Since we first broke the news of new Cal Anderson Park rangers to help patrol the public space, CHS commenters have been weighing in on the proposed solutions including the rangers and increased SPD foot, bike and, yes, horse, presence in the park. Believe it or not, one rather dastardly solution brought up in the comments has been tried in the past to help clear the area of overnight activities. The Cal Anderson sprinkler solution reminds that we’ve been through this situation before with the park — recently, in fact:
If they randomly ran the lawn sprinklers overnight, that would be quietly effective….
An East Precinct representative told CHS in 2011 that Seattle Parks would be doing just that when the area went through a similar outcry to Mayor Mike McGinn about safety issues in the park. Parks denied that any such request had been discussed — and, after CHS asked about it, said it was technically not possible:
It is a state of the art computerized irrigation system installed in many parks. It measures how much water is needed at any given time and turns the irrigation sprinklers on and off at precise times, saving thousands of gallons of water per park each year. It operates only at night when the park is closed. The times are not predicable because of the sensors.
The Cal Anderson sprinkler solution was raised in 2011 after a Capitol Hill mother’s tweets about drug use and threatening behavior caught the attention of City Hall. The mayor’s office quickly responded with a call for increased patrols and more to help address the complaints. Following a tour of the park by the mayor and local representatives, overgrown foliage and benches were removed from certain hangout spots in the park to make the area easier to patrol and a more difficult place to camp.
This time around, there has again been a marked increase in trespass activity and parks exclusions issued by SPD, according to the East Precinct’s incident logs. Campers have been forced, more and more, to find other places to sleep with empty businesses and doorways to nighttime venues and bars distributing the population that had been centralized at the park.