Sawant scores a Human Services win vs. Durkan, next tangle over Central Area Senior Center transfer develops

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan may have practical reasons to withdraw the nomination of Jason Johnson to head the Human Services Department, the city’s frontline in its homelessness response, but she chose to make the announcement into a political attack on District 3 representative Kshama Sawant.

“Led by Council member Sawant, the City Council has politicized and failed to act on the confirmation of one of the most important roles in Seattle today,” Durkan said, “the person who oversees our City’s day-to-day work to prevent and respond to homelessness.” Continue reading

Pacheco selected as interim D4 rep — and land use and zoning chair — on Seattle City Council

Abel Pacheco, a former Seattle Central political science teacher and current director of strategic engagement for the University of Washington’s Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement program, will serve as interim District 4 representative and finish Rob Johnson’s term on the Seattle City Council.

The council selected Pacheco Monday afternoon in a replacement process that played out following Johnson’s earlier than expected exit to take a job with the NHL’s Seattle expansion effort. Continue reading

The new plan for filling Seattle’s City Council vacancy

(Image: City of Seattle)

With reporting by Seattle City Council Insight

Monday night, the Seattle City Council will hold a public forum with the candidates to represent District 4 and Northeast Seattle after the exit of Rob Johnson last month.

Due to “a scheduling conflict due to a religious observance,” the public forum originally scheduled for last Thursday was rescheduled for Monday, April 15th, at 5:30 PM in the Bertha Knight Landes room at City Hall. Continue reading

Central District, Hill part of Seattle neighborhood economic development grants

Seattle’s Office of Economic Development has detailed $1.3 million in support for neighborhood businesses — including $215,000 for the Central District and $90,000 for Capitol Hill — as part of the Only in Seattle program.

The city says the recipient “local business communities in 17 neighborhoods” are working on “comprehensive, multi-year strategies” for economic vitality and small business stability. Continue reading

With focus on equity and access, here’s the book on Seattle’s $200M+ library levy proposal

The Seattle City Council will hold a public hearing Thursday evening on Mayor Jenny Durkan’s plan for hiking the Seattle Public Library levy up to over $213.3 million in property taxes over the next seven years.

The new proposal, which first needs to be approved — and possibly modified — by the City Council before before voters get to weigh in in early August, would replace the city’s 2012 levy of $123 million, which was fairly easily approved by voters and expires at the end of this year.

“While Seattle’s voters have historically supported our library system, I don’t take their support for granted,” said  Debora Juarez, who chairs the council’s Select Committee on the Library Levy.

The money under the mayor’s plan would increase access to all of the Seattle Public Library’s 26 branches, sustain and raise investments in technology, expand literature purchases, and continue maintenance. Continue reading

Sawant ethics complaints over Socialist Alternative influence dismissed

The Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission has announced it has dismissed two complaints lodged against District 3 representative Kshama Sawant over allegations the City Council member misused her position on behalf of her Socialist Alternative political organization.

“Fundamentally, I believe that elected officials are free to structure their decision-making process as they wish, subject to the will of the voters every four years,” SEEC director Wayne Barnett writes in his decision. “Campaigns are won and lost based on voters’ estimations of whose interests elected officials are serving and who interests they are not. I do not find the way Councilmember Sawant makes her decisions to be a misuse of the position.”

The dismissal covers two complaints filed against Sawant including one from District 3 opponent Logan Bowers. Continue reading

Kenton Apartments tenants say they’re facing another Capitol Hill ‘economic eviction’

(Image: Milestone Tenants Fight Back)

A group of tenants is hoping to organize against the new owners of the 1926-built Capitol Hill brick apartment building they call home and fight back against what they say is an “economic eviction” underway on 16th Ave E.

“Tenants have been here as long as 11 years and we’re invested in staying in our homes in a way that is affordable and sustainable,” the Milestone Tenants Fight Back group writes. “We know the only way to do this is through our collective action and with the support of our broader community. In other words, we want to stay and fight!”

According to King County records, a company operated by Milestone Properties closed its purchase of the Kenton Apartments for $4.6 million in late January. The owner and manager of apartments in Seattle’s University District, Queen Anne, Greenwood, Interbay, Capitol Hill, Fremont, and Wallingford neighborhoods purchased the 300-block 16th Ave E property from its longtime family owners. Continue reading

Seattle internet access study: Nearly universal access but more should be paying less

Cable Guy and Can Guy

With reporting by SCC Insight

A new report published by the City of Seattle shows that home internet access has become nearly universal, though some disparities remain.

The study, which is the fifth in a longitudinal series for the city, is actually a model for how to do this kind of survey work. Nearly 50,000 invitations to complete a survey were sent out, with specific outreach to low-income households, Seattle Public Schools parents, and even “tiny house village” residents. 4,315 responses were received, which were then tallied and re-weighted to match the overall demographic and geographic distribution of the city.

So what are the big take-aways?

  • Overall, access to the Internet is nearly universal in Seattle. That has important implications for making essential city services available over the Internet. It’s particularly good and important news for Seattle’s kids. However, the “digital divide” hasn’t gone away entirely; it’s just become shades of grey instead of a black-and-white question of whether someone does or does not have access. Continue reading

City Council moves nomination process for new head of Human Services Department out of Sawant-controlled committee

District 3 representative Kshama Sawant has lost control of her bid to hold Mayor Jenny Durkan to a higher standard in her selection of Jason Johnson as Director of the Human Services Department.

Friday, Johnson’s nomination will be picked up for a restarted process under the Select Committee on Homelessness and Housing Affordability, a committee Sawant co-chairs with fellow Seattle City Council members — and relative centrists when it comes to the mayor’s agenda — Sally Bagshaw and Teresa Mosqueda.

The process to consider Johnson’s nomination had sat with the Human Services, Equitable Development, and Renter Rights Committee where Sawant serves as the only chair. Continue reading

Seattle passes Mandatory Housing Affordability plan to allow its densest neighborhoods to become even denser

A North Capitol Hill resident made his case against Eastlake upzoning prior to Monday’s vote

Four years and 40 Seattle City Council meetings later, the plan to surgically allow taller and more multifamily-packed development in the city’s densest neighborhoods including Capitol Hill has been approved.

“We’re embracing growth by embracing inclusion,” council member and Mandatory Housing Affordability committee chair Rob Johnson said Monday before the vote. “And we’re embracing inclusion by changing plans that were made 25 years ago.”

The vote Monday ran 9-0.

The MHA plan ties upzones in 27 of the city’s densest neighborhoods to the creation of affordable units and will transition a reported 6% of Seattle’s current single family-zoned property. Continue reading