CHS Reader District 3 Candidate Survey: LGBTQ safety, affordability, and an I-5 lid


With the August 4th primary just around the corner and ballots soon arriving in the mail, candidates in the District 3 race have just a few precious weeks to make their case to voters before the five contenders are whittled down to two. We’ve reported on two Council District 3 candidate forums so far this year and covered many other facets of this historic election. Now it’s time for CHS readers to ask some questions.

In this digital candidate forum, questions were suggested by CHS readers, selected by CHS editors, and finalized by an online vote before we provided them to the campaigns. LGBT safety, increasing building heights, and creating an I-5 lid are just a few of the topics readers chose.

City Council member Kshama Sawant, Pamela Banks, Morgan Beach, and Rod Hearne all responded to our survey. Lee Carter did not — though we plan to reach out to the candidate to see if we can find another way to get his answers onto the page. Candidates were welcome to answer as much or as little of the survey as they wished.

While an online forum inevitably invites more carefully crafted responses, the upshot is you don’t have to trudge out to a gym in Madison Valley to hear them. Also, no superfluous closing statements. So, saddle up with you’re beverage of choice and let’s get this forum started.

CHS DISTRICT 3 CANDIDATES FORUM

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

Q1: How will you promote an inclusive neighborhood and what steps will you take to end LGBT hate crimes in Capitol Hill?

Banks: There is no excuse for crime of any kind in our neighborhood – especially hate crimes targeting specific groups. The recent increase in violence against the LGBT community on Capitol Hill is extremely disheartening. Capitol Hill has been – and should continue to remain – a refuge for those who do not feel safe, welcome or at home in other neighborhoods. The immediate response to the violence is an increase in police presence during peak crime hours. I am confident in the new leadership at SPD and the reform strategies in place, but we must continue to monitor and promote improvements when necessary. SPD has taken positive steps to work with the business community, implementing the Safe Places program. We need more, better-trained, and more community-focused police officers on the SPD who are working closely with the dozens of LGBT advocacy organizations in Seattle to create a truly safe space for the community. Promoting inclusiveness in our community is also essential to decreasing violence. As a city neighborhood liaison and Mayoral Director of Outreach, I know we need to involve our local neighborhood groups, businesses and residents. You can count on me to have the tough conversations we need to have as a community to promote public safety and accountability. I will provide an open door for all.

Beach: With great pressure and expansion comes fear and reaction to change. This has resulted in the last year of much rhetoric that creates exclusivity rather than inclusivity, and that is not D3. Who we are in D3 and Capitol Hill are the people who accept everyone, who will welcome you in when you had no where else to go or when you moved here to be a part of a city, neighborhood and community that felt that way. That wasn’t just “tolerant,” it was accepting. I plan to support to innovative ideas of the area residents and businesses that build this inclusivity from the ground up, like at Capitol Hill Clean Sweep, when I was out in my “I Am Capitol Hill” tshirt and campaign button cleaning streets with you, or marching in Trans*Pride and the Pride Parade. I will work to increase the public safety of our neighborhoods via soft power like the “Here and Queer” projection project during Pride, and hard power like the Safe Place program with our LGBTQIA liaison officers at the SPD to protect every him, her and them on the Hill.

Hearne: Symbols matter and connecting community by telling our story matters. I’m proud that the city has literally marked our territory on Capitol Hill with the inclusive symbol of the rainbow sidewalks. The LGBTQIA community has always conceived of the rainbow symbol as meaning to include all people, Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, Queer/Questioning.., Intersex and Allies. One of the most effective ways we’ve been able to affect attitudes toward civil rights has been to provide opportunities to tell our story. That’s what arts and culture are all about: telling our stories in unexpected, yet accessible ways. It’s not just about engaging understanding with the LGBTQIA community. It’s about helping all communities, minorities, immigrants, everyone tell their story. Therefore, I believe we need to invest more as a city into arts and cultural organizations and venues in which we can support them. Arts and Culture are Seattle’s superpower and we should activate it!

Sawant: To keep the hill affordable rather than simply an enclave for the wealthy we need urgent action on the housing crisis. Skyrocketing rents are rapidly displacing the LGBT community, young people, and working class people. We need rent control, we need to make big developers pay to build thousands of units of affordable city-owned housing, and we need to strengthen tenants rights. We also need to defend the new minimum wage, relied upon by thousands of Capitol Hill residents working in service, retail, medical and hospitality jobs as well as workers who commute to Capitol Hill. As part of this effort, we need to fully fund the Office of Labor Standards to help in the fight against wage theft and discrimination at work. We need to fund community anti-hate crime groups to organize night watches and raise awareness through anti-bullying and public education efforts. We need to fund a community-based hate violence information-gathering hotline. We need self-defense and other community based responses as recommended by Entre Hermanos, The Northwest Network for BTLG Survivors of Abuse, Gender Justice League, and the Center for Multicultural Health. This spring, I joined with the GSBA, YouthCare, Seattle Social Outreach, the Capitol Hill Community Council, the Gender Justice League, SEqual, Peace for the Streets, and others in organizing a forum against LGBTQ hate crimes in Capitol Hill. One of the clear demands from our event was for an LGBTQ community center to be created on the Hill for LGBTQ empowerment and education.

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

Q2: How is your plan to help the homeless different from the failed policies of your predecessors?

Banks: In my work at the Urban League I’ve addressed some of the root causes of homelessness, like a lack of educational opportunities and joblessness. We need to invest in job training and placement, in counseling and after-school programs for at-risk youth, in drug prevention and treatment, and in mental health treatment. I have experience working with the City and Seattle non-profits to implement these exact types of programs.

Beach: What was has happened here in Seattle is that the estimated 10,000 people experiencing homelessness is no longer extraordinary. It’s just ordinary. We no longer feel compelled to fix it. Nothing tells me the system is broken more clearly than that. I have a number of ideas that to date are actions we can take immediately that to date have not been acted upon by City Council: We need to stop keeping homeless encampments out of residential neighborhoods and in industrial zones where we don’t allow any other type of housing to be built. We need to build emergency housing now. No bars, housing. It is embarrassing that other cities are leading us in progressive housing first policy. Build an LGBTQ Youth Shelter for those 40% of LGBTQ youth who identify that they have been homeless as least once. Build more family sized shelter and transitional housing so families can stay together. Build a better system to manage shelter placement so that it is real time and you can find beds anywhere in the city. Expand renter protections so people aren’t forced into homelessness including limiting the use of criminal background checks to exclude people from housing applications, expanding rights for eviction and relocation assistance, and creating a single tenant screening system so you don’t have to pay applications fees continuously to get rejected from housing over and over.

Hearne: It’s necessary to engage the broader community in homelessness, especially at the regional and state level. Utah (Utah!) has made progress on ending homelessness because they took a broader, more systematic approach. If it can happen in right-wing Utah, we should be able to work toward solutions here. I strongly support a housing-first approach so it’s easier to provide the mental health, education and addiction recovery services that many homeless people need. Our current approach has too many silos and does little to prevent homelessness. One way to improve things is by illuminating the fact that the way we are addressing the problem now is more costly and least effective. What does is say about a society that chooses the most costly option despite the fact that it is also the least humane? We need to find ways of preventing homelessness throughout the state, not just in Seattle, if we’re going to make headway. Let’s look to models that have proven effective and build the will to implement them statewide. The greater Seattle area is a ~$300 billion / year economy on par with Denmark and Finland. It’s not a matter of lack of resources, it’s a matter of lack of compassion.

Sawant: Last Fall I launched a People’s Budget coalition to fight to fully fund human and social services. When the Seattle Human Services Coalition put forward a funding recommendation during the budget process, I proposed, and argued for it to be adopted in its entirety. I will do so again this year. A budget is a moral document, and the lack of funding for human services while billions are spent on business-approved projects like the Bertha boondoggle shows the upside-down priorities of the corporate political establishment in Seattle. Homelessness needs to be addressed at its roots, which are poverty, lack of quality accessible health care, and lack of affordable housing. Seattle recently passed a landmark $15 minimum wage which will raise the fortunes of 100,000 people in this city. However it won’t be enough. Waiting lists for low-income housing in our city are years long. We need to build more affordable housing, both for the people who are currently homeless, and for those on the verge of homelessness, paying huge percentages of their income in rent, just to stay near their family and community. Housing is a human right. We need to fully fund an emergency plan to immediately offer decent shelter for the more than 3,000 homeless people on Seattle’s streets.

(Image: Tenants Union)

(Image: Tenants Union)

Q3: What does “rent control” mean to you?

Banks: Rent control means two things to me. The first is a policy of rent control where maximum rents are enforced and increases are limited. As it stands, this is prohibited by state law. The second meaning to me is a collection of strategies designed to increase housing affordability and keep folks from getting priced out of their apartments and neighborhoods. As city officials, we currently have strategies that we can pursue to accomplish what people want: the freedom to choose where they want to live and when they want to move. I will not declare one specific policy to be the one-and-only solution for our housing affordability crisis – that would be disingenuous. But I promise to work with others in our community who are experienced in housing affordability strategies and programs on solutions that we can achieve together.

Beach: In my opinion and the policy implementations around the country I’ve seen, rent control is a policy that protects few and creates overall negative effects on rental prices. I would prioritize mandatory inclusionary zoning, linkage fees to ensure developers are required to contribute to the affordable housing stock, incentivizing building 2-3 bedroom units in new multi-unit construction to keep families and shared households in our district, and extending up-zones to increase density in our area so more people can live the desirable urban life of District 3.

Hearne: RCW 35.21.830: “… provisions which regulate the amount of rent to be charged for single-family or multiple-unit residential rental structures or sites other than properties in public ownership, under public management, or properties providing low-income rental housing under joint public-private agreements for the financing or provision of such low-income rental housing…”

Sawant: Rent control is a lifeline for many working people in cities which have it. Rent is already controlled, but unfortunately in Seattle it’s controlled exclusively by the developers and big property owners who are causing massive displacement. With the rapidly rising cost of living, neighborhoods should not be ripped apart by profit-obsessed developers and landlords. Councilmember Licata and I put forward a resolution calling for the state to lift its ban on rent control. The city would benefit from implementing comprehensive, city-wide rent control that would limit yearly rent increases to the cost of inflation. We need to oppose the loopholes developers created in cities like San Francisco such as “vacancy decontrol”, which allows developers to jack up rents as much as they like when tenants leave, and creates additional incentives for no-fault tenant evictions. We need rent control because the private housing market has completely failed us and renters need a defense against skyrocketing housing costs.

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

Q4: Do you support creation of a pedestrian only zone in Pike/Pine?

Banks: Yes! A pedestrian-only zone is one promising – and fun – solution to address the crowds of people and cars on Pike/Pine between Broadway and 12th on weekend evenings. Pedestrian zones have been well-received in Portland and in many other cities. It is important that as the plan progresses the community is involved – residents living in the immediate areas should have a say, businesses should be involved and any programming should be neighborhood-approved – but that is currently being done and I am excited about the positive potential for a very busy part of our District.

Beach: I would support this coinciding with a comprehensive plan to redirect traffic and bikes, commercial loading for the Pike/Pike business corridor or potentially making it pedestrian only during peak times, like evenings and nightlife access. Especially with the large transit projects of the First Hill Street Car and Light Rail station going in, it is a great time to evaluate making a change to a pedestrian only zone.

Hearne: In the evening Pike and Pine between Broadway and 12th Ave E already operates much like a woonerf or “living street” already (a street where pedestrians dominate to the point where cars are forced to a crawl). If it works for stakeholders along those blocks to formalize that, we should do it.

Sawant: Yes. It’s imperative to promote a walkable Capitol Hill. We especially need a safe, open pedestrian space for Capitol Hill’s vibrant culture, arts and social core. The so-far-successful model in Vancouver’s Granville Mall is downtown and does not block arterial roadways, though it is a hub for busses and transit. In the past such projects have been shelved due to concerns about loss of revenue – and a reason it hasn’t been done in the U-District on The Ave. During the pilot project, the impact on adjacent small businesses should be monitored.

20150612SeattleOverallRentTrendByBR-600x360Q5: What is the first step needed to improve affordability in District 3?

Banks: We must encourage and incentivize developers to build more affordable units, work with non-profit organizations to increase their ability to provide housing, and fund more affordable units in desirable neighborhoods. Unfortunately this is an incredibly complex problem that isn’t going to be solved overnight. I’m looking forward to the reviewing the recommendations of the Mayor’s Housing Affordability Committee. I’m most interested in making sure that we adequately increase our affordable housing stock, while maintaining what Seattle represents – a collection of distinct, character-filled neighborhoods.

Beach: I know this will seem not broad reaching enough to some but my campaign’s top priority is gender wage equity. Let me tell you why: In the city of Seattle, $16,000 a year is the median wage gap between men and women. At the area median rent, that $16,000 is enough to pay for the rent for an entire year AND then some. In the last ten years there has been an increase in the number of women living below the poverty line and we will not reach pay equity at the current pace in my working lifetime. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research just last month stated that nationally, fixing the wage gap between men and women could cut the poverty rate in half for families with working women. This is an economic, affordability, housing and social justice issue that has been a part of our legacy for too long. And if we focused on this, the city would become more affordable for half of the city and once we fix this gap between and among women, we can build a better system on top of it.

Hearne: One of the quickest things we can do to improve affordability is to encourage more accessory dwelling units and mother-in-law apartments. Hundreds of homes could be added. One of the ironies is that some of the older single family home neighborhoods, may be less dense now than they once might have been since family sized are smaller. Making it easer to convert some spaces to mother-in-laws would go a long way to providing more housing without overburdening parking and transportation infrastructure. There are many more steps, of course: renewing the Housing Levy, improving transportation broadening wage growth to other types of jobs, but it’s a first step.

Sawant: Private development has utterly failed to address the housing crisis in District 3. While Capitol Hill’s skyline is increasingly crowded with construction cranes and luxury condos, most of us face a severe housing crisis. We need a major expansion of genuinely affordable housing. To do that, we need to make the big developers pay the maximum “linkage fee” and use the city’s excess bonding capacity. The maximum linkage fee would raise $1 billion over 10 years’ time and could be used to build thousands of city-owned, permanently affordable, below market-rate apartments for working people. A city bond for affordable housing could raise another $1 billion. But what is lacking is the political will to stand up against the developers and their lobbyists, who have long dominated Seattle’s government, and who give tens of thousands of dollars in campaign funding yearly to corporate candidates and politicians. I take no corporate donations, and am not beholden to them. I rely entirely on the support of ordinary people.

Screen-Shot-2015-04-21-at-4.23.28-PM-600x440Q6: Do you believe increasing building height limits would help increase affordability in District 3?

Banks: Increasing height limits is one aspect of a complex and multi-faceted approach to increase affordability in District 3. It’s clear that we have a housing shortage and need more affordable housing options. It’s also clear that most of the new buildings going up are not affordable for average working Seattleites. I believe our conversations and strategy regarding increasing housing affordability in District 3 should not leave any options off the table, including the heights of our buildings.

Beach: I’m a supporter of density in our growth plans. We can do this by expanding our up-zones (increasing allowable building heights in certain mixed-use corridors), and increasing density in single family zones by relaxing restrictions on accessory units and supporting a range of duplexes, townhomes and courtyard developments that will build density and not make us exclusively a city of high rises. But we are geographically restricted and facing over 100,000 people moving here in the next 20 years. We need more housing and we need it to start now in order to maintain a balanced focus on creating a beautiful built environment as a priority in our neighborhoods and building sufficient housing for our growing population.

Hearne: I believe the more we can do to increase the supply of housing to meet the demand for housing, the more that we can reduce pressure for increasing in prices. But it will only work if the up-zoning occurs in conjunction with improvements in infrastructure, like transportation and parks.

Sawant: Increased building heights without a plan to build affordable housing will not increase affordability. Developers will build to make the maximum profit which is made by building and leasing luxury apartments. All of the new development in Capitol Hill has not made it more affordable, nor have the incentive zoning solutions. We need real solutions like making big developers pay the maximum “linkage fee” to build affordable housing, strong tenants rights, and rent control.

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

Q7: How will you foster trust between the SPD and the community?

Banks: This is a very personal issue for me. In recent weeks, my neighborhood has been plagued by a series of shootings, one fatal. Over the years I’ve developed a very good working relationship with the SPD. I was on the committee that helped to select Chief O’Toole. I also raised a son in Seattle, living with the fear that he would have negative interactions with the SPD because he was black. The SPD has made some very visible mistakes, which has undermined trust in the community. To rebuild that trust, the disciplinary process for officers must be transparent and efficient. Bad cops should be punished, removed from the SPD when necessary, and the community needs to feel that justice is being done. Most of Seattle’s police officers are good people trying to do a difficult job. We should support them with more training and additional officers. We need to implement strategies to ensure that they are respected members of the community before those calls come in-serving food at soup kitchens, holding office hours, leading CPR trainings, or mentoring school children. Traditional policing can’t solve all the problems of crime, disorder, and fear that affect our neighborhoods. I believe that a community-based approach can help to repair the relationship between police and community, and to improve safety overall.

Beach: I believe in making civilian involvement a permanent part of police disciplinary review process, by making the Community Police Commission a permanent body. I also believe we need more Community Outreach Officers to increase their presence in the community without becoming an occupying force to only respond in the height of crises. I would also support expanding programs like the city’s innovative Refugee Women’s Project which brought together active women in the city’s refugee communities to introduce female police officers to refugee women throughout the community to build trust. Now those women have friendly faces of police officers to call and trust when they are unsafe, victims or crime or want to help other members of their community. We need police officers who are a part of our community, care about it and show it in a way that translates to all our residents. As unglamorous as it is, the first thing I would do to rebuild SPD is to work with Chief O’Toole to restructure the hiring process to increase significantly the diversity and hiring those who live in the city and have to come home to these streets at night too.

Hearne: We need to create more opportunities for police officers to interact and engage with community members in non-law enforcement settings. There is a sense that the police treat the people of the city like an occupying force might–culturally insensitive and without understanding the community. We need to make more of an effort to recruit from within our community, not outside of it. Affordability may be part of the problem, but there are tens of thousands of people living within the city limits who’d love to make a police officer’s salary, so that’s not a credible excuse. It will require a concerted community outreach effort on the part of the Department and should be coordinated with the Council District Representatives and the Mayor’s office, without grandstanding.

Sawant: Seattle needs an elected, community oversight boards that has full powers over SPD policy, including department policies and procedures. In addition, the SPD should open its books for a full audit of where its $300 million a year is being spent. We need real oversight and transparency over the largest portion of the city budget.

Screen-Shot-2015-03-23-at-2.48.07-PM-400x336Q8: Would you support increased developer fees to pay for things like sidewalk access and local business mitigation during large construction projects?

Banks: I think that we’re going to have to have development impact fees to offset some of the effects of large developments in central area neighborhoods. Right now Capitol Hill businesses are struggling because sidewalks are blocked and parking is non-existent in some areas. People simply can’t get to them. Studies on the impact of Developer Impact Fees is mixed, so the challenge is going to be finding an appropriate level to encourage necessary growth in the central area while mitigating negative consequences and funding adequate public infrastructure improvements.

Beach: I believe we need to address a plan that does mitigate the impact of these projects, with a particular focus on accessibility for those with mobility, vision, hearing or other disabilities that limits their access to business areas under construction in District 3. Construction redirection places significant burden on people, especially those with disabilities and creates safety concerns in areas of the district where additional crosswalks and pedestrian infrastructure is sparse. I don’t know if a developer fee is the most sustainable model for mitigating this impact, but would rather see a consistent commitment from the general fund to address accessibility issues as a civil rights matter and if we do have developer fees as a tool I would like to use them to the greatest end possible, which right now I believe is in the creation of affordable housing units at the bottom end of the area median income spectrum (0-40% AMI).

Hearne: Yes.

Sawant: Absolutely. I support enacting the maximum linkage fees allowed by state law: 10%. With development comes necessary infrastructure and accommodation of new people: pedestrian-friendly sidewalks, open spaces and their maintenance, and safe easy access to public transportation.

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

Q9: Why don’t we have street cleaning and adequate garbage pick up like other cities? What specific measures would you take to keep D3 clean?

Banks: Capitol Hill specifically has too little alley space to meet the needs of a dense population, thriving restaurant scene, and intensive construction. There is literally nowhere for the trash to go but out into the sidewalks and streets – already clogged areas. We could help to mitigate this problem with smaller cans collected more frequently. And for the new developments, we need to encourage better waste disposal planning during the construction phase and use of trash compactors.

Beach: To be frank the current business improvement area (BIA)–which pays for much of this in areas where there is the most resident and business activity and creates dirty streets and garbage–that covers Capitol Hill is completely insufficient. It ends before the Pike/Pine corridor. Why? Because the current BIA is OLDER THAN ME. Is doesn’t reflect our current way of doing business or the way we live our lives in D3, and we haven’t had focused representation from anyone on city council to try to work with the area to change the situation. I would work to expand the BIA with all the areas of Cap Hill business to fix this, including not only Pike/Pine but the expanding business corridors on 12th, 15th and 19th Aves. We need to not only address our built environment issues now, but plan for the future as we welcome more residents and visitors to the neighborhood than ever before.

Hearne: It sometimes appears cheaper to cut back on services like garbage pickup and street sweeping in the short term, but over the long term, it costs the city too, in making the city less livable. It’s important to consider the costs of lost business, tourism and livability when making cutbacks to essential sanitation services. I believe Business Improvement Associations can be part of the solution, but it can lead to inequities with less advantaged neighborhoods. It’s wrong for the city to encourage BIAs as a way of avoiding responsibility for public sanitation.

Sawant: The biggest single reason Seattle lacks some of the services of other cities is the highly regressive tax structure in Washington State that is continued and enforced by the big business politicians. Working people in WA shoulder a higher percentage of taxes than any other state in the country. Using progressive taxes like a corporate head tax, parking lot taxes, and a millionaire’s tax, we could raise the funds to put more people to work keeping the city clean. One part of this is fully funding the parks department to make sure our parks are kept up and provide the services that make our neighborhoods comfortable, green, and vibrant. The city budget needs to put greater emphasis on basic services and de-prioritize business-approved vanity projects. We need to tax the rich and big business, but to do so we need elected representatives that don’t take corporate donations, and who have the political will to make it happen.

Screen-Shot-2015-05-11-at-11.33.48-AM-600x376Q10: With Convention Center expansion planning underway, can we count on your active support to help make an I-5 lid happen?

Banks: Yes, the convention center expansion should be an opportunity for Capitol Hill – not just Downtown. It would not only provide a greater connection, but it would increase the quality of life for those living and working near the highway. Several cities have undertaken similar projects successfully.

Beach: I would weigh a lid with the potential planned expansion of a business improvement area and changes in our funding for transit infrastructure for Cap Hill. There is going to be significant impact with the Convention Center expansion into D3, and now would be a good time to look at adding a lid to the area. However, I think bearing the cost of both a lid, the Move Seattle Levy for transit investment and a BIA fee expansion simultaneously could place a heavy burden on the small businesses and residents that make our district unique and vibrant. My priority first is an expanded BIA and mass transit projects to make it easier and more affordable to get around our entire city, and then I would look at the viability of a lid to compliment the area.

Hearne: Yes.

Sawant: Yes. We need better and safer pedestrian throughways between Capitol Hill and downtown, not treacherous vertical expeditions up and over an exhaust-filled canyon in inclement weather. A ‘lid’ extension to the North and open areas should not be a repeat of a private mall for the affluent. Rather, it should be an extended public center that reconnects downtown with Capitol Hill.

Seattle Double Rainbow Panorama 48/52
Q11: CHS bonus question: How will you capture and respond to (in a timely manner) the challenges, complaints, issues of the citizens in your district?

Banks: Working as the Outreach Director for the City, I earned a reputation for transparency, accessibility, and accountability. I’ve always had an open door policy, and I am making that my pledge to all District 3 residents. I plan to hold office hours in District 3 at coffee shops and community centers to make it easier for people to reach me. And I will encourage – and facilitate – projects for us all to work together on the issues and challenges that matter to us as a District.

Beach: I believe in having Districts for the first time, it is more important than ever to have an open and collaborative city hall. We need a door that’s open to all our neighbors, not just the friends and supporters of the City Councilmember. I make that promise to you, to listen, to be present and to learn from your experiences as well as my own. To respond to every phone call, email, facebook message or meeting request I get, as I have done through this entire campaign. Because this is District 3 and we have big visions for social justice and the future, like being the first city in the country to reach gender equity, but every person needs to feel a part of that and bring their voice and experiences to city hall through their councilmember.

Hearne: It’s inevitable that District representatives will be expected respond to constituent needs. As someone who’s worked customer service for over two decades, I know how to create systems to respond quickly, and individually to constituent requests.

Sawant: My council office has and will continue to help the thousands of people who have called and emailed. I will continue to do more to engage ordinary people in city politics than any other elected official, and reach out to listen to the community about its needs and concerns. As a councilmember, I have involved thousands of ordinary people by holding four town halls on the most important issues in the city, building coalitions like the People’s Budget, and bringing countless people into City Hall for the first time to fight for their interests. 600 people attended the affordable housing town hall that Councilmember Licata and I put on. 300 people packed the anti-hate crime town hall on Capitol Hill. I have lent support to numerous progressive movements in Seattle, discussing the issues with activists and ordinary citizens. I will continue to forge relationships with all the local unions, community groups, activists, environmentalists, native peoples, and small businesses, so that we can work together to make Seattle affordable for all.

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68 thoughts on “CHS Reader District 3 Candidate Survey: LGBTQ safety, affordability, and an I-5 lid

  1. Sawant trying to speak about economics is like a Holocaust denier teaching WWII history: offensive and ignorant.

    I remember a place where they thought that price controls and socialism would work: the Soviet Union. That experiment went well.

    On one end of the political spectrum are fascists that seek to empower the state by depriving the people of their rights. On the other end of the spectrum are extreme socialists like Sawant who seek to empower the state by depriving people of their rights (and their property and businesses and earnings). Both are equally bad.

    Sawant is a one track populist puppet funded by out of state unions that could care less about Seattle as opposed to their national agenda. It is unfortunate they could not have found somebody more intelligent and less annoying to support.

    • Well said.

      The candidates all say the same thing on these surveys, its just Sawant also turns it into an opportunity to display her arrogant and bitter hatred of any business or non-lower income person.

      Her oppressed victim mentality ideology gains her dependent low income support because she gives them free and heavily reduced price everything while screwing everyone else over by making Seattle way more expensive to live and work. To Sawant’s great delight the wealthy pay more in exorbitant taxes while the same taxes just drive the middle class out who cant afford to pay them and whom also don’t qualify for her welfare state.

      • Is there a corollary to Godwin’s Law, where any discussion of a right-wing politician’s policies will degenerate to comparisons to the Nazis? That is, anything a left-wing politician tries will automatically degenerate to Stalinism.

        Please try out some originality next time and spare us the ridiculous and frankly, hackneyed hyperbole. And by the way, I don’t support Sawant because I don’t agree with her positions, not because she wants to set up gulags in eastern Washington to crush political opponents.

        Comparing Seattle city politics to the genocides of Hitler’s and Stalin’s regimes, in my opinion, is the real offensive thing to say.

    • An internet commentator talking about nazis is like car mechanic talking about headlight fluid- once he mentions it, you know he has nothing for you.

      Hey tell me how great that post and pre USSR economy was was Russia- it has become such a shinny star of capitalism.

  2. why would we spend more tax money in an area that doesn’t want growth? better spend it somewhere else so more people can call Seattle their home

    • This is what I don’t understand either. There is so much room in other areas that are already well-connected to transit and in so-called “urban village” areas. Why do we keep trying to squeeze more and more people into the same spaces that are already too crowded and over-priced? And I don’t mean building in the ‘burbs either. There are plenty of places easily developed and more affordable in the Central District, Beacon Hill, Rainier Valley, Columbia City (just to name a few). They have infrastructure, they have transit. People will complain the amenities aren’t there, but they soon follow with the people. Why are all our eggs in one basket? As long as those other areas have less to offer, Capitol Hill will just get ever-more expensive. All harangues aside, you just can’t rent-control yourself out of that cycle.

      • Nice neo-liberal, neo-colonial circle-jerk you all have here. You are free to go rape and pillage somewhere else.

        Good luck with the election.

    • Simple. Because people want to be here, close to the jobs. It’s a simple matter of demand leading to more supply. The people that “don’t want growth” don’t want change.

      • Simple? Well, people in hell want icewater, don’t they? Me, I’d love to have a nice little apartment in the 1st arrondissement near the Louvre. Should I move to Paris and start agitating for a rent-controlled apartment so I can afford it? It’s NOT “a simple matter of demand leading to more supply”. It doesn’t matter how much you build it’ll never be enough to let everyone who wants to, afford to live on Capitol Hill. They’ll all get snapped up and lower- and mid-income people won’t be able to afford them anyway. Remember those apodments that were supposed to make it affordable, but nowend up costing $800-1000 for like 200 sq ft anyway? Sorry, that’s life.

      • the people that want to be on capitol hill can pay the higher rents. it’s the people who can’t afford it, but that WANT to live here, that are crying for rent control. this area needs growth; it does. centrally located to the seattle metro area, walkable to downtown, near much of the emerging tech industry in town, convenient nightlife, walkable urban environment. people want to be here.

        it’s only those people who think they have a moral right to be here because they “were here first” that don’t want the growth. well, to your point above, people in hell want ice water. growth is going to happen but i do agree we shouldn’t just let it run rampant without controls.

        we shouldn’t put any old multi-family structure wherever a developer wants to put one. density should be in areas on the hill where it makes sense. and yes, part of that density should be allotted to affordable housing. but it should also be the city’s responsibility to look at how to better tax these newer developments so that we can use that revenue to build city run affordable housing so that all the burden of cheap rents doesn’t rely on what a developer does.

  3. Homelessness was the second largest issue in the neighborhood survey. Why wasn’t it in the headline of this article? Homelessness in District 3 is not an unaffordability issue, it has nothing to do with a $15 minimum wage, it has very little to do with queer youth, and it is not a race issue (referring specifically to Capitol Hill observations). Anyone who walks through Cal Anderson Park and around the Hill that has her eyes open would see that it is primarily four groups: 1.) Meth and heroine addicts that buy drugs from the dealers that got moved from 3rd Ave and Freeway Park to Cal Anderson Park by the efforts to clean up the downtown business district for the tourist season 2.) People with mental health issues, primarily schizophrenia. 3.) Travelers (a.k.a gutter punks) that travel the west coast circuit every year (summer camp in Cal Anderson Park and winter in California). 4.) Felons and sex offenders dumped out of our broken prison system onto the streets (there are 130 registered sex offenders living on the streets by the KC courthouse where they have to check in every two weeks). The solutions involve an increase in social services, a housing first approach to treatment, and the political will to move them out of the parks, off the corner and into social service facilities. Visitors from other parts of the Country and around the world are shocked that we let people camp in the parks and in business districts. It is bad public policy that isn’t helping anyone. It is serious impacts on public safety, public health and livability on Capitol Hill. I will vote for anyone that supports the following solutions: 1.) arrest the meth heroin dealers in cal Anderson park 2.) move the drug addicts out of Cal Anderson Park and into treatment programs 3.) Get the mentally ill the treatment they need. 4.) strictly enforce the no camping rule in parks and on the sidewalks. 5.) Build more housing for mentally ill, drug addicted and the chronically homeless. 6.) move them off the street, out of the parks and into housing and treatment 7.) Move the travelers on their way and permanently close the Cal Anderson campground.

    • You have hit so many nails on the head with your post. It a tough issue that few seem to have the courage to tackle. I wish others (especially our leaders) were as aware as you. Thank you.

    • I am disgusted that the city and the police have let Cal Anderson deteriorate to this level. In 2012 it was identified as one of the 10 best parks in the country. Now it seems to be the city’s latest dumping ground for chronic problems. It is one block from the east precinct! WTF?!? The other day I saw a group shooting up on the playground equipment. It is a disgrace. Which of the candidates has the political courage to address this public health and safety issue head on? It doesn’t seem like any of them.

      • It is crazy. I was born and raised in this city, and last week was the first time that I saw a (very out in the open) dude with his pants pulled down jabbing a needle into his butt – in the middle of the park in the afternoon – while (not more than 20 yards away) another dude was laying down a deuce on the grass. It was quite a scene.

        We deserve better…even the poorer cities around the world (let alone the Stockholms and Tokyos ) would allow this to happen in their central areas. A city like Stockholm is hyper tolerant, but the police take a very, very zero tolerance position on extreme anti-social behavior. I want that.

      • Sweden and other “cleaner” European countries have a much bigger welfare state than the US, believe it or not (although it’s being eroded their slowly). If you want cleaner things, you’ll have to invest in keeping them that way. You can’t want Cal Anderson Park to magically clean itself up while simultaneously whining about City Council candidates, and sitting City Council members who are actively working to improve the conditions for working class people and the indigent.

    • I would hope we’d stop the insanity of putting a lid on I5 at a cost of billions before at least attempting to remedy some of the issues you bring up.

      People promoting the I5 lid or bike lanes or other pet issues of little importance over fundamental humanitarian needs are perfect examples privilege as policy.

      • Totally agree, Privilege. There is only so much money. I would love to see mitigation funds from the convention center build go to fulfilling “A bunch of Pollyannas” issues rather than building another park we can’t maintain.

      • There needs to be a balance, because if we only focused on (what I assume you’d call) the non-privileged we would underfund middle class infrastructure to the point of creating a rather bleak place: no quality mass transit, no grand Central Library, no public art, no world class parks. The thing that makes Seattle great is that we sometimes decide to make collective investments in at least a few useful infrastructural and cultural splurges. There are no worthwhile places on this crazy planet that don’t make “cool” builds while simutaneously supporting social services.

        BTW, the ‘privilege’ term that has popped up in certain circles over the last few years is so intellectually lazy -it’s an incredibly relative and subjective term. In reality, every person is privileged in some way or another. Calling somebody “privileged” is just the new middle finger salute, not an objective classification.

      • “no quality mass transit, no grand Central Library, no public art, no world class parks”

        Though I can’t speak to the original poster, I would argue that your specific examples are critical to all classes (probably less so to the upper class, probably more so to the lower ones), and as such should receive a lot of the city’s primary funding, particularly over things like bike lanes that are probably mostly used by moneyed tech workers and students. (Does anyone know the demographics of people who bike to work?)

        (I’m also not a fan of privilege as a term for exactly the reason you describe, but I think it’s actually relevant to this discussion. You have all of these competing interests around here–bike lanes! walkability on Pike/Pine!–which are most critical to people with roofs over their heads. But if you can’t walk through Cal Anderson past 9PM, I’m not sure that all of those measures are the optimal way to spend the city’s fixed resources.)

      • For people without cars, bike lanes are hella important. There are a lot of techies riding expensive bicycles around, but there are also lots of students, and less than wealthy types that only have that and walking (hello walkability infrastructure) as transportation options.

      • “For people without cars, bike lanes are hella important.”

        Of course they are. But I would argue that they’re important for those people who’ve made the personal choice to bike instead of walk or take public transportation. This choice is not available to a lot of people for various reasons. Biking isn’t a realistic option for a city with giant hills and a lot of shitty weather. (Bike ridership goes way down during the rain.) It isn’t a solution for middle-class people who work at labor-intensive jobs. It isn’t a solution for people who don’t have showers at their office.

        It’s mostly a solution for people with modern jobs who can probably afford alternatives, or for students who choose not to live on on near campus or who make the choice to bike between classes. Most workers have alternative options, and students already get discounts on public transportation.

        The numbers of bikers, and their demographics (mostly young, mostly white, mostly male) are being served everywhere else in this city, but it seems like they’re putting their own needs above those of others. Some of those bike lanes could be designated as bus lanes, and that would do more benefit larger swaths of people this city across all classes.

    • Excellent. You have articulately outlined the issues. I have a question–How do you propose to pay for these wonderful proposals? Please be as specific as you were with this post. I’ll start you off. How about higher property taxes that will increase rents? Maybe an increased sales tax?

      No complaints without suggested solutions please.

      • I think we could get most of the way there with better use of existing resources and by enforcing existing regulation. For example, enforcing the no camping rule which would require more police action (a cost) would be offset by reduced park maintenance costs. The cost of new housing for drug addicts and mentally ill would be recouped through a reduction in emergency care when they OD in the park. Tax revenue from existing sales tax would likely increase due to increased commerce resulting from more people visiting the city because there aren’t hypodermic needles on the sidewalk and piles of shit all over the parks.

    • I hope the Capitol Hill Blog does a follow up article on the deterioration of Cal Anderson Park and asks more pointed follow-up questions to the City Council candidates to see if they have the political courage to clean up the extreme antisocial behavior that is destroying the livability of the neighborhood. Ask the police why this is allowed to happen on the front doorstep of the east precinct. My theory is that they are punishing the neighborhood for putting pressure on them regarding police reform.

      • I think we have to look at the causes of our homeless population on two levels. One of which we can impact quickly and one is a bigger social burden.

        The prior excellent post laid out some of the different groups that are homeless. I am personally only sympathetic to the chronically mentally ill who have been cast aside and who truly have been cursed with a disease not of their making (though taking meds will improve symptoms). I have zero tolerance for the drug users and hobos who have exercised lifestyle decisions. We can as a society work for better parenting, mental health resources, education and harm reduction, but this is a long-term issue and needs to be done on a national and regional basis.

        The evidence suggests that we have to a large degree brought upon ourselves a good portion of the problem, by hanging out a welcome mat to people from around the country. They hear that Seattle has services and leaves them alone to be whoever they are. They can camp on our streets, parks and streets. They can panhandle where they wish, and idiots will give them coin and bills. And when it gets cold, they can sleep in shelters. And of course they can live in established tent cities implying permanence and acceptance. The good folks in Seattle’s social service and government sectors have told the nation, our suburbs and other WA cities to bring us your destitute and disturbed. How many of those on the streets, hard drug dealers, and gang bangers are from Seattle and King County vs. newly arrived?

        The more we do other than kick people out, the more we will have. Build homeless housing and there will be more homeless flocking her to fill it.

        I have been here for 37 years and have witnessed decades of effort to end homelessness and a marked increase in the problem. Coincidence?

      • Seattle offers a carrot but no stick. As a result we are an importer of homelessness. We need to have some tough conversations, not a bunch of candidates with BS, PC non-specific and clueless answers to a complex question

      • You should move to Dallas, Texas where living on the street is completely criminal.

        I don’t buy that you’ve “lived here for 37 years,” at least not in the city. Perhaps Shoreline? If you’ve lived in or near the city you’d know that shit hasn’t changed one bit along Pike/Pine downtown, and that areas along Yessler/Jackson/Chinatown have cleaned up “markedly.” Even little has changed in Capitol Hill or University District in terms of the litter and the drugs. I’ll agree that there are many more transients who visit during the warm months, but where is your “evidence” and “proof” that this isn’t a direct correlation to the increase in homelessness and wealth inequality nationwide?

    • Which councilmembers have the balls to take these much needed actions? Not even Burgess. They’re all afraid of losing the votes of these fine citizens using the park. It’s a total bum jungle.

    • I agree completely with your observations and your suggested solutions, especially the “housing first” (including treatment for addicts) approach…..an example which works is the apartment building at Denny & Stewart, for hard-core street alcoholics…we need more places like that. Unless this is available, we have nowhere to move the dysfunctional/antisocial homeless to.

      The problems are not just at Cal Anderson. There has been a guy camping in the traffic island at 10th & Republican for weeks….he leaves behind piles of beer bottles and trash, and is destroying the plants there. And everyone just looks the other way…..

    • Amen. Why aren’t you running for D3. More said and more solutions offered in one answer than in the full story above.

  4. Other global cities big and small I have visited in countries both rich and poor have children playing in the bushes and old couples sitting on park benches in city parks, not drug addicts camping in the bushes and mentally ill people taking a dump next to a wading pool. On numerous occasions I have had guests comment that this would not be allowed in their city. I now just avoid Cal Anderson park, which is sad because it is two blocks from where I live. It should be Capitol Hill’s living room. If we want to have dense, livable neighborhoods, then we need to reclaim these essential public spaces. Seattle politicians have no backbone to deal with tough issues.

    • Yep. Cal Anderson should be our Central Park – and, I wish it had a Central Park level of decorum. I’ve only been to NYC’s Central Park two times, but on both trips I never saw anything in that sprawling gem that comes close to what you can see within 10 seconds of entering Cal Anderson. Apparently, it wasn’t always that way in Central Park, but it shows what can be done with a little effort.

    • you get the politicians you elect. seattle has the biggest collection of clueless lunatics on city council, they don’t do anything because taking action might offend someone (unless its a business or wealthy person then its full out war)

  5. I got to give to the Seattle Parks crews in Cal Anderson. Every morning when I walk to the bus, they are out there cleaning up all the trash from the night before. Without them, the park would look like the I-5 overpass off Pine. That squatters’ encampment is a true trash heap.

    • I give them a lot of credit too. It must be very frustrating to act as house keepers for a bunch of meth addicts day after day.

  6. Sawant: “While Capitol Hill’s skyline is increasingly crowded with construction cranes and luxury condos”

    Luxury condos? Where? I see lots of new luxury apartments but most of the condos I see are not new or luxurious.

    Too bad she is so out of touch with the reality of Capitol Hill.

    • You’re the one with no clue. Walk along Belltown, or walk along Broadway and it’s pretty clear all the sandwich boards advertising condos in the high 399s! or 500s! Wake up and/or keep to your side of the pond, East Sider.

      • Steve, I’ve lived on the hill since 98. She’s talking about Capitol Hill, not Belltown. There are no luxury condo sales except for Luma on First Hill. All new builds have been apartments. There are no condo advertisements on Broadway for Capitol Hill condos – because they are all rentals.

        I understand you work for her campaign and troll in her favor so your opinions are worthless.

      • You’re really in touch with all the luxury condo offerings on Capitol Hill—you really know your neighborhood of 17 years.Good “catch.” You’re very in touch with your neighborhood. I’m sorry she isn’t super in touch with your luxury condo needs. She does clarify later in the interview, “luxury apartments.” Notwithstanding this difference, luxury apartment or condo, they’re unaffordable to many who’ve lived here as long or longer than yourself, and anyone who wants to live near the hospital, school, office, clinic, restaurant where they work.

        And ooooh! You think you’ve “outed” me. Congrats. I don’t work for her campaign. But yes, I’m a staunch supporter and I’ve lived here for just a couple years shy of you, so I guess all of that means my opinion doesn’t matter!

  7. It is great that Capitol Hill resdients are beginning to focus on how to better reconnect Capitol Hill to downtown Seattle over the noisy, unsightly, pollution spewing trench that is I-5. Please visit http://www.lidi5.com to learn more about possible solutions.

      • we need a new place for junkies to shoot up, defecate and trash up, the solution would be to cover I-5 with buildings to make the connection seamless between neighborhoods and provide needed housing but we cant have that because it might involve a developer who might make some money

  8. I wonder if those who oppose the welcome mat that Seattle has given the homeless and junkies are the silent majority? Today I biked to work downtown.

    On 11th by Cal Anderson there were people sleeping along the street and on the soccer field. There was a man sleeping in the middle of the sidewalk by the church just above the freeway on Pike. And I was not looking.

    How about a sweep of the parks, a police show of presence during the non-permitted night hours. How about studying where folks come from and see what we can do to send them back? How about officials ending their acceptance and tolerance and take lessons from less welcoming places like Bellevue or Texas for that matter? When is enough enough. The decades of ‘solutions’ have worsened the matter and we aere at a tipping point. Let the mayor, council, police and others know that the majority have their back if they want to send people packing. Don’t give to panhandlers. Don’t let them sleep on our sidewalks. Enforce the laws in place. A bit of whack a mole to be sure, but over time the word might get out that this is not as friendly a place as it used to be.

    • Not in my backyard says the new Amazonian who just moved here from ___.

      More police, more cleanups, more hard-line fascism is definitely the answer. I heard their building this new fucking place in the clouds for people like you.

      No, the fact is, you don’t understand Seattle at all.

      • Some of the rhetoric on here may be too strong, but the old timers are fed up too. The homeless junkie situation is out of hand and hurting the neighborhood. The city needs to take action to reclaim the park like they did with Central Park in New York.

      • LA is the West Coast city with the most similar problems. It too has become a magnet for homeless junkies who like to camp outside rather than stay in shelters. It has been tolerated for years and as a result has grown dramatically like in Seattle in recent years, while it has fallen dramatically in nearly all other cities across the country. The LA city council just passed a strong new ordinance to address the problem and get people off the street and into shelters. If we don’t do the same, I suspect some of these people will be traveling north to our well meaning but clueless city.

      • You have no idea what I understand. I have been here for decades and understand it all too well. And my training and work has put me in direct conversation with a portion of the population in question. How many conversations have you had with the people you purport to know?

      • Your vitriol suggests you don’t understand. I call bullshit on the fact that you’ve lived in the city for “decades”—your distaste for the homeless and the addicts, vis a vis your solution to lock them up, belies any kind of real history in the city. Whatever clients your “training” and “work” have put you in direct communication with seem really lucky ’cause you sound like a really caring and just person with great solutions. Keep up the great work. I hear they’re hiring upstanding citizens such as yourself in Bellevue and Texas.

      • Tell me your solutions. With specificity. Tell me how they differ substantially if at all from the efforts undertaken by the public and private sector in the past 30 years. I never said lock them up. I said move them on. Big difference. If we tell people they can’t sit here, can’t sleep there and so on, the message will be the opposite of today’s; you can do whatever you want, wherever you want. We have an influx from elsewhere. Why? Jobs at Amazon?

        I eagerly await your solutions, hopefully something original that we can all get behind. Win a genius award.

        I give up on the solutions and maintain that they are the problem that has led to Seattle being a magnet.

      • Hey, I am an artist who has lived here for over thirty years, and I agree with Lowell. I don’t think it’s helpful to insult people who take the time to articulate a thoughtful position that differs from your own and imply that something about them (working for a specific company or having moved here after a certain date) makes their opinion less valid than your own.

      • A thoughtful position? Lowell wouldn’t accept anything less than a buss pass out of town or jail as a viable solution. That’s not thoughtful. That’s NIMBYism.

      • Times are a changing old timers. Grab your pitchforks and torches ’cause the bums are here to steal and ruin everything you hold dear.

    • I agree with everything you are saying on here. But I have to tell you, the strategy of our city, which seems to be to go out of its way to attract more dysfunctional people who lower the quality of life for other people trying to use shared spaces (and the people who happen to be paying for the privilege of being harassed by these transients) baffles me to the point where I wonder if some very small, powerful group of people who benefits from a growing homeless population is cynically pushing this insanity at the expense of the rest of us.

  9. Is it fascism to enforce laws already on the books? These people are breaking numerous laws every day, but nothing is done. At some point you need to enforce the laws, remove the people breaking them, and try to get those who are willing some help. What other alternatives are there. And since it seems to be relevant here, lived on the Hill for twenty plus years.

    • Let those who defend this wholesale expropriation of the city publish their address and provide a tent site or a bed in their home.

      The streets and parks belong to those who follow the rules. Enforce them.

      Turn on the sprinklers. Eject the vagrants from public rights of way. Move them on with neither respite nor tolerance.

      Let’s revoke the welcome.

      • I wonder what percentage of Seattle taxpayers are sick of this tiny group of anti-social creeps who, let’s be frank, probably share very few of our values and would not show us the kindness we are showing them were our positions reversed, bullying the rest of us out of our public spaces. I sometimes feel as if I am in some sort of bizarro world where these rotten, selfish people who consider themselves to be above the rules the rest of us of follow – people leave everything worse for them having been there – are given more and more attention and services paid for by the rest of us. I mean, why do my taxes keep getting raised in order to keep these people around, when I don’t want them here, and honestly, I don’t see how any sane person could think life is improved by having these people around.

      • Lowell, I agree with everything you have said, and I think you are spot-on in saying that the “silent majority” opposes the tolerance of antisocial activities which seems to be a city policy. Hopefully, this majority will vote in the upcoming election, and at least elect a District 3 councilperson who will not continue the “same old-same old” approach, which is not working.

        Just yesterday, a vagrant was in the process of leaving his stuff for storage in my yard, and peeing on my house in the process. When I told him to move, he of course was angry and insulted. This kind of BS has got to stop!

      • Based on the responses to the question, none of them acknowledge that the situation is at crisis levels and that along with gang violence the drug addict campground that Capitol Hill has become is the biggest safety issue in the neighborhood, not to mention the public Heath and livability impacts.