Investing in Downtown’s Recovery: Given the importance of downtown to the overall health and vitality of our city and region, what actions will you propose to support downtown’s recovery?
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Downtowns across the country have been hit hard by workers working from home, increased crime, increased mental health and drug addiction issues, restaurants and businesses recovering from the pandemic, a potential commercial real estate challenge and a potential economic downturn. First, City government activities needs to be in person. Full Stop. I had recently been in City Hall and you could hear a pin drop. That’s unacceptable at a time when downtown is challenged. Second, we need to encourage our downtown businesses to bring employees back downtown. That’s makes sense for the business and our downtown economic recovery. Third, we need to increase police presence downtown and work block by block to create safe places for visitors, residents and businesses. Fourth, our city should invest more in regional homelessness solutions, affordable housing and shelter spaces to reduce homelessness. Finally, we need to increase middle housing and improve zoning laws to urgently address our affordable housing crisis to stop the pipeline to homelessness.
Dan Strauss (Incumbent)
People and businesses will not return downtown until they feel safe, and we make real progress in housing the homeless. With our Mayor, our city’s direction has changed, and we have good momentum in the right direction. Things are getting better, but better isn’t good enough.
Just this week I passed SEPA exemptions to encourage the use and redevelopment of downtown. During the pandemic I extended MUPS to keep projects alive, and I will be passing legislation that cuts red tape for downtown in this time of revitalization.
It’s critical the Third Avenue corridor get filled with businesses. Third Avenue was a problem from Belltown to Pioneer Square when I was growing up, and today it is the barrier to a fully recovered downtown because it is the link between the city and the Pike Place Market that is now connected to the waterfront. I want to incentivize businesses, particularly street-level retail and restaurants to return, and I continue to have conversations with downtown leaders about how to do that.
I shaped the re-opening of Ballard Commons Park to be the dry-run for re-opening City Hall Park because I know the importance of welcoming public space in downtown. As staff for Councilmember Bagshaw I coordinated improvements to City Hall Park and participated in the Third Avenue Vision Initiative, and I will help implement the Mayor’s Downtown Activation Plan.
Downtown’s success is bigger than any of us because it is the economic engine for our entire region. I’m committed to making downtown a vibrant, safe, and inviting neighborhood for Seattleites and guests alike.