On Tuesday, Feb. 21, Mayor Bruce Harrell delivered his second annual state of the city address. He was all about that action, opening with a factoid about how the Space Needle was built in a single year.
“[T]he Space Needle stands as a symbol of our city to the nation — a pinnacle of a forward-looking vision and trailblazing leadership rooted in our DNA — of a city where innovation is inherent and progress is paramount,” he said.
Harrell wants to revitalize downtown, which he described as “the undisputed economic engine and cultural hub of our region.” To do that, he wants to improve public safety, which was another major theme of the speech, but stressed that, “Activation and eyes on the street help create safety. That’s why our plan will light up our downtown corners with artists and musicians, pop-up vendors and social service workers and members of the faith community creating a proactively positive presence for all.”
The speech was heavy on alliteration, although some, including his traditional allies on the Seattle Times editorial board, complained that it was light on details.
“He was short on actual, measurable plans,” the board wrote, dinging him specifically about his downtown public safety plans. While they made it crystal clear that what they want is more cops, which Harrell promised in the segment of the speech immediately following the bit about downtown, others called for fewer cars.
“I wonder why people don’t want to hang out downtown…,” tweeted local architect Michael Eliason, attaching four pictures of streets that are full of cars, devoid of pedestrians and mostly bordered by the looming walls of skyscrapers.
On homelessness and housing, Harrell touted his administration’s success at building 2,200 units of affordable housing in 2022, up from his campaign promise of 2,000.
However, as journalist Erica Barnett wrote in January, “In 2022, Harrell did not deliver 2,000 new units of housing, even using the most generous interpretation of that campaign promise.”
Read more of the Mar. 1-7, 2023 issue.