Dear Seattle Mayor, Seattle City Council Members, Governor of Washington State & SPD,
We have lived here 4 yrs. though my father in law bought this house in the '60s, we marveled at the way the neighborhood had improved over the last 10 yrs or so & were delighted to be homeowners here when we inherited my in-laws house. It used to be considered a "bad" neighborhood with even worse crime than what we are seeing right now. But I have wondered about the rise in crime the last couple of years especially. Now with the actual assaults on women going on, we are even thinking of selling & moving. There seems to be so much more gang activity, house & car break-ins, a lot of vagrants or homeless & criminal types walking our neighborhood streets. Our adult daughter's car was broken into, we have a security system & worry constantly about our cars, property & house, though we do have motion detector lights in the driveway & backyard & a large breed dog. I hate living this way — having to lock ourselves inside our house, even worry about going into our yard or taking the garbage out, etc., resulting in leaving the security system on more & more even when we are home — I do not feel safe in this neighborhood.
I am involved with the Northwest Community Services Food Bank, I am the one that wrote the article about it in the Beacon Hill & South District Journal. There are so many needy, homeless or people living paycheck to paycheck in our area, creating desperate people, besides the gangs, drug dealers, prostitutes, etc. If the police are not being paid well & I heard they are only hiring MAYBE 10 more for our district, the police are overworked, underpaid more than likely prompting the attitude of not caring as much as they would if they had proper wages, benefits & enough officers to patrol their area which they obviously do not for the South Precinct right now.
Though new housing is being built all around this area, we can all feel the rise in crime & it is frightening — maybe enough for some of us to move. We called about our daughter's car, a window was smashed out to break into it, though we called, an officer never came out, my daughter went in & wrote a report up but nobody interviewed her or ever came to our home — it was considered a minor crime to them apparently though her car window had to be replaced & they took all of her CDs plus a few other things from her car. We were appalled at the lack of interest or action by the police. As a result, the car break-ins or even stolen, are escalating, the criminals know the police are not investigating or even coming out for each car break in, then the home invasions started escalating, now it looks like we have a rapist who is going to succeed one of these times but there is not a large enough police force in our area to increase patrols, investigate & arrest the would-be rapist who will probably become violent since his attempts failed, he will probably resort to harming women with something, whether it be a knife, gun or something to hit them with, etc.
My husband & I were gone 4 months from April to August to work on a Spokane house we used as a rental (his mother & my daughter were living here) but decided to fix it up & put it on the market. Then I became sick & have had a serious illness for going on 5 months now, I'm having minor surgery Nov 16 so I have been unable to be actively involved with the SSCPC. But I encourage other home owners in the South Precinct to attend the meetings, hold block watch meetings & try to help the SPC as much as possible. Has anyone else noticed the garbage & clutter in our neighborhoods lately, especially from Rainier Avenue at least on our west side, where I walk my dog, there is trash all over, I saw a condom on the sidewalk 2 days ago, there has been a Safeway cart between Angeline & Edmonds for 2 months, someone left an old grill on the opposite sidewalk of the cart, an actual pile of trash bags splitting open & spilling out garbage was on Americus street — there is all kinds of trash, old appliances, pieces of furniture, even boxes of clothing, etc., from Rainier Ave going east (I rarely walk the west side) — where $600,000 or more expensive condos are being built, expensive homes being built or remodeled yet the streets are beginning to look like we live in the ghetto — the way this neighborhood looked in the '60s, '70s & even the '80s when it was considered a "bad area." My mother-in-law, who still lives here with us, said there used to be a volunteer group who worked with the police, that walked the streets days & nights with their dogs regularly & that was one of the many ways they "chased away" the criminal types & helped to improve this area. Perhaps that could be started up again? I am sorry I am unable to be more involved right now, plus my husband works a lot of overtime in construction, sometimes 7 days a week, so he is always too tired to go to the SSCPC meetings but once again, I encourage everyone to become more involved in any way they can with SSPC, block watch meetings, etc. to "take our streets back." We are seriously considering moving as a result of the escalation of crime & after calling SPD several times for different "minor things" & getting no response because they don't have enough manpower to check out what they consider "less serious crime or petty crime" like someone rummaging through our backyard stealing tools, etc., our garage lock tampered with, things of this sort — I do not blame the SPD, I blame mayor Nickels & the Seattle City Council for not allotting enough funds to pay our police force better wages & hire many more than the intended 150 that is not nearly enough for a city the size of Seattle. I guess tearing down parking garages, buying up downtown property to build expensive condos, wanting to expand the downtown monorail & of course the light rail being built, are considered more important ways to spend our tax dollars.
I'll get off my "soapbox," but please folks, consider becoming more involved in the community issues for the community you live in. Which includes our own local food bank I have been volunteering at & trying hard to bring attention to & get the message out that it needs to be supported by the local community businesses & home owners, especially with the holidays coming up. Donations of food, Christmas toys & of course always monetary donations are badly needed — it is the poorest & neediest food bank in all of Seattle yet they get more clients than most of the other city food banks. They rely on donations & NW Harvest, Food Lifeline, Toys for Tots & must distribute what they get to ALL OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON, not just Seattle, so our local food bank does not get nearly enough from these sources. Please also consider a donation to the NWCS food bank this holiday season & make regular donations throughout the year. Perhaps your donations will help cut down crime by helping low income or homeless survive by getting help through our local community services & food bank with our support through donations & volunteering at the food bank — they are passing out Christmas toys Dec. 13th & 14th (desperately needing volunteers to help pass them out) & are expecting to need AT LEAST 800 toys: Northwest Community Services Food Bank, 4205 Rainier Ave. South, Seattle, WA 98118 Phone: 723-4105 Rhonda James Director, email: moc.q|secivreSytinummoCWN#moc.q|secivreSytinummoCWN
Sherry Cochran, freelance writer & author
Homeowner in Columbia City
4755 39rh Ave. S., Seattle, WA 98118