Study Says Safety Concerns Driving People from Downtown Mall

Charlottesville's businesses are losing out because the city hasn't done enough to make the downtown mall safe, clean, and inviting - that's the takeaway from a new report from a group of city residents and business owners.

A special committee of the North Downtown Residents Association conducted a study of local residents and found about 19 percent of respondents made fewer trips to the Downtown Mall. Of those, 14 percent cited concerns over safety.

The group is calling for the immediate installation of security cameras, and more police presence, but not everyone thinks this is about protection.

"I don't think it's necessarily safety that's the issue but it's more of the aesthetic and the look and what it does for business and the economy," said Michele Miller, a Charlottesville resident of more than four years.

Others said the have felt threatened in the past.

I'm out here in the morning and I see some homeless gentlemen walking around and it's not so so bad but every once in a while you'll have like one or two people come up and approach you that are relatively aggressive," said Jared Desisto, a Charlottesville resident of about six months. "I try to say no most of the time but that tends to lead to more harassment."

Charlottesville's City Council moved forward Monday with plans to create a street outreach program. The outreach will work with panhandlers and could change the rules to keep people from lying down in front of buildings.

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