With love for the Central District, Africatown activist Tahir-Garrett plans run for City Council seat

unnamed-5Omari Tahir-Garrett doesn’t mince words when it comes to talking about gentrification in the Central District. For him, African American families priced out of the neighborhood amounts to “ethnic cleansing.”

That won’t come as a shock to those familiar with the Central District/Africatown activist and slavery reparations advocate who once assaulted former Mayor Paul Schell with a bullhorn in response to the fatal police shooting of an unarmed black man.

Whatever you may think of Garrett, his love for his neighborhood is undeniable. The 69-year-old, lifelong Central District resident displays the vitality and determination of an activist a third his age. This year, he wants to take his fight to City Council. Continue reading

On Capitol Hill-CD middle ground, five District 3 candidates go head to head for first time

Staying true to form, Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant set the tone for Tuesday evening’s District 3 candidate forum, calling her her opponents — and her fellow councilors — “business-as-usual, corporate-funded candidates.” The statement came in a media release Monday announcing that Sawant handed in some 3,000 signatures to qualify for the August primary ballot.

The other four candidates, and any that may still announce before the May 15th deadline, will have to pay the filing fee or submit 1,119 signatures to make the primary ballot. The top two vote getters will then advance to the November election.

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Up to this week, Sawant and the other four candidates have seemingly gone of their way to avoid talking about each other directly. Tuesday’s forum, which will include some candidate back-and-forth according to organizers, will be the first opportunity to see how candidates handle push back from each other on District 3 grounds. You can ask questions virtually during the event using #43SeaD3.

The 43rd District Democrats candidates forum will start at 6:30 PM Tuesday inside 19th and Madison’s Mount Zion Baptist Church. All five of District 3’s tributes have been confirmed for the event: Continue reading

City Council Notes | Seattle’s water status, transportation levy, Transportation Benefit District, Bee City

While we look forward to Tuesday night’s District 3 candidates forum, here’s a look at what is going on with Seattle’s City Council this week.

  • Seattle’s water: Seattle Public Utilities director Ray Hoffman will brief the council this week on the status of the city’s water supply. The summary? Even though there is no snow, Hoffman’s report says…
    Water supply outlook remains good
    + Reservoirs are at the upper range of refill targets
    – Keep them as full as possible through spring refill period through capture of rainfall (and snowmelt)
    + Continue to monitor and make operational adjustments carefully
    No worries.
    Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 5.11.41 PM
  • Transportation levy: The revised proposal for a $930 million transportation levy will land at City Council Tuesday as a special committee takes up shaping the proposal for approval for November’s ballot. Part of the discussion will be how much tax capacity the city has — according to the analysis provided by City Hall staff, the answer appears to be plenty:Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 5.33.49 PM
  • Seattle Transportation Benefit District: More immediately satisfying than the transportation levy chatter could be the nuts and bolts of the Seattle Transportation Benefit District being put into place starting with Tuesday’s transportation committee session:
    This legislation increases the appropriations in SDOT and in the Human Services Department (HSD) to reflect funding from the Seattle Transportation Benefit District’s Proposition One, which was approved by voters in November 2014. It also creates two new positions in SDOT. In addition, the legislation authorizes the Director of Finance to enter into an interlocal agreement with the State Department of Licensing to collect the vehicle license fees on behalf of the Seattle Transportation Benefit District. Continue reading

District 3 candidates meet at 19th and Madison Tuesday night

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 9.10.58 AM

As of 5/5/2015

DistrictsMap (1)Wages, affordability, and LGBTQ safety will be on the agenda Tuesday night as the candidates to lead Seattle’s newly formed City Council District 3 meet in the only planned forum focused on their campaigns before August’s top-two primary.

District 3 Candidate Forum
Tuesday, May 12th 6:30 PM

Mount Zion Baptist Church 1634 19th Ave
YOU ARE INVITED to the 43rd District Democrats’ 2015 Seattle City Council District 3 Candidate Forum on May 12, 2015 at Mount Zion Baptist Church.

Doors open at 6:00pm. You will have an opportunity to mingle with all of the candidates running for office between 6:30pm and 7:00pm; the main program begins at 7:00pm.

Come to hear more from the candidates, their positions on important issues to our legislative districts/District 3, and get to know what they stand for.

This event is free and open to the public. ASL interpretation provided. For accessibility questions or concerns, email communications@43rddems.org

11154844_10152859036501586_4565666153654180179_oTuesday’s forum will be moderated by political journalist Josh Feit of Publicola. UPDATE: Feit will join journalist Erica Barnett of The C. is for Crank as co-moderators.

Meanwhile, another candidates forum scheduled for Monday night by the 37th District Democrats representing an area including the Central District south of Madison has been canceled.

You can find the latest CHS District 3 coverage here. Here is the up-to-date candidate slate:

District 3 Candidates

UPDATE: The 37th District Dems have put out an announcement about the cancelation of their forum that had been planned for Monday night. According to the announcement, the 37th group decided to cancel after a petition from “a significant number” of members called for Council member Sawant to be allowed to participate. Because Sawant is not a Democrat and not eligible for the group’s endorsement, the 37th had been planning to not include the Socialist Alternative candidate. Rather than hold the event — and rankle its membership, apparently — the group’s board opted to cancel the forum. The 43rd is, indeed, inviting Sawant to participate though the candidate is also not eligible for an endorsement from the Democratic organization. Here’s the announcement from the 37th:

37th Legislative District Democrats Cancel Tonight’s Candidate Forum

The Executive Board of the 37th Legislative District Democrats has canceled tonight’s Seattle City Council District 2 and District 3 Candidates Forum. Traditionally the 37th Legislative District Democrats have used candidate forums, sponsored solely by the 37th Legislative District Democrats, as an opportunity to educate our members on the positions and policies of candidates eligible for our endorsement.

Our by-laws are specific that to be eligible for endorsement a non-judicial candidate must, “…declare that they are a Democrat or have a completed KCDCC Candidate Questionnaire on file with the KCDCC declaring himself or herself a Democrat”(By-Laws Article X, Section 2). As Councilmember Sawant and Mr. Farris do not meet those requirements they were not invited.

On Friday May 8, a significant number of our members submitted a petition to include Councilmember Sawant at our Candidate Forum, while recognizing that she is ineligible for our endorsement. To include the Councilmember would mean a change in the organization’s policy and our By-Laws specifically states “…policy making authority resides in the District membership…”(By-Laws Article VII, Section 3).

As the next membership meeting was not scheduled to occur until after the Candidates Forum and there was insufficient time to call a special meeting of the membership, the Executive Board felt it necessary to cancel the Candidates Forum, and form a committee to review and recommend policy changes to the membership on who can participate at our candidate forums. This decision is the best way to respect the wishes of those members that signed the petition and still comply with our By-Laws.

David Corrado

In a nod to neighborhoods and sidewalks, revised Seattle transportation levy plan bulks up another 3%

We’re going to need about 3% more. After gathering feedback — and crunching a few more numbers — Mayor Ed Murray announced a revised proposal for a new transportation levy to fund projects across Seattle.

In March, Murray and city officials gathered in front of the Bullitt Center to announce the original $900 million Move Seattle levy proposal as E Madison traffic roared by in the background. That street’s BRT plan will be one of a giant roster of Seattle transit projects planned to be powered by the funding.

Wednesday, officials said the revised plan about to be sent to City Council for approval before it goes to November’s ballot would now weigh in around $930 million. It also has some new priorities stuffed in including more money for street safety and, in a nod to the future demands to be placed on the coming district-based City Council, more money for “neighborhood priority projects.” Continue reading

City Council Notes | Broadway post office relocation plan, required parking recommendations

Post Office Relocation BoundariesHere’s a look at this week’s Capitol Hill-centric highlights from the City Council’s chambers:

  • Broadway post office relocation: The United States Postal Service will brief a Council committee Wednesday on plans to relocate the Broadway post office. The federal service is on the hunt for new real estate to serve the neighborhood around central Broadway as the current home of the post office will be leveled to make way for a planned six-story, mixed-use development at the site. According to a USPS spokesperson, officials are looking at retail locations on the same 100 block of Broadway E and in the 600 block of E Pine in the “primary” boundary to relocated. Generally, USPS prefers to locate “as close to the existing building as possible,” the spokesperson said. We asked about whether the move is planned as a temporary or permanent relocation. While the spokesperson chuckled at the word “permanent,” he did say the relocation is being planned as a longterm move by USPS. Continue reading

City Council Notes | Okamoto selected, impact fee recommendation includes schools

The new Council member Okamoto got about 15 seconds at the mic Monday to accept his new role

The new Council member Okamoto got about 15 seconds at the mic Monday to accept his new role

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

  • Interim Council member selected: Following a special Friday hearing on the candidates, the City Council voted Monday afternoon to appoint political insider and Ed Murray-approved John Okamoto to fill the open Position 9 seat. Okamato most recently served as interim director of Seattle Human Services Department after his appointment to the post by Murray. Okamato received the majority vote Monday despite a withering attack from Kshama Sawant who criticized the candidate’s past work in the “cesspool of corruption” at the Port of Seattle. Outgoing Council member Tom Rasmussen called Sawant’s comments “odious.” The appointee will take Sally Clark’s spot as chair of the housing committee amid growing calls for rent control/stabilization legislation to help address affordability issues in Seattle. Clark announced she was leaving the Council earlier this year for a job at UW. CHS wrote here about the framework used for selecting Clark’s replacement. The eight finalists are listed here with links to their application info (PDF): Jan Drago Noel Frame / Sharon Lee / Sharon Maeda / David Moseley /John Okamoto / Sheley Secrest / Alec Stephens
  • University District BIA expansion: The Council voted 6-2 to approve legislation Monday to expand the University District business improvement area and, yes Seattle Times, “collect more money for street-cleaning and marketing from property owners across a larger stretch of the University District.” Someday, the Capitol Hill Chamber hopes for a similar (though probably less contentious) vote for the Broadway BIA to reach Pike/Pine. CHS wrote here about a small expansion in 2014 and the possibility of a greater southward expansion down the road. Council members Sawant and Nick Licata voted agains the U District expansion.
  • Impact fees: The Council’s transportation committee Tuesday morning will hear a recommendation to pursue a study of using development impact fees to fund transportation and parks projects. Under state law, cities may charge impact fees to fund transportation, parks and recreation, schools, and fire facilities. “Impact fees can only fund the cost of public capital facilities that are necessitated by new development and reasonably benefit new development,” a memo on the proposal notes. Additionally, the steering committee looking at the fees has recommended the Council consider working with Seattle Public Schools on a possible proposal to use the fees to help pay for education in the city. A component of the analysis to be considered Tuesday shows parts of the city where student population has increased in conjunction with increased development — you’ll note that Capitol Hill has some of the highest “student population” vs. “new housing units” ratios in the city:Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 3.10.19 PM
  • CHS Re:Take writer confirmation: Being a CHS writer doesn’t require Council vote — but being reaffirmed as a member of the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board does. Rob Ketcherside will be up for re-approval to the post during Tuesday’s neighborhoods committee meeting.
  • Ballots due: Not Seattle City Council biz but don’t forget to vote on the emergency radio levy. It’s the only item on your ballot. Pop it open, vote, and make sure you get it postmarked by Tuesday.

Civic Duty | New Hugo House planning, levy happy hour, Unite for Marriage Seattle

There’s a busy slate of events to start the week around Capitol Hill — here are a few opportunities for you to fulfill your civic duty and get involved:

  • New Hugo House: Monday night you can help set the direction for the new Hugo House as the nonprofit plans its new facility destined to be part of a mixed-use project planned for its current home across from Cal Anderson Park:
    Now that we’re in the later stages of space-planning, we’d love to get more specific feedback from you about what you’d like from our classrooms, performance space, and all other aspects of the new Hugo House

    Hugo House is also asking for community members to fill out this brief survey to provide feedback on the project.

  • Banks for Council kick-off: Election organizers People for Pamela Banks will hold a campaign kick-off party Monday night at 11th and Pike’s Sole Repair:
    We have the opportunity to bring new leadership to the Council that reflects the diversity of our city. This is the time to build great neighborhoods for all members of District 3, I invite you to come join the conversation.

    If the politics don’t interest you, maybe food from Jamil’s Big Easy will win you over. CHS wrote here about the Urban League CEO’s decision to enter the race against sitting City Council member Kshama Sawant in Seattle’s new District 3.

  • Levy happy hour: SDOT director Scott Kubly will be in the Central District Monday night to help push the Move Seattle levy that is set to appear on November’s ballot. Kubly and SDOT reps will be at Chuck’s starting at 5:30 PM. “We’ve been hosting a series of daytime coffee hours that have resulted in some great dialogue and feedback – this is yet another chance for people to learn a little more and share their priorities and ideas, and ask questions,” SDOT says about the Monday night event.
  • Unite for Marriage — Seattle: There are still battles to be fought for marriage equality. Tuesday night, groups are planning a downtown Seattle rally to support marriage equality across the nation:
    On April 28th, SCOTUS will hear oral arguments on the subject of national marriage equality. Movement leaders will stand in solidarity with communities across the nation to send a message of love and understanding, as well as celebrate local progress made so far.
  • Design review survey reminder: You don’t have to leave your seat for this one. CHS wrote here about the Department of Planning and Development effort to rethink Seattle’s design review process. You can provide feedback on the Design Review program via this survey.


#rentcontrol: 11 things CHS heard at the Affordable Housing Town Hall

(Image: City of Seattle)

(Image: City of Seattle)

If rent control and “stabilization” becomes law in Seattle, you can point to last week’s affordable housing town hall as the night it all started. Calling the event “ground zero” in the fight for housing justice, Seattle City Council member and District 3 candidate Kshama Sawant drew a standing room only crowd at City Hall to talk about bolstering tenant’s rights in the city.

“I know there are many, many scare stories,” Sawant said. “The purpose is to have everybody leave here today with a real feeling of inspiration.”

Along with outgoing council member Nick Licata, Sawant lined-up several speakers to talk about their ideas on affordable housing ahead of a public comment period and brief speeches by four candidates seeking to be appointed to Sally Clark’s recently-vacated council seat.

Emotions ran high at the meeting as people shared stories about rent increases forcing them out of apartments. Others blamed landlords and foreign investors for Seattle’s skyrocketing cost of living.

Passing a rent control law in Seattle would first require the state legislature lifting a statewide ban on such policies. While there seems to be little indication today that lawmakers would take up the issue in Olympia, Sawant is making it a key part of her campaign for the Capitol Hill and Central District-centered Council District 3 position.

The parallels to the push for a $15 minimum wage in Seattle are unmistakable. And Mayor Ed Murray’s approach to embracing the call for affordability while moderating the activism with committees and recommendation reports has been in high gear for weeks now.

But more radical factions persist. In the coming days, Licata said he would forward a proclamation for the council to vote on to state its support for lifting the statewide ban on rent control. Sawant previously elaborated on her ideas about rent stabilization in an email exchange with CHS. Here are the 10 things CHS heard at the Affordable Housing Town Hall:

  1. Licata said the state could be violating federal housing law by not letting Seattle take steps to address its affordability crisis.
  2. David Trotter, a candidate for the at-large City Council Position 8, called the state legislature “bullies and terrorists” for preventing Seattle from implementing rent control. Continue reading

Sawant will call on state lawmakers to lift rent control ban at Affordable Housing Town Hall

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 2.49.26 PMWhen City Council member Kshama Sawant started calling for rent control during her first campaign for public office in 2012, the idea was largely met with a “here we go again” attitude. Three years later, Sawant is harnessing public frustration over rising rents and the momentum from her role in passing Seattle’s $15 minimum wage law to make a push for rent control in Seattle a reality.

For years, many in Seattle have dismissed the issue (including House Speaker Frank Chopp), calling it a pointless political debate while a statewide ban enjoys widespread support in the state legislature. Today, the chances that Olympia warms to rent control still seems slim at best and mostly preempts any discussion about whether it could pass in Seattle.

But the former economics professor is making rent control a top issue in her bid to be the first representative of the Capitol Hill-centered Council District 3.

To further elaborate her thoughts and strategy on rent control — and give voice to the citizenry, Sawant is holding an affordable housing town hall Thursday night at City Hall. Council member Nick Licata, who is departing from the council this year, will be joining Sawant to lead the discussion. Continue reading