How much to spend on public safety? Low-key chat tonight

(Photos by Katie Meyer for WSB)
Four city councilmembers were in West Seattle tonight – Councilmember Tom Rasmussen for the first of three Citizens Transportation Advisory Committee forums around the city (more on that later), and Councilmembers Tim Burgess, Mike O’Brien (above), and Jean Godden for a discussion of the city’s public-safety budget. (Burgess chairs the Public Safety committee.) The latter meeting was never widely announced; we stumbled onto a brief mention on a city calendar, then a note to a neighborhood mailing list, and when we asked why no news release had been sent to announce the meeting and get it on media events calendars, we were told they were using a small-group format that could only accommodate about 75 people, and they didn’t want to have to turn people away.

They shouldn’t have worried.

We asked WSB contributor Katie Meyer to check out that meeting, and she estimates the citizen turnout at Delridge Community Center (aside from councilmembers and staffers) at fewer than 20. A quick meeting summary, ahead:

Katie reports:

Attendees were invited to participate in a new style of meeting known as the World CafĂ© format – a “new idea for the Council, based on a format that worked well for the Parks Department at their initial public forum about Community Centers.” To glean community feedback on priorities as budget cuts loom this year, councilmembers sat at tables with groups of community members for informal discussions to hear people’s contributions and ideas as five questions were raised, focusing on priorities for the public-safety services funded by the city.

Some of what was mentioned by participants: How important they feel the efforts for Block Watch organization is, the better-organized a community is, such as block watches, the better it actually helps the police do their jobs; increasing Block Watch participation; concerns about how to get the SDOT to do more up-to-date accurate surveys on areas with traffic safety concerns; better/more street lighting; and how having police officers be familiar with specific issues and priorities on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis makes for more effective policing and reduces crimes as well as improves the feeling of safety. Some seemed pleased with how courteous, professional and good the police officers they’ve encountered are, and with response times on 911 calls.

At the end of the meeting, Godden thanked everyone for their participation, noting that budget/finance meetings for the city will happen this fall. She also mentioned that more community conversation meetings will be taking place, such as the one scheduled for May 31st at the Van Asselt Community Center gym to hear community thoughts about the budget priorities for Human Services. The notes and highlights of tonight’s meeting will be posted this week on the council’s website.

4 Replies to "How much to spend on public safety? Low-key chat tonight"

  • ltfd May 24, 2011 (6:41 am)

    Rumblings on the public safety budget- There is already talk within the inner circles of the city’s administration of the coming fire station brownouts, rotating closures of neighborhood fire stations, for financial savings.

  • Lew May 24, 2011 (7:51 am)

    That was the oddest meeting I attended in quite some time.

  • Holli May 24, 2011 (8:43 am)

    It was an odd feeling at first, but the overall order was more conducive for gathering feedback. I felt as a citizen that I was heard, and learned more from fellow citizens around the city than the traditional format where folks stand in line for a couple hours to get 2 min to rant/pitch their cause.

  • Michael Taylor-Judd May 24, 2011 (2:58 pm)

    I would love to see the City do more of this style of meeting! Next time, perhaps they could publicize it just a little more…

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