Donald Trump. Brexit. Syria. For many of us, this was the worst year ever. There were terror attacks, countless tragedies, police shootings and natural disasters. You name it, and it probably happened in 2016.
But when you try to find the bad things that happened in Seattle, they don’t really compare. It’s a lot harder to dig up truly terrible things we did locally, that impacted us locally for the worse. There are a few though, listed below.
In light of the fact Seattle is a bit of a safe haven in a world of craziness, instead of listing the “worst” things that happened in Seattle (that seems like a dramatization), I present you with a few of the not-so-great things to happen locally this year.
Sexist backlash against Seattle City Councilwomen. I’ll begin with something that was pretty horrifying, not to mention embarrassing, for both Seattle and the Puget Sound region. After the Seattle City Council denied the vacation of Occidental Avenue in SODO for a new NBA/NHL arena, local sports fans went wild (and not in a good way). As it happened, five “nay” votes were cast by women and four “aye” votes by men. So naturally, sexist mail came streaming in attacking the city councilwomen. They were called c*nts, b*tches, who*es and one man even wrote “As women I understand that you spend a lot of your time trying to please others (mostly on your knees) but I can only hope that you each find ways to quickly and painfully end yourselves.” It eventually garnered national attention and the councilwomen were featured on Samantha Bee’s show Full Frontal. This is 2016, right?
Bertha created a sinkhole. It wouldn’t be a list of not-so-great things without mentioning Bertha! The year started off bad for the tunnel machine when on Jan. 13 a 35-foot wide and 15-foot deep sinkhole opened up on Seattle’s waterfront. Head of contracting group Seattle Tunnel Partners (STP) Chris Dixon said it wasn’t a big deal, but then Gov. Jay Inslee ordered a work stoppage on the tunnel project. Crosscut’s David Kroman dug a little deeper into why it happened, and Samantha Larson looked at the history of Seattle’s sinkholes. On the bright side, Bertha made it through downtown Seattle without a hitch and is in the eighth of 10 zones that make up the 2-mile tunnel.
Ed Murray’s temper tantrum. Crosscut and other media outlets got ahold of texts that showed the Seattle mayor threatened to cut homeless services if he didn't get his way. It all began when the mayor announced a plan to sweep the East Duwamish Greenbelt, a.k.a the Jungle, which is home to hundreds of homeless people (The 2016 homeless crisis deserved its own post and can be read here). Councilmember Sally Bagshaw didn’t agree and began writing a resolution that wouldn’t relocate homeless people on a deadline, and would provide other alternatives. The mayor got mad and started shooting off angry texts to Bagshaw while on his trip in China. At one point, he wrote, “If you do resolution (sic) on homelessness restricting our ability to deal with the rapes and other violent crime and the bike chop shops down there in the jungle I will stop all clean ups (sic) throughout the City and pull police off enforcement.” Mayor Murray is infamous for his temper at this point. For now, everything’s still up in the air on the issue — proposals eventually came from Murray, Bagshaw and advocacy groups — but 2017 should be interesting, as the mayor is up for re-election.
A mentally-ill man stayed in a tree downtown for 25 hours. Did you forget? I almost did. It made national news, and Seattle resident Cody Miller became known on Twitter as #ManinTree after it went viral. Local media outlets like KOMO lauded themselves, saying their “live stream of the entire event had tens of thousands across the Northwest and the world riveted to their computer and phone screens as the drama unfolded.” It was basically just video of a man sitting in a tree, sometimes yelling, other times throwing pine cones, but mostly just sitting and being exploited on a slow news day. Some people laughed and others were entertained and intrigued. Then KUOW did an interview with Miller’s mother, and she revealed he had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Just like that, he wasn’t a punchline anymore.
Seattle officially became too expensive. Between August 2015 and August 2016, rent in Seattle rose 9.7 percent, about four times faster than the national average. Zillow data showed that in 2012, median monthly rent for Seattle was $1,575 . By June 2016 it soared to $2,031. What's worse? In October, Zillow forecasted that the increase will continue and Seattle will remain No. 1. A bit of silver lining: The increase will taper off to 7.2 percent. You can read more and try to understand the high-rise boom here, but it still sucks if you aren’t earning a big paycheck.
Many great Seattle institutions are closing due to development and gentrification. Red Apple Grocery. Shanty Café. Sazerac. Hula Hula. Tini Biggs. Old Spaghetti Factory. Stumbling Goat Bistro. Louisa's. The Barbeque Pit. And many more.
I likely forgot a few Seattle institutions (or terrible things that happened this year) so email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if I missed something.