Below is a copy of a letter sent to Mayor McGinn today by Lake City community leaders:
Dear Mayor McGinn,
As residents of Lake City we are concerned the Mayor’s office is not listening to our community or making any real effort to care for our most vulnerable community members. Specifically, decisions, such as those surrounding the old Fire Station #39 property, seem predetermined by the Mayor’s office without regard for process or community input.
Lake City has many large, vulnerable populations. Somali war refugees, hundreds of senior citizens living in subsidized housing, a very large population of single mothers living below the poverty line[i], veterans recovering from post-traumatic stress disorder and young families with children, just to mention a few. Our neighborhood is sorely in need of infrastructure to provide a healthy environment where the most susceptible in our community are able to develop nurturing relationships.
- Safety. Our parks and public spaces are dominated by public-drinking, drug dealing and other criminal activities.
- Pedestrian Passageways. Our HUB Urban Village is woefully lacking safe pedestrian access. This Kindergarten class from Olympic Hills Elementary had to continually veer into the street on a recent field trip to Lake City Library. The same issue affects seniors who are forced to travel road shoulders and cross unmarked intersections to navigate the two blocks from their housing to the library.
- Recreational and educational opportunities for our diverse community. Programming and functional spaces, whether for toddlers, youth, teens, adults or seniors are almost non-existent.
- Our Lake City Community Center. A disabled individual must pass through 3 separate rooms and doorways to access the ADA restrooms, located shamefully at the very back of the building. (Non-ADA restrooms are conveniently located near the front of the building.) The building itself is in need of renovation.
Lake City has repeatedly expressed concerns in a number of venues and received no response. At a community meeting last summer, for example, seniors from SHAG Cedar Park turned out in great numbers to voice concerns about safety and accessibility in the very area where last week’s shooting occurred. Mayor McGinn, you did not attend this meeting though hundreds of residents did.
When the winter shelter was located on city property at the old Fire Station #39, representatives from the Mayor’s office assured us that an advisory board would help address community concerns. Board members repeatedly asked the Mayor’s office to send a representative to help address recurrent issues of safety and crime. No one from the Mayor’s office ever responded. Despite this complete lack of involvement, the Mayor’s office lauded the success of the shelter to local media.
Decisions about the Lake City community have already been predetermined by the Mayor’s office, yet you continue a pretense of asking for community input. Internal city documents indicate your intention to move forward with the FS#39 disposition, regardless of community feedback. Examples include:
- Public comments on the FS #39 disposition aren’t due until June 30th, yet the following timeline has already been proposed in a June 20, 2012 memo from the Director of the Office of Housing to Councilmember Nick Licata, Chair of the Housing, Human Services, Health and Culture committee. It appears from this report that the City is ready to sign contracts with unknown developers and break ground before it ever hears from the affected community.
- A budget line item of $950,000 has been available since Summer of 2011 when the Mayor first proposed spending it to retrofit FS#39 for 3 years of use as a temporary shelter. Now that same amount is referenced in the above memo for “ground floor non-housing space based on project developer’s final proposal”.
- Lake City received no official notification last fall regarding the arrival of the winter shelter. UGM continues to store equipment at the facility indicating Mayor, that you have already made arrangements for UGM to return. This conclusion is supported by the above timeline and raises numerous questions of legality regarding permitting, safety and fire code issues.
- Inconsistencies in the preliminary disposition report speak to this predetermination as if the report were written to substantiate the foregone recommendation. A full analysis of these contradictions is available here. When asked why the report seemed to be taking longer than other disposition reports, FAS staff noted this particular report required coordination with the Mayor’s office.
Mayor, your goal of increasing housing units is admirable. Yet it seems to lack forethought or awareness. The Office of Housing proposal created under your direction is for 60 units of housing for families at the FS#39 site. This will place approximately 120 children directly across the street from where last week’s shooting occurred. A stabbing took place at the same location just months ago. Neighborhood groups volunteering in this area regularly collect large quantities of empty alcohol containers and drug paraphanelia. This proposed family residence is also located one block away from an adult entertainment shop, with several strip clubs, a gun shop, and multiple marijuana-related retail in close proximity.
In your campaign for Mayor, you stressed the importance of transparency and listening to your constituents. Yet, it’s clear the Mayor’s office is making decisions without an open and transparent process and without regard for community input. The disposition report makes it clear Mayor, that you see Lake City as an ends to meeting your own political agenda, without consideration for the lives of our most vulnerable.
This is our community and we are vested in helping everyone here succeed. Mayor, we are once again asking for your help and we hope this time you will listen. We need effective regulation and legislation to address our community’s ongoing public safety crisis. We need safe pedestrian passageways within our Hub Urban Village. We need programming and recreational facilities equitable to other Seattle neighborhoods. Finally, we need your support of our area’s economic development to ensure a thriving and stable environment. We sincerely hope, Mayor McGinn, that you will choose to be vested in our neighborhood too.
We invite you to respond to our concerns directly by mail or by conducting a public meeting with the Lake City community in order to hear our concerns first-hand. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Very Truly Yours,
Lake City Neighborhood Alliance
cc: Sally Clark, Council President
Sally Bagshaw, Councilmember
Tim Burgess, Councilmember
Richard Conlin, Councilmember
Jean Godden, Councilmember
Bruce Harrell, Councilmember
Nick Licata, Councilmember
Mike O’Brien, Councilmember
Tom Rasmussen, Councilmember
[i] 2006-2010 American Community Survey data