In February of 2016, popular Seattle Times writer Danny Westneat wrote a column asking the question “Is Seattle still a great city? Checklist reflects doubts.”
Westneat began his story as follows: “Seattle’s such a great city. This phrase I’ve heard repeated around town over the years more than any other. This deep-down belief — that our city is special — comes as close as we get to an official religion.
So, I was taken aback by a national magazine writer, James Fallows, who traveled 54,000 miles around America and came up with a list of telltale signs that a city is a success.” Westneat’s conclusion: “Because Seattle, for all our shine, just doesn’t make the grade anymore for a city on the rise.”
“By my grading , soaring Seattle scores six out of 11, at best”, said Westneat. "At my kid’s middle school, this would prompt an after-school retake” (read full article here). So how has this changed since 2016, for the better, or for the worse? We went through the same list again this week, and we could only give Seattle a four out of 11, at best.
Our downtown is being screwed up by poorly designed, non-functional, and livability-threatening new high-rise construction, traffic gridlock, trashy potholed streets and alleys, drug use, street crime, homelessness, etc.
Our city leaders are great at ‘talking the talk’, and bragging about their perceived successes, but are quick to point the finger at someone else when it comes to taking responsibility for solving our very real problems.
So, as Mr. Westneat asked and then answered in 2016, “...is Seattle at risk of being a city that doesn’t work? Fallows’ list points to a hard-to-pin-down feeling I’ve had for a while, of Seattle slippage. We chronicle it daily with the homelessness crisis, soaring rents or botched civic projects. Whether it’s poor leadership, misplaced priorities or just a temporary struggle with too much runaway success, something’s not quite right.”
You don’t hear “Seattle’s such a great city” as much as you used to. And you hear it even less today in 2019 than when he wrote this story in 2016.
Seattle can be a great city again if city leaders will roll up their sleeves and be honest about what needs to be done…and then do it!