Friday, April 26, 2013

Mayor McGinn looks to spend part of Spokane Street Viaduct savings in Lake City

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn meets with Lake City residents after a tour of the neighborhood on March 30th.
Mayor McGinn after a recent bus tour of LC.
The City of Seattle's recently-completed Spokane Street Viaduct, a $163 million project in Sodo, came in under budget. In March Mayor Mike McGinn announced that part of the $11.75 million saved would be invested in other Seattle transportation, infrastructure and pedestrian-related projects.

McGinn, who in recent weeks participated in a bus tour of Lake City, has announced that he hopes to invest $1 million of that money in Lake City.

"This funding will allow the City to begin design work on pedestrian projects currently being identified through the Lake City Way Traffic Safety Corridor Project and other community processes, and additional pedestrian mobility improvements along the length of the corridor and intersecting streets," McGinn said to community members in a recent email.

The $1 million would be written into McGinn's proposed 1st Quarter Supplemental Budget. The City Council will likely be considering this proposed supplemental budget in May.

Community court offenders, volunteers work to clean up LCW

People sentenced by a judge to community service work to clean up Lake City's urban core.
People sentenced by a judge to community service work to clean up Lake City's urban core.

The sidewalks in the business core of Lake City are often disgusting. Newspapers and trash left by commuters blow around near bus stops, gum and other foul-looking things are ground into the concrete, car parts ejected from vehicles passing by on 522, and beer cans left by our neighborhoods' chronic inebriates often litter the area.

The unsightly scene can leave a quick and lasting bad impression of the Lake City business core, an area supposedly looking for an identity.

Sidewalks guaranteed to always be unsightly include the stretch in front of Romios, the Lake City Hair Salon, Dollar Plus, and Pho An. On the west side of the street, the area in front of Public Health's Lake City Dental Clinic and near the Lake City Mini Park is often a mess. The litter problem around the bus stops, and in front of those businesses, has been discussed at many neighborhood meetings. Unfortunately, nothing seems to have changed.

But one group of people are working to change that —on orders from a judge.

The Seattle Municipal Community Court offenders program worked recently on the Lake City Way business core. They cleaned up trash and worked to beautify the neighborhood. They picked up bottles, cans, and gathered a number of used hypodermic needles from flower pots in the business core on Lake City Way. Future plans call for adding bark to trees and gardens.

Led by service workers from Americorps, who supervise the offenders, and longtime Lake City resident Chuck Dickey, the crew heads out every two weeks. They have gathered large bags of garbage, trimmed overgrown vegetation on public rights of way, picked up the dangerous mess left by drug users, and worked to clean up after people that may have missed the lesson in kindergarten about not littering.

Dickey, a member of the Lake City Lions Club, said that the courts are sending fewer offenders to participate in the program recently, but that they can almost always be guaranteed to be working around Lake City on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of each month.

Judges can sentence the offenders to complete the program for minor offenses like stealing and drug possession. The program works to keep these low-level offenders out of jail and also helps beautify an area that often struggles with an apparently messy population and apparent lack of stewardship from some business owners and property managers.

Dickey admitted that sometimes Lake City can look run down and neglected. And an increase in empty storefronts makes the problem worse.

The offenders, staff and volunteers from Community Court have painted out graffiti and have also painted murals around the Lake City Community Center.

Tracy Lamont of Americorp, who helps supervise people sentenced to community service, and longtime Lake City resident Chuck Dickey clean up alongside community court offenders.
Tracy Lamont of Americorp, who helps supervise people sentenced to community service, and longtime Lake City resident Chuck Dickey clean up alongside community court offenders in front of the shuttered Rimrock on LCW.

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Monday, April 22, 2013

Lake City Christian Church to host 'Safe Parking' program for homeless living in cars

Lake City Christian Church is planning to host Seattle's "Safe Parking" program, a pilot program that allows homeless people living in their cars a place to park for the night. The plan would allow for homeless campers to park and sleep in the church's parking lot at night.

The church is hosting a meeting to discuss the plans with community members on Tuesday (April 23rd) at 7 p.m., and you are invited to attend.

A sign warns car campers on NE 127th Street.Safe Parking's goal is to get people living in their cars off the street and give them a safe and dependable place to park. Many times people living in their cars play a cat and mouse game with parking enforcement officers as they move their vehicles around to avoid citations. Many streets where groups of homeless car campers would gather have been signed to prevent them from gathering there.

The program is a pilot between the churches, social service agencies and the City of Seattle.

Lake City Christian Pastor Mary Olney-Loyd said details of the plan still need to be ironed out, such as the hours campers would be allowed on the property and what date the program would start. She said that campers would likely not be allowed in the building during hours that the preschool was open there.

Rev. Olney-Olyd also said the plan is for participants to be screened and to work with social service agencies to find housing while living in their cars.

You can read more about the program in this December 2012 story in the Seattle Times.

What: Safe Parking community meeting

When: Tuesday, April 23, 7 p.m.

Where: Lake City Christian Church, 1933 NE 125th Street, Seattle WA, 98125

Who: Community members to discuss "Safe Parking" program coming to Lake City For more information about the meeting call 206-363-1438 or e-mail: