DESC Housing Project for Formerly Homeless Persons

10/13/2021

NOTE from Alice Poggi - PRCC President - This is correspondence from the neighborhood to DESC. This type of no barrier development could happen anywhere in neighborhoods so it is important to find a way to assimilate different types of affordable projects. Again, this particular neighborhood is within our boundaries.



We are a 2x4 block area of neighbors bordered by N46th, Fremont Av N, N50th, and Aurora Av N just south of the zoo. The neighborhood consists primarily of families; every block has some young children. Much of the neighborhood is early century construction including houses, apartments, and condo buildings. We are an original Seattle multifamily neighborhood. There is a mix of owner occupied and rentals. We have a daycare at N50th and Linden and two k-5 schools along N50th between Fremont and Phinney. In addition, students walk to BF Day, Hamilton, and Lincoln High.


Aurora is divided with a concrete median starting just south of N50th which acts as a geographic barrier that funnels and restricts access to the neighborhood on the north and east. Traffic along our neighborhood stretch of Aurora is high-speed, including street racing. It is difficult to walk the sidewalks on Aurora due to the traffic speeds and missing ada curb cuts. Because there is only one door opening onto Aurora in this stretch, pedestrians are both isolated and vulnerable. To access transit, one must walk south and traverse a number of inclines, ramps, and crosswalks. Most services and amenities are 9 blocks or further.


Development of two larger properties along the Aurora and N46th corridors will triple our residency numbers in the next year. Growth of this size will certainly impact both wheeled and pedestrian traffic. In addition, vacant properties awaiting demolition have proven to be a magnet for criminal activities. The property at 50th and Aurora has already had two serious fires and is still awaiting demolition. While we are happy to see this property has been purchased by DESC, we also have concerns about what may follow when they open their facility, especially considering the proximity to and current situation at Green Lake/Woodland Park.


Being so close to Aurora, we have experienced how quickly criminal activity can set in and spiral. Over the past thirty years, our neighborhood has seen its share of criminal activity and had success in overcoming it. In the past, we have been able to work with SPD officers and their civilian staff to resolve ongoing, organized criminal activity. Working with SPD in the future seems to be questionable due to council actions which effectively undercut the department. We are reaching out to our council representative to express our concern and ask for guidance. We are primarily concerned with the spike in violence, such as the brutal assault of our neighbor at the N46th E-Line station in July.


While we do look forward to a city-wide expansion of social service focused aid responders, we haven't had a lot of need in that area.


We know from experience that criminal elements follow and prey upon the more vulnerable in our society, especially those living outdoors. We are observing this element at Green Lake/Woodland Park currently, and see it spilling into our neighborhood occasionally, which puts DESC at a disadvantage. Our neighbors from N96th near the DESC Clements Place location have been vocal about their issues since the DESC facility opened and how difficult it is to overcome those poor starts. On the other hand, Patrick's Place at N43rd and Aurora had more seamless integration into the neighborhood. It is our intention to see the DESC facility open under the best possible circumstances but we can only do this with the support/partnership of city agencies.


We are asking for help with the following:


1. Adding a lighted crosswalk at N50th/Aurora would provide a safe crossing across a relatively flat surface area, which would be ideal for residents in wheelchairs or with strollers. This intersection would certainly be easier to navigate than the underpass at N46th with it's maze of crosswalks. The light may help to slow traffic through the neighborhood increasing pedestrian safety on Aurora and at numerous Linden intersections. The crosswalk would also reconnect the North Fremont and Wallingford neighborhoods to pedestrian travel.


2. Adding an E-Line bus stop at N50th/Aurora would provide more convenient and safer transit access for both DESC and the immediate neighborhoods, especially for anyone travelling at night or during off-peak hours. The N46th E-Line station is in an isolated area accessible by steep stairs or long, inclined ramps after crossing a number of crosswalks. Disabled residents would not have these obstacles to contend with at N50th.


3. Traffic calming aids along Linden Av at N47, N48th, and N49th would help to slow vehicles currently exiting Aurora at high speeds. They will also make the neighborhood less inviting for pulling off Aurora to conduct criminal activity and expecting to make a fast getaway.


4. We are interested in working with DESC, Police, Social Services, and any other agencies that can help promote a smooth integration of DESC into the neighborhood. We are concerned that the current situation at Green Lake/Woodland will negatively impact DESC residents and want to work toward a resolution prior to their opening. Additionally, we have questions about how situations developing outside the DESC facility that negatively impact the neighborhood can be resolved. Who can we work with on these items?


Thanks for your time and consideration. Our little neighborhood is ready to go to work! We look forward to next steps.

Beth