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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Safety and cleanliness are critical to ensuring our Downtown can thrive. We need a council that is accessible and accountable to all community members, including small business owners that are the backbone of our Downtown. It is unacceptable, as a city, to allow businesses to be forced to close due to a lack of safety or forced to hire their own personal security. We have a responsibility to provide those services and we are failing to do so. We need to incentivize foot traffic to businesses.
We need to work with local employers to incentivize employees to want to return to working Downtown. We will also need to continue to support our tourism industry, including the cruise ships that bring foot traffic Downtown.
One of the most important issues I’m focusing on in particular is starting with lower-level solutions for wide-ranging impacts, and that’s making our public buses safe for all commuters. For the Seattleites who rely on public transit to get to work downtown, keeping drug use out of the buses and off the street will be critical to encouraging them to continue using our King County transit system. That’s only a small piece, but it will have major impacts once we’re able to follow the Washington Legislature law to prosecute open drug use.
Andrew Lewis (Incumbent)
Third Avenue is the key to Downtown’s recovery. If the disorder, transportation, and land use problems on Third Avenue can be solved, it will make the rest of Downtown recovery an easier task.
The most common reason for reluctance to go Downtown relates to disorder on Third Avenue. Focusing on the public safety strategies above in the catchment area of Third Avenue via the Third Avenue Project needs to remain a top civic priority.
On transportation, we need to fix the public safety and reliability challenges holding people back from using public transit. Using the transportation benefit district we could hire services similar to We Deliver Care to respond to buses to de-escalate patrons in crisis. Fare enforcement alone does not cut it. We need more sophisticated personnel to resolve these situations.
We also need infrastructure improvements on Third Avenue like the Third Avenue Vision (which the City formally endorsed via a resolution I sponsored) to make the commute experience to-and-from Downtown easier and safer. I remain a strong advocate of funding these improvements through a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district. Allowing growth to pay for growth and avoiding the need for a new tax.
Finally, the post-covid Downtown is not going to be a pure resumption of the pre-covid status quo. We need to commit to land use changes to allow some degree of office-to-housing conversions to increase the number of residents in the Downtown core. We also need to up zone parcels in areas where the current land use controls essentially render the parcel impossible to redevelop.