In the last year, South Lake Union’s Citrus nightclub has been the scene of a gang-related triple shooting, late-night melees, an officer-involved shooting of an assault suspect, and a bathroom peeping incident, among other things.
Which is why this week, Seattle police and the City Attorney’s West Precinct Liaison declared Citrus a “Chronic Public Nuisance” in an effort to force club owners to confront ongoing problems with crime at their business. As part of a Chronic Nuisance Property agreement, the City can require business and property owners to upgrade security and take other measures to reduce problems -- or face fines of up to $25,000 and the possible revocation of their business license.
Representatives from the Seattle Police Department (SPD) and City Attorney’s Office (CAO) have already met with the Citrus’s management—also affiliated with another North Seattle nightclub, Fusion—twice over the last year to discuss crime problems at the club. But those problems persist.
Between Jan. 1, 2012 and Jan. 23, 2013, police visited the club 55 times. They made regular stops to check up on the business, but they also had to break up brawls, respond to reports of gunfire, hit and runs, DUI, car prowls, robbery, and other assaults. In one January 2012 incident, a man tried to break up a fight among 10 to 15 people outside the club, only to be Tased by one of the brawlers. Just last weekend, a woman was injured when a fight inside Citrus spilled out into the parking lot.
Problems at Citrus have also become a source of concern for staff at the nearby Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center, just across Fairview Avenue.
On Jan. 28, Fred Hutchison Center executives sent a letter to the City, voicing their concerns about “repeated and dangerous public safety and nuisance issues associated with” Citrus.
The 15-acre Fred Hutchinson/Cancer Care Alliance campus operates 24 hours a day, with patients coming and going as they receive treatment, and medical staff and researchers working around the clock to develop cancer treatments.
In their letter, Fred Hutchinson executives say they have found “discarded weapons and broken bottles left” on the center’s campus, and say it has become “increasingly difficult” to provide a safe environment for staff and patients because of problems at Citrus.
“It is especially concerning that the nuisance and safety issues with [Citrus] have begun to spill into and impact our campus,” the letter said.
Sumeer Singla, the West Precinct Liaison for CAO, and SPD hope to work with Citrus owners to finally resolve these problems.
“The City takes a chronic nuisance property declaration very seriously,” Singla said. “Our goal is to always work with property and business owners to address nuisance issues. If, however, we cannot reach an agreement or the problems persist, the City is prepared to use all available remedies under the Seattle Municipal Code.”