‘I’m not going to lie to you’: SPD hears noise, reckless-driving complaints @ Alki Community Council, says not much can be done

(UPDATED FRIDAY AFTERNOON with reader photo of electronic sign trailer now in place by Duwamish Head)

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(Added: Post-meeting photo along Alki Ave. Quiet tonight, but when it’s warm …)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Full house in the Alki UCC parlor tonight, with beach-area residents bringing a variety of complaints to Seattle Police guests invited by the Alki Community Council.

Operations Lt. Ron Smith said there wasn’t much that could be done about most of the complaints. But he said the area had some good news nonetheless, as he opened with the overview: “Crimes against persons (in the Alki area) are down 21 percent.” That’s largely attributable to a reduction in domestic-violence cases, he said. Property crimes are down 11 percent – “this is one of the few neighborhoods that have a 31 percent reduction in car prowls.”

As he had told the Delridge District Council last night, he and precinct commander Capt. Pierre Davis are leading the planning for security for the upcoming Seattle Pride events, and also are meeting with owners of LGBTQA bars. Today, the Southwest Precinct had 11 officers working; on Saturday, they will have that same level of staffing, with two of the officers assigned to bicycle patrol.

“We are again doing a summer emphasis – not to the numbers that you and I would like, but we have to be somewhat responsible in the deployment of overtime,” he added. In terms of hiring, the real impact from the process might be as far as two years away, he said, which drew a loud sigh from one attendee. “The mayor’s keeping his commitment in trying to hire more officers,” but they are having more of a challenge getting good applicants, he said.

“I think our concerns in Alki are quality-of-life issues,” most of all, he said. Then ACC vice president Randie Stone opened the floor. One resident said they had been sending e-mail to Southwest/South Precincts’ Crime Prevention Coordinator Mark Solomon (who was in attendance) and City Councilmember Lisa Herbold.

She listed two issues:

Motorcycle noise and “behavior that was borderline dangerous,” including weaving between vehicles in traffic, and riding toward the trail where people are walking. “We are appealing to the police to help us out.”

Lt. Smith said every neighborhood has complaints about motorcycles potentially violating the noise ordinance. “The specific rule with the noise disturbance for motorcycles is addressed as (prohibiting) modifying the exhaust system … which is difficult to prove.” He read from that section of city ordinances, and said 95 decibels is the legal limit. He said that’s similar to a jackhammer, and for police to measure it, they need a certain type of gauge. “Captain Davis and I are looking at getting a sound-measuring tool … re-calibrated” so it can be used. “I think when they wrote this law when Seattle was a nice, medium-sized town … I think it’s an outdated law, but that’s not something I can do anything about.” Even if it were a lower limit, he said, it would be “difficult to prove in court.”

What about a motorcycle on its rear wheel? Can an officer pursue that suspect and cite the rider? Lt. Smith cited what happened in the Highland Park pursuit of an armed robbery suspect – the crash that killed both the suspect and the driver he hit. Another attendee said an officer was in the area when a motorcyclist was driving recklessly, but did nothing more than flash lights at them. “I think he was just trying to stop the behavior,” suggested Lt. Smith, going on to explain that motorcycle-riding traffic officers generally work weekday hours and aren’t generally available during the hours of trouble in areas like Alki. Why is that? one attendee asked. Reply: Numerous types of commute-period enforcement are part of their responsibilities. When officers’ hours came up again, he again mentioned the staffing challenges, including that they don’t deploy bicycle officers if they don’t have enough overall assigned on a certain shift.

Regarding “boom boxes,” Lt. Smith said he agreed the sound can be irritating, but that doesn’t get close to the noise limits.

What if a group of citizens got a properly calibrated noise meter and also recorded video of violations, could anything be done with that? Lt. Smith said he would have to consult precinct city-attorney liaison Matt York, but “to be honest, a violation is (a misdemeanor).” The attendee said that itself might not be grounds for discouraging behavior, but it could be grounds for a civil lawsuit.

The question of recording video came up again later – in reference to groups of riders up on one wheel or otherwise riding reclessly; what if the video included license-plate numbers? Police could make contact, said Lt. Smith, but for enforcement, officers would have to observe the violation itself.

The Alki Avenue gridlock on sunny days came up, with a concern voiced about public-safety personnel being able to get through in case of emergency. “People tend to move aside for (emergency responses),” Lt. Smith said.

What about the anti-cruising law? It’s written too poorly to be enforced, Smith replied.

What about large gatherings of motorcycle riders or drivers? Don’t they need a permit? His counter: How can police prove it wasn’t a spontaneous event? One attendee suggested they could do that via social media. Next, someone said citizens might consider writing their own notices, saying they were watching and would be reporting to the police; according to Lt. Smith, it’s not legal for citizens to issue notices mentioning police.

Overall, he said, 11 other neighborhoods in West Seattle have higher crime rates, so he can’t divert resources here for the quality-of-life issues. He clarified that they do have “a request in” for help from Traffic, but “it’s a finite resource” and the unit “is stretched pretty thin right now. … and we have to prioritize. If there’s a life-safety issue vs. a noise complaint …” it’s clear what will be a priority.

Crime Prevention Coordinator Mark Solomon was invited to speak next. His accountabilities include working on prevention/safety issues such as Block Watch setup. “I consider myself a resource for you, I try to be as responsive as possible.” He said he had received some of the noise/traffic complaints and gotten them over to precinct leadership as fast as he could.

But, it was clear from Lt. Smith’s candor, that wasn’t a solution, as not much could be done. What about some sort of signage? an attendee asked. That’s an issue for SDOT, but it can be a pain to get, and there’s no guarantee the sign will be read, let alone heeded, he said, while saying it’s being worked on. One attendee thought a speed-radar sign might even encourage more speeding, with some trying to see how high they could influence the number to rise.

As for parking problems – they do have enforcement in the area. And one attendee verified that, saying that when they called to complain on Memorial Day weekend, “we had immediate response, and they had tow trucks to clear those people out.” That drew applause.

Overall, “(Alki) is probably the number one attraction in the city in summer months,” observed Lt. Smith. “Can we change that?” someone said.

“Has any community had success in hiring (supplementary security)?” asked VP Stone.

You need more than an additional person or two, Lt. Smith replied.

ACC president Tony Fragada asked if information about 911 call numbers and response times could be procured via public-disclosure requests that then could be shared with other departments such as Seattle Parks. Of course, was the reply. But Lt. Smith also offered to do a “crime-analysis report.”

One person said she’s not sure any of this was providing answers to their problems. Lt. Smith said he was doing his best. Even empty police cars could help, attendees said.

What about speed cameras? asked someone who had received a ticket from one in a school zone. Those are the primary areas where they’ve been installed.

What about the surveillance cameras installed years ago on Alki? They’ve long since been disabled, Lt. Smith said, after citizens’ concerns about ”

What, asked another attendee, if they did a protest – blocking the road, for example? That would be illegal, Lt. Smith warned.

But would it get attention? rippled voices from around the room.

Alert the media! said somebody else.

“Let the system work,” Lt. Smith suggested.

With the meeting one hour old by then, VP Stone asked aloud, what more could residents do?

The idea of a protest came up again. “That’s your First Amendment right,” acknowledged Lt. Smith. He suggested it might be better to take complaints to the top – Mayor Murray – since the buck stops with him. “That’s a stronger form of protest,” he suggested. “When it comes to political action, the fact that every vote means something to these politicians – that’s much better than a (demonstration).”

One person said they were concerned about the concept of calling 911 for something that didn’t seem to be a life-threatening emergency. That generated some discussion. Solomon said, “It doesn’t have to be for life-threatening emergencies solely. Use it.” As Lt. Smith stressed, use it if something is happening *now*. Solomon said the same thing – not just “crimes in progress,” but also, “suspicious behavior.” And be ready to tell a calltaker what makes you think that a crime is or has been committed or is going to be. He mentioned the sheet he has that addresses how to navigate the system.

Overall – “10 people calling once about something is going to get more attention than one person calling 10 times,” he said. Solomon also advised using the Customer Service line – 206-684-CITY.

Stone said that she heard in that, the importance of “critical mass” – everyone has to be “the squeaky wheel.”

One unusual question arose then: Is there any way for the community to connect directly to the people they are complaining about – the motorcycle groups, for example?

“Maybe something so simple as a sign in front of our houses?” Stone wondered aloud, “maybe a (message) such as, ‘We live here too … think safety’ … making everyone aware, we live here and are concerned.” She recalled campaigns in the past that achieved results.

If you choose to engage directly, be kind and positive, it was suggested.

“I apologize if I didn’t give you the answers you want to hear – I’m not going to lie to you. Here’s the commitment I make to you – I have contacted the Traffic unit and SDOT; we’ll have a higher presence of officers in cars (when) possible (on Alki),” though life-safety calls will always take presence. “I’ll try to get a full-size reader board – that might not be for a long period of time, but I think it’ll have some impact.” He says he has a portable speed-reading board that he could place on his car, and come out and park and get some work done, “for the visibility factor.” He asked where the best spots for that signage would be. Duwamish Head was the first suggestion; just off the bridge, was another one.

NIGHT OUT: This year’s anti-crime neighborhood-block-party night is August 2nd, Solomon reminded everyone, and said that the registration form has been changed – requesting less personal information. You can register your block party and get more information right now by going here.

ADDED FRIDAY AFTERNOON: Thanks to Mark for the photo – the promised sign trailer already is in place by Duwamish Head:

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64 Replies to "'I'm not going to lie to you': SPD hears noise, reckless-driving complaints @ Alki Community Council, says not much can be done"

  • Joe Bags June 16, 2016 (9:06 pm)

    No offense Mr Solomon but you are not the best at email. I have had to follow up with you 2-3 times over a month to get an answer about something as important as student safety and about actions you said would be taken that were not. 

    LT. Smith giving this out as a resource is almost pointless. 

    .

    I appreciate the honesty from SPD. Still, I hear a lot of “nothing we can do” which is pretty frustrating, annoying. We don’t need lip service, we are smarter than that and we were not born yesterday.

  • KT June 16, 2016 (9:31 pm)

    Truly amazing.  I praise the SPD rep for shocking honesty.  But he could have just simply said… “we do not have the people to respond to your complaints, none of our current city ordinances are enforceable, and quality of life issues are not a priority for SPD”.    The most troubling statement was… “Let the system work,” Lt. Smith suggested.  Huh?  But that is the point – the system does not work!  We are on our own.

  • Chemist June 16, 2016 (9:45 pm)

    The noise ordinance for motor vehicles is 95 db as well as prohibitions against making the exhaust louder than the original one and the specific test for sound level is mentioned as being a 1998 version –  .

  • Erithan June 16, 2016 (9:51 pm)

    Wondering who one might talk to about some signs in the Alaska junction area, specifically the parking lot by the alley and Alaska house building.

    big issues with noise from patrons and employees of resteraunts (and often random and suspicious people) up until 3-4am. During the summer this goes on wed-sat(Sunday on warmer days latley to)

    there are quite a few “regulars” who like to park right by the building, blast their base( actually shakes building) and music, and are usually smoking something…  Few in particular will do this for a good hour or two, speed off then return and repeat in early am.

    people seem oblivious to the building, signs on the spots near could help. “Please no loud music or base near resudential building” or something, it gets so bad people actually urinate on the fence( right into where people live) even….

    sorry this got long , frustrating, way to many people driving off drunk to boot=\

    • Br June 16, 2016 (10:28 pm)

      When I lived right on Alki, I found a water hose will do wonders; assuming you think you can handle how the situation may go from there. Helps to be holding a cell phone. 

    • RC June 17, 2016 (8:36 am)

      I heard from a local builder yesterday that a lot of the new residents in a new non-junction building aren’t necessarily new to the area, just re-locating out of the junction area due to noise.

    • Joe Bags June 17, 2016 (11:54 am)

      On the seattle.gov page you can click on report a problem on the bottom left hand side. I’d fill out a form for noise and public urination with police and DOT for signage. Sorry this is happening to you and your neighbors. There is a noise ordinance that kicks in after a certain time depending on what day it is. Or call the non emergency number but be prepared to wait a long time on hold. 625-5011.

  • Gene June 16, 2016 (9:52 pm)

    Joe Bags- seems Lt. Smith was being surprisingly candid– not giving ” lip service” as you so kindly put it. I think they are doing the best they can with the resources they have.  Obviously there are things that happen at Alki that are irritating – but not illegal- also things happening that are illegal but have to be witnessed by law enforcement to be acted on- but once again- resources are a problem. 

    While the Mayor touts his plans to hire 200+ new officers- hopefully most folks know that unless there are lots of lateral transfers- it could take up to 2 years for brand new officers to hit the streets. The process of first attracting candidates – testing, & training takes time. 

    • Joe Bags June 17, 2016 (11:47 am)

      Thanks. I agree with you.

    • Mat June 17, 2016 (12:36 pm)

      Thanks for the info Gene, it’s good to be reminded that hiring offices and getting new bodies out there takes time. 

      I also appreciate the honesty from SPD . 

  • Ruckus June 16, 2016 (10:11 pm)

    SPD, here’s an idea that won’t strain resources:

    As an experiment, assign a rotating pair of officers to do a simple, no confrontational walk-and-talk among the Honda Hoodlums gathered on summer weekends at Armeni Park. And then post a car with flashing lights around the bend (1100 Block of Alki). It won’t eliminate the problem, but I’m confident it will get attention among the street racing community. And by the way, lieutenant, the recklessness is not merely a quality of life issue for those who live here. There are six (!) crosswalks between the 1100 and 1800 Block of Alki Avenue, and it’s only a matter of time before someone dies at the hands of the recklessly indifferent. Oh, even SPD is under budget constraints, maybe somebody could post a few speed signs along Alki Avenue. For appearances if nothing else. Not that it would matter with some of the drivers, but it couldn’t hurt.

  • Double Dub Resident June 17, 2016 (4:47 am)

    I remember the good ole days when police enforced against these type of POS behaviors. Well Seattle, you asked for it and you got it. Now the Seattle Police are taking a hands off approach to these types of crimes. 

     Once bad behavior is not punished on some level it tends to escalate. The DOJ went through Oakland Ca. to “fix” the problem. I invite you to Google Oakland sideshows, Oakland sideshows gunfire, Oakland sideshows attack police, Oakland sideshows run out CHP, etc.  to see what’s going on in Oakland these days. 

  • Andy June 17, 2016 (6:43 am)

    The Department of Justice, at the behest of Mayor Ed, his City Council and hundreds, maybe thousands of vocal residents neuter an already under staffed Seattle Police Department ………… and now people complain about the lack of a police presence?  Seattle is truly an amazing city!

    • Peter June 17, 2016 (12:33 pm)

      No, Andy, you are  wrong. Expecting the police to not shoot unarmed peopel, to not engage in racial profiling, and to not use excessive force is absolutley NOT “neutering” the police, it’s just requiring them to behave like decent human beings.

      If you really believe the police are not doing their jobs because of these things, then the officers who aren’t doing their jobs need to be fired. But that is not the case, it’s just a lie being spread by the right wing media.

      • Double Dub Resident June 18, 2016 (6:15 am)

        @Peter,

          It’s this very hyperbole reaction that somehow it is the wild west with the SPD that has brought the DOJ to Seattle’s doorstep. Between the media, the “PC crowd” and the DOJ, the SPD has been swept in with other police forces that have actually had serious issues such as New Orleans, Chicago, and the LA C.R.A.S.H. force, while the SPD certainly is NOT.  

          The SPD handles hundreds of thousands of for service calls a year. So for example, for 200,000 calls per year, 1%  of these calls would be 2,000. I certainly haven’t heard about 2,000 high profile complaints about the SPD. Though here is something ridiculous, anyone can file a complaint and do it anonymously. What’s ridiculous about it? I’ll give you an example. An officer I spoke with told me that one time he pulled over a taxi going a high rate of speed. He pulled the car over and there was a passenger in the back who said nothing the whole time. The officer went through the processes, tickets the taxi driver and went on his way. Weeks later, this officer was called in for an internal investigation, because a complaint was filed against him from that incident. Yet, it wasn’t from the taxi driver, it was from the passenger! He felt the officer kept them there too long, even though it was found out through internal affairs that it was only approx. 7.5 minutes. So for this petty complaint (which I’m sure there are many of), the officer had to take time out of work, get a guild representative, go to internal affairs, and get the matter resolved. That is YOUR tax dollars going to work. 

          It’s easy to be an armchair critic of the police department from the safety of your computer, when you have no idea what these officers have to go through day in and day out. Fighting crime is an ugly business and they do it, because you and I don’t want to. 

           I speak with police officers daily and the stories they tell me, I don’t think many of us on this blog could handle. All of the officers I have talked to who have been in an officer involved shooting aren’t high fiving everyone. They talk about how traumatic it is, how hard on them and their family it is. They talk about nightmares they have. 

          The SPD is made up of mostly good people who have to deal with the ugliness of our society day in and day out. They have to deal with what we don’t want to deal with. And then we say dumb things like, “couldn’t you shoot them in the leg?” or ” couldn’t you have tased them?” That’s just stupid, anyone who thinks you can just shoot someone in the leg in a moment when a gun does need to be pulled is rather ignorant about handguns and watches way too much TV. I’d love to see some of these armchair critics go down to a range and try to do what they demand. They’ll find their results rather embarrassing. And that’s with the safety at just shooting paper.  Now imagine a person posing a threat? You think an officer is going to try and shoot a moving target in that kind of situation in the leg? No, that’s why they’re trained to aim at the biggest target area, the torso with the goal to incapacitate the perp and giving the officer the biggest chance to go home to their family. 

          And to think that tasing someone is just an option, when in fact I’ve been told from experience that the tasers may work at best, 50% of the time. So there’s a 1 in 2 chance that the taser will not even be effective. If someone has a knife, I don’t think I’d want to take that chance.  

          Fighting crime is an ugly business and this idea that everyone can win is ridiculous. Someone has to lose and I want it to be the criminals. As I’ve already said, the SPD is made up of almost all good people, but there are exceptions, but thanks to the media and the “PC crowd” instead of there being  exceptions to the rule, the exceptions have become the rule with an over-generalization that the police are out of control. 

          Again, fighting crime is ugly. Criminals don’t often just say, “Oh, OK, you got me.” No, they can not comply or put up a fight and force will be needed and using force isn’t pretty. We as a society never hear about how 3 guys jump you and try to take your gun belt as they are beating you that started as merely a disturbance call, or the suicidal/homicidal guy who tries to slash your throat, or going to disturbance call only to find out that it was a set up to have the officer killed, or to be ambushed going to a house party, or have your family threatened by a known gang member, etc. etc. but I have.

          And now the DOJ is in town and people think they’ve come to save the day. No, they’ve put on a dog and pony show and have issued a hand’s off approach to a lot of the petty crimes and put in processes that have tied the SPD’s hands. Even though the goal is to profile behavior, if the behavior is profiled, but the person happens to be a minority, the officers are vilified as racist. Now officers are so micro managed and so under the microscope that many find it demoralizing. Imagine going to a dangerous job, dealing with a lot of the low lifes of society to protect that society, only to have that very society vilify you.

          And all the while, Merrick Bobb who leads the DOJ monitoring and makes 2,000 dollars a day, along with his other private lawyers who are assigned to this oversight, just keep making their money. Of course he and company decided that Seattle needed to foot the bill for some luxuries which prompted this article. Notice that Bobb essentially tells Seattle that if they continue to question his spending habits that he will find Seattle not in compliance. Let me repeat that. Bobb has told Seattle that if they continue to question his spending (something that has absolutely nothing to do with compliance and non-compliance of the SPD) he threatens to find Seattle in non-compliance. In other words, he’s blackmailing Seattle with threats of non-compliance if Seattle continues to question Bobb on what Bobb is spending Seattle’s money on. 

           http://mynorthwest.com/30270/exclusive-seattle-police-monitor-blasts-city-for-humiliating-him/

          I’ll repeat this, the DOJ went into Oakland to “fix” their department too. See what’s happening there lately. Google sideshows in Oakland. Sideshow gun fire, sideshow attacking police, sideshow running a CHP out. You want to see the wild west, that’s the wild west. 

        • Andy June 18, 2016 (8:43 am)

          Your reply to Peter was right on the money. I wish more people in Seattle had the insight and the ability to understand that which you expressed so extremely well. I thank you for taking the time to do so.

          • Double Dub Resident June 18, 2016 (11:40 am)

            Andy, due to my job, I talk with officers daily about some of the behind the scenes and I tell many of them that people need to hear their stories. All we see is the media playing the same hand full of clips over and over and yet over again, as the “news” in general is about sensationalism and getting ratings.  But the general public really needs to hear SPD’s stories. 

            Just yesterday, I was speaking with an officer who told me about a time some years ago, him and his partner were pursuing a car to pull over, but the chase became dangerous, so he called it off. Then after that, they saw in the distance the car purposefully try to hit some pedestrians, so they began the pursuit again.

               The guy wrecked the car, the officers got out and gave chase and called for back up. This officer caught this guy and the guy attacked the officer. This turned into a 2 minute fist fight as the other officer was injured. So for 2 minutes (which seems like forever for anyone in a fight) this guy continued to attack the officer and the officer continued to defend himself and kept attempting to subdue the perp. Unfortunately, the perp was high on meth, so he had an “extra boost” that kept him in the fight. By the time back up arrived, the perp was pretty worse for wear, because it was not his own skill in fighting that kept him in it, but the drugs. 

              The officer filled out all the proper paperwork for use of force, but we were talking that if that happened today, people would be screaming police brutality and screaming for his badge, even though it was the perp continuing to attack the police officer. In this twisted way with all of this political correctness, the perp becomes the victim and the officer becomes the perp.

              People seem to think that the cops catch the perps, the perps simply get arrested and that is that, but often times, these people do not comply and/or fight back. Fighting crime is not pretty, it is an ugly business and one many of us couldn’t do, though it seems a lot of people like to be armchair critics from the safety of their computer.

              The funny thing is, is this same officer told me that when he worked the beat and they were dealing with criminals, some of these “PC” people who just moved in the neighborhood would come out and film the situation, stating how they were going to make sure the police didn’t do anything wrong, which this officer said fine. Then after a while of living in the neighborhood and dealing with the crime, they would begin to change their tune and side with thee police instead of trying to be the “do gooder police monitor”. 

  • Bisker June 17, 2016 (6:57 am)

    So people who live on or near Alki are still complaining about noise and activity? It reminds me of how Belltown residents complain of noise and crime..maybe the suburbs might be best? You’ve chosen to live in a busy, noisy area, it comes with the territory.

  • Gh0st June 17, 2016 (7:07 am)

    Enforcing laws against modified exhausts, especially on motorcycles are easy. Police just need to be re-trained. Spotting an illegal exhaust is extremely simple and does not require the motorcycle to be running.

    We have the Noise Control Act of 1972 that specifically regulates motorcycles exhausts and the Clean Air Act the regulates emissions control systems.

    Did you know that 50-80% of HD motorcycle owners remove the stock exhausts and in doing so MOST of the catalytic converters are also removed because to install the illegal exhaust the OEM catalytic converter MUST be removed.

  • d June 17, 2016 (7:25 am)

    Really all sounds like a bunch of crap about how they can’t do the job that they’re paid to do 

  • Sunuva June 17, 2016 (8:17 am)

    Wow, that sure was a lot of “nothing can be done”. I appreciate the straight talk, but these are very frustrating responses to real concerns for Alki residents and visitors. Calling these “quality of life” issues dismisses the problems as not important. It dismisses that the dangerous driving behaviors, the all-night party/cruising behaviors, etc, can lead to much more serious situations. Dangerous driving and stunt riding in a packed and busy area full of pedestrians will eventually lead to real accidents. People need to take that type of stuff out somewhere else away from the families with small children who didn’t come there for a car show/drag race/stunt show. All-night parties with lack of alcohol enforcement or any other enforcement will lead to fights, trash, assault, property damage, and who knows what else? Didn’t we just have gunfire down there within the last year?

    I didn’t see it mentioned, but did anyone ask about enforcing the park hours at closing time? I’ve heard complaints of people on the beach partying until late in the night. Aren’t there posted park hours that can be enforced?

    The answer about not enforcing the cruising ordinance was especially frustrating. Maybe the citizens need to push the lawmakers to write a more enforceable ordinance. Is that a possibility?

  • Duwamesque June 17, 2016 (8:22 am)

    There are reasonable and unreasonable requests on SPD and I think we need to prioritize here. A few weeks ago there was a gang shoot-out at Whale Tale Park on Alki. That kind of violence needs to be addressed as the highest priority for enforcement. Drag racing is also highly dangerous for the community and should be cracked down on. But when it comes to motorcycle engines and (lol) boomboxes, people need to realize they live in a lively place that is lively on warm weekend nights and noise ordinances do not cover every obnoxious noise on the beach. Let’s separate the real issues, i.e. public safety, from the more trivial complaints if we want anything to actually get done.

    • newnative June 17, 2016 (8:44 am)

      Exactly, Duwamesque.  I keep running across the phrases, “this will happen”, this might happen”, “this can happen”, when it has been repeatedly said, “we have to prioritize”.  Events that actually do happen take priority over noise, possible law-breaking, possible loss-of-sleep, possible whatever might happen.  Many of the neighborhood complaints look incredibly petty in light of the facts that many of the crimes have decreased.  

    • Sunuva June 17, 2016 (9:20 am)

      I found the focus on motorcycle engine or exhaust noise a bit strange myself. Loud engines and people revving their engines definitely isn’t a safety issue. However, if people are doing burnouts, stunting, or other illegal driving maneuvers, then that needs to be enforced so they take it elsewhere.

  • Thistlemist June 17, 2016 (8:44 am)

    The “you choose to live here” arguments get really old. I do not live on Alki but I do live near the Morgan junction and am aware that with that comes increased noise, traffic, etc.. However, if Fauntleroy starting having the street races that frequently happen along Alki on a frequent basis, you better believe I would be making some noise about it.  I am sure that the people who live near Alki are very aware that its a busy area and that the “normal” sounds of summer, i.e. the hum of several different music boxes going at once, shouting, kids, dogs, are a part of life. What is not a “part of life” and should never be a “part of life” is the absolutely truly reckless driving, the truly over the top consistent music volume, and the overall vibe that anything goes because, you guessed it, no one can do anything about it.   I totally understand what the police were saying, but this is not a “get off my lawn” issue. I truly respect the citizens who live in that area and their right to bring voice to the very real issues occurring. I love crowds and the beach, but frankly, I avoid Alki like the plague in Summer because of the reckless car/motorcycle racing/driving that goes on down there. It truly is a horrific accident waiting to happen. 

    • Sunuva June 17, 2016 (11:45 am)

      I agree, that argument is getting old. I’ve seen it on this blog so many times in so many forms..

      If you “chose” to live on 35th, apparently that means you can’t ask for a safer street. (note, I still don’t think the changes make it safer, but I hate it when people use the “use chose it” argument in this case)

      if you “chose” to live in Arbor Heights, you can’t ask for more services.

      if you “chose” to live in Alki, sorry, just deal with the dangerous behavior.

      It’s very similar to other arguments, like the perfect parents who shame other parents who make mistakes.. or the perfect budgeters who shame people who for whatever reason racked up some credit card debt. It’s rude, it’s a distraction, and it totally ignores that people make mistakes, things change, times change, cities change, and we all should expect to voice our issues without being discounted by such a cheap argument.

    • Sunuva June 17, 2016 (11:53 am)

      Also, with the way housing is in this city right now I don’t think a lot of people get a surplus of time to consider every single thing about their new home or neighborhood. There’s very little inventory and high prices for both buyers and renters. A lot of people are just happy to finally get a place as they’ve likely been stressed out trying to find somewhere to live in a city with serious housing issues. Maybe they started their search in their perfect neighborhood but couldn’t make it happen. Maybe they found an opportunity but had to act quickly. These “you chose it” people may have just gotten lucky to have had the time (or the timing) to get that perfect place that they chose and where nothing bad ever happens. The rest of us apparently don’t get to say anything, according to the lucky ones.

    • duwamesque June 17, 2016 (3:41 pm)

      So I would like to address the “you choose to live here” argument, as it’s now become known. As you say, you live in the Morgan Junction. Well I live on Alki—two blocks from Alki Ave, and I can tell you from personal experience that the noise issue is overblown. Yes, on warm Friday and Saturday nights, people are partying on the beach, into the night, blasting music. I fully realized I was moving into this sort of environment when I chose to move here. I knew about the crime, about the partying, motorcycle gangs, etc. and I decided that those were inconveniences I could live with to have the convenience of being near an amazing beach community. I think it is reasonable when you live in a major city like Seattle, in one of the most popular summer destinations, that there is going to be a lot of noise on the beach on weekend nights. As I said, I live two blocks from Alki Ave and I have never once been woken up by boomboxes on the beach and the motorcycles, while obnoxious, are really not that big of a deal. Alki Ave is so backed up by traffic in the late afternoon that there is hardly any opportunity for them to scream by with engines blazing. Unless you are living right on Alki Ave, with no buffer, a block of two is sufficient to block out most of the noise. I have lived in many neighborhoods in Seattle, from Capitol Hill to South Lake Union to Pioneer Square, and Alki is easily the quietest neighborhood I have ever lived in in Seattle. The truth is, the summer boom is a mixed blessing, as we all know. But I spend a lot of time on the beach, even into the evening and most nights it’s pretty dead quiet. Yes, sometimes it can get hectic, but that tends to come in waves and spurts. People get bored with Alki. They go to Golden Gardens. Just this Sunday with the gorgeous weather practically no one was on the beach at sunset and Alki Ave was mostly deserted. I do think there is a lot of complaining about Alki Ave that doesn’t take into account the reality of the situation, which is that it is destination number one for summer fun in Seattle. This is a boon for local business and part of what makes the neighborhood so vital and full of cool restaurants and various ice cream dispensaries. I accepted all of this when I moved to Alki, and my experience has largely  been more pleasant than I would have expected reading the comments on this blog. What I didn’t sign up for (and, btw, the only noise that has ever actually woken me up in the middle of the night) was gun violence. This along with drag racing need to be the top priority for SPD, because they impact public safety far more profoundly than teenagers blasting music or motorcycle engines revving.

  • Born on Alki 59 June 17, 2016 (8:59 am)

    Andy nailed it.

     Noise ordnances have rarely been enforced at Alki. You should have seen it in the 60’s-70’s.

    In fact, it may have been louder…

  • Soup Ninja June 17, 2016 (9:31 am)

    Yeah, sure. There’s a couple of noise laws on the books, but no government is willing to enforce them. That includes exhaust “fart cans” on cars, motorcycles, stereos and yes, your beloved pooch barking at all hours. Why? Because big corporations want the right to blast you into oblivion with loud ads. If you rein in one area of noise, then hell… everyone will want peace and quiet! We can’t have that in this era of I-do-what-I-want libertarianism!

    As for this attitude of “you chose to live there, you just deal with it,” where do you suppose we move to enjoy the quiet we all desire? The sticks? Sorry. I’ve got people living in the boonies who complain of dogs barking and rifle shooting all the time. Noise is everywhere. You want us to just “deal” with it? Right. Except that there’s scientific and medical evidence that proves that even if you’re not aware of noise, it still affects you. Blood pressure goes up, sleep is disturbed, and a whole host of chronic medical problems ensue as a result of exposure to constant noise. Can we get away from it? No. Can we teach other people not to be so self-centered and narcissistic to expose others to noise? Absolutely. There is no reason whatsoever to expose others to fart cans, loud motorcycles, screaming brats and barking dogs.

    Start being responsible!

  • AngryonAlki June 17, 2016 (11:48 am)

    It’s clear we need to take matters in our own hands. Let’s pool our thoughts and see what we can do. There were some great suggestions last night. It’s a good start. And to the person diminishing our noise concerns, while the noise does denigrate our quality of life, it’s more the rampant disregard for the safety of people that concerns us. 

  • AlkiLarry June 17, 2016 (11:53 am)

    In the summer time Alki Beach has turned in to Jersey shore  or the PNW .  Given   continued chronic issues with cars cruising blasting loud music, people tailgating and drinking booze at vehicles along with other  illicit uses instead of trying to get individuals to change behavior which SPD has tough time enforcing a more drastic stance should by taken by the Alki Community Council. These efforts should be  to preserve the character of neighborhood and beach community .  The Council should work directly with SDOT and Seattle Parks to seasonally  (May 31st – September 1st) convert/close Alki avenue between 57th Street on north end and 63 at the south end to pedestrian/emergency vehicle only access between 10AM and 10PM.    This would of course be a large endeavor that would need a lot of community engagement regarding parking,  loading  and  diverting traffic and buses but in long run I think we would all benefit from a  much more desirable community and beach which is the main reason we all live here in the first place.

  • ScubaFrog June 17, 2016 (12:27 pm)

    At this point  a lawsuit against the city is the only way to get the Mayor and the SPD’s attention.  I’d certainly be willing to donate my fair share to hire a good legal team.  The reckless driving/motorcycle riding is going to kill another person.  The import racers and motorcycle stunts are brazenly increasing each summer.  The SPD refuses to act, and uphold the law.  Depolicing has affected every part of Seattle.  I don’t see any other way to force the city to address the situation, than legal means.

    • paul.andrew.nicholson@gmail.com June 17, 2016 (1:27 pm)

      I agree – all this talk about noise is a diversion, someone is going to get killed and those readily dismissing this activity are going to rue the day when some 5 year old steps in front of a car and gets hit by a biker doing 70 mph in a residential street,

  • Double Dub Resident June 17, 2016 (1:07 pm)

    Really Scubafrog? You think the SPD refuses to act simply on their own merit. Seattle asked for this and they got what they wished for

  • @MattGilbezy June 17, 2016 (1:18 pm)
    To whom ever said “Can we change that?” to ‘Alki is probably the number one attraction in the city in summer months’ please remind me again, do beaches and hot weather go together?
  • paul.andrew.nicholson@gmail.com June 17, 2016 (1:22 pm)

    I think there needs to be some focus on this debate. It is not a NOISE issue, the noise comes from driving at speed (unless the person is sat parked and revving and engine, there is little joy to be had from that it would not happen that much). So speeding is the issue. I hear bikes and cars flying by at what must be way over the speed limit – this is not “noise pollution” and a “quality of life issue”. Someone is going to get killed. There are plenty of documented tactics to stop speeding. Put some speed humps in and the bikers and car racers will soon go find somewhere else to go and speed. The Harbor Av leading into Alki Av is a speed race track – a nice single piece of road with some kinks that a racer loves. Break the race track up and it will stop. Now someone is going to say there is no money to do this. Really? all the wasted time and effort with meetings and people getting cross …. 

  • AMD June 17, 2016 (1:35 pm)

    A couple things about the noise issues.  First off, 95 dB is a lot.  That’s about the noise level of a jackhammer at close range.  I don’t think boom boxes are getting to a level where they’re actually in violation of that ordinance.

    The loud motorcycles, sure.  But that’s not an issue unique to Alki.  If they’re going to have noise enforcement for stupidly loud vehicles on Alki, they also need to have it on 16th, Delridge, 35th, and Roxbury (among other places).  SPD does not have anywhere near the level of resources it takes to actively police every major street in West Seattle for noise ordinance violations.  I doubt they would even if they were fully staffed.  

    I get that it’s irritating.  No one likes being woken up by loud cars three streets over in the wee hours of the morning.  But I think we need to be realistic about what the police can do and what they should do with the resources they have.

  • AngryonAlki June 17, 2016 (1:48 pm)

    One suggestion the city should approve of is to make non-residents pay to drive on Alki and into the city park. They love money, so here is a way to decrease the problem AND generate more money for the mayor and city council to spend on their pet projects like bike lanes that cut down on car lanes, and a myriad other ‘non criminal’ ways they like to spend our tax dollars. Every day, I watch at least one instance of law breaking – every day. These “when it happens” things are happening. I watch police response, EMT response and hear gunshots at the beach on a regular basis. There ARE accidents happening regularly. Cars run into homes, children, pedestrians – you name it. I see motorcycles race down the bike lanes to get past the line of traffic. I see people speed through crosswalks despite someone clearly indicating their with to cross. I see young people drag racing. All of these ARE happening NOW! Yes, I CHOOSE to live on Alki. I accept the traffic. What I mind and do not need to tolerate is rampant disregard for the law, other citizens and the fact that this is our neighborhood and we live here. If SPD and SDOT are going to do nothing, which is apparently the case (SDOT doesn’t even come to the meetings), I repeat my statement earlier – let’s do it ourselves. Signs, placards, getting out there and monitoring it ourselves. Last month, my friend and I interceded on behalf of a young woman who was being abused by a group of kids down near HomeFront. If we see something and tolerate it, shame on us. It’s time to take control of our neighborhood.

  • WSB June 17, 2016 (2:23 pm)

    One note: One of the few things that Lt. Smith said would be do-able, a signboard, is now in place – a photo was sent to us a short time ago. I’m adding it to the story. – TR

  • Cellene June 17, 2016 (2:24 pm)

    I’m not sure who reads these emails. There are already so many good approaches listed, but it seems to keep going back to funding & resources.  So I keep it to a simple solution which does not require max funding for a min result :    Speed sign with a Flash Happy face, if you are below limit,  Flash Unhappy face, when above the limit.  If you hit the unhappy face 2x over space of say 1mile?, FINE!

    I assume Speed control, limits noise levels and accidents.

  • Steve June 17, 2016 (2:52 pm)

    Remember the mayor and city council have far more pressing issues like the pronto bike debacle!  Too bad that money isn’t going towards more police officers.  I guess their priorities aren’t geared towards west Seattle.

    • ScubaFrog June 17, 2016 (3:25 pm)

      $1.4 million dollars the Mayor spent on the ‘Pronto bike share’ rescue.  Atrocious.  I share your sentiments, Steve.

  • keith Dosher June 17, 2016 (3:05 pm)

      The practice of closing the park known as Alki Beach (by law)at 11:00 pm. and thereby chasing all the party goers into the nearby neighborhoods and parks (Whales Tail,  Me -Kwa- Mooks ECT.  is ridiculous.  Once they are ejected from the beach where law enforcement could monitor their behavior , there is no law enforcement  enacted in the neighborhood parks, which also are to close (by law) also at 11:00 pm. This make no sense, leave them on the beach or start enforce the closing of the smaller local parks.  I know it would impossible to keep the revelers out of the neighborhoods but not so with the  city parks. Let the Mayor and SPD  know this would be better then whats being done now.

  • cj June 17, 2016 (3:06 pm)

    Its not just Alki , its West Seattle.  We live close to Lincoln Park and the noise factor at night is growing though the park is supposed to be closed late at night.  Its a problem and drag racing and loud music vehicles in the late night are a problem.  I just have to ask … what are we waiting for?

    • ScubaFrog June 17, 2016 (3:28 pm)

      CJ in my humbled opinion, it may all be a direct result of depolicing.  The SPD isn’t proactive in many regards anymore.  I think the DOJ rulings have scared (or angered) the police into inactivity.  Which is unacceptable. 

      That’s only my take, anyhow.  I agree wholeheartedly with what you said.

  • ScubaFrog June 17, 2016 (3:20 pm)

    Paul is absolutely correct.  Speed bumps.  It’s that simple.  The bass stereos?  We’ll have to live that.  Speed bumps will save lives here.  I’m tired of seeing the drag races.  The packs of motorcycles flying down Alki, riding in and out of traffic, terrifying families. Riders standing on their seats, or doing wheelies and looking sideways.  Cars doing donuts in the streets.  And the SPD doing nothing.  Not a thing.  Double dub, this is not east Oakland.  This is West Seattle.  The gangsters may have won there.  Not here.  Not while I’m alive.  OUR taxes pay SPD Officers’ salaries (that are well into the 6-figure range).  I demand they perform their duties.

    We CAN afford speed bumps.

    • Double Dub Resident June 18, 2016 (11:22 am)

      Well Scubafrog, Seattle asked for this and this is what they got. If you think that the police aren’t doing their job, simply because they “don’t feel like it”, then you’re misinformed. I talk with officers daily  stating in frustration that “if only they would let us do our jobs…………..” “They meaning the great leaders of this city and the DOJ.

        If Seattle continues this passive policing, Seattle may very well end up like Oakland. From some of the complaints, it sounds like it might be on its way already.  

  • Jort June 17, 2016 (4:01 pm)

    Another option is that you could close the road completely to vehicles and require residents to take a shuttle or a bus in to their homes. 

    I’m sure that would be annoying, but I am also sure it would eiminate your racing and noise concerns.

    Another option would be to remove all parking spots completely from the beach, or charge $100 per hour for a spot. 

  • Alki resident for 28 years June 17, 2016 (4:20 pm)

    We do not have to live with flagrant noise violations.  Speed bumps don’t work between speed bumps to stop reviving engines or boom boxes.  Cameras that capture plate numbers for red light violations are common and the technology is effective in reducing violations.  How much harder would it be to modify for sound/loud noise?  (easy, sound can be recorded).   If there are noise ordinances that are admittedly unenforceable, then the law has no meaning and is a farce, which only encourages more contempt for the law and a diminishment of civic health (common good).

  • wetone June 17, 2016 (4:33 pm)

     As one who grew up on Alki in 60′-80’s and still live close by all I can say is things have drastically changed for the worse. SPD in those day’s and through the 90’s could and would in-force the Seattle laws. If you littered, smoked pot, drank alcohol, created a nuisance, played music to loud, drove reckless, walked out in the street or smarted off, the SPD would warn you, have you leave area, ticket you and at times tow your car, especially if parked in non legal way or if left after the 11pm curfew.  Today None Of That Happens. Not SPD officers fault, it’s your Mayor Murray and his political correctness, along with the city council that most have voted in. So if you don’t like how things are going vote different next time.  Alki is terrible on nice day’s and no help coming anytime soon from what I see and hear, but I did see a nice little bill board sign by boat launch today that said something about SPD enforcement, does our government “really” think that will have any impact. People that live in this area and other others of city where there has been big population increases (builds) and had parking taking away are the ones paying the price and penalized,  and usually the only ones that get ticketed. Sad to see….. 

       Not much room to lay out on Alki beach anyway these days as Seattle Parks have gave the sandy beach area to Volleyball groups, interesting how they get reserved parking on the ave….    2-3 nets fine but covering over half the beach ? how’s that fair for the rest of Seattle’s tax payers ?   

  • DH June 17, 2016 (5:01 pm)

    Don’t you know that government is an event based responder? Nothing will change till somebody dies and maybe not even then. Stop complaining to SPD and call the council members weekly, even the ones that are not yours, and the mayor more often. If enough of you do it you MAY get somewhere. 

  • JE June 17, 2016 (8:29 pm)

    We have laws to address air and water pollution, even in crowded urban areas. Just look at how much better the air is in our cities now than it was in the 50s and 60s! We can do the same with noise pollution–just as with air pollution, we need to educate people to the health consequences of noise, and push for improved laws that the police can enforce.

  • seaweed June 18, 2016 (12:24 am)

    Time for Alki Militia

  • cratewasher June 18, 2016 (10:10 am)

    Will the mayor please do something about noisy cities!

  • highland park hammer June 18, 2016 (10:11 am)

    The impression I have is that the residents on Alki want to make the beach an exclusive community…closing down the street and eliminating (legal) parking?  I admit that last sentence is somewhat exaggerated but for us unprivileged Seattlites who cannot afford to live in such a beautiful place – we have to drive, bus, and cab over there.  Even if traffic, noise, partying, etc. wasn’t as bad as several years ago – I think the “you chose to live there” argument is perfectly valid.  Alki residents knew they were moving to a desirable spot and there are less desirable outcomes that can occur.   Alki is not the only place with loud motorcycles, racing, crime, loud music and loud people.  The residents of Alki need to realize how lucky they are to have great access to such a beautiful park (and great restaurants).

  • Kevin June 18, 2016 (10:16 am)

    I Think Speed Bumps are a great idea,  Put them near every cross walk and in Don Armeni park. They have them on Beach Drive, however I think they would have to cover the entire roadway or the motorcycles would weave around them.  Before someone says, what about the boats and trailers in the Park.  It would be inconvenient but they could maneuver them.

    Last year I recall a police officer who was using radar gun for about an hour and his presence slowed some people down.  I think if the timing was better they could deter some behavior.

    Like on a warm sunny weekend between 4-6pm.

    I do appreciate what I have seen with SPD at Don Armeni park so far this summer, even though they cannot be there all the time.

  • Melissa June 18, 2016 (10:46 am)

    I completely agree with Highland Park Hammer and would like to thank Lt. Smith for standing up for neighborhoods like mine in Delridge that deal with gunfire on too frequent a basis.  A few weeks ago there was a shootout on 10th and Roxbury where we are really fortune that no one was killed.  A few days before that there was gunfire exchanged on 15th and Roxbury.   Pigeon Point has had countless gunfire reported here on WSB.  

    So thanks SPD for utilizing scarce resources wisely.

  • Tree Hugger June 18, 2016 (5:54 pm)

    I’ve been home all day on Harbor Avenue. The trailer sign message seems to be working so far, even though we’ve had some showers. We’ll see how it goes tonight. 

  • Tree Hugger June 19, 2016 (3:50 pm)

    Well this morning the beach and parks were not littered up as usual. At 3;30pm the motorcycles have come back on a sunny and warmer day. I think the sign isn’t too readable in the intense sunlight. We’ll see how it goes into the evening.

  • Tree Hugger June 20, 2016 (6:23 am)

    The evening was back to all the noise and reckless driving as before. When we were driving south on Harbor, their was a line of cars backed up to Salty’s from Spokane. About 3 cars behind us were 3 motorcycles. They were reving their engines and spinning their rear tires with the front brake on until they smoked. Imagine the fear of the driver in front of them with kids. Then they couldn’t wait any longer so they rode in the designated bike lane at full speed and passed everybody on the right until that lane was changed to parked cars by the dive shop.

  • AceMotel June 20, 2016 (10:22 am)

    This discussion takes place every.single.year about this time.  Good luck asking for a FOIA request from Seattle Police, I am still waiting for a response from March 2015 (I do get periodic messages that it’s in progress).  I agree with Steve above.  SDOT is more interested in bikes, and getting into the bike rental business, than worrying about something as trivial as traffic.  SDOT is also very busy trying to figure out how to increase the general fund, (i.e. traffic tickets of $235 for 2 miles over – and braking – in a school zone) so please don’t give them any ideas about parking on Alki @ $100/pop, which will make Alki the exclusive purview of the 2%ers, because SDOT just really might think this is a fine idea.  The bottom line is, more duplexes and multiplexes on Alki = more complaints of the type that circulate in this neighborhood every year.  It’s that simple.

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