According to the latest quality of life survey conducted by the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, there is a growing unease among Seattle residents regarding public safety in their city.
The survey revealed that a combined category encompassing concerns about crime, drugs, and public safety ranks as the second-most pressing issue, with 48% of respondents expressing worry. Homelessness takes the top spot at 51%.
This marks a significant shift in public sentiment compared to when the “quality of life” survey commenced in August 2021. The concerns about public safety have surged by 20 percentage points since that time.
The Chamber’s Index survey also unveiled that 60% of the participants feel less safe in their neighborhoods compared to two years ago. Moreover, one in three respondents admitted to not feeling safe when visiting downtown Seattle during the daytime, while two-thirds stated they would not feel safe venturing downtown at night.
Up to August 2023, the city reported nearly 3,500 violent crimes, including 42 homicides. The downtown area accounted for 274 of these violent crime reports, making it the district with the highest incidence of such incidents, based on data from the Seattle Police Department’s crime dashboard.
A majority of the survey participants expressed a desire for a stronger police presence across the city to enhance safety and reduce crime. The survey indicates that 74% of voters support the idea of prioritizing the hiring of additional police officers in Seattle.
Interestingly, a substantial three out of four respondents lack confidence in the ability of the Seattle City Council to reform policing without compromising public safety.
President of the Seattle Metro Chamber, Rachel Smith noted, “We’ve known for some time that voters are concerned about public safety and public drug use – especially meth and fentanyl – and those concerns have become a sticking point to voters continuing to feel optimistic.” She added, “While we saw quality of life numbers increasing as recently as March, these results show that positive progress is fragile, a point candidates for Seattle City Council should note.”
Despite the heightened concerns about public safety, the percentage of respondents actively considering moving has decreased from its peak of 67% in March 2022 to 53% in September 2023.