News

Fighting loitering, vandalism with music?

by MATTHEW NASH
Sequim Gazette

The City of Sequim and the Clallam Transit System are trying a new method to deter people from loitering in and vandalizing the area around the Sequim Transit Center, 190 W. Cedar St., also referred to as the Half Block.

 

In a few weeks, city staff plan to install a musical Mosquito, a speaker that plays pre-recorded music such as classical or opera, that increases in volume as its surroundings’ noise increases.

 

Jeff Edwards, city parks manager, said the city has received complaints from City Hall and transit staff and local businesses about disruptions and issues with youths around the center.

 

“They aren’t bad kids,” he said. “They are being a nuisance and not picking up.”

 

Both Edwards and Terry Weed, general manager of Clallam Transit, said loitering and vandalism at the center have been an issue for years.

 

“The transit staff has been talking about this for some time,” Weed said. “(The Mosquito) is used in other transit properties in other areas and considered to be a valid method for diffusing the congregation that’s happening.”

 

Due to vandalism in the Sequim center’s bathrooms, transit staff reduced hours they are open, Weed said.

 

“There haven’t been any terribly serious events,” Weed said. “It’s an ongoing loitering issue on transit properties. It interferes with transit and city employees trying to do their work.”

 

Four different Clallam Transit routes, Clallam Paratransit and Jefferson County Transit go through the center.

 

Weed said the Sequim Transit Center is a significant part of Route 30, Clallam Transit’s largest route, which goes into Port Angeles,

 

“(Loiterers’) presence at times might be dissuading people from riding transit buses,” Weed said.

 

“The only authority we have on loitering is on transit’s property. That does not include the sidewalk. We can’t tell people what to do when on the sidewalks, but we can around or in the building.”

Reported incidents

Over five months, from Sept. 17-Feb. 20, the Sequim Police Department responded to several incidents aroundthe transit center with some calls related directly to youths.

 

On the 100 block of Cedar Street there were three complaints of noise called in at 5:47 p.m. on Oct. 1, 2011; 10:25 p.m. on Nov. 27, 2011; and 9:29 p.m. on Jan. 15.

 

Another noise complaint was made on the 200 block of Cedar Street at 2:46 p.m. on Nov. 19, 2011.

Police received two calls for juvenile assembly at 3:23 p.m. in late January and 3:49 p.m. in early November.

 

Other calls include two for disturbance and another on Sept. 20, 2011 for domestic violence.

 

East of the transit center, on the 200 block of North Sequim Avenue, there were three calls of disturbances, one burglary, one reported theft and an automobile theft during the span.

Further reaction

DJ Bassett, executive director for the Museum & Arts Center in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley, said he doesn’t see a problem.

 

The MAC’s Exhibit Center is across the street from the transit center at 175 W. Cedar St.

 

“Some of them are ‘creative’ looking, but mostly they are polite, normal kids hanging out,” Bassett said.

Their issues have been minimal, he said, with some drivers showing concern for backing out of the center’s parking into people.

 

“When we have a crowd congregating in front of the museum and we ask them to move along, there’s never been a problem,” Bassett said.

 

As for the next steps, Edwards and Weed are taking the wait-and-see approach.  

 

The City of Sequim and Clallam Transit split the cost of the device of about $450 each.

 

 

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