Friday, February 3, 2012

SPD: Trust your gut feeling when deciding to call 9-1-1

In a recent email, Terrie Johnston, the Seattle Police Department North Precinct’s Crime Prevention Coordinator, reminds residents that if they see something suspicious to call 911.

She said that too often they get calls later from people saying that they didn't know if they should call 911. By then it is too late for officers to investigate, she said. If it looks suspicious call 911.

The call at least gives officers a reason to contact the suspicious parties involved. She also said that the call taker can decide if your incident should be transferred off the primary line onto a secondary line.

(It should also be noted that when you call the non-emergency number it is usually the same dispatcher that would have answered if 9-1-1 was dialed)

Her email is below:

I think I speak for the entire Community Police Team when I tell you that every day in our e-mail inbox, or on our telephone’s voicemail inbox, we find messages from the community that say something like this, “I wanted to let you know that I just saw something suspicious…but I didn’t think this merited a 9-1-1 call."

Almost always the information is detailed, with good descriptions and refers to something that may or may not have been criminal, but certainly seemed odd. And almost always it is too late for SPD to do anything with that information.

I am now hoping to encourage you to trust that gut feeling of yours. If you get the sense that something weird is happening, even if it isn’t an emergency, please call 9-1-1 and simply state what you are reporting. The call taker will decide whether your call should be transferred off the primary line onto a secondary line. You don’t know what you prevent by getting a patrol cruiser coming into your neighborhood.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Thursday night walk report

A sign leans against a fence after it was apparently knocked over.

Four members of Douglas Park Cooperative walked around Olympic Hills Elementary on Thursday night and gathered litter. A number of beer bottles were found immediately across the street from the neighborhood elementary school. The group also recorded a street sign (above) leaning against a fence after it was apparently knocked over.

Our weekly walks build community, offer free exercise and allows us to note things in our neighborhood that we can report to proper authorities.

We meet Monday's at 7 p.m. at Virgil Flaim Park, SE corner of 26th Avenue NE and NE 125th Street.

We also walk on Thursdays, meeting at 6:30 at NE 130th Street and 25th Avenue NE. You can find the info on our calendar.

The walks also help us to better understand the issues that affect our community and lessen the fear that can build when you don't really understand your own neighborhood. Join us!

Rules at library: Don't smell bad or pretend to sleep, but porn viewing OK

The Seattle P-I has an interesting look at rules the Seattle Public Library enforces. You can't smell too bad, be barefoot or talk too loudly. But you are allowed to watch pornography.

Our neighborhood library is in the spotlight this week after a mother asked a man to stop openly watching pornography. He refused. Library staff also did not intervene as they said that limiting the viewing of porn amounted to censorship.

From Thursday's Seattle P-I story:

The Seattle Public Library has a long list of rules of things you can't do in the library, to ensure "comfort and safety" of staff and patrons. You can't eat, sleep, look like you're sleeping, be barefoot, be too stinky or talk too loudly. 
But you can watch graphic porn on a public computer in front of kids.
You can read more here.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Pornography at Lake City library may violate law, issue takes center stage

UPDATE: Links added as more news outlets report on the story. Also a added new KUOW story addressing application of 1973 law mentioned here in our post.

The story about a man openly viewing pornography at the Lake City Library and then refusing to stop when asked by another patron has been a hot topic in Seattle today.

The man refused to stop even though his screen was said to be visible to other patrons, including children, throughout the room.

The woman that protested the man's use of the computer, Julie Howe, asked library staff to intervene but they refused because library policy allows the viewing of pornographic images on the library's computers.

However, the use of the computers, especially in plain view of other patrons, appears to be in violation of Seattle Municipal Code 12A.10.090 Public display of erotic material.

From the code:
Material is placed upon "public display" if it is placed by the defendant on or in a billboard, viewing screen, theater marquee, newsstand, display rack, window, showcase, display case or similar place so that matter bringing it within the definition of subsection 1 of this subsection is easily visible from a public thoroughfare or from the property of others
 A person is guilty of displaying erotic material if he knowingly places such material upon public display, or if he knowingly fails to take prompt action to remove such a display from property in his possession after learning of its existence.

The issue has been previously ruled on by the Washington State Supreme Court. The 2010 ruling said that public libraries can filter Internet content to block things like porn, after the ACLU had sued a rural library district in the state.

As the story unfolded Tuesday, dozens of other people contacted the Seattle P-I, telling similar stories of pornography being viewed at libraries throughout the city. The issue does not seem to be limited to our neighborhood library.

"Now I don't let my kids wander the aisles at our branch--so sad," one mother said to the P-I.

A preschool teacher that works at a school blocks from the Lake City Branch said she feels unsafe taking her students there.

Local television crews have been dropping by the neighborhood library all day.

The story was first reported here on our Douglas Park Cooperative blog and on the Lake City Live blog.

TV news trucks park in front of the library Tuesday night.
KUOW's The Conversation did a segment on the topic today.

It has been the most-read story all day on the Seattle P-I since it was reported this morning.

The Seattle Times posted a story with more info on Tuesday night.

Q13 Fox had a story Tuesday night.

KIRO TV had a story.

Even The Stranger and industry site com have reports on the topic.

KUOW followed up with this story on Wednesday that briefly addresses the issue of the 1973 city ordinance at the bottom of the story:

Although the library's policy is clear, the law may not be. The Seattle Attorney's Office tells KUOW that a 1973 city ordinance bans what's called the public display of erotic material. And the law defines public as being on a billboard, on a newsstand, in a window, or on a viewing screen. But, the Attorney's Office says, the law is rarely, if ever, enforced.

We will update with any new information as the story continues to unfold.

Agenda for North District Council Meeting

North District Council
Wednesday February 1st , 2012, 7:00 p.m.- 8:30 p.m.  
Lake City Library conference room
12501 28th Ave. NE     

----- Agenda Topics -----

1.  Introductions 7:00 p.m.- 7:05 p.m.
Phil Shack Phillip Duggan, Co-Chairs - NDC
        District Council Members

2.  City Council Plans for 2012  7:05 p.m.- 7:30 p.m.

Seattle City Councilmember Richard Conlin

3.  Pierre Properties Community  Engagement  7:30 p.m. – 7:45 p.m

Marty Curry,
Curry Consulting

4.   SDOT Tree Ordinance Presentation 7:45 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Susan Paine
Roy Francis

5North District Council Business 8:00 p.m.- 8:10 p.m.
Election Nominating Committee
Bylaws Committee
NDC Executive Committee

6.  Round Robin Reports 8:10 p.m.- 8:25 p.m.

2011 Accomplishments and Plans for 2012
North District Members
Neighborhood District Coordinator

7.  North District CouncilWork Plan for 2012  8:25 p.m.- 8:30 p.m.
Update Membership Forms

Contact persons:

Thomas Whittemore
Neighborhood District Coordinator

Phil Shack,  Co-Chair

Phillip Duggan, Co-Chair

Patron complains about open pornography use at library, told staff cannot intervene

UPDATE: The Seattle P-I has posted a story about pornography at the Lake City Library that includes a response from a Library spokesperson.

UPDATE: 'The Conversation' just posted a message on Twitter that the topic will be discussed at 12:20 p.m. Today.

An active participant of our community recently noticed a man openly watching hard core pornography in the Lake City Library. His screen was facing out into the room where many other people, including children, could see what he was watching.

When the library staff was asked to remove the man their response was that the library doesn’t censor content and they "can’t be in the business of monitoring what their patrons are doing at any given computer." When asked by the person he also refused to move to a more discreet location.

Today the topic will be discussed on KUOW's The Conversation at noon. You can call the show at (206) 543-5869 or 1-800-289-5869 to express you opinion about this issue. You can also email the show here. The letter about the incident is below:

I was at the Lake City Library with my two daughters (7 & 10 years old) at 4:45 on Sunday, January 22, 2012. I left them in the children’s section and went to look through the movie section, where I noticed that a man was watching hard core pornography (including anal penetration & other adult content) on a computer where the screen was facing out into the library.
I told the librarian and asked for help in having him move to a more discreet location. She could see the screen from the information desk where we were standing and was sympathetic, but said that the library doesn’t censor content and they can’t be in the business of monitoring what their patrons are doing at any given computer. I then asked the man to please move to another computer. He declined.
In the process of this interaction, I didn’t notice that my daughters had wandered over looking for me and one of them saw what was playing on the screen. I have had extensive conversations with the library about this incident as well as with the police and local representatives. The man's right to access constitutionally protected information is fully protected (which I’m not in argument with) but our right not to be inadvertent viewers is not. The library is apologetic, but devoted to its guiding principle of supporting intellectual freedom, and I detected no urgency to ensure that not one more child is exposed to pornography in a Seattle Public Library.
I told the library that I will do my best to get this in the public forum as people need to know what’s going on and the potential risks to them and their children of being exposed to adult content while visiting the library. Please help us have a public discussion on this issue as I am sure that the library can create a safer space for children (and adults) and not infringe on another adult’s right to information.

Elliott Bay Public House and Brewery job fair today, Tuesday

Today, Tuesday, January 31st, from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Elliott Bay Public House and Brewery will host a job fair at the site of the new neighborhood brew pub on Lake City Way.

From the brewery:

We are in the final phases of our build-out of the Elliott Bay Public House and Brewery in the heart of Lake City and looking for some great folks to come and work with us. We are beer-centric, community-minded, and driven to provide a great value and experience for our guests. If that's you -  let's talk. At this point we are looking to fill all Front and Back of the house hourly positions. We do not have any openings in the Brewery. 

 More info on the Lake City Live blog.

Coming February 11, Neighbor Appreciation Day

On Saturday February 11th Seattle will mark the 18th annual Neighbor Appreciation Day. The day prompts neighbors to reach out, create new bonds, and express thanks to those who live or work around them.

The event started in 1995 when Mayor Norm Rice proclaimed that the Saturday before Valentine's Day would be a day to honor neighbors. The observance has grown every year since.

Here are some of the ideas from the city website for Neighbor Appreciation Day.

Join in a neighborhood service project:
  • Clean up a nearby park: Contact Seattle Parks and Recreation for information at (206) 684-8028 or email ParksVolunteer@Seattle.Gov
  • Paint a fence, rake leaves or other yard cleanup - especially of a senior adult or disabled neighbor
  • Plant a tree or some native plants
  • Build a garden box for this spring's plantings
  • Clean up a sidewalk for an easier walking path
  • Work with a local school or non-profit organization
  • Have a neighborhood clean-up
Organize a neighborhood event:
  • Organize a Block Watch, a program of Seattle Police Department: Click here for tools and information.  
  • Hold a neighborhood  food or clothing drive
  • Have a neighborhood BBQ, potluck, pancake breakfast or spaghetti feed
  • Organize a SNAP (Seattle Neighborhoods Actively Prepared) meeting. Click here for tools and information.
  • Organize a game or sporting event
  • Have a block party
  • Invite neighbors over for dessert
  • Have an emergency preparedness meeting with your neighbors
  • Organize a neighborhood rummage or garage sale
Other Possible Ideas:
  • Go for a bike ride with your neighbor and check out the local scenery
  • Stop by your local Fire station and meet the crew.
  • Find other neighbors who play instruments and play music or start a band
  • Go for a hike with some neighbors
  • Hold a voter registration drive
  • Have a progressive event: do a progressive dinner or a progressive work party
  • Have a cookie exchange or dessert party
  • Hold a 'Stencil a Storm Drain' party.  Click here for more information.
  • Hold a bake sale for charity or to raise money for a neighborhood project
  • Visit your local park with a neighbor
  • Have a treasure hunt in your neighborhood
  • Have a book exchange

Monday, January 30, 2012

Historical photos: Shuttered Lake City businesses

As discussion begins to build about redevelopment of parts of the Lake City core and the possibility of redevelopment with community input, we wanted to share a pair of photos of long-shuttered businesses that used to be a part of our neighborhood.

The core area of our neighborhood used to feature a movie theater and at least one bowling alley. As interests changed and business models evolved, the businesses featured below were shuttered. It is unknown if either business would be successful in today's marketplace of Xbox 360 and home theater systems. But an community-oriented entertainment element to the neighborhood would likely be welcome.

Lake City movie theater on NE 125th Street shown in 1946. Photo courtesy Seattle P-I archive

The old movie theater is now the Seattle Mennonite Church

Lake City Bowl shown in 1946 at the corner of Lake City Way and NE 123rd Street. Courtesy Seattle P-I archive

The old bowling alley is now the Interior Floor Designs building.

Funding restored for City Attorney's Precint Liason program

Beginning in mid-Feburary the North Precinct will again be assigned an assistant city attorney to help address community concerns, allowing police to concentrate on criminal activity. The federal grant for the program ended and cuts at the city level shuttered the program in 2011.

But the city has restored funding for four attorneys in the city's five precincts.

Our assigned North Precinct City Attorney will be Jana Jorgensen. She will be available at (206) 684-7765.

From the Seattle Times:

City Attorney Pete Holmes is calling the retooled program Precinct Liaison 2.0, to reflect its broader focus, not just to provide legal advice to police but to serve as a resource to neighborhoods facing chronic problems such as drug and gang activity or nuisance properties.

 Holmes said the city liaisons, who will begin their jobs in mid-February, will work closely with other city departments to address community concerns, allowing police to concentrate on criminal activity.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Nuisance Behaviors, Chronic Public Inebriety, and Alcohol Impact Areas

A common denominator to many of the nuisance behaviors occurring in our neighborhood is alcohol - particularly the public consumption of cheap, high alcohol content beverages by people suffering from Chronic Public Inebriation (CPI). These nuisance behaviors are having a significant negative impact on our community's quality of life. They affect how our business district and public spaces are perceived, used, occupied, and developed by ourselves and others.

This is not unique to our neighborhood. Other neighborhoods that have this ongoing problem have worked with the city's Department of Neighborhoods, the Seattle Police, and the Liquor Control Board to put in place what is called an Alcohol Impact Area (AIA). The intent of an AIA is to limit the supply of cheap, high alcohol content beverages to people suffering from CPI, which reduces liquor violations and the associated nuisance behaviors in our public spaces.

Attempts were made in the past to put in place Good Neighbor Agreements with some of the businesses that sell these cheap, high alcohol content beverages. This is a voluntary program worked out between them and the North Precinct. The GNAs were attempted 5 years ago as a way of solving the liquor / CPI / nuisance behavior problem prior to creating an Alcohol Impact Area which makes compliance a condition of the liquor license. The voluntary compliance has not worked.

There is enough data collected from other communities that have put AIAs in place to show that they are effective tools for reducing CPI related nuisance behaviors - in some cases by at much as 80% . One of the requirements prior to establishing an AIA is 18 months of data prior to creation and 18 months of data after for statistical comparison. The city has the prior data available already, as shown on a previous post on liquour violations.

Councilmember Richard Conlin will be at the North District Coucil meeting this Wednesday. He has made statements in favor of these as tools for not only helping people suffering from Chronic Public Inebriety, but also helping neighborhoods improve their quality of life.

The topic of AIA / CPI will also be an important issue to address when the next speaker at the meeting - Marty Curry - introduces the start of a study of the Lake City Hub Urban Village by UW students on behalf of the Pierres' project to redevelop 14 acres in the area.

Here is a list of the banned products. There have been requests that other products be added to the list, particularly the ones similar to Four Loko. There is also discussion about making a more general rule for determining what should be on the list. The problem is that the manufacturers just make products with new names to avoid the ban.

How this would impact Elliott Bay Brew Pub's selection? It won't. Is it fair to limit access to certain types of alcohol? The answer to that depends on how you perceive the relationship between these products, the people who consume them, the public conduct of people under the influence of these products, and the impact of their behavior on our community.

A bigger question is what will things look like when this happens?