Ross: People moving downtown could make the commute easier

Dec 20, 2022, 7:51 AM | Updated: Dec 21, 2022, 2:21 pm
downtown seattle safe office...
(Photo by Bohemian Nomad Picturemakers/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
(Photo by Bohemian Nomad Picturemakers/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

There are still a lot of empty offices in Seattle. But it’s not just Seattle, it’s across the country: San Francisco, Philadelphia – even Manhattan – where the office vacancy rate is 22%, more than twice the rate in Seattle.

And it’s bad enough that New York is seriously considering “re-thinking” Manhattan.

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Mayor Eric Adams wants to reimagine Fifth Avenue as a pedestrian mall. The idea is to attract people back downtown – not just to work, but to live.

And to make downtown living more affordable – New York has been reclaiming underused office buildings.

Which makes a lot of sense to me.

The pandemic got a lot of office workers hooked on the commute-free life. So if companies really want workers physically back at the office, they need to eliminate the commute!

So why not pay them to live downtown? In snazzy state-of-the-art remodeled office buildings?

If your home is just a few blocks from your office – or even in the same building – it’s a lot easier to show up in person.

And when the computer acts up – as it will – the IT guy is right there to fix it. Plus there’s a cleaning service to tidy up, you can concentrate on your job instead of the distractions of being at home – and you get a change of scene.

Your work life and home life would still be separate – just not by 20 miles.

You can easily walk home for a midday nap, or enjoy a nightcap after work without needing a $50 Uber.

And at the same time, you’re saving the Earth, because you’re not driving in circles every day. With less freeway traffic, we wouldn’t have to spend billions to turn freeways into runways. And no more stress from tailgaters sniffing your car’s genitals, or BMW’s practicing for Daytona.

You’d finally see non-athletes in the bike lanes. Businesses would return, everyone would feel safer, and snow would be somebody else’s problem.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Ross: People moving downtown could make the commute easier