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Pioneer Square: We’ll Take One Neighborhood Code, Hold The Homeless

April 12, 2010

A few weeks ago the Pioneer Square Community Association sent a letter to Mayor McGinn asking the city to put a stop to Real Change Newspaper’s planned move from Belltown to Pioneer Square.

Leslie Smith, Interim Executive Director of the neighborhood association basically said there are enough agencies and organization that “attract” the homeless.  (By “attract” I’m certain she really meant “serve”.)

“We would like to work with your office on this issue by setting up a meeting with Real Change, Makensay Real Estate and our neighborhood organization to provide assistance to real change to find other suitable offices outside the district.”

Translation: We don’t want those people in our neighborhood and we want the Mayor and the City to co-sign a ban.

That may seem a bit harsh to you, but let me direct you to Seattle’s own history:

As early as the 1930s, Seattle neighborhoods were governed by restrictive covenants, enforced by associations, land developers, realtors and by law, and written into the deeds of thousands of homes.  For example:

From 1940 to 1960, Seattle’s Greenlake neighborhood’s code said:

None of said lots shall be sold conveyed, rented or leased in whole or in part to any person not of the white race nor shall any person not or the white race permitted to occupy any portion of such lot or of any building thereon except ****to servant actually employed by a white occupant of such building.

That is just one example of dozens upon dozens of neighborhood codes that blanketed the entire city and kept certain kinds of people in certain neighborhoods based on race and economic status.  If you were Black you could only live and work in certain areas; same for Asian, Latino…and the poor and homeless.

And here we have a group which calls itself a community association, trying to keep a segment of the community out.

In response, the Mayor gave a wordy “no” to the group- saying because the Real Change Newspaper doesn’t get money from the city, it is not within their scope to tell the business where it can and cannot lease space.

The Mayor went on to encourage Pioneer Square residents to meet with Real Change to further understanding between the two.

Well here is what I want to say to the Pioneer Square Community Association: how dare you.  How dare you attempt to throw your weight against a group of people you don’t like or want in your neighborhood.  Shame on you for not caring about or having the foresight to understand the kind of dangerous precedent such a decision would make.

If you can successfully argue that homeless people are a threat to the so-called values of your special little community, you’re setting the stage for other communities to do the same.  Who else should be kept out to secure the “values” of a neighborhood? Blacks? Middle class workers? Gays?

Here’s a bright idea, why don’t you use the influence you think you have and the values you cling to so dearly, and get your ass in line behind the rights of the homeless?  Why don’t you support policies protecting this vulnerable population?  Why don’t you recognize them as a part of your precious community instead of the invasion of the body snatchers?

Why don’t you lead us forward towards progress, instead of backwards towards segregation?

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Reader permalink
    April 14, 2010 9:37 pm

    I think the residents are more concerned with the issues that follow the homeless – meaning drugs and crime. Comparing these very real problems to racism of the past is a bit of a stretch, to me.

  2. April 14, 2010 4:54 pm

    It seems that “values” here means that the wealthy are superior people – after all they’re wealthy, and the poor ar inferior.

  3. April 18, 2010 10:47 pm

    BOOM- Temy got it.

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