New city rules for encampments: Public hearing downtown tonight

February 26, 2015 at 8:59 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 23 Comments

If you have something to say about the city’s proposed rule changes regarding encampments for homeless people, tonight’s the night to say it. 5:30 pm at City Hall, the council’s Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Committee will listen to comments during an evening meeting devoted entirely to a public hearing on the proposal (here’s the agenda).

The goal of the rule changes as they’re written now – see the legislation here – is to enable up to three encampments, up to 100 residents each, at city- or privately owned sites no closer to each other than a mile.

Since we first reported on the proposal a month ago, it’s been discussed at multiple committee meetings, and at least one more is planned. We listened in on the most-recent one, last Friday. These maps – further clarifying sites that might qualify if the new rules pass (adding overlays such as the mandated human-services and transit-stop distances) – were part of the agenda:

Many of the questions at last Friday’s discussion involved how a proposed encampment would be proposed, reviewed, and approved, including questions such as, what if more than one potential provider wanted to use a specific city-owned site.

There also was discussion of whether other types of property could be made eligible – right now, the proposed rules specify city-owned or privately owned, but, it was asked, what about other government entities, for example? (The West Seattle sites used by the encampment that calls itself “Nickelsville” had included state- and port-owned sites over the years.) Also asked – if an encampment “is working well,” could the proposal’s one-year limit be modified for a renewal or extension? And one housing organization, LIHI, had sent a letter expressing concern about the proposal ruling out use of parks and parking lots. A city staffer said in response that they expected they wouldn’t have trouble finding “suitable opportunities” among other types of properties.

Whatever other issues arise at tonight’s public hearing – which is for public comment, not a vote – the PLUS committee plans to discuss the proposal again next Tuesday (March 3rd). Meantime, signups for the 5:30 pm hearing will start at 5 pm – here’s the official notice. It’s in the council chambers on the second floor at City Hall, 5th/Cherry/James.

Election 2015: Campaign kickoff at Easy Street for Dave Montoure’s City Council run

February 24, 2015 at 10:08 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 29 Comments

One week after announcing his run for the new District 1 City Council seat, West Seattle restaurateur Dave Montoure debuted his “stump speech” to a crowd of supporters at Easy Street Records.

He joked that he never expected he’d be doing an in-store performance someday at Easy Street, whose proprietor Matt Vaughan introduced him:

Here’s Montoure’s speech, hitting the themes he stressed in his campaign announcement last week:

His key points: Bringing “middle-class jobs to the peninsula,” especially by “reinvigorating … underutilized manufacturing and industrial land.” He mentioned repeatedly that he wants West Seattle to lead the city in “sustainable business practices” such as the food-composting program launched by businesses in 2008 when he led the Junction Association, and stepping up community-based policing, which he described as “a different shade of blue.” He dinged current city leadership for having no “game plan” for West Seattle’s transportation challenges, and for allowing public infrastructure to fall into disrepair while private investment such as development booms.

THE BIG PICTURE: Montoure is among 9 candidates so far for the District 1 (West Seattle/South Park) seat. Filing deadline is in mid-May; the primary, from which two finalists will emerge, is August 4th, while the general election is November 3rd. In addition to enterprised campaign coverage, we also plan to cover as many open-to-the-public D-1 candidate speaking/Q-A appearances as we can, so that you’ll often see and hear from those vying for your vote in this first-ever election. Next one we know of is at tomorrow night’s Highland Park Action Committee meeting, 7 pm at HP Improvement Club, with candidate Amanda Kay Helmick on the agenda.

Followup: West Seattle project updates, Highway 99 lane closure concerns @ Transportation Committee

February 24, 2015 at 11:26 am | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 7 Comments

Just wrapped up at City Hall, SDOT director Scott Kubly‘s briefing for the City Council Transportation Committee, chaired by West Seattle-residing Councilmember Tom Rasmussen. We previewed it here last Friday when his written updates arrived along with the meeting agenda; some changes and additions in the briefing, monitored via Seattle Channel‘s live webcast (update: here’s the archived video):

99/AURORA LANE CLOSURES: WSDOT has been warning about weeks of lane closures on 99 just north of downtown, starting as soon as March 7th, because of foundation installation for future messaging signs; Kubly said it appears southbound traffic will be affected the most. City Councilmember Mike O’Brien expressed concern that RapidRide E Line will be caught in the delays and wondered if the project could be postponed until additional transit service starts in June. “(The signs) are for a tunnel that’s been delayed 2 years,” he pointed out. This might all be brought up at next Monday’s council briefing meeting.

FAUNTLEROY BOULEVARD: As previously reported here, design for the Fauntleroy Boulevard project between 35th and Alaska is paused at 60 percent until a decision is made about undergrounding utilities, which would add ~$6 million to the price tag.

Rasmussen told Kubly he’ll be meeting with City Light Superintendent Jorge Carrasco, including a tour of the area, and Kubly offered to join them.

35TH, ROXBURY SAFETY PROJECTS: The official dates for the next meetings on these West Seattle projects will likely be in mid-March, not the potential early March dates mentioned in Kubly’s written report; the announcements are expected within a few days. Speaking about citywide corridor safety projects in general, Kubly said the problem to be solved is that the city’s road network was designed in the ’50s and ’60s for just one transportation mode, the car. So what’s happening now is “not really a war on cars, (but) trying to (re)design our streets to reflect the diversity of ways people want to get around Seattle,” and increasing safety since the current road designs encourage speeding.

47TH/ADMIRAL SIGNAL: With construction starting soon, Rasmussen mentioned concerns about notification of how parking removal will affect Alki Mail and others in the area. Kubly said that notification had first gone out last August that parking would be removed within 50 feet of the intersection (as noted on the project page).

Earlier in the meeting:

TRANSIT BOARD: The committee voted on the resolution creating a new 11-member citywide Transit Advisory Board, which goes to the full council for final approval next week. One topic of discussion – how to ensure that it will have representatives from around the city? Geographic representation is “not mandatory, but aspirational,” observed Rasmussen. O’Brien suggested tweaking the resolution language to further encourage geographic diversity.

(Photo: Screengrab from this morning’s Seattle Channel webcast)

Admiral, 35th, Roxbury, Fauntleroy updates among West Seattle notes in SDOT director’s report to City Council

February 20, 2015 at 1:52 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 18 Comments

Toward the end of each week, the following week’s City Council meeting agendas go public, and they often yield interesting reading. This afternoon, we found several West Seattle notes in the agenda-attached report that SDOT director Scott Kubly will officially present to the council’s Transportation Committee next Tuesday:

47TH/ADMIRAL SIGNAL: Construction is approaching; Kubly’s report says “pre-construction” is planned for next Tuesday (February 24th), and the “notice to proceed” is expected the second week of March.

35TH SW CORRIDOR SAFETY PROJECT: Mark your calendars – proposed design alternatives will be shown within a few weeks, if this schedule is kept: “Dates for our second round of 35th meetings have been tentatively set for March 4 and 5.”

SW ROXBURY SAFETY PROJECT: Right after 35th, we’ll find out what’s in store here: “Staff aiming to release recommendations to the public on March 10 or 11 and highlight improvements aligning with Vision Zero.” (That’s the new city initiative that was much-discussed following our report last week.)

FAUNTLEROY BOULEVARD: This update has a list of bullet points, as follows:

*The project team met with two businesses last week to discuss the 60% design and impacts to their property frontage

*In addition, the project team met with SPU to discuss project drainage requirements

*One property owner has continually expressed his disagreement with the bicycle facility and reduction in left-turn access for small businesses

*The project manager is meeting with SCL to determine cost and scope of designing the civil improvements associated with the undergrounding of the power distribution

*The design is on hold until cost of SCL undergrounding is resolved

The SDOT director’s report also includes notes on construction projects’ effects on the right of way, including this one that’s just getting started in West Seattle:

3210 CALIFORNIA SW CONSTRUCTION: Demolition for this 134-apartment, block-long building is wrapping up – our photo is from the end of last week; this week, debris-clearing has been under way. We learned this week from the contractor that this project will NOT have a crane; Kubly’s report explains why, saying, “Contractor unable to obtain crane easement from neighbors – no flyover rights.” The report also notes that “sidewalk and parking lane (will be) closed the next 11 weeks.”

The Transportation Committee meeting during which this report will be presented also includes the resolution creating a Transit Advisory Board, among other items; it’s at 9:30 am Tuesday at City Hall, and will also be live online and on cable, via the Seattle Channel.

2015 Election: Tom Koch joins the District 1 City Council race

February 19, 2015 at 2:37 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 15 Comments

The list of contenders for the new District 1 (West Seattle/South Park) City Council seat has just grown again: The ninth person now in the running is Tom Koch, who describes himself as a “land-use expert(,) former preschool teacher, and current small-business owner.”

In his announcement, Koch says, “Having worked on land use issues for 29 years, I can tell you there is much more we can be doing in our city to protect our neighborhoods. … No one currently in this race has the same level of ‘hands-on’ experience I would bring to the council when dealing with issues of affordability and development. I am not afraid to say that developers aren’t paying their fair share and we can do a better job promoting smart and fair growth in our city. … Currently, we subsidize developers through a combination of higher taxes and degraded services. We can’t afford more massive projects which refuse to pay their own way. Let’s do the right thing, use our authority to mandate development impact fees and end this absurd practice.” Koch says he also has worked for “both a democratic congressman and county supervisor” and “is a seven-time game show contestant including Jeopardy, Sale of the Century, and Wheel of Fortune.” Like the other eight candidates, he is a West Seattle resident.

IN THE DISTRICT 1 RACE NOW: Tom Koch (declared 2/19/15), Dave Montoure (declared 2/17/15), Lisa Herbold (declared 2/11/15), Shannon Braddock (declared 2/11/15), Brianna Thomas (declared 2/11/15), Phillip Tavel (declared 2/4/15), George Capestany (declared 11/11/14), Amanda Kay Helmick (declared 10/20/14), Chas Redmond (declared 12/20/13). Filing deadline is May 15th; primary election is August 4th. Along with voting on the D-1 position, West Seattle/South Park also will vote on the two “at-large” spots, Positions 8 and 9.

They want to represent you on the City Council. So what did they think of mayor’s ‘State of the City’?

February 18, 2015 at 11:20 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 35 Comments

Mayor Murray presented his “State of the City” address on Tuesday afternoon. If you missed it, here are three links:

Mayor’s news release
Full text of the speech
Seattle Times (WSB partner)

The only scripted mention of West Seattle was this: “Sound Transit 3 is our path forward to build new light rail connections within the city, including to Ballard and West Seattle. These vital connections would link our growing light rail system to Puget Sound’s largest job centers.”

Of course, the speech overall was about the entire city, so most if not all of what was mentioned will potentially affect us all. Since West Seattle/South Park will have its first District 1 City Councilmember by the time the mayor gives his NEXT “State of the City” speech, we asked each of the eight current D-1 candidates for a one-paragraph review of the mayor’s speech. We didn’t make the request until early evening, a few hours after the speech, and gave them until this morning to respond. All 8 did. Read their mini-reviews ahead, in the order in which we received them (P.S. after the final one, we have two quick updates on the council race in general):

CHAS REDMOND

I like the Mayor’s presentation. I like and agree with the growth approach, particularly growing without displacing. I like and agree with the transportation integration and sustainability aproach. I like the emphasis on and agree with the improvements to infrastructure and particularly the focus on light rail to West Seattle and Ballard. I like and agree with the utility reduction approach and the gender equity approach. I like and agree with the housing affordability approach, especially the commitment of funds for a kick-start. I like and agree with the early learning and the youth employment. And, I like and agree with the business help and growth and the approach for the city to reach out and visit businesses and those normally not participating. I like and support the community policing and SPD reform and I am impressed and agree with the performance metrics tool page and the budget analysis tool page. Overall, I’d say Mayor Murray was moving the Executive branch in a direction I completely support and would help with as a Councilmember. The Mayor also knows how to thank and was very gracious in his words to Tom Rasmussen, Nick Licata and others. He’s very optimistic, and so am I, and I think he’s right on in most areas he covered.

LISA HERBOLD

Mayor Murray’s State of the City address spoke well of his goals to address income and opportunity inequality, fair distribution of public resources, affordability, job growth, mobility, and police accountability. The challenge with a speech like this, I think, is to be inclusive of the many the issues a diverse populace cares about while also proposing the means to move forward. 1) The Mayor acknowledged that infrastructure investments aren’t keeping pace with the needs caused by growth in our neighborhoods. Will he propose impact fees to insure development helps to pay for those sorely-needed investments? 2) Applying principals of equity and race and social justice to our 2035 Comprehensive Plan is a great objective. I would argue that those principals are included in some of our CompPlan policies already, but we haven’t had a commitment to self-correct when we don’t meet them. For instance the CompPlan policies that strive for preservation of existing housing and 25% affordable housing development as part of our overall new housing growth goals. We are succeeding at neither. What will be different under the 2035 Comp Plan? 3) Similarly, the Mayor’s commitment specifically to enhanced citizen oversight as part of police accountability; of the Community Police Commission’s recommendations for citizen oversight, what will he propose to the Council? 4) The area of housing affordability was an area that I most wished that the Mayor would have charted some clear direction. He referenced already existing housing development funds he’ll use implementing the HALA committee recommendations, but not all of the HALA’s work is devoted to building housing. A crucial portion of their work relates to the need for new laws to help renters and those to also require developers to pay their fair share. It would have been helpful for the Mayor to signal his explicit expectation that HALA recommendations also address these issues of social justice and equity.

PHILLIP TAVEL

As I watched the mayor give his state of the city speech today I was struck as much by what wasn’t said as what was. The mayor mentioned several neighborhoods, including West Seattle, but South Park was left out. The Mayor lauded transit improvements and increased service across the city, but unfortunately West Seattle is still underserved by our transit system. The mayor didn’t mention the biggest mega-project in Seattle, or address the public’s concerns about the tunnel’s cost, management and problems. The maritime and manufacturing industries were stressed as big parts of our planned economic growth, but the tech industry wasn’t. I agree that Seattle is a vibrant and innovative city, but I know that more can be done to harness our potential without leaving people behind.

GEORGE CAPESTANY

I agree with Mayor Murray that Seattle is a great city and one of the fastest growing urban cities in the country. I understand this brings both opportunities and challenges. I however believe that it takes a whole united community to address many of the challenges the Mayor noted. I think that many of our community partners (non-profits; churches; organizations; schools) are better suited to deliver services underneath a community goal. I strongly believe the City of Seattle’s responsibility instead of growing government is to focus on the core issues upon with we were originally founded and that is to provide life; safety and infrastructure services for the people and businesses that live in our city. We have a lot of aging infrastructure that needs to be the focus of our attention. Accommodation of the growth the Mayor spoke of particularly here, in District 1 needs to be targeted and specific. It is plainly evident that something that works on Capitol Hill doesn’t necessarily work here, in West Seattle.

BRIANNA THOMAS

I appreciated several parts of the speech, especially the plan to do more for our public schools. However, I didn’t hear enough about affordability. West Seattle has long been a great middle-class community with affordable rents and housing prices. That’s starting to change and we need more aggressive timelines for action. HALA is moving in the right direction, but it still took four months to write a problem statement and we won’t have recommendations for another four months. That’s too long, we have the fastest rising rents of any city in the country. It’s getting too hard for many people who work here, to live here.

AMANDA KAY HELMICK

I am glad to hear the Mayor is supportive of a Sound Transit 3 plan that includes West Seattle. West Seattle and South Park may not be an island, but the lack of innovative transportation solutions have made us feel like one. With the rapid increase of new housing, the West Seattle Transportation Coalition has been working with the city on a proposed West Seattle Transportation Corridor. This is a perfect place to start the implementation of the Move Seattle initiative. As a parent, I have always thought of West Seattle as an affordable and safe place to move when starting a family – I will do everything I can as a Councilmember to maintain that. I support the Mayor’s renewed emphasis on more equitable development. Innovative ideas like incentives to developers who add affordable family housing units, re-writing the failing Multi-Family Tax Exemption, and supporting more housing on city owned property is the direction Seattle needs to head. The need for more peace officers building community, and fewer officers following the protocols of a war zone are also critical. With the Seattle Police Department undergoing contract negotiations, the Mayor should look to make concrete changes in how officers are hired, disciplined, and held accountable for their actions. As your representative for District 1, I look forward to working with the Mayor on addressing Seattle’s needs.

SHANNON BRADDOCK

I liked the Mayor’s recognition of our areas of great progress –priority hire, minimum wage rollout and universal pre-k for examples. I was also pleased to hear him acknowledge some our shortcomings – racial and income inequalities, lack of affordability for many in our communities and a need to find better ways to engage with everyone who lives here. I am raising my three kids in this community and they are attending our public schools. I want them to experience a community and a city that is economically vibrant, culturally diverse and supports working families. I will continue fighting for more access and connections to transit, public safety resources and education, affordable housing, technology access, and finding the balance to accommodate our growth and unique neighborhoods. District 1 is a community that makes change through our partnerships with non-profits and community groups. I believe that although we have many common issues throughout Seattle, we need strong neighborhood representation accessible to all people, and representation with the experience to work across boundaries and get things done for District 1. The districts system for council elections was not supported to further isolate and separate neighborhoods, but to strengthen the collective ideas and energy of our city and neighborhoods. I look forward to working with our community, other city councilmembers, and our mayor to fulfill the potential of West Seattle and South Park.

DAVE MONTOURE

I appreciate that Mayor Murray addressed the need for a better coordinated approach to economic development in the City. I did not hear any specifics on how the Mayor plans to coordinate that effort but I would encourage the Mayor to include a seat at the table for our small and independent businesses that are the backbone of our local economy. I am thrilled that the Mayor acknowledged the critical need for light rail between West Seattle and Ballard. I look forward to hearing from the Mayor’s Housing Affordability Advisory Committee when their recommendations are presented in May.

**************
Thanks to the candidates for responding! Two related notes:

CLARK NOT RUNNING: City Councilmember Sally Clark announced this morning that she is not going to run after all. That makes her the third current councilmember to announce that decision, after Tom Rasmussen and Nick Licata. Clark had declared for one of the two at-large seats, so she would have been on ballots in this area.

NEXT CHANCE TO SEE/HEAR THE CANDIDATES: Thanks again to everyone who attended and participated in our “First Look” candidates’ forum, featuring the 4 who were in the race as of the time (February 5th – Capestany, Helmick, Redmond, and Tavel). The next one, presented by VIEWS (Visualizing Increased Engagement in West Seattle), is now official – Saturday morning, March 14th, at the Senior Center of West Seattle. It will start with an optional breakfast to raise $ to cover costs (VIEWS is an all-volunteer group) at 9 am, followed by an introductory/mingle half-hour at 10, and the forum itself at 10:30. No webpage so far but here’s the Facebook event page.

2015 Election: Dave Montoure becomes 8th candidate to announce for West Seattle/South Park’s City Council District 1 seat

February 17, 2015 at 4:18 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 66 Comments

Another candidate has just joined the race for the new City Council District 1 (West Seattle/South Park) seat – local entrepreneur Dave Montoure, co-owner of West 5 in The Junction. In his announcement, Montoure says, “We need to end the cycle of career politicians. The peninsula voted to have a districted City Council, signaling a desire to have a city representative who knows the local community from the ground-up. I grew up in West Seattle, live in West Seattle, own a small business in West Seattle, and have served my community in the peninsula.”

Montoure served three terms as chair of the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce board, and as noted in his announcement, “has also served on several Boards including the West Seattle Trusteed Properties (retaining free parking in the Junction), the Southwest Seattle Historical Society and the Capital Campaign Committee of the West Seattle Family YMCA.” He says his first actions would be “to create needed commercial and office space for job growth in the peninsula,” to get West Seattle “a 24-7 emergency medical facility,” “to solve chronic transportation issues that negatively impact all users” as well as to “continue my fight with King County to preserve free parking in the Junction in support of our small, independent businesses.” He plans a campaign kickoff event at 6:30 pm February 24th at Easy Street Records/Café.

IN THE DISTRICT 1 RACE NOW: Dave Montoure (declared 2/17/15), Lisa Herbold (declared 2/11/15), Shannon Braddock (declared 2/11/15), Brianna Thomas (declared 2/11/15), Phillip Tavel (declared 2/4/15), George Capestany (declared 11/11/14), Amanda Kay Helmick (declared 10/20/14), Chas Redmond (declared 12/20/13). Filing deadline is May 15th; primary election is August 4th. Along with voting on the D-1 position, West Seattle/South Park also will vote on the two “at-large” spots, Positions 8 and 9.

VIDEO: 34th District Democrats hear about housing, & hear from six District 1 candidates

February 12, 2015 at 2:21 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 1 Comment

(Video by Laura James for WSB)
Even if you’re not a member of the group – even if you’re not a member/supporter of the party – the central topic at Wednesday night’s 34th District Democrats meeting is one of intense interest: The housing-affordability crisis. The panelists were three guests with distinct viewpoints – Eliana Horn from the Tenants Union, Sharon Lee from the Low-Income Housing Institute, and Roger Valdez from Smart Growth Seattle. You can hear for yourself in our video of the meeting, starting as they are introduced at 21 minutes in.

Another meeting highlight: Informal appearances by 6 of the 7 candidates now in the running for the new West Seattle/South Park District 1 City Council seat. If you haven’t checked out our Wednesday coverage yet, the field of 4 who were in the race as of the First Look” forum we sponsored last Thursday (video here) grew by 3 in the 12 hours before the 34th DDs’ meeting. Starting at 1:51 into our video (or, click here), the people speaking during the meeting-ending “good of the order” open-microphone section included (in this order, interspersed with a few other speakers) candidates Amanda Kay Helmick, Lisa Herbold, Phillip Tavel, Shannon Braddock, Brianna Thomas, and Chas Redmond.

The 34th District Democrats meet on second Wednesdays, 7 pm, at The Hall at Fauntleroy, and are online at 34dems.org.

2015 Election: Lisa Herbold now officially in District 1 City Council race

February 11, 2015 at 4:59 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 14 Comments

Before this morning, four candidates were in the District 1 (West Seattle/South Park) City Council race (and appeared in our forum last Thursday). Now, there are seven.

Third to announce today, Lisa Herbold, who was on record with the city about a week ago as exploring the possibility, but did not officially declare until this afternoon; she tells us she had to take the time to find out if she could raise the money for a serious run. She called us to make the announcement, so along with a news release, we have a bit of an interview. Herbold is a 15-year resident of Highland Park – which is almost as long as she’s worked for City Councilmember Nick Licata, who is not running again. Asked about the potential criticism that she’s an insider, after working at City Hall all those years, she said, “Anybody who knows Nick Licata knows he’s not an establishment politician … working for Nick for 16 years doesn’t make me a City Hall insider – we work on issues that are not insider issues, the hard issues like housing, paid sick leave, all very against the political grain.” She says the city’s move to district elections (for 7 of the council’s 9 positions) is the reason she wants to run – “I’m a community organizer by training – that’s my vision of governance; something that’s close to people.” Asked how she’ll start the campaign, she says she’ll be doorbelling her neighbors in Highland Park to let them know she’s running.

IN THE DISTRICT 1 RACE NOW: Lisa Herbold (declared 2/11/15), Shannon Braddock (declared 2/11/15), Brianna Thomas (declared 2/11/15), Phillip Tavel (declared 2/4/15), George Capestany (declared 11/11/14), Amanda Kay Helmick (declared 10/20/14), Chas Redmond (declared 12/20/13). Filing deadline is May 15th; primary election is August 4th. Along with voting on the D-1 position, West Seattle/South Park also will vote on the two “at-large” spots, Positions 8 and 9.

2015 Election: Shannon Braddock joins District 1 City Council race

February 11, 2015 at 10:51 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 17 Comments

Second candidacy announcement of the day for the West Seattle/South Park City Council District 1 position: Shannon Braddock has joined the race. Braddock is a West Seattle resident (as are the five other declared-so-far candidates) who has been King County Councilmember Joe McDermott‘s chief of staff for the past four years.

In her official announcement, Braddock says, “After years of serving my neighbors as a PTA mom, volunteer and staff at the County, I am thrilled for this opportunity. We have unique challenges in our part of the city, starting with a need for improved transportation and transit access. We also have an affordable housing crisis for too many seniors, young families and our diverse, growing population. And we need to enhance the work being done to provide the safety and services every child needs to learn and grow.” She lists volunteer work including a current board position with WestSide Baby and previous positions on the West Seattle Food Bank board and the Legislative Committee of the Lafayette Elementary PTA.

IN THE DISTRICT 1 RACE NOW: Chas Redmond (declared 12/20/13), Amanda Kay Helmick (declared 10/20/14), George Capestany (declared 11/11/14), Phillip Tavel (declared 2/4/15), Brianna Thomas (declared 2/11/15), and Shannon Braddock (declared 2/11/15). Filing deadline is May 15th; primary election is August 4th. West Seattle/South Park also will join the rest of the city in voting on the two “at-large” races, Positions 8 and 9.

2015 Election: Brianna Thomas joins District 1 City Council race

February 11, 2015 at 8:50 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 18 Comments

Six days after our District 1 City Council “First Look” candidates’ forum, a fifth candidate has officially declared herself in the race as of this morning: Brianna Thomas, who, like the other four to formally declare so far, lives in West Seattle.

Thomas’s official announcement describes her as a housing advocate and community organizer “in and around Seattle for the last decade,” quoting her as saying, “West Seattle has been known as a community where people can get to their jobs quickly, find affordable housing and know their neighbors while enjoying the benefits of a big city. I’m running because I’m worried that’s changing.”

She currently works as field director for the Washington Housing Alliance Action Fund and lists past work as campaign manager for the SeaTac $15 minimum wage measure as well as for No on Initiative 1185. She just joined the 34th District Democrats‘ board and is moderating (updated) coordinating a panel on housing at its meeting tonight. Thomas also volunteers at the Senior Center of West Seattle.

IN THE DISTRICT 1 RACE NOW: Brianna Thomas (declared 2/11/15), Phillip Tavel (declared 2/4/15), George Capestany (declared 11/11/14), Amanda Kay Helmick (declared 10/20/14), Chas Redmond (declared 12/20/13). Filing deadline is May 15th; primary election to cut the field to two candidates is August 4th. In addition to voting on D-1, West Seattleites also will vote in the two “at-large” races, Positions 8 and 9.

Duwamish River cleanup: City plan to support neighborhood involvement

February 10, 2015 at 1:21 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 11 Comments

(City-provided photo: From left, Macklemore, Jasmine Marwaha, CM Mike O’Brien, thank advocates Rein Attemann and James Rasmussen)
From Monday’s Seattle City Council meeting – a city boost for neighbors and groups affected by the ongoing Duwamish River cleanup. Here’s the announcement:

City Council unanimously approved a neighborhood-driven effort to enhance the community’s role in the Duwamish River cleanup process on Monday during a meeting of the Full Council. The adopted resolution creates an interdepartmental team (IDT) of City agencies to coordinate outreach efforts relating to the Duwamish cleanup, and identifies ongoing City projects that serve resident, tribal, and fishing communities in the Duwamish River Valley. The resolution also calls for engagement of communities of color, immigrants, refugees, limited-English proficiency communities, and people with low incomes in the design and implementation of the remaining cleanup.

Click to read the rest of Duwamish River cleanup: City plan to support neighborhood involvement…

VIDEO: ‘First Look’ forum with District 1 Seattle City Council hopefuls

February 5, 2015 at 9:31 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 19 Comments

9:31 PM: Just wrapped up at Highland Park Improvement Club, the first forum of a campaign season which will result in West Seattle/South Park electing its first District 1 City Councilmember. Participating were the four candidates who have officially declared so far – from left to right in our photo below, Phillip Tavel, George Capestany, Amanda Kay Helmick, and Chas Redmond.

(WSB photos by Torin Record-Sand)
If you couldn’t be there, you’ll be able to watch it all on video, thanks to Edgar Riebe from West Seattle-based Captive Eye Media, and we’ll publish that in another report when it’s ready.

Thanks to HPIC for allowing us to have the event there, and thanks to the 80 or so people who came from all over the city (including some of the at-large candidates that West Seattleites also will vote on – we noted Councilmember Sally Clark, Bill Bradburd, Alex Tsimerman – sorry if we missed someone). The candidates answered about 20 questions, two-thirds asked by us (many suggested by readers) and one-third in the audience-asked final half-hour, wide variety of topics. Next forum we know of is planned for Saturday morning, March 14, presented by VIEWS – we’ll publish more about it when their official announcement is out.

ADDED 10:56 PM: Thanks to Michael Oxman for a snippet of video – this was a question asked by Hildegard Nichols from the local Green group, asking the candidates about their grass-roots cred.

11:46 AM FRIDAY: First version of the video is up. (Added: Also published to YouTube:)

We still intend to post a separate story later (report #2) with embedded video as well as more text highlights as well and a few additional photos. It should be noted that the filing deadline is still a ways off – May 15th – while the primary election is August 4th.

Election 2015: Phillip Tavel joins District 1 City Council race

February 4, 2015 at 9:42 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 11 Comments

9:42 PM: Another West Seattleite has announced he’s joining the District 1 City Council race. Phillip Tavel sent his official announcement tonight, describing himself as an “attorney and entrepreneur.” Tavel says he is ready to “make tough decisions for our community and our city” on “existing projects,” singling out the Highway 99 tunnel: “Stopping the existing tunnel project is the most responsible decision we can make. The remaining project money should be used to increase transit and implement a lower-cost alternative that actually delivers on the promise to reduce traffic.” He lists a professional background including teaching high-school physics, co-founding an entertainment company, and working as a trial lawyer, now in private practice, as well as serving as a court-appointed advocate for children. He also leads the long-running Wednesday trivia night at Talarico’s in The Junction. This is not his first run for office; Tavel ran for District Court Judge last year.

We are waiting to hear whether he’ll accept our invitation to join previously announced candidates Chas Redmond, Amanda Kay Helmick, and George Capestany in the District 1: First Look candidates’ forum, presented by WSB, tomorrow (Thursday) night at Highland Park Improvement Club, doors open at 6:30, forum at 7.

12:01 AM UPDATE: Tavel has confirmed he’ll participate.

Last call for your question(s)! “District 1: First Look” tomorrow night

February 4, 2015 at 3:55 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | Comments Off

(Sustainability-award-winning Highland Park Improvement Club, location for Thursday night’s forum)
Before the day’s done, here’s one more invitation to e-mail us any question(s) you’d like to hear the District 1 (West Seattle/South Park) City Council candidates answer during the First Look” forum we’re presenting tomorrow night – editor@westseattleblog.com. The format includes time for questions to be asked by attendees from the floor, too, but the time will go fast. Here again is the list of declared candidates:

George Capestany
Chas Redmond
Amanda Kay Helmick

We’re exactly six months from the deadline for casting your first vote (August 4th primary), so come see and hear from the contenders Thursday night at Highland Park Improvement Club (12th/Holden), doors open at 6:30, forum at 7.

Followup: Encampment proposal gets first City Council airing

February 3, 2015 at 3:44 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 7 Comments

(Screengrab from Seattle Channel webcast of committee meeting; we’ll substitute SC video when available)
Just wrapped up at the City Council’s Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Committee meeting: The first discussion of the new encampment proposal that emerged from Mayor Murray‘s office.

As mentioned here last Friday, the proposal specifies commercial and industrial areas of the city as possible locations for encampments; there would be a limit of three (not counting any hosted by religious institutions) in the city at any one time, no closer to each other than a mile, no closer to a residentially zoned site than 25 feet, with each encampment having gone through an official permitting process and occupied by no more than 100 people. (See the full list of toplines in the slide-deck PDF.)

The team that briefed councilmembers today was led by Deputy Mayor Hyeok Kim and Department of Planning and Development director Diane Sugimura. Deputy Mayor Kim reiterated multiple times that the intent was not to “aggressively recruit” new encampments/sites, but to find a temporary way to get at least a few hundred more people off the streets. She mentioned the “alarming increase … in unsheltered homeless people on (Seattle’s) streets,” as most recently documented in the One-Night Count.

The briefing team said that within a month of the ordinance’s passage, they expect to have a list of city-owned sites that could be considered by groups interested in managing encampments. While, as shown on the zoning map, private sites could be proposed, the city briefers said there was no intent to “recruit” them. Sugimura said DPD would have a “streamlined” permit process so that encampment proposals did not get hung up in endless reviews.

In the public comment period that preceded the committee discussion, many of those commenting identified themselves as affiliated with current encampments and unhappy that the proposal excludes residential-zoned areas from consideration.

The committee didn’t vote; chair Mike O’Brien decided the measure would be discussed again when they next meet on February 20th, which will be less than a week before the 5:30 pm February 26th public hearing devoted exclusively to the proposal. That is expected to be followed by a March 3rd committee vote, with full Council consideration after that.

Election 2015: City Council District 1 still 3-person race, plus 1 ‘deciding’, with ‘First Look’ candidates forum Thursday

February 3, 2015 at 1:31 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 1 Comment

Since City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen announced a week and a half ago that he wouldn’t run for the new District 1 (West Seattle/South Park) seat, speculation has abounded about who, if anyone, would join Chas Redmond, Amanda Kay Helmick, and George Capestany in the race. The name most discussed in citywide politics coverage has been Highland Park resident Lisa Herbold, longtime assistant to City Councilmember Nick Licata, who, like Rasmussen, has decided this is his last year on the council. Herbold has taken a step toward running, as noted by PubliCola earlier today and as now shown on the city Elections website:

But she has NOT formally declared candidacy, Herbold clarified in an e-mail exchange with WSB today, characterizing what she has filed as “… a preliminary step to declaring candidacy, which I have not yet done. … It’s just smart (I think) to get an infrastructure – to the extent possible – in place while I’m still deciding.”

Three months remain before the May 15th filing deadline, but who’s in/out is of special interest this week because our long-scheduled get-the-conversation-going-early “District 1: First Look” candidates’ forum is coming up this Thursday (February 5). We’ve said all along that anybody who declared their candidacy by forum time would be welcome to participate (with a committee created, our offer remains open to Herbold). Meantime, candidates (L-R below) Helmick, Capestany, and Redmond have been confirmed since we set the date in December, and we hope you’ll be on hand.

Though it’s not the traditional way to do things, we wanted to schedule an early forum because there’s SO MUCH to talk about, so much facing the first-ever District 1 councilmember – transportation, housing, growth, public safety, education, more … We’ll be asking questions for about an hour (including some already suggested by readers – send yours ASAP! editor@westseattleblog.com) and then we’ll open the microphone to attendee questions. Doors open 6:30 pm Thursday at Highland Park Improvement Club, 12th/Holden (overflow parking at Riverview Playfield just a block north; nearest bus is Route 131 on 9th SW), forum at 7, see you there!

See where encampments might be allowed in West Seattle under mayor’s new proposal

January 30, 2015 at 3:50 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 66 Comments


The recent “One Night Count” showed 2,800 people sleeping on the streets of Seattle. City leaders agree there has to be someplace for them to go, and Mayor Murray is pursuing a proposal to allow more encampments. Under the zoning-related rules in his proposed ordinance, they could be allowed in The Junction, at Westwood Village, even, ironically, on the site long home to the encampment calling itself “Nickelsville” until the city evicted its residents more than a year ago. The agenda made public today for a City Council committee meeting next week includes the map you see above, showing the areas of the city where Mayor Murray’s new proposed policy would allow up to 3 “transitional encampments” at any one time. Click the image to see the full PDF version, which you can use to zoom all the way in to specific streets and blocks. It’s in essence a zoning map, as the gist of his proposal is to allow them in “Industrial, NC2, NC3, Commercial (C),Downtown (except DMR, PSM and IDR), and Seattle Mixed Zones.” But this wouldn’t just mean someone can show up, set up a tent and start an encampment – there are a variety of other rules in the proposal, about how they would be managed, how close encampments could be to each other, and more – see documents here and here. While those documents are for a briefing at 2 pm next Tuesday during a meeting of the Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Committee, the committee’s public hearing isn’t scheduled until 5:30 pm February 26th – here’s the official notice. P.S. Here’s the list of currently authorized encampments in Seattle.

8 nights away from your First Look at District 1 council candidates

January 28, 2015 at 10:03 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | Comments Off

We’ll forgive you for having trouble concentrating on anything but The Big Game.

We’re looking ahead a few days past it – to the District 1: First Look city council candidates’ forum that we at WSB are presenting eight nights from now, February 5th, 7 pm (doors and mingling at 6:30) at Highland Park Improvement Club.

Five days after Councilmember Tom Rasmussen surprised politics-watchers by deciding not to run after all, the race remains with a field of three, listed here in order of their announcements:

*Chas Redmond, who was first to announce, in December of 2013
*Amanda Kay Helmick, who announced her candidacy last October
*George Capestany, who announced his run in November

They’re confirmed, and we’re looking forward to it. Yes, the field may well change between now and the filing deadline on May 15th. Doesn’t matter – it’s well past time NOW to find out what those who are running have to say in response to your questions and ours. This is the first time West Seattle and South Park get to elect a councilmember by district and you might as well make the most of it. You’ll have time to ask questions during the forum and you are also welcome to get suggestions in now (editor@westseattleblog.com). Meantime, there’s lots of room at HPIC (12th/Holden) – full transportation info to come. We’ll have beverages and treats. See you there on February 5th.

West Seattle politics: Councilmember Tom Rasmussen not running, elaborates on ‘very difficult’ decision

January 23, 2015 at 10:18 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 31 Comments

10:18 AM: West Seattle-residing City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen has just announced he’s changed his mind about running to stay on the council. Here’s his statement. The field of candidates for West Seattle’s City Council District 1 seat is now down to three, with the first forum less than 2 weeks away. More to come.

10:29 AM: Rasmussen has been on the council since 2004 (here’s his bio), and currently chairs the Transportation Committee. His statement (linked above) says in part, “This wasn’t an easy decision but, it is the right one. It is now time to direct my efforts toward the same causes I have always been most passionate about — in exciting new ways.” He is the second councilmember to announce this week that he’s not running to stay on the council, which has all nine seats going to voters this fall, seven for the new districts, two at large. Nick Licata made his not-running announcement on Wednesday.

11:04 AM: Mayor Murray‘s statement:

Councilmember Rasmussen has been deeply engaged in public life as long as I can remember. As an advocate for seniors, human services, parks and innovative transportation solutions, Tom demonstrates active and effective leadership for our City. He was instrumental in our successful campaign last year to expand bus transit – for which I’m very grateful. I am especially thankful for his partnership in our effort to secure civil rights and marriage equality for the LGBT community. Seattle is losing a major champion on the council, but we know his community activism will find new outlets as he writes his next chapter.

11:14 AM: We contacted Councilmember Rasmussen to ask about his decision. In a phone interview a short time ago, he told us it was “very difficult – I love my job, I love working with the community and in the community, but I was torn” between spending the next year doing that job AND campaigning, or focusing on the work. He points out he still has almost a full year left in office, and he vows that he won’t be “slacking off” – most days, he says, he’s “out of the house by 5, back after 6″ (back on Wednesday night, he was at the Delridge District Council meeting, which ran until 9) and after his final year, he looks forward to a “more balanced” life.

He says he felt the need to announce this early because he was receiving donations and offers of volunteering, endorsements, and other campaign help already, and because “other folks who might be interested can step up.” No, he’s not endorsing a candidate yet, but says he’ll be looking for one who also will be out in the community – “you can’t just sit in your office, you have to be a problem-solver.” As quoted above, he said he hopes to focus more on the causes for which he has long worked; we asked which might be his major focus in post-council life, and he said that “working on issues relating to seniors and people with disabilities is really fundamental.”

Countdown: 2 weeks away from ‘District 1: First Look’

January 22, 2015 at 10:03 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 6 Comments

Four people want your vote in their quest to become the first City Councilmember for District 1, representing West Seattle and South Park (listed this time in first-name reverse-alphabetical order):

*Tom Rasmussen
*George Capestany
*Chas Redmond
*Amanda Kay Helmick

Though voting in the first-ever district elections (explained here) is six months away (August 4th primary), now’s the time to start finding out what the contenders are all about. And so, two weeks from tonight, WSB invites you to get your first look at them side by side as we present “District 1: First Look,” the first candidates’ forum in the race. Hope to see you at Highland Park Improvement Club on Thursday night, February 5th – doors open 6:30, forum at 7, admission and refreshments free, bring the question(s) you want to be sure get answered!

ADDED 10:35 AM FRIDAY: As noted in comments, Rasmussen has just left the race, leaving Redmond, Helmick, and Capestany. If anyone else files before the forum, they’ll be invited to participate.

11 West Seattle areas proposed for ‘Pedestrian Zone’ tweaks

January 16, 2015 at 5:24 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 20 Comments

Last year, the city’s draft proposal for Pedestrian Zones was circulated to neighborhood and district councils around West Seattle and the rest of the city via a series of briefings, several of which were covered here, starting with one almost a full year ago in Morgan Junction.

It’s meant to tweak zoning in some business districts to ensure that future development is more pedestrian-friendly. And tonight, the mayor’s office has announced the final proposal is ready for review. The announcement came via a news release you can read here, and a sheaf of documents linked here. Maps show the 11 sections of West Seattle where changes are proposed; you can see the maps here. There are five maps – scroll through the first 25 until you get to:

*Exhibit Z, showing a stretch of Delridge Way from north of Juneau to just north of Brandon
*Exhibit AA, showing stretches of 35th SW in Morgan, Gatewood, Westwood
*Exhibit BB, showing a section of South Delridge
*Exhibit FF, showing a section of Admiral
*Exhibit GG, showing part of The Junction

(Specific information about each area proposed for tweaks can be found in this report.) None of the proposed rezoning shown would change maximum allowable height for development in the affected areas. This all goes now to the City Council, which will set dates for hearings and votes.

Your first all-in-one-place look at West Seattle’s would-be District 1 City Councilmembers: 20 days away

January 16, 2015 at 1:34 pm | In Highland Park, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 5 Comments

Sounds like a long time, but it’s not: We are now less than 3 weeks away from your first side-by-side look at the four (so far) people who want to be the first-ever Seattle District 1 City Councilmember, representing West Seattle and South Park. WSB is presenting the first announced candidates’ forum in this race:

Thursday, February 5, at Highland Park Improvement Club (1116 SW Holden)
Doors open 6:30 pm
Forum 7-8:30 pm

The candidates are (in first-name alphabetical order this time):

*Amanda Kay Helmick
*Chas Redmond
*George Capestany
*Tom Rasmussen

If you need to bookmark a reminder, here’s the official listing on the WSB West Seattle Event Calendar (Facebook event page coming up soon too). HPIC has lots of room, and we’ll have refreshments, so have dinner and then come see and hear (and bring a question for!) the contenders for this area’s new seat on the City Council, which starting this year will be made up of seven people elected by district, two at large.

Election 2015: One month until City Council District 1 forum

January 5, 2015 at 1:08 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 14 Comments

2015 is here, and its elections (August 4th primary/November 3rd general) will bring Seattle voters’ first chance to choose 7 of 9 City Councilmembers by district. The field of candidates for District 1 (West Seattle/South Park) has remained at four for some weeks now – in reverse-alphabetical order this time, they are:

*Chas Redmond
*Tom Rasmussen
*Amanda Kay Helmick
*George Capestany

Today, we’re exactly one month away from what will likely be your first chance to see and hear from all four in one place. As announced last month, WSB is presenting the campaign season’s first announced District 1 Candidates Forum, on Thursday, February 5th (6:30 pm mingle/7 pm forum), at Highland Park Improvement Club. We hope you’ll be there, and we’re hoping you’ll participate in the preparation too. For starters: Which issue(s) do you think matter most in this race? Comment here when you have a moment, or e-mail editor@westseattleblog.com – thanks!

Followup: Trinity West Seattle launches tomorrow at ex-Mars Hill

January 3, 2015 at 2:46 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 20 Comments

The banner at 7551 35th SW announces the new name of what had been Mars Hill Church-West Seattle since fall 2006Trinity West Seattle, officially launching with services tomorrow morning. It’s been just two months since Mars Hill announced it would disband, leaving its churches to close or go independent. It appears they’re making the transition with familiar faces/voices, including Pastors David Fairchild and Cliff Ellis, who are on the new website’s list of “elders and staff” (the former preached last Sunday, the church’s last as MH-WS). Pastor Ellis was among the signatories on this August letter calling for MH’s controversial founder Pastor Mark Driscoll to permanently step down, which he did in October, not long before the entire church announced it would disband. The new Trinity West Seattle website says the church will launch with a seven-week series of sermons under the title, “Long Story Short: Finding Ourselves in the Biblical Drama,” described in part as “a particularly good series for both seekers and skeptics while shaping and forming our church to embody the biblical story.”

Election 2015: Now 4 in the running for West Seattle/South Park’s City Council District 1; announcing our February forum

December 16, 2014 at 12:10 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 7 Comments

2015 will make history in West Seattle for at least one reason: Our area’s first-ever District 1 City Councilmember will be elected. Today, there’s a change in the list of who’s in the running: According to the city’s election-information website, one of the five declared candidates, David Ishii, has moved his candidacy to one of the city’s two at-large seats, so that leaves four District 1 candidates so far (with other changes likely of course since the deadline for declaring is months away) – in alphabetical order:

*George Capestany
*Amanda Kay Helmick
*Tom Rasmussen
*Chas Redmond

checkbox.jpgAnd this gives us the chance to mention that all four candidates are confirmed for an early City Council District 1 Candidates’ Forum that we at WSB are presenting on February 5th – get it on your calendar now! It will start with mingling and refreshments at 6:30 pm, forum 7-8:30 pm, at Highland Park Improvement Club – we thank HPIC, one of West Seattle’s great historic community venues, for agreeing to provide the space for the forum!

Though West Seattleites will vote on three City Council seats in August and September 2015 – District 1 plus two at-large – we are focusing this forum ONLY on D-1, the one seat that will be accountable directly to this area. Stay tuned to WSB for more details as it gets closer. (P.S. If anyone else files to run in District 1 before then, s/he will of course be invited to participate too – contact us at editor@westseattleblog.com if we don’t contact you first!)

How to pay for education? What your legislators said tonight @ 34th District Democrats

November 12, 2014 at 9:05 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | Comments Off

From tonight’s meeting of the 34th District Democrats, a look back at the November election, a look ahead to the Legislature in January, and more, ahead:

Click to read the rest of How to pay for education? What your legislators said tonight @ 34th District Democrats…

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