Public input

The Downtown Activation Plan and priorities are informed by the voices of residents, workers, businesses, community partners, and visitors. Before the plan launched in June 2023, we shared a draft of the plan with over 800 organizations, met with over 60 partner organizations, surveyed more than 140 community members, and engaged more than 110 people in Downtown neighborhood listening sessions.

In the months since the plan launched, our consulting partner Kinetic West engaged over 650 community members to understand how they’re experiencing Downtown, to make sure people continue to be heard, and to help us prioritize parts of the plan that will have the greatest impact for Seattleites. This feedback continues to shape how the City implements the Downtown Activation Plan.

”[I would like to see] a city full of live festivals, restaurants/bars. A city that is beautiful in the day and fun in the night.”

- 21, Female, Hispanic/Latina, Greenwood

“My ideal downtown Seattle would include more accessible public entertainment spaces for events and vendors, as well as more public seating.”

- 29, Female, Multiracial, Shoreline

“We need to think about resident’s needs as the foundation to building a resilient Downtown. We need grocery stores, pharmacies, family-friendly restaurants, schools, and all the basic amenities that are available in other neighborhoods.”

- Downtown Resident

“There should be more community centers. I want there to be spaces with a lot of people dancing, and resources for people to be well-connected.”

- Young Person

“We should have zoning changes that allow for more housing flexibility. We shouldn't have commercial-only or residential-only. This approach leads to a central district that is dead outside of working hours.”

- Downtown Worker

“First I would work on sustainable housing for our homeless neighbors. That would be the first thing to help Downtown Seattle.”

- 28, Female, White, Renton

“More pedestrian plazas where people can congregate like Occidental Square.”

- Downtown Worker

“Vibrant and inclusive, sustainable and green, creative and innovative, connected and integrated.”

- 41, Male, White, Belltown/Downtown

“I want to see more cultural expressions across Downtown. For example, Indigenous, Latinx, Canadian, Swedish cultures. We should have giant events like cultural day at school where you can dance, sing, and show art.”

- Young Person

“Better public transportation (more light rail all over), more safety, more dog parks.”

- 35, Female, White, Bellevue

“[Add] more business on 3rd Ave.”

- 60, Female, Black, Central District/Madrona

“A safe, clean and diverse area with good restaurants, lots of shopping, more museums/galleries and lots of greenery/plants.”

- 36, Male, White, Beacon Hill/Mount Baker

“[We need a] safe place for families for lots of things and to lower the prices. Lots of cafés, free parking lots, no drugs or homeless people. Lots of playgrounds for children to be safe.”

- 45, East Asian, Kent

“We need a sense of cohesion and a commitment to beauty.”

- Pioneer Square Business Owner

What’s Not Working?

When asked specifically what they dislike about their experience Downtown currently, respondents offered key concerns.

“Ongoing construction work area [is my least favorite part].”

- 75, Male, Black, Westlake

“We need more affordable parking. I don’t get parking so I have to pay, even the director doesn’t get parking.”

- Downtown Worker

“The fact you must pay for everything, parking, tolls, etc.”

- 31, Male, Multiracial, White Center

“There is no middle class Downtown anymore.”

- Downtown Resident

“I don't go to Seattle anymore because I don't feel safe enough to bring my children.”

- 39, Female, Middle Eastern, Glendale/Georgetown

“After dark, the city changes dramatically to vibes of fear and caution. I refuse to walk alone in Seattle at night. Homeless are more forceful and arguments and fights rise as it gets to the time the bars begin to close.”

- 44, Female, White, Kent

“We need more police presence, better police training, … and we need the police to have a stronger relationship with the community.”

- Downtown Worker

“We would like to see more family-friendly options – if we were going to raise a family we would have to move away.”

- Downtown Resident

“It is really difficult to find parking and it's enough to deter me from going.”

- 31, Female, Hispanic/Latina, Queen Anne

“It does smell like urine and there are a whole lot of places that smell bad – can we get more free and public bathrooms?”

- Youth in Focus Listening Session Participant

“The public perception is that Downtown is not safe for neighboring communities. People have apprehension about coming Downtown – which is creating a PR issue. Part of this is white flight group think, but there are legitimate safety concerns.”

- Belltown Resident

“Retail theft is still rampant. Adding to that, permitting timelines are lengthy and expensive and mean only expensive fancy places open up Downtown instead of true small businesses.”

- Downtown Worker

“I think that we could do a much better job of taking care of the homeless community in our area.”

- 28, Female, White, Renton/Maplewood

“Ongoing construction work area [is my least favorite part].”

- 75, Male, Black, Westlake

“We need more affordable parking. I don’t get parking so I have to pay, even the director doesn’t get parking.”

- Downtown Worker

“The fact you must pay for everything, parking, tolls, etc.”

- 31, Male, Multiracial, White Center

“There is no middle class Downtown anymore.”

- Downtown Resident

“I don't go to Seattle anymore because I don't feel safe enough to bring my children.”

- 39, Female, Middle Eastern, Glendale/Georgetown

“After dark, the city changes dramatically to vibes of fear and caution. I refuse to walk alone in Seattle at night. Homeless are more forceful and arguments and fights rise as it gets to the time the bars begin to close.”

- 44, Female, White, Kent

“We need more police presence, better police training, … and we need the police to have a stronger relationship with the community.”

- Downtown Worker

“We would like to see more family-friendly options – if we were going to raise a family we would have to move away.”

- Downtown Resident

“It is really difficult to find parking and it's enough to deter me from going.”

- 31, Female, Hispanic/Latina, Queen Anne

“It does smell like urine and there are a whole lot of places that smell bad – can we get more free and public bathrooms?”

- Youth in Focus Listening Session Participant

“The public perception is that Downtown is not safe for neighboring communities. People have apprehension about coming Downtown – which is creating a PR issue. Part of this is white flight group think, but there are legitimate safety concerns.”

- Belltown Resident

“Retail theft is still rampant. Adding to that, permitting timelines are lengthy and expensive and mean only expensive fancy places open up Downtown instead of true small businesses.”

- Downtown Worker

“I think that we could do a much better job of taking care of the homeless community in our area.”

- 28, Female, White, Renton/Maplewood

Who We Spoke to

A diverse and affordable Downtown that is literally accessible with improved parking, transit, and traffic conditions. Accessibility is a key theme residents reference when talking about how much time and resources they are willing to spend in Downtown. Seattle area residents emphasize the need for a more affordable Downtown, particularly for lower-income families while nearby King County residents reference parking, traffic and transit.

Residents of Seattle and
Nearby King County

Age

Race/Ethnicity

Gender

Parental Status

External engagement

From inception to implementation, the voice of community continues to inform the Downtown Activation Plan. We used a variety of engagement methods designed to gain meaningful, nuanced, and actionable feedback. See below for an overview of how we heard from the community.

Space Needle Thinking

In 1962, the Space Needle opened and provided, for the first time, widely accessible views of the region that drove Downtown progress. We hosted an event that invited the community to think boldly about a collective new vision for the future of Downtown.

Citywide pop-ups

We hosted pop-ups across the city – both Downtown and outside of it. These pop-ups helped us meet people where they were and learn from a broader sample of people.

Day in the Life

Using first-person cameras, we experienced Downtown through the eyes of two University of Washington students coming to Seattle for dinner, and a family with a young child as they traveled from their home in West Seattle to Seattle Center.

Youth engagement

We facilitated engagements through art, storytelling, and listening sessions with young Seattleites to better understand how youth experience Downtown today and what they want to see Downtown in the future.

Neighborhood listening sessions and focus groups

We organized listening sessions for specific Downtown neighborhood residents, workers, and business owners in Belltown, Chinatown-International District, and Pioneer Square. We held focus groups to provide structured opportunities for voices such as Downtown workers, residents, and ground-floor retailers.

Youth in Focus engagement
Youth Engagement
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Belltown listening session
Listening Session
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UW students travel Downtown
Day in the Life
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Engagement at the Space Needle
Space Needle Thinking
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West Seattle family
Day in the Life
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"Space Needle Thinking" in action
Space Needle Thinking
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Initial outreach

At the start of 2023, Avalanche Insights polled 761 Seattle-area residents to understand their ideal vision of what Downtown Seattle promises in terms of environment, experience, and opportunity. Seattle-area residents expressed a desire for a Downtown that is vibrant, beautiful, accessible, and safe.

Following the February 2023 poll of Seattleites, we worked to get broad feedback from the community and external partners across Downtown. In total, over 800 individuals were invited to review and provide feedback on the Downtown Activation Plan.

Share Your Feedback

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