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A ‘strong mayor’ — Harrell’s Capitol Hill tour includes public safety, kombucha, and pumping iron

The mayor’s Sunday tour included a stop at a kombucha vendor at the farmers market. The mayor has reportedly become quite fond of the beverage. (Image: CHS)

Harrell hitting the bench press at Rival Fitness (Image: City of Seattle)

Seattle’s mayor sampled some farmers market kombucha, pumped iron, and got an earful from local businesses about public safety, homelessness and mental illness resources, worries about the loss of car access and street parking to neighborhood street changes, concerns about sidewalk vendors, and worries about gun violence.

Mayor Bruce Harrell came to Capitol Hill for a tour Sunday to hear from neighborhood business owners in what his office says is the start of visits around the city part of new “One Seattle Community Connections” efforts with stops in more neighborhoods to come.

The tour with media in tow included the Sunday Capitol Hill Farmers Market, a stop at T’Juana Tacos inside the Nacho Borracho bar on Broadway, a visit to E Pine’s Rival Fitness, and a closed-door lunch with neighborhood business representatives atop Mercado Luna to discuss nightlife and public safety concerns including multiple incidents of gun violence near lower Pike/Pine club the Mint Lounge.

Before the closed-door session with the nightlife and business reps, Harrell told CHS his visit to the neighborhood wasn’t about cracking down on any specific business.

“I’m hearing a few themes that the mental illness and the mental crisis issues that people are experiencing is problematic, both of the person experiencing and the effect it has on their customers,” the mayor said. “And what you’re hearing is sort of a very resilient attitude toward people who love this area.”

The mayor’s visit to T’Juana Tacos included a platter of tacos the mayor did not have time to eat. He wisely asked for a to-go bag. (Image: CHS)

Earlier at T’Juana Tacos, owner Monica Rodriguez told Harrell that being part of Broadway has been good business for her small food truck and restaurant company but that safety, especially for her late night working employees, is an issue because of people on the street in need of mental health services. Rodriguez also told Harrell she thinks she’d find the same issues “in any city” and that she has found the community around Broadway to be a positive place to do business despite the challenges. CHS reported on T’Juana Tacos and its one year anniversary on Broadway here.

Harrell’s visit also coincided with a ripple of complaints from area businesses about possible changes to streets around Pike/Pine as part of a “Capitol Hill Superblock” plan. CHS reported here on officials backpedaling on the concept that could live on as a citywide strategy that backers say might eventually involve the neighborhood. A stop on Nagle Place with a representative from the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict to talk about pedestrianization efforts in the neighborhood was cut due to time constraints.

Some area merchants reportedly are also piqued about the growing number of sidewalk vendors setting up shop near Cal Anderson and in Pike/Pine selling t-shirts, vintage gear, and art. We’ll check to see what the mayor heard about the issue in the closed-door session and if any actions from his office will stem from the session.

Harrell said the tour and coming visits to other neighborhoods were about connecting better with the city.

“I go all over the city talking small businesses and letting them know I am not trying to govern this city from the seventh floor in City Hall,” he told CHS. “I have to drive policy and budget decisions and implementation from that office. But equally important, I gotta be out here talking to people and looking in them in the eyeballs. And they have to know that I’m authentic when I say I care about your business, I care about your health. Quite frankly, you can’t fake that.”

Meanwhile, before the closed-session meeting in his stop at E Pine’s Rival Fitness, Harrell checked in with one of the neighborhood’s Black-owned businesses where owner Jim Mahan described some of the challenges it has faced coming out of the pandemic restrictions approaching its ten-year anniversary — and spotted the mayor for an impromptu weight lifting session.

“See? He’s a strong mayor,” one of Harrell’s entourage quipped.

 

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d4l3d
d4l3d
20 days ago

Pumping irony.

Hill Inhabitant
Hill Inhabitant
20 days ago

Why are these trips always about meeting business owners and never about meeting the workers or the actual people struggling on the street whose crisis he claims to care about?

Hill Inhabitant
Hill Inhabitant
20 days ago

Why is the ownership class is more deserving of listening to than workers, renters, and other inhabitants?

B-Real
B-Real
20 days ago

Because they take all the risk and worry to make sure everything works, and that employees and vendors are paid on time.

Matt
Matt
20 days ago
Reply to  B-Real

This is such a foolish argument and a red herring. COVID very quickly and clearly showed us that it is the workers who often make the lowest wages that drive the most basic functions of our society, while those who benefit from their efforts rant about the “risk and worry” they take of “making sure everything works”, cry me a river man 😅

Glenn
Glenn
20 days ago

Thanks to Mayor Harrell for coming out to walk the neighborhood and meet with some small business owners. They have suffered greatly over the past two years and it has often seemed the city government was hostile to their needs. Certainly our D3 Council representative is openly hostile to their needs. So a good start. Thank you.

Let's talk
Let's talk
20 days ago
Reply to  Glenn

Thanks Glenn you are spot on.

Richard
Richard
20 days ago

What matters more than the opinions of those who monetize residents?!?

Dr. Freud
Dr. Freud
20 days ago

ISTBC but it could be because ensuring that business owners are able to thrive and employ us is more beneficial than a conversation with someone howling in a bus stop.

Jase
Jase
20 days ago
Reply to  Dr. Freud

Workers employ business owners. They can only own businesses through us working, we do not need them owning businesses to work, perfectly capable of producing everything without having a dictator controlling our lives and time while we work.

And those people ‘howling at the bus stop’ who own nothing and have nowhere to go need far more help than someone who has the resources to own business. Helping them will do far more to make the world better for you then paying empty lip service to local business while rolling back pedestrianation plans that all evidence shows improves profit for local and small businesses.

Matt
Matt
20 days ago
Reply to  Jase

Also, those folks howling at the bus stop often have some solid points about our society, like why do we care more about internet points than actually getting to know and helping our neighbors whom are struggling 🤷🏻‍♂️

Come on right now
Come on right now
20 days ago

Harrell repping 225 on the bench is some real life toxic masculinity for all the haters! LOL

Bill
Bill
19 days ago

or just good physical health?

Reality
Reality
20 days ago

Harrell is a step in the right direction. Hopefully he finds the courage to enact a long overdue camping ban like any other big city in the world away from the west coast. This is a drug crisis not a housing crisis. Making space for drug addicts to camp in public spaces and die from complications of their addiction is absurd. It is also evident that the last 15 years of “harm reduction” ideology grows the problem. The options should be a congregate shelter, a better option contingent on enrollment in a treatment program, or a bus ticket back to Florida.

Fairly Obvious
Fairly Obvious
19 days ago
Reply to  Reality

Harrell is a step in the right direction. Hopefully he finds the courage to enact a long overdue camping ban like any other big city in the world away from the west coast.

Bruce Harrell is a life long “do nothing” politician. His term so far as mayor has been no exception to that. Seattle elected him to be a “do nothing” mayor, so expecting him to actually do anything is foolhardy.

This is a drug crisis not a housing crisis.

It’s both. A lot of drug addiction is a direct result of homelessness. How else do people cope when they fall on hard times, lose their housing and society shuns and scorns them as a result?

Reality
Reality
18 days ago
Reply to  Fairly Obvious

The vast majority of street homelessness is a direct result of drug addiction. Why does Seattle have 10x the number of street homeless per capita of New York City despite spending more? The answer is fairly obvious 1) We allow people to set up tents for months and years in public spaces and other cities do not. 2) We allow drug use and theft without consequence and other cities do not. 3) We attract a migration of drug addicts due to our permissive policies. 4) Other states and cities send bus loads of drug addicts to Seattle.

Fairly Obvious
Fairly Obvious
18 days ago
Reply to  Reality

1) We allow people to set up tents for months and years in public spaces and other cities do not.

Other cities are violating the constitution per Martin v. Boise. Just because it’s not being enforced in other cities, doesn’t mean it’s right to kick them out. Or are you against law and order?

2) We allow drug use and theft without consequence and other cities do not.

*citation needed* If true, we should blame our Trump supporting, “law and order” GOP prosecutor.

3) We attract a migration of drug addicts due to our permissive policies.

*citation needed*

4) Other states and cities send bus loads of drug addicts to Seattle.

*citation needed* If true, how does that make Seattle the bad city and not these other supposed benevolent cities that harass people down on their luck?

If you want to point to something to blame, I’d suggest some of these instead of a medium sized city:

  1. The (mostly) GOP’s failed war on drugs. Instead of treating addicts, we throw them in jail. Now they have a criminal record AND a drug problem. Genius!
  2. Reagan cutting 100% of mental health funding to pay to cut taxes on the wealthy from 70% to 28%. They said something would trickle down. Guess what it was?
  3. Mostly Reagan, but other GOP governments too, obliterating the country’s safety net to, you guessed it, pay for tax cuts on the wealthy. Guess what happens now when people lose their jobs or come on hard times?

The GOP loves that you blame Seattle and other cities for the problems the GOP created. I mean, you’re just a right wing blog troll, but there are other real people that toe the same line because some for profit talking head gave them that opinion. Meanwhile, the problem gets worse because all people can do is blame everyone and everything else, instead of trying to fix the problem.

zach
zach
18 days ago
Reply to  Fairly Obvious

“If true, we should blame our Trump supporting, “law and order” GOP prosecutor.”

In your words, “citation needed.” I know of no evidence that Ann Davison is a Trump/MAGA supporter. I think she is a breath of fresh air as City Attorney.

Fairly Obvious
Fairly Obvious
17 days ago
Reply to  zach

I know of no evidence that Ann Davison is a Trump/MAGA supporter.

The fact that she switched to the GOP after Trump was elected and in firm control of the party should be all the evidence you need.

You might say “but circumstantial evidence”. I would reply that the GOP has eaten alive any anti-Trump party members and she has not spoken out against Trump.

If that’s not enough, here’s a laundry list of her pro-Trump activities:

https://publicola.com/2021/10/27/the-other-city-attorney-candidates-radical-tweets/

I think she is a breath of fresh air as City Attorney.

Even though crime has been on the rise since she took office? Interesting, but to each their own. GOP supporters tend to turn a blind eye when their party member is in office.

JenMoon
JenMoon
18 days ago
Reply to  Reality

Really? I can assume then that you didn’t bother to do basic research on this since mental illness, DV (domestic violence), poverty, lack of affordable housing, etc. are all major causes; stats also show that most homeless folks are from here, a neighboring county, or somewhere else in the state of WA. I COVID may have slowed sweeping folks but not for long even though currently, they’re just being swept from spot to spot without any offers of help; I met a few folks who’d been in a stable spot for almost 2 years but not because the city “allowed” it..

And every city says that other cities send “bus loads” of people to them. People want to believe that these aren’t *our* homeless people…

Below Broadway
Below Broadway
18 days ago
Reply to  JenMoon

The campers at Tashkent, Thomas and Bellevue park, and at 100 Belmont sidewalk all were dealing Fent / blue pills. All were also in possession of stolen ID, credit cards, and store property with tags still attached. All received assistance to remain in place by Mutual Aid, too. In other words, Socialist / Marxist activists enabled crime to go on for months before Harrell finally got them moved along and these areas mostly swept clear.

Your fantasy of cause for homelessness is possible only in a world of faked and cherry picked data. What happens when activists do studies or promote false narratives that get repeated everywhere in Seattle? Comments like yours. Do better, Jen. Those of us who live around the encampments see and know the truth.

Fairly Obvious
Fairly Obvious
16 days ago
Reply to  Below Broadway

*citation needed*

Below Broadway
Below Broadway
15 days ago
Reply to  Fairly Obvious

Saw it happen first hand.

Fairly Obvious
Fairly Obvious
15 days ago
Reply to  Below Broadway

Saw it happen first hand.

You saw every single person there in possession of stolen property, committing fraud in the open AND dealing drugs? That’s a huge deal!

Seems like you should have called the police or failing that, filmed and sent it to whatever sensational news source you follow religiously. You could have made some serious money selling that story with all that first hand evidence!

Or more than likely, you’re full of it, because your “observations” don’t match reality. Go volunteer for a non profit that helps the homeless in these situations. You’ll find that a vast majority of them are just human beings trying to survive in a society, not criminals.

In other words, Socialist / Marxist activists…

Oh right, you’re a right wing blog troll. Nevermind.

zach
zach
19 days ago
Reply to  Reality

Drug/alcohol addiction is a big part of the problem, but so is mental illness. So, the approach should include a mandatory clinical assessment for the latter conditions, followed by immediate placement in a mental illness treatment center (inpatient initially). Yes, this will be expensive, but it needs to be done for the good of those who could benefit, and for the good of all of us in Seattle.

Andrew Taylor
Andrew Taylor
19 days ago

Pike/Pine neighbors: here’s an old-fashioned suggestion: ORGANIZE.
Form a neighborhood group, or revive an old one (PPUNC, Capitol Hill Community Council). The Mayor can’t visit all of you individually, but s/he will come to your in-person meetings (especially around election time).
It’s nowhere near as easy as ranting online, but it might (just might) get something done.
I don’t guarantee that perseverance pays off, but it might.
https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/18-year-campaign-pays-off/

Brian N.
Brian N.
19 days ago

Repping four plates at age 64, impressive.