12:49 PM: Just in from the mayor’s office:
Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan and members of the City Council including Council President Bruce A. Harrell, Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez, Councilmember Lisa Herbold, Councilmember Rob Johnson, Councilmember Debora Juarez, and Councilmember Mike O’Brien released the following statement announcing the consideration of legislation to repeal a tax on large businesses to address the homelessness and housing crisis:
“We know that there are strong passions and genuine policy differences between neighbors, businesses, community leaders, and people across our City on how to best address our housing and homelessness crisis. This crisis has been years in the making and there are no easy solutions. The crisis is tied to a range of complex causes, including lack of affordable housing, unmet mental health and substance abuse issues, and systemic racial disparities in our foster care, criminal justice and educational systems.
“In recent months, we worked with a range of businesses, community groups, advocates, and working families to enact a bill that struck the right balance between meaningful progress on our affordability and homelessness crisis while protecting good, family-wage jobs. Over the last few weeks, these conversations and much public dialogue has continued. It is clear that the ordinance will lead to a prolonged, expensive political fight over the next five months that will do nothing to tackle our urgent housing and homelessness crisis. These challenges can only be addressed together as a city, and as importantly, as a state and a region.
“We heard you. This week, the City Council is moving forward with the consideration of legislation to repeal the current tax on large businesses to address the homelessness crisis.
“The City remains committed to building solutions that bring businesses, labor, philanthropy, neighborhoods and communities to the table. Now more than ever, we all must roll up our sleeves and tackle this crisis together. These shared solutions must include a continued focus on moving our most vulnerable from the streets, providing needed services and on building more housing as quickly as possible. The state and region must be full partners and contribute to the solutions, including working for progressive revenue sources. Seattle taxpayers cannot continue to shoulder the majority of costs, and impacts.”
The signature-gathering drive to put the head tax on the ballot had been widely reported to have already gathered more signatures than needed.
1:01 PM: Here’s the announcement of a special council meeting at noon tomorrow to consider the proposed repeal. Here’s the agenda; its accompanying “fiscal note” points out that “… King County Elections will bill the City some additional cost for having the repeal measure on the November 2018 ballot. If the City acts to repeal this legislation without the referendum, these additional election costs will be avoided.”
1:49 PM: Both of the two councilmembers who did not sign on to the repeal plan have commented via Twitter. Citywide Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda issued her statement here, saying she will not support the repeal. Councilmember Kshama Sawant calls the repeal move a “backroom betrayal.”