Seattle may need to "get its act together" on combating drug use and crime, but it needs help from downtown businesses and organizations, Mayor Ed Murray said Wednesday.
Seattle may need to improve how it combats drug use and crime downtown, but in order to “get its act together,” the city needs lobbying help from downtown businesses and organizations, Mayor Ed Murray said Wednesday.
“I read recently that Seattle has to get its act together,” Murray told hundreds of white-collar types who gathered at the Sheraton Hotel for the Downtown Seattle Association’s 2015 State of Downtown Economic Forum. “I hope what folks meant by that is that all of us in this room need to get our act together.”
The mayor was referring to a comment made last week by Tom Norwalk, president of the Visit Seattle tourism organization. “We’ve had meeting planners that have said unless Seattle gets its act together relative to the street scene, they may not come back,” Norwalk told KIRO-TV.
Murray acknowledged downtown’s persistent challenges Wednesday.
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“I get letters from folks who visit downtown and tell me they’re not going to come back downtown, and nine out of 10 times those letters deal with an incident where somebody is completely out of control, definitely as a result of mental illness or some kind of addiction,” he said.
The Seattle Police Department will launch a new approach to policing downtown “that will target those who are repeat offenders who are causing most of the problem,” Murray said.
But the mayor asked downtown interests to shoulder more responsibility, saying many tourists who write him letters hail from states “like Massachusetts or New York.”
“Massachusetts and New York actually pay for mental health treatment. We’re No. 47 in the nation in mental health beds that we provide,” Murray said, also arguing that some other King County cities aren’t pulling their weight with regard to homeless services.
“Many of you here belong to associations or businesses that have lobbyists,” the mayor told the crowd, which included representatives from companies such as JP Morgan Chase and CenturyLink.
“Those lobbyists could help us advocate for mental health resources at the state level; for additional resources for individuals who are homeless at the federal level. I need your help so Seattle can get its act together.”