In our opinion, Danny Westneat did a great service to the City with his Feb 20 story in the Seattle Times entitled “Is Seattle Still a Great City?” where he gave the City a mediocre grade in his scoring of ‘Eleven Signs a City Will Succeed’.
For us the telltale one was the answer to #2 ‘What makes the City Go?’. In great cities, elected officials make the city go. In Seattle, Danny says it’s “Developers”, and asks if that’s a good thing? Of course, that’s not usually a good thing, because the people running the city are not accountable to the voters. It’s a “Wild West-anything goes mentality- and of course that’s what some developers want. But is it good for the future of Seattle? Absolutely not!
Take downtown Seattle as an example. There are virtually no residential development standards for new construction in the core of downtown Seattle- so that’s why residential construction in downtown is exploding cheek to jowl. And the initial proposals we’ve seen on the funding of the HALA initiative will only make it worse.
In Seattle, we routinely go to the polls and vote for progressives on a fairness and justice for all platform- but we don’t get that when developers call all of the shots. If this continues, it will kill the livability of downtown, one of the things that made Seattle great. It’ll become a concrete jungle, and people will flee downtown as fast as they moved here. And when the people leave, the retailers and restaurants leave, and it’s a never ending chain of disaster.
The good news is that there is a reasonable solution that will ensure HALA funding and preserve downtown livability- and we have presented that solution to the Mayor and to anyone else who will listen. And we see positive change coming. We believe that the Mayor is a good man who really wants to do the right thing. And now we are starting to see a groundswell of support from disenfranchised downtown residents who are determined to take their city back, and help the Mayor make it great again.
The problems we discovered across our alley at Escala are obviously very important to us and our own livability, but they are just symptoms of the bigger problems in downtown Seattle that will get worse if citizens don’t stand up and fight.