Tim Burgess is pushing a measure to outlaw panhandling near ATM’s, or parking meters. One of the reasons he says that people from the rest of the city and elsewhere are afraid to come downtown. “The visitors do not feel comfortable walking from their hotels, to the market, or catching the bus without being approached by many different panhandlers and street people along their route.” That may be, but I doubt that people asking for change near parking meters (aka, everywhere downtown) is really among the top concerns of downtown residents.
In the couple years I’ve lived downtown, I’ve seen countless things worse than yellie beggars who are pretty much anywhere on the street. And while much of it is already illegal, I think the city should probably deal with open drug dealing, and use, prostitution, late night noise, and drunks spilling out of clubs yelling “Wooooooooooooooooo” and getting into fights from before midnight to well past closing time on a Friday or Saturday night. (Just to be clear, I love living downtown, but there are problems.) Talking to other Belltown residents about the proposed law, the reaction has usually been somewhere between “it’s a war on homelessness” to “I guess it’s worth trying.” Personally, I’m against it, but not terribly so, but I haven’t heard anyone say that dealing with beggars is a high priority.
So while I applaud Burgess for at least trying, I still don’t feel represented on the council. I know, I know everybody represents me, and if I want something done, let someone on the relevant committee know. But I’m relatively well informed, and I have no idea who sits on what committee, or who among all of my supposed representatives on the city council would be receptive to downtown issues. I’d really prefer to have my council member, rather than having to guess who might be the most helpful when none of them seem to be.