Business and Civic Leaders Denounce the Threat to Public Safety in Downtown Seattle

In a letter to public officials, they urge action to permanently take back Third Avenue from the open drug market

July 11, 2022By Bill Conroy

Seattle, USA - August 12, 2013: Police CSI officers gathered outside a cruiser investigating a shooting aboard a Seattle bus on 3rd ave in Downtown during the morning Commute.

In a letter to public officials, they urge action to ‘permanently take back Third Avenue from the open drug market’

A group of 175 downtown businesses and civic leaders, residents and employees have sent a letter to King County and Seattle public officials expressing great concern about the state of public safety in downtown Seattle. The letter references the Jan. 22 shootout between two suspects near Third Avenue and Pine Street that left one woman dead and seven other innocent victims injured, including a 9-year-old boy.

The letter, dated Feb. 4, was sent to the King County prosecutor, sheriff, executive and County Council as well as Seattle’s mayor, police chief, city attorney and City Council. It urges the public officials to develop a stronger safety strategy for downtown, including reforming existing practices and policies, and also urges them to “devote the resources necessary to permanently take back Third Avenue from the open drug market that has, for decades, laid claim to it.”

“Our frustration comes from knowing that this tragedy was not just avoidable, it was a likely outcome of a deeply rooted drug market that has existed along Third Avenue for decades,” the letter states. “Third Avenue is the front door to downtown for commuters coming from neighborhoods across Seattle. Unfortunately, it has been taken over by criminal activity, including drug dealing, gang warfare, rampant retail theft, daily overdoses, acts of violence, sexual assaults and robberies.”

Business leaders signing onto the letter include Jon Scholes, president and CEO of the Downtown Seattle Association; Tom Norwalk, president and CEO of Visit Seattle; Jeffrey Blosser, president and CEO of the Washington State convention Center; John Schoettler, vice president of global real estate and facilities, for Amazon; Tim Brown, executive vice president for Wells Fargo; and Fred Rivera, executive vice president and general counsel for the Seattle Mariners. The entire letter and those signing it can be found here.

“We love downtown Seattle and expect the heart of our city to be safe and welcoming for all who live, work and visit here,” the letter states. “It should be safe for the barista, the retail clerk, the downtown cleaning ambassador, the theater performer, the small business owner, the resident and the visitor.”

The letter points out that downtown Seattle supports some 328,000 jobs and is home to 88,000 residents — including about 5,000 children.

“Increasing downtown density and vibrancy is aligned with the city of Seattle’s comprehensive plan, growth and economic goals, and climate strategy,” the letter concludes. “But these goals are jeopardized if people don’t feel safe in downtown.”