The next CID Community Safety Forum is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 20, 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. • Courtesy

Property and window damage, warming fires, a shooting and robberies were some of the public safety concerns in the Chinatown International District flagged by participants in a monthly Community Safety Forum held over Zoom on January 16.    

A shooting and robberies

On January 1, a man was shot in the leg during a robbery at the 600 block of South Weller Street, and taken to Harborview Medical Center in serious but stable condition, according to SPD’s blotter. The victim told police he was sleeping in a doorway when someone stepped out of a vehicle, took his duffle bag and shot him. Police ask anyone with information about the incident to call SPD Violent Crimes Tip Line at (206) 233-5000.

Meeting facilitator Natalie Hutson, who works as CID Community Safety Coordinator with the Chinatown International District Business Improvement Area, noted that the neighborhood’s crime hotspots as of January are 12th and Jackson, 12th and King, 5th and Jackson, 6th and Weller, and 13th and Lane.

Monica Ly, CID liaison with SPD, said she planned to meet with the owners of Gold and Silver Traders on Jackson Street after the store was robbed, to conduct a security assessment.

Ly also encouraged those interested to sign up with Smart 911, a program in which users can create a profile and add information to their phone number so that their information is visible to 911 dispatchers. This information can include health issues, medications, language preferences. Those interested can visit https://www.smart911.com.

Window damage

Hutson said the windows of some properties in the neighborhood have been broken or damaged by acid etching graffiti, requiring total replacement. Ly said she is helping businesses submit police reports as part of the required application for storefront repair to the Office of Economic Development.

Warming fires

Hutson noted that when warming centers are not accessible, people light more fires outside in the CID during the winter to stay warm. In December, an apparent warming fire by the Louisa Hotel building triggered the building’s external sprinkler.

Tanya Woo of CID Community Watch (now a City Council member) raised concern about camping stoves that were apparently distributed to people outdoors by unknown donors. The stoves produce flames which leave scorch marks on buildings and could cause second degree burns, Woo noted.

Captain Steve Strand of SPD’s West Precinct responded that he is unsure who is handing out these stoves or what a better alternative is for people staying warm. The Seattle Fire Department will not extinguish a fire outdoors if it is being used for warming or cooking, Strand noted, and that in winter 2022, several buildings lost their insurance coverage due to the risk of fires.

KaeLi Deng, garden manager of the Danny Woo Garden, said people seem to have broken fences in the garden to light warming fires, and someone broke the wheel the garden uses to stow the hose.

Monica Haugen, Sr. Recreation Program Coordinator with the Parks Department, noted there is also evidence of fires in Hing Hay Park. She said there has been an uptick in drug use within the park too, and that park concierges were not fully deployed during the January cold snap. The department is working on contracts for programming and activation of the parks later in the year.

Ricky Pham, a Community Service Officer (CSO) for SPD, said people have raised concerns about encampments in the Danny Woo Garden and on WSDOT property by the freeway. Pham said CSOs are doing outreach to connect people with services, with the help of REACH.

LEAD overwhelmed with diversion referrals

Sam Wolff, Senior Project Manager with Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD), said the agency has been flooded with 180 referrals from SPD since the passage of the City’s ordinance banning public drug use and possession last Fall. LEAD works to divert people involved in low-level drug crimes, prostitution, and crimes of poverty away from the criminal legal system and connects them with case managers.

Because LEAD prioritizes SPD referrals and has a rigorous intake process, the passage of the drug ordinance has left less room for referrals from the community. “We are still able to take very high priority community referrals in a few select areas including the CID,” Wolff said.

Crime prevention efforts

Strand said the City has implemented place-based Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design ideas, and is considering installing more lighting in places like 12th and Jackson. Strand said SPD keeps a mobile precinct in that area and visible police presence. At the same time, Community Service Officers conduct regular check-ins with businesses and aim to have a more visible presence in the neighborhood.

Strand noted that a new park is opening in Little Saigon near Lam’s Seafood. “That’s one area, we’re going to keep an eye on to make sure that doesn’t get overrun with, again, a criminal element,” Strand said. “It seems like we make progress in one area and then we kind of lose some traction.”

The next CID Community Safety Forum is scheduled for Tuesday, February 20, 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Hing Hay Coworks: 409B Maynard Ave S, Seattle, WA 98104.

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