City isn’t listening, says El Corazon owner on latest homeless attack
The 15-year-long owner of South Lake Union’s El Corazon, the nightclub that a musician was leaving last week when he nearly lost his life to a random baseball bat attack by a homeless person, says that the city has allowed the neighborhood to turn into a living nightmare for businesses.
“There are a lot of good, taxpaying small business owners who are trying to do good things, and face a lot of challenges to begin with, but our city in a lot of ways is failing us, and not really providing us the support that we need,” he told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson.
When Sims first began working at the nightclub 17 years ago, he said it “used to be quiet and sort of a destination venue.” In the past five years, however, he said that homeless service organizations in the neighborhood have acted as a magnet for crime and encampments, changing the entire character and safety level of the surrounding streets.
“I’m not saying that, the people who are providing these services, that their heart isn’t in the right place,” Sims said. “But they sometimes don’t understand how much they are enabling these people to continue the lifestyle … They’re really doing something bad for the entire community by just maintaining the whole problem.”
Sims sees emergency lights at the camp for overdoses and internal fights on a daily basis. The encampments, he said, tend to attract “drug-addicted young kids” who choose a life of crime and violence like the baseball bat attack that left El Corazon performer Ryan Georg having to learn how to speak again plague the neighborhood.
“They’re not people who have fallen on hard times,” Sims said of the campers. “They seem to be more like punk rock kids who seem on a mission to be free from the rules of society and just want to do their drugs and cause problems and not be held accountable, in my experience.”
He and other business owners have tried to make their voices heard to the city government, but he said that the harder they pushed, the “more resistance” they found.
“I constantly seem to be unheard, hitting a wall, or given a bunch of excuses … Everyone seems to give you lip service that they’re going to address the problem, and then when they realize how big the problem is, within a short period of time, they pass it along to someone else,” he said.
This indifferent attitude makes Sims feel like “a hamster in a wheel.”
“You feel like you’ve heard this all before and you can flowchart how it’s all going to happen,” he said.
Meanwhile, the encampment residents “understand the laws of the city” and are “pretty savvy,” Sims said. After getting notices that they needed to move, the campers simply went across the street and re-started the encampment all over again on state Department of Transportation property, where the city had no jurisdiction.
He wants to see local politicians take responsibility to fix the homelessness crisis so that innocent citizens like Georg and his bandmates will not have to live in fear on a walk to their cars.
“We should get people in leadership in the city that actually want to address the problem, instead of taking our money, saying they’re going to address the problem, while the problem gets worse,” he said.