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Community group: Time to end blame game and fix downtown Seattle

Police cordon off the site of a shooting in downtown Seattle. (Photo by Chris Porter/Getty Images)

In the wake of continued safety issues in the core of Seattle, the Downtown Seattle Association (DSA) is hoping to bring everyone together to fix the problem once and for all.

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“Let’s put the finger pointing down — we all have a role to play here, and we need to come together on a collective strategy that’s really focused on this part of town,” DSA President Jon Scholes told KIRO Radio’s Gee and Ursula Show.

The DSA currently has a plan in place to help at least address some aspects of downtown safety that would cost roughly $40 million. The measure would focus on improvements from the Pike/Pine corridor, to the Convention Center and Capitol Hill.

It entails a series of physical improvements to the area, including wider sidewalks, better lighting, improved signage and landscaping, for a “delightful experience we won’t avoid as much many do today.”

Scholes also acknowledges there’s more work to be done beyond physical changes to downtown, in a neighborhood he points out has seen an “alarming” increase in violent crime in recent years.

“In and of themselves, those investments will not appropriately address the real safety challenges we face,” he said. “We must make reforms to the criminal justice system.”

Scholes calls for a cooperative effort across the judicial, executive, and legislative branches of the region’s government, from the county prosecutor to the Seattle City Attorney’s Office.

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“All of them have a role to play here,” Scholes said. “They need to be at the table in developing a very specific, immediate, bold strategy that can be sustained.”

“We need an action strategy to change course here, and we need to move with a real sense of urgency,” he added.

Outside of safety concerns, there’s even more at stake for Seattle’s own booming economy. Scholes points out that if businesses continue to feel unsafe operating in downtown Seattle, there’s very little left to keep them from picking up stakes and skipping town.

“At the end of the day, they do not have to be here,” Scholes said. “They have choices within the region and around the country, and we have to do everything we can to keep them and attract others.”

Listen to the Gee and Ursula Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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