Labor Jul 29, 2022 at 4:53 pm

The Westlake Park Starbucks Is Closed. This Is Not a Tragedy

These were the good times? Charles Mudede



No matter where you point the fingers, the fact is we are rapidly losing public spaces in which to mingle, eavesdrop, contemplate, and, yes, use the bathroom. One persons greedy corporate coffee chain is another’s foundation for what it means to wander Any City, USA, and I’m sad to see it go.


This building hasn’t always been a Starbucks. I forget what it used to be (flower shop?), but it could be reinvented again into something more interesting than a fucking Starbucks.


I thought what Talton wrote was mostly incoherent babble. This, though, is entirely incoherent babble.


I like Jon talton. . You? not so much.


@2 - I think I remember it being a short-lived flower shop, too, but in the late 80s it was a Seattle's Best Coffee and became such right when they hooked up Westlake Center with the Monorail.


I agree #3, this is what happens to an alcoholic brain, mush!


That wasn't even a very good Starbucks. They were out of chocolate the one time I tried to get a mocha drink there.


Forget it Charles. It’s Chinatown.


Or you could do what I did and just not click on Talton's article based on the headline.


Capitalism is dead.

Workers of the world, unite.
You have nothing to lose but your chains.


Golly Charles... talk about mysterious writing. Holy Moses!

Jon's summing up of the situation is a work on "non fiction"...unlike your sloggy fictional "critique" Seattle is dying and for the reasons he so succinctly and eloquently explained.

Neither business or the regular tax paying citizen is interested in going into the crime ridden, filthy, homeless encampments plaquing this city...especially downtown.... all of which occurred on and during the watch of the current city council... Trying arguing that away.... Its a fact. Facts are stubborn things.... they dont' go away.

The Fed is raising interest rates to quell inflation. Inflation is a silent killer of worker's pay. It steals the value of worker's pay. Christ wept, did you actually study economics... with a passing grade?

Instead you wrap the fed policy as an "us -workers -vs- them" which is just grade A bull plop.


@13 Did YOU study economics.

Raising interest rates in large bites like the fed just did will most certainly not cool inflation for workers very much. It WILL most certainly make money more expensive and result in more layoffs and unemployment. Consumer credit just got radically more expensive. So nobody is going to buy anything. So nobody is going make anything. What the Fed is doing is attempting to head off the power of labor by creating a surplus of labor.

As Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank President Neel Kashkari wrote in June 2022: "Unfortunately, I know of no theoretical framework that can tell us how much we will need to tighten long real rates to get inflation back to target in a reasonable time frame.”

This was not going to do much of anything to get inflation under control. It’s never been done it this large a chunk with inflation at 8.6% before. And the last time it was done like this was in 1994 and inflation was only 3%.

So. Inflation was not caused by workers salaries, dipshit. It was caused by mostly greed. And raising rates won’t curb greed. Regulation would.

This inflation was caused by the pandemic supply chain disruptions, tax cuts which resulted in massive stock buy backs, and massive profit taking in the highest corporate earning years of the last two and a half decades.

Inflation only hurts the consumer class because inflates the value of real assets. Which rich people own and you do not.


@5 -- I like Talton, but it was one of his weaker essays. The comparison to Mudede is apt. I don't mean that as an insult to Charles -- I tend to like his essays. But often they are filled with obscure references, and leave readers (like me anyway) thinking "what's the point?". In that sense, they are like poetry. Maybe if I read it a few more times I'll get it. Or maybe if I knew more about the references I would get it sooner. Not my favorite type of poetry, but I'm sure others love it. (For the record, this one was easy.)

In contrast, Talton is at his best when his essays are tight and nationally relevant. The destruction of the middle class since Reagan, for example. That is why it is disappointing that he hasn't focused on the universal changes that are right under his nose. Labor is transforming. In the past, almost all labor jobs were industrial. Then government jobs unionized (which has its own issues). Now, as industrial jobs shrink, service jobs are increasingly unionized. The labor fight in Seattle is important locally, nationally and symbolically. In a city where stratification has increased over the last decade, increased labor power in service industries may be the best way to shrink the divide between the haves and have-nots.

The closing of the Starbucks clearly reflect that. The idea that this is somehow caused by crime is bullshit. There have been problem areas downtown long before Starbucks existed:

I think part of the problem is that like so many people who moved here, Talton is nostalgic for a particular period in Seattle. This is common. But it is important to put things in perspective, and provide meaningful, rational explanations for local phenomenon based on science, and as a bonus, relate it to similar national problems.

For example, homelessness is caused by the increased cost of housing. The increased cost of housing locally was caused by an increase in demand (caused by more jobs at Amazon) without a corresponding increase in housing supply. One of the big reasons that we haven't seen a big increase in housing to match the demand is because of restrictive zoning, which acts like a cartel.

That is right up his alley. It wouldn't take much for him to explain this, with examples (e. g. OPEC and cartels) as well as science about homelessness ( and relate it all to basic, well understood economic theory a ten year old kid selling lemonade would understand.

Talton's essay isn't that. It is a weirdly nostalgic view for a particular period in an ever-changing city, with oddly misinformed views of local problems. Maybe if he spent more time reading the paper he works for he could write a better essay.


@14 - Yes. Seems to be all about how that pie is going to be sliced. Workers are tired of existing on the tiniest little sliver, and they deserve more. No one should have to go hungry or live in their cars if they are working. But in order for them to get a larger slice, people who have heretofore enjoyed a great big piece are going to have to settle for a smaller one (because resources are finite) - even if that slice is still more than generous and would otherwise serve more than one. But you know what? When you tell the CEO class that they'll have to make do with 8 mansions instead of 24, they get sooooo angry.

I didn't find the article so very gloom-and-doom. The author seems to just point out some things that most of us already knew. The city has changed - sort of drastically - and beyond the parameters of normal change. All US cities struggle with this, I believe, and what once made Seattle so very attractive seems to have diminished. I mean, this guy didn't even get here until 2008, If he only knew. Times Square in the 40s and 50s - the center of a vibrant city. In the 60s and 70s - decline. Crime, muggings, porn theaters. People were afraid to go there. Then in the 90s, renewal, if you can call it that. Time Square became family-friendly with candy shoppes and Niketowns. Tourist attractions. So there are cycles, I believe, and the cycles need to be managed well by people who know what they are doing and really care about what they are doing.

Seattle becoming a crime-ridden pustule needn't be prophecy, But the Seattle of 1990 is never coming back.


@14 Inflation is a monetary phenonium. In short "too much money chasing too few goods" -- (fx) productivity. Even the most dimwitted student of economics learns this from day one. It hurts everyone, poor, middle class, wealth etc.

Here we have the gov't dumping trillion of dollars into the economy for the "covid relief" and half the nation not working... ergo "too much money" chasing too few goods --coupled with extremely low productivity because no one is working or working productively. A blind man could see that a mile away.

Sadly it appears you can not and thus prattle on with the most remarkably inaccurate and misguided explanations I've ever heard.... mostly predicated on a fanatic's manifesto of workers -v- capitalism .

Rising prices are the symptoms of inflation... not the cause, nor is the laundry list of crap you regurgitated. A supply chain disruption, or temporary market imbalance isn't inflation.. corporate profits one way or another are really neither here nor there in argument. Christ wept... How mixed up are you?

The Fed and economist all agree the interest rate policy, monetary policy is the cure for taming inflation.... The only ones who appear to be vacant on this topic appear to be you and Charles... professor of Muede-nomics.

Probably better you set this one out. Its really, really embarrassing ... you don't know what you are talking about.


@17 >> Inflation is a monetary phenonium. In short "too much money chasing too few goods"

Not always. There are resource shortages. This happened in the 1970s. OPEC cut off the supply of oil, and suddenly gas was a lot more expensive. Everything that was dependent on gasoline was also expensive. Back in the day, this was basically, well, almost everything. Physical goods must be shipped, and shipping costs went way up. Factories need energy to build things, and energy costs went up. Thus you had increasing prices even though there was nothing wrong with the monetary policy. The economy was not "overheating". Deficits weren't that big. The economy basically collapsed, and yet inflation continued. This was given a name: Stagflation. High unemployment rates, shrinking GDP and high inflation.

There are similarities to what is going on now. Russia invaded Ukraine, causing oil prices to jump. Resource shortages in particular goods (e. g. computer chips) have caused shortages. The economy was way too fragile -- the result of "just in time" processes -- and when one aspect of it failed, the goods stopped coming. The world became too dependent on cheap Chinese goods and China has had major production problems. There is also a major labor shortage in the U. S., caused by poor immigration policy. COVID played a major roll in most, if not all of these issues. That is why inflation is an international problem. It is why the dollar is extremely strong -- roughly equal to the Euro for the first time in decades -- and yet we have inflation. This is not normal (U. S.) inflation caused by too much spending.

Thus there is the very real risk that the U. S. economy will fall into recession, while the causes of the inflation remain. You can destroy the U. S. economy, and people around the world will still buy oil. If not much is produced, then the price will go up.

Even the most dimwitted person understands this -- I'm not sure you do.


Uh... those are called imbalances in supply there dude. They are not the cause of inflation, but temporary imbalances. We could play your stupid game all day and say what if Russia sends thermo- nuclear device and vaporizes the wheat fields... under your theory this would be inflation. God what an idiot you are.

May I ask how your "penetrating analysis" on a temporary imbalance in one market for Russian oil relates to interest rate and monetary policy currently being employed by the US Federal Reserve or its effect in the EU?

Also how does your "penetrating analysis" of a market imbalance apply to inflation... is this a cost push element, demand pull or is it a build in inflation component.

Now explain to us now adding more money either thru open market action or thru direct government relief interplay on any one of these three basic forms of inflation.

come on thrill me with your acumen. ... or is it as you say, what was that again... um greed, high profits, um.... stock buy-backs.... supply chain issues.... maybe you can come up with a couple more wild ass guesses.


@18 FYI The reason the US dollar is strong is because of our interest rate policy.... we have moved our interest rates up aggressively to fend off and tame inflation, reducing the risk of a severe recession....thus we offer better rates globally and their is more confidence internationally in our economy.... which equates to the US dollars being a safe haven and the sound currency to hold in this environment. Not, I repeat, not the bullshit you just spewed.


Chuck Chuck Chuck Chuck Chuck! You are an interesting writer and you always stir the pot. This time methinks it the other way round.


That used to be a marque location, a loss leader Starbucks supported to promote the brand. That value vanished with crime, the homeless, labor disputes, and protests. Customer and employee safety was indeed the kicker, I believe that part of the story.



Go back to counting bullet-roddlwd dead bodies, you worthless fuck.


I don't know why this Starbucks closed. Perhaps for the same reasons as the one at 23rd in the CD. Their workers are paid to dispense coffee and snacks, not clean up needles and shit, or have their tip jars stolen. I was just in Detroit. The downtown was even less activated than Seattle but I saw zero tents on my many drives in the region. And the only graffiti I saw was decorating an abandoned factory. None on highway signs or random walls. I likely missed some but the difference was stark.

When I think of the toxic homeless here, I think not of the displaced worker living quietly and otherwise lawfully and cleanly in their vehicle. Rather I think of the tweakers, mostly from elsewhere, living among a meth induced mess of stolen bike parts, chop shops, and a surplus of bad tagging, not street art.

If one comes to Seattle with no income or what income there is going to drugs, rent of any sort is out of the question. And anyone who works the street will disabuse you of the notion that these are primarily home grown miscreants. We need to sweep, resweep and make Seattle a most unwelcoming place for thieving vagrants and their enablers. It is beginning to happen. Bless the mayor for his sweeps last week, and not delaying due to what we call heat in this town! Now how about those tents that have reappeared on Eastlake near and north of REI and every other previously swept spot that needs daily visits to be kept empty of tents.

I have been here for over 40 years and it has never been so desolate. We have a confluence of crime and police neglect/understaffing/indifference or any or all, the lack of working courts and jails for much of Covid, the impact of online shopping on the retail industry AND a possibly permanent structural change in how we work.

Few service industry professionals like accountants, attorneys, programmers, consultants and the majority of occupants of class A office space have a need, requirement or wish to go to their offices 5 days a week if at all. These folks activate our streets. There are no bad guys or gals here, just change and it may be permanent and disruptive. Our streets our presently full of tourists, but they don't last. I have no idea if convention and conference traffic will grow or decline. Appeals to return to office for patriotic and civic purposes is not impressive or likely to be impactful.

We can't change the patterns of work, but we certainly can and must restore law and civility to our streets. We can easily afford to pay to enforce laws and even a modicum of low level shelter and treatment to those who will engage. The rest should be held to account for trespass violations, parking violations and certainly property and personal crimes. Put graffiti taggers to work on clean up gangs, arrest and prosecute for theft large and small, use the courts as leverage when needed to mandate treatment or jail. We can take back our city, but the apologists need to be marginalized to where they belong. This is not a failure of capitalism, but a failure of progressivism and humans who have been patronized and who have more capacity than we give them credit for - if held to account rather than enabled.

The fact that a rising number of commenters in the progressive Stranger are fed up being lied to by the mutual aid folks and other enablers gives me hope that we have bottomed out. We shall see.


Not to comment on any of the analysis, but I just want to point out that living in Seattle and having a Starbucks be your "third place" is perhaps the most basic thing I have ever heard.


@26 no tents because a studio apartment in Detroit doesn't cost $2000/month.

This foolish insistence people have to ascribe the homeless problem to moral, rather than material, conditions will be the death of us all.


@29 Read my comment carefully. Where are the tents in costly Boston or Bellevue? Or any of the innumerable costly places that don’t host vagrants?

One does not get to migrate to Seattle after getting out of prison in Florida as one recent emigre had, or other red state where one was failing, and get to complain about rent. Tweakers trying to get their next fox don’t allocate income for any rent. Stolen stuff, dissembled bicycles, and graffiti are a moral failing.

Your rhetoric of blaming others for the moral failings of individuals and their enablers is tired and Ill informed. Go and have a conversation with a few of you have genuine curiosity and willingness to learn.


The CoVID19 stimulus staved off certain doom you fucking cretin. Even Trump did it.

Working class wages didn’t increase except by the smaller relative amount dipshit. The vast amount of money flooded the economy through massive unprecedented profits and stimulus to banks and corporations.

Combined with the perfect storm of supply disruptions, the pent up demand from the pandemic, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Jesus. I get that you shit out whatever MAGA talking points you get from grandma Facebook memes but at least Charles has a degree in economics.

Crawl back to whatever MAGA hellhole your from, Trollflake.


I was more upset by PF Changs closing at Westlake Center. That was one of the very few restaurants my wife would eat at. Starbucks, closing, meh. There are plenty of coffee shops that are nearby, including more Starbucks. The Westlake Starbucks was always way too busy, so I never went there. I am not a fan of waiting in long lines for an average coffee.


@14 Well reasoned. Good to see a sensible, evidence-rooted point being made in a Seattle comment section about economic matters (ie, a shitshow)


@33 well reasoned? Its just babble which has no underlying economic support or reason.

We assume you are one of the graduates from the class of 2022 --school of Muedue-nomics. A comedy of socialism and make believe economics nonsense rolled into one.



The fact that The Stranger needed to print a retort to Talton's piece says a lot. Seattle Coffee Company, just blocks from the fabled Starbucks location was shuttered for months due to arson, a likely result of reduced policing. But yes, let's keep these uncreative ad hominem attacks on others who also have dreams of their ideal city, Mr. Mudede. That's the true way forward.


Personally, I think Westlake has been awful since they tore down the old monorail station and built Westlake Center.

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