GEE AND URSULA
UPDATED: 1 MARCH 2023 AT 5.13 PM
Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell began revealing details of his vision for a new downtown during his appearance on The Gee & Ursula Show.
“We want to see improvements downtown,” Harrell explained. “We want higher office occupancy. We want more small businesses, companies. We have a number of solutions. This must be sustainable.”
Harrell also talked about his efforts to hire 500 police officers in five years. Something Ursula thought he was behind.
“So we do everything possible. I feel very optimistic. By changing our systems, we have reduced the waiting time to be hired by 50%. We have recently hired a new recruitment manager for police innovation. We have increased the number of entrance and side exam administrations,” Harrell said. “I say to people listening to this, please apply. We have a $30,000 bonus for lateral transfers. $7,500 bonus for new recruits. So we want people who want to serve our community to go to seattle.gov/police and work with us because we are going to change the city for good and we are going to protect our city.”
A new vision for downtown Seattle
Harrell said he wanted to develop a new center based on data. He said he needs crime statistics to go down. He wants the city center to become more attractive to small businesses. Harrell said he is committed to getting more stakeholders involved.
“When I was walking the streets with my leadership team just a week and a half ago, I saw things, I’m talking to small business owners that gave me a big pause,” Harrell said. “I think one of the criticisms that I agree with is that people still want to know more detail, so I put the strategy and the framework. And I wanted to say that what we will announce here in the next five or six weeks involves some changes in the law.”
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Gee wanted to know what Harrell’s vision was for a new downtown.
“What does security look like? What does fun look like? What does a great experience look like? When we get input from the stakeholders, we build it, and we create it,” Harrell said. “I want to be the envy of the country. I try to get people to put their skin in the game and say, ‘Why are you going downtown? Or why do you go somewhere other than the city centre? That is why it is rooted in public safety.”
How should homeless people and mental health problems be handled?
Much of the criticism of people’s experiences in the city center is the number of homeless people they see. They have said that this does not help bring your family downtown.
– There are so many people we know need help in the city centre. I want to see a healthcare professional. I want to see people working on this work to get them into treatment, Harrell said. “Because people ask, ‘Well, what happens to some of the people who just do bad things downtown, whatever [a] drug user who has mental illness, what happens if they are treated?'”
Harrell said people literally need to see government dollars at work. “I talked about an executive order centered on our strategies around health. I want people to see that it helps other people, we make these investments in the county, and the state is a partner in this work.”
Bringing workers back to the office
Ursula cited a study by the Downtown Seattle Association that showed only 55% of downtown workers are back in the office. She wanted to know what he could do to bring people back downtown.
“We are showing the leadership we want to see, for example, close to 70% of my workers work five days a week. I mandated it before many others to get back to work, with some discussions work with our unions, Harrell said. “There are other jurisdictions that haven’t done that at all. Amazon announced that they have a three-day work effort. But again, I talked to a panel of small business owners around downtown about this issue.”
Listen to Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin on weekday mornings from 9am to 12pm on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to podcast here.