Council passes Downtown Seattle ‘ambassadors’ renewal

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The Seattle City Council has passed the Downtown Seattle Metropolitan Improvement District renewal, which is anticipated to collect $18.3 million next year for services intended to improve the area.

The district’s ratepayers will see the total property tax levy rate stay at 37 cents per $1,000 assessed value. However, the additional assessment ceiling of a property's land and building dimensions will increase.

The additional land square feet ceiling increases to 45 cents per square foot and a property's additional building square foot ceiling increases to 24 cents. As a result of the boost in ceiling rates, the 10-year Metropolitan Improvement District renewal will collect nearly $3 million more from downtown property owners than in the current fiscal year.

Ratepayers include commercial and residential property owners within the Metropolitan Improvement District. Its boundaries will now expand into Downtown Seattle’s neighboring Pioneer Square District.

Government-owned properties do not currently pay into the district.

The district is managed by the Downtown Seattle Association, with employees, also known as “ambassadors,” tasked with services such as daily cleaning of downtown streets and sidewalks. The district also allocates its budget towards daily private security patrols within the Metropolitan Improvement District’s 285 square blocks, interactions with Downtown Seattle’s homeless populations and marketing of the downtown area.

Seattle City Councilmember Sara Nelson mentioned in a City Council meeting on May 2 that the Metropolitan Improvement District ambassadors also started to carry Narcan with them last summer. Since then, they have administered the narcotic overdose treatment 130 times within the area, Nelson said.

The renewal passed unanimously without pushback from the City Council. District 7 Seattle City Councilmember Andrew Lewis spoke of the program’s importance to Downtown Seattle’s recovery.

“There is no downtown recovery without the renewal of the [Metropolitan Improvement District] and there is no Seattle recovery without the recovery of downtown,” Lewis said at the Seattle City Council meeting on May 2.

Nelson added in a statement following the renewal being passed that without the Metropolitan Improvement District, "there’d be no free summer concerts, no lights in the trees during the holidays, and so many other services and programs that help our businesses thrive and make downtown such a vibrant place to live, work and visit.”

The renewal needs a signature by Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell before it goes into effect.