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City Seeks to Curb Problems At “Nuisance” Nightclub In South Lake Union

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 Seattle City Attorney’s West Precinct Liaison declared Citrus a “Chronic Public Nuisance,” in an effort to force the club’s 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 ongoing problems, or face fines of up to $25,000 and the possible revocation of their business license.

Representatives from the Seattle Police Department and City Attorney’s office have already met with the Citrus’s management—also affiliated with another North Seattle nightclub, Fusion—twice over the last year to discuss ongoing problems with crime at the club. But those problems have persisted.

Between January 1, 2012 and January 23, 2013, police visited the club 55 times; making regular stops to check up on the business, but also to break up brawls, respond to reports of gunfire, hit and runs, DUI, car prowls, robbery, and other assaults—like a January 2012 incident, in which a man tried to break up a fight between 10 to 15 people outside the club, only to be Tasered by one of the brawlers.

Just last weekend, a woman was injured when a fight inside Citrus spilled out into the parking lot.

Police have also had issues communicating with the club’s security staff. In an August 4th incident, officers received reports of gunfire outside the club, only to have Citrus staff claim the gunshots were just fireworks. However, later that evening, police received a call from a man who said bullets had struck his car as he drove past the club.

Problems at Citrus have also become a source of ongoing concern for staff at the nearby Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center, which sits just across Fairview Avenue from the nightclub.

On January 28th, 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 says.

The West Precinct Liaison and SPD are now hoping to work with Citrus’s owners to finally resolve these problems.

“The City takes a chronic nuisance property declarations very seriously,” says Sumeer Singla, Seattle City Attorney’s West Precinct Liaison Attorney.  “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 used all available remedies under the Seattle Municipal Code.”

If you have concerns about Citrus or believe you may have a problem business or property in your neighborhood, contact your local City Attorney’s Precinct Liaison or SPD Community Police Team.