By reporter Steven Smalley
When is a one way street not a one way street? Upset residents on 24th Avenue West grapple with the question as homemade traffic signs appear on utility poles telling motorists they?re going the wrong way, they?re being photographed, and to slow down. Some neighbors take offense: “I feel like some vigilante is watching me, waiting for me to do something wrong. I?m really fearful about what their next step is,? says Harry Proctor, a?homeowner on 24th for the past nine years. ?Some community group has put some personal signage up. They say they?re representing a group no one has ever heard of and no one knows about…obviously they don?t know the law. This is not a one way street,? he insists. Proctor, a retired law enforcement official, explains how the street off of Manor Place West was marked with a ‘Do Not Enter’ sign in response to a neighborhood gathering with Seattle Department of Transportation officials 12 years ago. At that time, cars were converting 24th from a quiet side street to a busy shortcut on the way to Lawton Elementary. The neighborhood collectively sought action with the city, had a meeting, and got their decree. Although, according to police, the ‘Do Not Enter’ sign doesn?t make the street a one way. ?It?s not a one way street. We?ve verified that with the Seattle police department,? declares Alan Hollinger, another resident on 24th. Moreover, notes placed on cars, particularly one put on the windshield of an older woman who lives alone, have generated fear, he says. ?Is somebody sitting in the bushes with a camera? It makes them feel threatened,? Hollinger says. The note found on the woman?s car provided to Magnolia Voice reads as follows:
NEIGHBORHOOD BLOCK CRIME WATCH GROUPYour car has been observed knocking down garbage cans and driving against a one way street and blocking driveways and has been reported to document your actions on this street. It is advised that your behavior has been noted and observed by this neighborhood group that is against your behavior and actions in the community and that you are now put on notice that we have reported you.
?Telling people they were being watched and their actions were being documented,? Hollinger says, ?You feel like it?s an invasion of your privacy.? In addition to the ‘Slow Down’ and ‘One Way’ directives, homemade notices placed under the faded ‘Do Not Enter’ signs read, ‘Photo Enforced,’ although no one has seen any cameras.
Finally, in answer to the question, ?What?s next??, ?first Proctor replied, ?The police said the signs were illegal and we could take them down if we wish. He gave us a case number.? Then Hollinger suggested, ?If something more has to be done, I would say, ?Let?s go for it,? but do it on the community level.?? As of this post, the homemade signs are still attached to the poles.