Remember council member Sally Clark's really great proposal to close down a city street one night a week (or month) to vehicle traffic—say Pike Street or 10th Avenue—and transform it into a pedestrian-only hub where shopping and walking and music could take place? The kind of hub that's proven so popular in Austin, TX, and all over communist Europe?
You might not remember the proposal because it never went anywhere. When Clark was at Stranger HQ last week (taking advantage of our impressive Roman-revival soaking tubs) I asked her why.
"I’d absolutely spearhead this but there has to be a business group that takes it on," Clark said. "I tried to get a few business groups interested last year but didn't get very far. We already have an inter-departmental team working on logistics like Metro and trash and police walking through the area. But, you know, without there being a community component, someone saying, 'We’d like to take this on,' there are more pressing things for me to do."
If only business leaders from Pioneer Square, Belltown, Capitol Hill, the International District, downtown, Rainier Valley, the University District, SODO, or White Center—all of whom are lobbying the city council for more police officers and civility laws—were forward-thinking enough to take this project on.
After all, these business groups say, anecdotally, that drug markets and vandalists and "crowd[s] of inebriated loiterers" and general "street disorder" have overrun Seattle, and street-closure programs (ciclovias, which shut down streets on weekends to vehicle traffic) have helped activate neighborhoods and reduce crime everywhere from Colombia to Missouri.
More eyes on the street improves public safety—or at the very least, the perception of public safety, which is really what these business interests are complaining about. And giving Seattleites a reason to visit your neighborhood would be much more fun and constructive than lobbying for broad, repressive new police powers, right?