Also meeting this week for the first time since October: HPAC (which now encompasses Highland Park, Riverview, and South Delridge). For one, the group voted on a new logo, created by Dina Lydia of Digital Genie:
DISCUSSION WITH POLICE: Southwest Precinct operations commander Lt. Steve Strand was there, and encampment-related issues were a big topic, as was traffic.
The Navigation Team went out to an area around 5th and Kenyon as there were reports on an encampment. He said they couldn’t find any proof the area was actively occupied, but there was a lot of trash that needed to be picked up. The city has removed some of it, but the rest will have to wait until the ground dries out. Lt. Strand also said the Navigation Team had visited Myers Way to investigate reports of new unauthorized campers, but only found a few people. Like 5th and Kenyon, some trash removal is needed and will be tackled when the weather dries out and warms up. One new issue he mentioned – vehicle camping has been transitioning from RVs to vans. The latter are harder to cite/move under city ordinances.
A big (and persistent) HPAC concern – traffic, especially people speeding down side streets once the traffic on Holden gets slow. Most of the board’s feedback was that they’ve been looking for side-street enforcement and would like to hear more about that.
HPAC chair Gunner Scott asked how crime hot spots are handled. What are the mechanics involved and who should they speak to? The precinct? District 1 City Councilmember Lisa Herbold? Mayor’s office? Lt. Strand suggested they talk to all of the above.
Also touched on: The Seattle Public Safety Survey. This year’s results aren’t in yet but HPAC is hoping fo extra attention when crime trends spike, like shots-fired incidents.
LEAD: HPAC talked about the report that Mayor Durkan has delayed release of budgeted money that is expected to help Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion expand into this area. (Independent journalist Erica C. Barnett broke the story two weeks ago.) HPAC is signing onto a letter asking the mayor to reconsider so that the program can be brought to the south end of the
city sooner rather than later. We asked Councilmember Herbold, who now chairs the Public Safety Committee, about the situation, and here’s what she told us:
I’ve had two meetings with the Mayor and Senior Deputy Mayor Fong and I’m working to make sure that the Executive’s questions about program ramp up get answered. The City Budget Director wrote to Council: “Needing time to work out those details both internally and with external parties does not equate to the funding being at risk or there being intentional delays to getting this funding out the door.”
It’s not, in my experience, unusual for HSD contracts for services expanded by Council in the budget process to not be signed in mid-January. If February rolls around and we’re no closer, then I might have some concerns. The Mayor told me that she has no intention to undermine the Council’s budget authority. I’m going to take her at her word and look forward to the expansion of LEAD to the Southwest Precinct, just like the Council intended!
TRAILS: Discussion of the West Duwamish Greenbelt included a note that the gate on the southeast end of the South Seattle College campus is locked on nights and weekends, after concerns raised by a theft. Craig Rankin hopes the community can meet with the college to get that changed to improve walking access in the area. Meantime, Seattle Parks is revisiting the case of the “mystery fence” that turned up at Riverview.
MOVIE: At the meeting venue – Highland Park Improvement Club – you’re invited to a screening of “Promised Land,” about the Duwamish Tribe’s fight for recognition, tomorrow (Friday) night at 7. (Here’s our calendar listing.)
NEXT MEETING: HPAC meets fourth Wednesdays, 7 pm, at HPIC (1116 SW Holden).