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

Retired ‘neighborhood government’ advocate enters District 3 race as fourth Sawant challenger

unnamedA retired public media consultant, TV news broadcaster, and neighborhood activist has become the fifth candidate to enter the race for District 3.

In the 1970s, Lee Carter, 72, was head of the Central Seattle Community Council Federation and told CHS he wants to put neighborhood power and senior issues back at the forefront of city politics.

“We cannot solve the problems of housing for seniors… without returning power to the neighborhoods,” he said

Carter is the fourth candidate to challenge expected frontrunner Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant for the Capitol Hill/Central District-dominated district seat. All candidates must register by May 15th to appear on the August 4th primary ballot. The top two finishers from August will advance to the November election.

This election won’t be Carter’s first run at City Council. In 1999 Carter won 8% of the vote in a primary election for a City Council seat. At the time he supported re-writing the city charter to put neighborhoods at the forefront of city decision making.

After being active in the “neighborhood government” movement in the 1970s, Carter spent much of the 1980s as a political reporter at KIRO and KING. Continue reading

Now a little more YIMBY, plan to scale back new developments in Seattle lowrise areas moving forward

This 5-story microhousing development in a Lowrise 3 zone at 11th and Republican is the type of development new zoning rules would attempt to restrict. (Photo: CHS)

This 5-story microhousing development in a Lowrise 3 zone at 11th and Republican is the type of development new zoning rules would attempt to restrict. (Photo: CHS)

A bill designed to scale back the size of new housing projects, including future microhousing and townhouse developments around Capitol Hill, is finally moving forward with the Seattle City Council after nearly two years of wrangling between neighborhood residents and pro-density advocates.

However, one provision was left out of the bill after members of the mayor’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda Committee said it would discourage developers from maximizing the living space inside their buildings. Then-City Council member Sally Clark initially proposed to remove an existing 4-foot height bonus and another floor-to-area ratio bonus for developers that included basement units in their projects. Continue reading

In race to catch Sawant, Banks kicks off Council District 3 campaign on Capitol Hill

Banks wants to catch Sawant, sure, but first she'll need to jump over challenger Rod Hearne (Image: CHS)

Banks wants to catch Sawant, sure, but first she’ll need to jump over challenger Rod Hearne (Image: CHS)

Surrounded by current and former Seattle elected officials at Capitol Hill’s Sole Repair event space, Pamela Banks formally launched her campaign Monday evening for City Council District 3.

The longtime Central District resident and CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle told the packed room she would bring “progressive leadership in District 3 that is inclusive.”

Banks didn’t mention any specific policies she would champion in the district, which includes Capitol Hill. She did say finding solutions to the rising cost of living in the Central Area would be one of her top priorities. “It’s unacceptable that rents keep rising while wages remain stagnant,” she said. Continue reading

#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

Council District 3 candidate Morgan Beach hosting gender pay gap event on Capitol Hill

Morgan Beach

Morgan Beach

In case you didn’t know, Tuesday is Equal Pay Day — a day established in 1996 to raise awareness about the nation’s gender wage gap. To mark the day, Council District 3 candidate Morgan Beach will be hosting an Equal Pay Day Social at Capitol Hill’s Sole Repair to “explore the culture” behind women earning less than men in the workplace. Panelists for the Tuesday evening event include:

Christina Pedersen — mom, restaurant manager and community activist
Tamika Moss — HR professional and IDF Fellow
Maggie Humphreys — PRR and Co-Founder of Woman Worthy
Tiffany Woelfel — Co-Director of the Younger Women’s Task Force, salary negotiation guru, veteran, and women’s advocate

According to one study (PDF), Seattle has one of the widest gender pay gaps in the nation, with women earning 73 cents for every dollar earned by men.

When Beach announced her candidacy in January for the newly formed, Capitol Hill-centered district, she told CHS that the gender pay gap would be the top issue in her campaign. The 28-year-old Portage Bay resident sits on the Seattle Women’s Commission and is a legislative advocate for Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest.

Beach will have her work cut out for her to be the standout District 3 candidate on the issue of raising wages in Seattle. Expected District 3 frontrunner City Council member Kshama Sawant was elected in 2013 for supporting a city-wide $15 minimum wage and was instrumental in getting it passed last year. Marriage equality organizer Rod Hearne and Urban League CEO Pamela Banks are also running for the District 3 position.

Council member Jean Godden, who’s running in Council District 4 this year, has also long advocated for gender pay equity within the city and helped launch the Gender Equity Initiative last year.

The Equal Pay Day Social will be held Tuesday at 5:30 PM at Sole Repair, 1001 E Pike. Find more details here

Rocker John Roderick enters at-large council race with Capitol Hill roots

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(Image: Alex Garland for CHS)

Calling John Roderick the “arts candidate” for City Council would be somewhat limiting unless the definition includes a candidate who sees affordability and transit as part and parcel to supporting the arts. As the front man for Seattle indie rock band The Long Winters, Roderick says he knows first hand that it takes a village to raise an artist.

Roderick officially announced his candidacy Monday for Council Position 8, one of two at-large seats up for grabs this November. Also seeking the seat are current council president Tim Burgess, former Tenants Union director Jon Grant, activist David Trotter, longshoreman John Persak, and City Council agitator Alex Tsimerman.

Roderick, 46, lives in Rainier Beach, is a founding member of the Seattle Music Commission, co-host of a weekly podcast, and a former Seattle Weekly music columnist.

Having spent 17 years living on Capitol Hill as a working musician before moving out of the neighborhood eight years ago, Roderick sees himself as belonging to a belated awakening of 90s rockers who squandered an opportunity to get political when the iron was hot.

Imbued with the sense of “we’re in charge now,” Roderick said this year’s switch to district elections opened a window for non-traditional candidates to run for office.

“To keep arts out of public life and reserve City Council for a professional class of lawyers and activists is to miss an opportunity to build a civilization here rather than just a municipality,” he said. “We’ve lost sight of what makes American democracy fantastic, which is that citizens can participate in the political process.” Continue reading

City Council Notes | Jayapal endorses Sawant for District 3, Pre-K implementation plan, Council weighs in on U.S. Pacific trade deal

Jayapal celebrates on last November's Election Night (Image: Pramila for State Senate)

Jayapal celebrates on last November’s Election Night (Image: Pramila for State Senate)

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

  • On Monday, State Sen. Pramila Jayapal announced her endorsement for City Council member Kshama Sawant, who’s running for the Capitol Hill-centered District 3 position this year. In a statement, Jayapal underscored Sawant’s ability to work collaboratively as the three other District 3 candidates have dinged Sawant in various ways for being too adversarial:

“I was proud to work with Kshama to fight for a $15 minimum wage. She combines a principled approach, a willingness to listen, and the ability to move critical legislation that affects our most vulnerable communities,” Jayapal said.

Jayapal is backing a measure in the senate to raise the statewide minimum wage to $12 an hour over four years. She represents the 37th District, which includes Central Area neighborhoods south of Madison St. down to Renton and overlaps with part of Council District 3.

  • Mayor Ed Murray has said that implementing a universal pre-K program in Seattle would be the most important thing he’ll ever do as mayor. Earlier this month the mayor submitted that pre-K plan to Council, where it’s up for a public hearing this week. Last year, voters approved a 4-year levy to offer free pre-K schooling to a quarter of Seattle’s 3- and- 4-year-olds and make subsidies available for the rest. Included in the implementation plan up for consideration is a sliding fee schedule that offers free pre-school for those at or below 300% of the federal poverty line. Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 7.45.23 PMThe Wednesday meeting of the Council’s education committee will feature a presentation by researchers from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as well as a panel of pre-K experts that will include Dr. Debra Sullivan of Seattle Central College.
  • The City Librarian will present the annual library levy report to city council members on Tuesday. Part of a $2.5 million maintenance budget included safety improvements made to the Captiol Hill branch.
  • Now and then some City Council members like to use their position to weigh in on international issues (remember last year’s flare-up over Sawant’s letter on Gaza?). Council member Mike O’Brien has put forth a resolution to state the council’s opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free trade agreement President Barack Obama is quietly hammering out with 11 other Pacific nations. Among the many reasons laid out in the resolution to oppose the TPP, one section argues that the TPP “threatens Seattle’s work force by forcing the U.S to waive ‘Buy American’ or ‘Buy Local’ requirements.” Council members will discuss the resolution during Thursday’s Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Committee meeting.

City Council Notes | 11th Ave construction concerns, homeless encampment hearing, First Hill Streetcar ‘eyebolts’

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

  • Though the First Hill Streetcar is facing further delays thanks to manufacturing problems with its hybrid trams, the City Council is expected to make progress this week on the project with a rather un-sexy sounding bit of legislation. The Council’s transportation committee this week will take up the First Hill Streetcar Eyebolt Easements Acceptance Ordinance.Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 4.06.15 PM Continue reading

Sawant leading Capitol Hill forum on LGBTQ hate crime

#caphillpsa poster by Greg Lundgren

#caphillpsa poster by Greg Lundgren

Seattle City Council member and District 3 candidate Kshama Sawant has announced an upcoming forum on LGBTQ-related hate crime on Capitol Hill.

The forum will take place on March 3rd at 7:00 PM in Broadway’s All Pilgrims Church.


Councilmember Sawant’s Town Hall Meeting – End Hate Crime against LGBTQ People! – Find Real Solution on Capitol Hill
WHEN Tuesday, March 3, 2015, 7 p.m.

ADDRESS All Pilgrims Christian Church, 500 Broadway E
Town Hall Description: There has been an alarming spate of hate crimes on Capitol Hill against LGBTQ people. This is outrageous! Our community has long been a bastion of the LGBTQ struggle – not a place where we can’t even feel safe walking home at night.

Join Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant as she hosts a Town Hall, where we’ll hear testimony from those directly affected on the Hill. The discussion will bring LGBTQ activists together with human service providers, housing justice advocates, and public safety representatives. The goal? To find bold and lasting solutions to address the crisis.


“[I]t’s not about drawing blame, but about addressing the fundamental causes of what’s changing on the Hill,” Sawant said. “We’re going to have speakers outline various solution-based points,” said Sawant as she announced the forum at the Capitol Hill Community Council Thursday night.

With statistics and anecdotal accounts pointing to an increase in bias crime incidents and the disturbing, higher profile attacks like the Neighbours arson and the Ahmed Said and Dwone Anderson-Young murders, the are more concerns along with more awareness of the issue. Police increased their presence in Pike/Pine late last summer to address an overall increase in street crimes in the area. Some efforts like the #caphillpsa poster campaign have been formed to also bring more attention to keeping Pike/Pine and Broadway safe for LGBTQ people. Organizers from Social Outreach Seattle say they are also planning a weekend shuttle described as “the most obnoxious, gay van you’ve ever seen in your life.” CHS reports on hate crime incidents can be found here.

Sawant will be on the panel, discussing the economic side of the changing face of Capitol Hill, along with the community council’s vice president Zachary Pullin.

Sawant said that there will be “collective testimonies” from the LGBTQ community — specifically from racial minorities — about hate crimes and safety on Capitol Hill.

“The solutions can’t always be legislated,” Sawant said, “they have to also be something that ordinary people, working people take charge of.” She said that while she and others are organizing the event, she would like the solutions to come from those who are most affected by the issue. The council member also said she wants some “concrete” and “immediately doable” services to be identified to help better serve the LGBTQ community, particularly the trans community, so that public funding appropriations can get underway.

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