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Neighbors say environmental design could be small step to help stop 21st and Union gun violence

While Friday’s murder of 19-year-old Royale Lexing can be clearly tied to an ongoing string of gun violence across the Central District, Capitol Hill, and Seattle, neighbors around the scene of the shootout at 21st and Union are looking at a much more local problem — and maybe solutions.

At Tuesday afternoon’s meeting of District 3 representative Kshama Sawant’s Human Services, Equitable Development, and Renter Rights Committee, Central Neighbors said SPD’s emphasis efforts are welcomed but called on the city to look beyond policing in its efforts to curb gun violence.

They point to a series of shootings around 21st and Union — five different incidents across about 18 months — that indicate that while the violence is tied to citywide and regional issues of crime and inequity, 21st Ave and its place in the heart of the Central District might also be a major factor in the ongoing violence.

Sawant also said Tuesday that the fact that emphasis patrols were already underway around the area of the fatal shooting shows that increasing policing won’t solve the problem on its own.

She said, instead, community members have been asking the Seattle Department of Transportation to begin studying the addition of environmental design elements like speed bumps and traffic calming barriers near where gun violence has occurred in an effort to transform the street and make shootouts and drivebys less likely.

One neighbor who spoke during the session said that SDOT had been happy to come out and tour the neighborhood as a greenway was planned in the area but the department has not been responsive to the call for Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design efforts.

CPTED standards have been utilized regularly in Seattle for shaping things like city parks and are the driver behind efforts like improving the lighting in Cal Anderson Park.

In the meantime, neighbors says they have been trying to do little things to improve the environment around the street while they push for help from the city. A fence was moved to give a nearby camera a better view of the corner and a hedge was removed. Neighbors are planning a community mural this summer, and have attended countless meetings with local businesses, and SPD’s community representatives. Seattle City Light helped out, they say, by adding a streetlight to a dark stretch of 21st.

For now, Sawant says the effort to address possible environmental solutions to help make the area safer is just getting started.

She called for a community meeting including neighbors and representatives from the Black community like Africatown to discuss more ideas and she said her office would be pushing for better engagement from City Hall and departments like SDOT.

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17 thoughts on “Neighbors say environmental design could be small step to help stop 21st and Union gun violence” -- All CHS Comments are held for moderation before publishing

    • I live on 21st just south of Union. While this most recent incident occurred in broad daylight the prior two shootings (Sept/Mar) occurred in the dark. Neighbors met with SPD and Teresa Mosqueda and SPD confirmed they had not made any arrests in the March shooting and hit and runs. Additional lighting and removal of fencing/hedges provides more visibility for the cameras.

      Not shocked that Sawant thinks that we should give money towards ideas proposed by AfricaTown vs doing the changes proposed by SPD/SDOT.

  1. I’d say the closing of all the garbage businesses in the Midtown block, and especially the fencing off of the entire block, is a great example of environmental design.

    Not only was that the ugliest block in the area, the expansive parking lots made for trouble.

    But no more, thankfully.

    Now that the useless church next to Ike’s is for sale, we’ll hopefully get more housing there as well…

    Time to redevelop the long closed gas station at 21 & Union too.

  2. “… the violence is tied to citywide and regional issues of crime and inequity…” Weird, I thought that it was tied to gangs and turf wars for drug sales.

    Who knew?

    • Maybe “inequity” here means “we have to work harder to sell weed now because [no fair] you can buy it legally 2 blocks away now”.

  3. Maybe they could use the $12M per mile they plan on spending to add bike lanes on E Union for efforts such as this instead.

    • I’m not even a bike lane supporter (not because of cost, but because they are often implemented poorly and are not safe)… but what you’ve just said is complete BS…. that 12 mil/mile figure is from the 7th Ave project downtown and included a complete tear up and redo of the street surface and sidewalks and drainage, plus all new light posts and new signals. Simple re-striping, even installation of bollards does not cost that much.

  4. “She called for a community meeting including neighbors and representatives from the Black community like Africatown to discuss more ideas…..”

    We know what their ideas would be: more taxpayer funds for “community leaders” like the Garrett’s who are very racist and encourage the same mentality that keeps blacks alienated from others. We’ve been hearing there ideas for 50 years and it’s always the same: they need more this, they need more that. We are told a lack of programs and social services is the root cause despite communities with far less program and social services don’t have this problem.

  5. “…the violence is tied to citywide and regional issues of crime and inequity….”

    Well, the violence itself certainly constitutes a crime. I guess we see the inequity in some people having bullet holes in them and others not.

  6. While well-intentioned, ideas like this are not going to make any difference as far as the level of violence. Thugs are going to be thugs.

    • There are domino effects when these incidents occur, one being people fleeing in cars down residential streets. We’ve seen cars flying down the street while kids are out playing. While these measures might not curb gun violence, they would increase safety. I would like to thank those who are taking time, attending meetings, and reaching out to the city to work creatively towards a safer neighborhood!

    • Agreed.

      Let’s give more money to self-appointed “community leaders” as that seems to always work.

      After all, Africatown hasn’t shown itself to basically be a scammy scam of a nonprofit organization…not at all.

      Or how about we involve the scammy “pastor” at the soon-to-be-gone church next to Ike’s?

      That sounds like an idea!

      After all, we could probably shuffle some money to this “pastor” who is no doubt looking forward to the windfall coming from the pending sale of the church properties…funds which I am sure will go toward the poor and not a new Mercedes for the “pastor”.

      Yes, these are all good ideas.

      Can we get Omari Garrett involved as well? I mean, it’ll be approximately 30 seconds before he starts saying something that is utterly offensive (my bets are on that something being antisemitic), but that’s the price we in Seattle pay for involving our “community leaders”!

      And it’s a price worth paying!

  7. Speed bumps. Maybe Kshama should go hit a shooting range and fire off a few rounds. Hard to hit the target standing still.

    Pretty sure our gang bangers know enough that they slow down before opening fire already.

  8. It’s pretty obvious that all of the drug dealing that was happening in front of the 99 cent market/laundry mat on 23rd has moved up to the union market after they fenced off the area. Maybe the FBI/ATF should move their cameras from fenced off vacant lot on 23rd to 21st. Removing parking on either side of market and enforcing violations of people parking there would help too. You see the dealers parked across next to the old gas station all day long dealing in the open. Hopefully Ike does something with that abandoned gas station that will further discourage dealing out front of it.