Is Pioneer Square a large, seaside flophouse with the highest concentration of shelter beds in the city? Or is it a quaint, Old World strip, lined with beautiful architecture and lovely galleries? It's actually a bewildering mix of both, but Rebecca Roush, the head of the Pioneer Square Parking and Business Improvement Area (known as PSPBIA), would like you to see it as she does: "When I think of Pioneer Square, I don't think of some homeless person sleeping on a bench. I think of the architecture. I think of this great sausage place that just opened."

Luckily for Rous the Public Facilities District, the group overseeing Seattle's stadium construction, granted the PBIA $30,000 to offset the impact of the stadium work. PBIA is using $25,000 worth of the money for a public relations campaign to promote an upbeat view of the hood. PBIA plans to spend $10,000 on the new Pioneer Square Post, a glossy newsletter to hype the district. They've also hired Copacino, the company that makes Mariners ads, to design 30-60 second promo films about a day in the life of Pioneer Square. Finally, Muir Public Relations--which plans to promote positive stories about Pioneer Square in the local press-- is getting paid $15,000 to do market research on who comes down here--and who doesn't--and why. "There's a lot of money coming into Pioneer Square to promote neighborhood and economic development. Market research will help ensure that we spend it wisely," Roush says.

You've got to wonder if the market research surveys and focus groups will capture the "I come here to purchase beer in 40-ounce servings from the variety of low-cost bodegas" demographic.--Samantha M. Shapiro


City Councilmember Peter Steinbrueck left political observers scratching their heads last week, when he failed to move Nick Licata's parks ban amendments out of committee for full council consideration. Steinbrueck had been a co-sponsor of Licata's amendments.

"I just wasn't prepared to vote," says Steinbrueck.

The parks ban is a controversial 2-year-old city law that grants police broad power to kick people out of public parks.

Licata was pushing for amendments that would have made the law less onerous on homeless people, who are banished in disproportionately high numbers. Steinbrueck and Richard McIver had signed on as co-sponsors--but then Steinbrueck retreated.

Steinbrueck says he was playing political pragmatism. "We would have ended it right there," he says, pointing out that the full council would have voted the amendments down. "I wasn't willing to do that." He says he wants to get broader support by drafting lighter amendments.

Unfortunately, the softer approach has been tried before. On some issues, there is no such thing as consensus.--Ben Jacklet


A panel of detox doctors met with City Council members last week to talk about why heroin overdoses skyrocketed in Seattle this decade, and what the city might do about it.

Last year, 144 people overdosed on heroin in King County. That's more than three times the number of OD deaths in 1990.

Panel member Dr. Jim Squire, who runs a treatment program in Seattle, says, "Young people just don't seem to have a clue that sticking a needle into your arm and shooting up heroin is dangerous. It boggles the mind."

Squire estimated that people who drop out of his detox program "can get a fix within one hour."

Meanwhile, Seattle suffers from a serious shortage of methadone treatment centers--just five in the Puget Sound region, and two of these are tiny. According to Dr. Sean Cullison, for every one addict who gets treatment, five don't.

Everyone agreed on the solution: Seattle needs more methadone clinics. But where do you put them? It's safe to say that the two-dozen-plus groups now drafting neighborhood plans for community centers and libraries aren't clamoring for a new methadone clinic in their neighborhoods.--Ben Jacklet

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