Times: Seattle’s homeless and drug problems ‘intersected at the corner of Madison and Boren’

Inside Italian Family Pizza

Inside Italian Family Pizza

A Seattle Times column has some harsh words for the City of Seattle and Therapeutic Health Services, the operator of a busy methadone clinic on First Hill.

“We have a homeless problem, and we have a drug problem. And they have both intersected at the corner of Madison and Boren,” writes Nicole Brodeur about the challenges the owners of Italian Family Pizza tell her they’ve had in their first three months of business after moving to First Hill.

Included in the column are two incidents involving the Calozzi family straight from the CHS blotter.

In late September, CHS reported on a gunpoint robbery on University. Brodeur says the victim was the Calozzis’ 17-year-old son. Meanwhile, we posted Monday about the melee reported outside the restaurant as owner Steven Calozzi fought another man allegedly making threats with a knife:

According to the report on the September 29th incident, the pizza joint’s husband and wife owners told police the male suspect had previously been in a verbal dispute and entered the restaurant saying, “I have a question,” and began knocking over chairs after being told to leave the building. The victims told police the man pulled a knife and began yelling “come toward me.”

Steven Calozzi told police he then grabbed a “squeegee” and began swatting at the suspect and chased him outside, possibly striking the man “once or twice.” The scene outside drew numerous 911 callers, according to the police report, and the man making threats was arrested.

SPD Report on September 29th Assault at Madison and Boren

Brodeur’s column turns on Jennifer Calozzi’s attempt this week to air her grievances about First Hill during public comment at the Seattle City Council. Brodeur complains that Calozzi was only given one minute before her mic was cut. “It was a waste of time,” Brodeur writes:

This same City Council has spent hours talking about whether to turn public land over to homeless people. But they can give only one minute to a business owner who pays $17,000 a month in federal, state, city and employment taxes.

But the real center of the problem for Brodeur is the Summit Ave Therapeutic Health Services clinic:

While states and cities spend millions of dollars and thousands of hours trying to get people off drugs and into shelters, there are many hardworking citizens dealing with the day-to-day of these epidemics with their own time and money. They’re scrubbing stoops, fighting off attackers and trying to forget the feel of a gun against their chests, all the while keeping their compassion intact and anger in check.

Italian Family Pizza opened in the Hunters Capitalowned managed building at Boren and Madison in July after moving from its downtown location at 1st and Seneca due to a planned development. We asked the owners about their move to a former check cashing space in the middle of First Hill.  “I’m a city guy. I go out on the corner and I see the city,” Steve Calozzi told CHS earlier this year as he prepared for the move to the restaurant’s new home.

You can read the full column — “Knife, gun, strangers … sorry, her 1 minute to speak is up” — here.

UPDATE: Independent journalist Erica Barnett has sharply criticized the Brodeur piece and posted a series of items to Twitter featuring court cases and allegations over disputes involving the Calozzis:

 

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8 thoughts on “Times: Seattle’s homeless and drug problems ‘intersected at the corner of Madison and Boren’

  1. There is a serious homeless and addiction problem in and around First Hill. That said, when business owners (or residents) move into neighborhoods (apparently without doing their research) and then complain about how they’re being victimized by the neighborhood, it really drives me nuts.

    • I understand your sentiment. It’s a bit like when people who choose to move close to an airport complain about aircraft noise. On the other hand, this situation (and your response) is a form of “blame the victim.” They are the victims of, what most people would consider, pretty serious crimes. The drug clinic and the city have a responsibility to the community to address the problems. “They shouldn’t have opened their business there” is as bad as telling a rape victim “she shouldn’t have worn those skimpy clothes.”

  2. I’m sympathetic to the business owners and what they are going through, especially their son. That being said, my partner and I lived at Boren and Madison for nearly 5 years. We miss the neighborhood enough to be looking for an affordable way to live there with our growing family. We still own our condo there, and have had the same tenant for 3 years (so there must be something he likes about it?). Every morning for those 5 years we walked our dogs by THS, and I can’t think of one negative interaction we’ve had with any of the clients. Of course it wasn’t always perfect, we did see our fair share of people sleeping on the steps of our building, throwing up on the side of the building, or engaging in public disputes. But I never personally felt that this was a “scary” or unsafe area of the city.

  3. Amusing that Erica Barnett would criticize anyone for faulty or non-existent research. That’s pretty much praise from the muckraking master.

  4. Hey Justin,

    If you are going to update this article with comments and screenshots by “Independent Journalist” Erica Barnett, why not also interview the restaurant owners who have endured at least seven incidents since moving to their new location? Focusing on the “PC” nature of a link between THS and neighborhood crime does your readers a disservice, and makes CHS a less credible local news source.

    MyNorthwest.com took the time to interview the subject of this incident http://mynorthwest.com/419296/pizzeria-seattle-methadone-clinic/ – it doesn’t appear that you did. Perhaps you should interview both the knife-wielding perpetrator as well as the business owner who took action to get the guy out of his restaurant. You could also speak with Norm Johnson of THS about the clinic taking “total responsibility” for what is happening to the Calozzis.

    I applaud Restaurant owner Steven Calozzi for defending himself, and SPD for arresting the perpetrator, and THS CEO for speaking up with honesty about the impact one of their clients had on the neighborhood.

    If you are going to report, please report both sides. To do otherwise is biased. Being “anti-PC” is the new PC.

    • Oh good! A notoriously anti-Seattle, right wing “news” site (MyNorthwest) did a “fair and balanced” article on business owners dealing with the addicts, who have been in that area for a very long time.

      This is the same website that constantly rails against any actual solutions to the homeless, mental and drug problems, because they’ll cost money and why should we spend money to fix these problems? It’s also belongs to the same parent company that employs Dori Monson.

      And most articles you read, other than sports, do not have unbiased wording. Hell, I read an article recently that was supposed to be about Angle Lake Station opening early and under budget. Within a couple sentences, it devolved into a massive anti-ST3 article.

      So yeah, this article is going to be heavily favored towards making the “poor, small business owner” look like a mistreated angel and make Seattle look like the big, communist bully (plus whatever shit they can throw against the wall to see if it sticks) that churns out mentally unstable addicts as part of their diabolical plan to drive ALL small business out. I don’t even need to read the article to know that.

      Despite my reservations about Erica C. Barnett, I’ll take her over MyNW ANY day of the week.

      And then you get to the comments. Yeesh! The comment section is just a right wing, echo chamber, circle jerk that seems to have very strong opinions of Seattle, despite 0% of them likely living in or even visiting Seattle on a regular basis. So you can see who MyNW is catering their articles to, and they ain’t neutral articles.