cans had been flipped over and dumped into the park. I should have taken a photo of the park for all of you to see, perhaps that would assist in explaining the level of destruction, detritus and garbage marring this once quaint park. Yesterday (Wednesday 9/30) at approximately 6:30 p.m. I was driving from the Morgan junction, northbound on California ave. when two SPD Units went flying by northbound. My first guess as to their destination was Junction Plaza Park. As I continued north, and looked down Alaska Street, I was exactly right. Police were called to the Plaza Park. For what I don’t know. And I have been made aware, that as of Yesterday, the SW Precinct has been greatly reduced in manpower. The decisions of those of you involved above to keep this sanitation station at the Junction Plaza Park, are taking the sparse police resources away from the rest of the West Seattle residents who are paying taxes to be protected by public safety officers. The bottom line for us, West Seattle residents and busines owners, is that we would like the use of our park. We would like to be able to walk through there, or sit peacefully on a bench, or walk the dog without fear for our safety. Your foremost job as City officials and leaders is public safety. This is the opposite of public safety. As I said, I know that these people need help and services. But this decision is the wrong one, this geographical location the wrong one.” -KS “We have had a huge influx of sketchy homeless people coming into the store and trying to shoplift in the last few weeks. I usually try and report them too you, but there have been many when I’m not present at the store as well. They’re getting more and more confrontational and make a huge scene once their identified or asked to leave. Our employees are getting to the point where their feeling unsafe and I’m not sure what other options there are. When I call 911, they rarely come out and if they do, it’s hours later and are no use. I have a feeling it’s going to get worse and worse as we get closer to the holidays. Also, there has been a big increase in drug use/exchange in the Chase bank drive thru covered area across from Junction True Value.” -JA “I am a West Seattle resident and am writing to express my extreme concern and frustration towards what is occurring in and around Junction Plaza Park. The park has turned into a camp with rampant, out-in-the-open drug use, frequent fighting, and harassment of other members of the community, even those just walking by on the sidewalk. I don’t feel safe at this park or walking past this park anymore, and I am concerned for everyone’s safety. This trouble absolutely started a soon as the hygiene station that was recently added to the park was installed. Until this point the park had some trouble occasionally, but what has transpired since the hygiene station was installed has ramped things to another level. It is only a matter of time before the violence escalates to tragedy. It is the city’s responsibility to provide safe and enjoyable public spaces for EVERYONE. Currently this is not a safe or enjoyable space for anyone, including the folks that have taken up residence there. Positioning hygiene stations in neighborhood parks but not also engaging drug and/or mental counselors and others to offer services to these people who are in need is a recipe for disaster. Certainly this outcome was foreseeable. Now what will you do to help mitigate the situation?” -MJ “I have lived in West Seattle for 2 decades now. I rarely write in about these things but felt it was time after watching Junction Park Plaza deteriorate lately. Yesterday late afternoon I walked up to the QFC and in the span of 5 minutes walking by I witnessed: 1) two guys smashing glass bottles against one of the metal posts 2) another guy selling what appeared to be drugs to a separate person (I’m originally from Los Angeles so I do know what it looks like) 3) trash and sleeping bags everywhere This park has gone from a lovely place that was once the center of the junction to a dangerous eyesore. it is only as matter of time before something really bad happens there. I’d like to understand how your team justifies keeping these hygiene stations there. It is obvious that they are doing far more harm than good. I am also curious if any of you live in West Seattle?” -Matthew A.Most recently, the City directors of neighborhood groups submitted a pledge asking the Mayor and City Council to support public safety. See the KOMO story here. See the Seattle Times story here. Join us. It’s time for action. ]]>
On 09/21/20 the community members received this letter:Thank you for your recent email raising concerns about public safety and hygiene services being provided at Junction Plaza Park. This past May a hygiene station, including a handwashing station and two sanicans, one of which is ADA accessible, was placed in Junction Plaza Park to provide unsheltered neighbors access to hygiene services to help prevent spread of COVID-19. This is one of 15 hygiene stations located throughout the City and over 100 park restrooms with enhanced cleaning that have remained open in continuation of ongoing work by the City and County to bring critically needed resources to those most in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. More information on these citywide hygiene efforts can be found on Seattle Public Utilities’s blog: https://atyourservice.seattle.gov/2020/09/08/hygiene-resources-for-citys-most-vulnerable-during-covid-19/ This particular location was selected because it’s City property and is in an area with recognized need, and, at the time it was selected, lacked clean, publicly accessible hygiene services. Hygiene stations are continually monitored to ensure that they are meeting the intended need of the surrounding area. Seattle Parks and Recreation staff and Seattle Public Utilities contractors inspect, clean and service the Junction Plaza Park Hygiene Station three times a day, addressing any trash or litter and ensuring the facilities are in working order. People experiencing homelessness have varied needs, which can include treatment for behavioral health disorders and drug-dependency. Homeless outreach providers build relationships with people living unsheltered to help connect them with resources and shelter. This process can take some time. On Friday, a System Navigator from the City’s Navigation Team was able to connect with some folks in Junction Park Plaza, resulting in a referral to shelter, and a REACH homelessness outreach worker was also in the area. The Navigation Team will continue to work in the area and partner with City-contracted outreach providers to engage people living unsheltered. Since March 16, in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Navigation Team has made over 600 site visits for outreach, conducted over 1,000 litter and debris mitigation operations, and made over 520 referrals to shelter. This work is ongoing. We are committed to serving the needs of the unhoused, housed and business communities as we work to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis. Best, Jason Johnson Interim Director Human Services Department Mami Hara General Manager/CEO Seattle Public Utilities Jesús Aguirre Superintendent Seattle Parks and Recreation Andrés J. Mantilla Director Department of Neighborhoods
The Junction Responds:To install toilets in the middle of a neighborhood district with zero oversight is both dangerous and tone deaf. It’s why we’ve been imploring Human Services to remove the facilities since mid-May and/or send drug and mental health counselors to Junction Plaza Park on a consistent basis. Unfortunately, the letter doesn’t address specific action steps, nor do we have any measureable results directly related to Junction Plaza Park. The Junction implores the community to keep writing to the people who CAN send the support needed. We must help the people in crisis who cannot help themselves. Seattle should be a place where everyone thrives. Unfortunately we are seeing hundreds of small businesses shutter this year—and many more struggling—because of the COVID-19 recession and the impacts of repeat criminal activity. Small businesses create the fabric of our neighborhoods and we need them to come back stronger than ever. Seattle should be a place where people are proud to operate businesses, work and live. The City Council should listen to our neighborhood community members and small businesses. The hygiene stations are another version of the ill-fated toilets that were installed in downtown Seattle a few years ago. See the Seattle Times article here, the removal of toilets made national news here. Those were eventually pulled due to being overrun with drug issues. Why should 15 individual neighborhoods now suffer the same consequences? [caption id="attachment_24097" align="aligncenter" width="940"] The recent destruction of Junction QFC reported by the West Seattle Blog[/caption]