The numbers in 2021 were particularly bad, but there is cautious optimism that some efforts being made to stop the violence may be working to some degree.
The DSA says since 2012, incidents of violent crime have increased by 60%. The association says violent crime has been nearly double 2017’s rate in the past two years.
In 2021, the DSA says there were 82 incidents of arson in downtown compared to six reported incidents in 2012. Similarly, the association says motor vehicle thefts increased by 35%, going from 681 in 2020 to 920 in 2021.
"We are going to do a lot of walking around," said Rigo Padilla. He was visiting Seattle Thursday with a group from Oregon and Idaho. "Just glad to be here. It’s a great day today."
They were planning to stop at Pike Place Market in their first trip since the pandemic.
"First big trip, and it’s starting to be a really good one actually," said Padilla.
The DSA wants visitors, residents and workers alike to feel safe returning to downtown.
That was one of the topics of discussion during a DSA panel Thursday with city and county leaders.
"I think you’ll find many corners of the city, where neighbors want to see a little more attention," said James Sido, Downtown Seattle Association.
In DSA's recent State of Downtown Economic Report, the numbers in 2021 showed that violent crime had gone up 18% in the past year and property crime was up 35% in downtown since 2020.
While there is still a long way to go to stop the trends, the DSA says the numbers appear to be improving over 2021.
"Just looking at the SPD numbers online, it would appear at least the West Precinct is trending to hit below those numbers, the previous year," said Sido.
According to that website, the DSA says the West Precinct, which includes downtown, has had 411 violent crimes so far in 2022 and more than 2,800 property crimes.
Sido says efforts to control crime by adding more law enforcement resources at 12th and Jackson and at 3rd and Pike and Pine have netted some improvements.
"Twelfth and Jackson, is it better today than it was three months ago? Absolutely, and I think you can say the same about 3rd and Pike and 3rd and Pine," said Sido. "I think if you go up and down 3rd Avenue right now, you’ll find people who say things are going in the right direction."
"It was really a focused effort to get rid of the open-air drug market that occurred at 12th and Jackson," said Leesa Manion, Chief of Staff, King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office.
Manion described "Operation New Day" and explained why it can serve as a model for changing the trends in other parts of the city.
"As a result of the investigation efforts that took place with our law enforcement friends, there were cases that were filed by US Attorney’s Office, King County Prosecutor’s Office and the Seattle City Attorney’s Office, said Manion. "That area looks vastly improved and the Seattle Police Department has done a good job of maintaining a presence there and the area still looks good. I think the thing that we can learn from that is the power of what happens when we all work together."
Manion went on to say that local leaders can, "provide that same coordination and focus in other parts of downtown."
Sido says improved communication between local leaders also seems to be making a difference. He says downtown foot traffic is going up along with hotel demand and the return of convention and cruise travel.
However, Sido says more resources will be needed to produce continued results.
"The issues that we are dealing with are fairly well entrenched and it’s not something that we can dig ourselves out of that hole overnight," said Sido.
He says there continues to be a large need for mental health and substance abuse resources. Sido says right now, the problem in those areas is outstripping the resources.
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