Over the last two years, Magnolia resident Harley Lever says he has repeatedly called the mayor’s office, voicing his frustration with illegally parked RVs and criminal activity associated with them, including an increase in trash and incidents that were “really just destroying the neighborhood.”
Soon, he found he wasn’t the only person with the same complaints and concerns.
“We’re just fed up,” Lever said. “We love Seattle — it’s a great city — but you can see this big change in the last three to four y ears, where trash is commonplace, encampments are everywhere. You find needles all over the place, without even looking.”
Out of that frustration is a new group — Safe Seattle — that will host a community meeting on Wednesday night (Jan. 6), from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at the Magnolia United Church of Christ (3555 W. McGraw St.) to discuss both the problems with the RVs and how to solve them, while also addressing how to end homelessness.
Safe Seattle was designed to bring awareness to those problems, while also searching for solutions for the city’s homeless population.
Lever confirmed that Seattle City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw would be on hand for Wednesday’s meeting, along with representatives from the mayor’s office and the Seattle Police Department (SPD) and members from the Queen Anne and Magnolia Safety Council.
Thus far, Lever said their efforts to bring attention to the issue have been their biggest accomplishment.
“People recognize that there is a huge problem going on,” he said.
However, he’s adamant that their efforts are not meant to single out the city’s unsheltered population.
“We don’t want homeless people to be targeted at all,” he said.
Instead, it’s a matter of getting the criminals and drug dealers out the city and then guiding those battling addiction or mental health issues toward services.
“The homeless people are oftentimes the first victims of these criminals,” he said, “so reducing that is really important to us.”
The group has also launched a “Make Seattle Safe Again” petition (www.ipetitions.com/petition/make-seattle-safe-again), urging the mayor, City Council and SPD to spend more time and resources addressing criminal activity in Queen Anne, Magnolia, Fremont and Ballard. As of Monday (Jan. 4) afternoon, it had approximately 1,200 signatures.
While Lever said, in the short term, the group would like to see an immediate moratorium on RV parking in the city — which he said would push criminals out while also curbing illegal dumping — the long-term aim is to successfully address both crime and homelessness.
One idea for the latter is to build temporary housing out of shipping containers and to establish a work-training program to help construct them.
Lever said he would also like to see the development of an RV park with waste-disposal services and fresh-water access for those who want to live in a drug-free, crime-free environment.
For more information on Safe Seattle, visit www.safeseattle.org or www.facebook.com/safeseattle.org.
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