JASON RANTZ

Seattle council member to fight crime with Ping-Pong balls

Jun 22, 2018, 7:01 AM | Updated: 7:24 am

seattle, bagshaw...

Sally Bagshaw. (City of Seattle)

(City of Seattle)

The area surrounding the King County Courthouse in downtown Seattle is dangerous. Crime is rampant. Homelessness is out of control.

It’s not safe to visit as a juror. It’s not safe to work in the buildings nearby. You can’t even walk around the neighborhood without olfactory offenses, human waste everywhere.

The solution? Ping-Pong!

Seattle City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw says that she’d like to bring a host of amenities to the area as an “inclusive” way to make the area safer. She’d like to see Ping-Pong tables, seating, and food trucks come to the area.

“This could be a place where we bring tables and chairs like we did at Westlake and Occidental,” Bagshaw told KING 5. “When there are places to be, and there’s food, and they can sit, then [the park] gets activated and there’s space for everybody.”

There doesn’t yet seem to be much support for the idea, certainly not from people most familiar with the area.

“Playing Ping-Pong isn’t any more of a diversion than placing Volleyball nets up,” one Seattle police officer told me.

Indeed, this area has seen a remarkable amount of a crime. Former King County Sheriff John Urquhart was confronted by a homeless man with a knife.

Things got so bad several months ago — with jurors and a half dozen courthouse employees being assaulted — that two judges spoke out.

Crime aside, the area smells of human feces and urine. Take a stroll through the blocks surrounding the courthouse and you’re likely to see someone using the nearby park or a random sidewalk as a toilet. Could you imagine eating a grilled cheese from a nearby food truck in a neighborhood like this?

Bagshaw says other nearby areas have benefited from the amenities she’s talking about. She points to Occidental Park, which has seen a decrease in the types of behavior we experience near the courthouse. She’s right, we have, but the context is so remarkably different. It makes a comparison a bit disingenuous because, she claims, her move wouldn’t displace the homeless folks who are near the courthouse for services.

Occidental Park is surrounded by businesses catering to tens of thousands of people visiting the area for Sounders, Seahawks, and Mariners games. During game days, they absolutely displace the homelessness population. And they don’t have to be there for access to services. The courthouse? They need to be in that spot for access to the services provided. And does Bagshaw realize many of the people who are living on the street and committing these acts of violence are living with an untreated mental illness or addiction? Access to a Ping-Pong table won’t stop them from acting out; treatment would.

Perhaps — and stay with me here as I’m about to unveil a radical and controversial idea — we continue to increase police presence and — wait for it — enforce the law.

People feel inherently unsafe when you let crime and homelessness envelop a neighborhood. Perhaps the council should give officers the green light to actually do their job and we can, for once, stop the shouts for affordable housing and, instead, call for treatment on demand?

No, it’s not as fun as Ping-Pong, but it might actually save lives.

Jason Rantz on AM 770 KTTH
  • listen to jason rantzTune in to AM 770 KTTH weekdays at 3-7pm toThe Jason Rantz Show.

Jason Rantz Show

Jason Rantz

Bob Ferguson...

Jason Rantz

Rantz Exclusive: Secretary of State says AG Bob Ferguson demanded he break law in vulgar tirade

Secretary of State Steve Hobbs says Attorney General Bob Ferguson demanded he break the law in a vulgar and angry tirade.

3 days ago

Image: The crowd cheers at the 2013 Bumbershoot Arts & Music Festival in Seattle....

Jason Rantz

Rantz: It’s time to pull the plug on Bumbershoot Seattle after latest disaster lineup

The newest Bumbershoot lineup confirms what we've known for a while: this music festival is dead in Seattle.

4 days ago

refugees...

Jason Rantz

Rantz: Asylum seeker says Seattle activists are taking advantage of migrants

Migrants seeking asylum are being taken advantage of by Seattle housing activists convincing them to illegally occupy parks.

5 days ago

Photo: The anti-Israel encampment at the University of Washington gave rise to a new hate group: UW...

Jason Rantz

Rantz: UW Seattle embraced the Nazi Youth as a new generation of hate group has formed

The anti-Israel encampment at the University of Washington gave rise to a new hate group: UW Nazi Youth. It's time we call them what they are.

6 days ago

The State Capitol in Olympia...

Jackson Meyer

Bob Ferguson from Graham on governor’s race: ‘My intent was to win’

After Washington AG Bob Ferguson threatened legal action, two candidates also named Bob Ferguson have withdrawn from the gubernatorial race.

10 days ago

Photo: Progressive candidate Shaun Scott....

Jason Rantz

Rantz: Progressive candidate upset he isn’t running unopposed, makes up candidate

It appears that progressive candidate Shaun Scott expected to run unopposed for a state representative seat.

10 days ago

Seattle council member to fight crime with Ping-Pong balls