You may not know this but I have a website called “My Seattle.” Originally I put it together because we had so many of our traveling friends coming here to go on Alaska cruises that asked for recommendations I decided to put them all in one place. I love Seattle. When I list my favorite cities it has always been in my top five (at least it used to be).We choose to live in a Seattle suburb. One of the things we have loved about the 22 years we have lived here (Kathleen has been here even longer than I have) is being so close to the city. In fact for more than 20 years Kathleen commuted to an office that was about 5 blocks from the Space Needle. I am a Seattle Seahawks and Seattle Mariner fan. I am sure I will also be a Kracken fan as well. We love going into the city to eat at our favorite restaurants, to see theater, to go to concerts and so much more. That’s why this post makes me sad. Very sad.
You see, my Seattle is currently gone. What is left is an awful place that is both disgusting and dangerous.
Last week two of our friends from cruising were in town to take an Alaskan cruise. Before they came the posted on a thread we converse on from time to time that is on Cruise Critic. When they posted they were headed our way we told them we would love to see them and go out to dinner but we also told them to be VERY aware of what is going on in downtown Seattle and to take care when going anyplace on foot. They replied and asked for a much more in-depth about what to avoid and if their hotel and the restaurants they planned to eat in were OK to get to. Luckily they were but even better we decided to pick them up and get them out of the city for one dinner at least at one of our favorite seafood places in Bellevue (across the lake), Seastar. As we drove them back to their downtown Seattle hotel the sun was setting on the city. With the Olympic mountains as a background, the lights of the city looked like a fairyland. And from that distance it is. But you get close up, it isn’t.
So what’s wrong? The city has become a haven for drug users and the mentally ill with no real policing going on. One of the best ways I can tell you what is happening is to quote a reader-written Op/Ed from The Seattle Times:
“I am watching a block of downtown Seattle die. From my office on Third Avenue between Pike and Pine streets, in recent weeks numerous tents have been erected. More keep coming. No one has come to remove them. Daily, I observe people passed out on the street with needles in their arms. I must watch my step to avoid human excrement.
We have 30 employees in our firm. They do not want to return to work because they fear getting off the bus. Our offices have been burglarized four times in 12 months.
I am not conservative. Homelessness has complex causes and must be addressed through a variety of means. But allowing tent dwellers and drug users to occupy a city block is not acceptable. What message does this send to the businesses on the block and tourists who visit our city? Our company will not renew our lease if this persists.
Two blocks from Pike Place Market, where Wild Ginger previously welcomed diners pre-theater or symphony, now only remains graffiti, trash, drugs and tents. Are we willing to let what appears to be less than 300 people destroy a block of economic activity in our city? Apparently, we are.”
For those of you from out of town, the block he is referring to is on the main route from the downtown hotels to the world famous Pike Place Market. It just isn’t safe to go there. And I totally agree with his point of view.
This is what Seattle is up against. An ultra liberal city council has allowed the city to get to this point. The mayor is fed up and decided not to run again. The very capable police chief resigned. More than 200 Seattle police officers have left the force since the summer of 2020 and NOT been replaced. Those that are still here feel like they have been handcuffed themselves. Shops and restaurants in downtown and the Pioneer Square area report calling police after thefts from their establishments or to handle threatening behavior by mentally ill or drugged up people are being told, “We decline to respond,” when people call 911. There is video of a mentally ill man jumping on cars and breaking car windows with the police standing right next to the cars and they can’t do anything because they have been ordered to cease and desist if it is only a property crime.
To me, that means you are not safe in downtown. And even if you were safe in downtown it can be a disgusting place to go. An Instagram account called Seattle Looks Like Shit documents the kind of things that are going on in the city. It’s just sad. Warning, if you look at it, you may get grossed out by the videos and photographs of people urinating, defecating and shooting up on the streets but it will show you how bad it really is. It’s so sad. Many of the photos on the account were taken this week.
It is tough for Kathleen and I since we don’t live in Seattle where we can vote and have input. Yes, there are a few problems here in Redmond but they are nothing compared to what you will see in Seattle. Thousands of homeless many of whom are major drug users (the city attorney will NOT prosecute drug laws other than the sale of large quantities) or mentally ill are just camped out on the streets. Some in areas directly adjacent to schools. There have been school events cancelled because the city could not guarantee the safety of the kids participating. Many of the homeless have been offered shelter but refuse to take it because it means giving up their drugs. And things just keep getting worse. There were two other articles in the Seattle Times this very morning detailing basically the same thing. We see those articles and the reports daily. One week in late August there were 16 shootings in Seattle alone. Things are crazy here. We want them to get better but until we do, I wouldn’t come this way. I miss my Seattle.
The two elements the traveler first captures in the big city are extra human architecture and furious rhythm. Geometry and anguish. — Fedrico Garcia Lorca