Turn the lights off or leave them on?


When I was growing up, Seattle was THE city!  I first discovered it when I went to the Seattle World’s Fair.  I was fortunate to have relatives who lived near the University of Washington (UW).  When I was in high school, I came to Seattle in late summer to shop, along with my friends (NS, JCM).  We discovered downtown Seattle and the U district.  Seattle seemed so cool!

We moved to the Northwest in the late 70’s and have lived here off and on for almost 4 decades.  I missed the Boeing bust of the 70’s but saw Seattle at a low point in the 80’s (what downtown?). But we then saw it rise again from the 90-s on to be the one of the urban destinations for this decade.

I worked in downtown Seattle in the 90’s and we have been regular visitors to the city for years. We haven’t loved all the changes but have learned to live with them. Our daughter even went to school at UW, as did I.  

Before the pandemic, Seattle was dealing with major growing pains and social problems.  The wealth disparity is large and this is not an affordable city.  Traffic is pretty awful. People living houseless is a challenging problem with no real focus on upstream solutions.  I also don’t think the skill set of most of the Seattle elected officials is a match for the complex challenges facing them (I don’t live in Seattle, so am not a constituent).

Then came the pandemic!  Seattle was one of the first ‘epicenters’, along with being a site for ongoing protests and occasional rioting.  Many of the downtown stores are still boarded up and tourists are in short supply.

This article in the New York Post argues that Seattle’s progressive policies are failing.  After I read the article, it sounds like it is time to turn off Seattle’s lights.

Denny Westneat, Seattle Times, wrote an article that refutes that. He says that the big money is still in Seattle and more is arriving every day.  I can say the real estate market continues to boom and prices are still high.  There is no doubt that the current events will adversely impact small business and retailers, but maybe not the larger players. So we should keep the lights on?

After four decades in the Northwest, what do I think?  Both points of view have some merit.  I am concerned about the current leadership in Seattle, the high prices, the disparities and losing more of the character of the unique city that I love. But I also have some faith in Seattle rising to the challenge….it just may take a while.

So maybe Seattle just needs a dimmer switch for now?



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