Chief Best sworn in to lead Seattle Police

(Image: City of Seattle)

Carmen Best has served Seattle citizens on the sometimes-dangerous streets of the city for 26 years. Now she has successfully navigated the equally sometimes-times dangerous pathways at City Hall to win confirmation as the Chief of Police in Seattle, the 22nd most populous city in the nation.

“As the new police Chief, I’ll continue to lead our department through a culture of continuous improvement and innovation,” Best said in a statement released Monday following her official swearing-in: Continue reading

Rental study finds challenging times for Seattle renters *and* landlords — and confirms what you probably already assumed about Capitol Hill’s new, larger buildings: They charge more

(Image: Excelsior Apartments)

Outcomes of a new effort at City Hall to study rental housing trends show challenges for both tenants and landlords — and that larger developments are asking for higher rents than smaller buildings.

A group of researchers from the University of Washington surveyed both landlords and renters in the Seattle area to learn about the state of the rental market and the effectiveness of recent ordinances enacted by the City Council.

While the Seattle Rental Housing Study did not deal with broader trends, such as overall rent prices, it did deal with the attitudes of those involved in the rental market. The research was required by two city ordinances passed in 2016 and included in the 2017 budget. Ordinance 125114 prohibits unfair practices for screening and choosing tenants and Ordinance 125222 limits security deposits and non-refundable move-in fees.

Despite their goal of aiding renters, the team’s focus groups had no familiarity with the new ordinances and were skeptical about their effectiveness.

“All of the renters that we spoke to in all of the focus groups, they expressed a high level of barriers to housing access,” research lead Kyle Crowder said at a July 24th meeting of the Seattle City Council’s renters rights committee about recent movers his team surveyed,

The barriers renters are referring to are more numerous than just the lack of affordability in Seattle, but that was one of the most frequently cited issues.

“The renters that we spoke to in our focus groups feel squeezed financially by the housing market,” Crowder, a professor of sociology at the UW, said at the meeting. “That was a common theme.”

Other problems mentioned by renters were a “lack of transparency in application/leasing process” and discrimination based on race, ethnicity, or source of income, especially for voucher recipients, according to the study. Continue reading

District 3’s Sawant wants to ‘save the Showbox’ — UPDATE

(Image: The Showbox)

Capitol Hill’s City Hall representative Kshama Sawant is facing pushback on her proposed emergency resolution to extend landmarks and historical protections to downtown music venue, the Showbox.

“Some ask: aren’t the artists and community members wanting to #SaveTheShowbox simply being nostalgic, sentimental, and anti-change?,” Sawant wrote Monday morning on social media. “The problem is very little of the change in Seattle has been on our terms as ordinary working people — it favors big corporations and the wealthy.” Continue reading

As mayor unveils new ‘Innovation Advisory Council,’ Seattle Hot Take Council weighs in

Sometimes in politics, timing is more important than intent. In a summer of setbacks on Seattle’s most progressive issues including the approved and then un-approved homelessness crisis tax on big businesses, the latest in a long line of Mayor Jenny Durkan’s new City Hall committees is drawing plenty of cynicism. Here’s the announcement live from Zillow headquarters of the mayor’s new Innovation Advisory Council to address the city’s “most urgent challenges” —

At Zillow Group in Seattle, Mayor Jenny A. Durkan signed an Executive Order to launch the City’s first ever Innovation Advisory Council. With initial commitments by Amazon, Artefact Group, Expedia Group, Flying Fish, Microsoft, Tableau, Technology Access Foundation, Washington Technology Industry Association, and Zillow Group, Mayor Durkan will bring together some of the region’s most innovative companies and organizations to address the City’s most urgent challenges. Through this Executive Order, Mayor Durkan is establishing the Innovation Advisory Council, a new collaboration with Seattle’s technology community that will better highlight technology solutions to help with our homelessness and affordability crisis.

Continue reading

Seattle can’t afford a new First Hill park so it’s planning to spend $1M to fix up the old First Hill Park

Seattle has money set aside to buy park land in the First Hill neighborhood. The First Hill neighborhood, however, doesn’t really have any park land for sale. The solution? Move $1 million $500,000 from the Seattle Park’s acquisition funding and invest it the neighborhood’s existing central green space — First Hill Park.

UPDATE: An additional $500,000 to complete the project will come from the Swedish Medical Center public benefits package.

The Seattle City Council’s civic development committee will discuss the proposal Wednesday afternoon following years of community involvement to reshape the 0.2-acre city park adjacent Stimson-Green Mansion at Minor and University. Continue reading

Council hosts public hearing on Seattle Police Chief Best appointment

The mayor has decided to stick with interim Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best. Now she has to gain the approval of the Seattle City Council. A public hearing Wednesday night in council chambers will also give citizens a chance to weigh in:

Gender Equity, Safe Communities, New Americans, and Education Committee
Public Hearing – Special Meeting
Wednesday, August 1, 2018 6:00 PM SEATTLE CITY COUNCIL Council Chamber, City Hall 600 4th Avenue Seattle

As part of the process, the council presented Best with a set of “confirmation questions.” Her answers, below, show the 26-year veteran of the Seattle Police Department prioritizes growth in the officer ranks and increasing alternatives to traditional enforcement and criminal justice. Continue reading

Seattle approves 18-month plan for downtown, Pike/Pine protected bike lanes — and a plan for 20K shared bikes to help fill them

Standoff on the Green

The Seattle City Council Monday approved legislation that will double the amount of shared bicycles on city streets to 20,000 and approved an 18-month timetable for creating “a connected, protected bicycle lane network” downtown that will include a Pike/Pine route to connect with Broadway.

“Ensuring that we are making our public right-of-way safe for pedestrians, for cyclists, and prioritizing transit, is an issue of environmental justice, economic justice, racial justice, and gender justice!,” Council member Teresa Mosquedasaid about the vote Monday for the resolution to put a timetable behind the downtown bike plan. Continue reading

Gentle start to Best SPD chief confirmation hearings

With reporting by SCC Insight
Wednesday, the City Council kicked off its confirmation hearings for Carmen Best as Seattle’s next Chief of Police.

It was a gentle start to the process, with several supporters of Best showing up to speak during public comments, and committee chair Lorena Gonzalez aiming for a general and high-level conversation to introduce the nominee to the general public.

Here are some highlights from the wide-ranging conversation:

  • Best said that her vision for the department centered around three things: having every officer engage with the community, holding people accountable, and being innovative in using the best business practices to ensure that the SPD budget is being used most effectively. Continue reading

New Seattle design review rules will give neighbors earlier say and, hopefully, better buildings

“This new requirement is for developers to begin conversation with community members before project designs are complete.”

New rules are designed to give Seattle residents early opportunities to comment on new developments in their neighborhoods. Just don’t expect it to usher in a new era of neighborhood-led construction plans.

Stemming from an ordinance passed by the City Council in 2017, the new rules went into effect July 1, and will apply to any project which starts its development permitting process after that date.

The changes simplify the rules for which projects are subject to design review. Then, if a project is subject to any level of design review – streamlined, administrative, or a full board review – the developer must actively solicit community input before beginning the design review process. Continue reading

City will create minimum wage, new oversight board for Seattle’s nannies, house cleaners, gardeners

Nannies, house cleaners, gardeners, and more will benefit from a minimum wage, new regulations, and a new oversight board after the Seattle City Council Monday passed a so-called domestic workers bill of rights, the first such legislation in the nation, according to City Hall.

“For far too long, domestic workers have lived and worked in the shadows of our economy. Domestic workers – who are primarily women, immigrants and people of color – and hiring entities have called for more protections. This bill extends basic labor protections to those whose work makes it possible for so many people to go to work, knowing their loved ones and home are cared for,” council member Teresa Mosqueda (Position 8, Citywide), chair of the Housing, Health, Energy and Workers’ Rights Committee, said in an announcement on the newly passed legislation. Continue reading