I travel for a living so I get a pretty good sampling of other cities both in the US & abroad.
My observation is that while Seattle is not unique to issues such as homeless, the severity is more pronounced. The littering is by far the worst. Since you’ve been here since 1979, you are familiar with the indecision that the city experiences. Bold moves or fixes just don’t seem to happen here.
As for the physical city, I feel like other posters that this is an extremely small business unfriendly city. My retirement dream of a small neighborhood business has long gone. Retail leases for storefronts are unsustainable. I would bet if you asked every food truck operator if they want a storefront restaurant, they would love it. They simply can’t. I consider it retail homelessness.
Aesthetically, it’s architecture on the cheap & probably a victim of Private Equity Funds that care less. How do you have a neighborly conversation with them. The city’s development & construction department is broken & serves only big operators. Private citizens seem to be a nuisance.
I genuinely felt Seattle was the best city by far… until the late 1990’s. Why am I still here? Inertia… My family infrastructure is here. If I were to suddenly to be on my very own, I would probably move to another country altogether.