City Hall committee has 20 questions on affordability for you to answer

In November, CHS introduced you to some of the Capitol Hill connections in the citizen body tasked by Mayor Ed Murray with producing an affordable housing plan for Seattle by spring 2015.

In addition to community meetings and City Hall updates, there is an effort underway to gather feedback from citizens about what affordable living really means. You can participate in this 20-question survey to add your experience to the dataset. Questions #8 and #9 are doozies!Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 4.06.46 PM

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You can learn more about the Housing Affordability and Livability Advisory Committee here.

On Monday, CHS examined the numbers around gentrification on Capitol Hill.

You can also talk with City Council members Sally Clark and Kshama Sawant at Thursday night’s Capitol Hill Community Council open house.

City Hall quiet as plans for Capitol Hill pot shop tōk move forward

A sign of pot's maturing presence around central Seattle, Uncle Ike's gets an upgrade (Photo: CHS)

A sign of retail pot’s maturing presence around central Seattle, Uncle Ike’s gets a signage upgrade (Photo: Uncle Ike’s)

Sometimes, no news is good news. Samuel Burke tells CHS he never heard any objections from Mayor Ed Murray’s office by the December 4th deadline to reply to his application for a retail marijuana shop at 15th Ave E and E Republican. That should mean Burke’s proposed location is officially a go.

A 1,000 ft. buffer around the future home of tōk.

A 1,000 ft. buffer around the future home of tōk.

According to state law, a retail marijuana shop must keep a 1,000-foot buffer from schools, parks, or community centers. Initially, city and state officials thought the 15th Ave  location was too close to the Parkside School daycare. But with the city’s tacit approval of the location, Burke can now forge ahead with his application at the Liquor Control Board

If all goes according to plan, Burke told CHS he would be opening Capitol Hill’s first retail marijuana shop in early 2015 inside the space currently occupied by the Capitol Hill Animal Clinic.

Burke has also settled on a name for his new venture: tōk. “It has some elegance,” he said. Continue reading

Seattle City Council to discuss opening a city-run bank

publicbankingexplainedDespite their up-in-the-clouds website imagery, members of the Seattle Public Bank Coalition are quite grounded in their ideas for Seattle to become the first major city to operate its own bank. According to the group, a city bank would generate funds for community investment and could lower the cost of capital for the city by 30-40%.

The group has even found an ally on the Seattle City Council. On Wednesday, council member Nick Licata will hold a briefing on the issue during the Finance and Culture Committee’s 2 PM meeting. Licata will then head over to the U-District to participate in an evening public forum on creating a city bank. The Washington state constitution may present a serious hurdle to public banking, but Licata says it’s not an insurmountable barrier.

Here’s how the City Council breaks down public banking:

A public bank is a state-licensed banking institution established to provide depository services to local governments, and to make loans to promote policy objectives such as affordable housing preservation and development, infrastructure investment and fostering local economic development.

The Possibilities for a Public Bank in Seattle Public Forum will take place Wednesday, December 10th, 7-9 PM, at the University of Methodist Church, 1415 NE 43rd St.

Capitol Hill notes on Seattle’s new $4.8 billion budget: City workers get $15, nonprofit min wage help, design review reform plus more cops, better policing, help for the homeless, CD bike share, and library upgrades

Cash from the Real Estate Excise Tax will go to library upgrades and “Re-Imagined Spaces” across the city — including the Capitol Hill branch (Image: J Brew via Flickr)

The City Council is slated to adopt the city’s 2015-2016 budget on Monday. Earlier this month the council’s budget committee added some spending items to Mayor Ed Murray’s budget before unanimously passing it on to a full council vote, so don’t expect too many tweaks ahead of Monday’s final vote. To continue the theme of the original Murray package, Seattle’s new boom times mean growth not cuts. The council followed suit with most effort in the past few weeks spent on adding line items, not cutting. The council meeting starts at 2 PM.

In all, the council added $8.6 million worth of 2015 spending items onto Murray’s budget. To put that in perspective, the total package tallies more than $4.8 billion. The most notable additions are two items that affect city workers: Accelerate the $15 minimum wage hike to 2015 for all city workers ($810,000 in 2015) and offer paid parental leave for all city workers ($250,000 for 2015).

The council also added $200,000 to hire investigators for the newly created Office of Labor Standards, which will enforce the city’s minimum wage and paid sick time laws. It also ponied up with $1.7 million to help nonprofits comply with the minimum wage law.

The council’s additions also include a $1 million commitment to a proposed regional Transit Orientated Development fund and $50,000 to support reforms to the city’s design review process. Continue reading

City Hall’s affordable housing committee puts Capitol Hill demographics in its sights

Starting this week, the mayor-appointed group tasked with producing an affordable housing plan for Seattle by May 2015 is digging in with a series of public meetings.

While past city efforts to create more affordable housing have targeted Seattle’s poorest, City Hall officials say the Housing Affordability and Livability Advisory Committee will be considering a much wider band Seattle residents — a band that should include many on Capitol Hill.

Yes, even you.

In the lead-up to forming the committee, Mayor Ed Murray invoked the need to support longtime residents and those who choose, and may one day choose, to make Seattle home. In other words, working stiffs trying to eek it out in increasingly expensive neighborhoods.

Here’s a look at the income levels for one and two person households that the committee will be targeting:

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On Thursday some of the 28 committee members will be at the Garfield Community Center for a public meeting to hear what you want and need from a plan. The mayor won’t be making an appearance. Continue reading

Pro-density group loses challenge to zoning adjustments to shrink building size

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This 5-story microhousing development in a Lowrise 3 zone at 11th and Republican is the type of development new zoning rules would attempt to restrict. (Photo: CHS)

A city arbitrator has rejected a pro-density group’s appeal of zoning code changes that seek to scale back the size of new housing projects, including future microhousing and townhouse developments around Capitol Hill. The decision paves the way for the “down-zone” in Lowrise 3 areas to go to the City Council for a vote.

In October, the Seattle Hearing Examiner rejected an appeal from the developer-backed group Smart Growth Seattle, which argued the new adjustments ignore increasing demands for development in the city. Continue reading

Capitol Hill Arts District gets to work with promotion now, development incentives later

Council finance and culture chair Nick Licata at Saturday's ceremony (Images: CHS)

Council finance and culture chair Nick Licata at Saturday’s ceremony (Images: CHS)

The Capitol Hill Arts District was launched Saturday. It has plenty of work to do.

“There’s a chance that half of these artists, myself included, won’t be able to live here in five years,” says Amanda Manitach. She’s standing beside fellow artist Jesse Higman inside Hugo House, amid 11 fresh-baked artistic renditions of a day in the life of Capitol Hill: sketches, video, poems.

Manitach says she knows one artist who’s already considering homelessness in order to remain on the Hill. “It kill[s] me,” she says. “This guy has a job. In my opinion he makes some of the most thoughtfully political and aesthetically poignant art in the region.”

With property values and rents skyrocketing in the country’s fastest-growing big city, Manitach isn’t alone in her fear that development on Capitol Hill will wash away all the interesting poor people who made it desirable in the first place, transforming a countercultural gayborhood into a wasteland of luxury apartments and trite party bars.

Manitach

Manitach

But there’s some good news. The City Council is ready to vote Monday afternoon to christen Capitol Hill as Seattle’s first bona fide Arts District. The Office of Arts and Culture describes the district as “an attempt to bring cohesion” to the “constellation of arts organizations” splattered around E Pine and 12th Ave via a combination of community organizing, public advertising, and zoning incentives that will hopefully prompt developers to provision for the creation, and creators, of art. Continue reading

Taking on big job with ACLU, Holcomb will stay on Capitol Hill but won’t take on Sawant

Holcomb and son Dashiell outside the Capitol Hill library (Image courtesy Alison Holcomb)

Holcomb and son Dashiell outside the Capitol Hill library (Image courtesy Alison Holcomb)

Capitol Hill’s Alison Holcomb, architect of I-502 and hoped by some to be a candidate for the new District 3 seat on the City Council next fall, will instead step into a role with the ACLU leading a new $50 million nationwide ACLU campaign to “end mass incarceration” and reduce America’s jailed population.

Holcomb told CHS she and her family won’t be leaving Capitol Hill but that her travel schedule is about to get very busy. That’s good news for friends and loved ones — and also for any fans of Broadway crack cocktail joint Witness.

In a letter on the announcement, Holcomb apologized to supporters hoping she might make a more business-friendly run for the District 3 seat against current Council member Kshama Sawant. “I hope you understand that I simply cannot resist this challenge,” she writes.

This summer, CHS spoke with Holcomb about her undeclared “race” for a seat under the newly created district format. “I think it’s very important that she distinguish between being an activist and a legislator,” Holcomb said of a possible run against Sawant at the time.

Transit riders will reap 2015 rewards of newly approved Seattle Transportation Benefit District on Capitol Hill and beyond

Seattle Transportation Benefit District Routes

Seattle Transportation Benefit District Routes

Yes, indeed, the 47 will come back. Seattle transit riders will reap relatively immediate benefits from Tuesday’s Election Night tally signaling approval of a new Seattle Transportation Benefit District. Officials announced Wednesday that upgrades, fixes, and restoration of service to King County Metro bus lines serving the city will be rolled out in June and September of 2015.

The new district funding will drive three areas of immediate improvement:

  • Add new buses to all 16 Seattle routes that are chronically overcrowded
  • Fix the schedules of all 48 routes that are chronically unreliable
  • Add frequency to 28 high-demand routes

“The message from voters is clear: Seattle riders value Metro Transit, and with this vote, Metro will have the means to deliver more transit for the people of Seattle,” King County Exec Dow Constantine said in a statement detailing the next steps in the district’s creation.

Here’s how the improvements will roll out:

  • More buses on all 16 routes that are chronically overcrowded: Routes C, D, 5, 8, 15X, 16, 18X, 28, 40, 41, 44, 48, 70, 71X, 72, and 74X Continue reading

Capitol Hill food+drink | Governor, mayor at soon-to-open Stateside to launch initiative to help indie restaurateurs

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Stateside owner Eric Johnson surrounded by elected officials inside his under construction E Pike restaurant (Photo: CHS)

Earlier this year first-time restaurant owner Eric Johnson discovered he needed to have part of E Pike closed off in order to run a new gas line into his upcoming French-Vietnamese fusion restaurant, Stateside. Unsure where to turn, Johnson was put in touch with the city’s Office of Economic Development and Jennifer Tam, who helped expedite the work.

On Thursday, a cast of top elected officials appeared at Stateside to announce the formalization of Tam’s role as the city’s restaurant advocate and the launch of a new initiative intended to help guide Seattle’s first time restaurateurs through the multi-layered process of opening a new business.

A sneak peek at Stateside's color (Image @shaunhong via Instagram)

A sneak peek at Stateside’s colors (Image @shaunhong via Instagram)

Thanks in part to Tam’s work, Johnson said he expects Stateside to open by late November. “Just having one real person to turn to helps,” he said. Continue reading