KTTH OPINION

Rantz: Seattle cleans up the city for MLB All-Star Week, not for us

Jul 5, 2023, 7:28 PM | Updated: Jul 6, 2023, 10:17 am

seattle mariners clean up...

On 3rd Avenue South and South Holgate Street in the shadow of T-Mobile Park where the Seattle Mariners play baseball, homeless people are living in RVs and tents along a two block stretch in Seattle, Washington Friday July 22, 2022. (Melina Mara/Getty Images)

(Melina Mara/Getty Images)

The Seattle neighborhoods of Downtown, SODO, and Pioneer Square are finally getting cleaned up. Too bad the city cares more about Major League Baseball’s All-Star Week than it does about taxpayers. And it’s not all good news.

Suddenly, the area is looking livable and business-friendly again. The homeless are being cleared, sidewalks are being cleaned, RVs are being moved, and art is popping up to beautify the neighborhoods. The criminal element is being displaced, as well. The city is looking the way it should look in a city that cares about its residents.

But the sudden interest in revitalizing Seattle has little to do with demands from taxpayers and visitors. And it’s insulting.

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Creating a new Seattle for the MLB All-Star Week

Mayor Bruce Harrell ordered the escalation of clean-ups in Seattle because the city will be under a spotlight for MLB All-Star Week from July 7-11.

The administration is careful not to put in writing any evidence that the sole reason for the clean-ups is the All-Star Week. But the city is actively cleaning up SODO, Pioneer Square, and downtown this week. While they have been discreetly removing encampments in SODO for months, there has been a clear increase.

“Do we see an increase? I think we have to,” Erin Goodman, SODO Business Improvement Area executive director tells the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “We have, you know, tens of thousands of people coming into an area that normally does not have a lot of pedestrians, so we need to make sure that those areas are safe for people to walk in.”

SODO, in particular, suffers from high rates of criminal homelessness and rampant drug use, including those who use RVs as a cover for their criminal activity.

Escalating the encampment sweeps

Ahead of the weekend activities, homeless people in SODO were ordered by the city to clear out if they were unwilling to accept the shelter being offered.

“They’re telling us we need to be out of here by Wednesday morning,” a homeless man in an RV near T-Mobile Park told KOMO News. “I have no idea where I’m going to go, (probably) as far as my gas tank will take me.”

There’s also been resistance from the Radical Left to help this man stay put.

Anti-sweep activists are working with homeless RV dwellers to keep broken-down, dangerous vehicles parked in SODO for the game. According to a flyer the homeless man received, the activists are telling homeless RV owners to bring their vehicles to the area ahead of the game.

The flyer, shared with the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH and first reported by KOMO, is titled, “Let’s f*** their day up.”

“They’ve been pushing us around for months hoping to clear us out sight for the for the MLB all-star game on July 11 – Let’s make sure their work was for nothing!” the flyer reads.

“Just imagine: When the tailgaters and rich (expletive) show up for the big game, they’re going to find exactly what the city worked so hard to prevent: us!” the flyer continues.

There’s a number on the flyer to reach someone named Chanel, but when I called it, no one picked up, and the mailbox was full. It’s unclear how many activists are working on this effort. Several anti-sweep activists interrupted a recent speech about downtown revitalization by Mayor Harrell, demanding he stop sweeps.

Where is Sound Transit?

While the city of Seattle is working overtime to clean up the core of downtown, Sound Transit isn’t doing its part yet.

Sound Transit light rail is still occupied by homeless addicts who are passed out. While the transit agency has increased security personnel, I’ve seen them walk right past the homeless addicts rendering the staff human props to signal the agency takes the issue seriously without having to actually do anything.

Westlake Station, which is likely where MLB All-Star tourists will use to travel from and to the airport, is still a mess. Escalators are broken, with at least one main entrance off 3rd Avenue and Pine Street occupied by addicts openly using. It still smells of urine. Sound Transit may be waiting until closer to game time to feign interest in tackling the ongoing crisis.

Positive development, but a slap in the face

While we should be pleased that any work is being done, we should also be insulted that it takes major events to push the city into more significant action.

It’s certainly true that the mayor has increased sweeps, particularly in SODO. Downtown looks much better than it used to, although prior to this month, the progress was clearly reversing with more homeless addicts commandeering sidewalks.

But why is it that we need MLB All-Star Week to push city leaders to turn this city into what it should be and to make it livable and walkable, clean and safe? The same was true of President Joe Biden’s 2022 visit when, finally, the city cleared tents in downtown and South Lake Union. It’s insulting to care more about MLB and Biden than about the people who live and work here.

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It’s all politics

But outside of these events, there has been little sustained urgency under Harrell. Like former Mayor Jenny Durkan, Harrell doesn’t want to upset progressive activists, so he tries to make minimal change without the spotlight.

“There’s a desire to please both sides coming out of the mayor’s office that will never work. You can’t appease the people who elected you and try to get the other 33% or 43% on board,” an insider, who asked to remain anonymous, told me.

That’s political cowardice and a bad strategy. Seattle’s vocal activists will never be happy unless you do as they say. But their policies and strategies created the mess to begin with. Who cares what they think? Harrell won his election on a promise to tackle the crises with urgency, not by tiptoeing around the perpetually angry activists.

Harrell using the MLB All-Star Week as the impetus for urgent clean-ups would be less of a slap in the face if he sustains the efforts once the league and tourists lead. It’s unclear if Harrell has the political courage to do so.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show on weekday afternoons from 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). He is the author of the book What’s Killing America: Inside the Radical Left’s Tragic Destruction of Our CitiesSubscribe to the podcast. Follow @JasonRantz on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook. Check back frequently for more news and analysis.

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Rantz: Seattle cleans up the city for MLB All-Star Week, not for us