Rantz: Businesses ditch downtown Seattle over crime, council attacks on cops
Businesses are closing in the downtown Seattle area over ongoing concerns about crime and the attacks against police by the Seattle City Council. These departures come as well over 100 businesses have permanently shut down, citing the coronavirus pandemic and consistent problems with the city’s management of issues plaguing the area.
Two local companies recently announced they’re ditching their downtown-area locations: Steepologie Tea and Seattle E-bike. Both of these businesses directly cite the council’s inability (or unwillingness) to address long-simmering concerns.
Another business, Simply Seattle, announced it’s closing its doors and doesn’t know when they will re-open. They’re sick of being a “constant target” for crime.
Seattle businesses close over ongoing concerns
Andrea and Joe Raetzer of Steepologie Teas have long expressed concern over the area’s escalating crime. And when they learned the Seattle City Council was going to defund the Seattle Police Department, cutting up to 100 officers, they decided enough was enough. They are leaving their downtown location.
“This hurts, but it was absolutely necessary to take a stand and say we can no longer be put at risk nor can our team members,” Andrea told the Daily Caller.
Andrea says she’s had nonstop issues with homeless, mentally ill, or violent addicts harassing employees and staffers. She says her daughter was “brutally assaulted” by one man.
“We are not alone,” Andrea says of their anger and disgust with the city.
She’s correct. Last week, Seattle E-Bike owner Brian Nordwall told KOMO he was leaving his Pioneer Square location for West Seattle due to violence.
“It’s open season on pretty much everybody,” Nordwall told KOMO. “It was getting grimmer and grimmer and grimmer.”
Pandemic makes situation worse
It’s not just anger about the crime and homelessness making it hard to operate in Seattle. Businesses are already struggling with the coronavirus pandemic.
According to data from the Downtown Seattle Association, at least 130 Seattle businesses have permanently closed. They estimate that about 47,000 jobs were lost in the first half of the year downtown.
The problem gets worse when you add crime to the mix.
Telling KING 5 it’s “a constant target” of brazen shoplifting, Simply Seattle owner Jamie Munson said between the crime and the pandemic, he had to close the doors to his Pioneer Square business.
“A string of break-ins, bricks through our windows, people coming in just in broad daylight with big groups, taking armloads of gear,” Munson told KING 5. “Hard to operate and keep our staff safe at the same time.”
No plan from the council
The Seattle City Council has no plan to address these problems. Indeed, they didn’t happen overnight. They didn’t worsen over the course of just a few months either. The crime and homelessness have been trending upward in this area of Seattle for years. And rather than offer more resources to the SPD to address the problems, they voted to cut 100 officers from the force, including the team that works directly with the homeless. When criminal activists march around the area, targeting businesses with vandalism and arson, the council says nothing, though they invite those rioters to the table for discussions on policing.
Finally, businesses are saying they’re done risking the safety of their employees and customers by doing business in the downtown area.
If the council doesn’t want to take them seriously, they’ll leave the area. And a city with a weakened core, rife with criminality and void of business, what kind of “world class city” is Seattle?
Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow @JasonRantz on Twitter and Instagram or like me on Facebook.