The math is simple enough. Seattle’s downtown core — at least pre-pandemic, pre-looting, and pre-smashed windows — provides nearly 60 percent of the city’s annual tax revenue, emphasizing again one urban reality of this new century: successful cities contain successful retail and office cores. Their health, the jobs and revenue they provide, are vital.
Simple it may be, but it often seems to elude our present Seattle City Council. As the Seattle Times’ Jon Talton notes, no member of that council has met a payroll, owned a business or brings to the table daily experience with the economic life of the city — from tech to maritime, hospitality and aerospace. Talton continues: “So it’s no wonder this council is so deaf to pleas from the private sector or blind to the dangers facing Seattle’s economic future. No wonder that the council and Mayor Durkan abandoned part of Capitol Hill to the lawless CHAZ. No wonder they love hating Amazon, whose headquarters is a priceless asset. This isn’t advancing social justice. It’s civic malpractice.”
I’ve walked the downtown core almost daily for most of the last two decades. I know what Denny Regrade and Belltown looked like before the renaissance of the late ’90s, before Amazon built its world headquarters there (and where Vashon Island’s great artist, Julie Speidel, installed her striking “Petros”).
A sane city government would find a partner in Amazon, not turn it into a political punching bag. Local business can give more, but what passes for civic leadership seems unlikely to get us there. Getting our city back economically is vital to our overall recovery from this pandemic catastrophe. That will take all of us moving together, not sniping for political advantage.