KTTH OPINION

Rantz: City of Redmond rejected security request, then car drove through storefront

Feb 27, 2024, 8:08 PM | Updated: Feb 28, 2024, 12:58 pm

A stolen car was driven through the storefront of Hashtag Cannabis in Redmond. The incident happene...

A stolen car was driven through the storefront of Hashtag Cannabis in Redmond. The incident happened after the city rejected the owner's security request. (Surveillance camera photo)

(Surveillance camera photo)

A month after the city of Redmond rejected a business owner’s request to install better security measures, a stolen car was driven through its storefront.

Hashtag Cannabis has three locations across the Puget Sound. Because of the frequent crime, particularly at the location in Redmond, the business owners wanted to install bollards in front of the storefront. In December, a car drove through the storefront, causing over $35,000 in damages the business had to pay for out of pocket. (Bollards are short and sturdy posts that act as physical barriers capable of stopping cars driving through them.)

These bollards, however, would minimally encroach on the sidewalk, which is city property, requiring permission from the city of Redmond. The city said no, without any explanation. A month later, on Feb. 27, a stolen Kia was driven through the storefront during another burglary. The bollards would have prevented this.

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The owners asked the city of Redmond for help

Co-owner Logan Bowers found out about the burglary around 4:30 a.m. on the day of the break-in. This was the fifth time a car was used to break into one of his retail locations. It’s the 25th burglary the business has suffered since 2015. And he knew precisely how this would all unfold: Bowers cutting a large check to fix the damage.

“This all comes straight out of pocket. So, you know, this would have been employee bonuses or salaries at the end of the year, but instead, it’ll go to building repairs,” Bowers exclusively told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.

Bowers’ business partner initially spoke with City of Redmond officials on Jan. 2 to ask for assistance. In a follow-up email, the co-owner explained how the crime crisis has impacted the business.

“A few months ago, a stolen Kia vehicle was rammed through our storefront and we are looking for ways to deter and prevent this from occurring again,” she said in the email provided to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH by Bowers. “This type of crime is happening to more and more small businesses in our region and across the nation. We have installed bollards in front of our other businesses in Everett and Seattle and are hoping there is a way to do so in Redmond.”

Bowers said they said they would pay for the construction. They even said they would work with the city to find aesthetically pleasing bollards.

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City of Redmond rejects the request without explanation

A city engineering technician responded to Hashtag Cannabis said she was “unaware of any code that allows for bollards to be put in the sidewalk for the reason you request.” She indicated senior directors would have to make the call.

Nearly two weeks went by and the business received no word on what would be allowed. On Jan. 13, the co-owner inquired with a follow-up, but didn’t hear back.

Finally, on Jan. 18, Patty Criddle, the city’s transportation engineering supervisor, rejected the bollard permission request. But she didn’t explain why.

“Your inquiry about bollard placement at your storefront was forwarded to me for a response. After discussion, we have determined that the City does not support placing bollards in the sidewalk downtown,” she wrote, according to the email.

This left Bowers frustrated. He said he doesn’t think the city understands the gravity of the crime crisis and how it’s impacting businesses.

“It was a very uninviting email,” Bowers said. “There was no discussion. There was no offer to work with us. There was just ‘No, we don’t want to do it. We don’t want you to do it.'”

A spokesperson for the city of Redmond tells the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH that the city was sorry to hear about the burglary and said that the request was denied because there are no codes to allow for bollards on public sidewalks.

“However, the City is open to talking with business owners if they are interested in working towards alternate solutions to deter this kind of activity,” spokesman Derek Wing said.

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Police pursuit ban likely played a key role in the burglary

Bowers does not believe he was rejected because of the nature of his business. He speculated that because they recently designed the streetscape to be fancier than it was, they wouldn’t want to allow any additional changes. “Once they’ve designed something, they don’t they don’t want to revisit it. They don’t want to think about it. They just want to keep things as as, is my my best guess.”

Had the city said yes to the bollards in late January, would this have made a difference? Would the bollards been installed by Feb. 27?

“Absolutely. That would have been our highest priority,” Bowers explained. “In fact, a month after the car went through our shop last September, they [burglars] tried again at our shop in Seattle in October. They failed that time because we had bollards up in our parking lot. And I had a construction crew out the next day adding even more bollards to make it even harder, to be on the safe side. So this is definitely something… just a little bit of prevention will save everyone a ton of headaches. So we make it a top priority.”

Like so many other frustrated business owners, Bowers cites that Democrat-passed police pursuit ban as being a big part of the rise in crime, particularly where there are stolen vehicles.

Since its passage, criminals have used stolen cars to break into retail shops across the state, knowing that they won’t be chased by police as they drive away. At a Maple Valley pot shop earlier this month, a crew of burglars stormed the shop after driving a stolen vehicle through the storefront. A King County deputy reportedly spotted the getaway car, but couldn’t chase it because of the policy, according to the victim who spoke with law enforcement.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show on weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow Jason on X, formerly known as TwitterInstagram, and  Facebook.

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