Councilmember O'Brien left office on December 31, 2019. This website is for archival purposes only and is no longer updated.

Encouraging Safer Environments

24 Comments (Leave Comment)

As you may have heard, last Saturday afternoon a young man, believed to be using methamphetamine, smashed a window of La Isla Restaurant in Ballard and proceeded to use a shard of glass to attack and injure two people on the sidewalk outside.

It is upsetting to see this happen in our community, and I can imagine it would have been terrifying to have experienced or witnessed it.  The question we are left with is: “how do we respond to this?” When an incident like this arises, we must ensure that our first responders are prepared to react immediately, and have the resources they need to address such situations. I want to acknowledge and thank the first responders who effectively and efficiently addressed this situation.

When thinking about safe environments generally, I am also focused on how we prevent instances like this from happening in the first place. As this work continues, I am engaging my staff in many different resources to help alleviate the public safety concerns in District 6. Much of this work comes from direct correspondence with constituents where my office has advised Multidisciplinary Outreach Teams (MDOT) to specific areas where activity is concentrated. My Office continues to engage with outreach workers and police officers to best address the community concerns.

I remain committed to implementing successful programs such as the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program, an effort that has been proven to be more effective in moving people living in crisis to more stable situations. LEAD is a program that connects people who commit low-level drug and sex work activities to services instead of arrests. It has reduced criminal-recidivism rates by up to 60 percent and currently exists downtown and in select nearby neighborhoods. I would also like to support additional outreach workers through MDOT so that we can connect people to services instead of further isolating them. I support outreach workers on the street engaging with people who are living in crisis, sometimes because of addiction. These people are on the front line to both engage people suffering from addiction and direct them toward treatment options.

I will continue to encourage safer environments in District 6, our communities, and our city. My staff will also continue their role in engaging with constituents to meet the community needs of public safety. Supporting public safety and increasing connections for people and our communities is a collective action and I look forward to doing that work with each of you.

In Community,



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Comment from Steve
Time April 26, 2016 at 3:01 pm

We all want a safer community – across our district and throughout our city. As our representative, you play an important role in fostering that safety. But your message is passive to the point of being meaningless. Your response to the latest in an ongoing escalation of crime in Ballard is that you are “thinking about safe environments…engaging [your] staff,” and assuring us that you “will continue to encourage safer environments.”

But what concrete actions are you taking? Diners in La Isla are attacked. A women in a lobby on Market Street was groped. I witness open drug use on an almost daily basis. We’ve had enough empty rhetoric. Your constituents need you to actually do something.

Comment from Anthony Scott
Time April 26, 2016 at 3:36 pm

What a complete load of crap. Thanks for unleashing these fine folks into the community.

In “community”,

Anthony Scott

Comment from julie a hall
Time April 26, 2016 at 5:55 pm

How about thanking the brave citizens that subdued and contained this man until police arrived. So as hr could not further harm or menace the neighborhood. Also how about increased patrols in Ballard since it has become a “hot spot” for illegal ativities. A response time of 20 + minutes is unacceptable in th is type of crazy threatening outburst. Illegal drug enduced or not. Representation of ALL neighbors should be the concern. Ballard is in the news almost weekly and not in a good way.

Comment from Taylor Seeberger
Time April 26, 2016 at 6:57 pm

This is the Gettysburg Address of tight rope walking, say nothing bu11$hit. – Dan Egan

This wasn’t a low level crime Mike. This was a violent act representative of what Ballard has fast turned into. All this the result of failed leadership from you and Fast Eddie. For the love of God, there are citizen watch groups forming to “take back Ballard”, yes Ballard. Does that mean anything to you?

Your job is to protect and represent the interests of your constituents. Not to waste public funds supporting your favorite useless pet projects… cough… Pronto… cough… Or to look for atta boys from your out of touch progressive colleagues.

Can’t wait to see you and the rest of the Clowncil slumming it in the private sector with the rest of us soon. Just remember in the real world you don’t always get four years before getting canned!

Comment from Allison Melton
Time April 26, 2016 at 8:07 pm

You and the Mayor have allowed property crime and drug use to flourish in our neighborhoods. When criminal behavior is tolerated, it cannot be a surprise when it escalates. I hold you and the Mayor partially responsible for the violence that took place on Saturday.

Comment from Julie Albright
Time April 26, 2016 at 9:24 pm

A taxpayer and business owner and her brother are almost killed by a crazed drug addict, and the response is rhat we should lock hands, sing Kumbaya, and throw more money at programs to enable criminals to perpetrate more crimes?
This woman and her brother disarmed the perp. Three other guys stepped in to hold him down. It took the cops more than 20 minutes to respond to a life threatening situation.
This program won’t make the citizens of Ballard or Seattle safer. For clarity, it won’t make the taxpaying, voting citizens safer.
What will is to hire more police, and give them the authority to enforce the law. Bring back beat cops to Ballard Avenue. Quit turning a blind eye to the drug dealing, public drug use, property crime, vagrancy, public drunkenness, aggressive panhandling, car prowls and other crimes that are the day-to-day experiences of the citizens of Ballard.
When will the rights of taxpayers, business owners, home owners and voters be as important to this administration as the rights of the homeless, drug addicts, and the mentally ill,?
Vagrants don’t vote.

Comment from Margie Cashman
Time April 26, 2016 at 10:04 pm

We must have more immediately available intensive substance use disorder programs and more acute inpatient psychiatric beds, Mr. O’B. Our EDs are choked with people like this guy, often now SPD won’t book them (due to Consent Decree scrutiny of SPD) even if they assault ED staff while in the ED. We are operating a festering mess of homeless mentally ill antisocial substance-addicted people within the Seattle homeless population and it is getting worse year by year. Try taking the southbound James Street exit off Southbound I-5 and take a look at the debris everywhere. This is not a first-rate city. Both City Council and the Mayor need to take a good hard look and get real about this mess. You all are still dithering about addressing the Jungle, too. That needs to be eradicated, not coddled with Porta-potties.

Comment from Steve Valet
Time April 26, 2016 at 10:12 pm

THIS is your response?? This is belittling and pedantic at best. Someone attacks your constituents with a lethal weapon and it is considered “low level” priority to you? This person doesn’t deserve a pat on the back and a ruffling of hair, this person deserves jail time and treatment. You suggest he deserves neither? How are you helping us stay safe with an attitude like this where you want to keep people living on the streets and in the shadows?

Also, how about a link backing up your claim of 60% reduction recidivism rates, and the (hopefully) non-patrician group who did the study? It’s easy to claim something without substantiating it (did ya know that 90% of unicorns prefer to eat cinnamon candy corn??).

We are exhausted and fed up with your total lack of engagement in our community. Please stop running for mayor and do something of substance for District 6. Come to some meetings, get off your phone and listen, or step aside and let someone help. Some of us voted you in, most of us won’t be so naive the next time.


Comment from Jennifer Patrick
Time April 27, 2016 at 12:26 am

The first responders were prepared to react..not immediately but 20 MINUTES LATER. Citizens had to take down someone and restrain them! Ive lived in other major metropolitan areas and that response time is UNFATHOMABLE. What you have written here is less of a statement of action and more of a restating of what is already not WORKING. I myself was walking in front of a cafe on Ballard Ave. 2 weeks ago at 8 aclock at night when a KNOWN TO THE COMMUNITY strung out meth head was fake suckerpunching passersby, I tried to scoot around him but he lunged at me. IN FRONT OF THE CROWDED MOLTEN CAKE CAFE. I dont see Ballard Foot Patrols – I see police cars drive by – increased foot patrols, familiar face that in and of itself would help with outreach AND keeping an eye on KNOWN people who are making Ballard an increasingly unsafe place. I have lived in several major cities in sketchier neighborhoods and that is truly the only thing that works. I cant really figure out why things are deteriorating here in the NW Seattle as they are. I stopped taking my daughter to the Ballard Branch Library and we dont really go downtown with her at night anymore. When we go to SF or LA I never have this concern, we would frequent the downtown libraries of both cities often. Even in San Francisco where the library also serves as shelter, yet never felt unsafe there. What is the deal? What is a real plan?

Comment from Eric Schaber
Time April 27, 2016 at 6:18 am


A 20 minute response time is not efficient, it’s deplorable and is a huge public safety issue. I truly hope I don’t ever have a medical emergency in this city with response times like that. Ballard has become one of the city’s dumping grounds and it is sad. Why can’t we enforce the laws across the board, all laws? Enforce the removal of illegal encampments, illegal RVs and blatant open-air drinking and drug activity? All people in the neighborhood deserve to feel safe, protected and cared for. Yet, that’s not the case and it’s very disheartening to see. You need to protect, defend and stand-up for all residents of your district, and that includes the ones that are paying taxes to support your job and salary, not just the homeless.


Comment from Janice Kirstein
Time April 27, 2016 at 9:02 am

Part of Ballard recent crime woes are caused by addicts in vacant buildings that are in DPD limbo land waiting for permits. What if the city put vetted homeless or low income in those houses while the city gets through it’s paperwork? Maybe we could make a commitment that every child has a roof? It would really help the neighborhood, the homeless, the police, and the developers.

Comment from T.
Time April 27, 2016 at 9:21 am

It took police 15 minutes to respond. The “first responders” you are praising were citizens. When the police finally arrived, they casually strolled over to the scene as if they were arriving at a donut shop. That your proposed solution to this domestic terrorist attack is to call for assistance for the criminals is ridiculous. You must be completely delusional about your vast wisdom to think that your response is going to impress any of your constituents. It is insulting and outrageous. We work, raise children, and pay taxes. What we need is protection from the criminal element that has been dumped into Ballard, not more services to support the free loading scum that have ruined our neighborhoods. Your compassion should be for the victims of this crime, instead of the freak that caused. This community could not care about the criminal drug addicts that have made our neighborhoods unsafe for our families. You seem to believe that the city is a charity organization and we all should buy into that. BS. You have no idea how insulting your response is. People were attacked by a maniac – it doesn’t matter what the reason is. And you call for fewer arrests of violent criminal drug addicts. And, please, get the hell out of city government and go work for the Salvation Army. Your focus is on the wrong people. WE PAY THE TAXES. PROTECT US, NOT THE SCUM YOU’VE DUMPED INTO BALLARD. You are hated in our neighborhood – people are incensed by this response.

Comment from Julie Albright
Time April 27, 2016 at 10:08 am

All of the comments from Ballardites have been removed. Why does O’Brien not listen to his constituents?

Comment from JANICE REEBS
Time April 27, 2016 at 12:14 pm

Hi Mike,
I watched the 2 hour documentary, Chasing Heroin | FRONTLINE | PBS. So I understand what the LEAD program is. I do not agree with it because it enables people who are in it to keep harming themselves and others. And if Seattle has had this program going since 2011, then why has the Heroin problem gotten SO much worse over the last 4 to 5 years? I believe it may be making the problem worse not better.
Also, it is your job to protect and care bout the tax payers first, (not the low level criminals and drug addicts.)
Please remove the “illegal campers” from our greenbelts and parks. No one should be allowed to camp anywhere except in designated tent cities (we have one in Ballard.)
I believe “camping” on city property is a crime and WRONG. I do not want my tax dollars supporting this and many other activities that you are allowing to happen.
Also, you are seriously endangering the people of Ballard as evidenced by the window which was broken by a drug crazed person, who then attacked people with the glass, at La Isla in downtown Ballard this last weekend.
And the police response time was more than 25 minutes (from what I read,) the citizens had to defend themselves, (lucky nobody was killed.)
You are doing a terrible job, you are causing great harm to the City I LOVE.
Please resign, we need a different City Council representative for District 6.
–Janice Reebs
(Seattle resident since 1954)

Comment from Kate Gregory
Time April 27, 2016 at 3:58 pm

I think it’s wonderful that MDOT and LEAD are helping people so much and I applaud those efforts. However, I that people who refuse services are allowed to remain camping throughout my Ballard neighborhood. If they leave at all, they’re back by the next day. I don’t take my morning walk along the B-G trail anymore until the sun is well up. I don’t think you take our health and safety seriously. Please do more to “encourage safer environments”, like getting proper police service.

Comment from Kathleen Teeple
Time April 27, 2016 at 4:41 pm

I don’t feel safe living in Ballard any longer and this has happened very quickly. Whatever you are doing or suggesting to alleviate the problems is not happening fast enough. I don’t see anything changing. It’s just getting worse. Step back and take a closer look. Talk individually with your constituents. I don’t want to be embarrassed that I voted for you.
I have seen some of your staffs responses to these comments. They are rude and unprofessional. I really don’t want a response. I want action.

Comment from Jenise Temko
Time April 27, 2016 at 4:44 pm

Why did it take the police so long to respond?

Comment from Nicholas Martin
Time April 27, 2016 at 4:46 pm

Blah…blah…blah…blah. In short you are doing nothing.

Comment from Michele Burns
Time April 27, 2016 at 4:55 pm

Mike, I’ve been a Ballard home-owner since 2002 and was a Fremont homeowner for a decade before that. I have two sons at Salmon Bay School, and we are avid patrons of the Seattle Public Library and other neighborhood establishments.

Just in the past few months, my nine-year-old and I saw a woman overdose in front of the library on a sunny, Sunday afternoon as market-goers walked by with fresh flowers in their arms. We have had our front door bloodied by the person who smashed our planters. We have had squatters break into the house down our block and cars belonging to homeowners on either side of our house vandalized, at great expense. I have been verbally accosted numerous times as I walked by Ballard Commons Park, often while walking with my kids. Our young boys have witnessed flagrant, out-in-the-open drug use, suspicious transactions, and neighborhood taken over by filthy, abandoned vehicles.

I have worked in the nonprofit field for 20 years and deeply believe in helping society’s least fortunate. What we are seeing now, however, is a rapidly growing crisis that is damaging the community and hurting hard-working families and, especially, children.

The approach you and the City Council are taking now is not working. You must confront the situation head-on and take firm action to eliminate crime. No one wants to criminalize homelessness, but we must criminalize crime.

The dangers we are seeing in our community are real, and they are growing. It is only a matter of time until the aggression that is simmering right now turns into real violence.

Please represent your constituents and make Ballard safe for ALL its residents — including the law-abiding, tax-paying ones.

Comment from Linda
Time April 27, 2016 at 5:39 pm

Close the Ballard RV park now, ban RV’s from our Ballard streets, close the tent encampment,ban illegal camping in Ballard. We want our formerly safe and clean neighborhood back! I’m disgusted with your harmful and unworkable solutions. If you think your solutions are so great, put them in your Fremont neighborhood.

Comment from Elizabeth Cunningham
Time April 27, 2016 at 8:21 pm

I don’t consider this past Saturday attack in Ballard as a low level crime. The individual cut the neck of the victim, who is the owner of Classic Consignment after she jumped him while he was slashing her brother-in-law in the head with his shard of glass, in front of their store. Fortunately, she fought him off long enough so she was not seriously hurt until three bystanders pinned him down. The owner of La Isla called 911 and was on hold for 5 minutes before a response.. It took 20 minutes for the police to reach the victims. This predator is not homeless, his family lives in Greenwood. Btw, he also has a long rap sheet. The community of Ballard is very interested in the outcome.
Just today I saw a young man threaten a woman in the Ballard Conmons Park. Calling the police is a waste of time, I have done it often in the past. We now see this aggressive behavior on an daily basis along with drug deals all over our community.

Comment from Alexandra LaMarsh
Time April 29, 2016 at 8:26 pm

Mike, I met you a while back at the Ballard Chamber of Commerce meeting. At that time I expressed to you that our problem is not with homeless folks who are down and out but it is with the speed and heroin homeless addicts who continue to wreck havoc with violence and property crimes. This attack is a prime example and you did not address it. This attack was not a low level crime, it was a violent attack that could’ve had much worse consequences. Your response above was an advertisement for the LEAD program which I support, but it did not address this specific issue.

Comment from Jill Beck
Time May 2, 2016 at 8:00 pm

This is an absolutely useless response. Clearly you are living in fantasy land with respect to how much crime has increased. Playing nice isn’t going to resolve this issue but you seem to not recognize that.

You and your staff seem to show an arrogance of “oh, we know better” whenever I reach out about crime, excessive spending on ridiculous priorities, etc. Perhaps listening to people on this thread instead of special interests would be a better choice for you. Actively engaging people through means where they can participate in voicing their concerns (i.e., NextDoor) would be better than just judging how many emails you receive from your special interest friends or who has time to attend a Council meeting.

Your vote today on giving Hansen a street vacation was a disgrace. For all of the time that you and your staff spent researching that issue, you could have devoted that mindshare towards engaging people who commented on this thread and truly listening to them. You don’t need an additional staff person. You need to focus on issues that matter to your constituents – like TRULY ADDRESSING PUBLIC SAFETY IN A MEANINGFUL WAY.

Comment from DW Bowers
Time May 3, 2016 at 9:50 am

I can’t wait for the next election so I can vote to replace you, Ed Murray and the rest of the useless “leaders” of this City.

Your enabling policies for drug addicts and thieves have caused an unsafe environment for Seattle residents. It’s time you did your job and enforced the laws equally for all citizens.

You’re more interested in wasting taxpayer money to buy your friend’s failed bike company than protecting the city residents.

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