2 nights away: ‘Luau at the Lake’ with the 34th District Democrats

August 13, 2014 at 9:53 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | No Comments

We’ve had some tropical weather this week – warm, muggy – and sunshine should return in time for a tropical-themed event Friday night: The 34th District Democrats‘ annual Garden Party dinner/auction. This year, it’s the “Luau at the Lake,” in honor of its new location: The Technology Access Foundation‘s new Bethaday Community Space in Lakewood Park (605 SW 108th). The 34th DDs are advertising the event on WSB for one last ticket-sales push. See “10 reasons to go” here. Auction items include a flotilla of vacation possibilities on which you’ll be able to bid, including one week on Maui or Kauai; if you’d like to stay closer to home, how about three nights at Long Beach, Washington, or a getaway to Whistler, or even a quick jaunt over to Vashon Island for lunch with local legislators? The party starts at 6 pm Friday (August 15th) and you can RSVP online by going here, or call Karen Chilcutt at 206-935-3216.

Sound Transit light rail for West Seattle? Another discussion, this time @ City Hall

August 12, 2014 at 2:48 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 73 Comments

Cup-half-full version: West Seattle could have light rail as soon as 2026.

Cup-half-empty version: West Seattle won’t get light rail any sooner than 2026.

That was the bottom line of a briefing that was part of the City Council Transportation Committee‘s meeting this morning. Potential West Seattle light rail wasn’t the only topic – in fact, it was the last part of the Sound Transit guest appearance, which in turn was only part of a busy agenda (above is Seattle Channel‘s video of the entire meeting – the briefing starts 35 minutes in). The briefing followed the order of the slide deck. And however you view that potential date, it would depend on West Seattle being written into Sound Transit’s Long-Range Plan when it’s updated later this year; it didn’t make it into the plan previously, ST reiterated today, because of the since-scrapped plan for monorail service between West Seattle and downtown.

The slide deck itself didn’t contain the potential 2026 date – West Seattle-residing Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, who chairs the committee, asked for a date, and all ST reps would give him was that 2016 would be the earliest a “Sound Transit 3″ measure could go before voters. Perhaps a “board member” could speculate further, they said, with all eyes turning to Councilmember Mike O’Brien, a board member who happened to be right there at the table.

Click to read the rest of Sound Transit light rail for West Seattle? Another discussion, this time @ City Hall…

Election 2014: 2nd vote count widens lead for Park District measure

August 6, 2014 at 4:44 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle parks, West Seattle politics | 34 Comments

Quick note in case you’re wondering: The second ballot-count update is out for the August 5th election, and the proposal to create a Seattle Park District has widened its lead a bit. Last night, the yes vote was 52.4 percent; today, it’s 52.7 percent. Next ballot-count update will be out by this time tomorrow.

Election 2014: Seattle Park District, North Highline Fire District ballot measures passing

August 5, 2014 at 9:05 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 6 Comments

While thousands partied in the streets for just-concluded Night Out 2014, the first round of election results came in. Seattle Proposition 1, to create a Park District, is passing, 52.4 percent to 47.6 percent:

Only a simple majority is needed for passage. Next door in North Highline (White Center and vicinity), the NH Fire District “benefit charge” measure is passing, 69.8 percent to 31.2 percent – this requires 60 percent approval. Here’s the full list of election results from around King County; next ballot count will be out ~4:30 pm tomorrow.

17 questions from Councilmember Rasmussen for new SDOT boss Scott Kubly; anything missing?

July 25, 2014 at 3:11 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 9 Comments

A short time ago, Scott Kubly, Mayor Murray’s choice for SDOT director, tweeted that he’s arrived:

Next month, he faces confirmation hearings before the City Council. The chair of its Transportation Committee, West Seattle-residing Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, shared with us the questions he wants Kubly to answer. See them here. You’ll note that they include a request for Kubly to review the June 10th five-hour, four-mile Highway 99 crash-investigation-related closure (here’s our most-recent followup) and whether policies should be changed as a result. But that’s just one of 17 questions Rasmussen has asked Kubly to answer by August 5th, in advance of his August 12th hearing. Anything you think he’s missing?

After 2+ years, new monorail initiative reported to be ballot-bound

July 24, 2014 at 5:20 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 43 Comments

In spring 2012, we reported on activist Elizabeth Campbell‘s proposal for a new monorail company, to be called the Century Transportation Authority, CenTran for short, with a line running from Ballard to West Seattle, like the last monorail proposal. Haven’t heard much about it in the interim, but today, PubliCola reports that Campbell has gathered enough valid signatures – just under 4,600 – to get this on the Seattle ballot in November. If voters say yes, CenTran’s website says, it would start out with a $5 license-tab tax to raise money to plan the monorail system.

Election 2014: No minimum-wage referendum on November ballot; meantime, 2 weeks left to cast your August vote

July 22, 2014 at 7:55 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 5 Comments

checkbox.jpgTwo election-related notes tonight:

First, King County Elections announced today that both proposed referendum measures related to the Seattle minimum-wage law have failed to make the ballot. 16,510 valid signatures were needed to make the ballot; the petitions by a group called Forward Seattle had 14,818, while another petition drive, by (corrected) Save Our Choice, had fewer than 500 valid signatures.

Second, ballots are due in two weeks for the August 5th election. Yours should have arrived by now – check with the county if you haven’t received it. It’s not just a primary – there is one major ballot measure, the proposal to create a Seattle Park District with permanent taxing authority for city-parks funding beyond the annual general-fund spending. The most recent forum on the measure in our area was at July’s Admiral Neighborhood Association meeting; here’s our coverage.

P.S. If you don’t want to spend postage money to send in your ballot, there are other options, including ballot-dropoff vans in West Seattle and White Center on August 2nd, 4th, and 5th.

Updates: President Obama’s four-and-a-half-hour Seattle visit

July 22, 2014 at 3:00 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 55 Comments

3 PM: President Obama is expected to land at nearby Boeing Field around 3:15 pm, according to regional media; if you recall, the Boeing Field advisory linked here Monday opened the window at 3 pm. There’s widespread confirmation today that he’ll be headed to two Democratic Party fundraisers. First one’s in Madrona, which means I-5 traffic stopdowns (including exits from the West Seattle Bridge to I-5); second one is in Hunts Point – The Seattle Times (WSB partner) even published the invitation. Then he is expected to fly out by about 7:30. We’ll add updates here.\

(Tweet from Times political reporter Jim Brunner)
3:07 PM UPDATE: Air Force One has just landed, per live TV streams. (Here’s the link to KING 5.)

3:17 PM UPDATE: A prominent West Seattleite is at Boeing Field to help greet the president, according to KING’s Linda Brill on the live feed linked above – King County Executive Dow Constantine.

3:26 PM UPDATE: Motorcade is on the move now, after the President spent a few minutes shaking hands at Boeing Field.


Here’s more info on the not-public party-fundraiser dinner that will be his second stop.

3:46 PM UPDATE: The presidential motorcade has arrived in Madrona.


His second event, dinner in Hunts Point, is scheduled to start at 5 pm, so we’ll update when we hear that move is on. His return to Boeing Field is likely ~7-ish.

5:04 PM UPDATE: That next motorcade move is reportedly about to start – Madrona to Hunts Point.

5:39 PM UPDATE: Apparently the preparedness starts way in advance. TV people on the ground are tweeting that the trip between locations is under way *now*. (Added: He is reported to have arrived in HP around 5:50 pm. Next leg of the motorcade will be back to Boeing Field in an hour or so.)

7:11 PM UPDATE: Per regional media, the motorcade is either on the move again or about to be. (Added: Now departing:)


7:32 PM UPDATE: The motorcade has arrived at Boeing Field.

7:43 PM UPDATE: And Air Force One is off, headed for San Francisco. As outlined in the Boeing Field advisory published Monday, he was on the ground here for four and a half hours.

9:42 PM UPDATE: For details of what the president said at his first stop, there’s a full report up on The Seattle Lesbian by its founder, West Seattle journalist Sarah Toce.

Followup: Mayor tells police to stand down in post-foreclosure West Seattle eviction case of Byron and Jean Barton

July 21, 2014 at 8:51 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle people, West Seattle politics | 79 Comments

(Friday photos by WSB’s Patrick Sand: Above, deputies carrying Byron Barton from his home)
New development today in a West Seattle family’s quest to stay in their foreclosed-on-and-auctioned-off home. On Friday, we chronicled a day of tumultuous activity at the 41st/Holly home of disabled veteran Byron Barton and wife Jean Barton, a day that started with King County Sheriff’s Office reps removing them from the house, which they then defiantly re-entered, continuing to keep vigil with local activists. That evening, Seattle Police and the local City Attorney’s Office precinct liaison arrived, but ultimately left after concluding nothing would be done that night.

(Friday evening WSB photo)
This morning, the activists went to City Hall to ask the mayor and council to tell SPD to stand down – several also spoke during open-comment time at this afternoon’s City Council meeting – and this evening, Mayor Murray sent this statement:

We are attempting to understand all options that may exist in this situation and I have asked Chief O’Toole and the Seattle Police Department to stand by while the latest court proceedings unwind.

An interdepartmental team has been working on the issue of foreclosure and how the City of Seattle can proactively connect residents to resources early in the process. I’ve pledged the City of Seattle’s participation in the Mayors Challenge to End Veterans Homelessness in 2015, and will launch a separate process to address homelessness and increase housing affordability in the months ahead, one of my visions toward making Seattle an affordable city.

“In Washington State, we’ve seen recent victories such as the 2011 Washington State Foreclosure Fairness Act, which I worked on closely, designed to help homeowners and their lenders explore alternatives to foreclosure and reach a resolution when possible. I’m committed to working with all stakeholders, using this and other alternatives in the work Seattle does on housing affordability.”

The City of Seattle and Washington State have resources to help homeowners avoid default and work out repayment plans in order to stay in their homes, or gain enough time to sell their homes on their own terms: http://www.seattle.gov/housing/buying/ForeclosurePrevention.htm and commerce.wa.gov/Programs/housing/Foreclosure/Pages/default.aspx

The Bartons have a lawsuit pending, alleging the foreclosure – which had been in the works at least since 2012, according to court documents we have found so far – was illegal. The development company that bought their house in an April auction has sued for “unlawful detainer” – seeking to have the Bartons removed. The situation that led to foreclosure is complicated; while the house has been in Byron Barton’s family for more than 60 years, changes in the family put it back under a mortgage. P.S. How long this will take to play out in the courts is unknown – the civil system doesn’t always move quickly, and the current trial date for the Bartons’ lawsuit (filed in May) isn’t until June of next year.

TUESDAY MORNING, 9:22 AM: A commenter asked about the Sheriff’s Office role/responsibility at this point. We asked KCSO spokesperson Sgt. DB Gates, who replied:

The eviction was completed and our involvement in serving that eviction order is over.

The legal owners of the house are always able to return to court and get another civil order which would compel our department to act. I’m unaware of any filings or movement on that topic.

Our departments stand is the eviction was completed, anyone reoccupying that house is committing a crime. At least trespass, if not burglary.

It is now up to the local police agency to enforce those crimes.

More information about President Obama’s Seattle visit Tuesday

July 21, 2014 at 3:37 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 22 Comments

(LOOKING FOR NEWEST INFO ABOUT PRESIDENTIAL VISIT? GO HERE)

(WSB photo of Air Force One at Boeing Field, July 2012)
Even if they don’t include public events, presidential visits are usually of high interest for reasons including traffic effects and Air Force One sightings. So here’s the latest information about President Obama‘s planned Seattle visit tomorrow (Tuesday, July 22nd): Boeing Field has just published an advisory that confirms Air Force One will be landing there. While some of the ground and air restrictions in the advisory span the time period of noon to 8 pm, most of what’s listed suggests that the heart of the visit will be in the 3-7:30 pm vicinity. No open-to-the-public events have been announced; the visit is reported to be fundraising only, including, according to SeattleTimes.com, an event in Madrona. If any more information emerges tonight, we’ll update this item, and as always we’ll have the key points in our daily traffic watch first thing in the morning.

More transit news: Seattle Metro-money measure is ballot-bound

July 17, 2014 at 4:56 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 12 Comments

The City Council, wearing its Transportation Benefit District hat, voted this afternoon to ask voters to approve a sales-tax increase and car-tab fee to raise money to avoid Seattle Metro cuts. The alternate proposal by Councilmembers Nick Licata and Kshama Sawant, for a “head tax” and commercial-parking-tax increase, might be worth taking up in the future, they were told; Sawant retorted that if now isn’t the time for those “progressive” taxes, when is? The sales-tax/tab-fee measure is headed for the November 4th ballot is more or less the same one that lost April’s countywide vote despite winning two-thirds approval within the city limits.

Create a Seattle Park District? Days before ballots arrive, yes/no sides make their cases to Admiral Neighborhood Association

July 10, 2014 at 5:48 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle parks, West Seattle politics | 13 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

When the August 5th ballot arrives in your mailbox next week, it will include one major issue for you to decide: How will the City of Seattle raise extra money for its park system from here on out?

In recent years, the city has done that by taking a levy/bond measure to the public every so often. The most recent one was the 2008 Parks and Green Spaces Levy, which expires this year.

But what the city’s asking you to approve this time has no expiration date. If you approve Seattle Proposition 1, you’ll be voting to support creation of a permanent Park District with taxing authority – no further votes needed.

The Admiral Neighborhood Association spent most of its July meeting on a mini-forum about Proposition 1 – with some pointed questions, and responses.

Click to read the rest of Create a Seattle Park District? Days before ballots arrive, yes/no sides make their cases to Admiral Neighborhood Association…

Seattle tax alternatives for transit, North Highline ballot measure, more @ 34th District Democrats:

July 10, 2014 at 9:00 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 22 Comments

Toplines from last night’s 34th District Democrats meeting, from transit funding to ballot measures:


TRANSIT-TAX ALTERNATIVE: Councilmember Nick Licata pitched the proposal for an employer “head tax” and increased commercial-parking tax to raise money to prevent Metro cuts in Seattle, instead of a sales-tax hike. He said there are “three strong arguments” for it – first, reliability, since sales tax is vulnerable “to downturns in our economy” but the commercial-parking tax continued to grow even during the recession years; second, he said, “it’s a stronger connection” between saving transit and parking vehicles; third, the sales tax makes the already-regressive tax situation even more regressive, and Licata thinks the city “keeps going back and back” to the sales-tax well too often. The main argument against it, he said, is that “the business community will say, why are you burdening us?” when the minimum-wage increase already is going to affect businesses and when it might make Seattle look like a bad place to do business.

Click to read the rest of Seattle tax alternatives for transit, North Highline ballot measure, more @ 34th District Democrats:…

‘Head tax’ and parking tax for transit? Councilmember Licata pitches 34th District Democrats on Wednesday

July 8, 2014 at 10:38 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 22 Comments

If Seattle’s going to increase taxes to raise money to avoid bus cuts, which (if any) taxes would you prefer? As reported here two months ago, Councilmembers Nick Licata and Kshama Sawant are proposing commercial parking and employer “head” taxes instead of the sales-tax increase favored by Mayor Murray. Licata will be at the 34th District Democrats‘ meeting at The Hall at Fauntleroy tomorrow night to pitch the idea and seek the group’s endorsement, after the proposal comes up for a discussion and possible vote by the Council Finance and Culture Committee (which he chairs) at 2 pm – read the proposal here. In short, the proposal would raise commercial-parking taxes 5 percent, to 17.5%, and create a “head tax” of $18 per employee per year. The council could pass it without sending it to voters. Here’s the resolution the 34th Dems will consider at their meeting; the agenda is here.)

Questions for local politicians and elected officials? West Seattle Chamber/GSBA event tomorrow

July 8, 2014 at 2:54 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 1 Comment

Today is the deadline for advance registration for an event tomorrow night offering you the chance to mix, mingle, and chat one-on-one with more than 20 candidates/elected officials from around the region. It’s co-presented by the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Seattle Business Association, 5:30-7:30 pm Wednesday at The Sanctuary at Admiral (42nd/Lander). We checked with WS Chamber CEO Lynn Dennis to find out about the format and who has RSVP’d. She confirms, no political speeches – but if you want to do a bit more than just wander around the room, a “bingo-mingle card” will be offered with suggestions of who to look for, including West Seattle business owners (fill in 5 of the 9 bingo squares and you’ll be able to enter a drawing for free airline tickets from Alaska/Horizon Air, the event sponsor). Click ahead for the list of who’s RSVP’d, who’s likely, and how to get a ticket (with the discount rate for WSCC/GSBA members expiring end-of-day today):
Click to read the rest of Questions for local politicians and elected officials? West Seattle Chamber/GSBA event tomorrow…

Mayor’s choice for SDOT director: Scott Kubly, formerly of Chicago and D.C.

July 2, 2014 at 12:46 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 22 Comments

(Photo from seattle.gov)
The mayor has announced his choice for Seattle Department of Transportation director: Scott Kubly, former deputycommissioner of the City of Chicago Department of Transportation and former associate director of the District of Columbia Department of Transportation. In the news release (read it here in its entirety), Mayor Murray calls Kubly “a transportation visionary” with “a proven track record” who has “worked on bike issues, car share programs, traffic management and pedestrian safety strategies, rapid transit and street cars; he’s done long-range budgeting, strategic planning, cost reduction, major capital project development, and performance measurement and accountability.” Kubly is quoted as saying:

Seattle is growing incredibly fast … To accommodate that growth and preserve the city’s great quality of life, we need a transportation system that doesn’t just get the basics right like freight mobility and safety,, but that also invests in new, high quality transit, bikeshare, new bike lanes for Seattleites from 8 to 80 to ride in, and improving the pedestrian experience throughout the city. It also means creating an environment in which the private sector can provide transportation services that complement the public transportation network. This means creating an environment that allows transportation network companies and taxis to thrive, carsharing to expand, or for new types of transportation services to evolve. The fact is, people aren’t tied to individual transportation modes, they’re tied to outcomes – and we must continue bringing forward options that will deliver the positive outcomes they need and expect.

West Seattle-residing Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, who chairs the Transportation Committee, is quoted as saying:

Seattle needs a transportation director who recognizes the importance of a balanced transportation system and can help guide our city’s transition from auto-dependence. … Mr. Kubly’s experience in Chicago and Washington, D.C. shows a commitment to accomplishing just that. I look forward to our discussions with Mr. Kubly over the next several weeks. I also encourage the public to participate in the confirmation process.

Pending Council confirmation, Kubly is slated to start on July 28th, making $180,000 a year. He follows acting director Goran Sparrman and previous director Peter Hahn, who was announced last November as not staying on once former Mayor McGinn departed. Hahn had succeeded Grace Crunican, who resigned at the end of 2009.

SIDE NOTE: A search shows that the most-recent program for which Kubly made news in Chicago was overseeing its speed-camera program. … A few months later, here’s what one Chicago website wrote when Kubly announced his departure.

Not registered to vote? Want to vote in August 5th election? Hurry!

July 1, 2014 at 9:46 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 4 Comments

Reminder from King County Elections – time’s running out to get in on the August 5th election, which is more than a primary – it’s also when Seattle voters will decide whether to approve creation of a Park District with permanent taxing authority to raise money for Seattle Parks:

Citizens who want to vote in the August 5 primary election have until Monday, July 7 to register to vote or update voter registration information online or by mail. King County Elections will mail primary election ballots to all registered voters on July 16, so it’s important that citizens register to vote and keep their address and other information, including their signature, updated.

Voters can check to make sure their registration information is current by:

* Using My Voter Guide online
* Calling the Voter Hotline at 206-296-VOTE (8683)
* Visiting King County Elections, 919 SW Grady Way, Renton. Weekdays 8:30-4:30
* Visiting the Voter Registration Annex, 500 4th Avenue, Room 440, Seattle. Weekdays from 8:30 am to 1 pm and from 2 pm to 4:30 pm

How to register to vote

* Online
* By mail
* In person

Voters who miss the July 7 deadline to update their registration should still contact the Elections office to update their information for future elections. King County residents not currently registered in Washington can register in person at the Elections office through July 28.

Who can register?

To be eligible to register to vote, you must be:

* 18 years old by election day (August 5)
* A United States citizen
* A legal resident of the state of Washington
* Not under the authority of the Department of Corrections

One more mention: City vote for Metro money? Public hearing tonight

June 26, 2014 at 1:24 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 17 Comments

No time today for a calendar preview – you can browse our full calendar any time – but one event tonight does need one more mention: A public hearing about bus funding, and whether the city should be going to the ballot with a proposal to raise money for it. That hearing is tonight, 5:30 pm, at City Hall, with the City Council wearing its collective Seattle Transportation Benefit District hat. Chairing the STBD, Councilmember Tom Rasmussen has proposed sending the mayor’s proposal to voters, but the question now is, what do you think? From the city’s reminder:

The STBD is interested in hearing public feedback on the following:

1) How would planned Metro Transit service cuts impact you if no action is taken to prevent these cuts?

2) What is your perspective on an additional vehicle license fee of up to $60 and a 0.1% sales and use tax to prevent planned Metro Transit service cuts in Seattle, and if funds allow, to enhance transit service?

3) What other information should the Board take into consideration as it develops a potential ballot measure for the November election?

The deadline to get something on that ballot is August 5th.

Mayor Murray declares ‘Summer of Safety’ in speech to council

June 25, 2014 at 3:43 pm | In Crime, Safety, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 4 Comments

As promised, Mayor Murray convened the City Council this afternoon for a speech about public safety, and declared his intent for this to be a “Summer of Safety.” You can see video of his speech above, and read the full text (as prepared) here. The mayor acknowledged, “After years of fragmentation and disorganization, our city today faces a crisis of confidence in public safety,” while also asserting that “public safety is not something provided to the community by the government.” Among the action steps he promised were “creation of a joint enforcement team to ensure that across City departments we have a coordinated response to chronic nuisance businesses and property owners who create hotspots for crime and disorderly behavior – and who disrupt the quality of life in our neighborhoods.” He also announced plans for community walks to identify specific problems in such hotspots and get them fixed, starting in Central/Southeast Seattle. This document lists other points of the “Community Safety Strategy” he outlined, such as directing new Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole “to deliver a Community Safety Plan for every neighborhood.”

Seattle-only Metro-money ballot measure now on the road to the ballot; public hearing next week

June 19, 2014 at 8:28 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 4 Comments

Five weeks ago, you might recall, Mayor Murray proposed a Seattle-only ballot measure to hold off Metro cuts within city limits. He said it would include the same two funding sources that comprised the rejected countywide ballot measure in April, a one-tenth-of-a-percent sales-tax increase and a $60 vehicle-tab fee. The latter represents a $40 increase because the “congestion-reduction charge” is expiring this month. Today, the mayor’s proposal took a step toward the November ballot, in the form of a resolution proposed by City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen in the role of Transportation Benefit District Board chair. Read the resolution here. The deadline for it to be placed on the November ballot is August 5th; here’s the schedule of hearings and discussions:

Tuesday, June 24, 10:30am (following City Transportation Committee meeting) – BRIEFING AND DISCUSSION

Thursday, June 26, 5:30pm – PUBLIC HEARING

Thursday, July 10, 2:00pm – DISCUSSION

Thursday, July 17, 2:00pm – DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE VOTE

Thursday, July 31, 2:00pm (if necessary) – DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE VOTE

All of the above will be held at City Hall downtown, 600 Fourth Ave.

Coal-train film ‘Momenta’ at Admiral Theater on Wednesday

June 15, 2014 at 7:45 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | Comments Off

Above, that’s the trailer for “Momenta,” which you can see for free ($3 donation suggested but not mandatory) at West Seattle’s historic Admiral Theater this Wednesday night (June 18th). “Momenta” focuses on the Pacific Northwest spur of the coal-train controversy, featuring advocates opposing Montana and Wyoming coal mining that would result in billions of tons of coal being exported to Asia through Northwest ports, with pollution concerns along the rail-transport routes as well as once the coal is burned to generate power. This particular advocacy campaign is on behalf of the outdoor- and winter-sports communities, including Protect Our Winters. A panel discussion will follow the screening on Wednesday, which is at 8:40 pm (the film runs 42 minutes); this is part of an eight-city tour for “Momenta.”

Video: Three hot topics aired at 34th District Democrats

June 15, 2014 at 11:10 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 3 Comments

From this week’s June meeting of the 34th District Democrats, our video of the guest speakers on three much-discussed topics – income inequality, background checks for gun purchases, and the recent adoption of Singapore Math for the entire Seattle Public Schools district. The three clips, and our toplines from the discussions, are after the jump:

Click to read the rest of Video: Three hot topics aired at 34th District Democrats…

Councilmember Kshama Sawant to visit 34th District Democrats for minimum-wage discussion Wednesday

June 9, 2014 at 11:27 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 14 Comments

The City Council approved it, the mayor signed it, but the minimum-wage-raising plan isn’t a done deal yet, with counterproposals aiming at the ballot and at least one opponent aiming for court. It’s the big topic at this Wednesday’s monthly meeting of the 34th District Democrats, with Councilmember Kshama Sawant among the guests. Also on the agenda, another big issue: Gun laws, and whether to endorse the background-check ballot measure, Initiative 594. See the rest of the agenda here; all are welcome at the meeting (though only members can vote), 7 pm Wednesday (June 11th), The Hall at Fauntleroy.

As-it-happened: Talking West Seattle development with Councilmember O’Brien

June 4, 2014 at 6:42 pm | In Development, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 29 Comments

6:42 PM: We’re live at American Legion Post 160′s headquarters in The Triangle as the community conversation with Councilmember Mike O’Brien gets under way.

On behalf of the hosting Southwest District Council, Cindi Barker (below left) has just announced that Saturday, June 28th, the Department of Planning and Development will come out for a conversation of its own – time (morning) and location TBA.

Councilmember O’Brien starts off by saying he’d like it to be a productive conversation for both sides. He says, “I never asked to be land use chair … I’m learning a lot. It’s a field that goes from the experience we all completely understand, living our lives, down to all sorts of laws I’m still trying to appreciate.” We’ll be updating as this goes. About 50 people are here and there’s room for more.

First question is from West Seattle developer John Nuler, who asked about the recent action to regulate smaller lots, in light of the city’s encouragement of backyard cottages and other accessory dwelling units. He says the original recommendation was 2,000 square feet, rather than the 2,500-sf lot size, and wonders why the change, which he says resulted in some lots being rendered unbuildable. O’Brien says he doesn’t have all the details on that, but his legislative assistant is keeping track of the questions, so that answers can be procured later.

Second question is from someone who says he considers zoning changes have resulted in “the rape of West Seattle” and wonders how many people can be crammed in here. “I’m not buying this urban-village rationale. … How far is it going to go in West Seattle?”

O’Brien: “I don’t have an answer to ‘how far it’s going to go’.”

Next question: “Is there a citywide movement for reforming land use?”

O’Brien: “There are all sorts of specific aspects of land-use code that specific individuals (&) neighborhoods have concerns about …” He lists the small-lot issue, the low-rise-code issue as examples. “DPD is addressing these issues as they come up, and there are a lot of them.” But, he said, they’re not going to “throw the (zoning) out and start from scratch.” He goes on to mention the Comprehensive Plan and its “major overhaul” that’s under way (aka Seattle 2035). “I think the hope of the city is to take a look at it and really rethink how growth happens, where it happens, how we manage that growth in the city …” more big picture than small details, he said.

At that point, Barker, who is moderating, mentions the next public meeting on Seattle 2035 – Seattle Center, June 24th, regarding its “key directions.” (We’ll have a link for that shortly.)

6:51 PM: Jim Guenther talks about what happens when the city rules change and projects suddenly are allowed such as buildings without offstreet parking, and how it affects “quality of life” for residents who were already there.

“There’s a balance we’re trying to strike between the common good and individual rights,” O’Brien begins. He says that things have evolved as “lots that weren’t interesting to developers became interesting,” in the case of the small lots, for example. “Something like 45 percent of the lots that are zoned single family 5000 are smaller than 5000 square feet.”

“Where do we get heard (when our quality of life is affected)?” Guenther pressed. O’Brien says, “I don’t have a good answer for that,” but mentions that even though, for example, one house was on a lot, the owner might have always known it was really two lots that might qualify for two lots someday. O’Brien tries to say that the city didn’t really change the rules.

**CLICK AHEAD TO CONTINUE READING AS-IT-HAPPENED COVERAGE** Click to read the rest of As-it-happened: Talking West Seattle development with Councilmember O’Brien…

Tonight’s calendar highlight: Come talk about West Seattle development, land use, zoning with Councilmember Mike O’Brien

June 4, 2014 at 10:27 am | In Development, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 3 Comments

(May aerial looking eastward over Spruce, the ex-”Hole”; photo by Long B. Nguyen)
One more reminder about tonight’s highlight event – City Councilmember Mike O’Brien, who chairs the Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Committee, comes to West Seattle for what community advocates are billing as a conversation about development, land use, and zoning. This isn’t about one specific project – this is the “big picture”; O’Brien’s committee has been reviewing major issues/areas of concern – most recently, microhousing, with another discussion just yesterday resulting in a plan to create a new “stakeholders’ group” before new city rules are finalized. What is YOUR biggest concern? What do you think councilmembers could/should do regarding development and land use? Be there, to ask questions, speak out, even just to watch and listen. The event is led by the Southwest District Council, in lieu of its regular monthly meeting, along with the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council, and is at a bigger venue than usual so there’s room for everyone: 6:30 pm, American Legion Post 160/Pershing Hall, 3618 SW Alaska in The Triangle – which by the way is shown in the photo above, top right.

WHAT ELSE IS ON TONIGHT’S CALENDAR, YOU ASK? See it all here.

Speaking of the City Council: Two nights until development/zoning conversation in West Seattle

June 2, 2014 at 8:28 pm | In Development, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | Comments Off

The minimum wage is just one of the hot topics the City Council‘s dealt with lately. Land use and zoning – as in, the rules regarding development – remain on the front burner. Tomorrow, the Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Committee has another conversation about the proposed microhousing rules/definitions. And then on Wednesday, the councilmember who chairs that committee, Mike O’Brien, comes to West Seattle for a conversation about the broader issues of development, land use, and zoning here. Here’s our most recent preview; it’s at 6:30 pm Wednesday, June 4th, at American Legion Post 160/Pershing Hall, 3618 SW Alaska.

Minimum-wage increase gets unanimous City Council approval

June 2, 2014 at 3:42 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 99 Comments

(Video of Monday afternoon’s council meeting, including minimum-wage vote and speeches)
3:42 PM: At a raucous City Council meeting – cheers, jeers, chanting – that is temporarily in recess before councilmembers move on to other business, the minimum-wage-increase bill has just received unanimous approval. It raises the minimum wage in steps – with large businesses at $15 in three years, smaller businesses in seven years.

4:41 PM: Lots of reaction to share, ahead:

Click to read the rest of Minimum-wage increase gets unanimous City Council approval…

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