Downtown Seattle has a lot going for it: great parks and public spaces, a wide range of compelling arts and entertainment options, great restaurants featuring cuisine from around the world, retail choices that feature global brands and the best of our own home grown businesses. We can trace our early history downtown and the breadth of our city’s diversity is on full display every day. It is our economic engine with 41 percent of Seattle’s jobs and generating 61 percent of our tax revenue. It is also a collection of great neighborhoods. Right now, nearly 40,000 people call the downtown neighborhoods home. That will double by 2030.
By many measures, downtown Seattle is thriving. Jobs and construction are rebounding, with Seattle in the top five nationally for job growth. Tourism is also up – overnight stays in Seattle increased 3.6 percent in 2011, and the Port set a record for cruise ship boardings. Travelers to the city and county spent $5.9 billion while visiting the city and county, an increase of 6.6 percent. The taxes they paid also went up 6.6 percent.
That’s the good news. There are also challenges. We have a significant homeless population in downtown, without sufficient access to shelter or restrooms. Individuals with mental health or substance abuse issues may remain out of reach of treatment. While enforcement reduces open air drug dealing, elimination has proven elusive. Visitors and residents report that some of our public gathering places can feel unclean, intimidating or unsafe.
We are committed to working with the community to address these challenges. On many items we are acting immediately. We have added funds to the city budget for cleaning, infrastructure improvements, and enhanced social services. Our police are employing new tactics to address behavior that is illegal. We also must acknowledge that there are differing opinions on the best way to deal with street behavior that may be unpleasant or feel threatening, but is not illegal. Effective solutions require that people with differing perspectives work together to ensure that our downtown is a thriving, safe place for all of us.
That is the focus of the Center City Initiative. We are working with residents, businesses, service providers, and government agencies on specific actions that help make downtown streets safe and inviting. This agenda is rooted in our efforts to build shared prosperity and achieve racial and social justice in Seattle. We are focusing on issues that they tell us are important in Belltown, the Downtown core, Pioneer Square, and Chinatown/International District/Little Saigon.
Center City Initiative Goals
The Center City Initiative’s specific goals are to:
- Create a street environment where all people feel safe
- Sustain a vibrant and inviting public realm
- Support thriving business and residential neighborhoods downtown
- Provide outreach, health and human services to people in need
- Provide many attractive options for traveling around downtown
We will do this by ensuring:
- The community’s needs are met in a just and equitable manner
- City, community, business and agency partners are accountable for actively working together to deliver lasting solutions
- Existing policies, programs and standards are reassessed and revised to accomplish desired outcomes
- Approaches are cost effective and sustainable
Courtesy of City of Seattle – www.seattle.gov/mayor/centercity