SPOKANE, Wash. - New businesses downtown are worried about the effect of the bad behavior of transients housed at the shelter next door.
A pair of promising new businesses in west downtown Spokane are finding out that sharing the sidewalk with homeless people is threatening their ability to attract costumers.
The owners of Zona Blanca Ceviche and the Steel Barrel Tap Room at Second and Madison worry that bad behavior from transients is hurting their ability to bring new life and vitality to that area.
They have invested thousands of dollars in trying to carve out a niche in Spokane's restaurant scene.
They hope that good food and good service will make up for their rather low rent location.
However, their challenges include operating right next door to a shelter and food distribution center that tries to help hundreds of homeless people very day.
Readers from the Inlander voted Zona Blanca Spokane's best new restaurant of 2016.
Chef Chad White was voted the area's best new chef.
“We're all trying to do a great job, bring more attention to our city, bring great food, great social environments, and we have some of the greatest activities in the city,” said White.
However, White's dream of a revitalized west downtown with new restaurants and breweries is running up against a population of homeless people who have claimed this city as “their” territory for years.
“It's been challenging for us because we want to help out,” said White. “We want to be part of the neighborhood and be good neighbors, but we're kind of turning out to be a little bit of the victim.”
White's car and three other employees have had their cars burglarized.
The graffiti goes up as fast as the landlord can paint it over.
Spokane Police are ready to lend White some high-resolution surveillance cameras to help identify who is responsible for the crimes.
“Hopefully we can use that information to hold some people accountable,” said Officer J.J. O'Brien, Downtown Police Precinct.
Right now, there is no evidence the people responsible for the car prowlings are clients of the nearby City Gate Church.
Pastor John Murinko says his staff enforces strict rules for behavior both inside and outside his facility.
“We're doing a lot in regards to policing the area, policing the alleyway, policing under the bridge to make sure things are cleaned up, and that it's safe,” said Murinko.
Spokane Police say they are going to step up patrols in this area as their staffing allows.
They've got a new detective assigned exclusively to the downtown area who will figure out who's responsible for the break-ins.
The best thing the rest of us can do is support these new businesses in this part of the downtown area because if they fail, bad people will come back and fill in the vacuum.