Aerial view of neighborhoods in the 3rd City Council District
An aerial view of neighborhoods in Seattle's 3rd City Council District, photographed in July of 2020 (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

To hear right wing media tell it, res­i­den­tial neigh­bor­hoods in the heart of pro­gres­sive Seat­tle are crime-infest­ed night­mares that are unsafe to be in. But the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute’s lat­est local poll, which field­ed last week, has found that more than three in five like­ly vot­ers in Seat­tle Dis­trict #3, which includes Capi­tol Hill, report that they feel safe in their neigh­bor­hood community.

Respon­dents were giv­en the abil­i­ty to rate their feel­ing of safe­ty, or lack there­of, on a scale of zero to ten, with zero equat­ing to feel­ing not safe at all and ten equiv­a­lent to feel­ing very safe. 64% of our respon­dents picked 6, 7, 8, 9, or 10 on the scale. 14% picked 5, and 22% picked 0, 1, 2, 3, or 4.

We think this is a com­pelling bit of data that emphat­i­cal­ly con­tra­dicts the pub­lic safe­ty nar­ra­tive that right wing Repub­li­cans have been try­ing to ped­dle about Seat­tle in recent years. They speak of Capi­tol Hill as a nexus of left wing law­less­ness. The real­i­ty is that we face pub­lic safe­ty chal­lenges in big cities and small towns alike, but neigh­bor­hoods like Capi­tol Hill are rea­son­ably safe places — and there’s no bet­ter judge of that than the peo­ple who live and vote there.

Here’s the exact text of the ques­tion we asked and the responses:

QUESTION: On a scale of 0 to 10, please rate how safe you feel in your Seat­tle neigh­bor­hood com­mu­ni­ty, with 0 being the least safe and 10 the most safe.


  • Feel safe: 64% 
    • 10 (feel very safe): 6%
    • 9: 12%
    • 8: 22%
    • 7: 17%
    • 6: 7%
  • Nei­ther safe nor unsafe | 5: 14%
  • Feel unsafe: 22% 
    • 4: 5%
    • 3: 5%
    • 2: 6%
    • 1: 3%
    • 0 (feel not safe at all): 3%

Our sur­vey of 327 like­ly 2023 Seat­tle City Coun­cil Dis­trict #3 gen­er­al elec­tion vot­ers was in the field from Tues­day, Octo­ber 31st, until Fri­day, Novem­ber 3rd. The poll was con­duct­ed entire­ly online for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute by Change Research and has a mod­eled mar­gin of error of 5.7%.

Fol­low this link if you’re inter­est­ed in a detailed primer on the survey’s method­ol­o­gy along with infor­ma­tion about who took the poll.

A plu­ral­i­ty of respon­dents (22%) select­ed a rat­ing of 8 out of 10.

Anoth­er 12% select­ed a rat­ing of 9 out 10 and anoth­er 17% select­ed a rat­ing of 7 out of 10. Com­bined with the 6% who rat­ed their safe­ty at 10 out of 10 and the 7% who said 6 out of 10, that’s a total of 64%.

We asked those respon­dents who indi­cat­ed they feel safe what the city is doing, if any­thing, that is help­ing them to feel safe. About half the poll sam­ple accept­ed the invi­ta­tion to pro­vide com­men­tary. Let’s con­sid­er a selec­tion of respons­es from like­ly vot­ers in Dis­trict #3, includ­ing sev­er­al who reside on Capi­tol Hill or First Hill.

Again, the fol­low-up ques­tion was:

QUESTION: You indi­cat­ed you feel safe in your Seat­tle neigh­bor­hood com­mu­ni­ty. What, if any­thing, is the city gov­ern­ment cur­rent­ly doing that’s help­ing you to feel safe?

“First respon­ders seem to be pri­or­i­tiz­ing help­ing peo­ple caus­ing their own cri­sis issues from sub­stance abuse and men­tal ill­ness caused by homelessness/malnutrition (I vol­un­teer help­ing with the lat­ter),” said a male respon­dent between the ages of fifty to sixty-four.

“Not the gov­ern­men­t’s doing, I just have a strong com­mu­ni­ty in this neigh­bor­hood. The gov­ern­ment could find a way to pick trash up off the streets, cre­ate more ser­vices for house­less folks, main­tain com­mu­ni­ty spaces like the BLM gar­den in Cal Ander­son, and paint more cross­walks in heav­i­ly traf­ficked areas,” said a female respon­dent between the ages of eigh­teen to thirty-four.

“I feel some­what safe in my neigh­bor­hood because there is a high den­si­ty of peo­ple, fair­ly good urban design that dep­re­cat­ed cars, [thus mak­ing it safer for] bikes and peo­ple, and thriv­ing busi­ness­es that keep eyes on the street,” said a male respon­dent between the ages of eigh­teen to thirty-four.

“Seat­tle police and fire are doing their best despite being under attack and under­staffed. Most­ly it’s my neigh­bors that make me feel safe because they are awe­some,” said a female respon­dent between the ages of fifty to sixty-four.

“Traf­fic calm­ing efforts. More neigh­bor­hood cen­tered home­less ser­vices for local response. Fund­ing to sup­port small busi­ness­es [deal­ing] with prop­er­ty crimes,” said non­bi­na­ry respon­dent between the ages eigh­teen to thirty-four.

“There is a con­sis­tent, vis­i­ble police pres­ence in my neigh­bor­hood, and there have been efforts to lim­it vagrancy and crim­i­nal activ­i­ty in local parks and streets,” said a male respon­dent between the ages of thir­ty-five and forty-nine.

“I do not approve of the sweeps. I feel safe because there is con­stant foot traf­fic and I am not afraid of peo­ple who don’t have homes,” said a female respon­dent between the ages of eigh­teen to thirty-four.

Many of the com­ments felt to our team like rejoin­ders to the videos put out by right wing agi­ta­tors such as The Dis­cov­ery Insti­tute’s Jonathan Choe, which have been repur­posed for ridicu­lous seg­ments on Fox, such as this non­sense from The Five. An increas­ing num­ber of Seat­tleites do appear to be aware of the ongo­ing effort to cyn­i­cal­ly paint the Emer­ald City in a bad light through the upload­ing and pub­li­ca­tion of clips depict­ing the liv­ing arrange­ments of unhoused people.

We saw more opti­mism than pes­simism across the respons­es. There’s an appre­ci­a­tion that May­or Bruce Har­rell and the Seat­tle City Coun­cil are try­ing to imple­ment bet­ter poli­cies and turn the page on the Durkan era.

A lot of vot­ers say they draw com­fort and strength from their neigh­bors and are look­ing for­ward to wit­ness­ing a trans­for­ma­tion of polic­ing in Seattle.

As anoth­er one of our respon­dents put it: “I believe a big ele­ment of Seat­tle’s safe­ty is just cul­tur­al. I am, how­ev­er, hap­py that the City final­ly launched its CARE ini­tia­tive to respond more appro­pri­ate­ly to per­sons in crises, and I hope marks the begin­ning of a more care­tak­ing approach to polic­ing vs. a glad­i­a­to­r­i­al one.”

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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