KTTH OPINION

Rantz: Seattle Lululemon latest closure as downtown struggles to recover from Democrat policies

Apr 10, 2024, 5:55 PM | Updated: Apr 11, 2024, 9:06 am

Seattle Lululemon...

An ambulance and police cars arrive at the intersection of Third Avenue and Pine Street in downtown Seattle. (Photo: Jason Rantz, KTTH)

(Photo: Jason Rantz, KTTH)

The downtown Seattle locations of Lululemon and Fox’s Jewelry are closing, more victims of the Democrat-caused crime crisis.

Lululemon did not explain the closure. Anecdotally, it was directly and indirectly tied to the general deterioration of downtown Seattle. The petty crimes and homelessness made Pacific Place, where it was located, a ghost town. Fox’s decision was driven, in part, by the same thing: Because of what downtown Seattle has become, they were seeing less walk-in traffic.

When the majority of people who are in downtown Seattle are drug-addicted homeless and antisemitic 20-somethings marching for Hamas once a week, it’s not a great sign. Despite the grim reality, the Democrat politicians and activists responsible will continue to claim Seattle is thriving.

How is downtown Seattle crime stopping a recovery? What does it say about Seattle Lululemon closure?

Downtown Seattle has struggled to recover from an explosion of crime and open-air drug use fueling the homelessness crisis. These issues worsened during COVID-19 as Democrat lawmakers took advantage of the pandemic to dramatically transform the criminal justice system.

Police were defunded, demoralized and smeared, leaving the department with the lowest total staffing since at least 1957. With just a handful of the 424 patrol officers assigned to the precinct covering downtown, it’s impossible to truly get the area under control via proactive, community policing.

And when police make arrests, most of the time the criminal suspect isn’t booked into jail. King County jails are still operating under COVID protocols, in part due to its own staffing crisis. But the president of the King County Corrections Guild said staffing solutions are intentionally being ignored, in order to reach King County Executive Dow Constantine’s goal of abolishing jails.

Downtown Seattle homelessness still a major issue

After years of what amounted to legalized drug use, and a system that still won’t punish drug addicts who need the threat of (or actual) jail time to change, walking downtown is both depressing and dangerous. Why would anyone go to the Seattle Lululemon shop?

The corner of Third Avenue and Pine Street, which many tourists and downtown employees walk through, is a mess. It’s crowded with drug-addicted, mentally ill homeless people slowly dying before our very eyes.

Some wander around like zombies, others are slumped over as if they’re dead from the fentanyl they just smoked. At any moment, they could turn violent. In February, for example, a man walking his dog was stabbed in the head by one of the men hanging out at the corner.

The downtown light rail entrances and exits on Pine are occupied by drug users. Like light rail itself, it’s not very welcoming or safe.

Of course, homelessness-related crime still hurts businesses. These people aren’t working; they’re shoplifting and selling their stolen goods so they can buy $1 fentanyl pills.

Democrats pretend Seattle is thriving

Despite the reality, politicians and activists pretend all is well.

Last year, well-intentioned downtown revival hopefuls and bad-faith journalists used the opening of one business, Ben Bridge Jewelers, to claim downtown recovery is here! The Seattle Times offered an unnecessarily long feature story with the store’s CEO speaking poetically about jewelry.

The reporter told us that CEO “Lisa Bridge said she wanted to bring pieces of Ben Bridge history to the flagship store.” KING 5 framed the story around how downtown “feels safe,” quoting one person who happened to be walking by when they were filming. This wasn’t journalism. These were press releases.

Downtown is certainly better than it was between 2020 and 2023. Unfortunately, you can see it quickly reverting back to the hellscape it became. It’s why too many downtown businesses still allow their employees to work remotely. And Amazon is still expanding its footprint in Bellevue. This makes downtown continue to look so desolate (luckily for downtown, more Amazon employees are at least coming to their downtown offices, but it’s hard to justify venturing far from their South Lake Union headquarters, which has returned to near normal).

Meanwhile, the vacancy rate in downtown continues. A report from The Puget Sound Business Journal, citing Colliers and Kidder Mathews, said the Q4 2023 vacancy rate in downtown was between 22.5% and 23.9%. Without people walking around, downtown becomes dead and it only invites homeless addicts who will soon be literally dead due to city and activist inaction. This hurts businesses, which end up closing, extending the cycle of downtown despair. Why would another shop jump to fill the Seattle Lululemon retail space?

Are there reasons to have hope for downtown after Seattle Lululemon closure?

Folks less cynical could continue to keep hope alive for downtown Seattle recovery, even after the Seattle Lululemon closure.

The new Seattle city council is certainly using the right rhetoric when it comes to recovery. Under the leadership of Council President Sara Nelson, the council seems decidedly pro-police and pro-business. But how members vote in the long term will be more telling than the speeches they’re giving. How they handle a new Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG) contract will help set the stage for what the future looks like in Seattle.

Seattle city attorney Ann Davison has also been leading the charge to actually prosecute. But she still must deal with activist judges and a depleted police force that can’t bring her the cases they would like to bring.

The cruise season also just started. We’ll have more people downtown, and perhaps that can spark some life, though they have dwindling shopping options now. Unfortunately, the start of the season was mired by lunatics in costumes protesting … everything (climate, racism, police, their listless lives, etc.). Hopefully, their activism will subside so tourists can at least try to enjoy our city.

Still, downtown is in need of some urgent attention but Mayor Bruce Harrell has been reluctant. He can’t really lead the city the way it needs to be led. Harrell has a crippling fear that activists will threaten his political future. He’s pursuing housing downtown, which will not attract many and take long to build. He should focus on making the environment more supportive of business. Plus, there are too many city staffers who identify more with activists than the average resident, who stymie downtown progress.

We could see a thriving downtown, we just need to have leaders who actually want it to come back. And they won’t even admit we have a serious problem.

Listen to The Jason Rantz Show on weekday afternoons from 3-7 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow Jason on X, formerly known as TwitterInstagram and Facebook.

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Rantz: Seattle Lululemon latest closure as downtown struggles to recover from Democrat policies