Sawant finds no support on ‘legal and viable’ affordable housing proposals

District 3 representative Kshama Sawant found no support from her fellow City Council members Tuesday in her fight for increased spending for affordable housing as Seattle City Hall plods to a conclusion of the 2019-2020 budget process.

“What is not acceptable to me or the movement that is fighting for this is to do nothing or do very little,” the frustrated councilor said.

During Tuesday’s session, none of Sawant’s fellow council members were willing to join the Socialist Alternative firebrand in pushing a series of budget amendment proposals born of the “People’s Budget” process. Continue reading

Sawant and the People’s Budget rallies for increased funding for affordable housing, shelters

Socialist Alternative Party community organizer Kailyn Nicholson introduces Council member Kshama Sawant as the first speaker at the People’s Budget 2018 at Seattle City Hall, Saturday, October 6, 2018. This was Sawant’s fifth year hosting the People’s Budget. (Image: Ryan Phelan)

By Ryan Phelan, UW News Lab/Special to CHS

Concerns for affordable housing, homeless shelters, tenants rights, workplace protections and Indigenous Peoples Day stoked criticism of the mayor’s proposed budget at the People’s Budget rally hosted by District 3 representative Kshama Sawant on Saturday.

“This budget that Mayor Durkan has proposed this year is not even a business as usual budget,” said Kailyn Nicholson, a community organizer for Socialist Alternative, Sawant’s political party. “This budget is even worse than that. This budget is flat out regressive.”

The People’s Budget, hosted at City Hall, is a political movement that rallies yearly for progressive change in the proposed Seattle budget. Several speakers and attendees focused on affordable housing initiatives. Less than 1% of Mayor Jenny Durkan’s proposed budget is allocated for affordable housing, Sawant said. Continue reading

O’Brien and Harris-Talley: Tax Seattle businesses for homelessness

In a press conference Thursday morning, Seattle City Council members Mike O’Brien and Kirsten Harris-Talley announced the core of a new proposed budget for the city: making the top 10% grossing businesses pay a tax of less than five cents per hour per full-time employee. The H.O.M.E.S. proposal — Housing, Outreach and Mass-Entry Shelter — would gather $20 to $25 million every year which to be applied to homelessness services, permanent housing, and vouchers.

“I’m afraid our current budget sets us up for failure,” O’Brien said. “This is not enough to solve the crisis. We will be asking the new mayor, whoever she is, to come up with a new plan in the first few months.” Continue reading

Seattle’s ‘efficient’ budget rounds out with $29M affordability bond, $12M for homeless, 72 new cops

In the shadow of worries about possible cuts to federal aid to his city, Mayor Ed Murray will sign Seattle’s more than $5 billion 2017-2018 budget Tuesday after rounds of changes and tweaks by the City Council.

The council voted on the budget plan Monday. As has been her wont, District 3 representative Kshama Sawant was the sole council member to vote against the spending package pounded out over the past month in City Hall.

“Today I rejected another biz-as-usual budget, while celebrating power of movements & our #Build1000Homes Coalition’s $29M #housing victory!,” read Sawant’s tweet on the vote. The Socialist Alternative councilor credited her Build 1,000 Homes coalition in the push for the addition of a $29 million affordable housing bond to next year’s budget plan.

“For everyone out there that wonders if it is possible to fight Trump and his racist, sexist, right wing agenda, you should take heart from victories such as these,” Sawant’s message read.

The mayor’s office, meanwhile, called the plan “a vision for Seattle focused on equity, safety, affordability, innovation, and good governance.” Continue reading

Budget update: 8 City Council tweaks to budget include reversing mayor’s drug arrest diversion cuts

budget-process-updateA proposed cutback on the city’s Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program that expanded to SPD’s East Precinct on Capitol Hill in 2016 will be restored in proposed changes to the Seattle budget put forward by the City Council this week.

District 3 representative Kshama Sawant sponsored the proposed $150,000 budget line item’s “green sheet” addition to the 2017 spending plan.

This Green Sheet would add $150,000 GSF in 2017 and $150,000 GSF in 2018 to the Human Services Department (HSD) for the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program. LEAD expanded to East Precinct in 2016; this funding would keep LEAD’s City-funded portion of its budget at the same level ($960,000).

LEAD is a pre-booking program that places qualifying drug use suspects into counseling instead of jail.

CHS wrote about Mayor Ed Murray’s 2017-2018 budget plan from a Capitol Hill perspective here. Council members have bristled at the mayor’s plan to slice back LEAD spending as well as his homeless spending plan.

Below are eight tweaks to the mayor’s plan being carried forward by the council members. You can take a look at all 104 proposed budget updates here.

  1. Fund the LEAD program: Add $150,000 GSF in 2017 and 2018 to HSD for the LEAD program Continue reading

9 pictures, 9 quotes from Kshama Sawant’s People’s Budget Town Hall

As City Council gets its say on reshaping Mayor Ed Murray’s budget boosts and cuts for 2017 and beyond, District 3 representative Kshama Sawant has again passed the mic to the people. Tuesday night, the three-year council member hosted her third annual People’s Budget Town Hall. The 2016 theme? “Build 1,000 Homes!” following Sawant’s campaign to repurpose the proposed $160 million budget for a new North Precinct headquarters for SPD. “If you’re worried about not having pristine conditions for the police, then welcome to the world of public housing, and public education and public schools,” Sawant said Tuesday night. “They face substandard conditions everyday.” Below, you’ll find 9 pictures and 9 quotes from Tuesday night’s session.

Indigenous activist, teacher, and member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe - Matt Remle - “We need 1,000 homes now. Many of our native brothers and sisters are experiencing homelessness at a very high rate. We need to bring them in to be a part of the conversation.”

Matt Remle – Indigenous activist, teacher, and member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe – “We need 1,000 homes now. Many of our native brothers and sisters are experiencing homelessness at a very high rate. We need to bring them in to be a part of the conversation.”

Kshama Sawant - “Nationwide in metropolitan areas like Seattle, for every $100 average increase in rent, there is a 15% increase in homelessness. It doesn’t require us to be a genius to understand that we need a comprehensive set of policies to address the unaffordability of housing and rising homelessness...One of the things we need to highlight, is that when you look at who’s homeless, communities of colors and minorities are overrepresented among homeless people, as are the LGBTQ community. If you look at the percentage of black and brown people and Native American people in the city, they are small, but if you look at homeless people, they are large. That shows you that the inequality and racism truncates into real issues for our community members.”

Kshama Sawant – “Nationwide in metropolitan areas like Seattle, for every $100 average increase in rent, there is a 15% increase in homelessness. It doesn’t require us to be a genius to understand that we need a comprehensive set of policies to address the unaffordability of housing and rising homelessness…One of the things we need to highlight, is that when you look at who’s homeless, communities of colors and minorities are overrepresented among homeless people, as are the LGBTQ community. If you look at the percentage of black and brown people and Native American people in the city, they are small, but if you look at homeless people, they are large. That shows you that the inequality and racism truncates into real issues for our community members.”

Continue reading

City Council budget debate includes Capitol Hill LGBTQ center plan — UPDATE

George Piper of Seattle LGBTQ Development spoke Monday in favor of a new Capitol Hill community center -- provided the LGBTQ community actually guides its creation

George Piper of Seattle LGBTQ Development spoke Monday in favor of a new Capitol Hill community center — provided the LGBTQ community actually guides its creation

UPDATE: Monday’s City Council budget negotiations didn’t get off to a good start for the future representative of District 3. After a prolonged debate, three proposals from City Council member Kshama Sawant failed to make the agenda, effectively killing or delaying key parts of the progressive action plan she laid out ahead of this year’s budget process.

The City Council rejected Sawant’s amendments for increased spending on homeless services, a study to create a LGBTQ community center on Capitol Hill, and funding for a municipal broadband pilot project.

Debate over Sawant’s “statement of legislative intent” to have the parks department study the creation of a new Capitol Hill LGBTQ center zeroed in on the scope of Seattle’s existing community centers and if the parks department was the best agency to oversee the project. City Council member Tom Rasmussen, the council’s only gay member, lead the objection to Sawant’s proposal, saying community centers were meant to serve all residents.

“The LGBTQ community is well dispersed throughout Seattle,” he said. “To confine these services… to Capitol Hill is very limited.”

City council members approved Rasmussen’s alternative amendment (PDF), which directs the parks department to study how it can better serve residents at all of its community centers with special focus on Capitol Hill’s Miller Community Center. Rasmussen said he supported the idea of a LGBTQ “impact hub” on Capitol Hill, but urged caution given past LGBTQ centers that shuttered because of dwindling public support. “It has to grow organically from the community and really have a solid business plan,” he said.

Supporters of municipal broadband were also dealt a blow after council members rejected Sawant’s $4.8 million budget amendment for a municipal broadband pilot project. Saying hatred against Comcast was the “great uniter” in Seattle, Sawant proposed funding the amendment though a tax on businesses based on the number of employees they have.

Council members were expected to take a final vote on the budget amendments Monday afternoon.

UPDATE: The Department of Neighborhood’s would reorganize itself around the new City Council districts under a budget resolution put forward by Council member Sally Bagshaw There are currently nine district coordinators assigned to 13 neighborhood districts which now overlay seven council districts. The statement of legislative intent (PDF) doesn’t necessarily require neighborhood districts match council districts, but instructs DON to study its options in a preliminary report due May 1st.

The plan should include proposals for changes or modifications to the Neighborhood District Coordinators program, including proposals for updated job descriptions, protocols for working with district Councilmembers, and improvements to the City’s relationship to the existing District Councils and City Neighborhood Council.

Continue reading

Last call for comment on 2016 budget: DPD overhaul, streetcar extension, homelessness funding, bike share expansion, and cop body cams


The Seattle City Council will hold its final public hearing on the 2016 budget Tuesday — part of a civic doubleheader on changes planned at City Hall:

The second public hearing will be held to solicit public comment on: (1) the City’s 2016 General Revenue Sources, including a possible property tax levy increase; and (2) Mayor Edward B. Murray’s 2016 Proposed Budget. This hearing will begin at 5:45 p.m., or at the conclusion of the first public hearing, and will continue until all in-person comments have been received.

“Council received the Mayor’s 2016 budget proposal on September 28,” a statement on the hearing reads. “Councilmembers have been reviewing the proposal and will soon begin developing modifications to meet the needs of Seattle residents in areas such as public safety, education, transportation and affordability.”

CHS reported here on Mayor Ed Murray’s $5.1 billion proposal for the 2016 Seattle budget including a DPD overhaul, streetcar extension, homelessness funding, bike share expansion, and cop body cams. We have more about the planned bike share expansion — including a transition to electric bicycles — here.

Tuesday, the evening begins with a short hearing on the proposal to break up the DPD:

The first hearing will begin at 5:30 p.m. and will be held on Council Bill 118502, containing amendments to the Seattle Land Use Code, Seattle Municipal Code Title 23, to reorganize the Department of Planning and Development into two separate departments: (1) the Office of Planning and Community Development; and (2) the Department of Construction and Inspections.

You can learn more and submit feedback on the budget proposals here or send email to CouncilAgenda@Seattle.gov. “All comments received are considered public records.”

Puget Sound Symphony Orchestra presents “Music Sets the Scene”

Music Sets the Scene for Puget Sound Symphony Orchestra’s 15th anniversary season finale performance. Under the direction of Alan Shen, the program includes selections from classic films, and features the return of acclaimed piano soloist Sara Davis Buechner performing Gershwin’s “Piano Concerto in F.” Join Seattle’s premier community orchestra for an evening of classical music, friends, and fun.

Final 2014 Seattle budget plans include transportation investments in Broadway streetcar extension, Madison ‘bus rapid transit’ and a bikeway sweeper

Screen Shot 2013-11-25 at 3.27.42 PMMonday, the Seattle City Council approved a 2014 budget with several line items that will change, grow and re-shape Capitol Hill. CHS outlined the list here including money to help overhaul the Egyptian Theatre, funds to assist local homeless shelters and re-focusing of the Seattle Police budget in an attempt to better address central Seattle’s public safety needs.

Plans for the city’s Transportation Benefit District spending were also approved including more than $1 million for two projects important to Capitol Hill public transit:

  • $175,000 for TC367240 Broadway Streetcar Extension (PDF) “provides funding to complete formation activities for a Local Improvement District (LID).” CHS reported on the planning for the streetcar’s push for Volunteer Park here.
  • TC367480 Madison Street Bus Rapid Transit’s $1 million “funds preliminary engineering and environmental analysis. Would enable the project to be grant ready in 2015. You can read more about Madison BRT from the Central District News.

We are also getting the benefit of a spiffy new $225,000 street sweeper the Seattle Department of Transportation is acquiring to help keep the Broadway Bikeway and Seattle’s growing network of cycle tracks open and safe. With Seattle in the market for a a machine for the job, Portland’s RAVO 5-Series –like the one pictured above — is Netherlands-made and “is the absolute top in street sweeping machines and worldwide the best sold sweeper,” the manufacturer says.

We should see something like it plying Broadway by mid-2014.