What’s the MID? Seattle City Council approves major community-led investments in downtown 

The Seattle City Council unanimously approved legislation on May 2 renewing and expanding the Metropolitan Improvement District (MID). The legislation will safeguard funding for some programs and services that support downtown Seattle for at least the next 10 years.  

The legislation was sponsored by Councilmember Sara Nelson and was signed into law by Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell today, May 18.

“Seattle’s future depends on downtown, and the MID is critical to ensuring that downtown — the economic engine of our region — is safe, clean, and welcoming,” said Councilmember Nelson. “Without the MID, 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.” 

What is a Business Improvement Area? 

One of the ways the City of Seattle helps business communities work together to support their neighborhoods, beyond what the City of Seattle already provides, is through creating business improvement areas (BIAs). Seattle currently has 11 BIAs, including the MID. 

A BIA is a specified location where businesses, property owners, community organizations, and other stakeholders have, by-in-large, agreed to pay a special fee called a ratepayer assessment. The funding from that assessment is reinvested into the area to enhance services, create public programming, and help manage the area beyond what the city is already doing. This is all done under the direction of an advisory board comprised of ratepayers.  

Per a non-binding 2016 Council resolution, the city usually only considers approving a BIA if a petition is submitted signed by potential ratepayers in the area that would pay for 60 percent or more of the BIAs total funding.  

What is Seattle’s Metropolitan Improvement District? 

The MID is a BIA that serves Seattle’s downtown area. It was created in 1999. Before today’s vote, it was last renewed in 2013 for a 10-year period. The MID is managed by the Downtown Seattle Association and is overseen by an advisory board of 35 ratepayers.    

According to the Downtown Seattle Association’s website, the MID currently collects about $15.5 million per years. Here’s that funding goes toward: 

  • The downtown ambassador program 
  • Marketing and promotion of downtown 
  • Public realm art installations 
  • Multiple family-friendly events 
  • Research and economic development 
  • Transportation and commuting services 

These photos, courtesy of the MID, show some of the work they do downtown.

That includes daily cleaning of downtown streets and sidewalks, graffiti removal, security patrols, hospitality and concierge services, connecting unsheltered residents with services, parks programming, and more. Over the last decade, the MID says they have removed more than 8.6 million pounds of trash and conducting more than 71,000 welfare checks downtown.

That’s all in addition to the services already provided by the City of Seattle.  

What will the 2023 MID Renewal do? 

The legislation passed by Council today will renew and expand the MID for the next 10 years starting on July 1, 2023. The borders of the new MID will expand south, ending at Royal Brougham Way. A map detailing the change is included below.  

A map of the proposed MID expansion.

The MID has already adopted a business plan for that ten year period. It builds off the services they already offer, and according to a presentation giving by the Downtown Seattle Association, includes:  

  • A 10 percent increase in cleaning services/total hours,  
  • Increased investments in ambassador wages, 
  • Investments to sustain unarmed security services, and 
  • A new customer service/advocacy position. 

More information about how much the ratepayers will contribute can be found in this Central Staff Memo.  

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