Snohomish public safety concerns for city residents
SNOHOMISH — Crime prevention emerges as a prominent concern for over 80% of city residents, a survey by the city’s Public Safety Board (PSB) revealed. Presenting the findings at the Jan. 17 City Council meeting, safety board member Peter Messinger highlighted residents’ worries about break-ins, theft and assault.
The survey, which was conducted from April 15 to Aug. 2, 2023, revealed additional concerns. Pedestrian safety stands at 66%, with 44% expressing worries about traffic and speeding. Messinger said: “In general, the movement of vehicles and people through the town and the safety of that process was a concern to respondents.”
Messinger pointed out that residents also conveyed concerns about fire safety, drug use and illegal street parking. However, he noted there is hesitancy to call the police due to uncertainty about when to use 911 or the non-emergency line.
“Did you know the Snohomish Police Department has a non-emergency line that’s monitored as closely as 911?” Messinger said. “Many of my neighbors did not know that. Thankfully, Sgt (Chris) Veentjer came to our neighborhood watch meetings and made sure everybody had that number, encouraged us to use it, and urged us to keep busy on patrol.”
The line is 425-407-3999.
Snohomish Police Chief Nathan Alanis said people should not hesitate about calling something in.
“Essentially some people are hesitant to call 911 because they’re unsure of what they’re reporting is truly an emergency or not, and they don’t want to needlessly tie up resources,” Alanis said. “The non-emergency line goes to the same dispatch center, so I generally tell people that if you can’t remember the number off hand, just call 911 and tell the dispatcher that it’s not an emergency. We would rather people call 911 for something minor than to not report it at all.”
Several council members urged the board to incorporate gun violence prevention into its work plan for the next year.
Moving forward, the Public Safety Board aims to utilize surveys for two-way engagement and education on public safety issues.
“We will generate a new survey or surveys directed specifically at inclusiveness in our community,” Messinger said by email. “We bring to this task our professional backgrounds and interests in safety issues. We expect to do our part in educating our fellow residents on safety issues through town halls similar to those done in the past few years.”
He said they planned to share more in the spring.
This comes after residents expressed concerns about limited data collection and representation in the survey.
The board’s 2024 work plan will align with the council’s plan, focusing on disaster preparedness and capturing a larger sample size. Concerns about fire safety during wildfire season burn bans, including bonfires and fireworks, will be discussed by the council later in the year.
In other news from council
The council meeting also provided updates on Historic Downtown Snohomish Association (HDSA). HDSA treasurer Ingrid Harten shared that the HDSA had achieved fully accredited Main Street status, a goal they began working toward in 2017. Harten introduced the Main Street Tax Incentive Program, which garnered excitement from council members and is partly possible due to the recent Main Street accreditation.
“The Main Street Tax Incentive Program is going to be a source of income,” Harten said. “We had it in the past, but then Main Street restructured and we lost it. Now it’s back, and this is something that we can have because of our official community status.”
The tax incentive program allows businesses to donate their Business & Occupation (B&O) tax back to their communities, ensuring that their B&O tax dollars stay in Snohomish. Harten encouraged those interested to reach out to HDSA directly for more information on the tax incentive program.
Separately, Brady Begin, the Economic Development & Outreach Coordinator, brought up the city’s old municipal code and its difficulty to understand. He proposed updates to provide clarity on lodging tax advisory commission duties and responsibilities. The proposed changes include altering the language regarding appointment terms from annual to four-year cycles and aligning with other boards and commissions.
The council also addressed arts and culture funding for Snohomish, aiming to expand access to artistic expression by allocating funding for public art installations, community events, and microgrants for local arts organizations. This funding is to come from the $23,000 allocated for arts initiatives in the city.
The Snohomish City Council convenes at 6 p.m. on the first and third Tuesday of each month. All meetings are open to the public and are currently held in a hybrid format, accessible from snohomishwa.gov.
This story was produced by a journalism student at the UW News Lab for the Tribune.
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