West Seattle politics 1469 results

WHERE YOUR MONEY MIGHT GO: Our miscellaneous notes from proposed 2018 city budget

Monday afternoon, the City Council‘s biggest fall task – budgeting – got into gear with newly appointed Mayor Tim Burgess presenting the proposed 2018 budget.

After taking a look through much of it (you can find all the links here), plus the resulting standalone announcements, a few notes:

BUDGET BOSS: West Seattle/South Park City Councilmember Lisa Herbold will lead the council through its review and finalization process. Burgess had been chairing the Select Budget Committee; Herbold was vice chair of the committee whose portfolio included finance, which meant it was likely she’d become the budget boss, but not finalized until a council vote on Monday.

HEADLINER: Burgess’s big headline proposal was the “Seattle Retirement Savings Plan” for workers whose employers don’t offer retirement plans. It’s explained here.

From a few of the city departments’ budget plans:

TRANSPORTATION – Its budget notes are here. Catching our eye:

Arterial Paving – (adding) $500,000: Heavy use and winter weather take their toll on city streets. SDOT’s Arterial Major Maintenance program addresses deteriorated pavement and uses City crews to pave one to three street blocks. The 2018 Proposed Budget includes a one-time investment of Real Estate Excise Taxes to augment the $4.9 million base budget for this program.

The next one didn’t say which of the five city-operated bridges (which include the West Seattle “low bridge”) would be the subject of the pilot project, but it’s notable because it could lead to automation of all five:

Bridge System Enhancements – $3,000,000: The City operates five movable bridges that open approximately 15,400 times annually. To operate these bridges, SDOT employs 23 bridge operators who operate the bridges 24/7. The proposed budget includes a one-time commercial parking tax allocation to pilot automation of one of Seattle’s movable bridges during 2018. This investment includes a remote operations location as well as communication and video enhancements. If the pilot is successful, it will take three to five years to automate all the City’s movable bridges and could result in approximately $1 million in annual cost savings as well as reduce or eliminate unnecessary bridge openings.

Speaking of pilot projects, a West Seattle SDOT project is mentioned here:

CIP Staged Oversight Proviso: The City is developing a more consistent approach to the planning, budgeting, design and delivery of capital projects with the goal of improving the overall quality, responsiveness, and success at meeting project schedules and budgets. As part of this effort, the proposed budget will pilot two projects by placing spending restrictions on them. For SDOT, the pilot project is the Delridge Multimodal Corridor Project where spending will be restricted until Seattle Department of Transportation reports to the Sustainability & Transportation Committee, or its successor committee, on the 10% design baseline package in a format requested by that committee’s chair.

The biggest part of the Delridge MCP is the conversion of Metro Route 120 into RapidRide Line H – still a couple years away.

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MAYOR TIM BURGESS: City Council colleagues choose retiring councilmember to serve until November election is finalized

(Archived Seattle Channel video from 5 pm swearing-in ceremony)

3:45 PM: 10-year City Councilmember Tim Burgess is about to become Mayor Tim Burgess. He was the only councilmember nominated this afternoon by colleagues eligible to vote on who would succeed Bruce Harrell, who took over last Wednesday after Ed Murray’s resignation, but said he didn’t want to keep the job through November. After several councilmembers spoke glowingly of Burgess, one councilmember did not – Kshama Sawant voted no, after citing reasons including Burgess’s support for encampment sweeps and a new North Precinct police station. He wasn’t running for re-election, so he was going to be leaving the council anyway. Burgess ran (briefly) for mayor in 2013. He promises now to help the city “heal” and “move forward. … Public service is a high calling.” After he’s sworn in, Harrell returns to the council presidency and councilmembers will have to choose a temporary councilmember for District 8, which Burgess has been representing. Updates to come.

4:02 PM: News release from the city says that Burgess will be sworn in by City Clerk Monica Martinez Simmons at 5 pm, and reiterates that he will serve until November 28th, when King County certifies election results (finalizing either Cary Moon or Jenny Durkan as the next mayor).

4:59 PM UPDATE: We’ve embedded the Seattle Channel live stream above for the swearing-in ceremony – click “play.”

5:04 PM UPDATE: Joining Burgess for the swearing-in ceremony are other elected officials including King County Executive Dow Constantine and state Attorney General Bob Ferguson. “We are united” in promising that the governments will collaborate, Burgess says. He notes, “We want our region to be a place where businesses are successful.” He repeats the “We are united” theme for a variety of other issues, including education. And with that, he becomes Mayor Tim Burgess, for two and a half months.

5:08 PM: The new mayor just answered a few media Q&A, first about the budget process, which he would have been heading up as a Councilmember, and now will be involved as submitting the mayoral budget proposal, one week from today (September 25th). Asked what he meant by saying this is a time to heal, he says the recent “crisis” was “painful for all of us.” Asked about what he hopes to accomplish, he said, “I’m going to be mayor for 71 days,” and the budget will be a major part of that time, as well as getting the city ready for its next permanent elected mayor. West Seattle/South Park City Councilmember Lisa Herbold, by the way, as vice chair of the committee that leads the budget process, now will be leading it. And there’s a council vacancy that will have to be filled – the city clerk’s website spells out the process.

UPDATE: Bruce Harrell says he will ‘decline’ staying on as mayor, will return to City Council presidency

(Seattle Channel screengrab from Mayor Harrell’s announcement. Archived video is added below)

4:30 PM: Click the “play” button above for the live Seattle Channel feed of Mayor Bruce Harrell announcing his decision on whether to keep the interim mayoral position for the full two-plus months until the winner of November’s election is sworn in. He’s also scheduled to announce executive orders. It’s been two days since he became mayor following Ed Murray‘s resignation; city rules stipulated that the City Council President would ascend to that role but then have to decide within five days whether to keep it until the next election.

4:36 PM: Harrell has started not with word of his future intentions, but with word of the executive orders. He signaled Seattle’s intention to compete for Amazon’s 50,000 “HQ2” jobs. Another involves a partnership with King County to potentially change the plan for a $210 million youth detention center, and have the city “put some skin in the game.” Third, he said, involves the city having become – and this was his word – “filthy … as an elected official, I’m embarrassed driving around some of the areas of this city.” He says it’s time “to reset community norms” and is directing Seattle Public Utilities and other departments to “identify the 10 hot spots” in the city, and “then commit by saying how quickly we will clean those spots.” Fourth involves information technology. (We’ll add the documents when they’re available online.)

4:42 PM: Harrell has now made the big announcement – he’s declining the mayoral role beyond these few days, and will go back to being City Council President. This means the council will talk Monday afternoon about who’s next, from among their ranks.

4:46 PM: He’s moving on to Q&A. First one is about the youth detention center – instead of building a “traditional” facility as has been planned, he wants the city to move toward “zero detention” by finding other facilities, maybe near the current site on Capitol Hill, maybe outside the city, maybe leased, maybe built, including support services. Next, he’s asked if he’s confident that councilmembers will choose someone else to be mayor, as soon as Monday – it’s on their agenda for Monday afternoon. Then he’s asked why he decided not to keep the job. “I really care about the city, and I think there are issues” – including the upcoming budget process – “that need my leadership.” Staying on as mayor through November would have cost him his council seat (though otherwise he has two years left in his term); he’s not elaborating on how that played into his decision. Next: Why issue executive orders, as a short-term mayor? “This work needs to be done, I don’t care who’s the executive, I don’t care who’s calling the shots, this work needs to get done.” The last question – whether his executive order stops the youth detention center from being built. No, but “if we do this right, the county may look at what’s being built, and pivot.”

4:56 PM: The event’s over. To be clear, Harrell’s announcement wasn’t a resignation – so he remains mayor until the City Council appoints one of its own. We will replace the video window that was embedded atop this story with a still image until an archived video clip is available.

6:12 PM: Here are the executive orders, in PDF, as received from the mayor’s office:

Trash removal
Youth detention center
Business retention
Data management

Here’s the archived video of this afternoon’s announcement:

UPDATE: City Council President Bruce Harrell sworn in as interim mayor, says he’ll decide by Friday whether to keep role until November

(Above: Click play button to see archived video of Harrell’s statement, Q&A, and oath)

4:50 PM: Watch it here live – one day after Ed Murray announced he’s resigning as mayor, City Council President Bruce Harrell will take the oath of office to become interim mayor. That’s set for 5:01 pm, after he – at least, as announced in advance – makes a statement and takes media Q&A. Updates to come.

4:54 PM: With City Council colleagues and city department heads among those surrounding him, Harrell has taken the podium, a bit later than expected. “I don’t see this as a caretaking obligation .. I see this as an opportunity to set the stage for excellence,” Harrell said. He is not yet announcing whether he will keep the interim job or decline it – but is hoping to announce his decision by 5 pm Friday, and has advised the council to be potentially ready to take action next Monday (September 18th). He mentions that the presentation of the city budget is coming up and “either I will present it, or I will receive it.” After mentioning a variety of issues he expects it to address, he says, “Let’s heal together … for those who are hurting, let’s heal together. We have a lot of work to do as a team – so let’s do it. It’s as simple as that.”

Asked what factors he’s evaluating in making his decision, Harrell says he’ll put “the needs of the city” first, whatever he decides, not his own “agenda.” Asked about some of the procedural points in the City Charter, he says it’s been a “challenge” to “dig out what the charter addresses,” and promises a “citywide e-mail” to reassure employees about the continuity of their work.

5:09 PM: Harrell has been sworn in as mayor. (As Jim Brunner of The Seattle Times pointed out on Twitter, city webpages already have a new header with his name replacing Murray’s.)

5:12 PM: The swearing-in event is over, so we’ve removed the live-video window atop this story, replaced it with an image from the Seattle Channel feed, and will re-add the full archived video once it’s available.

P.S. Harrell ran for mayor in 2013, finishing fourth in the primary behind Murray, then-incumbent mayor Mike McGinn, and former City Councilmember Peter Steinbrueck. His current council term has two more years to go, unless he gives it up by deciding to keep the interim mayoral job until the November election results are certified.

6:19 PM: Archived as-it-happened Seattle Channel video is now embedded above.

THURSDAY NOTE: We originally embedded the archived video from YouTube; it’s now available from the Seattle Channel site (minus the outdated “live at 4:45 pm” slate), so we have substituted that.

VIDEO: Proposed changes to Design Review critiqued from multiple sides at late-running hearing

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

When city staff booked a Queen Anne movie theater for a doubleheader public hearing before the City Council’s Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee, they seriously underestimated the amount of time and space they would need.

Last night’s hearing at SIFF Cinema Uptown was scheduled for an hour and a half of public comment on the HALA upzoning proposal for the Uptown area, and then two hours of public comment on proposed changes to the city’s Design Review program.

The former turned out to be the hottest ticket. When we arrived around 6:40 pm, planning to cover the Design Review hearing, we found dozens of people waiting outside the theater – not for one of the movies in the other two auditoriums, but for the upzoning hearing. The theater had declared Auditorium 3 at capacity and was only letting people in to replace those who left; we had to argue our way in.

As it turned out, though, we might as well have waited, as the Uptown hearing ran an hour extra. It was a standing-room-only crowd, with four councilmembers – committee chair Rob Johnson, vice chair Mike O’Brien, Tim Burgess, and Sally Bagshaw – present for that hearing, while only Johnson and O’Brien stayed for the Design Review hearing. (West Seattle/South Park Councilmember Lisa Herbold, who is a member of the committee, was not there.)

Uptown testimony finally wrapped up just after 8 pm, and Johnson ordered the proceedings to move immediately into the Design Review topic. A very quick overview was given by Christina Ghan from the Department of Construction and Inspections, and then it was on into the ~40 people who had signed up to speak. Seattle Channel was there, recording, but as of this writing, its video of the marathon hearing hasn’t appeared online, so here’s what we recorded. There’s literally nothing to see after the first couple slides, as our angle didn’t get the speakers (who were almost all down on the auditorium floor anyway), but you can play it as audio in the background.

Below – highlights of each speaker. Not full transcriptions – you’ll want to listen, to get the entirety of what was said. In summary, the criticism was wide-ranging, and not necessarily along the lines you’d expect. Criticism of the proposed “early community engagement” component ranged from leaving the fox in charge of the hen house to adds even more unpredictability for project teams; last-minute amendments led to a variety of concerns about changing the thresholds for design review, either raising them or lowering them. And several people suggested that adding staffing to SDCI would be the best way to speed up project reviews, expressing doubt that the design-review process was really a major factor in delays. Only a few people alluded to the amendments brought up last Friday (see them here). Ahead, the toplines:

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BULLETIN: Mayor Ed Murray resigns after more abuse accusations, saying ‘it is best for the city if I step aside’

1:22 PM: Just in via e-mail:

Today, Mayor Murray released the following statement:

“I am announcing my resignation as mayor, effective at 5 p.m. tomorrow.

“While the allegations against me are not true, it is important that my personal issues do not affect the ability of our City government to conduct the public’s business.

“I’m proud of all that I have accomplished over my 19 years in the Legislature, where I was able to pass what were at the time the largest transportation packages in state history, a landmark gay civil rights bill and a historic marriage equality bill.

“And I am proud of what we have accomplished together at the City during my time as mayor, passing a nation-leading $15 minimum wage, and major progressive housing affordability and police accountability legislation, as well as negotiating an agreement to build a world-class arena that I believe in time will bring the NHL and NBA to Seattle.

“But it has also become clear to me that in light of the latest news reports it is best for the city if I step aside.

“To the people of this special city and to my dedicated staff, I am sorry for this painful situation.

“In the interest of an orderly transition of power, Council President Bruce Harrell will become Mayor upon my resignation, and will decide within the following five days whether he will fill out the remainder of my term. During this time Director of Operations Fred Podesta has been tasked with leading the transition.”

The announcement was made hours after The Seattle Times reported new accusations of sexual abuse by Murray, this time from a cousin.

Four months ago, Murray gathered supporters at the Alki Bathhouse – noting that it was near his boyhood home in West Seattle – to announce that he would not run for re-election, but until today, he had continued to insist that he would finish out his term.

1:54 PM: As noted in the comment section, Council President Harrell circulated this memo a month ago, regarding succession if the mayor resigned. (Thanks to SCC Insight for making the memo easy to find.) It elaborates on what Murray’s statement mentions – that Harrell becomes acting mayor but can decide within five days whether he wants to keep that role until a new mayor is elected in November. If he declines it, the council would elect someone else from its ranks to serve as acting mayor, and then would have to fill that councilmember’s job.

2:41 PM: And if you’re still confused – a statement just e-mailed by City Attorney Pete Holmes says he’s helping to sort it out:

“As City Attorney, my number one priority is maintaining continuity of government operations for the people of the City of Seattle. My office is advising the City Council and the Mayor’s Office on next legal steps forward under the City Charter.”

3:54 PM: Council President Harrell isn’t saying yet whether he’ll keep the interim mayorship beyond a few days. In this statement, he says, “I intend to make an announcement within the five days on my intentions and will talk to my family, my colleagues on the Seattle City Council, and trusted members of our city on this decision with the understanding that the City and continuity of governance comes before all other factors.”

MONDAY NIGHT: Big changes to Design Review? City Council hearing – with last-minute changes

We were already planning to publish a reminder about a City Council committee hearing Monday night that’s of citywide importance to everyone interested in development – the Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee‘s hearing on proposed changes to the Design Review process. Then, just now, a local community group that closely watches development-related issues sent an alert with new last-minute information. From the Morgan Community Association:

The city has proposed some major changes to the existing Design Review Program. MoCA President (and past Design Review member) Deb Barker was on the stakeholders group who worked with the city on possible changes earlier this year. The city just released their final proposed version in a package sent to the City Council in August. Several MoCA board members have been reviewing those changes to see how they would impact our neighborhood and if we wanted to make additional comments at the Public Hearing tomorrow, Sept 11. But to our dismay, on Friday (Sept. 8th), the City Council Planning, Land Use and Zoning Committee proposed 9 additional amendments of modifications, some of which have multiple new options. In their discussion, staff was not able to actually describe what the full changes are and admit it is confusing and more information is needed.

In a nutshell, we don’t know what’s on the table any more!

The PLUZ committee has said they plan to vote this out of committee on Sept 19. We are asking anyone who has an interest in good design happening in our neighborhoods to write to the PLUZ committee and request more time for Council to solidify their amendments and have time for the public to review and comment on the final package. Please send a short note to city council by 7:00 pm Monday, Sept 11.

Email addresses for the PLUZ committee

rob.johnson@seattle.gov
lisa.herbold@seattle.gov
mike.obrien@seattle.gov
lorena.gonzalez@seattle.gov

Link to the Mayor’s proposed changes to Design Review (Director’s Report summary)

Link to the City Council proposed amendments (as of last Friday)

The council committee has been discussing the potential changes (pre-amendments) in recent months; we wrote about one of the discussions in mid-August. In general, reasons cited for changing the program include shortening the time it takes to get projects through city vetting, and also an alleged overload/backlog for the city’s Design Review Boards (although right now, for example, the Southwest Design Review Board has zero projects on its upcoming calendar).

MONDAY NIGHT’S HEARING: If you’d like to comment in person at the committee’s hearing on the Design Review changes, the Monday night hearing is on Lower Queen Anne, at SIFF Cinema Uptown, in Auditorium 3, 511 Queen Anne Ave. N. The meeting starts at 5:30 pm with an hour and a half scheduled for the Uptown rezoning proposal, not related to the Design Review proposal, which is then scheduled to come up at 7 pm. The meeting’s full agenda, with document links, is here.

FOLLOWUP: City Council approves street vacation for new self-storage facility, Nucor

(Site plan showing where self-storage building would span what’s currently city right-of-way)

Three weeks ago, we reported on a City Council committee approving a “street vacation” requested for the West Coast Self-Storage project on the way to 3252 Harbor Avenue SW, in partnership with Nucor, because of that company’s use of undeveloped right-of-way for adjacent train tracks. This week, the council gave its unanimous approval to the proposal. When it’s finalized, the undeveloped sections of 29th SW and City View involved in the request (see the map above) would be sold to WCSS and Nucor at fair-market value. The final version of the ordinance includes the 12 items, valued at $305,000, that would be provided as “public benefit,” required for right-of-way to be given up in this way. The project will be a 56-foot-high building with 850 storage units.

DESIGN REVIEW CHANGES? City Council briefing focuses on new thresholds, ‘community outreach’ requirement for developers

August 17, 2017 9:08 pm
|    Comments Off on DESIGN REVIEW CHANGES? City Council briefing focuses on new thresholds, ‘community outreach’ requirement for developers
 |   Development | West Seattle news | West Seattle politics

(Seattle Channel video of PLUZ committee meeting Tuesday. Design Review discussion starts 1 hour, 53 minutes in)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

If the city’s Design Review process is dramatically overhauled, as currently proposed, it could cut one or two months off the time it takes a development to get through the permitting process. The speed-it-up aspect was touted at the start of the mayor’s announcement earlier this month that the proposal was ready to go public.

But is that the most important goal? That’s one of the questions being considered by the City Council’s Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee, which got its second briefing Tuesday on the proposed Design Review changes.

They were told the all-volunteer Design Review Boards around the city have a backlog (although here in West Seattle, for example, as of this writing, the Southwest Design Review Board has only one project on its calendar, the September 7th review of 2222 SW Barton (the official notice was published today, but we reported on the scheduling two weeks ago).

One reason for scrutiny of the proposed changes: Design Review remains the only part of the project-vetting process that requires public meetings for some projects. If these changes pass, fewer projects will have to go through Design Review – and most of those that do will have fewer, if any, meetings. The overall changes are summarized in this council-staff memo:

1. Require early community engagement by applicants with the community;

2. Modify the thresholds above which design review is required. To ensure consistent application, thresholds will be based on the total square footage in a building instead of dwelling unit counts, use and zone;

3. Establish new thresholds to determine the type of design review required based on site and project characteristics;

4. Change the composition of design review boards (DRBs) to replace the general community interest seat with a second local residential/community interest seat and allow more than one Get Engaged member to participate on the boards; and

5. Modify and update other provisions related to design review.

At Tuesday’s briefing, city staffers focused on two components – the “new thresholds” and the “early community engagement.” The latter would in effect replace the first public meeting for some projects – with a new type of “outreach” that developers will be expected to arrange.

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FOLLOWUP: West Seattle street vacation for self-storage facility gets City Council committee OK

August 15, 2017 9:26 pm
|    Comments Off on FOLLOWUP: West Seattle street vacation for self-storage facility gets City Council committee OK
 |   Development | West Seattle news | West Seattle politics

(Site plan showing where self-storage building would span what’s currently city right-of-way)

A full City Council vote in September is the next step to a street vacation for the West Coast Self-Storage project planned at 3252 Harbor SW. Today’s Sustainability and Transportation Committee hearing/vote – previewed here on Monday – was unanimously in favor of it (with two of the three committee members – chair Mike O’Brien and Rob Johnson – present) – first item in the Seattle Channel video, after open public comment:

SDOT’s point person on street (and alley) vacations, Beverly Barnett, explained that Nucor’s interest in an adjacent 25,175-square-foot section of unimproved 29th SW – added to the self-storage project’s request for 2,029 sf of unimproved SW City View – dated back to 20 years ago, when tracks were built there as part of a plan that ultimately fell apart. As noted in our preview, the self-storage company is promising a $300,000+ “public-benefit package” including improvements to the Alki Trail, such as moving utility poles. If the street vacation gets final approval, the land also would have to be purchased from the city at fair-market value.

Only one person spoke at today’s hearing, and his concerns involved the 850-storage-unit building’s projected 56-foot height (almost 30′ below what the site’s zoned for), not the street vacation itself. But if you have comments, you can still send them to the council before its September vote – find all councilmembers’ contact info here.

ELECTION 2017: It’s Durkan vs. Moon for Seattle Mayor, and other final primary results

4:50 PM: Just certified by King County, final results from the August 1st primary. See them all here. Advancing to the general election:

SEATTLE MAYOR
Jenny Durkan 51,529 27.9%
Cary Moon 32,536 17.62%

SEATTLE CITY COUNCIL POSITION 8
Teresa Mosqueda 53,676 31.59%
Jon Grant 45,652 26.87%

SEATTLE CITY COUNCIL POSITION 9
M. Lorena González* 108,602 64.17%
Pat Murakami 33,349 19.71%

KING COUNTY EXECUTIVE
Dow Constantine* 304,456 76.99%
Bill Hirt 49,687 12.57%

SEATTLE PORT COMMISSION POSITION 1
John Creighton* 124,884 32.74%
Ryan Calkins 121,177 31.77%

SEATTLE PORT COMMISSION POSITION 3
Stephanie Bowman* 191,203 51.29%
Ahmed Abdi 121,898 32.7%

SEATTLE PORT COMMISSION POSITION 4
Preeti Shridhar 94,679 24.82%
Peter Steinbrueck 91,227 23.92%

And these are final results for the lone local ballot measure:

KING COUNTY PROP 1 (ACCESS FOR ALL SALES-TAX INCREASE)
Reject 211,113 50.9%
Approve 203,633 49.1%

Seattle voter turnout was 40.49%; countywide, 33.76%. The general election (aka voting deadline in our system) will be Tuesday, November 7th.

ADDED 6:28 PM: Both mayoral candidates have e-mailed statements to the media. Read them in their entirety below:

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SELL THE STREET? ‘Vacation’ hearing Tuesday @ City Hall for Harbor Avenue self-storage project site

This morning’s City Council briefing meeting included a reminder of a major West Seattle item that’s on the calendar for the Sustainability and Transportation Committee tomorrow afternoon (as announced last month), including public comment if you have something to say about it – a “street vacation” sought in connection with the West Coast Self-Storage project proposed for 3252 Harbor Avenue SW. Above (or here), you can scroll through the slide deck that shows not only what’s proposed and where – one slide notes they expect the building to include ~850 units – but also what’s being offered in exchange for the “vacation.” It’s a request for the city to “vacate” what is currently publicly owned property, technically part of the street system but not being used as such. These requests have to include a “public benefit” package – the slide deck includes a list of what West Coast Self-Storage is offering, valued at more than $300,000, from moving a utility pole off the Alki Trail to including art panels in its building’s exterior. Eventually, the property that’s approved for vacation is sold at fair-market value. Also of note in this case: Nearby Nucor is a party to the vacation request for land that’s technically part of 29th SW and SW City View, seeking “to accommodate” railroad tracks. The proposed “vacation” area otherwise would be covered by the new 4-story self-storage building.

If you have something to say about the vacation request (see the full 81-page document here), be at City Council chambers at City Hall (600 4th Ave.) downtown at the start of Tuesday’s 2 pm committee meeting. If you can’t be there, you can e-mail comments to mike.obrien@seattle.gov – Councilmember Mike O’Brien chairs the committee.

FOLLOWUP: What Councilmember O’Brien is proposing about ‘vehicular living,’ and he says it’s different from what you’ve heard

One day after a City Council committee was briefed on recommendations by a task force considering “vehicular living,” Councilmember Mike O’Brien has announced his proposal – which he says is different from an early version that was circulated earlier this week. He also says it’s not going to be officially introduced this month, but he’s interested in feedback. Here’s the news release we just received, including links to relevant documents:

Councilmember Mike O’Brien (District 6, Northwest Seattle), Chair of the Council’s Sustainability and Transportation Committee, issued the following statement regarding his proposed legislation intended to help respond to the needs of people living in their vehicles:

“In 2016, City of Seattle funding helped thousands of people exit homelessness and move into permanent housing, and I’m proud that the City continues to build on these efforts. However, the vast majority of the City’s focus is on individuals completely without shelter, while vehicle residents account for more than 40% of the unsheltered homeless population in Seattle. Moreover, during the past seven years, as the number of people unsheltered has increased by over 50%, the number of vehicle residents have more than doubled, from 590 individuals in 2010 to 1,550 in 2017.

“It’s clear what we’re doing hasn’t been working at the scale we need, and the challenges of vehicular living continue to increase without a clear policy direction. We’ve made efforts to help serve that population through our Road to Housing program, and through our previous attempts to provide supervised safe lots and safe zones. But our current approach to vehicular residency elsewhere often leaves vehicle residents with parking tickets, fines, and towing fees that puts them further away from housing, and isolated from services that they need.

“Today I’m putting forward draft proposals that take lessons from these previous efforts and expands on what has worked.

“Firstly, we need more parking options for people living in vehicles. Our previous attempts to provide parking have been unnecessarily expensive, and I intend to work with our Departments to develop a streamlined, more cost-effective parking program for vehicles to move to during their pathway to housing. In addition to identifying City-surplus property, I am confident that prioritizing social service and real estate management can also leverage spaces at faith-based organizations, non-profits, and business properties. It will still require a significant financial investment, and I intend to work with my colleagues and the City Budget Office during the budget review process this fall to identify available funding.

“Further, I’m putting forward a resolution that calls on the City to do additional analysis into recreational vehicle campgrounds, an auto-maintenance training program, and increasing mobile healthcare services for vehicular residents. I also plan to pursue a community needs assessment on the vehicular living population to further inform our policy directions.

“Next, I am putting forward draft legislation that would set up a Vehicular Residences Program in which social service providers would directly connect with people living out of their vehicles. Only when a user or users participate in the program would they be deprioritized for booting and impoundment from Scofflaw eligibility and diverted to an alternative enforcement mechanism through a social service program. People living out of their cars and minivans would be provided amnesty from monetary penalties resulting from parking enforcement, again, only if they’re participating in the program. For people living in RVs or other commercial vehicles, this amnesty would only apply if they are parked in industrial zoned areas. Seattle Police would still have every right to arrest people for breaking laws, including sexual exploitation. Nothing would prevent SPD or a social service provider from asking a vehicle to move and assisting them to move their vehicle.

“To be clear, the legislation I’m announcing today differs from the outdated version that some news media were provided and reported on that I had not intended to advance. The outdated version resulted in several news stories that have inspired constituents to call-in to express their opposition to elements that are not included in the newer version of the bill. I’m glad the public will now have an opportunity to respond to the complete proposal I had intended.

“In currently allowing vehicle residents to continue to accrue parking and impoundment fines, we only exacerbate their challenges in a pathway to housing. If someone is willing to work with a service provider and is committed to stabilizing their living situation, I think we should enthusiastically try to meet that need.

“This legislation is a starting point, and I don’t intend to introduce or consider this bill in August. I’m very receptive to any ideas to improve this legislation or to entirely new solutions. But I know that doing nothing is not an option.”

Another try for RV ‘safe lots’? City Council committee considering ‘vehicular living’ policies today

1:22 PM: You might have seen citywide-media reports, starting with this one on KING 5, saying the City Council might soon be considering new policies for “vehicular living.” The City Council’s Human Services and Public Health Committee will be briefed this afternoon on recommendations from the Vehicular Living Work Group (slide deck above), including revisiting the concept of “RV safe lots.” You’ll recall one such lot was proposed for West Seattle in 2016, on a paved area at West Marginal Way SW and Highland Park Way SW – adjacent to the publicly owned site that had housed unsanctioned tent camps over the years – but the city dropped the idea before the lot was ever opened. Earlier this year, a block to the east, an unsanctioned RV camp popped up in May, but was cleared by police within a few weeks – though RV presence subsequently increased on W. Marginal to the south, among other areas. As shown in the slide deck, the work group has other recommendations too, and you can see/hear the briefing live via the Seattle Channel during the committee’s 2 pm meeting. The agenda estimates this item will start around 2:40 pm.

2:54 PM: The first agenda item is running long, and the one about vehicular living hasn’t started yet.

3:12 PM: It’s under way now.

PRIMARY ELECTION 2017: 2nd round of results out, no change in who’s leading Seattle citywide races

The second round of election results is out, and the “top two” in each of the three Seattle city races are all the same as last night. For mayor, it’s Jenny Durkan and Cary Moon, whose lead over #3 Nikkita Oliver is now almost 2,000 votes; for council Position 8, it’s still Teresa Mosqueda and Jon Grant, who’s about 900 votes ahead of #3 Sara Nelson; for council Position 9, it’s still Lorena González and Pat Murakami, with all others ~10,000 or more votes behind. See all the results here; next ballot count is due about this time tomorrow. 104,000+ ballots have been counted so far, just under 23 percent of the city’s voters.

2017 PRIMARY ELECTION RESULTS: Who’s ahead in the early going

8:06 PM: As if the night’s not busy enough, the first election results are in.

Here’s where to see Seattle Mayor results. Top four in the first round of results are:

Jenny Durkan 32%
Cary Moon 16%
Nikkita Oliver 14%
Jessyn Farrell 12%

Seattle City Council Position 8, the top three:

Teresa Mosqueda 31%
Jon Grant 24%
Sara Nelson 23%

Seattle City Council Position 9, the top three:

Lorena González*, 61%
Pat Murakami, 20%
David Preston, 10%

King County Proposition 1, sales tax for cultural access
No 55%
Yes 45%

Seattle Port Commission, Position 1, top two
John Creighton* 35%
Ryan Calkins 28%

Seattle Port Commission, Position 3, top two
Stephanie Bowman*, 55%
Ahmed Abdi, 28%

Seattle Port Commission, Position 4, top two
Peter Steinbrueck, 25%
Preeti Shridhar, 21%

(Asterisks = incumbents. Percentages are rounded.) You can find all the results here – King County Elections’ next update is expected tomorrow afternoon.

PRIMARY ELECTION DAY 2017: Vote by tonight!

August 1, 2017 9:04 am
|    Comments Off on PRIMARY ELECTION DAY 2017: Vote by tonight!
 |   West Seattle news | West Seattle politics

Thanks to Shawna for the photo from Highland Park Way and West Marginal Way SW this morning. Nikkita Oliver is one of two West Seattleites (with Mary Martin) in the field of 21 mayoral candidates on your primary-election ballot, which is due by tonight. (We went out to look for other signwaving this morning – didn’t find anyone else. Anyone planning to sign-wave in West Seattle later today, please let us know!) You’re also choosing from among eight candidates for citywide City Council Position 8 (no incumbent) and seven for citywide Council Position 9 (including West Seattle-residing incumbent Lorena González) – and you have three Port Commission races to vote in, King County Executive (with West Seattle-residing incumbent Dow Constantine going for a third term). In each of those races, the top two vote-getters advance to November. You’re also deciding the fate of one ballot measure, King County Prop 1, a one-tenth-of-one-percent sales-tax increase for more access to “expand access to arts, science, and heritage programming.”

Here’s how to return your ballot – dropboxes until 8 pm (don’t be late!); postal mail, be certain it’ll be postmarked today. First returns are due shortly after 8 pm.

VIDEO: 13 City Council candidates @ West Seattle’s final pre-primary forum

Thirteen of the 15 people running for the two at-large City Council positions on next week’s ballot were at Highland Park Improvement Club tonight for the last West Seattle forum of the primary-election campaign, presented by the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council, and moderated by its chair, Mat McBride.

Rather than a Q&A format, the forum began with each candidate getting 5 minutes to make a statement, followed by time for mingling and one-on-one conversation. Here’s our video of the presentations, in two parts:

In the first part above, McBride’s introduction is followed by Position 9 candidate Eric Smiley, allowed to go first so he wouldn’t miss curfew at the shelter where he lives, and then Position 8 candidates in their ballot order – Charlene Strong, Rudy Pantoja, Sheley Secrest, Jon Grant, Teresa Mosqueda, Hisam Goueli, Mac McGregor. The next video includes the other five participating Position 9 candidates:

In order, the candidates in that video are Ty Pethe, Ian Affleck-Asch, David Preston, Lorena González, Pat Murakami. Ahead, we have photos and summaries of key points made by each candidate:

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TUESDAY: Make your City Council choices with help of Delridge Neighborhoods District Council forum

July 24, 2017 9:19 pm
|    Comments Off on TUESDAY: Make your City Council choices with help of Delridge Neighborhoods District Council forum
 |   Delridge | Highland Park | West Seattle news | West Seattle politics

As far as we know, this is the final West Seattle forum before ballots are due on August 1st – tomorrow (Tuesday) night, the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council hosts 12 of the 15 candidates for the two citywide City Council positions on the primary-election ballot. Seven people are running for Position 8 (incumbent Councilmember Tim Burgess is not) and eight people are running for Position 9 (incumbent CM Lorena González among them). Here’s who has RSVP’d, as sent by DNDC chair Mat McBride:

Position 8:

Charlene Strong
Sara Nelson
Sheley Secrest
Teresa Mosqueda
Hisam Goueli
Mac McGregor

Position 9:

Ty Pethe
Ian Affleck-Asch
David Preston
Eric Smiley
Lorena González
Pat Murakami

It’s happening 7-9 pm at Highland Park Improvement Club (1116 SW Holden), and the format is simple – each candidate gets 5 minutes to make her/his pitch. Then you get to talk with them one on one. Even if you don’t want to do anything but listen and leave after that first hour, McBride’s pitch to you: “I’ve said this before, but nothing, nothing is more impactful than showing up. You cannot disregard a community that shows up. Let’s be that community.” All ages welcome.

SHOULD MURRAY RESIGN? West Seattle’s Greg Nickels, 3 other ex-mayors say no. Councilmember González wants ‘voluntary or involuntary transition’ issues addressed

West Seattleite Greg Nickels (mayor from 2002-2010) is one of four former Seattle mayors – Norm Rice (1990-1998), Charles Royer (1978-1990), Wes Uhlman (1970-1978) – say it’s enough that Ed Murray is not running for re-election. Despite the most recent revelation that an Oregon caseworker believed Murray had molested his foster child, they don’t think he should resign. Here’s the “open letter” sent to media this morning:

Murray has said he doesn’t intend to quit. The signatories to the letter represent four of the six mayors who served before Murray; his immediate predecessor Mike McGinn – now running to get the job back – has called for Murray to resign. (Paul Schell, who held the job for one term between Rice and Nickels, died in 2014.)

The City Council could take action to remove Murray, and West Seattle-residing citywide Councilmember Lorena González said last week that he should consider stepping down. In a new statement today, she says the City Council should “independently address issues related to either a voluntary or involuntary transition of Executive leadership.”

VIDEO: Bob Hasegawa, Mike McGinn, Cary Moon @ West Seattle Chamber of Commerce mayoral forum

When the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce‘s mayoral-candidates forum got going on Thursday night, only two of the original six RSVP’d candidates were on the stage at Youngstown Cultural Arts CenterCary Moon and Mike McGinn. Three had canceled earlier – Jenny Durkan and Jessyn Farrell had doublebooked and were at campaign events, Nikkita Oliver told the Chamber a personal situation had come up. But a third joined in: Bob Hasegawa, a state senator who had been kept late with legislative duty, bounded onto the stage about 17 minutes into the forum.

Pete Spalding, who chairs the Chamber’s Government Affairs Committee, moderated. You can see the entire hour-and-a-half forum in our unedited video above; what we have written below are key points of the questions and answers, but by no means complete transcriptions.

The forum began with opening statements:

CARY MOON – She started by saying she would snark about the candidates who didn’t show up except that she had bailed on the Sustainable West Seattle forum @ Summer Fest last Saturday (as had Durkan). She said that she is running to do something about the city becoming a place of haves and have-nots. It’s time to make a plan, “discuss it, own it,” she said, to solve problems “with bold solutions,” such as housing affordability.

MIKE McGINN – He started by complimenting the organizers on making the countdown timer more visible than in any forum he’d been to previously. He said that when he took office as mayor in 2009, the economy was in bad shape, but now, while it’s in good shape, he wants to “hold the line on regressive taxes” that he says the current city government seems to see as the solution to everything.

1st question: With all the taxes, and an increasing city budget, how do people know the money is going for what they intended it to go? Moon promised transparency and metrics. “Without that, how can we have public trust?” McGinn talked about “line-item’ing (levies) out to the greatest extent possible” – what are the timelines, what’s been spent, “what’s been produced to date.”

2nd question: What will you do to help small businesses grow and prosper?

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HEADED TO NOVEMBER BALLOT: Countywide Veterans, Seniors, Human Services tax levy

The King County Council voted today to send the Veterans, Seniors, and Human Services property-tax levy to the November 7th ballot, after reducing the rate from 12 cents per $1,000 of assessed value to 10 cents, which is double the rate of the levy this one will replace. Here’s what the official county announcement says the money would go for:

Veterans: To plan, provide, administer and evaluate a wide range of regional health and human services and capital facilities for veterans and military servicemembers and their respective families.

Seniors and caregivers: To plan, provide, administer and evaluate a wide range of regional health and human services and capital facilities for seniors and their caregivers or to promote healthy aging in King County.

Vulnerable Populations: To plan, provide, administer and evaluate a wide range of regional health and human services and capital facilities for vulnerable populations.

You can read the documents related to the legislation – co-sponsored by our area’s County Councilmember Joe McDermott, who is also the council’s chair – by going here; the actual bill finalized today is here.

ONE WEEK FROM TONIGHT: Delridge Neighborhoods District Council forum with City Council candidates

July 18, 2017 9:27 am
|    Comments Off on ONE WEEK FROM TONIGHT: Delridge Neighborhoods District Council forum with City Council candidates
 |   West Seattle news | West Seattle politics

With two weeks left to vote, the mayoral candidates seem to be everywhere (and will be back in West Seattle this Thursday). But that’s not the only choice you’ll be making. At-large (citywide) City Council Positions 8 and 9 have long lists of contenders too – and one week from tonight, 7-9 pm, you’ll be able to see many of the candidates at a forum presented by the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council. The announcement from DNDC chair Mat McBride:

This forum is intended to engage and inform the residents of the West Seattle Peninsula, who comprise roughly 1/7th of Seattle’s total voting population. This event is open to the public and the media.

The format is intentionally very simple – each candidate will be given 5 minutes and a microphone to present their platform. There will be no audience or panel questions during presentations, and once all presentations have finished candidates will be able to mingle with the audience. Snacks and non-alcoholic beverages will be available for purchase, and an area will be set aside for adults who are accompanied by children.

Who: Seattle City Council Position 8 and 9 candidates
What: Candidate forum – 5 minute presentation followed by mingling with prospective constituents
Where: Highland Park Improvement Club – 1116 SW Holden
Why: Because voters shouldn’t look at a ballot and say “I have no idea who this is”

Within a day or so, we should have a list of who’s RSVP’d so far, and we’ll add it here.

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