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Petition writers want Mike O’Brien to rethink policies

Seattle Council Member Mike O'Brien. (Seattle Channel)
LISTEN: Petition writers want Mike O'Brien to rethink policies

Ballard residents Marty McOmber and his wife, Deborah Bach, have a message for Seattle City Councilmember Mike O’Brien.

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McOmber and Bach started a petition on change.org in the form of a letter to O’Brien asking him to listen to his constituents’ pleas pertaining to the city’s homelessness crisis. As of Monday, the petition had gained about 2,500 signatures.

“The community really needs to be part of the solution and we really need to be considered and heard … What we’ve seen instead, really, is this council ignore us, ignore the impacts on our neighborhoods, and in Ballard in particular, we’ve been pretty hard-hit,” McOmber told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson.

One of the couple’s chief concerns is safety for all residents, especially in areas that should be family-friendly, such as public parks.

“We are frustrated that we have to teach our children to avoid needles and human waste on their way to school, and on playgrounds and playfields,” the petition reads.

Further down, the petition adds, “We are frustrated and horrified that the body count is growing in our neighborhoods and violent crime is taking root in our community.”

“Our central park in Ballard is not a place that I think families would feel welcome to go anymore,” McOmber described. “It’s an open-air drug market — there are people there all the time who have very serious issues that need to be dealt with — and we’re doing nothing about that.”

This kind of dangerous scene is found not just in Ballard, but across the entire city, McOmber said.

He faults the Seattle City Council for not only failing to make progress with tangible solutions, but also for using Seattle’s child-filled neighborhoods as experiments for policies whose impacts have not been studied.

“[We]’re not seeing any kind of progress taking place, especially with those chronic homeless populations that are really having a big impact on us,” he said.

McOmber believes the city needs to take a more active approach in addressing the housing issue directly, instead of pretending that it’s not a problem and letting homeless people set up encampments wherever they wish.

“Housing is part of the solution, but we can’t continue to have this hands-off policy when it comes to folks who are staying in tents and living in RVs in our neighborhoods,” McOmber emphasized. He said that the council needs to find “really effective ways” to “engage with them.”

If the situation does not begin to turn around, McOmber believes that constituents will take out their frustrations in the 2019 election, which will see most of the nine council members up for re-election.

“There’s almost no well of credibility with this council,” McOmber said. “There are so many examples of them over-promising and under-delivering … There comes a point in which we want to see results for the investments that we’re making.”

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