Community Post

New letter from 22nd Ave blockwatch: still willing to talk

Today the 22nd Avenue blockwatch group sent us a new letter about the controversial felon housing project that has been proposed for a house on their block. The lengthly letter (attached at left) gives a fuller picture of why the group pulled out of the negotiations on the Good Neighbor Agreement, citing several key issues:

  • The blockwatch says they never received a response to concerns raised in a previous letter sent in February
  • The city stated that it would not enforce the GNA and that any party that signs it would waive all right to future legal action
  • The group received legal advice that they could be liable for any problems in the project if they joined the steering committee as they have been invited to do.

The blockwatch also takes issue with what they believe is an inappropriate injection of race into the discussion, saying that “the people most opposed to his project are older black residents who fear for their safety.” Having attended most of the meetings on this topic, we can confirm the controversy doesn’t fit into a stereotypical gentrifiers-vs-longtime-residents mold. The most outspoken residents have often been African Americans who have lived on the block for many years.

The group also lists open questions that they say remain unanswered:

  • How will prospective residents be screened to eliminate violent offenders or sex offenders?
  • How many ex-offenders will live there, and for how long?
  • What programs will be offered, and are they licensed and insured?
  • Will non-residents be invited to use the programs, and if so how will that affect neighborhood parking?

In spite of their stated misgivings, the blockwatch says they still want to talk to Reverend Jeffrey and “ensure that the project is well planned and operated.” They say that they’ve been trying to get State Senator Adam Kline involved, but that his calls to Reverend Jeffrey have not been returned.

We placed a call to Reverend Jeffrey to get his comment on the letter and involvement of Senator Kline, but have not yet heard back.

0 thoughts on “New letter from 22nd Ave blockwatch: still willing to talk

  1. As a nearby neighbor, I’ve attended most of the public meetings about this housing and monitored the issue.

    Maybe we all were too hopeful about the usefulness of a Good Neighbor Agreement. In my mind, such documents suggest that both parties earnestly want to find common ground. As soon as Rev. Jeffrey said he would follow through with his plan no matter what opposition existed, a GNA could not have mattered less. And with Jeffrey’s displayed contempt for neighbors’ goodwill on the record — not just this time, but lack of notice about Tent City, etc. — what better deal does the block watch think Sen. Kline will be able to negotiate on its behalf? Sadly — and I hope I am wrong — I think this GNA is a futile exercise. If Jeffrey were to provide full answers to the submitted questions, and some facts on which he bases his assurances, that would certainly help.

    Maybe we shouldn’t have been surprised, either, to have seen the city (Hayes, Kenny) line up to support the project. If Jeffrey has a legal right to put felons in a house, and the city gets in the way, Jeffrey and DeCharlene Williams might have a lawsuit filed before the day’s end. That’s probably easier money than housing felons.

    It appears the Seattle City Council passed a bill Sept. 28, 2009, that could provide remedy against the behavior that some neighbors fear might come with this housing:

    Unless I’m reading this wrong, if neighbors vigilantly monitor the house for signs of crime and nuisance, call police when those signs emerge, and record police visits, the house (at its worst) will acquire a record that neighbors can cite in requesting abatement from the city.

  2. Has anybody seen the Stranger?

    “NIMBYs won’t talk to me, then bitch that their positions aren’t represented fairly. You can’t have it both ways, sweethearts.”
    “They don’t want mediation; they want to get their way.”
    “I’ll be in touch with the church later today to see how this affects their plans and post a follow-up”
    “‘What bothers me is that a lot of the complaints remind me of old civil rights discussions about keeping black people out of our neighborhoods…'”

    Is this a case of personal bias & lazy reporting or a stonewalling block watch?

    If it’s the former, I find great irony in their “Credulous Hack of the Day” SLOG posts:

    If it’s the latter, why is the blockwatch not responding to Cienna Madrid at The Stanger? Why are we not communicating with her at the meetings? Why are we not talking with her?

    She doesn’t have to agree with any stance, but as a reporter, you would hope that she could give equal coverage to both sides (and maybe less of the “My take is,”).

    I applaud CD News for being a neutral info conduit.

  3. the stranger feely mixes opinion, feelings, intuition and the author’s past nuerosis into their reporting – whatever the subject. i am a big fan of it, but hardly consider it an objective news source.

  4. I agree…but where’s the line? They put out information like it’s news and then hide behind “what? We’re a news source? You’re a sucker!” I love the Stranger because it’s hyper local, cynical and funny, but they appear to be the taint of the news world, and Cienna is on a spot near the rear.

  5. Where would anyone get the idea that The Stranger is news? They don’t put up that front. A quick glance at it would be enough to get the gist.

  6. Cienna formed her opinion on this issue before she started researching it and she’s too lazy to do any footwork that might unearth information changing her mind. In two days she hasn’t even managed her promised one-sided followup, let alone a thorough coverage of the story. Guess it’s easier to send one e-mail to the blockwatch in February, post a snotty tweet bitching about not hearing back and forget about the whole matter.

    BTW Cienna, honey, stop trying to sound like Dan Savage. You’re far less entertaining, sweetheart.

  7. um, because they have reporters and report on local news? With blog tags that say “News” and articles (Who Would Jesus House?) in a news section?

    They can’t have it both ways, sweetheart. I know you are probably kidding, but they are a major source of hyper-local news for many of us (and no, not our only source). But it appears they are perfectly proud being lazy pseudo-reporting aggregates?

  8. If you look at the cover of a typical Stranger and think “oh this must be legit news” then you are beyond redemption.

    and do you realize in one post you say Stranger’s the taint of news, in the next post you say it’s a major-source of local news for you.

    so which is it? is it a source of major taint news for you?

  9. Good post, Brian, thanks.

    There is also another bill related to “crime-free rental housing” that recently passed the State’s legislature:

    “A crime-free rental housing program is a crime prevention program designed to
    reduce crime, drugs, and gangs on rental property under the supervision of local police or a
    crime prevention officer. A local government may establish a crime-free rental housing
    program. The program must be voluntary, however, a landlord may be required to
    participate if the landlord has exceeded a reasonable number of crime related incidence on
    the premises and has failed to make a good faith effort to deter the criminal activity. The
    police must provide notice to the landlord upon the occurrence of criminal activity in order to
    require a landlord’s participation.”

    Re: Termination of tenants:
    “The Residential Landlord-Tenant Act establishes various duties of landlords and tenants and provides remedies when those duties are not met. Those duties include an obligation not to engage in certain criminal activity including:
    1. drug-related activity;
    2. gang-related activity; and
    3. other activities resulting in arrest that are imminently hazardous to the physical safety
    of other persons that entail a physical assault or the unlawful use of a firearm or
    deadly weapon.
    If the tenant engages in one of the above activities, the landlord does not have to give the
    tenant a 30-day notice in which to cure the lack of compliance and may proceed immediately
    to an unlawful detainer action. An unlawful detainer action allows the landlord to evict the
    Full text of the bill is available online:

  10. The Stranger, like most publications, has its own agenda. Cienna’s simply toeing that line. For local news with a more diverse approach (and much less snark), I find that the neighborhood blogs are better.

    And (I may be biased), but the CD News is the best!

  11. “‘What bothers me is that a lot of the complaints remind me of old civil rights discussions about keeping black people out of our neighborhoods…'”

    this is offensive…. to a brown guy like me. i am not certain what i am suppose to take from this statement? is she assuming all criminals are black, Plato style logic would seem to infer this?

    Regardless this is not a black and white issue – this is about people who live in a neighborhood that has their fare share of the City’s social services… we really do. really, if you want a pie chart, pay me a journalist salary and i will do the research like they did in the old days (the 1990’s).

    the concern is not about the use of the land to house former criminals… i believe concerns lie in if the church has the resources to pull of a “program” like this…

    the church has not given any evidence to neighbors or the people of Seattle that they can pull this “program” off. the quotes are their as i am not even certain it is a program, as far as i know they rented a house (that is barely in habitable condition) and are planning to fill it up with a vulnerable population in a vulnerable neighborhood… it doesnt make sense

    life in the city.

  12. I usually decide if news is legit by reading it, not by looking at the cover, so I’m beyond redemption. Apparently it’s as simple as that.

    What I was trying to say was, since the Stranger DECIDES to be the taint – i.e. by claiming to be news and not news at the same time; by having news reporters, reporting “news” and telling us not to take them seriously – they are neither the junk (news) or the a-hole (opinion). They are claiming to be the taint. It’s run as the taint so they can cover their “junk” when they get lazy. I’m not saying that all of the information they put out is as shoddy as Cienna’s reporting. A lot of it is great. But if they call it “news” – like they have here – it should smell like junk and not like a-hole. But that’s taint for you, there’s a fine line.

    So to answer your question, yes, a major source of my hyper-local news is major taint news, not news & opinion but news or opinion depending on the amount of critics they get on the given story. Is it my only source of news? No. But it’s one of my taint sources.

    But now I feel the need to redeem myself. Where else should I read about this issue other than CDNews & the Stranger? The Weekly? Seattle Times? FOX? What do their covers look like? You tell me, I’ll totally go there and give you credit!

  13. .I just read the block watch letter. A key part of their argument is that the house will likely become a source of criminal activity. The letter also says there are 6-12 similar houses w/in a mile of the proposed location. What is that, about 1 per block, conservatively? Are these other similar houses sources of criminal activity? My sense is that if they are then the blockwatch has a legit concern. And if they aren’t then the blockwatch’s argument looks weaker. So, Kris, can you provide us w/ more info on these other houses?

  14. The writers for the Stranger never follow up or fact check. The fact that people feel they are getting the “real” news from them is crazy, and the amount of power they have in this neighborhood is just sad.

  15. The Stranger does this a lot. They take a side before really delving into the issue, and then skew their reporting to support their foregone conclusion. They divide the world into good and evil, add some faux populism, a dash of snark, and, in Dominic Holden’s case (at least recently), breathless, outraged text and hyperbole, and package it as news reporting. It’s really no different than Faux News. What Cienna is doing is even worse than usual – she’s basically writing hit pieces on the neighborhood groups and pumping up Rev. Jeffreys as an innocent victim of evil, rich, white gentrifying yuppies, and then posting them on Slog to get their fan base in an uproar. It’s rather disgusting. Rebuttals and requests for Cienna to actually do some real research into the issue in the Slog comments go completely ignored. But that’s another hallmark of a Stranger writer – if you screw up, stick to your guns and never, ever, ever admit you were wrong. Yes, it’s an alt-weekly and yes, they freely have admitted that they practice “advocacy journalism”. But they are out there trying to form public opinion with their slant, and it would be nice if they actually investigated issues before publishing their opinions – which in many instances are just flat out wrong (or just the most controversial thing they can think of to drive up site hits). In this case it’s particularly pathetic, but really nothing new for that rag.