Rantz: Mayor thinks pickleball can solve Seattle crime, fentanyl crisis

Apr 25, 2023, 6:00 PM | Updated: 6:32 pm

Seattle Crime...

SEATTLE, WA - MAY 30: Looters emerge from an Urban Outfitters store in downtown Seattle in May 2020. (Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

(Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

Nearly 15 months after taking office, Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell finally unveiled his plan to “immediately” revitalize downtown Seattle from its crime and drug crisis. He should have kept it to himself.

Downtown Seattle has been ravaged by drug-fueled homelessness and violent crime. The years of neglect have turned downtown into a blight. And it has spread. From Ballard and Pioneer Square to Lake City and Capitol Hill, drug-addicted homeless have taken over. Shootings and theft is hitting almost every inch of the city and much of it could have been prevented. It’s the result of one-party rule — and when that one party represents fringe Democrat and socialist views, we can’t be surprised by what Seattle has become.

Harrell’s plan to revitalize the downtown core is a combination of old, failed methods, promises he can’t keep, and bizarre strategies that he should have been embarrassed to unveil.

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Promising more police emphasis to address Seattle fentanyl and crime crisis

While Harrell promises to “immediately” address the problems he’s mostly ignored for 15 months, much of his plan won’t happen soon.

The mayor’s plan directs the Seattle Police Department (SPD) to “prioritize efforts to disrupt the distribution and sale of narcotics.” Emphasis patrols certainly work, but only when you have the available staffing.

At just 896 deployable officers (as of the end of March), the SPD doesn’t have enough officers to prioritize anything without sacrifice. The city will either have to lean even more on overtime (which isn’t sustainable), or pull patrols from other parts of the city (which isn’t fair when your neighborhood needs policing).

The plan for addicts is more of the same failed strategies. Harrell pitches an overdose response unit. It’s supposed to offer “overdose survivors” services or referrals for support. But the city already does this, and the problem has only worsened. The idea itself could work if we didn’t legalize drugs or offer near-endless chances for criminal addicts to stay out of jail.

The mayor will even adopt the council’s “contingency management” recommendation, which is effectively bribing addicts not to use. The city’s very own report acknowledges that studies show little long-term benefit to the user beyond six months and, in particular, it doesn’t work for serious addicts, which are the very people causing the problems downtown.

Pickleball to stop crime and fentanyl ODs?

Put down the fentanyl and stolen Jameson Irish Whiskey and pick up a pickleball racket! Harrell seems to think establishing pickleball competitions will revitalize downtown. That’s not all: he wants to bring street festivals, and art walks downtown. He’s looking to “increase opportunities for food trucks” in the area. He also hopes the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board will issue “Sip ‘n Stroll” permits, too.

First, none of this is “immediate” unless that’s another word the Left has redefined for a political agenda. Second, do you know what’s unappealing? Eating a gyro from a food truck while you smell the nearby sidewalk a homeless man used as a toilet. Harrell should roll down the windows of his car when he drives downtown and smell what it has become. And third, we’ve done most of this before, including using ping-pong tables to “activate” the area. Needless to say, it didn’t work. Harrell’s plan to bring hipsters sipping IPAs between pickleball games doesn’t treat addiction or cure homelessness.

If this plan came early in Harrell’s tenure, it would be easy to dismiss his plan as a good-faith attempt to do something about Seattle crime and drug use as he gets a better understanding of what can work long-term. But there’s no excuse for what he’s pretending is some innovative plan. It will have minimal impact, at best. And rather than implement a plan that will make a difference, he’ll use these underwhelming strategies to justify not coming up with anything new.

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Rantz: Mayor thinks pickleball can solve Seattle crime, fentanyl crisis