With a wonderful holiday season in downtown in the rearview mirror, we say goodbye to 2022 and welcome in the new year. Downtown was busy as hundreds of bars, restaurants and other venues hosted thousands of revelers. We also marked a turning point from last year, when the pandemic had ebbed, but our recovery was fragile. While we still face some significant challenges, progress made this year (and the many transformative initiatives underway) leave me feeling incredibly optimistic.
From new business openings, an unprecedented 106,000 people now living downtown and the capping off of major projects, downtown’s resiliency was on full display in 2022. A record cruise season brought 1.2 million passengers through the Port of Seattle, while the waterfront redevelopment took another step forward with the reopening of Colman Dock following a five-year rebuild. As we’ve noted on our Recovery Dashboard, millions of people visited attractions and booked hotel rooms downtown.
Our revered arts and cultural community welcomed thousands of guests back to theaters, performance halls and museums, and our professional sports teams filled arenas and stadiums across downtown. Fueled by a Mariners team that brought playoff baseball to Seattle for the first time in decades, LINK Light Rail recorded 2,323,000 boardings in September — the busiest month ever.
We’re seeing steady progress, and to sustain it, those who work, visit and live here must be able to safely move around the city core. The good news is crime in downtown fell in 2022. Violent crime dropped 15%, while property crime fell by 4%. Over the past year — with your help — DSA engaged with city and county officials about the importance of improved public safety and a fully staffed police force. In order to experience a full recovery, we will continue to prioritize public safety advocacy efforts in the new year.
We also remain focused on the crisis of homelessness and are pleased to see a more unified approach to bringing our unsheltered neighbors inside, and a focused, collaborative plan — Partnership for Zero — to address chronic homelessness in the downtown core led by the King County Regional Homelessness Authority. The Partnership for Zero plan is well underway and we have begun to see positive outcomes and stability both for those experiencing homelessness and with conditions in the public right-of-way. More than 130 tents lined downtown sidewalks and public areas just a year ago. Today, approximately 12 tents remain because of the work to bring our neighbors inside and connect them to services.
To supplement city services, downtown property owners within the Metropolitan Improvement District funded over 800 hours of new weekly private security patrols in downtown this past year. MID ratepayers also continue to invest in cleaning, concierge and public realm services.
In the last 12 months, MID-funded ambassadors picked up more than a million gallons of trash, made nearly 50,000 cleanups on sanitation trikes and removed 27,000 graffiti tags and stickers. They also made 5,000 business visits and conducted 7,000 welfare checks on those in need. In the last two months we’ve added approximately 20 new ambassadors to our team to expand our impact. A priority for 2023 is to request property owners and the city to reauthorize the MID for a new 10-year term to sustain and enhance these critical services.
Looking back, this year reminded me of the irreplaceable value of urban cores. Downtown is still the place we gather to innovate and do business, experience arts and culture, dine, play and connect. It’s the place we come for experiences we can’t get anywhere else. Thanks to all of you for connecting with us this year — by attending our events and programs, supporting our advocacy efforts, joining us on social media and remaining a champion of downtown.
I look forward to celebrating more milestones and progress with all of you in the year to come. Best wishes for a happy, healthy new year.
DSA President & CEO