Third Avenue is a major thoroughfare, cutting through Downtown Seattle’s core and taking commuters to work and tourists to Seattle landmarks such as Pike Place Market and the Seattle Art Museum.
According to the city of Seattle, King County and the Downtown Seattle Association (DSA), Third Avenue is unsafe and unsightly. The groups entered into a memorandum of agreement (MOU) Dec. 11 to clean it up and make it safer. It cites crowded sidewalks, poor design and criminal activity as among the area’s faults.
As part of the agreement, city staff will pressure wash the five busiest bus stops along Third Avenue every two days and increase garbage pickups to avoid overflowing trashcans.
The county and city are also considering putting paid advertisements on bus stop structures to generate revenue.
The transit elements of the effort will be funded by a $9.4 million federal grant the city and county received earlier this year to improve public transit in the area.
As for making the street safer, the MOU noted that a number of people who are homeless or have a mental illness or chemical dependency travel in the area but offered few new solutions to help them reach services.
DSA, which represents the interests of downtown businesses, has agreed to address the people along Third Avenue who are homeless, have a mental illness or are chemically dependent. The organization says it is going to use its Metropolitan Improvement District (MID) ambassadors to outreach to people and connect them to services. In October hired a mental health professional who works at Union Gospel Mission to help.
More than 60 MID ambassadors patrol Pioneer Square, the waterfront, Denny Triangle and the commercial and business districts every day. Civilians in yellow jackets, they patrol downtown on bicycles, helping clean the area and often directing people to shops and businesses.
James Sido, a spokesperson for DSA, said that in the past year, ambassadors made 4,000 outreach efforts, although many of those involved the same person and some of the outreach consisted of a short conversation.
“They’re not trained mental health professionals, but they can help people get the attention that they need,” Sido said.