Last-minute campaigning with 2 more days to vote on Proposition 1

April 20, 2014 at 9:08 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | No Comments

IF you haven’t yet marked and returned your ballot – just one issue, Proposition 1 for Metro and roads money – you have two more days; it’s due Tuesday night (April 22nd). Last-minute campaigning continues – dozens of “No on Prop 1″ signs turned up along West Seattle arterials overnight; Prop 1 supporters say King County Executive Dow Constantine plans to campaign for it tomorrow morning at the California/Alaska RapidRide stop in The Junction before catching the bus to downtown, where he and Mayor Ed Murray plan a 9:30 am rally in the Benaroya Hall lobby.

Whichever way you’re voting, you can either put a stamp on your ballot and drop it in the mail, or you can drop it off – no stamp required – at the West Seattle or White Center ballot vans 10 am-5 pm tomorrow, 10 am-8 pm Tuesday. (There are dropoff locations elsewhere – maybe one close to someplace else you’ll be – locations are listed here.)

Higher minimum wage? Proposed city-charter amendment filed

April 14, 2014 at 4:10 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 80 Comments

A member of the group 15 Now, supporters of a higher minimum wage, filed a proposed city-charter amendment today. It would go to voters if they gather at least 30,000 valid signatures. Here’s how they summarize the proposal:

On Jan 1, 2015, the minimum wage for workers at big businesses will be raised to $15/hour and raised each year to adjust for inflation.

For small- and medium-sized businesses and non-profit organizations, the minimum wage will be phased in over three years starting with $11/hour on Jan 1, 2015.

Small- and medium-sized businesses are defined as having fewer than 250 Full Time Equivalents, the standard set by Seattle’s Paid Sick Leave Ordinance.

No training wages, no lower wages for tipped workers, and no “total compensation.”

Increased worker protections against wage and tip theft.

The Seattle Times (WSB partner) reports that supporters aren’t planning to start gathering signatures until they see what the mayor’s income-inequality committee comes up with.

Video: West Seattle elected officials say, don’t toss that ballot

April 12, 2014 at 7:52 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 60 Comments

“It’s absolutely crucial that Proposition 1 pass,” King County Executive Dow Constantine told a get-out-the-vote gathering at the Senior Center of West Seattle this afternoon. It’s been one year since Metro general manager Kevin Desmond issued a warning of cuts to come if the State Legislature didn’t come up with a funding solution; they never did, as Constantine noted again today. Added City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen at today’s event, “We’ve done everything we can in Olympia” to try to get help, and none was forthcoming. So now it’s in voters’ hands, he, Constantine, and County Councilmember Joe McDermott – all three West Seattleites – reiterated, and they urged supporters to talk to their friends and family to make sure they vote, since a one-issue springtime special election might be ignored otherwise, with ballots potentially languishing in stacks of junk mail.

Our video above includes the entirety of what they said today; April 22nd is the deadline for voting – by mail or by dropbox/van.

Proposition 1 transit/roads-money vote: 2 West Seattle rallies

April 11, 2014 at 10:21 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 25 Comments

checkbox.jpgWith ballots due one week from Tuesday, the campaigning will be intensifying this weekend, and we have word of two pro-Proposition 1 rallies in West Seattle in the next three days:

-Tomorrow (Saturday, April 12th), 1 pm, Senior Center of West Seattle: King County Executive Dow Constantine, County Councilmember Joe McDermott, City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen are expected at Move King County Now‘s rally. All welcome, from those with questions about the ballot measure to those already planning to doorbell for it and in need of campaign literature and a list.

-Monday (April 14th), noon, South Seattle College (WSB sponsor): Councilmember Rasmussen and State Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon are headlining what SSC says is a student-organized rally titled “Save Our Metro,” planned for the Clock Tower plaza (inside Brockey Center if the weather is bad).

We haven’t received word of any local anti-Prop 1 events so far; editor@westseattleblog.com is the address for any and all event announcements, on this subject or others. April 22nd is the deadline for ballots to be returned.

Also @ Transportation Committee: Bicycle Master Plan update OK’d

April 8, 2014 at 11:52 am | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 35 Comments

Right after the alley-vacation vote, the City Council Transportation Committee launched into what might have been the marquee item on any other day – the updated city Bicycle Master Plan. You can see what the West Seattle section of the plan calls for – what’s envisioned in the future, though timetables and funding are yet to be determined, by going here. (One notable feature: A western West Seattle neighborhood greenway, along 45th SW between Admiral and Alaska.) During discussion, Councilmember Sally Bagshaw said she wanted to include a reassurance that neighborhoods “would be listened to” when implementation time comes for its components. Councilmember Mike O’Brien called it “an amazing plan … ambitious, for sure.”

As-it-happened: 4755 Fauntleroy alley vacation approved by City Council committee

April 8, 2014 at 9:35 am | In 4755 Fauntleroy, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 59 Comments

(TOPLINE: Five councilmembers voted in favor of the alley vacation at today’s hearing; final vote expected at full Council meeting on April 21st)

(Photos/video by WSB’s Patrick Sand)
9:35 AM: Just under way at City Hall – the City Council Transportation Committee meeting that will include the “alley vacation” request for the 4755 Fauntleroy Way (aka The Whittaker) development. You can watch the live Seattle Channel stream by clicking “play” in the window below:

(EVENING UPDATE: The archived full-meeting Seattle Channel video is now embedded above)
The meeting will start with public comment, about this and the meeting’s other big item – the updated Bicycle Master Plan. After that, 4755 Fauntleroy is the first item on the agenda. We’ll update live as it goes.

(Added: WSB video of the entire public-comment period)
9:42 AM: Public comment is under way. The committee’s chair Councilmember Tom Rasmussen is calling alley-vacation commenters first, then bicycle plan. First commenter, Deb Barker, a co-author of the letter/supporting documents we published last night, including criticism of the public-outreach period. Second, Joe Rogoff from Whole Foods Market, the only announced tenant for the project so far. He says opponents have mischaracterized the project’s truck-traffic potential. He also says, “Whole Foods Market being singled out as a tenant does not seem right to me” and notes there was no union outcry when non-unionized Trader Joe’s went in nearby. Third commenter, identified as Rebecca, who says city policy discourages alley/street vacations if they don’t benefit the city’s transportation system and thinks this should be denied. Next, a man identifying himself as a land-use attorney representing a commercial real-estate group. “Adding density to the region is critical,” he says. “… Especially dense new development near transit lines.” He says developers are starting to avoid alley vacations because they are such a hassle, and says that’s bad. Next: Steve Williamson, who says he wants the committee to vote no but if anyone chooses to vote “yes,” to explain what they believe is its public benefit. He, like Rebecca, says research has shown only one street/alley vacation denied by the council since 1998. And he says “development policy … is one way to address income inequality.”

9:54 AM: The commenters continued with supporter Josh Sutton, who says that if this project doesn’t go forward, another developer could move in with something worse. He says this project “has passed every step of the Seattle development process along the way … You have all you need to make a decision today.” Next, Jim Guenther, who says, “The train’s pulling away from the station and the only people on that train are going to be the developers, the City Council, and city staff.” He says opponents “have no problem with Whole Foods” and point out that they offered alternatives to the developers who, he says, “said no.” He lists four conditions he thinks should be required of the developers, including making half of the mid-block connector pedestrian-only, and “meaningful plazas” on the site. Next speaker, John, says, “I’ve had so many conversations with people about Whole Foods coming to West Seattle … (people) want WF to come here.” He contends, “The voters in West Seattle really, really want to see this happen.” He’s followed by Patrick Keating, who says he’s “here to talk about the traffic impacts … Currently (the crosswalks and bus stops) in the vicinity are difficult at best.” Next, Richard, who says, “A lot of this has turned into some bizarre union thing vs. non-union, Whole Foods … (but) this is really about the development of the property there. I don’t know if you’ve been down there but the place is a cesspool … derelict buildings, graffiti, the alley in question isn’t even an alley per se, it’s two streets cut off by dumpsters.” The next commenter, Kurt, says he got involved with a group of project opponents because he thought they were concerned about overall West Seattle development, but learned they were only focused on this project, and only on opposing Whole Foods being part of it. He says he supports the project. Final commenter is Dave Montoure, who says he wants to clarify that the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce, for which he serves as past board chair, supports the project. He says he hopes the committee will vote today. He’s the last commenter on this project – next, four bicycle-plan commenters, so there’ll be a break in our coverage.

10:17 AM: Now, the official agenda item.

Councilmember Rasmussen recaps that discussion and presentations were extensive on March 11th so the city staffers are here mostly as “a resource.” Beverly Barnett, who is the city’s point person for reviewing street/alley vacations, speaks first. She goes through the process and says that the city’s default is supposed to be “retain right of way … so when people (bring in proposals), we do feel there’s kind of a ‘hump’ for them to go over.” The more-problematic ones, she says, never get to the council because of so much advance discussion. She says if there’s a vote today, it would be on whether to grant the alley vacation – which means, the right for the developer to buy the alley land at fair-market value – “as conditioned.” (The documentation are all in the items linked to the agenda and was also included in our March 11th coverage.) City staff is going over the list of meetings at which the project was discussed; Councilmember Sally Bagshaw said she was concerned, but it sounds as if it’s been thoroughly discussed/presented. Councilmember Tim Burgess asked Barnett if this went through the standard vacation process. Yes, she said, although it’s been “more,” she added. He asks if it was circulated to city departments to see if there are any objections; yes, she replies, and says the developer met with departments including SDOT and Seattle Public Utilities to review elements including the design of the “mid-block connector” through the project. Luke Korpi of SDOT elaborates on that, saying “various alternatives” were explored, and that they felt they had finally arrived at the best version, which features a pedestrian walkway “separate from vehicle traffic, truck traffic.”

10:36 AM: Korpi says SDOT is “comfortable” with the final version. Bagshaw says she is still concerned about people getting from the project to the newly purchased park land across 40th SW. (There’s been controversy over whether SDOT would allow a mid-block crosswalk there; the West Seattle Triangle Plan calls for one.) Korpi says traffic engineers want to wait until after the project is finished to see how traffic patterns shape up, how the park is developed, etc. The developer is reported to have said that they will “participate” in making that crosswalk possible, and Bagshaw says she would like to make sure that is on the record somehow. Councilmember Mike O’Brien asks why, since Triangle Plan called for pedestrian-only midblock connector here, it’s OK for vehicles to be part of the one through the project. Korpi says they evaluated whether it would meet the goals of the plan, and SDOT determined it would. “So why was the letter of the neighborhood plan not achievable?” O’Brien asks. Korpi says it was deemed preferable for this project to have three access points for vehicles – Fauntleroy, 40th, Edmunds – to reduce pressure on Fauntleroy in particular. Councilmember Sally Clark says she supports getting the developer on record as helping pay for the future crosswalk. Rasmussen now moves for conceptual approval of the alley vacation and is second. Discussion ensues: He says the tenant is not part of the consideration, per city law; one critical point, he says, is whether the public will “lose alley function” with granting of a vacation, but he says that will not happen with this plan. And he quotes the Design Commission as saying that the plan with a midblock connector will “better meet the need … than the current alley … which is petitioned to be vacated.” He says that reviews indicate traffic will not be worsened at the area and that there are other benefits, such as wider sidewalks and an added bicycle lane, so he concludes “the public trust in the right of way” would be served. He also says that leaving the current alley configuration in place would not serve the goals of the Triangle Plan. And he notes SDOT did “not make a recommendation” regarding approval or denial, but did suggest conditions if the council chooses to support it. “My conclusion is that the public benefits are strong,” he concludes, and says he supports approval.

11:02 AM: Councilmember O’Brien, vice chair of the Transportation Committee, says he’s voting no. He thinks, for one, a grocery store could be placed on the Fauntleroy side, and he likes the fact that if the site were developed without an alley vacation, it would mean more housing units, and he says those are needed. Overall, he says he is not convinced there is enough public benefit, and the midblock connector concerns him the most – whether it has enough pedestrian orientation. He says he doesn’t think it’s possible to “put enough conditions on it” to make the vehicle traffic and pedestrian interaction work well enough. Councilmember Licata – who is an alternate member of the committee – is asking more about the connector. “It doesn’t seem to work in terms of just a pedestrian area,” he said, without “destinations on other side of the sidewalk … I don’t get who this is serving.” Rasmussen explains, “This is a very, very large site, and without a pedestrian connection, people would” have to walk up to and around the site on Alaska and Edmunds, “so it serves a very practical function.” Licata is not convinced. Next, Councilmember Kshama Sawant, who says she’s been to the site and a “vibrant development” certainly is in order, but she still wants to see the jobs question considered – just because that hasn’t been part of the review process “doesn’t mean we should keep doing it the same way until the end of time.” She points out that this would be in an area with several other grocery stores and that she believes they are all unionized (editor’s note: not Trader Joe’s) and that she will vote no.

11:16 AM: The vote is “divided,” Rasmussen announces (5 for, 3 against, we’re still confirming how it shook out since it’s a voice vote), so it goes to the full council on April 21st. Five votes is a majority of the council, so if no one changes, that means it will be finalized then, and supporters are in a jovial mood outside the chambers. The committee now goes on to the Bicycle Master Plan – you can continue watching the meeting in the live window above. We’re hanging around until the end to be sure we have clarification on who voted what and what happens next.

11:55 AM: Just spoke with Rasmussen’s legislative assistant Brian Hawksford:
-The no votes were O’Brien, Sawant, and Licata.
-The only councilmember who wasn’t here was Bruce Harrell; so, the yes votes were Rasmussen, Bagshaw, Godden, Clark, Burgess.
-”Divided” vote means that since it was not unanimous, a report must be prepared by council staff laying out the points that were made, and that is why the final vote is delayed a week, and scheduled for the second meeting after the committee vote instead of the first one.
-Even though the committee itself is just three members, the rules allow any councilmember to join in the proceedings of any committee (including voting) at any time.

ADDED 2:25 PM: From e-mail, reaction from Getting It Right for West Seattle, which had sought to have a Community Benefit Agreement required before the alley vacation could be approved:

Transportation Chairperson Tom Rasmussen’s approval of the biggest megaproject of its kind in West Seattle is another illustration why it’s time for the city to modernize its definition of what constitutes a public benefit. The city council should consider the public’s priorities, such as compliance with neighborhood plans, public transportation, family wage jobs, affordable workforce housing, and more. It should no longer be okay to sell public property to developers and businesses who don’t meet Seattle’s community-oriented standards. We thank Mike O’Brien, Nick Licata and Kshama Sawant for voting no on this project.

ADDED 10:08 PM: We have replaced the original cameraphone photos included here as we reported – crowd at top, council midway through – with two clearer images by our photographer. We also have replaced the original “live video” window with archived Seattle Channel video of the entire meeting, and also added the backup video we recorded while there – broken into two segments, the public comment, and the actual agenda item/discussion/vote.

34th District Democrats to take on pot and parks Wednesday

April 6, 2014 at 2:15 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | No Comments

What happens to the medical-marijuana industry when recreational-marijuana stores start opening? Our area’s largest political organization, the 34th District Democrats, invite you to come hear from an expert panel – and ask questions – this Wednesday. 34th DDs chair Marcee Stone-Vekich – who elaborates on the subject here – says the panel will include Rep. Eileen Cody, King County Councilmember Joe McDermott, Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, and Liquor Control Board chair Sharon Foster.

Another topic of import – Seattle Parks funding, and whether voters will be asked to approve creation of a Metropolitan Parks District; City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw is scheduled to talk about that. Also on the agenda, members are expected to vote on endorsing the re-election of Rep. Cody and her fellow 34th District legislators, Sen. Sharon Nelson and Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon. The meeting’s at 7 pm Wednesday (April 9th), The Hall at Fauntleroy (9131 California SW).

Ballots arriving for April 22nd transportation-money vote; West Seattle, White Center will have ballot drop vans again

April 2, 2014 at 5:04 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 13 Comments

checkbox.jpgKing County has mailed ballots for the April 22nd election, so yours might even have arrived already. Proposition 1 for Metro and road money is on the ballot countywide. Here’s the text you’ll see on your ballot:

The Board of the King County Transportation District passed Resolution No. TD2014-03 concerning funding for Metro transit, roads, and other transportation improvements. If approved, this proposition would fund, among other things, bus service, road safety and maintenance and other transportation improvements in King County cities and the unincorporated area. It would authorize the district to impose, for a period of ten years, a sales and use tax of 0.1% under RCW 82.14.0455 and an annual vehicle fee of sixty dollars ($60) per registered vehicle under RCW 82.80.140 with a twenty dollar ($20) rebate for low-income individuals.

Should this sales and use tax and vehicle fee be approved?

You can read the official pro/con/rebuttals here. As usual, it’s a mail-in election, but if you’d rather drop off your ballot in person – and without a stamp – here’s where to go, including ballot dropoff vans in West Seattle and White Center on April 19, 21, and 22. Same locations as last time – West Seattle Stadium (info/hours here) and Greenbridge (info/hours here).

All those arguments about development? Here’s THE meeting to go to; plus, Q/A with mayor re: growth control

March 31, 2014 at 11:36 am | In Development, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 27 Comments

(Equity and Wolff projects in The Junction, photographed recently by Long B. Nguyen)
The discussion – sometimes contentious, sometimes thoughtful – goes on. How much development is too much development – or is there no such thing as “too much development”? Do “growth targets” set in the past mean anything – considering, for example, the greater West Seattle Junction area is reported to be already past a future target, with major projects in progress and more on the way? When we talked one-on-one recently with Mayor Murray, he said one way to revisit that will be through the Seattle 2035 process that’s just launched. A West Seattle meeting is scheduled, one week from Wednesday. But before we get to those details – here’s the mayor’s 1-minute response to our question of whether growth should be allowed to expand seemingly infinitely even if so-called targets are passed:

Now, details of the meeting, one of five open houses citywide:

April 9th, 6-8 pm, at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center (4408 Delridge Way SW). From the city announcement:

DPD is hoping to reach out to different neighborhoods and gather comments on the Planning Alternatives that are currently under discussion. Comments can be submitted through April 21, 2014.

DPD is scoping an environmental impact statement (EIS) that will evaluate the City’s Comprehensive Plan update. The EIS will examine the possible impacts under three different growth scenarios.

Consistent with regional growth projections, all three scenarios assume the city will grow by 70,000 households and 115,000 jobs over the next 20 years. All the scenarios follow the Comprehensive Plan’s urban growth strategy that aims to concentrate most of the growth in the city’s designated urban centers and urban villages. The alternatives differ in how the projected growth would be distributed:

Alternative 1 would evaluate most of the growth in the six urban centers, in keeping with the regional plan of concentrating development in centers.

Alternative 2 would still project a lot of growth in the centers, but would shift some growth to the urban villages in order to strengthen those neighborhood business districts.

Alternative 3 would evaluate more growth in the urban villages that contain existing or planned light rail stations.

The Comprehensive Plan the City ultimately adopts could combine aspects of each of these alternatives.

DPD is taking comments on these alternatives and the topics to be covered in the EIS until April 21.

Even more information about the alternatives is here, as well as how to comment on them now (in addition to commenting in person at the April 9th meeting).

WSB Q/A with the mayor: #4 – ‘No parking, there’s transit’

March 26, 2014 at 10:57 pm | In Development, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 51 Comments

“I think we need to take a look at that.”

We heard that response a few times during our recent one-on-one interview with Mayor Ed Murray, including when we asked about a development-related issue that has roiled some neighborhoods around the city, including here in West Seattle: No offstreet parking required for housing built within a few blocks of “frequent transit.” That’s led to plans including the just-approved 6917 California SW 30-apartments, no-parking-spaces building whose land-use sign drew a frustrated scrawl last fall:

The no-parking (or handful-of-spaces) trend has been especially noticeable in the medium-sized projects lately, such as 40 units and 5 spaces at 4439 41st SW. But even as the city says “OK, there’s frequent transit, you can do it,” the transit agency – Metro – is warning of cuts. So, we asked the mayor, what does he think about the city allowing parking-free projects without being able to guarantee transit availability?

Previous installments in our Q/A with the mayor:

Question #1 – West Seattle Bridge traffic
Question #2 – SPD’s not-yet-activated surveillance cameras
Question #3 – About that alley vacation …

As-it-happened: 4755 Fauntleroy alley-vacation hearing, standing room only; vote delayed to April 8th

March 11, 2014 at 9:34 am | In 4755 Fauntleroy, Development, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 76 Comments

(UPDATED 2:58 PM with archived meeting video; POST-HEARING TOPLINE: No committee vote until April 8th)

9:34 AM: We’re at City Hall for the alley-vacation hearing (process explained here, same as ‘street’ vacation) for 4755 Fauntleroy before the City Council’s Transportation Committee. Standing room only. Supporters are wearing purple stickers with slogans; opponents are wearing yellow stickers with slogans (photos added):

Live coverage ahead – you also can watch the stream via Seattle Channel (click “play”) in the window below (UPDATED 2:59 PM – THIS IS NOW THE ARCHIVED VIDEO OF THE MEETING):

Councilmember Tom Rasmussen has opened the discussion by playing a message on his voice mail – he got the robocall that project opponents sent around West Seattle last night. “It told me to call Tom,” he said, drawing laughter.

9:39 AM: First to speak, project opponent Deb Barker, who was the voice of the aforementioned robocall.

She is a community organization leader and former Design Review Board member. She says the public benefits in the project package are not enough. She talks about the setbacks and says the alley vacation overall will “waste public land for profit.”

Next, project supporter Sharonn Meeks, also a community-organization leader. She notes she was “involved in this project way before it began” – that included being on the Triangle Planning Group. She calls the site “a blighted grayfield.” She says scrapping these proposal would cost time and “an excellent developer.”

IF READING FROM HOME PAGE, CLICK AHEAD TO READ THE REST OF OUR AS-IT-HAPPENED COVERAGE
Click to read the rest of As-it-happened: 4755 Fauntleroy alley-vacation hearing, standing room only; vote delayed to April 8th…

West Seattle politics: Democrats invited to caucus on Sunday

March 8, 2014 at 7:38 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | Comments Off

Tomorrow’s the day that Democrats from West Seattle, White Center, Vashon/Maury Islands, and the rest of the 34th Legislative District are invited to caucus – “the first step in the journey toward the all-important 2016 election,’ per the 34th District Democrats‘ official caucus call. Registration starts at 1 pm at the Evergreen Campus, 830 SW 116th in White Center (map). While they aren’t voting on candidates – too soon for that – the “first step” includes electing delegates to June’s statewide convention, and collecting resolutions and platform issues for next month’s countywide convention. (State Republicans are not caucusing this year.)

It’s on: April 22nd countywide vote set for Metro, roads money

February 24, 2014 at 6:47 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 18 Comments

Acting as the board of the newly created Transportation District, King County Councilmembers have officially voted to call an April 22nd vote on Proposition 1 – a car-tab fee ($40 more than what is charged now, since $20 of it replaces an expiring $20 fee) and sales-tax increase (1/10th of a percent) to raise money to cover the rest of Metro‘s funding gap and the cost of road repair/projects. Read the full text of what they approved here; for all the numbers, go here. Here’s how a county news release sums up what the measure will do if approved by voters:

·Increase the King County sales tax by 0.1 of a percent for ten years;

·Establish a $60 vehicle fee;

·Distribute 60 percent of the net revenues of the ballot measure to provide funding to maintain Metro transit service hours at current levels. If any funds remain after maintaining transit service hours, evenly split the remaining funds 50/50 between transit and unincorporated road purposes;

·40 percent would go to cities for transportation improvements and the county for unincorporated area road purposes allocated based on population;

·Specify that the funds must be used for transportation improvement projects contained in the County’s, Cities’ or Puget Sound Regional Council’s approved transportation plans (as updated by the individual jurisdictions);

·Establish a low-income rebate program that rebates $20 of vehicle fee for vehicle owners whose household income is less than 45 percent of the county’s median household income.

Not registered to vote? Here’s how; see the deadlines for the April election here.

Looking toward 2016, area Democrats to caucus in two weeks

February 23, 2014 at 10:31 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | Comments Off

“This is truly the first step in the journey toward the all-important 2016 election,” says the announcement of the 34th (Legislative) District Democrats’ caucuses, two weeks from today. Specific tasks include electing delegates and alternates to the June 21st statewide Democratic convention, registering voters, collecting resolutions and platform issues for the countywide convention in April, and bringing donations for local food banks. The announcement linked above explains how to participate. Local Republicans are not scheduled for caucuses this year; the state Republican Party decided last year not to have a 2014 convention.

Video: West Seattle boys sing at ‘exploding oil trains’ rally

February 22, 2014 at 8:46 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle people, West Seattle politics | 8 Comments

Adonis and Aji from RainDagger Productions on Vimeo.

That’s video of brothers Adonis and Aji Piper, 9- and 13-year-old Pathfinder K-8 students, singing and playing a protest song they composed. They spent the final weekday of the week-long midwinter school break by participating in a demonstration and Seattle City Council committee meeting regarding a resolution urging increased scrutiny for a proposal to send more oil-carrying trains through the city. (Read about the resolution here.) Environmental advocates say the scrutiny is vital because trains are carrying more-volatile types of oil now, with literally explosive risks, as evidenced in several recent incidents around the continent. Joel Connelly wrote about the brothers in his coverage on seattlepi.com; today we received a note from the boys’ family, with a link to the video you see above.

Video: Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s first State of the City speech

February 18, 2014 at 2:08 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 4 Comments

(UPDATED with full archived Seattle Channel video of mayor’s speech)

2:08 PM: Live online via Seattle Channel – Mayor Ed Murray‘s first State of the City speech. Watch it by clicking the “play” button. We’ll update later with the archived video as well as any notes of particular West Seattle interest. (3:57 pm note – the archived video is now viewable above.)

2:30 PM UPDATE: Several notes of interest so far – a mention of the Youth Ambassadors program active at several local schools (the mayor mentioned Roxhill, Denny, and Concord); also a nod to the Duwamish River in a climate-change mention, and a promise that he’ll do something about deteriorating street conditions.

2:45 PM UPDATE: Speech over, but Council Chair Tim Burgess asks the mayor to stay for a special presentation – a photo from Murray’s days as a council staffer. Now it’s on to the council’s meeting. A few other notes in the meantime – he touched on growth without any promises of slowing it, and called the “urban village strategy” a success; he voiced support for the expected April vote on Metro/roads funding and August vote on “sustainable parks funding”; he said he intended to call for a maritime summit; he said the city needs to rebuild trust with neighborhoods, and reiterated his plan for a neighborhood summit April 5th.

3:57 PM UPDATE: Here’s the full text, sent by the mayor’s office as a PDF. We missed another West Seattle shoutout – a mention of the recently announced 35th Avenue SW safety project. The full video is also available, so we have added that above.

34th District Democrats: Metro $ semi-endorsement; councilmembers talk development, ride-sharing, more

February 17, 2014 at 1:19 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 17 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Will Metro‘s next “service change” include a service cut?

Decision time is down to the wire. The King County Council has to decide soon whether to ask voters to approve a local tax package. Various Metro-related conversations are on its schedule this coming week.

With West Seattle and White Center bus service having the most to lose, because of Highway 99 “mitigation” money expiring as well as the $20 tab fee, local groups are taking their official stands.

The one taken by the 34th District Democrats this past week was a little unusual.

Click to read the rest of 34th District Democrats: Metro $ semi-endorsement; councilmembers talk development, ride-sharing, more…

Mayor sets date for ‘Seattle Neighborhood Summit’: April 5th

February 10, 2014 at 2:54 pm | In Neighborhoods, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 7 Comments

Mayor Ed Murray promised he would hold a “Neighborhood Summit” within 100 days of taking office – and today he’s announced the place and date: 9 am-1 pm Saturday, April 5th, in the Pavilion Room at Seattle Center. From the announcement:

Summit planners say this is the first step in what they hope to be an ongoing relationship aimed at rebuilding the trust between the City and neighborhoods. In addition to holding this traditional forum, they plan to use social media and technology so more can participate whether or not they are able to attend.

That part of the effort starts now – with this new city website. It includes a survey to which you can respond right now; go here.

King County Executive Dow Constantine’s ‘State of the County’ speech focuses on ‘great generational challenges of our time’

February 10, 2014 at 1:25 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | Comments Off

(King County Executive’s Office photo, KCE Dow Constantine at podium, County Councilmember Larry Phillips at left)
Climate change and equity-building were the key themes of County Executive Dow Constantine‘s “State of the County” speech, presented this morning at White Center Heights Elementary School. Here’s the full text of his speech, which included, toward the beginning, after he spoke about the site of his speech and the children who learn there:

Decades from now, when these kids are grown and look back, what will they say of us? Of what we did, or failed to do, about the great generational challenges of our time?

About the grotesque inequality of means and opportunity in our society.

About the destruction of our planet.

Confronting climate change, and building equity in our community – addressing the physical world and the people who live in it – these are inescapable, global responsibilities.

Big ambitions for a county government, to be sure. But as an organization, we confront them from a position of strength, based on the foundation of all that we have accomplished these past four years.

For background and context on the two big issues, the county supplied “infographics” – climate change here, inequity here. Other topics included “saving Metro” – with the County Council, who convened at WCH Elementary for the speech, meeting back at its downtown headquarters shortly (1:30 pm) with two Metro-related measures on the ballot – the proposed measure to raise car-tab fees and sales tax to cover the funding the transit system is about to lose, and the first round of cuts that will be made if funding isn’t found either from the Legislature or the aforementioned vote (which is expected to be on April 22nd).

ADDED 3:15 PM: Video of the speech, from King County TV:

Talk to your State House reps: ‘Telephone town hall’

January 29, 2014 at 10:32 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | Comments Off

Once again this year, your State House Representatives Eileen Cody (D-West Seattle) and Joe Fitzgibbon (D-Burien) are hosting a “Telephone Town Hall.” According to the announcement, it’s set for 6-7 pm Wednesday, February 5th (one week from tonight):

34th Legislative District residents should receive a call from their legislators at about 6:00 PM on the February 5. To participate, simply pick up the phone and follow the prompts. Reps. Cody and Fitzgibbon will deliver short opening thoughts and then will open up for questions. If you have a question for the lawmakers, simply press *3.

If for some reason you don’t receive a call, you can call 877-229-8493 and enter 18646 to participate.

P.S. We asked a followup question about where the phone list comes from, since so many people don’t have conventional “land lines” any more. Reply: The list is provided by the Secretary of State’s Office – the phone number you listed when you registered to vote.

Video: See the City Hall inauguration ceremony; read the speeches

January 6, 2014 at 3:39 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 24 Comments

(UPDATED 7:55 PM – archived ceremony video now substituted in the embedded player)

ORIGINAL REPORT, 3:39 PM: Not at City Hall for the ceremony inaugurating Mayor Ed Murray and Councilmember Kshama Sawant, as well as re-elected Councilmembers Mike O’Brien, Sally Bagshaw, and Nick Licata, and City Attorney Pete Holmes? Watch live via Seattle Channel by clicking the “play” button above, which takes you to the live SC feed (which will move on to other programming afterward – we’ll replace it with the archived event video when that’s available later *update, archived video now live as of 7:55 pm*).

You’re also invited to a City Hall reception starting around 4:30 in the Bertha Knight Landes Room (street level from the 5th Avenue entrance) and the inauguration celebration at 7 pm at Benaroya Hall; Councilmember Sawant is also having a party (6 pm, SEIU HQ at 215 Columbia), with a suggested donation for retiring campaign debt but, she says, “no one will be turned away.”

5:15 PM: The inauguration ceremony is over, wrapping up just after the top of the hour. The oath of office was administered by former Gov. Gary Locke:

Earlier in the day, new Councilmember Sawant tweeted photos from her first council meetings, starting with the morning briefing:


Again, we’ll substitute the archived video from this afternoon’s ceremony when it’s available.

5:36 PM: Seattle Channel says that might not be until tomorrow. CM Sawant’s speech text was just sent. Read on (update: other speeches’ texts/links added, too):

Click to read the rest of Video: See the City Hall inauguration ceremony; read the speeches…

Health-care reform, Legislature updates Wednesday @ 34th District Democrats’ first 2014 meeting

January 5, 2014 at 4:00 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | Comments Off

It’s made headlines, but are you wondering about details of how the health-care-reform rollout is going in our state? It’s on the agenda for the first 2014 meeting of our area’s largest political group, the 34th District Democrats, this Wednesday. From the group’s chair Marcee Stone-Vekich:

Our program focuses on the rollout of the Affordable Care Act in Washington state. Our panelists will give us a progress report on the rollout: how we’re doing compared to other states, website issues, who’s joining, and the future ahead. Moderated by Lisa Plymate, M.D., Washington State Director, Doctors for America; Copello Fellow, National Physicians Alliance, and State Committeewoman for the 34th LD Democrats. With panelists: Emily Brice, J.D., Senior Health Policy Advisor at the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner; Janet Varon, J.D., Executive Director of Northwest Health Law Advocates (NoHLA,); non-profit consumer health-advocacy organization, and coordinator of Healthy Washington Coalition’s Low-Income Populations Workgroup; and Representative Eileen Cody, Chair of the Healthcare and Wellness Committee in the State Legislature.

Rep. Cody will also join 34th District State Sen. Sharon Nelson, now the Senate’s Democratic leader, for a legislative update, and the 34th DDs will present their annual awards to Bill Schrier (Lifetime Achievement Award) and Cecilia Palao Vargas (PCO of the Year). The meeting starts at 7 pm at The Hall @ Fauntleroy (9131 California SW).

Former West Seattleite Ed Murray is now officially mayor

January 1, 2014 at 11:12 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 13 Comments

With everything else that happened last night, from New Year’s Eve celebrations to breaking news, you might have missed this: Ed Murray, former Alki resident, is now officially mayor of Seattle. Though his formal inauguration ceremony isn’t until next Monday, he was sworn in before family and friends at 7:30 pm last night, with husband Michael Shiosaki at his side in their home on Capitol Hill. His new official mayoral Facebook page has photos. The introduction notes, “Murray took the oath of office holding Michael’s hand and beads from a rosary his grandmother brought into this country when she immigrated here in 1905, atop a Bible from 1850 written entirely in Gaelic. The tie he wore was the same tie he wore when he first took the oath of elected office in 1996.” In addition to the Facebook page, a mayoral Twitter account is now launched at @Mayor_Ed_Murray and he’s released his first address to the city, on video. Everyone’s invited to the inauguration ceremony at City Hall, 3:30 pm Monday (January 6th). *Photo from mayoral Facebook page, republished with permission*

Chas Redmond running in West Seattle’s City Council District 1

December 20, 2013 at 2:32 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 10 Comments

One of our area’s most über-involved community activists says he’s running for the West Seattle-only City Council seat created by the passage of Charter Amendment 19 in last month’s election. Chas Redmond‘s official titles include vice president of the Morgan Community Association, but he’s also involved with other groups around the community, including Sustainable West Seattle, and he is a past chair of the City Neighborhood Council. Redmond is a U.S. Army veteran, retired from NASA, and has lived in West Seattle for a decade. His official announcement says he’s running “to bring a grass roots voice to the city council, to re-empower the citizens of Seattle, and ensure our investments benefit citizens across the entire city.” (WSB photo at right, from West Seattle Tool Library holiday party earlier this month)

Charter Amendment 19 restructures the City Council starting in 2015, with seven council districts – West Seattle is District 1 – plus two at-large positions to be elected citywide. While current Councilmember Tom Rasmussen lives in West Seattle, he and the other eight members were all elected to citywide seats; he has filed to run in 2015 but is listed by the city Ethics and Elections Commission as not yet having designated which position he’s running for.

See who’s leading which Seattle City Council committees next year

December 18, 2013 at 1:16 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 4 Comments

The more active citizens and community groups get, the more important it is to know who’s in charge of what areas of emphasis in local government. So toward that end – the Seattle City Council has announced its “likely” committee chairs for next year. First, two areas of intense local interest: West Seattle-residing Councilmember Tom Rasmussen is expected to continue chairing Transportation; Councilmember Mike O’Brien is expected to become chair of Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability, the scope of which includes development and zoning. For the full list – including some renamed committees – read on for the council’s announcement:

Click to read the rest of See who’s leading which Seattle City Council committees next year…

Mayor-elect Murray announces ‘winning team’ – from deputy mayors to acting SDOT director and more

December 11, 2013 at 12:33 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 17 Comments

An acting director for SDOT is one of the appointments just announced by Mayor-elect Ed Murray, in a lineup he declared “a winning team.” He has also announced three permanent department heads, one other acting department head, his executive-leadership team – including two deputy mayors – and their salaries, as well as some restructuring, and creation of a new Office of Policy and Innovation, which will include a “project lead for transportation and transit issues” among others. Here’s the news release in its entirety – (added 2:59 pm) followed by an announcement it did not contain, that of Parks leadership:

Seattle Mayor-elect Ed Murray today announced key staff roles and hires within the Office of the Mayor, outlined three major ‘staffing innovations’ and named several new City department head appointments.

“My administration, as with any administration, will be judged on how we serve Seattle residents, and my standard will be one of excellence,” said Murray. “To me, excellence means an administration that functions with a high level of inclusiveness, transparency, responsiveness and collaboration – and that brings innovation to solving problems for the people of Seattle.”

At a press conference today, Murray was flanked by his selections for his executive leadership team, his newly-created Office of Policy & Innovation, and his proposed appointments for interim and permanent department head positions.

Click to read the rest of Mayor-elect Murray announces ‘winning team’ – from deputy mayors to acting SDOT director and more…

Hot topics @ City Council on Tuesday: Trash, transportation

December 6, 2013 at 1:39 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | Comments Off

Two topics of much discussion here go before City Council committees next Tuesday (December 10), as confirmed by agendas just made public:

EVERY-OTHER-WEEK TRASH PICKUP: Last week, many WSB’ers had something to say about a council proposal that paves the way for Seattle Public Utilities potentially changing to every-other-week garbage service citywide, following a test last year that included part of Highland Park. That proposal, adding an every-other-week option to the city’s contracts with haulers including Waste Management, will be considered by the Libraries, Utilities, and Center Committee at noon Tuesday. This would not be a final decision; as we reported last week, the council is committing itself to deciding by next March whether to pursue the plan, and would have to approve additional legislation to make it reality – but it’s never too soon to speak up if you feel strongly about it, pro or con.

(WSB Monday photo by Patrick Sand)
TRANSPORTATION TROUBLE: Remember the bridge shutdown back on Monday, after de-icer applied in relatively warm afternoon sunshine led to multiple crashes? City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen promised that the Transportation Committee, which he chairs, would seek an SDOT briefing at its next meeting – and there is indeed an agenda item titled “SDOT planning and procedures for roadways during inclement weather” toward the end of the agenda for Tuesday’s 9:30 am meeting.

Both of the above meetings have public-comment periods at the start; both are in council chambers at City Hall downtown; both will be live via Seattle Channel, seattlechannel.org online or cable channel 21.

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