Survey: Almost half of Yakima residents don't feel safe at night

YAKIMA, Wash. - There's more national publicity for Yakima. First, we heard we were America's fourth fattest city. Then, we were among the coolest desert towns. Now, Time Magazine puts us near the top of the list of places Americans are terrified to live.

It's an eye-popping headline: "Ten Cities Where Americans Are Pretty Much Terrified to Live." According to Time Magazine, Yakima is second on that list.

"Are you surprised that Yakima made this list?" KIMA asked.

"Not one bit," said Thomas Coleman.
"It's pretty violent around here," said Shawn Stahlman.
"Seems that our environment has become more and more hectic," said Donavan Lorenzano.
"The crime and the drugs and everything has gotten so bad," said Nicole Coleman.

A recent survey by Gallup shows almost half of Yakima residents don't feel safe at night. While it points out that Yakima's property crime and car theft rates are among the highest in the country, it also notes that the violent crime rate is lower than the national rate.

The ranking got you talking on KIMA's Facebook page. Most people said they felt unsafe in Yakima.

Greater Yakima Chamber of Commerce Vice President Thane Phelan said he doesn't think the perception is fair. He thinks it represents lingering emotions from when the city had more violent crime.

"There still seems to be a certain amount of folks that want to kind of continue that and hold on to those old numbers, and there's just not as much to worry about as there used to be," said Phelan.

Thane said things like the Gang-Free Initiative and anti-graffiti campaigns are working toward a more positive environment.

Yakima has been trying to address it head-on through its citizen surveys that focus on public safety. The city expanded YPD's gang unit and started focusing on troubled North First Street in response to the survey.

McAllen, Texas, topped the list of where Americans are most terrified. It's a border town south of Corpus Christi. Stockton, California, and Mobile, Alabama, were also mentioned.