You’ve probably heard about the neighborhood-by-neighborhood policing plans that are a priority for the city’s new Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole. At various neighborhood-council meetings since she came to Seattle, we’ve seen those plans take shape, and the most recent one was this past week’s monthly meeting of the North Delridge Neighborhood Council:
Southwest Precinct commander Capt. Steve Wilske sat down with the NDNC last Monday night to review the plan. One major zone of concern: The 5400 block of Delridge Way SW, “related to DESC building and Super 24 store.”
He said he had looked at stats regarding what’s going on for five blocks around:
—DESC (COTTAGE GROVE COMMONS, 5444 DELRIDGE): Wilske said the building had drawn a notable number of calls, especially between June and September. Though that number is starting to “go back down,” Wilske said, “we’re spending a significant amount of time there.” The calls are mostly people “in crisis in one form or another,” so he will meet with DESC to see if there’s some way to cut down on number of times they’re going there or AMR (ambulance service) is going there.
Levi Dineson, the building manager since Cottage Grove Commons opened almost a year ago, happened to be across the table from him, and said he’s been working with the Community Police Team Officer for the sector to brainstorm ideas, such as, whether the on-site managers know about certain residents who seem to be calling police almost daily about cases that aren’t necessarily crimes or emergencies. “I don’t want to demonize anybody but if we can get people the services they need the first or second time we see them …” Capt. Wilske said, and Dineson agreed. (Later in the meeting, the topic of an on-duty nurse, something Cottage Grove Commons doesn’t have, arose; Dineson said it would be a matter of getting that funded somehow, which might require advocacy including statistics on how often Seattle Fire medics and AMR ambulance crews are responding to issues that a nurse might be able to handle.)
—SUPER 24: Though anecdotally people complain about it, Capt. Wilske said he couldn’t find many calls to its address – seems clear “there’s an issue there” but hasn’t identified what exactly it is. “For the number of times I have heard it come up, I was surprised at how few calls there were.” Attendees told him about efforts in the area – such as the nearby alley – to improve things, and that while there are problems, they don’t always result in calls – “everybody’s used to a certain level of (BS), and they won’t call unless someone gets shot.”
Other areas discussed:
–Greg Davis Park: It’s now part of the policing plan and will be one of the stops for the emphasis patrol that’s going out to West Seattle parks a couple nights a week.
–Vehicle speeds: “Something I’ve heard about up and down Delridge” – he’s looking for grant funding to get a “traffic emphasis” on Delridge as was done a while back on 35th SW, since that “extensive traffic enforcement” made a difference. For Delridge, “speeds are up” and people will use center or bus lane as a passing lane, dangerous since “neither is set up as a passing lane.”
–Stairways: Safety problems and visibility problems – overgrown, unlit – were discussed. The stairways are city right of way – technically, extensions of, or connections between, streets – but some are poorly maintained. Capt. Wilske said frequent patrols might be too much of a stretch of resources but inspecting and maintaining them for CPTED “might be the better way to go.”
Also brought up: Food-truck parking on the Super 24 lot, which community members say has created more areas in which clandestine activity can happen out of view. … “Homelessness in general”; Wilske observed that “just ripping away people’s belongings doesn’t make them not homeless,” but they are especially concerned about risky behavior, such as one site where they’ve noticed somebody broke into a power cabinet – “that’s the kind of stuff that turns you to dust, and somebody’s going to get killed.” It was agreed, that the safety of people camping out was a big concern. Capt. Wilske said the smaller “encampments” here tended not to be places where people preyed on each other like bigger ones in the city (“the jungle,” for example).
Also, it was suggested that some people think there’s more crime than there actually is, so stats would be helpful. Capt. Wilske said he’ll do his best to get more information out. It was noted that not everything is reported – “you have to call, or we don’t get on the radar,” as NDNC’s Nancy Folsom put it.
One resident asked why he doesn’t see police going down his street. Police are on bike and foot patrols too, said Capt. Wilske. A traffic-safety discussion eventually erupted – and perhaps an education campaign, such as “you have to stop for pedestrians.”
Wrapping up the discussion with Capt. Wilske, NDNC’s Kirsten Smith, who has been point person on the policing plan, said it was good to have worked with him, and that NDNC hadn’t previously had much contact/collaboration with SPD.
ALSO DISCUSSED AT THE MEETING: Some wondered about the timeline for Delridge Grocery moving into the commercial space set aside for it in Cottage Grove Commons (the DG website says they’re hoping to open the store in spring/summer of next year) … Increasing Delridge development, especially on lots in “environmentally critical areas” previously seen as untouchable, was flagged as something to watch, particularly as it factors into area drainage trouble. … Time was spent looking ahead to Saturday’s Gathering of Neighbors (WSB coverage here), planned by a committee including newly elected NDNC co-chair Michael Taylor-Judd; the North Delridge Action Plan was scheduled for a city-led discussion.
NDNC meets second Mondays, 6:30 pm, Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, and is online at ndnc.org.