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Seattle mayor, businesses address Third Avenue safety concerns in downtown Seattle

The Downtown Seattle Association says people deserve to feel safe in the heart of the city. But in some parts of downtown that is not happening.

SEATTLE — Along Third Avenue in downtown Seattle, businesses say safety concerns have grown over the last two years.

At The Triple Door, a live music venue, employees were adding more boards to the building Monday afternoon. Inside, buckets with broken glass sat on the floor next to a rock that someone hurled at a window.

Owner Rick Yoder said it happened overnight. He adds that it is the fourth break-in at his business in the last two years.

On Sunday afternoon, down the street at Third Avenue and Pine, a man was shot and killed.

"It is just a travesty for the city," Yoder said.

After the weekend's deadly shooting, the owner of Piroshky Piroshky said she is closing her Third Avenue location for now because of safety concerns. 

The McDonald's on the corner of the block also closed following the shooting, with owner David Santillanes telling KING 5 his "top priority is the health and safety of our employees and customers." 

"We continue to support the local police department with their investigation into the ongoing violence in our neighborhood, and we will reopen the restaurant when we believe it is safe to do so," Santillanes added in a statement.  

On Yoder's block, he said other businesses have done the same.

"It is vacant from here north," Yoder said. "This is the transit center for the whole city. Pike Place Market is the largest public attraction. We need help."

Mayor Bruce Harrell called the situation along Third Avenue "completely unacceptable." He said for those struggling on the streets, the city is working to provide services. But the mayor also wants accountability for crimes committed along the corridor.

"We need to protect the people in our city from people who are committing atrocious acts, and so our booking policies will reflect that and those are my discussions that I'm having with those who run the criminal systems there," said Harrell about the King County Correctional Facility.

"Everybody's saying the right things, and I am seeing some progress, but we got a long way to go," Yoder said.

The violence, thefts, and daily drug deals have overwhelmed downtown, but after being on the corner of Third and Union for 22-years, Yoder refuses to pack up and leave.

"We feel we are an important and integral part, a legacy part of the city, and we are going to hold our ground," Yoder said.

Part of Mayor Harrell's plan involves addressing police staffing shortages. He wants to have approximately 1,400 officers. Right now, the city has fewer than 1,000.

City Attorney Ann Davison released a statement on Monday about the crime along Third Avenue, that says, in part, “the situation on Third Avenue is intolerable for our city. It's not possible to run a business, commuters feel unsafe taking the bus to get to work, all the while people engaged in what has become an open-air drug market are not receiving significant or effective intervention of their criminal activity. As I have done with referrals from 12th and Jackson, I will prioritize Seattle Police Department referrals from this high-crime hot spot on Third Avenue."

King County Regional Homelessness Authority is putting a focus on helping people in downtown Seattle who need resources and housing. A new partnership could shelter most of the people experiencing homelessness downtown in as little as 12 months, according to Marc Dones, CEO of the homelessness authority.

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