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Capitol Hill Community Post | Central Seattle Greenways letter on the East Precinct wall

From Central Seattle Greenways

Mayor Jenny Durkan, the Seattle City Council, and SDOT Director Sam Zimbabwe:

Central Seattle Greenways, a member of the Seattle Neighborhood Greenways coalition, is a grassroots volunteer group that advocates for safe, comfortable streets for people walking, rolling, and biking in central Seattle. We are frustrated, angry, and disappointed with the City’s construction of a large concrete and steel barrier around the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct building at the corner of E Pine St & 12th Ave E.

Our understanding is that City leaders felt it was necessary to install this barrier in response to threats and incidents of attempted arson at the East Precinct, following a recommendation from the Seattle Fire Department to protect the precinct building as well as neighboring wooden buildings on the same block. With no prior notice and without a proper permit, crews from the Seattle Department of Transportation installed concrete “eco-blocks” (later topped with a fence) along Pine and 12th Ave, closing the adjacent sidewalks and crosswalks and obstructing the bike lanes on Pine and 12th Ave. While SDOT could have followed the recommendations in Director’s Rule 10-2015 to provide an ADA compliant pedestrian pathway adjacent to the sidewalk closure and signage indicating the duration of the closure, no such pathway or signage has been provided. The Mayor’s Office has provided no guidance about when or under what conditions the sidewalk will be reopened, saying only that the wall will remain “until the protests end.” The wall, in an ironic (or perhaps fitting) twist, also prevents access to the “Neighbors” artwork in the East Precinct lobby, designed to represent the whirlwind of activity in a welcoming community.

To see the City roll out this concrete and steel monstrosity on the sidewalks of one of the most active pedestrian neighborhoods in the city is infuriating. Volunteers like us spend hundreds of hours every year working with the City to make our streets safer for people walking, rolling, and biking. Just blocks away from the East Precinct, at 12th and Denny, several volunteers spent years getting the funding and support to install a crosswalk “refuge” in the street for a safer crossing. Built only with paint and some plastic “soft hit” sticks, it has since fallen into disrepair. Drivers routinely ignore the signs prohibiting left turns. Elsewhere in central Seattle, the Stay Healthy Streets identified to give people a safe outdoor place to walk, roll, and bike during the pandemic are lacking meaningful infrastructure to prevent aggressive drivers from using them to speed through neighborhoods. The Keep Moving street on Lake Washington Boulevard initially opened without the planned eco-block barriers because they had all been used to build the barricades around the East and West Precincts. While those blocks were later added, they have since been removed when the City ended that program. The blocks placed around the precincts, however, remain.

In safe streets advocacy, we often hear from SDOT and staff in the Mayor’s Office that they are trying to make streets safer, are listening to the community, and want to do the right thing, but are hamstrung by budgets and staff time. We also hear about projects being delayed due to “needing extra outreach” or “negative feedback about parking impacts.” We may not like it, but we have normalized these delays as part of grinding through the “Seattle process” of seeking consensus through exhaustion and accepting only incremental change.

With all this in mind, it was shocking to see SDOT fabricate this concrete and steel wall around the East Precinct, blocking sidewalks, crosswalks, and bike lanes, seemingly overnight, with not a single word of outreach or advance notice. This exposes the Seattle process for what is—a manufactured lie. Clearly, the City does have the ability to act quickly and effectively to protect spaces… when they choose to do so. For years, SDOT apparently could have installed concrete blocks like these along bike routes to make them safe. But they demurred, and people have been hurt and killed. SDOT could have blocked off parts of the street to create safe walkways and added asphalt ADA ramps at crosswalks. But they stalled, and people have had difficulty getting around the city. SDOT could have taken lanes for buses to speed up transit travel times and reduce costs. But they hesitated, and people have had to stand in the rain waiting for buses stuck behind lines of cars. To see that so much of our time and energy as volunteers has been spent pushing against what we now see are unnecessary delays on the part of City leadership is exhausting, demoralizing, and enraging. Infrastructure improvements to ensure that Seattle residents can get around the city safely should receive the same speedy planning and implementation process lavished on the Seattle Police Department’s precinct buildings this summer.

The Mayor’s Office has made it clear that the fortress around the East Precinct will not be removed any time soon. We ask that Mayor Durkan follow through on her stated commitments to transparency and “re-imagining policing” by committing to a deadline to remove the wall, or, failing that, describing when and how the decision will be made to reopen these streets to the people of Seattle, removing the barrier that symbolizes the intimidating and excessive police actions that residents of Capitol Hill were subjected to throughout the summer. Until this is done, SDOT must provide safe mobility options along these streets for people walking, rolling, and biking by moving the barricades out of the street, closer to the building, and creating a pedestrian pathway in the street. We look forward to seeing the City restore safe passage for all street users on 12th and Pine.

Sincerely,
David Seater & Brie Gyncild
Co-leaders, on behalf of Central Seattle Greenways


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Eli
Eli
9 days ago

Great letter. Personally, I don’t do business on that block anymore, since there’s no sidewalk.

Ggyhh
Ggyhh
9 days ago
Reply to  Eli

Boy that will really punish… The small businesses there 🙄

Eli
Eli
8 days ago
Reply to  Ggyhh

Indeed, I’m sure it does. But that what happens when you obstruct pedestrian access without providing a detour.

stan
stan
8 days ago
Reply to  Eli

There is a detour. Cross to the east side of 12th, go down a block, cross back over and then go to the place you were headed to. It’s not rocket surgery. Plenty of sidewalks are closed off due to construction and we don’t see this level of whining about it.

Would it be great to have every sidewalk clear and available? Sure, but it’s not going to happen. Seems like there are bigger issues to tackle than one closed corner on Capitol Hill.

JenMoon
JenMoon
8 days ago
Reply to  Ggyhh

your point? there are plenty of businesses in that 4 block area – Eli’s note represents more than just them. There are plenty of us who have just stopped trying.

RWK
RWK
9 days ago

I think this is a frivolous and unwarranted “demand” on the part of Central Seattle Greenways. Unfortunately, the barrier around the East Precinct is necessary as long as far-left criminals continue to engage in property destruction, especially against the SPD. It is not asking too much for pedestrians and cyclists to cross 12th Ave and continue on their way on the east side of the street.

MarciaX
MarciaX
9 days ago
Reply to  RWK

Perhaps it’s not asking too much for able-bodied peds and cyclists to take that detour. But it IS asking too much for wheelchair users and the otherwise mobility-challenged to do so. Getting from the southwest corner of the intersection to the businesses just south of the precinct now means crossing 12th, going all the way down to Pike, crossing 12th again, and then coming all the way back up. That is far from trivial for many of us, I assure you. Even if you agree 100% with the need for the barrier, this letter raises some entirely valid points, that being one of them.

JenMoon
JenMoon
8 days ago
Reply to  MarciaX

and the valid concern that the money spent and the time it took for the police…we don’t seem willing to prioritize for folks who use wheelchairs or who are mobility-challenged.

RWK
RWK
8 days ago
Reply to  MarciaX

You make a valid point. But just how often does a wheelchair user need to get from the northwest (not southwest, because that corner if blocked by the wall) to one of the businesses on 12th south of the precinct? I would say….very infrequently.

MarciaX
MarciaX
7 days ago
Reply to  RWK

It’s not just wheelchair users. For many people who still manage to walk upright, doing so is slow and painful due to arthritis, miniscus tears, gout, knee problems, etc. I’m one of them (miniscus). Asking people with limited mobility to hobble the equivalent of two extra blocks — and across two busy intersections — is absolutely a big deal. It’s not about the barrier itself. I’m persuadable on the need for it (although “when the protests end” is not an acceptable answer for when it might come down). But there is a well-established procedure for sidewalk closures, and in this case it was totally bypassed. That’s what’s maddening about this situation.

RWK
RWK
6 days ago
Reply to  MarciaX

Point taken, Marcia. However, the barrier already comes up right to the traffic lane. There is literally no room to provide a temporary pedestrian lane around the barrier, without eliminating the (soutbound) traffic lane.

rebeccabush
rebeccabush
9 days ago

Ms. Durkan, tear down that wall!

Spencer Beard
Spencer Beard
9 days ago

How can I sign on in support of this?

AARDVARKGOD
AARDVARKGOD
9 days ago

Give me a break. Until the SPD at the east precinct can be assured their building is safe from rioters it is a small inconvenience you have to cross a street to get around.Its amazing you are so blind as to see why such measures were necessary. The “intimidating and excessive police actions” were neither of those things. They were in response to the chaos that engulfed that block the past 5 months. Sorry, not sorry, for your inconvenience.

Ggyhh
Ggyhh
9 days ago

“To see the City roll out this concrete and steel monstrosity on the sidewalks of one of the most active pedestrian neighborhoods in the city is infuriating.”

Lmao, Typical oblivious nest. To see DEMONSTRATORS actively attacking the East precinct was a monstrosity and infuriating come on man… Get it right find – the barriers are a response, not an initiative action

I’m all for demonstrations, civil rights and moving forward… I am NOT for obliviously supporting violence or misplaced understanding of cause-and-effect

Fighting perceived police violence with violence merely perpetuates the system… It doesn’t change it

Let’s start with making it unnecessary to have such barriers – the police brutality the people are demonstrating against didn’t occur at the precinct, it occurred in the system.

oliveoyl
oliveoyl
9 days ago

Bravo! The cycle for change needs to start with the City …. we’ve had enough talk from the mayor, we need actions to match the rhetoric.

Dwight Simons
Dwight Simons
9 days ago

David and Brie,
I enthusiastically support Central Seattle Greenways and would happily volunteer to help out in the future. But I was truly astounded to read your piece. Do you honestly think the barrier is some zero-process power trip by the city? Have you been around Cap Hill at all in the last several months?

I was at a march a couple weeks ago and watched 2 white boys pelting the East Precinct with bottles. This shit goes on all the time. As a local business owner for over 30 years, I have spent many hours over the last months trying to reason with the protesters. We all support BLM and social justice in all it’s forms, dating back decades. Sadly the protestors are really a white-entitlement cult more than anything else. Ditto Portland. They are setting back everything we have worked for- including being a major factor in Senate race losses. They are holding downtown and Cap Hill in a state of terror. Yes the cops were awful in early June, but wtf, they were responding to widespread looting and vandalism with the stupid cop tactics they knew. But unlike the protesters, they have radically improved their game and are now 100% the adults in the room. Frankly I think the bike cops are now measured and very professional in dealing with a circus of white trash privileged brats that all need a taste of life behind bars.

We can’t defund the police because we need them to protect us from vanilla babies yelling “defund the police” while they destroy our neighborhoods. Plywood matters.

You guys are WAY better than this. Please helps us recover the vibrant community Capitol Hill has always been.

JenMoon
JenMoon
8 days ago
Reply to  Dwight Simons

Which march(es) have you been at, Dwight? I ask because I’m truly astounded to read this about the protesters and the bike cops being “measured and very professional” after watching the unprovoked 5 (bike)cop takedown in front of the precinct of Kel. The 2 camera shoot is hard to argue with.

It’s also hard to reconcile someone going to a march calling folks “white trash privileged brats” “taste of life behind bars” and “vanilla babies” because whether you like them or not, we aren’t for incarceration, remember? Unless you meant as a business owner, you’d been talking to protesters from there, which is totally fine; it just isn’t clear.

Dwight Simons
Dwight Simons
8 days ago
Reply to  JenMoon

The night the boys were throwing bottles at the police station was Wed Nov 4. They dumped a bunch of recycle bins into the middle of 12th, gathered up bottles and threw them over the barrier to smash on the precinct walls. A large group of protestors on the corner of 12th and Pine cheered them on. No one tried to stop them. I would have done this, but as a business owner I can’t take the risk of being identified out of certainty that the white boys will do more damage to my location. As I said, this cult is holding the neighborhood in a state of terror. The orthodoxy is that their vandalism doesn’t count as violence because they’re supporting black lives. Anyone who disagrees obviously supports cops killing people of color. This ludicrous false-equivalency fallacy is a stark declaration of entitlement- white entitlement to be exact.

One of the favorite chants at the cops is “you support property, we support people.” I had a convo with a white woman protestor (who was vandalizing a parking meter) about this. I asked her where she worked. She asked why I wanted to know, and I said because we needed to march there next to smash the glass. This would prove her devotion to black lives, so certainly she should reveal the location.

But in truth I don’t think many of the protestors believe the orthodoxy. They know the real goal is simply to draw out the cops. How can they protest police violence night after night if the cops never show up-(which is most definitely the city’s preference). But sadly, the cops have to come to prevent the destruction of small businesses. It’s amazing- if parents raised kids the way the city is lavishing attention on the protesters, they’d have the world’s most spoiled children.

Regarding Kel, I was there when it happened, but I didn’t get a close look at exactly how the cops handled her. I will say this: the kids are warned multiple times before the cops intervene. The issue is always a blocked intersection, property destruction, etc.. an action staged by the protesters to force the cops to act. Prior to the cops taking action, for hours on end, they are subjected to the most horrendous verbal abuse. It’s simply unbelievable. When they do act, they come in swiftly and grab the most egregious offenders. The fact that Kel chose to be in the spot where it was 100% certain the cops were going to intervene certainly raises questions about her motives. Obviously she didn’t deserve to be hurt- this is a tragedy and we all wish her the speediest recovery possible. I do not believe the cops intended to hurt her by any stretch, but controlling rioters is far from an exact science. This shit goes on every night. Everyone knows the protesters want to have another dance with the cops. It’s simply absurd that the cult can claim police brutality without any self-reflection.

stan
stan
8 days ago
Reply to  JenMoon

“… after watching the unprovoked 5 (bike)cop takedown in front of the precinct of Kel.”

I’m not sure what video you are referring to but the one I’ve seen (posted on this site the night it happened) only included about 2 minutes of footage. Neither you or I can say what Kel may or may not have done in the time prior to the snippet of video posted online. It’s VERY possible that Kel did something to warrant arrest. Most of these daily action protests have revolved around some form of destruction.

Mimi
Mimi
8 days ago
Reply to  Dwight Simons

Agree.

MixteFeelings
MixteFeelings
8 days ago
Reply to  Dwight Simons

They both live in the neighborhood so I’m guessing they have been around Capitol Hill in the last few months. I live here, too, quite close to the East Bunker I mean Precinct. Bravo to Brie and David for risking alienating folks who can’t see police actions for the violence it has been.

As for vibrancy: if the city isn’t vibrant for everyone, it’s not vibrant. Period.

Dwight Simons
Dwight Simons
7 days ago
Reply to  MixteFeelings

On many nights I have wished we had a Cap Hill Citizen’s Brigade to monitor the protests and try to deescalate violence. There are perhaps 3 of us out on any night having isolated chats with people. But as I said before, the stakes are very high. If the kids identify us, our glass goes down- for the crime of questioning the inane orthodoxy that protecting property = defending police violence.

Another factor we should all be mindful of- insurance companies will drop coverage for retail businesses in the neighborhood, or prohibitively raise rates. Bars, coffee shops, restaurants operate on thin margins, and they have to have insurance. More than anything, the legacy of the protests may be lots of empty storefronts. The cops will not be defunded by much. It’s just going to be the perpetual plywood jungle.

So I encourage everyone to come out and be a presence when the protests are in our neighborhood. Follow Future Crystals on Instagram and SPD on Twitter for current info on where things are happening.

Sam
Sam
9 days ago

The contrast is stark between the swiftness for the precinct vs. the delay everywhere else for bikes and people. I am wondering how safe streets would “re-imagine policing” to help make bikes and people safer – too many laws not enforced on our streets, and too many people getting hit.

RWK
RWK
8 days ago
Reply to  Sam

Sam, putting up the wall had to be “swift,” because at the time far-left criminals were attacking it on a daily basis.

Sam
Sam
8 days ago
Reply to  RWK

Yes, it was swift, and the reason is because people were trying to set fire to the precinct and destroy it – as a taxpayer I’d rather my money be spent on a wall than tons of overtime with potential injury to protestors and cops. Still, it’s true that implementation of pedestrian/bike friendly measures is generally slow. Attacking the wall around the precinct has an element of manufactured outrage, instead it might be a good time to think about how to do law enforcement to keep our bikers and pedestrians safe from drivers, who have been zooming through our city super fast lately – it’s crazy out there, with little enforcement. As a cyclist and a mom with a kid near a busy street near a school I have traditionally supported enhancing our police department because I want MORE cops on the streets enforcing our traffic laws. But I’d be open to other ways of doing this, and would like to hear ideas about how it can be done. Since it’s, uh, abundantly clear Greenways is not a big fan of Seattle cops, how would they propose to enforce traffic laws -would love to hear what they think. Maybe there is another way – if so they would be the ones to provide a policy blueprint, otherwise we will be set for just more flailing from the city council, and more crazies driving their BMWs M3s to Amazon like a bat out hell right past the precinct, a big FU like nobody will stop them.

Ryan Packer
Ryan Packer
8 days ago
Reply to  RWK

People are dying due to traffic violence our streets on a weekly basis right now.

Hillery
Hillery
8 days ago

The wall is a symptom of the failures of leadership from Seattle from the top on down to all its departments

stan
stan
8 days ago

I hope that CSG is also writing a similar letter about the closed sidewalks on the north side of Pine, west of Melrose, for construction of apartments and the convention center expansion.

There’s also the closing of sidewalks on both sides of the street on Olive, west of Boren, for the convention center expansion as well as the south side of Howell, west of Boren. People shouldn’t have to cross and re-cross streets or go a block or two out of their way to get where they are going; right? Especially when it was totally foreseeable the impacts that closures would have on pedestrians.

I mean, if I’m going south on 12th, then have to cross to the east side of the street, go down a block, cross west, and then go back north to one of a handful of businesses I might want to patronize then that’s totally inconvenient. And convenience is the key to a happy life.

Ryan Packer
Ryan Packer
8 days ago
Reply to  stan

This was addressed in the letter. Those closures are required to follow ADA guidelines, while SPD’s closures ignore those rules.

stan
stan
8 days ago
Reply to  Ryan Packer

I don’t see where my comment about CSG needing to write a similar letter of complaint regarding the lack of pedestrian pathways at the construction sites on Pine, Olive, and Howell streets being addressed at all. You mention those closures need to follow ADA guidelines but they don’t any more than SPD’s.

Pedestrians are forced to cross the street at Melrose and Pine going west only to have to cross back over at 9th and Pine if you want to go someplace on the north side of Pine. You can’t even walk down Olive west of Boren any longer. A person either trudges uphill to Pine or over to Howell where, again, a sidewalk (the southern) is closed to pedestrians. And this is just one hyperlocal example. I’m sure there are plenty of other sidewalk closures that don’t follow ADA guidelines.

My point is that this letter is clearly a virtue signaling political statement. If CSG really cared they’d be making this kind of stink about lack of ADA pedestrian options that are known to exist and have existed for a while. Pre-pandemic a while.

Aaron
Aaron
7 days ago
Reply to  stan

Stan, I agree with you.

Over the last five years, I’ve emailed the city about obstructions and hazards due to construction on the sidewalks on behalf of several disabled clients. I also volunteer with a group that works with the visually impaired. This has been an ongoing problem for sometime now so this letter is very late to the game and focused only on one particular location while ignoring the rest of the city.

What stings is this attempt to hijack a real issue to score political point distracts from the genuine problem the disabled faced city wide.

Ryan Packer
Ryan Packer
7 days ago
Reply to  Aaron

Imagine accusing Central Seattle Greenways, the organization doing the most in our neighborhood to improve conditions for people rolling, walking, and biking as “hijacking” an issue that’s squarely in their wheelhouse. Not writing this letter would mean they didn’t uphold the values they state to hold.

Ryan Packer
Ryan Packer
7 days ago
Reply to  stan

LOL, one of the people who wrote this letter has been CHAIRING the Pedestrian Advisory Board for years and has been making as much of a “stink” as *anyone in this entire city*. Take your whataboutism somewhere else.

Aaron
Aaron
6 days ago
Reply to  Ryan Packer

It’s doesn’t say much when people who CHAIR advisory boards for years can’t make improvements. That’s why people are frustrated. The constant grab of public sidewalk real estate for eating, bike share, construction equipments storage, etc. have worsened on their watch.

This is the problem with not listening and spending more time touting important sounding titles. Affected people aren’t impressed. The point Stan made is fair. Organizations need to be even handed about disabled accessibility.

newyorkisrainin
newyorkisrainin
4 days ago
Reply to  Aaron

I think in many ways you’re making the same points as in the letter — city leadership (not volunteer advisory boards nor volunteer community groups who have been making recommendations and doing advocacy work for YEARS) has not prioritized safe streets for those who walk, bike, roll and instead make excuses instead of swiftly making the infrastructure changes that we know will create a safer built environment for all (just one case in point: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/transportation/many-seattle-intersections-lack-accessible-crossing-signals-for-people-with-vision-or-hearing-loss/), but will act with alacrity to secure a fortress-like perimeter around the SPD building that is a barrier to safe and ADA accessible streets in one of the most dense areas of our city. The slow “Seattle process” for thee but not for me. When the city wants to do something they do it.

“People who chair advisory boards” can’t make improvements because our electeds and SDOT haven’t and currently don’t prioritize these issues — not for lack of advocacy!