More meetings or something new? Seattle asking how you want to connect with City Hall

City Hall has announced its intention to, among other acts of creative destruction, disassemble its support network for the old District Neighborhood Council system with officials saying the old ways weren’t representative enough and depended too much on white homeowners with time to be part of tedious public proceedings. As part of the changes to come to usher in a glorious new era when EVERYONE can find a way to be part of tedious public proceedings, the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods is surveying citizens about how best to get them in the loop:

The City of Seattle is shifting our approach to outreach and engagement. We need your ideas on how the City can keep you better informed about City projects, events, opportunities, and issues. Tell us how you want to participate, and what we can do to make it easier

You can take the Engage Seattle survey here and answer questions like these: Continue reading

Murray hires Seattle director of homelessness

Seattle now has a director of homelessness. Mayor Ed Murray announced the new addition to his cabinet Tuesday.

George Scarola will be the first ever to serve in the new position “responsible for leading the City’s homelessness efforts across departments, providing oversight and evaluation of outcomes, strategic guidance, and leading community engagement.” Continue reading

Where is Kshama? Getting married

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

As hundreds of activists packed City Hall Monday to speak out against the plans for a new North Precinct headquarters, the most progressive voice on the Seattle City Council was notably absent — for a most excellent reason. She was getting married.

Where is Seattle Council member Kshama Sawant?, this TV news bit asks.

District 3 representative Kshama Sawant has, indeed, been absent for council briefings in recent weeks. “CM Sawant has been working continuously since January and has taken time off this month to be with family and attend to personal needs,” read the statement from Sawant’s office sent to CHS after we asked about her schedule. Continue reading

City Council Notes | #blockthebunker compromise, secure scheduling hearing, blast balls

Here’s the latest from City Hall:Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 8.43.04 PM

  • #blockthebunker: It won’t feel like much of a compromise to the activists who temporarily shut down Monday’s full City Council meeting but the final vote to endorse the construction of a new North Precinct headquarters for SPD but the approved resolution will give the Block the Bunker movement another chance to downsize the project this fall. In a 7-1 vote, the Council voted on a resolution that puts off one major element for this fall’s budget discussion: how much can SPD spend on the project? Notably absent: District 3 rep Kshama Sawant who is traveling and out of the country — and, yes, opposes the project.
  • Secure scheduling hearing: The Council will hold a special evening session Tuesday night on the effort to pass secure scheduling legislation in Seattle.
    The Council’s Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development & Arts Committee, chaired by Councilmember Lisa Herbold (District 1, West Seattle & South Park), will hold a public hearing this Tuesday evening to take comments on the proposed Secure Scheduling legislation, intended to address schedule predictability and flexibility for workers and employers. Sign-up sheets for public comment will be available at 5:30 p.m. Continue reading

City Council Notes | Tenant protection legislation passes

Presentation1Here’s the latest from City Hall:

  • Tenant protection: The full City Council passed a raft of tenant protection ordinances Monday afternoon including widening anti-discrimination rules and banning the practice of offering tenants move-in deals based on employer. The legislation expands legal protection currently in place only for Section 8 voucher renters “to include people who receive alternate sources of income such as a pension, Social Security, unemployment, child support or any other governmental or non-profit subsidy,” according to a statement on the passage. The new rules also include a “First- come, First-served” rule set to prevent discrimination in the tenant screening process. Here are all three components of the legislation:
    First-Come, First-Served Screening Practice: Prevents housing providers from giving applicants with alternative sources of income a lower priority. It requires landlords to review applications one at a time, on a first-come, first-served basis. Continue reading

Capitol Hill Housing shares development award with city

Everybody gets a trophy. Capitol Hill Housing's Chris Person unveils the award given to City Hall Friday

Everybody gets a trophy. Capitol Hill Housing’s Chris Persons unveils the award presented Friday to Office of Housing director Steve Walker (Image: CHS)

As the August 2 deadline for voters to approve the proposed $290 million housing levy approaches, affordable housing nonprofit Capitol Hill Housing is recognizing the city for its accomplishments with the 2009 levy, which will expire at the end of this year.

12th Ave Arts, developed by CHH, was awarded the Urban Land Institute Global Award for Excellence in 2015. CHH was given the option to receive a second award and chose to share it with the Office of Housing for its help in creating the development’s affordable housing. The award was presented at a small ceremony in the 12th Ave Arts lobby on Friday.

“We couldn’t have done this project without their support,” said CHH CEO Christopher Persons.

The residential part of 12th Ave Arts includes 88 units of affordable housing. The development was funded in part through Low Income Housing Tax Credits and New Market Tax Credits, and the 2009 housing levy was the largest source of funding for the building’s affordable housing. Office of Housing director Steve Walker called the project “an excellent example of the Seattle Housing Levy at work.”

Walker said that the upcoming housing levy vote was critical to continuing to create much-needed affordable housing in Seattle. “We are dealing with a tremendous amount of pressure on affordability on housing in our city,” said Walker. “The levy has been this foundational piece for 35 years.”

Seattle’s neighborhood fight ‘not about silencing voices’ — And a response from a ‘neighborhood villain’

The future of Seattle's neighborhood council's probably looks more like the People’s Academy for Community Engagement -- now accepting applications

The future of Seattle’s neighborhood council’s probably looks more like the People’s Academy for Community Engagement — now accepting applications(Image: City of Seattle)

Kathy Nyland, director of the City of Seattle’s Department of Neighborhoods, has responded to the backlash from groups around Seattle that contend City Hall’s push to disconnect itself from the entrenched District Council system is an attempt to silence “neighborhood” voices. Here is the main thrust — the whole thing is posted here in the CHS Community section:

Seattle is a unique city, and we are fortunate to have so many valuable partners currently at the proverbial table. Those partners play an important role and that role will continue. While we are appreciative of the countless hours our volunteers spend making our city better, we recognize and acknowledge there are barriers to participation. There are communities who cannot be at the table, while there are some communities who don’t even know there is a table. This is where theDepartment of Neighborhoods comes in.

This is not a power grab. It is a power share. At the heart of this Executive Order is a commitment to advance the effective deployment of equitable and inclusive community engagement strategies across all city departments. This is about making information and opportunities for participation more accessible to communities throughout the city. Continue reading

New law would ban conversion therapy for minors in Seattle

A message at 2016 Trans* Pride (Image: CHS)

A message at 2016 Trans* Pride (Image: CHS)

City Council member Lorena Gonzalez is proposing an addition to the Seattle Municipal Code to ban the use of conversion therapy on minors.

“Seattle must send a clear message that we stand with children who are currently subjected to or may be at risk of being subjected to conversion therapy,” said Gonzalez. “Research has repeatedly demonstrated that this practice is ineffective and results in negative health outcomes.”

Conversion therapy proponents believe it can make LGBTQ individuals become heterosexual. The practice is opposed by the American Psychological Association, American Medical Association, and the Human Rights Campaign, among others. Continue reading

Seattle — especially its businesses — falling short of recycling goals

Horse-drawn garbage wagon, 1915

Seattle Public Utilities is preparing a rate hike for the around 1 million tons of garbage, compost, and recycling the city’s citizens and businesses create ever year. But the bigger deal might be that even in green Seattle, we are falling behind recycling goals.

In 2015, the city recycled 58% of its MSW — municipal solid waste — that’s two percentage points short of goals set in 2013, according to a recent presentation to the Seattle City Council.

Tuesday, a council committee will discuss SPU’s proposed rate hikes of 7.2% in 2017, 1.9% in 2018, and 4% in 2019. The city says the monthly solid waste bill for a typical residential customer is currently around $44.85. SPU says the increases are necessary to help offset the costs of its Utility Discount Program for low income residents and to upgrade the recycling center at its South Transfer Station and complete the new North Transfer Station, set to be open by the end of 2017. Continue reading

What’s in Seattle ‘Renting Crisis’ report

Progressive Seattle City Council members unveiled a pair of bills Thursday they say will help protect average residents looking for housing in Seattle’s cutthroat rental market. District 3 representative Kshama Sawant is proposing new legislation to limit move-in costs and “ease moving barriers” for Seattle renters. A measure from District 1 rep Lisa Herbold seeks to prevent landlords from turning down prospective tenants due to their source of income.

To put a finer point on the need for their proposals, the council members were joined by members of Washington Community Action Network, an advocacy organization working on housing justice, who released a ‘Renting Crisis’ report on the challenges faced by renters in Seattle.

Of the 303 renters surveyed, 95% rated housing as unaffordable, more than 70% said poor housing conditions were negatively impacting their health, and the report indicated that minority and LGBTQ tenants were more likely to experience problems with the conditions of their rental units and resulting health problems. Continue reading

‘You have to start somewhere’ — Seattle looks at bias-free policing law

The investigation of William Wingate's arrest showed the importance of some of the new

The investigation of William Wingate’s arrest showed the importance of examining past statement and records of officers accused of biased policing (Images: CHS)

How can you legislate racism? It is a question at the heart of any effort to eliminate biased policing and one that Seattle King County NAACP president Gerald Hankerson was quick to raise Wednesday during a City Council committee meeting on the subject.

The answer came from City Council president Bruce Harrell: “You have to start somewhere.” Over the past year, Harrell and his staff have been working on a series of measures to codify bias-free policing practices in Seattle. On Wednesday, Harrell unveiled the basics of his plan.

Central to the proposal is making permanent the bias-free policing requirements laid out by a federal monitor as part of Seattle Police Department’s federal consent decree over excessive use of force practices. Collecting demographic data on police interactions is particularly crucial, Harrell said. Continue reading

Sawant unveiling legislation to cap Seattle move-in fees

District 3 representative Kshama Sawant is proposing new legislation to limit move-in costs and “ease moving barriers” for Seattle renters.

A representative from Sawant’s office tells CHS the the legislation proposes changes to many small aspects of move-in fees.

“When you take them together, they have an impact,” Sawant staffer Ted Virdone said.

Virdone said that when a new tenant moves in, landlords can currently charge a variety of nonrefundable fees including for pets and cleaning. Continue reading