As Capitol Hill prepares to dive into its first-ever City Council District 3 election, remember that two at-large races will require some attention, too. One of those is shaping up around development and land use and could have big repercussions for Capitol Hill and Seattle’s Inner City.
Last week, Central Area activist Bill Bradburd announced he would challenge incumbent Sally Clark for the at-large Position 9 seat. Clark, who was appointed to council in 2006, is a policy wonk (some would say too wonky) who has spent several years on council trying to balance developer and resident priorities on various zoning and land-use issues. Bradburd, 57, is also a land use buff, but decisively of the community activist ilk.
“All the politics in the city really boil down to land use and zoning,” Bradburd recently told CHS.
As chair of the Seattle Neighborhood Coalition, Bradburd has been most know for his strong opposition to microhousing and the gentrification it’s been a part of. Specifically, he opposes microhousing that’s gone up alongside single family homes. Bradburd is also a member of the Central Area Land Use Review Committee, a group that has become formidable in shaping area development.
Clark sees herself as a moderating force in Seattle’s density battles, perhaps best symbolized by Capitol Hill’s growing number of preservation developments. She led the passage of the Pike/Pine Conservation Overlay District, the framework responsible for the facade-perserving projects. In Clark’s view, the conservation district embodies the sense that “there’s something cool about these building and we want to retain that, but we want new development to come in at the same time.”
Recently, Clark led the effort to adjust the multifamily zoning code to prevent developers from cobbling together various incentives to build five stories in lowrise zones.
“We need development and density to accommodate the folks that are going to come here after us, but it doesn’t need to be crummy,” she said.
Bradburd said the changes were helpful, but came too late.
Development and land use are polarizing issues in Seattle, and Bradburd is acutely aware of his burgeoning reputation as a NIMBY candidate. “I’m not a NIMBY, what I’m saying is we’re not doing development right,” he said.
The Artspace Hiawatha Lofts is one high-density project Bradburd thinks was done right. The project is a stone’s throw from his Jackson Place neighborhood, where he lives in a single-family-style home with his wife and two children.
“We need to make sure that what we’re building not only satisfies the developer’s bottom line, but conforms to the interests of the community,” he said.
Putting community forged growth targets at the center of new development projects is one step Bradburd supports. If elected, Bradburd said he would ensure DPD upheld community priorities when evaluating new projects.
Given another term on council, Clark said she would to continue to work on tweaking the Pike/Pine Conservation District. She also said rezoning north Broadway would become a major issue after Capitol Hill Station opens, but didn’t go into any details on what that might entail.
It remains to be seen how the council dynamics will play out in the new district/at-large hybrid system. If district-based council members are meant to focus on the broad range of issues found within each district, perhaps a door opens for at-large council members to champion specific policies. However it shakes out, expect this year’s Position 9 race to feature lots of land use talk.
Retired postal worker and artist David Ishii has also entered the Position 9 race. During his 2013 run for city council, the self-described “eccentric” told KUOW that he wanted to crate a publicly owned search engine to rival Google.
Meanwhile, three candidates have entered the Council District 3 race. Socialist Alternative Council member Kshama Sawant and marriage equality organizer Rod Hearne have both started early campaign activities around the Capitol Hill-centered district. Meanwhile, women’s rights advocate Morgan Beach has also joined the District 3 fray.