VIDEO: Neighborhood advocates gather in wake of District Council dissolution by ‘a mayor who has vilified volunteers’

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Story by Tracy Record
Video/photos by Patrick Sand
West Seattle Blog co-publishers

“Let’s not throw out the whole system – let’s make it better.”

That was the theme last night for a gathering of longtime community volunteers who were, at times, furious:

“We are owed an apology. In a city known internationally for volunteerism, we have a mayor who has vilified volunteers … it’s inexcusable.”

At times, gracious:

“What resonates in this room is the hope and optimism you all bring to the table.”

And at times, incredulous:

“The news last week was a surprise.”

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That last declaration is how Mat McBride, chair of the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council, began last night’s gathering, a dramatic expansion of what was supposed to be a routine, “sleepy” monthly edition of the DNDC’s meeting, and instead, because of a mayoral decree a week earlier, became a rally of reps from the city’s 13 NDCs. Here’s our video of the entire gathering, in two parts:

The objective, as McBride described it, was to show that the “13 District Councils … are representative of more than the narrative we are currently being cast by … that a bad decision has been made, and that bad decisions can and should be reversed.”

That “narrative” was the July 13th mayoral declaration that the groups should be thrown on the scrap heap (WSB coverage here), replaced to a yet-to-be-outlined “engagement” system with an appointed “Community Involvement Commission,” because members are allegedly mostly older white homeowners. (The survey that made the proclamation has been called into question, as has the inference that the volunteers should be cut loose because of their age, race, and economic status.)

“Right now if you read the [regional] press, you’ll see a story that district councils have 15 people … tend to be white, tend to be old, tend to own houses. (But) when a district council gathers, hundreds, thousands of people are represented at the table … we are a representative democracy. It is not true, the story that’s currently being told.”

We counted at least 60 people in the room at Highland Park Improvement Club; McBride greeted them all in DNDC style – cheering and hand-waving – calling out the names of each Neighborhood District Council that was here, and then asking for a show of hands from those representing other groups, such as the community councils that feed into the ND councils.

He acknowledged that some of what’s in the report – the need to expand the groups’ means of outreach – are things that district council members agree with, things they’ve been suggesting, requesting, for years.

So what is it these groups DO do?

The moderated-forum format bounced around the room.

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From Dan Sanchez, chair of the Central Area District Council: “Provide a forum for our member organizations to disseminate and receive information from each other, as well as from the city.” They might hear from a developer, or maybe a representative of a city department. that.

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Gabrielle Gerhard, immediate past chair of the Northeast District Council, said “we do something very similar – the power in our district council is when” they share information, at the table, “in a way that’s not shared over social media or other things.” They “try to build collaboration and connection,” she said.

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Melissa Jonas identified herself as co-chair of the “organization formerly known as the Greater Duwamish District Council … I don’t know what symbol we’re going to choose, but it’s going to be great. We do the checkbox thing where (city) people contact us” to try to get the word out about things – “and we say, do you have translated materials? They say no, we don’t have money for that, and we say, that’s funny, neither do we.” She says their DC is not reflected in the “white, old, homeowner” label that the mayor affixed to the councils; her co-chair, she said, is a young Latino man. “We build relationships … we are a human braintrust that cannot be beat by Find It Fix It … I freakin’ love social media, but it does not take the place of looking the neighbors in their face.”

Jonas also talked about grant writing, being “armchair transportation experts,” armchair experts on telling people where to go and what to do about problems … “We do what we’re asked and more, like everyone else in this room … The way we have been portrayed and the way we have been described … I’ve been a volunteer coordinator for a long time and I would never treat anyone, expecting them to come back, the way that we have been treated.”

Charlie Bookman, vice chair of the Queen Anne/Magnolia District Council: “I want to touch on one thing that has not been mentioned yet … We’ve been blessed with strong community councils. We used to compete with each other for city resources – we’ve built those relationships together that now, for some years, there’s been a highly supportive environment … we look at new parts, offleash dog areas, P-patches, business districts with rehabbed sidewalks, in both communities, because we work together – the district council has been the vehicle.”

Jeff Hayes from South Park, an outspoken community advocate, said he is not on a community or district council but talked about the value of neighborhood participation, because the people in the city who can help neighborhoods “are getting farther and farther away from us” and the neighborhoods themselves “are getting lost.” The mayor’s decision “is not the way to go … we should be getting more in touch with our neighborhoods than farther away.”

“That’s why we’re here tonight!” yelled McBride from the state.

Mark Mendez, co-chair of the North District Council from Lake City, said his dad’s from Puerto Rico and that he loves his neighborhood. “I just want to say I’m proud to be part of the NDC and we do some great things – for example the light rail station that was off the table for a while, City Councilmember Debora Juarez worked with us, and we got that station back” in the plan. “Lake City/Bitter Lake neighborhoods … we were left out, NDCs worked together, said what about the social equity lens – very successful story. It’s not like we’re not trying to outreach to diverse communities, everyone in that room wants this -”

“YES!” they yell.

Mendez continues, “Give us the tools, translators, fun events … let’s not throw out the whole system, let’s make it better.”

Catherine Weatbrook, who chairs the City Neighborhood Council – to which the neighborhood-district councils send reps – said: “One of the things I’ll specifically call out, the troubleshooting. We are empowered as community members, when we see yet another (problem) – we empower the neighbors, and we’re empowered to go out there and get city departments to respond. We’re the Find It Fix It in some ways.” She had a few “quick points” to made: “When has a city department relied on volunteers to do their job of outreach?” She says, “there’s also a great misconception in the narrative that somehow a community council is a district council. It’s not. Those are some of the groups represented at the District Council table” but she lists other groups – “we are open to anyone in the community … the Department of Neighborhoods used to go out and recruit these organizations to come in. But that hasn’t happened. It hasn’t happened for years.” She says the District Coordinators are great people but they are not spending a full position on assisting them, so saying more than that is “misrepresenting what’s going on.”

Longtime community volunteer Pete Spalding, who has served on the Pigeon Point Neighborhood Council and Delridge Neighborhoods District Council and City Neighborhood Council, says, “I say this not to brag but I have a certain amount of institutional knowledge of how the (system) works.” He’s worked with now five Department of Neighborhoods directors, three mayors – “I have watched each of these administrations make substantial cuts” to the Department of Neighborhood. He cites examples of community-involvement achievement such as Vivian McLain, “the godmother of the Delridge District Council” and talks about the creation of the Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association, the people who revitalized and expanded the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council, people working to build a skatepark at Delridge “when other communities in West Seattle did not want that skatepark.”

He says it’s important to look at the people at the table when criticizing the demographics of a DC – is each person only representing themselves, or representing the people who participate in the activities of their organization, or the people who live in the neighborhoods they are representing, etc. “(Right now), the city of Seattle has 45 boards and commissions. Why do we need to abolish one voice for a lesser voice?” He notes the Seattle Police Department alone has 10 demographic advisory councils. “Are we perfect? Of course not. Should we stop advocating for causes? Of course not. Should we think things will get better on their own? Of course not. … Don’t punish those who show up … Give us back the tools you’ve taken away from us … Give us back the district coordinators [a roster that was cut five years ago] … WOrk with us in making my Delridge community a better place for everyone.”

Big applause.

“In this room tonight, there are tens of thousands of people,” McBride says. And he talks about representing those people. He says there’s a question the city should have asked to shape the conversation: “What are your goals? What do you want to accomplish?” A summit came up with eight separate goals. “Create and promote the Delridge neighborhood and common identity. Develop business associations to spur economic growth. Maximize places and events where people can come together to develop trust and reciprocity. Promote a green Delridge” – not just building up greenspace but aso embracing sustainability practices. “Strengthen the schools. Create a boulevard feel along the Delridge district.”

They’ve made progress on some of those goals, not so much on others. “But when we get together, that’s what’s on our mind.”

A community-council rep from outside West Seattle said she wanted to say why the district councils don’t get credit for what they bring to the city. She talked about a 27-year record of grants – “I would defy the mayor or anyone in the city to say these grants are any kind of example of ‘not in my backyard’ – I have to draw the conclusion that the mayor did not look at this record.”

Donna Hartmann-Miller from the Maple Leaf Community Council, talked about what needs to be done to ensure more can get involved: “We’re working right now how to divide up some of the responsibilities … every so often we have to take a break because it’s so much work, so much effort, so many hours .. we’re trying to figure out how to take our volunteer duties and divide them into bite-size pieces, to make it easier for neighborhood people (to help out).” Why can’t the Department of Neighborhoods provide these groups with web sites? she asks. If they could be supportive in more ways, they could “reach out to more of the people that we want to reach out to. … We’re trying to figure out how to let people participate without overwhelming them.”

Central Area’s Sanchez: “We’re a community of community councils,” a way for them to support each other. He talked about his DC members including a rep from an African-American veterans’ group who “worked out a meeting space for his group and a way to communicate with (another group) … that happened just last week.” He also says the councils “fix the city’s screwu-ps” and mentioned that the report that followed the mayor’s declaration last week is an “indictment of the Department of Neighborhoods.”

Around the room, cries of YES!

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Then: A man stood up to say yes, he’s a white, old homeowner – David Levinson from the Downtown District Council: “The truth of the matter is that the mayor would prefer things moving from the top down rather than the bottom up.”

Another person says she feels like they’ve been playing “whack-a-mole” rather than being able to look beyond the tasks at hand. Referring to the city’s current outreach practices, she said, “I don’t want to go to any more open houses. I don’t want to put any more sticky notes (on easel boards).” She says it would make more sense for the outreach to go to where the people are.

And as for the city saving money by whacking the district-council system: A district council gets $500 a year from the city, she points out. Many don’t even spend that.

She also speaks highly of neighborhood district councils, as people with integrity, people who can be trusted, people who will treat you respectfully, people who will listen to you.

Next topic: What needs to be accomplished in communities?

Lake City still doesn’t have a full-service community center, “and it’s a disgrace,” says another speaker.

Many areas still need sidewalks, and “public-safety investments,” the shouts come from around the room. “More hours for community centers, for kids’ programs.”

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“We should mention Myers Way, says Gunner Scott of the Highland Park Action Committee, referring to another mayoral announcement from a week earlier, “and that (happened) because of relationships. Also, annexation of our friends next door (North Highline) is still on the table, and it’s looking likely, and if (we) hadn’t spoken up and said, why aren’t you talking to White Center, Top Hat, (about Myers Way), we would have had a huge warehouse there.”

From Nancy Folsom of North Delridge Neighborhood Council: “Let’s stop using grants for infrastructure – pitting neighborhood against neighborhood.”

McBride says the next question that he feels DCs should have been asked before getting the guillotine is, “What do you need, district councils, and how can we, the (Department of Neighborhoods), support you?”

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Michael Taylor-Judd of NDNC says, “We have been asking for years, a lot of us in this room, for a number of things – help doing outreach, help organizing e-mail lists so that when the city departments come out to us they have a go-to list … help with translation, a lot of the stuff that’s in the 2009 audit, which the city told us, we need to cut back, we’ll get back to this – and then failed to get back to this and it’s really aggravating to see our mayor basically walk through what’s in that audit and (blame the councils for what’s not getting done).” He adds, “It’s also incredibly aggravating for someone in a neighborhood with a lot of renters, a lot of income (diversity), to be told we’re not doing enough,” and he cites an example of NDNC volunteers walking materials door to door to inform people about the DESC (Cottage Grove Commons) development. “So not only is the city cutting resources to us, and then hiring people to do (what we asked them to do). There seems to be a real conflict between what they ask us to do and what they don’t fund us for.”

What could the DON do for the district councils?

Sanchez: “All that stuff the mayor just promised to the group he’s going to form.”

Then a note of defiance: “If the mayor hurries up and (goes through with) this I think we’ll be free to endorse mayoral candidates.”

Troy Meyers from the Squire Park Community Council says his group delivers 3,000 newsletters door to door. He’s on two district councils. “I’m able to do all those things because I’m nearly 50. I couldn’t do them when I was 20, when I was 30.” ”

“What I would like is respect,” says Amanda Kay Helmick of the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council. She looks at a city person in the room and says “You don’t come to our meetings, you say what you think we do, but you don’t KNOW what we do. What I would like is respect.”

Bookman from Magnolia-Queen Anne. “I’d like to frame the question as, what do we want from the mayor?”

Spalding says he wants the $1.2 million the DON claims it’s spending on district coordinators, “to be spent on our neighborhoods.”

McBride says “I want all 13 district coordinators back.”

Another woman says they’d like social-media training, they’d like video cameras so they could record meetings and publish them online. It’s not an easy thing to do, she mentions. “I would like newsletter training – we deliver our newsletter to 4,000 people.”

Yet another person acknowledges again that they know the participants need to be more diverse: “That takes support (for recruitment). Whoever’s here from the city, I want that message taken back.”

And then, what might be the declaration of the night:

“We are owed an apology. In a city known internationally for volunteerism, we have a mayor who has vilified volunteers … it’s inexcusable.”

More voices.

Ron Angeles, a former Neighborhood District Coordinator who grew up in Delridge and now sits on the Delridge Neighborhood District Council as a rep of Southwest Youth and Family Services, says he wants to add on about what the councils could use. “This whole concept of district councils came out of a meeting like this. It didn’t come out of City Hall.”

Big applause.

David Whiting and Eric Iwamoto are the co-chairs of western West Seattle’s Southwest District Council, stood up. Whiting said, “I don’t really see this as [expected to be] a representative body, not necessarily everything that goes on between Alki and Arbor Heights. … I don’t claim to speak for all those folks and all the work they do. The 2009 made it clear we’re not … so I don’t know why we’re considered flawed because we’re not representing all the demographics of the city at large.” He speaks of the difficulty of coaxing volunteerism.

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Whiting also mentioned that when they were working on the 47th/Admiral light, the city was telling him nothing was being done on other issues …and then suddenly the Admiral Way Safety Project erupted, in a “one hand doesn’t know what the other is doing” mode. “I’m one of the founding members of West Seattle Bike Connections. Use us as a resource. … And stop nickeling and diming for us for every little thing.” The city couldn’t come up with $250 for stenciling on the sidewalk by the new 47th/Admiral light – so Admiral NA did – “and then (SDOT director) Scott Kubly took credit for it in his opening remarks” at the dedication. Whiting talks about community-sponsored projects such as the Summer Concerts at Admiral series that opens tonight, presented by ANA.

McBride then suggests three questions that could have framed the conversation that the mayor decided not to have with district-council reps, questions he said would have preserved the relationship the city has with its most loyal and dedicated volunteers, built up a tried-and-trued model, and produced results the mayor is now seeking through untested methods.

Cindi Barker, past member of City Neighborhood Council (from Morgan Community Association), says that group was meant to look at what’s being proposed and try to get some feedback. It has given guidance, “a springboard for your thoughts, and your engagement.” The CNC, too, has done what the city refused to do, Barker said, giving the example of creating a much-needed contact list that city staffers said didn’t exist – so the volunteers comprising the CNC made it happen instead.

Laine Ross, current co-chair of city neighborhood council – “What resonates in this room is the hope and optimism you all bring to the table.It’s really heartfelt.” Regarding what’s missing, “you hear it over and over again, its’ sort of the indictment to the community working hard to bring people together, a lot of it has come through neighborhood matching funds.”

But as for concern about the city cutting off support: “A lot of people in this room would say we haven’t HAD a lot of support.” She says she feels hopeful being here tonight, and promises the CNC will have a forum looking to the future.

Then came Skip:

“I have an opinion that this mayor is not stupid. He has read Machiavelli. … So what do we do? We don’t just have one meeting, Mat. this should be considered just the first meeting. We should ahve a second first meeting and a third first meeting until everybody’s in the room and then we’ll tell the mayor what to do and he’ll do it or else we’ll (unelect him).” This can’t just be something we’re going to let the city council get by with … we need to go to all our city council people in our districts and (talk to them). If you hear something coming, it’s a train on the tracks … we’re not going to be run over by the mayor’s train.”

This area’s City Councilmember Lisa Herbold was in attendance for most of the meeting but did not speak.

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Her presence was punctuated, she explained to WSB afterward, by an appearance at the concurrent Morgan Community Association meeting.

McBride: “This conversation should and will continue” and says another district council should host the next chapter. “We’re here to talk.”

Another person said the city has never granted requests to give the district councils each other’s rosters. Someone on the sidelines says he’ll have that by Sunday.

A Highland Park Action Committee member asked those assembled, “Is it your feeling that this could be reversed?”

“ABSOLUTELY,” someone says.

“It’s how politics is done in Seattle,” McBride says.

“So, confidence is high that we can make him change?” asks the HPAC member.

Applause results.

Someone else speaks up and says they’re not so optimistic.

Whiting of SWDC mentioned being at City Hall for last week’s announcement and hearing the mayor say he wouldn’t go back on his own executive order.

Shortly thereafter, at McBride’s request, the remaining time was given to attendees to do what they say they do best – connect. The room buzzed, as the chairs were folded and other tasks handled … by volunteers.

WHAT’S NEXT: The mayor’s plan requires a resolution to be drafted to go before the City Council within the next few months.

62 Replies to "VIDEO: Neighborhood advocates gather in wake of District Council dissolution by 'a mayor who has vilified volunteers'"

  • Alan July 21, 2016 (9:37 am)
    The highlight of the meeting for me was seeing Ron Angeles there. He represents the beginning of the neighborhood councils and reminded us that these councils did not come from power but from the community. The city government has never wanted these councils because they would prefer NOT to hear their input. The mayor can choose not to be involved in the councils, but he cannot shut them down and he would be foolish to pretend they do not exist. The people in the room last night represented years of free community outreach that cost the city next to nothing. 
    While some at the meeting stated that they wanted tech support from the city, I think that would be a mistake. If the Email lists and websites were on a city server, they would likely to have been lost to the neighborhood councils with the Mayor’s announcement last week. Because the councils had to maintain their own methods of contact, they still have access to their constituents and they can use that to continue to lobby for our neighborhoods. This lobbying may include looking for a new mayor.
    Fight the power!
  • jno July 21, 2016 (9:48 am)

    It’s aggravating to me that these neighbors insist that “thousands of people are represented.” While that may be true, when I read summaries of most of these council meetings I don’t feel that my voice is represented at all. And that’s the mayor’s point. I’m no fan of Murray’s for a variety of reasons, but I hope he sticks to his guns on this.

    • Alan July 21, 2016 (10:09 am)

      So show up to a meeting and voice your opinion. Everyone is welcome but most just don’t take the time. Your opinion may still end up being a minority one, but we all face that from time to time.

    • Hebi July 21, 2016 (10:19 am)

      These are volunteer organizations and  the meetings, as well as positions on the councils, are open to all. If you want your voice heard you should use it. It’s easy to armchair quarterback. I’ve been to these meetings; these people are passionate about their neighborhoods and neighbors with little ($500/ year) support from the city. Do you think an appointment by the mayor will have the same dedication to your neighborhood as someone who donates his or her time to the cause?

      • jno July 21, 2016 (1:46 pm)

        “Open to all” is not the same as “accessible to all.” It’s great that you (and perhaps Alan) have the luxury of being able to attend these meetings, but that isn’t true for many in the community who would still like avenues for input (myself included). So I support the city looking for ways to expand access.

        I understand that these are volunteer-driven and I respect the people who dedicate time to serve. But that doesn’t make the councils representative, and neither does an election among the self-selected people who are able to attend meetings. In many cases these organizations are not only not representing my interests and desires, but are actively working against them. Therefore, their level of dedication is irrelevant to me.

        It’s disheartening (but not surprising) that many people serving on these councils don’t recognize their privilege.

        • Mediator July 21, 2016 (2:38 pm)

          JNO – what would make the meetings more “accessible” to you then?   Different days and/or times?  Childcare?  Transportation?  What?   They are telling you that they want your involvement at the meetings and for your voice to be heard  but you’re not seeming very interested in working with anyone to try to make that happen.   

          • jno July 21, 2016 (3:39 pm)

            All those things make meetings more accessible, yes, but you still have to make it to the meeting to have a voice on these councils. We have many other methods of communication in the 21st century. When the city or Metro solicit community input, for example, there are usually ways to provide feedback by telephone, email, and/or online survey in addition to public meetings. I make use of those. When Transportation Choices Coalition ran a survey about light rail options a while back, I participated even though I’ve never been to a TCC meeting before. Your perception of my interest here is not based in reality.

          • jno July 21, 2016 (4:08 pm)

            (I meant to say West Seattle Transportation Coalition above, not Transportation Choices Coalition.)

        • Nancy Folsom July 21, 2016 (4:15 pm)

          Many of us have email lists, newsletters, public email addresses for contacting people, and use Facebook, for example. What neighborhood are you in? 

  • Unrepresented July 21, 2016 (10:32 am)

    I think the current district council system has serious
    flaws that need to be fixed if they are to continue. Just look at the names
    above: all people who are quoted for almost every public meeting in West
    Seattle. They are not elected and not accountable, and it irks me when they claim
    they represent the neighborhood and the community.

    I have to call out Mr. McBride on this statement: “hundreds, thousands of people are represented at the table … we
    are a representative democracy.” No, representative democracy is means we
    elect representative to public office to do the government’s work. So please
    tell me, in which election were the people running the district councils
    elected to their positions? Also, you may think it’s great to “represent”
    thousands of people, but this is a city of hundreds
    of thousands.

    But it’s not a lost cause. If the NDCs are going to continue and be relevant, they need
    some changes:

    1. The NDCs must be elected in order to have legitimacy and
    funding. And with legitimacy comes responsibility, so there also needs to be a
    means to remove them when necessary. Until these NDCs are elected and held accountable, they have no legitimate claim to representation of the
    neighborhood or community.

    2. They need to have more meetings than just one time on one
    day in one place per month, as is their wont; that just creates barriers to
    participation. They must make their meetings more accessible to more people and
    provide other means for people to provide input.

    3. The NDCs need more clearly defined roles and
    responsibilities. The nebulous claim of representing “the community,”
    is dangerous because it assumes the community is uniform in opions and needs, and that is not the case. Hostility to dissenting viewpoints is a growing problem in Seattle. For example, it would be nice to be able to
    express pro-housing, urbanist views in Seattle without being dismissed as a “shill
    for developers,” as people like to say. If the neighborhood councils are to
    continue, they need recognize this, provide a respectful environment for all points of
    view, and honestly represent those diverse points of view to the city.

    There is one intractable problem: in order to make the NDCs relevant,
    they would almost have to become yet another layer of city government. And
    I’m not sure adding another layer of city government is what anyone wants.

    • AmandaKH July 21, 2016 (11:05 am)

      Thanks for your feedback Unrepresented.  I wanted to address your questions and solutions to the best of my ability, and in my own opinion. 

      “In which election were the people running the district councils elected to their positions.”  According to the bylaws of the DNDC, we elect leadership in May.  Those positions are open to all members of the DNDC.  Members of the DC are any group that meets within the District.  So, business associations, church groups, book clubs, sports groups, community organizations, etc. The only stipulation is that you live or work within the district and come to at least three meetings a year. The member reps of the DC are elected, or appointed, or just volunteer to attend the DNDC meetings from the organizations they belong to.  And those reps, might Also be elected according to the bylaws of their respective groups.  

      I think this covers 1. in your “Changes” section.

      2. Meeting times and places:  We meet once a month in a public, central venue that is accessible to all.  As we all have other meetings (because the DC is a collective of other organizations), once a month is plenty to come together and disseminate info.  I would agree that “meetings” could be made more fun.  Like cookouts at parks, but that takes money.  With a budget of $500 per year, there is not a lot of wiggle room.  Could we charge dues?  Sure, but that is creating a unfair barrier. 

      3. Defined Roles and Responsibilities.  HELL YES.  Can I just say, hell yes again?  Because for YEARS, we have been saying this.  Do you honestly think we like meeting month after month, year after year in the position we are in?  I sure as hell don’t.  The City has failed us, and according to their Own report, it was the Department of Neighborhoods that is at fault.  

      I’m not sure where you live in the City, or West Seattle.  But Delridge in particular has been asking for, nay Demanding, for years to be helped.  From transportation to captial improvement dollars, schools, crime, streets, sidewalks, youth programs, equal access to opportunity, you name it, we’ve been fighting for it.  And I am livid that the Mayor blames the volunteers for not making those investments.

      Driving a wedge between the citizens of this City is apparently the Mayor’s specialty.  White folks v POC, Renters v Homeowners, Urbanists v Preservationists.   That’s the narrative the Mayor wants to use to justify taking away any constituent input.  Those are tactics used by people in power to create fear and anger to maintain power.  We can either buy into it, or we can come together and fight it.  

      Me, I’m a fighter.  See you on the front lines.

      • Jort July 21, 2016 (1:38 pm)

        AmandaKH, you said: “Those are tactics used by people in power to create fear and anger to maintain power.”

        You point all the fingers at the Mayor for being divisive, but I hope you recognize that the Neighborhood/District Councils are viewed by non-homeowners as a pseudo-government sponsored property value enrichment organization, creating strong divides between homeowners and the rest of us.

        Neighborhood councils almost always take positions that discourage increasing housing units and increasing density. How do you think it feels, to someone who rents and wants to buy a home someday, when the “Neighborhood Council” consistently and reliably stands in the way of any kind of increased density?

        This is a simply supply-and-demand equation: when homeowners control the amount of supply by refusing to allow more homes and density, while demand continues to increase at an outrageous pace, prices consequently increase dramatically. Guess who that benefits?

        Seattle’s neighborhood councils have resolutely stood in the way of urbanizing our city. They chose to fight all attempts, and they refuse to negotiate and cooperate.

        Don’t be surprised that your organization faced a politically-motivated decision when you chose to become so, well, political.

        • Nancy Folsom July 21, 2016 (3:45 pm)

          Jort, can you please point to some specific examples of what you describe?

      • Unrepresented July 22, 2016 (9:30 am)

        Thanks for your response. Your answers actually reinforce my complaints about the system. When people are chosed only by those few who can be at a specific, place at a specfic time, once a month, then they have absolutely no legitimate claim at all to representing the community or the neighborhood. The inaccessibility of the meetings is the problem, but your answer seems to be to just restate the problem. Frankly the system, as described in your response, seem to me to be designed to limit participation. I absolutely reject the legitimacy of these organizations until they are put on a ballot so we can ALL choose our “representatives.” Until then this whole thing is bogus.

        • AmandaKH July 22, 2016 (9:56 am)

          Sweet Unrepresented.  Were you at the Westwood/Roxhill Find It, Fix It Walk meetings?  Those were held by the Department of Neighborhoods – 6:30 pm on the past three Thursday nights at the SW Library (last night we dry ran the walk).  

          The Mayor and his department heads will all be here on Monday night, meeting at the Longfellow Creek P-Patch at 6:00 to walk the neighborhood.  Can you make that?  How about you Jort? Or ILoveJort?  

          So give me a big fing break here you naysayers.  We are working within THEIR framework, not ours.  And by ours, I do mean you and me.  Because I also work, and have a kid and other responsibilities.  But BY GOD the Mayor is coming here to Finally invest in our neighborhood (20 years with no Capital Improvement dollars invested) and I made sure to clear my schedule, make other arrangements for my son and Show Up.  Because I have spent the last 3.5 years asking for just that.  

          You must be willing to meet people in the middle.  That is called compromise, and it’s 100% what living in a community is about.  You won’t get everything you want all the time, but it should be fair.

          Right now, you are being very unfair.  So get over yourself and show up. 

    • Nancy Folsom July 21, 2016 (3:44 pm)

      Small correction, because I see this repeated frequently: 

      >They are not elected and not accountable, and it irks me when they claim they represent the neighborhood and the community.

      We are elected, though the membership we are elected from is too small and we are frequently the only ones willing to do the job. Honestly, I loathe having to go to meetings and take notes. Seriously, I’m happy if someone wants to stand for secretary of the North Delridge Neighborhood Council. 

      We are arguably even more accountable than a city councilor because we are so easily replaced. Since it’s a smaller group, personal interests have a higher visibility. Have you ever presented in front of the City Council? Talk about inconvenient. You can talk for a couple of minutes only, you have to get there early to get on a list of speakers and then you might wait for hours to speak, and sessions are usually mid work day. Hardly accessible to, say, a single mom working and going to school. However, if she teams up with other people someone in that group might be able to take the issue in front of the City Council. That’s what District Councils do.

      • Jort July 21, 2016 (5:07 pm)

        Really? I don’t remember seeing any neighborhood or district council elections on my ballot in the past.

        Sorry, but just as there’s no taxation without represention, there’s also no representation without full democracy.  

        A bunch of of like-minded people getting together and  voting amongst themselves to pick their own leaders who prioritize their own self-interests is not an accurate representation of the entire community.

        • AmandaKH July 22, 2016 (10:11 am)

          Jort, you just described the American political system.   were you shooting for irony?

  • AceMotel July 21, 2016 (10:47 am)

    In terms of “community involvement” the power is in the people, not in the mayor.  Always has been, and always will be, regardless of mayor.   Over the last two mayors at least, the influence of district councils has steadily decreased. Murray is a fool to try and dismantle the system outright because there is a core group of people who are extremely disrespected.   But I say to these people, the power is in YOUR hands.  Use it.   You can make this work for you.  

  • Neighbor July 21, 2016 (12:21 pm)

    This mayor hates any groups/powers that voice disagreement with him and his small cohort. It’s frustrating what he is doing, but not surprising to those of us who have repeatedly voiced concerns. He will likely replace these with groups stacked with his Urganist.org supporters, just as he did with the Let’s Move Seattle Levy Oversight Committee, whose ranks include Transportation Choices pro-levy advocates (like Shefali who shouted down those of us who warned that the levy had too much flexibility and certain projects would be dropped, like bike master plans, as soon as the Mayor got what he wanted) and all supporters of the levy, not people concerned about the community and accountability.

  • Jort July 21, 2016 (12:38 pm)

    I noticed that, in all of the services and priorities that people said Neighborhood Councils provide, not one comment suggested making housing more affordable and getting more people to own houses in the neighborhoods.

    I imagine the mayor has been seeing what all of us who rent have been seeing: that neighborhood councils do everything in their power to protect the interests of current home/landowners by increasing their property values — through neighborhood improvements, investments in infrastructure, and most critically: by fighting any attempts whatsoever to increase housing supply or density. 

    10,000 people a year are moving to Seattle, but our neighborhood councils firmly and resolutely believe that we should not adapt our zoning and density to accommodate this. Why? When demand shoots through the roof but supply stays the same, guess what happens to home and land prices? 

    The neighborhood councils and district councils do many things, but they would also do well to acknowledge their inherent bias: that they serve to protect their property values to the exclusion of those who are trying their hardest to enter an ever-escalating property market.

    Perhaps these councils overplayed their hands.  

    • Neighbor July 21, 2016 (7:19 pm)

      Jort, the existing zoning allows for 120,000 additional housing units to be built in Seattle. Just because the owners of properties already zones for the high-density for which you salivate doesn’t mean the rest of us should suffer density increases in neighborhoods we actually like. The Mayor has been bought and paid for by developers and urbanist.org density at all cost proponents who have vilified homeowners simply because many bought homes they liked, in neighborhoods they liked, with density designations they liked, and perhaps some sunshine and a yard they liked. But for be it for property owners to want to protect their largest asset and their choice of residence when people like you can disregard the 120,000 potential housing units that could be built within the existing code. It seems like your agenda is to actually destroy the single family neighborhoods, the communities that feed the neighborhood councils, and the roots and connections many of us have bought into in the neighborhoods we like. Homeownership is not a right, yet you seem to think just because you don’t want to live in an up and coming neighborhood and pay your dues, you should have a god given right to move wherever you want, with no regard for the cost to existing residents. Entitled much?

  • Jort July 21, 2016 (12:44 pm)

    And to those who might suggest that I work to change our councils by “participating” …

    As an LGBT person, should I waste my time by joining the Republican Party and trying to “change it by participating?” Instead, I choose a political party that actually supports me, and I elect them into office.

    Neighborhood and District Councils have a powerful, strong association with standing in the way of most of the things that I believe would be good for our neighborhood. I have no desire to sit in a meeting with a bunch of wealthy, white homeowners whose primary goals stand in opposition to mine. 

    I am overwhelmingly pleased that this cabal of self-protecting interest groups (the councils) is losing government recognition. At the end of the day, they have chosen, through their actions, to represent their own self-interests at the expense of better urban development. 

  • AceMotel July 21, 2016 (1:02 pm)

    >>>>Because for YEARS, we have been saying
    this.  Do you honestly think we like meeting month after month, year
    after year in the position we are in?  I sure as hell don’t.  


    To address the comment above:  maybe it’s time to re-think this position.  I agree so much with the comments of Unrepresented.  The district councils, and even the community councils, don’t “represent” anyone except the people who happen to agree with a particular motion at a particular meeting.  The only person who really “represents” her or his constituents is an elected official.  It’s incumbent on the community councils to extend their reach.  If not for the West Seattle Blog (in West Seattle) and a few others around town, to a lesser degree, generally – the VAST majority of the people in the city haven’t the slightest idea what a district council is, much less that they can attend and that they can even speak at a district council meeting. 

    The community is out here.  If you consider yourselves leaders, it’s long past the time to lead, instead of sitting in meetings month after month, year after year, and expecting the “community” to know or care.  It’s the crux of community activism that I thought Jim Diers envisioned: to engage, mobilize and activate.  That part of the equation seems to be lacking.    Build solidarity.

  • Renters are 52% of Seattle residents July 21, 2016 (1:13 pm)

    How many people in the crowd self-identified as renters? What percentage of the attendance?

    • Nancy Folsom July 21, 2016 (4:10 pm)

      I don’t know. Whether someone rents or owns is irrelevant, IMO, to the care and feeding of a neighborhood. I do know that renters issues that home owners don’t, and when my own neighborhood has had bad landlords, still do, we work on solving the problems they cause because it’s a problem for everyone including the tenants. And it’s sometimes the home owners who can raise a stink when renters can’t because they dare not lose their lease. So, it’s a partnership. 

      I suspect that the majority of us are homeowners, though. Probably for various reasons. Someone versed in statistics, and unbiased, might study why neighborhood councils are primarily homeowners. I suspect there are various reasons. In part, rent is astronomical and I suspect many renters are working more hours and more jobs to afford the cost of living. And, renters may simply feel less investment in a neighborhood because they anticipate moving away in the near future. That’s fine. It doesn’t mean people who do feel invested in a neighborhood are ridiculous, though. 

      I guess it comes down to this: I don’t blame people for not showing up–I don’t want to show up, either. But I don’t really understand why people are blamed for showing up. 

  • Rick Sanchez July 21, 2016 (1:28 pm)

    Jort:

    Absolutely agree.  These councils are a festival of ‘good progressives’ who are absolutely small-C conservatives when it comes to any change at all that might increase density and accommodate the thousands moving to town every year.  Better to blow them up and start over fresh with a more inclusive system.

    • Jort July 21, 2016 (1:41 pm)

      The fact that this decision comes as such a “shock” and “surprise” says a lot about how out-of-touch the councils are about the realities of what Seattle is in 2016, and what it’s becoming. 

      People here are coming. Lots of them. You’re not going to stop them.

      Get on the train, or you’re just going to have a bunch of whiny meetings like these where you all complain and get left behind.

    • Nancy Folsom July 21, 2016 (4:10 pm)

       Better to blow them up and start over fresh with a more inclusive system.

      What does that system look like?

  • plf July 21, 2016 (1:44 pm)

    Fire this mayor he is an ediot with his very personal agenda

    He does NOT listen 

  • Diane July 21, 2016 (2:12 pm)

    the question about how many renters in the room did not come up (at least I don’t remember hearing that); very good point and wish it had been asked; fyi, I was in front row; I am lifelong renter and usually the only renter at most community meetings; I wish more renters would show up and participate; I’ve been attending district council meetings and community meetings all over West Seattle for 9 yrs; PLEASE renters, show up; we are the 52% and I get tired of being the only renter in WS to participate in community meetings; EVERYONE is welcome

    • Nancy Folsom July 21, 2016 (4:57 pm)

      Diane, can you share with me why it would make a difference in what was said whether the speaker was a renter or owner? Remember, we’re volunteers with limited time, so people generally can work on only so many things at a time. It would be great if we had someone who wanted to, say, keep an eye on the development plans in Delridge and follow they’re passion about what development should look like. If we’re not covering something  in the NDNC it’s because we don’t have a body to cover it. We beg for people to stand for election and currently we have 3 people. So, you come to many community meetings. What would like to see covered that is not covered? What issue could you shepherd in your community?

  • Melissa July 21, 2016 (2:19 pm)

    Jort-

    I find your comments to be inaccurate. I know when the Meyer’s Way parcel came up at the Delridge District Council meeting and HPAC meeting the community advocated it be used for low income housing.  We were told it was not feasible to use the land in that way.

    At the HPAC meetings there is a lot of concern about keeping the rentals affordable because we love our neighbors and don’t want people to be forced out of the neighborhood. 

    • Craig July 24, 2016 (10:28 am)

      Thanks Melissa,

      As someone who has volunteered time to our neighborhood council I appreciate your recognizing our collective effort to support all members of our community and beyond, as was the case with the two HPAC meeting which featured discussions regarding the Meyers Way Property.    Other recent topics such as support for Highland Park Elementary, police and safety issues, an open discussion on regional traffic issues, grants for parks and streets- we have honestly done our best to create a space where people can hear from the city, voice concerns, and work for positive change in Highland Park. 

      I am relatively new to the NDC scene and can’t speak well to the setting outside of Delridge, but I would comment that my experience with the Delridge District Council over the past two or three years has been inspiring for me personally.   No group is perfect or entirely without agenda, but I see a group that values and strives for inclusiveness and the betterment of Delridge as a whole.  

      This Mayoral act of cutting ties with NDCs, I feel, will ultimately make the job of running the city easier because there will be no formal venue for people to congregate when they disagree with what is happening downtown or what isn’t happening in their neighborhood.  I guess we can still write our council members or picket city hall( sorry for the sarcasm).     I feel the loss of NDCs will marginalize local communities.   

      I also don’t see how the Mayor is getting away with this.  The act is horribly disrespectful,  authoritarian, and logistically flawed.  

      Craig 

        

  • AmandaKH July 21, 2016 (2:48 pm)

    Okay, I’ll bite.  What issues do renters have that the volunteer neighborhood councils are not addressing?  I’m serious.  You are acting like my community council work getting bus routes saved, pedestrian infrastructure around a “transit hub” created, safety patrols in Roxhill Park, a play structure built, and pavement fixes are somehow exclusionary of renters.  You do live in the neighborhood, right?

    This indignation over renters, POC and others allegedly being excluded from community council conversations is a red herring to the real issue – the Mayor wants community input to be commissioned and controlled.  

    So I ask again:  We can either buy into it, or we can fight against it.  But fighting against me isn’t going to change anything.

    • Renters are 52% of the city July 21, 2016 (3:59 pm)

      OK AmandaKH, I’ll bite:

      City wide, repeatedly, it’s on the record that a LOT of these groups… not all, but a LOT … fight tooth and nail against any increase in density and any net increase in total number of housing units or bedrooms in “their” neighborhoods. The news constantly covers this aspect of these groups.

      Why is that, exactly? Could it be because any stabilization of housing costs means that one’s ‘owned’ residence like a SFH and it’s land will see a slowdown in their property value increases? Older members of my family are 100% opposed to increases in density and tell me this is why they oppose it. Their house is “their nest egg”. OK, great. To hell with the next generation or three, right?

      The other problem is these groups claim to speak for entire neighborhoods of 5,000 to 10,000 people … but how many individual people actually show up at these meetings? The one I went to in my old neigbhorhood a handful of times had mayyyyyyyyybe up to 10 people once and 7 of them were city staff. The others were the chairs and the nice West Seattle Blog lady. 

      I went to the Junction one once on a lark and it was like two or three people sitting in a basement closet at the Senior Center. I am not even exaggerating. The Junction which is like 70% renters. All of them were talking about issues with parking around their houses. Very representative!

      It’s not any better in my new neighborhood outside of West Seattle either since I have moved. Some of the handful of people the few times I went openly mocked “new” renters and “awful jobs” ruining the city. Yeah, all those new jobs paying $80k to $120k for skilled technical people, so awful. Who wants to make good and fairly compensated money, anyway?

      • AmandaKH July 22, 2016 (10:37 am)

        52%.  Again, you can confusing what the community councils DO, with what our elected, paid City Council DOES.

        There are two community councils, two, that are pushing back on the Mayor for HALA recs that the city should be re-zoned.  Two.  Community Councils.  

        Me, I want more density!  Our area (South Delridge) would benefit tremendously from investments.  However, what happened in Ballard, is that the land was developed without any thought to infrastructure.  As in, police, transportation, sidewalks, fire, and schools.  That is called concurrency.  This whole idea that increased density warrants investments, and Only increased density warrants investments is non sustainable.  

        Here is the Super Duper cool thing about Community.  You can form a group! Yep, you!  You need no one’s permission, blessing or money.  That’s how we formed the Westwood/Roxhill/Arbor Heights Community Council.  And let me tell you!  We were the black sheep of West Seattle for a while because we did our own thing, we didn’t ask for permission and we surely didn’t beg to be included in anything.  

        BUT, and you knew that was coming.  In order to amplify our voices, we needed other people.  Other community groups, other folks who had “been there” and knew the secrets of getting City officials to call you back (because they won’t, they don’t.  They should, but…) So we joined not only the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council, but Also the Southwest District Council. Crazy! 

        And then, members of WWRHAH formed the West Seattle Transportation Coalition because, transportation for the Peninsula had no advocate. But we did so with our networked friends in other community councils and groups.

        So this idea that you somehow are being excluded, or not represented is because you are waiting for someone to ask you to join.  You can either sit on the sidelines brooding, or you can grab the ball and play.

        • KSeattle July 22, 2016 (11:25 pm)

          EXACTLY THIS!  Thank you. 

    • Marge E, July 22, 2016 (10:19 am)

      touche!

  • Gatewooder July 21, 2016 (3:02 pm)

    This is a power grab Mayor Murray, clear and simple.  If he had proposed a plan to broaden the neighborhood councils by helping recruit additional people in the community it would have been welcomed with enthusiasm.  Instead, he wants to erase a system that has provided active feedback to an executive office located across Elliot Bay, which sometimes seems as large as an ocean to those of us in West Seattle, and replace it with a cohort of hand chosen minions. 

    Community issues are organic, they don’t follow a script the way the mayor would like, but that is exactly why they need local input.  Murray may think that getting rid of the councils will give him more power to  hand out goodies to his political buddies, but he is in for a rude awakening.  He has yet to learn that it is always best to get the tough love from the community up front, rather than at the tail end of a contrived political process.

  • Mediator July 21, 2016 (3:10 pm)

    It seems like there’s more advocating going on from our local government and self-proclaimed “urbanists” for the thousands of people who are projected to be moving to Seattle in the future  then there is for the people who actually live here now, and who were the ones that elected those officials to office, and who pay taxes for their salaries.    

    I’m so tired of hearing about how we need to plan and make accommodations for people who don’t even live here.   I honestly believe that the mayor is more concerned about  some nameless (but almost guaranteed to be white) midwesterner who has plans to move here someday, than he is about me or my family who live here now and who actually voted for  him.    

    • Nancy Folsom July 21, 2016 (3:56 pm)

      I think it’s great to think ahead, but I am not sure, either, why people are so focused on hypothetical future Seattle dwellers than on the people here now with oh-so-real, and non-trivral problems like, say the 12-14, 000 people with inadequate shelter, lagging wages of all but the most highly educated or already-wealthy, not to mention our abysmal school system that has a stupendous failure rate both academically and socially/emotionally. 

      The first time I heard “urbanist” I thought “cool!” I’m an urbanist. I like urban. I willing moved to an urban setting. But now I think it means something not about building vibrant cities but is just the flip side to the NIMBY label they pin on…well…everyone but themselves. But, my view of the self-proclaimed urbanists isn’t very nuanced, I admit. I’d love to have coffee with one sometime. I’d buy. Any takers?

      • Neighbor July 21, 2016 (7:29 pm)

        Nancy, the urbanists like to troll these sites but are too busy trolling twitter and blogs to harass folks like you and me, and of course buying the Mayor, to think about why people may like their neighborhoods as they are. They view Seattle utopia through a lens that sees potential soviet-style dense enclaves with no yards and no cars, and everyone living in tiny houses playing video games all day. They don’t listen to why many families like yards, why they chose neighborhoods near their jobs or schools, or made tradeoffs throughout their lives to slowly position themselves to be able to afford the house in the neighborhood they wanted. They just want what you have right now, they feel entitled to it because they’ve come to believe they are entitled to whatever they want if they complain loud enough, organize, and co-opt city leaders to undo zoning so that they can do whatever they want, whenever they want. Just take a look at urbanist.org and their twitter fantrolls, but don’t comment or they will attack you in droves like a pack of vicious wolves, and may even track you down to harass you at your home or place of work.

      • Marge E, July 22, 2016 (10:25 am)

        Nancy, your comments are great. I choose to move from Bothell to West Seattle over 20 years ago, mainly for my commute to downtown and also, that I would not have to drive everywhere. yes I am one of those people that either takes the bus or rides my bicycle to get around. Now I am one of those people that Ed has no use for. I didn’t vote for him and I am still amazed so many did.

  • Nancy Folsom July 21, 2016 (3:49 pm)

    Someone up thread said, if I understand, that they, as a LGBQT person,  does not feel
    represented by district council. I’m gobsmacked, because LGBQT are active in district and neighbhorhood councils. 

  • Nancy Folsom July 21, 2016 (4:03 pm)

    Reasonable people can disagree with HALA and the issue of changing zoning for mother-in-law quarters in single-family zones. There are few, if any, substantive issues that don’t have reasonable arguments or important nuances. 

  • Joe Szilagyi July 21, 2016 (4:11 pm)

    The main issue I have heard a large number of my renting friends (ironically, probably 95% of them Seattle natives or here so long in count of decades that they may as well be natives) say, at substantial length, when they raise issues with the current implementation of the neighborhood system:

    When, if ever, have any of our groups fought for more housing, or really anything to try to mitigate the costs to all the new people that are moving here, or the natural increase in population that comes from natural population growth?

    In my days helping WWRHAH it never came up in either direction. I don’t believe I ever saw or heard of the Southwest or Delridge Districts make any fuss in either direction. But whenever there’s a big stink made about development or jobs or population growth it’s always seeming to be negative from other parties in other parts of the city that are affiliated with the City Neighborhood Council.

    Heck, one group even bans renters from joining and they’re stupidly (yes, STUPIDLY) welcomed with open arms into the CNC. They should be banned. Details:

    https://medium.com/@szilagyi/seattle-funds-groups-with-discriminatory-rules-209b9ae05ecf#.qhogjtdx7

    That’s the main thing I often hear, and I’m fairly sure that this is a reason at least in part why the politicians are doing this. The “ownership class” in this city, of which I am also a member, is no longer the dominant electoral demographic. As someone already pointed out, renters are the majority of the population in the city of Seattle now, and that demographic change will not and can never be undone… ever. In fact, the “single family” population will increasingly be a smaller proportion of the population every single year, growing increasingly weak in terms of influence with City Hall, barring what money they can throw at their perceived problems.

    That demographic change, again, cannot ever be undone. The other things that can never be done, no matter how many times some of you — even some of my friends — say it:

    1. No politician in this city is ever going to run any agenda to stop jobs growth, be it “tech jobs” or any other sort of job, by limiting zoning for employers, different levels of taxation, or really any other scheme. Anyone who thinks this will happen is buried deep into wishful thinking, unfortunately.
    2. No modern politician in this city is ever going to run the long wished for “moratorium” on housing growth that a number of people want. Would I like to see that happen, because it would cause my house’s value to basically skyrocket over time? You betcha! But I don’t want that de facto blood money, and neither should anyone else with a single ethical or moral bone in their body.

    I wish I could have gone last night, but alas, a sick spouse and child care.

    • Joe Szilagyi July 21, 2016 (4:13 pm)

      An additional note: 20,000 new people came to Seattle last year alone. Twenty. Thousand.

      You want to know why house, condo and apartment prices are skyrocketing? Not enough housing supplies to house everyone. That’s it, full stop.

      • Nancy Folsom July 21, 2016 (5:22 pm)

        So, supply is a problem. Amazingly, the district councils are not to blame for that. You know who has the power? That’s right, City Council, the Mayor, the department formally known as DPD, developers, and financial institutions. Homeowners are worried about what backyard cottages mean? I’m shocked. That’s so unreasonable. You may dismiss them as NIMBYs, and some may be, but there is also the reasonable concern about who will actually benefit, and the way the ordinance looks like it’s going it will be landlords and the developers holding much of the housing in a vise-grip. There are few places to rent or buy, and costs are high because investors have bought and are holding on to the inventory that was on fire-sale after the economic crash, because we wouldn’t commit to programs that would help people stay in their homes. People can’t buy and can barely afford to rent because real wages are not keeping pace with cost of living. But, district councils have the power to change that. Sure. We can only do as much as we have people willing and able to do the work.

        You’re concerned with social justice? Let’s go there. In your transportation coalition are you focusing your attentions on the transit needs of people who depend on mass transit in the largely renting and lower income areas south and east of Seattle? Or are you working to get light rail through, which will largely serve the well off who have multiple transportation options?

        Where are you working on race and social justice issues that are at the core of the economic injustice? You and the urbanists have tossed halos around renters, well, what are people who can rent doing to fix the problem of 12-14 thousand people with inadequate housing? People criticized the Mayor’s Meyer’s Way safe lot. Yeah. Because it would potentially serve 45 people. Fourty-five. Four-Five. Out of the, what was that? Right, 12-14 thousand. Because there was no way to get to a bus stop going north without walking in the street. Because kids would have to take a bus or walk to school because t was too close to schools for a school bus. Because people would be _forced_ to accept services, as if they are animals and not our fellow Seattle-ites, people who know what they need. Because, so far as I can tell, the Mayor isn’t convening a commission of people actually living in tents and RVs. No, the instead, SPD is being used to clear out encampments ahead of Mayoral visits to neighborhoods because, well, I guess those folks are just too messy, but, sure, NDs are keeping the city from being effective and humane there, too, and the Mayor creating a 46th commission with appointed members will fix that, too, I suppose.

        So, where are the urbanists talking…no…doing something about that? What’s that you say? Self-proclaimed urbanists can’t be all things to all people? There are insufficient hours in the day to do everything you’d like, except, I guess, blog?

        Imagine.

    • Neighbor July 21, 2016 (7:36 pm)

      Fine, but why do all the self-proclaimed urbanists cling to the notion that building additional density is somehow the fault of current homeowners when the current zoning, which will not screw over homeowners who like their existing neighborhoods, allows for more than 120,000 additional housing units to be built already. Enough to more than accommodate the growth projections for the next 25 years for the REGION, all within the city of Seattle? Perhaps it’s because the facts on existing development opportunities don’t align with the urbanist agenda to eventually eliminate single family housing in Seattle and move us to a concrete utopia. Or maybe because the owners of that land don’t want to build to that level of density and the urbanists agenda is to open up the city to their development plans so they can enrich themselves. Tell me, when Vancouver BC opened up density what happened? Did the city become more affordable? Not at all. But that doesn’t fit the Seattle urbanists narrative.

  • Nancy Folsom July 21, 2016 (5:31 pm)

    Something in my reply  to Joe Szilagyi really crystallized for me. Do DCs and NCs tackle every worthy subject? It’s very easy to tell other people what they should be doing. It’s harder, isn’t it, to actually do it? If it’s important enough for you to think I should be doing it, then it’s important enough for you to do it…to the best of your abilities, even if it’s not perfect, even if people disagree with you.

    Show up. For those who can’t make it, show up. 

  • flimflam July 21, 2016 (5:38 pm)

    murray has been a mess of a mayor – “making it up as he goes along” (his own words) regarding the jungle/homelessness  now this. he wants people to tell him what he wants to hear, not truly input.

  • Michael Taylor-Judd July 21, 2016 (7:06 pm)

    If like to clear up a few points here after reading the comments above:

    1) I think people confuse neighborhood and community groups, that may have their own membership requirements and who collectively form the District Councils, with the DCs. The DCs allow virtually anyone to show up and participate and numerous organizations to participate. For example, the Central Area District Council includes reps from the African American Museum and a Minority Business Owners group.

    2) As co-chair of a council, I can’t think of many moments where anyone has asked who is a homeowner and who is a renter. There isn’t a distinction made.

    3) I can tell you that our council has been involved with three large developments coming into Delridge now. Our concern hasn’t been too stop them but to make sure they worked with the neighborhood to address character and concerns in the neighborhood. Results include the possibility of an affordable grocery co-op at the DESC building and an apartment building with beautiful landscaping and after that pays homage to the history of our neighborhood and nearby parks. I assume that benefits the renters just as much as it benefits the homeowners nearby.

    4) Finally, most of the issues the DCs discuss aren’t “citywide” issues. We talk about crosswalks, sidewalks and save routes to schools, drainage, speeding on arterials, etc. How the heck is that not good for EVERYONE in a diverse community?

  • Alan July 21, 2016 (7:12 pm)

    If the mayor wants to increase surveys to find out more accurately how people are feeling, I am fine with that. If that makes people feel more included, then great. It should be considered that many people in poverty do not have computers or smart phones so, if the aim is to be more inclusive, that would be a fail. Surveys are great for finding out how people feel about things the city is considering but fail to provide a way for neighborhoods to tell the city about things they need to be doing.

    The biggest missing that I see, should we lose the council system, is a way to get neighbors together when something the city wants to do is wrong.  Without the system, Meyers Way would have been sold, as would the Soundway portion of the Duwamish Greenbelt. The neighborhoods need groups that are aware of what is happening and have a structure to fight when need be.

  • john July 21, 2016 (8:07 pm)

    Although the announcements proclaim “everyone welcome”,  my experience is that different opinions are not welcome.

    • Nancy Folsom July 22, 2016 (11:10 am)

      Can you be more specific about what you encountered and where? It would be helpful to know if it’s a pattern or a relatively rare incident. FWIW, one is welcome, but that doesn’t mean they will be agreed with in whole or part, yes? That’s the challenge of compromise. But if we can identify patterns of exclusion then those of us who want to address those problems. We need something concrete to go on.

  • Rick Sanchez July 21, 2016 (11:09 pm)

    Everyone who keeps repeating that “120,000 units of housing can be built under existing zoning, dur!” line needs to remember that would mean every lowrise LR and mixed use zoned building being torn down to build out to the zoned envelope.  Goodbye, Husky Deli, hello 45 foot mixed use.  Change is coming.  You can have a whole lot of it in a small area, or you can spread small incremental bits around.  As long as it’s “you’ll pry this sacrosanct SF5000 zoning from my cold dead hands” it’s going to be the former.

  • ILoveJort July 21, 2016 (11:36 pm)

    Thank you Jort and Jno for eloquently saying what i fervently believe but cannot express nearly as well.

  • Darryll July 22, 2016 (2:33 am)

    Why is it that so many people favor policies that encourage importing more high paid tech workers rather than spending real money to train the people who grew up here and are at the highest risk of being displaced by those tech transplants? I find the lack of pragmatic foresight astounding. Don’t kid yourself!  Seattle will pick winners and losers and regardless of the dogmatic urbanist ideals you like to spin, the losers will be the people you say you want to protect. It’s already happening in South Delridge. Some of us evil home owners are already working to get that message to city leaders so they finally act rather than just talk about it.

  • Kadoo July 22, 2016 (8:18 am)

    Neighbor, I’m with you.  Most single family owners have paid their dues living in a neighborhood zoned for multi-family.  Maybe we don’t want to live with increased density in our single-family neighborhood after working hard to get there.  Those advocating for density seem blind to the fact that property taxes for single-family home owners will rise to highest and best use.  Where’s the fairness in that?

    • Nancy Folsom July 22, 2016 (10:34 am)

      My thoughts on the desirability of density come from two influences: living in western “sprawl” cities and the efficiency of delivering services and goods in a smaller geographic area. I balance the impact to my present living situation by considering everyone of us who don’t want city grown to affect us is sort of ignoring the fact that our arrival impacted the existing city–just ask the Duwamish, yes?

      Anyway, sprawl is really bad, just ask L.A. which is regretting the lack of a downtown core and open space. The towns I lived in before Seattle, Denver and Albuquerque, sprawled out instead of up, and so are, by design, car-centric which means more miles driven by more people. It’s unsustainable, IMO. For my efficiency statement, I offer this example of the arugment: http://www.citylab.com/work/2012/04/why-bigger-cities-are-greener/863/

      FTR, I’m a homeowner, surrounded by single family houses that are on lots zoned for 3-story, 3-unit. I would love it to stay the way it is, and I could complain it’s changing, or I can be grateful I’ve enjoyed what I’ve had for so long, and accept that life is all about change. And maybe I’ll love my new neighbors. Who knows? I really don’t mean to step on people’s sorrow over changes to their quality of life. Those feelings are natural and real. I hope I offer a different way of looking at it.

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