"About 20 motels operate now from North 40th to North 145th, the Seattle city limits, and peeling facades, burned-out neon signs and buckled asphalt lots hint to conditions inside."
"The density of cheap digs has fueled Aurora's reputation as a magnet for drugs and prostitution. An average room goes for $50 a night."
"'Crime on Aurora has been a deeply ingrained problem that's lasted for decades," said Seattle police Capt. Mike Washburn, commander of the North Precinct. "Aurora is a state highway, it's easy to get in and out of ... and the motels are certainly a piece of this.'"
While the article points out that many of the hotels on Aurora are well-managed and not contributing to the area's crime problem, there are clearly some landlords who permit illegal activities to take place on their premises.
I'm probably not alone in wishing that the motels would just go away. But advocates for low-income and homeless families insist that the motels are a necessary evil, as they provide much-needed housing for the city's less fortunate. That's a fair point, but many of the motels charge outrageous sums for rooms that are, in a word, horrible. Even worse, the city, state and Federal government are actually paying for this squalor through various housing assistance programs. Put another way, you and I are keeping slum lords in business through our tax dollars.
So, here is a modest proposal to address the problems of Aurora Avenue. The city and state should start a program to acquire the offending motels through eminent domain, refurbish them, manage them and rent them out to low-income residents at reasonable rates. Couple that with the establishment of a Seattle Police storefront station on Aurora somewhere between 85th and 120th streets and the initiation of regular foot patrols. Clean, well-managed motels and a stepped up police presence would do much to eliminate the underlying problems that have made Aurora Avenue a boulevard of broken dreams.
As long as Aurora Avenue continues to be a haven for petty crime, drugs and prostitution, there is no hope that it can rise above its current seedy circumstances. Respectable businesses won't want any part of a neighborhood where potential customers fear to walk.