(Photos courtesy Michael Merta. Here: “Olson Place SW going up toward Roxbury”)
It’s easy to see a problem and gripe about it. Getting something done – doing it yourself – not so easy. Michael Merta says he’s figuring this out, as he tries to rally support to fight littering and other blight. He asked if we would publish his open letter and a few photos. He lives in White Center but is challenging folks throughout the West Seattle/White Center/South Park/Georgetown areas, and beyond:
I’m wondering if anyone else has noticed an increasing amount of graffiti and litter on our West Seattle and South Seattle roadways and public places lately? I have, and I decided to try to write to the appropriate departments to see what was happening. I emailed the city of Seattle and received a polite thank you and acknowledgement, though no specific reply stating that anything would be done.
I wrote to WSDOT about litter all along SR 509 which seems to have been accumulating for quite some time with no noticeable effort to clean it up. I have not had a reply to that complaint.
When I wrote to King County I received a very prompt reply from Dinah Day with the King County Illegal Dumping hotline, who wrote “I do have to warn you that there have been many budget cuts and how often and how much litter gets cleaned up has been significantly reduced in the last few years.” Those were her exact words, and at least they serve as confirmation that I have not been imagining things.
Personally, I feel at a loss to figure out where to go next. I’ve created a Facebook page where people can post photos, discuss the problem, and try to come up with some solution:
One person complaining probably won’t get much attention but if we all get together maybe we can make some positive change.
We all know there have been budget cuts but I don’t think it’s acceptable to just say “budget cuts” and not do anything. Aside from looking terrible, its a matter of public safety if you subscribe to the broken-windows theory of crime prevention. There are always going to be people that litter and paint graffiti; we pay taxes to assure that it gets cleaned up. If the city, the county, and WSDOT do not have the money to take care of it in a timely fashion, perhaps we as taxpayers need to remind them that for us, it’s a priority.
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