Newsletter | October 7, 2022
Mayor Harrell Appoints Diaz

Mayor Bruce Harrell appointed Interim Chief Adrian Diaz as Seattle’s new Police Chief. Selected from the list of three final candidates, Chief Diaz has filled the Interim Chief role since Chief Carmen Best’s retirement in 2020. The final step is a confirmation vote by the City Council.

In making the announcement, Mayor Harrell cited the chemistry he has with Chief Diaz, recalling the experience of the two of them meeting the young daughter of a Somali man who was shot to death downtown on September 11.

“It’s what I call chemistry, and it’s something you can’t teach and you can’t fake, and it’s right here,” Harrell said, touching his chest. “I think Chief Diaz has that right here. He’s a person I’ve known since he was a sergeant working in the community, a person who will make bold decisions – unpopular decisions – but the right thing to do. A person I know who when he looked at this little Somali daughter’s face, I know it hit him as hard as it hit me, that our job is to protect her father.” — The Seattle Times, September 20, 2022.

In his remarks, Chief Diaz committed to focus on reducing violent crime, eliminating the staffing shortfall at SPD, and improving morale in the department. He first joined SPD in 1997 and has worked in numerous roles before being named an Assistant Chief in 2017.

WR commends Mayor Harrell for appointing Chief Diaz, who has demonstrated his commitment to learning about and addressing Seattle retailers’ concerns. Chief Diaz has met with the WR board twice over the past several years to hear firsthand about the public safety and organized retail crime problems confronting our members in Seattle.

WR President & CEO of Washington Retail, Renée Sunde, praised Mayor Harrell’s choice, saying, “This appointment is well-deserved. Chief Diaz has proven his commitment to addressing the issues that matter most to retailers and residents of Seattle. We look forward to continuing to work closely with him on these issues.”

Photo courtesy of Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times
City Council confirms Mayor’s choice for Director of Seattle Transportation Department

On September 13, the Seattle City Council confirmed Greg Spotts to serve as the Director of the Seattle Department of Transportation. Mayor Bruce Harrell appointed Spotts as Director on July 27. Before taking on this SDOT role, Spotts was the Executive Officer and Chief Sustainability Officer at the Los Angeles Bureau of Street Services. 

Mayor Harrell declared that Seattle “deserves a transportation system that is safe, reliable, and equitable. . . . Greg understands that we must embed safety across all projects, view every decision through a climate lens, and build a transportation system centered on equity, quality infrastructure, and multi-modal solutions.” Spotts began serving as interim Director in early September.

Photo courtesy of Seattle Department of Transportation. Courtesy KUOW.org
Mayor Harrell releases his first biennial budget

On September 27, Mayor Bruce Harrell released his first two-year budget with a speech delivered in front of the City’s Vehicle Maintenance Facility. The Mayor addressed how he would close the projected $140 million deficit and pledged to get the basics right in delivering essential city services.

Mayor Harrell explained that the guiding principle in the development of the budget “is how best to meet the urgent needs of our communities and empower our employees to deliver essential services. I’m proud to say that we’re able to propose a budget that sustains the high-quality City services our residents expect, protects critical staffing, and makes smart funding decisions to address community priorities, including safety, homelessness, access to opportunity, and more.” 

The Mayor’s budget devotes more than $740 million (almost half of the $1.6 million general fund) to public safety. The proposed budget increases the Seattle Police Department budget by $20 million to $375 million. Much of that increase comes from the transfer of Parking Enforcement back to SPD, which was transferred to the Transportation Department in 2020.

The Mayor also called for providing $10 million to the King County Regional Homelessness Authority. While this represents 13% in city support, it falls well below the $90 million that the Authority requested from the City and County.

Here are links to the Budget Summary and the Full Budget.
 
Photo courtesy of City of Seattle
City seeks to bring new vitality to Downtown’s Third Avenue

Long known for its traffic – in both buses and drugs – Third Avenue will now be an area of focus for the City Council. The goal is to transform the street from one marked by empty storefronts and a “wall of buses” to one that feels inviting to visitors and residents.

As Councilmember Andrew Lewis, whose council district includes downtown, stated, “Third Avenue should be treated as the front door to the city” Lewis continued, “It’s the first thing you see … We aren’t setting a good impression as a city.”

This “transformation” planning is expected to take a long time to complete. On September 20, the Council passed a nonbinding resolution endorsing the Downtown Seattle Association’s 2019 “vision” for Third Avenue. The myriad of problems flowing from the Covid pandemic forced the City to put the Third Avenue transformation aside for a few years.

Photo courtesy of Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times
While Seattle grows wealthier, the area’s housing market begins cooling

Seattle’s median annual income grew to $110,800, well ahead of the nation’s median household income of $69,700. Among the 50 U.S. cities with the largest populations, Seattle now ranks third behind two other tech giants, San Jose and San Francisco.

Despite the strong median income, the Seattle area is also seeing its housing market cool dramatically. In fact, the Seattle area’s housing market is cooling faster than any housing market in the U.S, according to Redfin.

August saw a 27% drop in pending sales, and the median home cost dropped by 10% from May to August.

Photo courtesy of Daniel Kim / The Seattle Times
WR diversity statement

WR is committed to the principles of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. We strive to create a safe, welcoming environment in which these principles can thrive.

We value all people regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, identity, sexual orientation, nationality, or disability, and that is the foundation of our commitment to those we serve. 
Washington Retail Staff