‘Spoliation of Evidence’ — CHOP lawsuit judge asked to rule against City of Seattle over deleted texts

Lawyers for the group of Capitol Hill real estate developers, property owners, and businesses suing the City of Seattle over its handling of the 2020 CHOP protests are asking a judge to bring the federal lawsuit to an end and rule in their favor in what could be a multimillion judgement over thousands of missing text messages from top officials including then-Mayor Jenny Durkan, her Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best, and Seattle Fire Chief Scoggins.

In the “Spoliation of Evidence” motion filed this week, lawyers representing the group say that revelations about the deleted texts should result in sanctions against the city in the case and either require an “adverse inference” instruction to the jury at trial and “monetary sanctions,” or an immediate end to the suit in a default judgment for the plaintiffs.

In the motion, lawyers representing the property owners and businesses claiming damages from the summer 2020 protest camp over “due process and takings violations, negligence, and nuisance resulting in business loss, property damage, and other harms” say their claims “depend on evidence such as communications between city policymakers.” Continue reading

Harrell budget proposal steps back on Seattle reforms including larger SPD, new plan for big business tax

Harrell’s budget announcement was made at SDOT’s Charles Street Vehicle Maintenance Facility (Image: City of Seattle)

The Harrell administration’s first budget proposal released Tuesday is a $1.6 billion restatement of the city’s small but nationally followed attempts at shifting its public safety spending. It could also end up leaning heavily on revenues from the city’s controversial — but apparently much needed — payroll tax on its largest employers. In many ways, it is a step back on the progressive reforms introduced during the pandemic.

“After two very long pandemic years, today we stand at a pivotal moment in our city’s history. It’s at this intersection of change and challenge where we know the investments we make in this One Seattle budget proposal can chart Seattle’s course for years to come,” Mayor Bruce Harrell said in his statement on the 2023-2024 budget proposal. “Our guiding principle is how best to meet the urgent needs of our communities and empower our employees to deliver essential services.”

The proposal does include new spending including a plan that would provide around $88 million for the King County Regional Homelessness Authority, a nearly 13% increase.

But the bulk of departments will face cutbacks and belt tightening with economic forecasts projecting an estimated $140 million budget gap.

To help bridge this deficit and larger possible gaps ahead, Harrell Tuesday said he would ask the Seattle City Council to change the rules for the city’s JumpStart payroll tax on its largest employers to allow City Hall to dip into the revenue to patch up Seattle’s general fund. The tax, launched in 2021, was intended to fund pandemic recovery, solutions for homelessness and housing, and Green New Deal initiatives.

The Seattle City Council will now set about restoring some of the proposed cuts, adding new spending, and hammering out a compromise or two with the administration.

“As Budget Chair, I will be working with my council colleagues to finalize the biennial budget that builds towards a Seattle where everyone is housed and cared for, healthy and safe, and supports workers and small businesses for a more equitable and resilient economy,” Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda said in a statement. “We must protect investments in housing and maintain commitments with the workforce that cares for our most vulnerable, increase childcare to support workers and boost our local economy, prioritize climate resilience in programs and infrastructure investments, and stave off cuts to critical programs and city staff.”

Mosqueda’s efforts will include staving off transition of the JumpStart funding from its intended focus on addressing the pandemic, homelessness, and housing crises in the city. Continue reading

With questions over Regional Homelessness Authority and SPD spending, Seattle kicks off 2023 budget process

(Image: City of Seattle)

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell and King County Executive Dow Constantine will release details of their proposed 2023 budgets Tuesday with many watching to see how planned funding for the King County Regional Homelessness Authority will measure out.

The new authority charged with organizing the city and county’s response to the ongoing homelessness crisis has asked for a budget of $209 million in 2023. The nearly 75% jump would increase the number of available shelter resources and help cover increased costs from service providers amid rising wages. Continue reading

Seattle makes plans to sustain hybrid virtual and in-person design review meetings

The Seattle City Council is working on legislation that would allow important land use meetings including public design review sessions to be held virtually and in-person as the official state of emergency around COVID-19 is lifted.

“The proposal would allow SDCI and Office of Housing to hold meetings in a modern, convenient manner, with an option for the public to attend a virtual meeting at a physical meeting venue for people who don’t have access to a computer or prefer an in-person meeting,” the Seattle Department of Construction & Inspections director’s report and recommendation on the proposal reads. Continue reading

As Seattle prepares to move beyond ‘urban villages,’ EcoDistrict forum to share vision for a more ‘inclusive, connected, safe, and healthy Capitol Hill’

The Capitol Hill EcoDistrict, an effort formed by affordable housing developers Community Roots Housing to “advocate and partner in community development,” will hold its annual forum next week with plans for the meeting to be held outside in the plaza above Capitol Hill Station:

Capitol Hill EcoDistrict Community Forum
Thu, Sep 29, 2022 , 3:00pm-7:00pm
Capitol Hill Station Plaza – 918 E Barbara Bailey Way
Each year, the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict brings together community stakeholders to address a topic or an issue affecting the neighborhood. It is an opportunity to come together, celebrate the cultural richness of Capitol Hill, and to engage in thoughtful dialogue.

The organization says the forum will “showcase our vision and implementation plan for public life in Capitol Hill and Seattle’s center city.” Continue reading

Seattle Film Commission’s goal: more Love is Blind, 10 Things I Hate about You, and Singles in the city

Gasp! Clooney shot his UW-set Boys in the Boat in the UK… not Seattle

This spring brought cameras to Capitol Hill as a new season of the Love is Blind reality show filmed episodes in the neighborhood.

More drama could be coming.

Seattle is set to create a new commission to help attract new film, television, commercial, and streaming projects in the city.

The Seattle City Council this week signed off on a plan championed by citywide representative Sara Nelson to create a new 11-member Seattle Film Commission charged with helping make the city a more attractive setting for diverse and equity-focused productions: Continue reading

‘Come Say High’ — Forbidden Cannabis joins the Central District as Seattle marijuana industry equity efforts continue

The Forbidden crew in Lacey (Image: Forbidden Cannabis)

A family of Washington pot shops now spans from the banks of the Columbia to the Central District. Forbidden Cannabis Club opens Friday on E Union.

Meanwhile, Seattle has a new set of policies hoped to improve equity in the city’s cannabis industry.

CHS reported in July on the deal to purchase Central District pot shop Ponder and its E Union property coveted both for the value of its land and its cannabis license just down the street from the headquarters of one of the city’s leading pot retailers, Uncle Ike’s.

With the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board approving the transfer, the transaction is now a done deal and Forbidden has announced its September 23rd grand opening with promotions and sale prices. Continue reading

Mayor opts to keep Diaz to lead Seattle Police after four month search for new chief

(Image: City of Seattle)

Mayor Bruce Harrell has followed through on his loyalty to interim Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz, naming the force veteran who has led SPD since Carmen Best’s controversial 2020 exit to permanently lead the department.

Harrell made the appointment Tuesday in a press conference billed as a “major public safety announcement” for the city after a committee process that identified three candidates out of 15 applicants for the job. Harrell said he hoped Diaz would bring accountability to the department “like I’ve never seen it.” Continue reading

Council approves new Seattle Department of Transportation director

“Fun morning walking by the Streetcar maintenance facility, grabbing a quick breakfast sandwich 🥪 and then hopping on the streetcar headed towards Municipal Tower,” Spotts posted Wednesday morning

Greg Spotts’s social media skills are strong. The City Council agrees with Mayor Bruce Harrell that he will also make a good leader for the Seattle Department of Transportation.

Tuesday, the council approved Spotts as the next SDOT director in a unanimous 9-0 vote. Continue reading

‘REDUCED’ — Trips cut in every route but one in Metro’s service update due to ‘workforce shortages’

An image from a recent Metro hiring promotion

An ongoing shortage of bus operators and maintenance staff will mean reduced bus service this fall on Capitol Hill and across the city.

Meanwhile, like nearly all corners of the economy, the public transit industry is looking at solutions to bring workers back into the fold and keep them that could take years to play out.

King County Metro’s announced fall 2022 service changes include reductions in the number of runs on nearly 60 routes while only one — Route 303 connecting Northwest Seattle to a circuit through First Hill — will see an increase in the number of added trips.

Metro operates around 160 routes, meaning around 60% won’t be reduced.

They typical cuts include around two to four daily weekday trips “deleted to address workforce shortages.” Continue reading