Here’s how Seattle’s proposed tax on businesses to pay for homelessness services would work

With reporting by SCC Insight

The Seattle City Council’s proposed legislation to impose a new tax on businesses to help pay for homelessness services has finally seen the light of day and will begin its path through the council chambers with a committee meeting this week.

The proposal from the council’s Lorena Gonzalez and Lisa Herbold aims to raise at least $75 million annually to address the twin crises of affordable housing for the city’s most vulnerable people, and the increasing number of people living unsheltered. It comes in two parts: an ordinance that enacts the tax, and a resolution that lays out the spending plan. Continue reading

Seven candidates file for Seattle City Council Position 8 race

No incumbent and Seattle’s new Democracy Voucher program has drawn seven candidates to the race for the at-large City Council Position 8 so far.

In November, Jon Grant, former director of the Tenants Union, announced his bid for the seat left open by longtime council member Tim Burgess’s impending retirement. Since then notable others have decided to vie for the job. Among them are Mac McGregor, a gender, diversity, and sex educator, activist, speaker, and coach, Teresa Mosqueda, political director for the Washington State Labor Council, and Sheley Secrest, local NAACP vice president.

10660100_10204351737221066_5828433409770086078_nMac McGregor
McGregor served on the Seattle LGBTQ Commission from 2011 to 2016. As The Gender Sensei, McGregor offers classes on self-defense, martial arts, and Tai-chi wellness. He is also a professional life coach, personal trainer, motivational speaker, and educates and trains groups on diversity and sensitivity, according to his website.

The Beacon Hill resident moved to Seattle from the Bible Belt in 2008.

“Even though there’re so many things we do right in Seattle, and we’re a progressive city in so many ways, we can do better,” McGregor told CHS. Continue reading

Cap on move-in fees wins committee approval at City Council

screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-7-23-54-amA bill that could significantly limit the upfront costs of moving into many apartments in Seattle was voted out of a City Council committee Tuesday.

Under the measure from District 3 representative Kshama Sawant, landlords could only charge tenants the first full month’s rent upon move-in and would need to allow tenants to pay the security deposit, non-refundable move-in fees, and last month’s rent in installments. According to an example provided by Sawant, a tenant moving into an $1,800 a month unit today could pay $5,600 to sign the lease. Under her proposal, the same tenant would only have to pay $2,400 to move-in as other upfront costs would be spread out over six months.

The Energy and Environment committee passed the bill on to the full council, which is expected to vote on the measure in October.

Continue reading

City Council passes secure scheduling law, rezone at 23rd and Union

Service industry workers and the unions representing them scored victory at City Hall Monday as the City Council unanimously approved a new secure scheduling ordinance in Seattle.

Workers at some of Seattle’s largest restaurants and retailers will be paid extra for short notice schedule changes and on-call shifts once the law goes into effect in July 2017. Supporters say it will offer a much-needed level of predictability for hourly workers, especially those with children or those attending school.

The law will apply to restaurants and retailers with 500 or more employees in Seattle or nationally. Full service restaurants would also need to have 40 or more locations worldwide.

Employers will be restricted from scheduling “clopenings,” where employees work closing and opening shifts back-to-back, unless an employer requests it. Workers will be required to have at least ten hours between shifts. Employers would also be required to offer existing employees additional hours before new employees are hired. Continue reading

Should restaurants have to pay workers extra for schedule changes and on-call shifts?


Kshama Sawant visited a Starbucks last year to explain her first major workers rights victory — the $15 minimum wage . (image: CHS)

One restaurant worker on Capitol Hill said fluctuating work hours each month were a “constant stress” as making rent perpetually hangs in the balance. A Hillman City fast-food manager said scheduling is an enormous task and when employees cannot pick up shifts, it is usually management that forgoes personal and family time to fill the gap.

The anecdotes, included in an extensive 119-page report on hardships faced by Seattle workers due to shifting work schedules, offers a glimpse into the contentious waters city officials are wading into as they consider a new secure scheduling ordinance.

A city-contracted researcher found that a third of workers surveyed faced serious hardships because of their work schedule, with African American and Latino workers reporting “significantly higher” than average rates of hardship. Nearly half of the workers surveyed said they would forego a 20% pay increase to secure substantive advanced notice for work.

“The data reveals that a significant number of Seattle employees’ schedules produce hardship including difficulty planning a budget, a second job, and childcare needs,” said Council member Lisa Herbold in a statement. Continue reading

Council member O’Brien wants Central Co-op to anchor Capitol Hill Station development

Favorites-1-of-4-1-600x400Council member Mike O’Brien has made an unexpected endorsement, not for a political candidate, but for a Capitol Hill grocer.

In a letter to the developer of the four-site retail and housing project that will one day surround the Capitol Hill Station, the District 6 rep expressed his support for Central Co-op to become the development’s anchor tenant over Portland-based New Seasons Market. Both grocers are vying to occupy the future prominent retail space on Broadway, poised to be an extremely high-trafficked site given the thousands of light rail riders who are already moving through the block daily.

Members of the 16th and E Madison co-op announced in April to pursue a second location in the “transit oriented development” following reports that developer Gerding Edlen was in talks with New Seasons.

A group of labor organizations and Council District 3 rep Kshama Sawant previously voiced concerns about an “anti-union climate” at New Seasons stores. Citing Central Co-op’s early implementation of a $15 minimum wage and “spirit of sustainability,” O’Brien said the Capitol Hill-born grocer would be a better fit for the neighborhood.

“I was in the room when they announced their desire to pursue the TOD space,” O’Brien said in his letter. “I was inspired by the energy and excitement of hundreds of people, all of whom are owners of the business, turning their energy towards a common goal and vision.” Continue reading

City Council approves Seattle bike share’s public takeover

Seattle’s bike share network will come under City of Seattle ownership with an eye on expansion as City Council members voted 7-2 Monday to save the indebted system.

After tacking on amendments to improve bike lane infrastructure downtown and ensure that bike sharing reaches low income neighborhoods, City Council members approved a plan for the City to takeover Pronto with a $1.4 million investment while reserving another $3.6 million for future expansion of the system next year under a new operator contract.

Council member Mike O’Brien, who ushered the buyout plan through the transportation committee last month, said the system was worth saving as thousands of riders were already relying on it as a mode of transportation.

The vote comes after months of debate on what to do with the insolvent bike share system owned by the nonprofit Puget Sound Bike Share. While the $5 million was already earmarked for Pronto last year, the systems financial shortcomings weren’t known outside the bowels of City Hall. The system would have ceased operations on March 31st without the city investment.

By spending $1.4 million, Seattle will immediately acquire 26 stations from Pronto as well as all remaining hard assets. The City already owns 28 stations after purchasing them with a federal grant. The City would also seek out a new operating contract as Pronto’s current contract with the company Motivate ends at the end of 2016. Motivate could still submit a bid to continue running the service. Continue reading

Seattle City Council sorting out how to connect to new districts

Council member Sawant at her swearing-in ceremony earlier this month

Council member Sawant at her swearing-in ceremony earlier this month

As the new City Council settles in at City Hall, its seven district representatives are also starting to think about how to get out into their new constituent neighborhoods. During the campaign, candidates floated ideas like opening district offices, attending community council meetings, and holding coffee shop drop-in sessions.

In District 3, City Council member Kshama Sawant has one scheduled public appearance within the district’s bounds so far in the coming months. On Wednesday, Sawant will be participating in a panel discussion about jobs and equal employment issues held by the Multimedia Resources and Training Institute at the 2100 Building near 23rd Ave S and Rainier Ave S. A Sawant staffer told CHS there were no updates yet on plans for open office hours around the district, which includes Capitol Hill and the Central District. Continue reading

District 3 neighborhoods sharply divided on Sawant and Banks going into November election

Screen-Shot-2013-09-28-at-1.48.42-PMWe’ll have wait to see if Seattle’s new district-based City Council will become gridlocked in ward politics, but the competing interests within the districts themselves, especially in District 3, could prove to be an even more influential dynamic.

Following last week’s primary election, it’s clear there are some deep divisions between District 3 neighborhoods over socialist City Council member Kshama Sawant and Democrat Pamela Banks.

Political consultant Benjamin Anderstone dug into the the raw election data for Crosscut to see how Sawant and Banks faired at the neighborhood level. Not surprising, Sawant dominated Capitol Hill and the Central District, but she was clobbered by Banks in the more affluent precincts along Lake Washington.

(Sawant) did well this time around in urban Capitol Hill (61 percent) and the Central District (64 percent). Support is much thinner on the ground in the affluent neighborhoods of Madison Park and Washington Park, where Sawant placed third with 16 percent each. At the Broadmoor Golf Club, Seattle’s only Republican precinct, she polled at only 6 percent.

Sawant’s main opponent, Pamela Banks, unsurprisingly fared best in these neighborhoods – 60 percent at Madison Park and 63 percent at Washington Park. These are unequivocal results. Primary results suggest Sawant could be on track for a strong showing, but it certainly won’t be a unanimous one.

Sawant has picked up two points in the district-wide ballot count since the first drop on August 4th, extending her lead to 52% of the vote to Banks’ 34%. Some were anticipating a bigger showing from Sawant. In 2013 she won 58% of the vote in District 3 precincts and did even better on Capitol Hill. Then-incumbent Richard Conlin has backed Banks, along with six other sitting City Council members. Continue reading