The late great city of Seattle

By Patrice Lewis

In November of 2019, our older daughter returned to our Idaho home from a four-year stint working as a live-in nanny in New Jersey. Her initial plan was to spend the holidays with us, then look for work in Seattle. The Emerald City was famously well-heeled, and our daughter’s qualifications as an experienced and credentialed nanny meant she could command an impressive salary.

In the early part of 2020, she started sending résumés to agencies in Seattle, most of which expressed interest but wanted an in-person interview before matching her with prospective families. She had to wait for the weather to cooperate (Snoqualmie Pass is dicey in winter), but managed to schedule three interviews in a row in late February. She asked me to go along for the trip, since a long drive is more fun with a cheering squad. She aced her interviews, and we drove home in an optimistic state of mind.

Two weeks later, the pandemic lockdowns hit. Then the riots broke out. Then Antifa started dominating urban areas. Then defunding the police became popular. Then the crime statistics skyrocketed. Then the homeless population exploded. And we all agreed Seattle was the last place she should go to seek work.

What happened to Seattle? It used to be a shining jewel of West Coast cities, a booming metropolis that attracted tourists and techies alike. Now it’s like something out of a dystopian nightmare, with deserted streets, boarded-up store fronts, drug dealers on every corner, homeless tents thick on every sidewalk, tragic drugged-out zombies lining the downtown and a desperate exodus by everyone (including businesses) who can afford to leave.

To be fair, no city emerged unscathed from the pandemic lockdowns, but Seattle’s problems were exacerbated by a progressive hostility toward law and order. Police might arrest criminals, but what good did it do? They were back on the streets within hours (or even minutes). The infamous Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone gave a middle finger to any law enforcement restraint and was soon a hotbed of rape and violent crime (despite the laughable “Summer of Love” moniker).

Demoralized, the police left the city or the profession in droves. Nearly 500 officers have left the force since 2020, including 122 in 2022 (six of whom left in August alone). As of the week of Aug. 28, there were only 877 deployable officers in the entire city, when there needs to be around 1,400 to 1,500. Of these remaining officers, how long before they burn out and leave? It’s a downward spiral from which recovery may be impossible.

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These issues are closing down Seattle as both a tourist destination and a business target, further exacerbating its decline. In late January, one person left a review on Trip Advisor as follows: “Honestly, I won’t be coming back here. It is filth everywhere from SeaTac to downtown. People are openly drug dealing, begging, graffiti everywhere, tents everywhere, trash everywhere. I did not feel safe from the time I walked out of SeaTac. You need a covid card to eat, but you can walk right into a liquor store without a mask. The hotel that once was nice looked like a ghost town, and it was clear that help was difficult to find. We had a bar of soap in our room, coffee, but no water. I got onto an elevator by myself but another person said they would wait for the next one. I will not find myself coming back here, and will connect elsewhere for flights. My life is more important to me than putting my life at risk running into someone with a mental imbalance, and a city that has completely lost itself to the lowest common denominator.”

Naturally, the unsavory elements are cheering this development. As long as they claimed they were representing black lives or were “anti-fascists,” they wouldn’t be stopped by woke city leaders no matter what they did. Roving bands of rioters were free to loot, sell drugs, rob, rape and murder without restraint. Isn’t life grand in a progressive city?

By every metric imaginable, Seattle is no longer a worthwhile place to live. For a young woman seeking a humble job as a nanny, it’s downright unthinkable. Words cannot express my gratitude when our daughter reached this conclusion and decided to apply her talents elsewhere.

What is the future of Seattle? What is the future for any blue city experiencing similar levels of destructive progressive policies? Can this downward spiral be halted? Can police be enticed to return? Will city administrators support their law enforcement efforts? Will the homeless crisis be solved? Will rampant theft be reined in so small businesses can reopen? Will open drug-dealing be eliminated? Will skyrocketing robberies, assaults and carjackings be curtailed so citizens feel safe?

Seattle is currently engaged, among much else, in a 10-year waterfront development project due to be completed in 2024. The hope is it will revitalize the city’s downtown area with new businesses. “The future Waterfront Park will span 20 acres along Seattle’s downtown shoreline,” the website boasts. “A constellation of lush, open public spaces linked together by a pedestrian-oriented promenade, Waterfront Park welcomes and encourages the public to come together.”

What isn’t specified is how the city plans to keep criminal activity and the homeless out of these “lush” open public spaces so citizens and businesses alike can enjoy the results. I do know this projected revitalization includes the famous and historic Pioneer Square, a place currently so rampant with crime, violence and murders that tourists are afraid to step foot within its boundaries and businesses can’t stay open because crime is too extreme, employees don’t feel safe, and visitors to the city have deserted it.

“Seattle is allowing criminals to take over blocks,” notes an Independent Sentinel article. “Businesses affected by that decision are suing the city. Homeless drug addicts are taking over the local park and other parts of the city – they’re spreading out. Will the highly-taxed residents and businesses even stay? One billion-dollar business is leaving due to ‘unrest’ and possibly high taxes. A lot more could follow. It’s a beautiful city, but it’s being destroyed.”

Can Seattle be saved? What do you think?

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