KVUE and FOX 7 news are reporting that the Public Safety Task Force is proposing to cut down on Downtown crime by… get ready for it… adding more light. 🙁
This is a misguided effort to thwart a much bigger problem.
There is a BIG elephant in the room, and it’s called the ARCH. Drug dealers come from all over the city and prey on those with addiction and/or have mental illness.
According to the article, “Austin police call the area bordered by 8th, 6th, Red River and Trinity, a hotspot for crime. Forty-two percent of all drug arrests in downtown happen here.” Adding more street lamps is only going to disperse the problem, and will make the understaffed police force’s job more difficult!
As I’ve said before, the ARCH doesn’t belong across from a major liquor store and a block from Austin’s biggest party – Sixth Street. The way to cut down on crime in Downtown Austin is to: 1) expand the day-time uses of the historic Sixth street buildings, east of Neches St. 2) move the ARCH and its support services away from Sixth Street – though, NOT out of Downtown 3) Revitalize Waller Creek, because right now drug dealing and drug use is hidden from view below the banks of the creek.
Yes, the ARCH should remain Downtown. Doing so relegates to ‘bunk’ status the argument which demands the ARCH remain centrally located, and the NIMBY-ism arguments against moving the ARCH at all. Downtown Austin is a big place with plenty of under-utilized land and buildings.
jude galligan says
Another story. Read this story and consider how out of control crime has gotten in downtown.
Having it right next to the part of the urban core that caters disproportionately to tourists isn’t such a great idea, though. (I include suburbanites in that category – anybody who doesn’t go downtown very often).
I don’t know if you can sidestep the NIMBY argument by stating that the ARCH should remain downtown, but not “across from a major liquor store and a block from Austin’s biggest party”. It seems to me that, with a truly dense and diverse urban core that includes the ARCH, it will inevitably be close to a liquor store and an entertainment area.
The problem is the proximity of the ARCH users to the customer base on 6th, especially non-locals. It makes our city look incredibly bad, and retards the growth of our downtown (how am I going to convince my CEO to move our office downtown when every time he/she goes there, they’re hassled by aggressive panhandling bums?)
Wouldn’t the same problems crop up in a new part of town if ARCH were to be re-located? My spidey sense tells me that anywhere you have a congregation of a large amount of drug and alcohol addicts, they’ll find a supply and the suppliers will find them.
I would be interested to know what happened 10 years ago when the city cut a deal to put ARCH where it is now. If I recall correctly the concerns you’ve expressed were discussed at the time but the powers that be didn’t heed. Where was the Downtown Business Alliance at the time?
How about this idea for a resolution? In 2 years, we’ll have a large over-supply of downtown condos in the $500k range. What about allowing condo owners from a couple of older buildings to move free of charge to an upgraded large building, and then giving the homeless center the old condo building to move to. Presto! Homeless center situation resolved with the nice boost of removing a portion of the oversupply of luxury condos.*
*yes, that was tongue in cheek.
If you look at the types of crime along 6th, I think the shot bar culture is going to share a lot of the blame also.
I wish cities could come up with a way to do low ambient lighting like landscape lighting. It keeps walkways lit without shining in people’s windows at night. How hard would it be to put a solar light on parking meters that shone down onto the sidewalk?
Adding more light seems to be a way of addressing the issue of ‘safety,’ not ‘crime.’
The solutions to crime and downtown development appear, at first glance, to be outside the comfort zone.