The closure of a short public path near Lowell Elementary resulted in a split between parents and teachers supporting the closure and community members against it. People on both sides of the issue shared their thoughts, sometimes passionately, at a Tuesday meeting held by the Seattle Department of Transportation before brainstorming possible solutions.
Victoria Beach, playground monitor at Lowell, said she was offended by people who wanted to keep the path open and said they hadn’t seen any needles on the winding trail off E Roy between Federal and 11th. “One needle is enough. When kids show me dirty condoms, needles, clothing, a man they thought was dead, when I see the fright in them, I will walk around the world if that’s what it’s going to take,” Beach said. “Your sense of entitlement is sickening to me.”
Fifth grade teacher Laura Schulz also caused a bit of a stir presenting work from nine students who she said chose to draw pictures and write a few sentences supporting the closure. Schulz photocopied their comments and shared them at the meeting. Drawing kids into the debate didn’t sit well with many meeting attendees who showed up to voice their support for reopening the path. Continue reading
15% of Seattle is slated to be rezoned to allow for taller buildings as part of Mayor Ed Murray’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda. The largest concentration of rezones includes a swath of land covering downtown, Capitol Hill, and the Central District.
Most of the area’s multifamily housing zones would get the standard “HALA bump” — a one story increase in allowable building height along with new “mandatory housing affordability” requirements for all new residential construction. As part of Seattle’s “Grand Bargain,” MHA will link the creation of affordable housing with market-rate development by requiring all new multifamily buildings to make 5-11% of their units affordable or require developers to pay into an affordable housing fund. That part of the program has already been approved by City Council. Over the next year the city will hammer out how to handle the zoning.
Much of the First Hill-Capitol Hill urban center residential zones would receive the one-story bump along with a requirement that all new development include 5-7% of affordable units. Some would be required to meet higher affordability mandates. But the devil is in the details, and there are plenty of details to sift through when it comes to the zoning maps on Capitol Hill.
1. Auto-row incentives (probably) maintained
The Pike/Pine Conservation District is a unique incentive zoning program in Seattle responsible for most of the auto-row preservation projects on Capitol Hill. Changes proposed under the HALA map appear to undercut the program, but a upcoming tweak to the building code would likely keep those incentives in play.
Under the preservation program, developers get to build seven stories instead of six for preserving an old building facade in Pike/Pine. In the proposed HALA map, an up-zone in Pike/Pine would automatically allow for seven-story buildings. While preserving a facade would still get developers a one extra story, it seems unlikely they would take it. Building codes mandate that any building higher than seven stories must be entirely concrete or steel framed instead of wood, making an eight-story project vastly more expensive. Continue reading
In the wake of intense backlash against proposals from the Seattle City Council earlier this month, Mayor Ed Murray took a quieter route to officially unveil his plan to change how the city sweeps encampments and what can be done in coming months to address homelessness in Seattle. In a late Friday announcement, the mayor said he remains committed to a long range overhaul of Seattle’s homelessness resources under his “Pathways Home” strategy but that short-term solutions are also needed.
“Pathways Home remains our long-term plan to transform the way the City invests in programs to address homelessness,” Murray said in the announcement sent to media headed into the weekend. “Today’s announcement, however, recognizes our need to bridge the gap as we still have over 3,000 people living unsheltered on our streets. We need to ensure we are providing safer alternatives for those living on our streets, increasing our outreach efforts, focusing on a more compassionate set of protocols when clean cleanups are necessary and offering trash and needle pickup services to address public health and safety issues.”
The interim plan, included in full at the bottom of this post, will include four new sanctioned encampments boosted by $900,000 in funding plus a new Seattle Navigation Center “to bring adults living outdoors into the Center and work to transition them to stable housing within 30 days.” Two of the sanctioned encampments will be Representatives from Murray’s office have said details on the locations of the encampments and the center will be released in the coming weeks. Continue reading
As City Council gets its say on reshaping Mayor Ed Murray’s budget boosts and cuts for 2017 and beyond, District 3 representative Kshama Sawant has again passed the mic to the people. Tuesday night, the three-year council member hosted her third annual People’s Budget Town Hall. The 2016 theme? “Build 1,000 Homes!” following Sawant’s campaign to repurpose the proposed $160 million budget for a new North Precinct headquarters for SPD. “If you’re worried about not having pristine conditions for the police, then welcome to the world of public housing, and public education and public schools,” Sawant said Tuesday night. “They face substandard conditions everyday.” Below, you’ll find 9 pictures and 9 quotes from Tuesday night’s session.
Matt Remle – Indigenous activist, teacher, and member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe – “We need 1,000 homes now. Many of our native brothers and sisters are experiencing homelessness at a very high rate. We need to bring them in to be a part of the conversation.”
Kshama Sawant – “Nationwide in metropolitan areas like Seattle, for every $100 average increase in rent, there is a 15% increase in homelessness. It doesn’t require us to be a genius to understand that we need a comprehensive set of policies to address the unaffordability of housing and rising homelessness…One of the things we need to highlight, is that when you look at who’s homeless, communities of colors and minorities are overrepresented among homeless people, as are the LGBTQ community. If you look at the percentage of black and brown people and Native American people in the city, they are small, but if you look at homeless people, they are large. That shows you that the inequality and racism truncates into real issues for our community members.”
Budget season is in full swing at City Hall and City Council members have begun their dive in what will likely be this year’s most contentious topic: homeless services. On Wednesday, the City Council discussed amendments to Mayor Ed Murray’s budget for the Human Services Department.
The $157 million budget represents a 10.3% increase over the department’s 2016 spending with $56 million in homelessness-related programs moved under a new Division of Homeless Strategy and Investment. Within that budget is $476,000 for four full-time employees to get the department rolling on implementing the mayor’s recently unveiled homelessness response plan Pathway’s Home.
That was the first bump in the road at City Council. District 3 representative Kshama Sawant said she opposed expenditure as the council has not fully approved Murray’s plan and said the funds should be spent on services directly. “I find this too rushed,” she said. Continue reading
Juarez, District 5
Sawant, District 3
The pro-renter agenda of District 3 representative Kshama Sawant was dealt a setback Monday when the City Council voted to send her bill capping move-in fees back to committee for further refinement.
“You can not tell struggling renters they have to wait” because you need more meetings, the D3 rep said prior to Monday’s 7-2 vote to refer the bill back to Sawant’s energy committee where it had previously passed in September. Council member Mike O’Brien sided with Sawant saying there had been sufficient discussion of the bill that would restrict landlords to charging tenants the first full month’s rent upon move-in and would allow tenants to pay the security deposit, non-refundable move-in fees, and last month’s rent in installments. Continue reading
A camper attempts to stay dry using a stack of newspapers as a pillow Friday morning on Broadway (Image: CHS)
Friday morning, Seattle will hopefully begin what looks to be the arduous process of sorting out how best to regulate homeless camping in the city. Two competing plans are being pushed forward by Seattle City Council
members. Meanwhile, Mayor Ed Murray
said in a news conference Thursday night he will add his own proposal for regulating encampments that includes money for as set of new authorized encampments.
Officials say encampment rules will help shield the City of Seattle from legal issues, and, they hope, help solve what many say is a public health and safety crisis.
In response to a wave of pushback against an initial proposal introduced by City Council member Mike O’Brien, two competing replacement bills are seeking to find wider support even as another plan from the mayor looms. Continue reading
Bewegen electric assist bikes could be rolling out in Seattle by April 2017. (Image: Bewegen)
The City of Seattle is planning to say goodbye to bike share operator Motivate and bonjour to Bewegen. The young Quebec-based company was ranked the highest among six companies seeking to operate a new bike share system in Seattle. Motivate came in second.
While the deal is not finalized, Seattle Department of Transportation has entered negotiations with Bewegen to completely replace the current city-owned Pronto system. The move would prove an expensive mistake in Seattle’s first attempt to create a successful share but also clear the road for faster progress in giving people a simple alternative for getting around the city quickly and safely.
With plans to bring 1,200 electric assist bicycles and 100 stations with 2,400 total docking points, Bewegen says it could make the transition in 16 weeks and be operational by April 2017. Several new stations along
23rd Ave would push the Capitol Hill coverage area eastward, allowing the electric bikes to be put to full use traversing the backside of Capitol Hill. UPDATE: We confused the service proposal’s plans for the eastern Capitol Hill, Central District area. The proposal from Bewegen would utilize 19th Ave to serve the 23rd Ave corridor. The stations proposed would not be located on 23rd Ave. Sorry for the confusion. UPDATE x2: Or maybe not. Here’s where station planning stands according to SDOT:
“The locations on the map are approximate – blocks and streets for the station locations have not yet been defined. Bewegen’s intent was to show general city coverage with its proposed service area and station density. Service area and station siting is a task for the City and Bewegen to complete collaboratively after a contract is signed.”
While Mayor Ed Murray is working to implement a plan he says could see all unsheltered residents housed by 2017, untold numbers of people continue to live on Seattle’s sidewalks and in public green spaces, and presumably would continue to do so if Murray’s plan falls short.
A bill making its way though City Council is seeking to give more protections to those people living on public property, requiring in some instances that they are offered an adequate and available place to stay before being removed. Supporters, including District 3 representative Kshama Sawant, say the alternative is to keep shuffling people around without any long term solution.
Drafted by the ACLU and introduced by Council member Mike O’Brien, the bill has stirred up controversy in City Hall for detracting from Murray’s focus on getting all unsheltered residents into permanent housing.
The pot was given another stir over the weekend as draft maps were released by Seattle’s parks and transportation departments showing where the extended protections would apply under O’Brien’s plan.
But the released maps fail to show the areas that could be taken off the list due to unsafe or unsuitable conditions.
As the fine print on one of the maps notes, further analysis would be required to “verify potentially unsuitable areas or the presence of environmentally critical areas or other use restriction.” Continue reading
These guys know a good ribbon cutting when they see one (Image: CHS)
Sawant at the start of her term (Image: CHS)
(Image: Sawant Facebook Page)
March’s opening ceremonies for U-Link light rail and the Capitol Hill Station were the type of backslapping events that delight most politicians. Officials got to deliver a tangible and popular project while local representatives bolstered their profile and political resumes.
It was also the type of event Kshama Sawant has, for the most part, completely avoided during her time on the Seattle City Council leading District 3.
For better or worse, Sawant has freed herself from the provincial politics and symbolic neighborhood appearances — the opening of Broadway Hill Park being another example — you might expect from a district representative. Along the way, she has chosen to steer clear of some more serious issues. Sawant was not out front in the response to this summer’s drugged drinks scare on Capitol Hill or the string of late night shootings around Pike/Pine. Neighborhood efforts like the Melrose Promenade and improving lighting at Cal Anderson Park have also been the kinds of topics and initiatives Sawant’s camp has chosen to keep out of the representative’s Twitter feed and talking points.
But where some might see missed opportunities, many Capitol Hill leaders CHS talked with look favorably on Sawant’s alternative leadership style. While some told CHS they would like to see more engagement at the neighborhood level, there was also a sense that Sawant is playing a crucial role on the council by bringing it further to the left on many issues important to Capitol Hill. Continue reading
This child, now 8, was conceived at the first Pike People Street community meeting (Image: CHS)
Hey Pike/Pine kids, make sure to take a disco nap Friday and get your scooters ready. 11 PM brings the first of three test events for the Pike People Street project. Test 1 is the late night edition:
FRIDAY OCTOBER 7, 11 PM – 3 AM Full closure of E Pike St between 10th Ave and 11th Ave. This expanded pedestrian space will relieve pressure on the limited sidewalk space during nightlife hours.
CHS reported here on the series of three October test dates the Seattle Department of Transportation came up with to find a compromise solution for a program popular with late night businesses and police but with critics who felt the pedestrian-oriented street closures were too nightlife oriented. Continue reading
Banned: bogus produce bags
Here’s a look at a few Capitol Hill-related highlights from Monday’s busy agenda for the weekly meeting of the full Seattle City Council:
- Phony “green” bag ban: Seattle Public Utilities touts it as a “first in the nation” ban. Monday, the full council approved a ban on “misleading green- and brown-tinted non-compostable plastic bags” along with making Seattle’s 5-cent paper bag fee permanent. CHS reported earlier this year on the
damage caused to sorting machinery pollution caused by the tinted bags when consumers mistakenly believe they can be tossed in the compost. UPDATE: We didn’t accurately describe the problem with the “misleading” bags. Here’s a note from SPU:
Thank you for your coverage of Seattle’s bag law report to Council (July 26) and revisions to the Seattle bag law (Oct. 4) There is one statement that we would like to clarify. As we reported to Council in July, single plastic bags that are placed in recycling containers create clogging problems with recycling equipment at the Material Recovery Facility that handles our recyclables. The bag law revisions address a different problem. Plastic bags that are put in composting containers are expensive and difficult to remove from the processed compost, and some fragment such that they can’t be removed. They do not damage compost equipment, but rather, pollute the compost itself.
- $500,000 for Town Hall overhaul: The project to seismically retrofit First Hill’s Town Hall and give the forum a $15 million-plus overhaul got a $500,000 boost as the council approved a budget for the Office of Arts and Culture and lifted a spending proviso on the department. Under the proviso, Town Hall will be reimbursed for $500,000 of its overhaul budget. “Funds will support the renovation of Town Hall’s historic Landmarked facility, including the upgrading of integral building systems, including electrical, plumbing, seismic, security, and energy systems,” the agreement reads. As part of the agreement, Town Hall “will continue to offer over 100,000 deeply discounted tickets (most events are just $5, and many are free) per year” and “will continue to offer heavily subsidized rental rates and production/marketing support to nearly 100 nonprofit presenters per year.” The nonprofit is also being asked “to deliver arts programming in neighborhoods throughout the city, and will empanel neighborhood advisory boards to co-curate this programming.” CHS wrote here about the overhaul project and plans for two 32-story towers to join its First Hill block.
- As expected, the council voted Monday to approve new rules designed to open up Seattle’s Living Building pilot program. Despite a construction boom and Seattle’s environmental leanings, only two Living Buildings exist here — both on Capitol Hill.