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Making Progress Building One Seattle: 2023 Year in Review

Seattle – Today, Mayor Bruce Harrell released a summary report detailing his administration’s shared accomplishments in 2023 and laying the foundation for top priorities in 2024. Marking his second year in office, the report details

“From hosting the MLB All-Star Game to the return of beloved events like Bumbershoot and Bite of Seattle, this past year has been a truly exciting and transformative time for Seattle,” said Mayor Bruce Harrell. “Over the last two years we’ve built the systems, teams, relationships, and most importantly, the trust needed to change the direction of our city and make real, sustainable progress. Many of our toughest challenges cannot be solved overnight or with short-term fixes, but my team and I will continue to be relentless in our efforts to build the safe, equitable, and thriving One Seattle that we want to see in 2024.”

READ: Building One Seattle – Year Two – 2023

Building on his commitment to listen to all voices in our city, Mayor Harrell attended 285 community engagement events across Seattle last year, meeting directly with residents and neighbors to hear about their priorities. The mayor continued his effective working relationship with the City Council, passing 187 bills, confirming 8 department directors, and approving the 2024 budget which included record investments in affordable housing, wage increases for human service providers, and support for diversified emergency response options to improve public safety.

Additional highlights from Mayor Harrell’s second year in office include:

  • Urgent action on the fentanyl crisis: Mayor Harrell issued an Executive Order to address the opioid and synthetic drug crisis and prioritized a dual public health and public safety approach. These efforts included passing legislation to address the public consumption of drugs; making a $27 million investment toward innovative facilities and treatment programs to address addiction, and launching the Seattle Fire Department’s Health 99 post-overdose response team focused on connecting those suffering from opioid use disorders to treatment and care.
  • Advancing efforts to build a well-staffed police department: With the Comprehensive Police Recruitment and Retention Plan in place from Mayor Harrell’s first year in office, the Seattle Police Department is averaging nearly 200 applicants per month by the end of 2023 – the highest rate in over two years.
  • Launching a third public safety department: Mayor Harrell launched the Community Assisted Response and Engagement (CARE) department’s dual dispatch pilot which consists of qualified behavioral health specialists that will provide assistance and care to people experiencing mental and behavioral health crises.
  • Record investments in affordable housing: Proposed by Mayor Harrell, the $970M Housing Levy to address Seattle’s growing affordable housing needs was overwhelmingly passed by voters in the November election. Mayor Harrell also announced new legislation supporting efforts to increase production of affordable housing by streamlining the design review process and decreasing the amount of time to complete new housing projects.
  • Activating downtown: In June, Mayor Harrell announced details of Seattle’s comprehensive Downtown Activation Plan – a bold and ambitious roadmap to revitalize and transform Downtown Seattle now and for the future. Mayor Harrell signed a slate of newly adopted legislation supporting the City’s Downtown Activation Plan including zoning changes, promoting street use activations by waiving fees and permit costs, and strengthening public-private partnerships with Downtown businesses and organizations.
  • Making streets safer: Advancing Vision Zero goals to end traffic deaths and injuries, Seattle received a $25 million federal grant to fund new traffic safety projects in historically underserved neighborhoods and help ensure people – especially those walking, rolling, and biking – can travel safely around the city.
  • Support for small businesses: Mayor Harrell launched the Liberty Project, a new business growth program that aims to accelerate revenue growth and expand opportunity for businesses owned by underrepresented communities in Seattle. He also signed a new Executive Order to expand procurement and contracting opportunities with women and minority-owned businesses.
  • Ambitious climate action: In one of the most ambitious efforts to reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions, Mayor Harrell proposed a new Building Emissions Performance Standard (BEPS) policy to reduce emissions from large buildings by 27% by 2050.
  • New job and housing opportunities: Working with a coalition of labor, housing, and business partners, and the Port of Seattle, Mayor Harrell proposed an innovative Industrial and Maritime Strategy that was unanimously approved and signed into law in July. The law is expected to create 35,000 new jobs and 3,000 new homes over the next 20 years.
  • Tree canopy protections: Mayor Harrell proposed new legislation to strengthen the City’s Tree Ordinance to safeguard 157,000 more trees and signed an Executive Order that requires three trees be planted for every tree removed on City-owned land. Seattle also received a $12.9 million grant from the U.S. Forest Service to plant and maintain trees and support pathways to green careers for young people.
  • Youth investments for a bright future: Mayor Harrell announced the expansion of the Seattle Preschool Program to 89 sites citywide, including 28 dual language classrooms. He also helped launch Swim Seattle, a new pilot program to ensure every child has access to affordable swim lessons. To address the youth mental health crisis, Mayor Harrell also launched Reach Out Seattle, an initiative focused on prevention and early intervention of youth mental health challenges.
  • Day of Service: Mayor Harrell, local leaders, and nearly 4,000 volunteers joined together for the second annual One Seattle Day of Service on May 20 to give back with volunteer opportunities in every neighborhood and make the city a more beautiful place.

These accomplishments lay the foundations for Mayor Harrell’s priorities in 2024, which include improving long-term public safety with law enforcement, community-driven solutions, and new innovative technology; helping people experiencing homelessness access shelter, housing, and supportive services; building a sustainable city with a safe transportation system for everyone, no matter how they get around; and creating an equitable and vibrant economy that uplifts Seattle’s small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Read the full year end report here.