The Munchbar is gone after a Christmas Eve shooting at the popular Bellevue nightspot killed one person and injured another. Bellevue has been making some interesting news headlines lately, underscoring the growing dynamics of urban problems moving to the suburbs. Indeed, shootings happen anywhere as a quick persual of the headlines will show. But late-night-clubbing -nspired shootings tend to happen in cities with lively night scenes. My column this week warns Bellevues that the success of becoming one of those cities with a vibrant nightlife comes with the responsibility of taking public safety seriously. Bellevue is already successful at offering the things that draw people to urban areas: free parking, shopping and restaurants and family-friendly venues like an ice skating rink smack in the middle of downtown.
Bellevue exemplifies what’s happening across the country. As this Daily Beast article argues, many of the country’s biggest problems—but also biggest opportunities—have moved beyond city limits to the burbs.
Bellevue is Washington’s fifth-largest city with a well-off populace girded by the affluence of Microsoft and other hi-tech companies. There is a reason people live in Bellevue: they want what they deem to be suburban amenities – good schools, safe neighborhoods – but they’re not ready to turn in at 8 o’clock on a Saturday night.
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Fyi, the alleged shooter in the Munchbar case, Ja’Mari Alexander-Alan Jones, pleaded guilty this week in King County Superior Court.
Sure we could all chock the shooting up to an anomaly. We can use the excuse that if you don’t run lawless circles, your chances of taking a bullet is miniscule. That’s true by the way. But that works just until the shots ring out uncomfortably close, as it did for a Seattle Dad last year. Then the calls come for leaders to do something. Bellevue City Council’s response can be to get out ahead of the challenge early by investing, rather than cutting, public services.