Sawant says economic disparities underpin Capitol Hill hate crimes ahead of LGBTQ forum

10498060_10101874770097606_3032210991963063043_o-21-356x550How to make Capitol Hill feel safer for the neighborhood’s LGBTQ community, especially during peak nightlife hours, is a question that seems to elude any simple answers. Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant is hoping to hear some solutions at an open community forum the councilor and candidate to lead District 3 organized for Tuesday night at All Pilgrims Church.

The forum will be moderated by Danni Askini, executive director of the Gender Justice League, and is slated to include the following panel:

Zach Pullin – Acting President, Capitol Hill Community Council

Lils Fujikawa –Queer Network Program Coordinator, API Chaya

Raven E. Heavy Runner – Acting Co-Chair, Northwest Two-Spirit Society, MSW

Christie Santos-Livengood – UW Graduate Student, Master Public Health

Shaun Knittel – President & Founder, Social Outreach Seattle; Seattle Gay News Associate Editor

Marta Idowu – Seattle LGBT Commission Liaison, Seattle Office for Civil Rights

Sawant is not generally seen as a leader on council when it comes to public safety, but it’s likely to be a key issue in this year’s Council District 3 race. Statistics and anecdotal accounts point to an increase in bias crime incidents within the newly formed district, which includes Capitol Hill and the Central District. The political concern is definitely on the rise.

For Sawant, her bread-and-butter issues of economic inequality and affordable housing are crucial to preserving LGBTQ culture and safety on Capitol Hill.

“I want to make an appeal to everyone to connect these (crime) issues to larger economic issues,” she told CHS. “Underlying all of this is that people of color, LGBTQ people, working people are finding this city increasingly unlivable.” Continue reading

Mayor lays out 10-year plan for Seattle transportation including Broadway streetcar extension, Madison BRT

“We’re redesigning streets like Broadway to provide many low-cost travel choices," Mayor Murray's plan promises

“We’re redesigning streets like Broadway to provide many low-cost travel choices,” Mayor Murray’s plan promises

"The list of new technologies impacting transportation expands every day"

“The list of new technologies impacting transportation expands every day”

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 2.09.21 PMTeeing up a ballot measure this fall to help pay for it all, Mayor Ed Murray rolled out his Move Seattle plan Monday including an “A to X” (come on city planners, you couldn’t think of two more initiatives!) roster of transportation projects being planned to make Seattle’s streets safer and more efficient by 2024. The plan includes projects with a combined budget of $835 million.

Longterm goals include a roster of safety initiatives and the target of providing “72% of Seattle residents with 10-minute all-day transit service within a 10-minute walk of their homes.” Continue reading

East Precinct meeting talks pot, reform, but mostly violent crime in the CD with City Attorney and SPD brass

Thursday night, Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes and East Precinct commander Captain Pierre Davis met with community members in a packed Seattle University room to talk about updates on precinct crime and how SPD and the attorney’s office can better serve residents.

Many of those in attendance who spoke vented their frustration and concerns with both the nuisance of day to day criminal activity and more serious violence around Capitol Hill and the Central District.

“Cops can’t do everything,” Holmes told the crowd. “if there are building code violations, if there is something that SDOT can do… that [collaboration between departments] is something that my office is really good at helping pull in.” He added that law enforcement is not always the solution. “It could be civil, it could be regulatory.”

Violent crime, particularly in the Central District, was on most attendees’ minds, particularly the intersection of 23rd and Union, which has recently seen numerous instances of gunfire.

“It’s not about gentrification, it’s not about any of that shit. It’s about getting gangs off the streets … you can actually time it [when gun shots occur],” said one attendee.

Some speakers blamed the Midtown Center property at 23rd and Union for the criminal activity. One speaker called out property owner Tom Bangasser — who was present at the meeting — for not selling the property to developers fast enough because he was waiting as the value rises. Continue reading

Hundreds rally at Seattle U in union fight

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(Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

Students, faculty, and staff walked out of Seattle University buildings Wednesday afternoon to support an ongoing effort by adjunct and part-time faculty to unionize.

The demonstration was part of the National Adjunct Walkout Day, and comes as some Seattle U non-tenured faculty members continue their fight with the university administration to form a union. The hour-long demonstration stretched along the university’s section of 12th Ave and ended with a rally on campus.

Speaking at the rally, council members Kshama Sawant and Nick Licata called on the Seattle U administration to increase wages for “contingent” faculty members, which make up about half of the faculty. “Many of the PhD’s who are adjuncts qualify for food stamps,” Sawant said. Continue reading

Barking dogs over developers: Why so many district candidates are City Hall newbies

Someday, all of this can be yours, candidate (Image: Seattle.gov)

Someday, all of this can be yours, candidate (Image: Seattle.gov)

In 2015, Seattle will hold the first non-citywide City Council election in more than a century, with seven of the nine seats on the council elected by district. 36 candidates are currently filed with the city clerk’s office, and nearly a third of the incumbents have already declined to run for reelection. So with the old guard seemingly stepping aside and the young Turks charging in, CHS asked various players in the city government: How will this change things?

Mike McGinn

Former mayor Mike McGinn — some old blood you probably remember

Best case scenario: the district system will make money less decisive in city politics. When all nine seats were elected at-large, former mayor Mike McGinn told CHS, little people didn’t stand a chance.

“Under the old system,” said McGinn, “the mayor and the city council all relied on the same traditional sources of political support, the big donors and the large endorsing organizations.”

With the smaller scale of district elections lowering campaigns’ price tag, dollar-spouting lobbyists could be less essential to candidates — and therefore less influential on those elected.

“Redistricting… created a new kind of accountability [to local communities],” candidate Jon Grant told CHS, “and new kind of platform for grassroots candidates to actually have a shot at challenging incumbents who are bankrolled by moneyed interests like developers.”

There also seems to be a growing force of potential big-time leaders focused on small-time problems.

“I think you’re gonna hear more about dogs barking, more about traffic congestion, more about, maybe [about] a crack house or something,” said retiring councilor Nick Licata. “I think the influence of developers will go down… because they’re probably the most active business constituent in the city.” Continue reading

Pike/Pine business owners bemoan ‘culture clash,’ construction impacts as Mayor Murray tours neighborhood

(Images: Bryan Cohen/CHS)

These days, most Capitol Hill business owners can point to at least two or three giant cranes above — and two or three construction projects directly impacting their business in some way. Neighborhood growth hasn’t come without growing pains. Mayor Ed Murray got an earful about those effects and the impact of the area’s growing nightlife economy from a handful of business owners during a little publicized Monday evening stroll through Pike/Pine.

The issues raised during the scheduled meet-and-greet probably won’t come as a surprise anyone living on Capitol Hill, but it gave business owners an opportunity to speak directly with the mayor on home turf. Continue reading

New streateries — parklets + street eateries — coming to Capitol Hill

(Image: Seattle Bike Blog)

(Image: Seattle Bike Blog)

Capitol Hill’s first parklet — and the first parklet in Seattle — is also slated to be one of its first streateries.

Montana owner Rachel Marshall confirmed to CHS that she is one of the first applicants for the latest twist in the City of Seattle’s parklet program allowing local businesses to apply to change two or three street parking spaces into public patios and decks.

In announcing the city’s transition of its parklet program out of its preliminary phase, Seattle City Hall also announced a new streatery variation which will give restaurants, cafes, and bars a tighter connection with the facilities. Here’s how the Seattle Department of Transportation describes them:

Streateries are like parklets except the sponsoring restaurant or bar can operate the space as a sidewalk café, providing space exclusively for their customers during their open hours of business. When the bar or restaurant is closed, the space will function as a parklet, open to everyone.

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City Council Notes | 11th Ave construction concerns, homeless encampment hearing, First Hill Streetcar ‘eyebolts’

Here’s a look at this week’s Capitol Hill-centric highlights from the City Council’s chambers:

  • Though the First Hill Streetcar is facing further delays thanks to manufacturing problems with its hybrid trams, the City Council is expected to make progress this week on the project with a rather un-sexy sounding bit of legislation. The Council’s transportation committee this week will take up the First Hill Streetcar Eyebolt Easements Acceptance Ordinance.Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 4.06.15 PM Continue reading

Clark’s exit adds new twists to Seattle City Council races

Mayor Murray and Council member Clark found common ground Kitty Hall (Image: Seattle.gov)

Mayor Murray and Council member Clark found common ground Kitty Hall (Image: Seattle.gov)

For a short time Wednesday, Central District land use activist Bill Bradburd leapt ahead in his race for one of the two at-large seats on the new Seattle City Council:

Councilmember Sally J. Clark released the following statement regarding serving another term on the Seattle City Council:

“After almost 10 years of service to the people of the greatest city in the country, and with tremendous and valued colleagues, it’s time for me to start a new chapter. I will not run for re-election to Seattle City Council this fall.

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 9.33.12 PMCHS wrote about the slow growther and planning-focused Bradburd’s quest to take on Clark earlier this month. Bradburd’s boost didn’t last long:

M. Lorena González, a nationally recognized attorney and civil rights leader currently serving as Legal Counsel to Mayor Ed Murray, has announced that she will run for the at-large Council seat being vacated by incumbent Councilmember Sally Clark.

González, who lives in West Seattle, practiced employment and gender discrimination law prior to being tapped for the role of Legal Counsel to Mayor Ed Murray last year. She is a longtime advocate for civil rights, and past board president of OneAmerica, the State’s largest immigrant and human rights organization, based in Seattle. She has also served on the Seattle Police Accountability Review Panel, and on the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission. Working with non-profit organizations, she developed a community partnership to fund a free monthly bilingual legal clinic, which has provided legal services to more than 1,000 low-income residents since 2007. Continue reading

State of the City 2015: Capitol Hill highlights and full text

Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 2.09.32 PMMayor Ed Murray presented his second State of the City Tuesday afternoon in the City Council chambers calling Seattle “as strong, vibrant and innovative as any city in the country” and reminding citizens of his administration’s first-year victories — and second-year challenges ahead.

The full text of his Tuesday address is below — CHS has also called out a few highlights from the speech:

  • SPD: You’ll note in the flow of the speech, Murray praises SPD for cutting Capitol Hill robberies “25%” before lowering the hammer promising:
    …improved recruitment of a more diverse police force……significant training in de-escalation tactics and bias-free policing……extensive reporting and data-collection to identify potential misconduct……a streamlined complaint process for Seattleites to report issues ……increased civilian oversight of every aspect of the police discipline and accountability system……and significant new transparency to instill public confidence and ensure that incidents of misconduct are not swept under the rug.
  • Move Seattle: Murray announced a new transit initiative calling Move Seattle “a vision for growing and expanding our transportation choices to meet the needs of all users, for today and tomorrow” —
    We will use Move Seattle to guide our investments as we renew our transportation levy this year. We will get the basics right by improving our aging roads and bridges and sidewalks. And we will make the investments necessary to build a safe, integrated transportation system with an expanding variety of choices available to all.
    Murray also reinforced his support for Sound Transit 3 in Olympia this year. “With Sound Transit opening two new light rail stations in the coming year – one at the University of Washington and the other on Capitol Hill – now is the time to build on this momentum,” he said.Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 2.57.25 PM
  • Performance Seattle: For a career politician, Murray’s office has embraced the corporate world of “dashboards” and “KPI.” The new performance.seattle.gov is designed as public window into the analytical performance of the city’s departments. Key to this world: Choose the correct metric. SPD is still learning:Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 2.51.25 PM
  • Open Budget: Here’s a corporate initiative we can more easily get behind. Openbudget.seattle.gov opens the books on how City Hall’s money is being deployed. We just started digging around. Let us know what you find.Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 3.20.23 PM
  • Schools: “This fall, I will be convening an Education Summit to re-envision how a 21st Century urban public school system can work successfully for all students. The City, the school district, the state, the private sector, teachers and parents – all must engage in frank and honest conversation, and unite around a shared vision.”
  • Affordability: Murray pledged $35 million to execute the recommendations of his affordability housing committee.
  • The year ahead: Here’s a look at how the administration’s recent accomplishments at City Hall will move into the real world:
    +In April, because of our action, Seattle’s minimum wage will rise to $11 per hour. + And in April, because of our action, we will begin increasing park maintenance and expanding park programming…
    +In June, because of our action, we will begin to see the largest increase in bus service in the city of Seattle since Metro Transit was created in the 1970s.
    +In July, because of our action on priority hire, when the City invests in infrastructure, we will also invest in local workers.
    +In September, because of our action, we will see three- and four-year-olds attending new City-funded preschool programs…

The full text of the speech is below. Continue reading

Rise of the renter? Tenants Union director Jon Grant makes bid for Seattle City Council

City Council candidate Jon Grant (Image: Casey Jaywork)

City Council candidate Jon Grant (Image: Casey Jaywork)

Housing: after food, air and water, a safe place to lay your head may be the most basic of human needs. But with the fastest-growing rents in the country and a ballooning homeless population, Seattle is becoming home to fewer and fewer homes for the poor and working class.

Jon Grant aims to change that. Campaigning for city council on a three-plank platform of affordable housing, police reform, and public campaign financing, the executive director of the WA Tenants Union presents himself as a scrappy underdog taking on the city’s complacent status quo.

“It would be one thing if the incumbents were do-nothing,” Grant told CHS shortly after declaring his candidacy. “[But] they’re actively aiding and abetting developers in getting out of paying into affordable housing.” Continue reading

City Council Notes | Renters advocate enters race, city forming Seattle Transit Advisory Board

Here’s a look at this week’s Capitol Hill-centric highlights from the City Council’s chambers:

  • Grant (Image: Tenants Union of Washington State)

    Grant (Image: Tenants Union of Washington State)

    Tenants Union director seeks at-large seat: The director of the Tenants Union of Washington State announced Tuesday he is entering the race for one of the City Council’s two at-large positions. Here’s Jon Grant:
    “We need bold leadership on City Council if we are going to successfully advance the effort to eliminate economic inequality. We could lose the gains made from raising the $15 minimum wage and requiring paid sick leave if our housing costs continue to soar. If elected I will bring the needed urgency our communities require from City Hall.”
    CHS spoke with Grant in July as we looked at the Tenants Union’s role in helping the community against spiraling housing costs on Capitol Hill and across the region. “In the last three years we’ve seen rising rents and displacement becoming the number one issue in Seattle,” he told us. In a CHS survey on City Council District 3 priorities posted in January, respondents identified “affordability” as their number one issue for candidates to tackle:Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 10.38.52 AMThe announcement outlines his platform with a set of priorities that will likely please many renters: Continue reading

How do we reform the SPD?

Saturday will bring yet another protest against the Seattle Police Department to Capitol Hill. The promises of change at City Hall continue. CHS asked city and community leaders: what, if anything, has been accomplished in reforming policing in Seattle so far? And what still needs to happen to clean up the SPD?

Since a Department of Justice (DoJ) investigation found Seattle police to be brutal and possibly biased, city leaders have promised a new and improved department. But SPD’s martial response to #BlackLivesMatter protests over the past half-year, and recently-surfaced videos showing officers pepper spraying a local high school teacher and detaining a pedestrian (both black, both times apparently without provocation), have stoked public skepticism toward these promises.

Behind this, negotiations are underway in what has become a nearly perpetual tussle over the city’s contract with the powerful Seattle Police Officer’s Guild. The Stranger reported this week on what it could learn about the status of the talks and the likelihood that recommendations from the city’s Community Police Commission will be included in the deal.

“Reform and cultural change is not an option. It’s an absolute must,” said City Council president and former cop Tim Burgess. Continue reading

City Council working to create better cap on ‘affordable’ microhousing rent

The Boylston Flats are being planned as an "affordable" microhousing development with rent-controlled units

The Boylston Flats are being planned as an “affordable” microhousing development with rent-controlled units

A bill in front of the Seattle City Council’s planning housing committee Thursday would limit the rent affordable housing developers can charge for Small Efficiency Dwelling Units, the city’s slightly euphemistic term for microhousing and congregate-style apartments.

The legislation is an attempt to patch up Seattle’s Multifamily Tax Exemption program which currently has a loophole allowing developers taking part in the program to consider SEDU-style units as standard studios in calculating affordable rent limits.

The program provides a 12-year tax exemption in exchange for making 20% of a project’s units income and rent restricted.

According to the staff memo on the legislation, the bill “would reduce the maximum rent threshold for income-restricted SEDUs in MFTE projects to a level affordable to individuals earning 40% of AMI, resulting in a maximum monthly housing cost of $618 and a maximum annual income for a one-person household of $24,720.”

“[T]ypical SEDU market-rate rents are anticipated to be less than not only market-rate rents but also the restricted, affordable-rate rents for studios,” the analysis notes.

While the microhousing type developments that last year’s regulations have left plenty of room for on Capitol Hill are seen as one small part of the answer to achieving greater affordability in the city, a quick pass through Craigslist ads shows that many units around the Hill are going for more than 2x the proposed affordable cap. While one place will give you your 300 square feet for $900 month, others with 400 or so square feet weigh in around $1,400 per month.

In the meantime, here is one example of a microhousing project planned to be part of the MFTE gearing up for construction on Boylston.

 

With SPD’s use of force in MLK Day protest ‘under review,’ Garfield High teacher suing city

Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 9.39.48 AM Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 9.38.50 AMGarfield High School teacher and activist Jesse Hagopian says he is suing the city after a Seattle Police officer hit him with pepper spray during a protest following this year’s MLK Day march and rallies earlier this month:

The James Bible Law Group will be filing a tort claim against the City of Seattle and the Seattle Police Department in relation to the senseless pepper spraying of a prominent Seattle School Teacher and activist shortly after his MLK day speech.  Jesse Hagopian had finished giving a powerful speech about how black lives matter when he was sprayed with pepper spray by a Seattle Police Officer.  He was on the phone with his mother and make plans to be at his two year old child’s birthday party when he was sprayed.  It is notable that this irrational police action occurred while he was several feet onto a Seattle Sidewalk.

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