Outside Citywide

The Growing Role of Public Space

As our city continues to grow, public open spaces will play an even more critical role in the life of our residents. We will need more shared places, especially in fast-growing and currently underserved neighborhoods, where we can socialize and enjoy the mental and physical health benefits that green spaces provide. We also need trails and green, safe, walkable streets that provide inviting connections from urban centers to our city's iconic larger parks. The Outside Citywide initiative asks, "how can we improve access and usability of today's open spaces, and add new spaces and outdoor experiences to areas in need, to form an integrated, connected and complete network of outdoor opportunities in Seattle?"

Plazas for People

To better understand the usability and design of our public spaces, we evaluated 46 public spaces in greater Downtown this past summer. Read our Plazas for People report for our findings and assessment of these spaces.

Banner image showing the cover of the Plazas for People report, with a logo of a tree in front of a building to the right of it.

Equity and Environmental Justice

Past City policies and investment decisions have helped create and perpetuate significant racial disparities in access to green space and in safety from environmental harms. Environmental and health challenges, including vulnerability to climate impacts, disproportionately impact communities of color and lower-income residents. Future investments in public space must center the voices and needs of communities of color and other historically disadvantaged communities to start addressing these disparities and build a more just future, with clean air and water and culturally-appropriate places for everyone.

However, we also must be thoughtful and intentional as we make new open space investments, helping ensure that they don't increase displacement risk for residents facing higher rents and property values. As the City seeks to improve the public space network and address environmental disparities, we must simultaneously work to mitigate displacement risk. Communities must be supported to thrive in place, with career opportunities, affordable housing, and small business support.

Climate Resiliency

Climate impacts will worsen in coming years. Air quality will be impacted by more forest fires. Sea level rise will begin to threaten shorelines, especially along the Duwamish. Dense, paved urban areas will face more dangerous extreme heat events. Innovative cities continue to develop solutions that use public space to protect shorelines, divert flood waters away from homes and businesses during big storms, and help cool the city during heat waves. We will explore how public space infrastructure not only provides outdoor recreation space, but also protects our community from floods, heat, and other climate impacts.

Moving animation of city scenes