District 3 representative Kshama Sawant found no support from her fellow City Council members Tuesday in her fight for increased spending for affordable housing as Seattle City Hall plods to a conclusion of the 2019-2020 budget process.
“What is not acceptable to me or the movement that is fighting for this is to do nothing or do very little,” the frustrated councilor said.
During Tuesday’s session, none of Sawant’s fellow council members were willing to join the Socialist Alternative firebrand in pushing a series of budget amendment proposals born of the “People’s Budget” process. Continue reading
Seattle’s relentless redevelopment also means loads of buildings sitting vacant as developers line up permits and financing windows open and close and open again.
Wednesday morning, the Seattle City Council will receive a report on proposals for better monitoring of Seattle’s vacant buildings including how the city might penalize landlords who let their properties turn into dangerous eyesores and, better yet, how it might strengthen early efforts to connect vacant properties to organizations that can help put them to use providing temporary but much needed housing. Continue reading
Housing Now is a small group on a big mission
While the repealed Employee Hours Tax was not a Housing Now campaign, the Seattle group has learned from mistakes that were made. With new understanding of how things get done — or don’t — in Seattle, the group has vowed to take on the city’s restrictive zoning laws.
“The Comprehensive Plan stems from the Growth Management Act at the state level which requires every city and county to designate growth areas.” Housing Now’s Alex Broner said in a Sunday afternoon meeting earlier this month on 12th Ave across from Seattle University. “They took our already exclusive zoning system in 1994 and codified it into the City Comprehensive Plan.” Continue reading
While we are looking at Seattle’s built environment this morning, here are a few other items of note going on in the city:
- Backyard cottages milestone: Today — 6/25/18 — is the final day to comment on Seattle’s plan to allow more backyard cottages in neighborhoods across the city. As CHS has reported, “accessory dwelling units” are an effective way to put more of Seattle’s buildable land to use creating homes new neighbors. The city has studied three options:
+ Alternative 1: no action; current rules maintained.
+ Alternative 2: one in-law apartment and one backyard cottage allowed on the same lot; parking no longer required for ADUs; the homeowner may live elsewhere.
+ Alternative 3: two ADUs allowed per lot (either two in-law apartments or one apartment and one cottage); an additional parking space is required only if two ADUs are built. Continue reading
Dani Cone of Cone and Steiner — and Fuel — made the list… twice (Image: CHS)
With a task force recommending a $75 million a year Seattle business tax for housing and homelessness services, a collection of “301 small businesses from every part of the city and every sector of the economy” has sent a letter to the City Council asking them not to move forward with the recommendation.
Several Capitol Hill and Central District businesses, highlighted in bold by CHS below, appear on the roster in the effort touted as “a purely organic grass roots effort and not organized by any one business association or advocacy group.”
“Small businesses across the city are writing to you today to urge you to reconsider the recommendations from the Progressive Revenue Taskforce on the Employee Hours Tax and any consideration of a proposed Employee Hours Tax legislation on Seattle businesses,” the letter begins. “We are disappointed that once again small business leaders were never consulted for input, facts or information about the real challenges we face.” Continue reading
The Progressive Revenue Task Force charged with finding new source of funding to help address Seattle’s homelessness crisis is weeks away from releasing its recommendations and an important bottom line element: how much money can the task force dig up? Will it be enough? Earlier this week, Seattle City Council member Teresa Mosqueda gathered housing and homelessness experts and the Housing For All Coalition to move ahead on next steps to putting the money to work creating affordable housing in Seattle as quickly and efficiently as possible.
“It’s worth reminding ourselves that this is not a crisis because we don’t know what do do, it’s a manmade crisis of our own because we never invested the resources from the very start,” Alison Eisinger, executive director of the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness, said Tuesday night during the “Seattle Housing Gap” panel at City Hall.
Headed by City Council member Lorena González, the revenue task force is on a legislated deadline: if it doesn’t deliver recommendations in March, the council will begin the process of imposing an employee head tax opposed by many of Seattle’s business communities.
Tuesday’s discussion was less about alternative sources of funding and more about the environment we’ve created for developing housing in Seattle. Here are some of the things CHS saw and heard during the panel:
- How about some scary math to start? To build the apartment units required, the city and county would need an estimated $5.1 billion to permanently shelter the more than 30,000 individuals in the region in need, many of whom have extra needs in addiction recovery and mental health in addition to homelessness.
- 6,300 homeless unsheltered individuals were counted within Seattle City limits during a one-night count last year.
- Adding to her statements at a town hall last weekend that “we should not be selling city-owned land into the speculative real-estate market,” Rep. Nicole Macri talked about rezoning public land for development and progressive tax reform. Macri also has legislation in the House aimed at prohibiting income discrimination and protecting vulnerable groups who are not yet homeless.
- “If you look at Seattle metro, more than 46.8% of renters spend more than 30% of their income on rent,” Macri said.
- Macri’s House Bill 2578 would allow counties to bond against state sales tax revenue to finance their own infrastructure.
- Katie Wilson of the Housing for all Coalition talked demographics: “Population is growing in high and low-income brackets, while affordable housing for those with incomes in the middle are being hollowed out — sorry this is so depressing,” Wilson said only ten minutes into the meeting. Continue reading
The proposed North Precinct. Nice. But you wouldn’t want to live there.
The Seattle City Council could add another $29 million to build hundreds of units of affordable housing through a bond and shuffling of funds from the Seattle Department of Transportation and the Seattle Police Department’s controversial North Precinct project.
The Council’s budget committee discussed District 1 representative Lisa Herbold’s proposal, Wednesday, which would add $29 million to the housing levy’s estimated $54 million for the biennium.
“I wanted to (use a bond) in a way that allowed the North Precinct project to move forward,” Herbold said.
District 3 representative Kshama Sawant has signed onto Herbold’s proposal which would reduce the scope of the precinct project.
Sawant credited the Block the Bunker movement for the progress on the proposed reallocation of funding but said she wants to see all of the North Precinct funds put toward housing, which she has said would build an estimated 1,000 homes. Two different scenarios show the $29 million could build 198 or 270 units. 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.”
A bill that could significantly limit the upfront costs of moving into many apartments in Seattle was voted out of a City Council committee Tuesday.
Under the measure from District 3 representative Kshama Sawant, landlords could only charge tenants the first full month’s rent upon move-in and would need to allow tenants to pay the security deposit, non-refundable move-in fees, and last month’s rent in installments. According to an example provided by Sawant, a tenant moving into an $1,800 a month unit today could pay $5,600 to sign the lease. Under her proposal, the same tenant would only have to pay $2,400 to move-in as other upfront costs would be spread out over six months.
The Energy and Environment committee passed the bill on to the full council, which is expected to vote on the measure in October.