With COVID-19 set to tear up the city’s budget, District 3 Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant has turned again to a familiar target: Amazon and the biggest two percent of businesses. But Monday, her council counterparts opted to send a proposal for a new tax on Seattle’s largest companies to provide emergency relief from the pandemic down a legislative pathway not controlled by the Socialist Alternative representative for Capitol Hill’s District 3.
More than 5,400 people signed a petition to the council spearheaded by Sawant to enact the new tax proposed last month with South Seattle rep Tammy Morales. Another over 1,100 people emailed council members calling on them to send the legislation to Sawant’s Sustainability and Renters’ Rights Committee.
Monday, the suite of three bills was sent unanimously to the Select Budget Committee, chaired by council member Teresa Mosqueda, who said she would work to get the legislation a robust discussion with urgency.
Sawant levied criticisms against council member Lisa Herbold and council president Lorena González for their votes to repeal her head tax on Amazon in 2018.
Monday, several council members, including Herbold, pushed back against Sawant for promoting the idea of a divided council during an emergency.
“I don’t think it’s helpful to really promote that divisive approach to how the council does its business,” Herbold said. “I think this council acts in a way that’s fair and respectful of one another.”
Council member Debora Juarez said “this type of politics in the midst of a lethal pandemic, to me, is unacceptable and a waste of time.” Continue reading
Mount Zion Housing Development, the real estate and housing arm of the 19th and Madison baptist church, has unveiled details of its planned seven story, 62-unit affordable senior housing project planned for its property just north of the church.
The 1700-block 19th Ave development is being planned for “seniors who have been displaced or who are at risk of being displaced due to gentrification in the Seattle Central District area” and would be a coordinated facility with the nearby E Madison Samuel B. McKinney Manor. Continue reading
(Image: Environmental Works)
You can help shape The Eldridge, an eight-story affordable housing project focused on LGBTQ+ elders on Broadway between Pike and Pine that will include at least 100 units at a mix of affordability levels rising above the preserved facade of an auto row-era Seattle landmark.
Affordable housing developer Capitol Hill Housing and Capitol Hill architectural firm Environmental Works are collecting community feedback as they prepare for the start of the city’s design review process set to begin later this year:
Capitol Hill Housing’s LGBTQ-Affirming Affordable Senior Housing Project at 1515-1519 Broadway has been awarded funding by the Seattle Office of Housing, King County, and the Washington State Housing Trust Fund. The project team is preparing to submit the initial design package to the city for the Early Design Guidance process and is currently seeking feedback from community members on the project. A public update meeting was held in August 2019 and the project team plans to hold an additional public meeting in mid-2020 to obtain feedback on the building design and programming. Community members are encouraged to submit comments about the project in the meantime by visiting the project webpage or contacting the project team at 1515Broadway@capitolhillhousing.org (note: any information collected may be made public).
Last August, CHS reported on early plans for the project being envisioned as one of Seattle’s first “community preference” developments — a new program that encourages developers receiving city money to offer a portion of their affordable units to communities with ties to the neighborhood, particularly those with a high risk of displacement.”
Mayor Jenny Durkan won’t veto the bill but the she said Tuesday she also won’t sign Seattle’s new law banning evictions during winter months as she proposed a new plan for $200,000 in funding for an existing eviction prevention program.
The middle ground decision means the council’s legislation — including a loophole for “small landlords” who own four or fewer units — will now become law.
But Durkan says she is proposing a new solution be taken up by the council, saying the its winter eviction ban championed by District 3 representative Kshama Sawant created only “a legal defense during eviction proceedings” and “nearly half of households failed to contest an eviction or appear in court.” Continue reading
Cal Anderson Park will again swing into action this week as a cradle of Seattle activism. Next Sunday will bring a Kshama Sawant-led March on March 1st to Tax Amazon starting at the park’s fountain and ending at the online giant’s downtown spheres:
Tax Amazon! March on March 1
“There is tremendous momentum to Tax Amazon, but big business is fighting tooth and nail to undermine our movement,” the rallying cry reads.
The rally and march follow a weekend victory for the effort to create a payroll tax on the city’s largest 3% of businesses in Seattle that would raise $300 million annually for housing and environmental initiatives. Organizers from the Tax Amazon campaign say their protest at a legislative town hall held Saturday on First Hill forced at least one key concession as Rep. Frank Chopp “was met with loud applause by community members” when he reportedly said he would “publicly oppose pre-emption.” Continue reading
Swatting away ethics concerns, Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant unveiled her proposal Wednesday morning that would raise $300 million for housing and environmental initiatives with a tax on Amazon and Seattle’s largest payrolls.
“On behalf of our movement, I’m excited to put forward this bold, transformative proposal,” Sawant said. “We know that big business, the wealthy, and the political establishment will staunchly oppose this, and that we will need a powerful movement. If we win, this will not only transform the lives of Seattle’s working people, it will set a historical marker for cities around the nation.”
The online giant remains in Sawant’s crosshairs. Sawant’s official Seattle City Council press release on the announcement calls her proposal the “Amazon Tax Legislation.” Continue reading
With reporting by SCC Insight
Kshama Sawant’s January inauguration for her third term on the Seattle City Council was also the launch of a new “Tax Amazon” movement in Seattle. It may have also violated city ordinances and state laws.
Monday, the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission charged Sawant with ethics violations for using her office to promote a potential ballot measure.
Sawant has made a revived “Tax Amazon” movement a key component of her third term at City Hall. Sawant’s office says her plan for a Seattle tax on large companies would would raise between $200 million and $500 million annually for homelessness services and housing.
The campaign has a web site registered to Calvin Priest, a Socialist Alternative employee and Sawant’s husband, and has held a string of organizing meetings. At their January 25th meeting, the group passed a resolution establishing its intent to put a voter initiative on the November 2020 ballot to impose a new head tax on large companies in Seattle. The campaign is also gathering names on a petition opposing a preemption clause in HB 2907, the bill currently pending in the state legislature that would authorize King County to impose a payroll tax. The Tax Amazon campaign is also fundraising, soliciting donations on its web site. Continue reading
Kshama Sawant’s legislation to ban winter evictions in Seattle was approved by the City Council Monday but not before a few holes were poked in the socialist council member’s attempt to restrict landlords from evicting tenants during winter months.
The 7-0 vote adds a new restriction to Seattle’s Just Cause Eviction Ordinance, a roster of “16 just causes” Seattle landlords are allowed to use to end month-by-month rental agreements. Seattle will now restrict evictions during the period from December 1st to March 1st. The rules could be in place for a short period if Mayor Jenny Durkan backs off veto threats. Continue reading
“Learn more about the Tax Amazon Movement,” front and center on Sawant’s City Council page
When it comes to taxing “big business,” Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant is hoping to preempt “preemption.”
The socialist representative for Central Seattle is holding a news conference Friday night in City Hall with “union members, renters rights activists, socialists, rank-and-file Democratic party members, and faith leaders” to “speak out against the threat of a statewide ban on big business taxes in Seattle, known as ‘preemption.'” Continue reading
Sawant made the Tax Amazon movement the centerpiece of her inauguration and start of a third term. A state proposal would open the door to a tax on “big business” at the county level.
As the rumble has started again for a tax on large employers in Seattle, Capitol Hill’s State Representative in Olympia has proposed a bill that could take the push for revenue to support housing and homelessness services to a new level.
Rep. Nicole Macri is co-sponsoring a bill that would allow King County “to impose an excise tax on business.”
The state proposal would actually open up the option to any county with a population over 2 million — right now, that would be King County.
“The thing I am interested in is something that will allow for more of a regional approach on addressing homelessness, housing and behavioral health needs than what the current authority allows,” Macri told Crosscut about the proposed legislation.
Fellow 43rd District Rep. Frank Chopp is also a co-sponsor.
The Seattle Times reports that Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and King County Executive Dow Constantine support the bill.
Durkan and Constantine said the tax could raise $121 million per year “for housing, homelessness, public safety, and behavioral health services across the region.” Continue reading