‘Amazon Tax Legislation’ unveiled — Plan would tax payrolls of Amazon and Seattle’s ‘825 biggest companies’

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

Seattle City Council Insight: Sawant hit with ethics charges over Tax Amazon campaign — UPDATE

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

Seattle Council approves Sawant’s winter evictions ban — but includes exemption for ‘small’ landlords

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

Sawant targets ‘preemption’ in pushback on plan for King County big business tax

“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

Proposal would allow a $121M King County tax on big businesses to pay for housing, homelessness

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

Rent Control 101

The rent is too damn high! Seattle rents have risen by over 50% since 2010, leaving renters facing unaffordable rents, displacement, and homelessness. We’re now the 4th most expensive city in America. Though citywide market rate rents have stabilized somewhat, many tenants continue to face unpredictable and unaffordable rent increases and economic eviction. Rent control provides renters with stability in their housing but is currently prohibited by Washington State law.

Join the Capitol Hill Renter Initiative and Councilmember Sawant to learn more about rent control, how it fits into a housing agenda that prioritizes renters, and how to win rent control in Seattle and Washington State. Seattle and WA renters deserve predictable, stable, and equitable rents.

We will be meeting in the Pike/Pine room in the 12th Ave Arts building. Food and light refreshments will be provided. The venue is ADA-accessible, with step-free access to the second floor via an elevator. Please RSVP so we can adequately plan for the number of attendees.

District 3 Candidate Forum

Join transportation, housing, and climate advocates for a District 3 city council candidate forum! Candidates will have the opportunity to answer questions curated by local advocates. This forum will be moderated by Seattle U professor Dr. Larry Hubbell and Seattle Times reporter Heidi Groover. District 3 encompasses Capitol Hill, Central Area, First Hill, Little Saigon, and parts of South Lake Union, Mount Baker, Montlake and Yesler Terrace. Check out the Facebook Event

Sawant finds no support on ‘legal and viable’ affordable housing proposals

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

Report looks at how best to deal with Seattle’s vacant buildings — including ideas for temporary housing

The notorious “Biohazard House” of Belmont Ave

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

If you hear somebody talking ‘Comp Plan’ in your favorite Capitol Hill cafe, it’s probably Housing Now shaping plan to take on Seattle’s restrictive zoning

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