160 business owners and neighborhood groups urge Seattle council to invest in public safety

SEATTLE – About 160 Seattle business owners and neighborhood groups penned a letter to the City Council, urging elected leaders to make specific public safety investments in the city’s 2020 budget.

Nitze-Stagen is a real estate development and management firm located in Pioneer Square. Its property manager is listed as a signee on the letter dated October 18.

The firm manages the Starbucks Center, which employs about 6,000 people on its property.

“Some of the issues they face are getting to and from the building on public transit," CEO and President Peter Nitze said. "You have a number of RVs heading north from the end of the Starbucks Center parking garages, so they have issues with some of the RVs, so many of the issues people face in the city.”

The seven-page letter addressed to the council states that “the criminal justice system must work for all of us, but today it fails everyone.”

The stakeholders in the letter ask the elected council to invest in Mayor Jenny Durkan's pilot investment plan developed by the High Barrier Individual Work Group that was tasked with analyzing system breakdowns and shortfalls.

The pilot programs would include enhanced probation, case conferencing and rapid re-entry services with shelter and treatment for prolific offenders leaving jail.

Additional investments include crisis response services, community service officers and police emphasis patrols.

The letter also asked council members to use their oversight into the City Attorney’s Office after a System Failure Report Part 2 found about half of all non-traffic criminal cases failed to find meaningful resolution.

“We are a growing city, and we have the growing pains that many big cities have, so their anger and frustration doesn’t surprise me at all,” said Bruce Harrell, city council president. “We have a mayor, a judicial system and a city attorney so all four of these components should work together to have strong public safety, but again strong human and social services as well.”

The Seattle Budget Committee is holding a public hearing at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall Tuesday. A number of signees in the letter are expected to speak at the hearing.