Bad behavior in Stevens Place Park

Neighbor Tess writes with concerns about Stevens Place Park (commonly known as Triangle Park, located on Beacon Avenue South between South Forest and South Stevens):


View Stevens Place/Triangle Park in a larger map

I don’t know if a blog post is the best venue for this query, but i would love to get feedback from the community. I live on Beacon Ave S, right across the street from the little triangle park at S Stevens near the library. I also live very close to the #36 bus stop. Obviously, where we are situated we get a lot of traffic and noise from passers-by. However, we also get a lot of drunk people who hang out on the benches in the triangle park, sometimes cross the street and sit in the bus shelter and sometimes also migrate to the dentist’s office parking lot. We get a lot of yelling, screaming, singing, smashing bottles, foul language, and even public urination (against the tree in the triangle park or against the hedges in the parking lot). We have a family with little kids that lives downstairs and they often play on their toy bikes in front of the house. It’s hard to know what to do. Does anyone deal with this? Any suggestions?

The BHB headquarters is very near Stevens Place, and we have noticed the same occurrences, including public urination, confrontational behavior with neighbors in the park, and activity that looks very much like drug transactions; this has been the status quo at this park for a while now. What are your thoughts on the matter?

Sunbathing, sleeping, or worse? One Saturday this summer, four men were sleeping on the grass in Stevens Park. Aid cars arrived slightly later to attend to one of these men. We don't know about the men in this particular picture, but often the sleepers in the park are intoxicated or worse. Aid car and police visits to the park have been very frequent this summer. Photo by Jason.

16 thoughts on “Bad behavior in Stevens Place Park”

  1. Add a park ranger to our neighborhood plan. Neighbors have asked for it several times. Department of Planning and Development version gets approved September 25th (next Tuesday). No park ranger in there anymore. DPD took the recommendation out. Write mike.obrien@seattle.gov, richard.conlin@seattle.gov., bruce.harrell@seattle.gov soon and ask to have it put back in. A ranger could deal with drugs, littering, bad behavior and drunks at Beacon Hill Playground, Triangle park, Viewpoint, Jefferson and any park in our neighborhood having these problems. Capitol Hill and Downtown already have them.

  2. The simple answer is call the police. Anytime the SPD addresses issues of crime sprees, illicit activities or just getting more patrols, their answer is call the police. Other neighborhoods in the city call the police at the drop of a hat. (A friend had a squad car pull up and talk to him on Queen Ann because he kept running down the sidewalk and around a corner and falling down over and over again for about a half hour. Someone called the police. The police came. He was filming a scene for a movie.) If it looks like a drug deal, odds are it is. The more calls the police get, the more they’ll patrol the park and do something about it.

  3. I really don’t get the point of the Park Ranger concept. I’d rather just have good old fashioned beat cops who walked around and interacted with the neighborhood instead of driving around isolated in cars.

  4. I agree that it’s a good idea to call the police when you see suspicious or potentially dangerous activities going on in the park. The police need to know where problems frequently occur within the neighborhood so that they can prioritize their patrols.

    Brook, from my understanding, a park ranger would be a bit like an old-fashioned beat cop, except that they’re not technically a cop. They would patrol parks, report issues, and generally work to prevent and solve problems like the one addressed in this post.

  5. the more bad behavior you tolerate, the more bad behavior you will get. if you see this, please call the police.

    i’m frustrated just thinking about how much police & emergency services resources these bums are burning out of our strapped city & state budgets. i’m sure if bill gates rams through his initiative to add a state income tax, we will be flush with “public” money once again and have plenty left to waste on the deadbeats. sigh…

    in other news, it’s sunny today! so, get out and enjoy that nice weather! and don’t hesitate to call the cops on the scofflaws.

  6. The stupid part about calling the cops is that they just tell them to move along. If they do not witness the drug deal, they won’t do anything. For the past three years, I would have these bumbs sit in my carport and drink away. I call the cops and they tell them to walk away. They will not arrest them unless you have a no trespassing sign and only if you want them arrested. From there, you have to take time away from work to go to court for at tops, a two week stay. Afterwards, the bumbs would love to urinate all over your property as a reward for the jail time. There is no simple answer whether it is your property or a public park. Nobody wants bumbs in their “hood” and due to budget cuts, you are never ever going to see a ranger. I think that we need to be more civic and call our local politicians and voice our concern that the bumbs gotta go. Problem with that is they will just migrate elsewhere. At least where they sell beer by the can. Oh yeah, retailers will never ban selling fortefied beer either. It sucks!

  7. all great points, L.

    the only way to win this battle is on a local level with strength in numbers. banding together with your neighbors so that there is always somebody around “watching” and making a presence that disrupts the bad behavior. i’ve found being very obvious about taking their picture fumes them nicely. eventually the bums will get tired of the consistent hassle and move along. this needs to spread street-by-street and eventually a neighborhood rises above it.

    any politician who promises to do something about it is LYING to you, unless he/she follows through by empowering the cops. seattle leadership is way too quick to handcuff the spd, because it’s “PacNW polite” and easier than pushing back against screaming irrational complaints from a small group (bums have no problem taking off work to protest city hall, disrupt city council, etc), so don’t expect help there.

    it’s frustrating when local businesses have no interest in the good of the community in which they are located. maybe eventually their reputation makes it bad enough (again, strength in numbers idea) that they will close up shop.

    i love the park ranger idea, lebowski style. walter sobchak would be great on the beat in beacon hill. but for reasons already mentioned, that won’t happen.

    it always seems to come down to the local level and taking action yourself. while politicians love to promise things, in fairness they can’t satisfy everybody individually when everybody is individually screaming at once. unless they are willing to take a strong stand, but that’s not common in the seattle ivory towers.

    on the bright side, this is a great way to meet your neighbors and help others. the more people become vested, the better the result for more.

  8. Thanks for all the replies. I appreciate the pros and cons of calling the police. On the one hand, I suspect that L is right and the cops won’t actually do anything effective, but I also want the SPD to know that we have a problem, and maybe if they keep getting called out here, even if they can’t arrest anyone, it will be on record somewhere that we have a problem that requires the cops being called out a lot. Better than not having a record of the cops ever being called out.
    I also love Rob’s suggestion of the neighbors banning together to make it less pleasant for the bums to stay. Maybe we could form a Triangle Park neighborhood watch, for all those that live near the park or end up dealing with the bums because they live nearby? I would be willing to host a potluck so we could all meet each other and talk about it. It would be great just to know each other by house and get each others’ numbers, that way if anyone notices anyone urinating on anyone’s property we can let each other know. Thoughts?

  9. I also live across the street from this park but I feel the terminology that most of commenters are using here is inappropriate. Yes it is sometimes annoying to have all the noise and not be able to use the park but I think we should also realize that the people who are drinking in the park are generally people with a lot of problems who don’t have anywhere else to go. Calling them “bums” is making it into an “us vs them” situation where you are not treating the people drinking in the park as human beings. To me, this kind of behavior is a symptom of bigger problems, and sending them elsewhere won’t really do much. In some ways it is a luxury that this is the biggest problem that we are complaining about, there could be much worse things happening here than this.

    I agree that is a nuisance and a problem, and I could see it especially bothering families with young children, but at the same time we should realize that the people drinking in the park are human beings. I think that something should be done about the situation as well, but I think that we should step back and realize that if things had been different in our lives we could very well be in the same situation as these “bums”.

  10. I too fail to understand the Park Ranger concept. Give them a taser, a gun, and handcuffs and I’m in. Wait, that’s a cop. We don’t need to spend money on fake cops with limited jurisdiction who have to call a real cop to place someone under arrest or to intervene in a dangerous situation. We are talking about beligerent drunks, not some guy’s dog pissing on the playground. We just need more real cops patrolling the entire neighborhood. I also don’t understand why we should write to our city council members to add this to the Neighborhood Plan when it doesn’t score high enough in the independent survey (combined score of below 2) to be included in the independent list of priorities. Is there a chance DPD saw how low that item scored in the independent survey and, justifiably, removed it?

    I’m not sure what to do about Stevens Park, except to use it and call in stuff like what is shown in the photo. It seems that the park really isn’t used enough for legitimate park uses. Frankly, I wouldn’t take my young daughters to the park in the photo, but maybe if we were already there those guys would keep walking. The root problem is the chronic drunk. Somehow BH needs to get into the AIA so that we aren’t a sanctuary for the drunks who can’t find their product in one of the many surrounding neighborhoods that made the AIA list.

  11. I was just mugged at the Beacon Park on 14th last week. I was just walking my dog, and didn’t have any cash on me, but the guy tried his best to hurt me. The response from the police was the same as the other times I’ve called: “Can’t do anything unless he’s still there and there’s a witness. Sorry ma’am these things happen.” Are things really that bad here that its not safe to walk the parks alone? Or worse yet, without a weapon?

  12. hey, i’m sorry for hurting anybody’s feelings, but when a drunk guy passes out in a public park, it seems like “bum” is a fairly accurate description. when they would like to improve their behavior, i’ll be happy to treat them with the utmost human dignity they otherwise deserve. i didn’t force them to act this way, and it’s none of my business to solve their problems. it’s time to pull it together, or seek help. there are plenty of resources in the very generous and giving community that seattle residents offer. if they really strike out, they can call oprah or dr. phil, but i wouldn’t wish that on anybody :)

    now, that said, i love the idea of a potluck to bring some neighbors together. i frequently walk past this park on my way to yoga, el quetzal, victrola, the library, the rail, delite, red apple, etc etc etc. but, we live about 5 blocks east and not really close enough to watch/participate in any sort of park watch group. however, i’m glad to raise a fuss or call the cops whenever i observe it.

    Tess, great point about at least calling in the complaints even if it seems futile. as we know from the nbh council meetings, the police always say the more complaints come in, the more justification they have to allocate resources nearby. if they don’t hear or see anything bad, they assume things are good.

    Camille, very sorry you were mugged. sounds like a real hero went after you. i hope you were not hurt badly. although my wife and i feel very safe in general, i do worry about her when running by herself. sounds like a good keyring w/ mace may be wise to carry. :)

  13. Camille, so sorry to hear you were mugged! Which park was this? Was it the one by the Amazon building?
    I also agree with Chris that perhaps the most effective answer is for us to use the park more. Of course, we are all busy and can’t possibly get to the park as often as the disruptive people, but maybe on the weekends? And for us to feel comfortable using the park more, I think we have to get to know each other more. And a potluck is a first step. I know I’ve lived here for two years and know shockingly few of my neighbors.
    And Jman, I totally understand where you’re coming from. But I’ve lived here for two years and the problem has only gotten worse. I want to be able to look out my window and NOT see a guy clearly peeing against the one tree in a public park, or finding human excrement in the hedges by my driveway. It’s hard to maintain your compassion after so much of this.
    So, potluck. My house. Stay tuned for a blog post about it, inviting everyone in the area, not necessarily the immediate triangle park area. It will probably be the week of October 18th. Which day of the week works best for everyone?

  14. One reason I have a hard time with the park ranger idea is because of the limited scope of authority. I live directly across the street from the steps at El Centro, which also collect their share of inebriates. A park ranger can’t do anything there. In fact, patrolling parks would likely relocate more of that behavior to private property like El Centro, or non-park city property like the various stepped sidewalks on neighborhood hills.

  15. This same topic was brought up some time back on this blog and if I remember correctly Wendi and/or Jason’s suggestion was for the community to reclaim the park by having picnics at this park.

    Wendi…Jason…you live right across the street. Do you have picnics in this park?

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