In a significant announcement Monday, Mayor Bruce Harrell announced new action to bring vitality back to downtown Seattle, focusing on public safety and business activity.
Mayor Harrell acknowledged the impact of the fentanyl crisis on slowing the return of vitality downtown:
“Essential to any long-term neighborhood revitalization is safety and health: The fentanyl crisis on our streets is causing death and disorder — we have an obligation to do more for those suffering from substance use issues and for all neighbors.”
The Mayor’s executive order will direct the Seattle Police Department to focus on stopping the distribution of fentanyl and other street drugs by working more closely with other local and federal law enforcement agencies. The order also expands substance abuse treatment resources by creating a pilot overdose response unit in the Seattle Fire Department’s Health One program and using gift cards to incentivize people experiencing substance abuse to join a 12-week treatment program.
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The Mayor’s downtown activation plan lays out other actions to make downtown more attractive to both businesses and consumers, including:
- Improved sidewalks and lighting
- More street closures for special events
- More food trucks and pop-up food vendors
- Filling 20 currently vacant storefronts
- Expanding the number of Metropolitan Business Improvement District ambassadors patrolling downtown streets
The Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce expressed praise for the Mayor’s plan. However, noting that downtown generates half of all City tax revenues, the Chamber has called on the City to suspend the Jumpstart payroll tax for all covered businesses and to waive the City’s business and occupancy tax for companies willing to locate downtown. Councilmember Andrew Lewis, who represents downtown, Queen Anne, and Magnolia, expressed his willingness to consider a plan to reduce taxes to draw more businesses downtown.