FOLLOWUP: Councilmember Lisa Herbold on Mayor Murray’s plan to cut off neighborhood-district councils

(WSB photo: Councilmember Herbold on May 12th community-group-reps tour she coordinated for Myers Way Parcels)

One day after Mayor Ed Murray announced that he plans to cut city support for neighborhood-district councils and come up with a different way of “engaging” neighborhoods, reaction continues to churn. As one of our followups, we asked our area’s City Councilmember Lisa Herbold for comment. Her reply ties into the other big mayoral announcement made two hours later – that the city will keep the Myers Way Parcels – which also cut short what was expected to be a longer process of discussion and decisionmaking.

The fact that this announcement came on the same day as the Myers Way announcement was interesting. The Myers Way decision is evidence that when Councilmembers, geographically-based neighborhood groups, and citywide issue-based groups all work collaboratively and effectively, we can potentially address items on our shared agenda. We have about 70 Boards and Commissions that are not geographically-based and are either subject matter based or demographically based – they are all appointments made by the Mayor and Council. We have 13 geographically-based, self-selected councils. Surely we have room for both.

One person writing to the Council said, when you look around your holiday dinner table and realize that you have the same people at the table every year, you don’t disinvite them, you invite more people. I like that analogy. The 2009 audit (attached) had numerous recommendations that had they been implemented any time up to now would have us in a very different conversation. I don’t believe that there is anything inherently undemocratic in a District Council system and that – in addition to identifying and implementing brand new methods of engagement – the improvements to our current system in diversity and representation could have instead been addressed by:

a. creating new expectations/metrics for outreach, membership, and involvement

b. city support to District Councils so that they can meet these new articulated expectations

c. consequences for failure to meet these expectations

Whether City Councilmembers plan to challenge the mayor’s plan remains to be seen; it will include legislation for them to consider, regarding formally cutting off city support for district councils (which are NOT the same as City Council districts, as explained in our story from yesterday, nor are they neighborhood-level community councils). The Myers Way Parcels work mentioned by Councilmember Herbold had included groups such as the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council, White Center Community Development Association, Highland Park Action Committee, Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council, Seattle Green Spaces Coalition, TreePAC, and others.

20 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: Councilmember Lisa Herbold on Mayor Murray's plan to cut off neighborhood-district councils"

  • Gatewooder July 14, 2016 (8:10 pm)

    A good start would be to remove Kathy Nyland as the Director of the Dept. of Neighborhoods, since it is patently obvious that she serves the mayor’s political interests rather than those of the  neighborhoods of Seattle.

  • Serving at the pleasure July 14, 2016 (10:23 pm)

    Well, I mean, as the Mayor’s appointed Department Director and a member of the Mayor’s Cabinet, serving the Mayor’s interests is kind of her job description. 

    • Gatewooder July 15, 2016 (8:42 am)

      No question that Mayor Murray is the one pulling the chain, but the pit bull here is Kathy Nyland.   It is called the Department of Neighborhoods for good reason, if Kathy cannot perform the core mission of that department she should not be in that position.  Councilmember Herbold is right in questioning the actions of the executive, but Kathy should not be given a free pass.  Murray’s autocratic administration hides behind a veneer of carefully selected appointees that do his dirty work, and they are also complicit.

  • john July 15, 2016 (7:21 am)

    The Councilwoman’s analogy is incorrect.

    The more accurate analogy would be the same group of predominantly white, middle aged, homeowners has long occupied all the seats at the table and do not want to expand or relinquish their  own coveted places.

    The new majorities in Seattle are renting and more  economically and racially diverse.

    I welcome the changes as being more urbanistic YIMBY and less neighborhood council NIMBY.

    The Myers Way decision is I hope a last success of such astroturfing, exporting homeless to the sprawlburgs and increasing  our Global footprint for eternity.

    • Nancy Folsom July 19, 2016 (11:44 am)

      It was so interesting to me to read the Seattle Times conflating the sale of Myers Wy property and homelessness. A couple of points should be made. People have been working to bank that land for years, long before the mayor’s pronouncement. That land represents a good sized portion of green space, which is not just an elitist concern if, for other reason, we need trees to breathe, yes? Finally, the Mayor seems to be all about helping the homeless, but so far his attempt have been unimpressive for a number of reasons. The two things, really, have nothing to do with one another.

      • WSB July 19, 2016 (12:14 pm)

        Our “Myers Park?” report in September 2014 was more than a year before the mayor’s declaration that $5 million from selling part of MWP would go toward homelessness-related initiatives.

        And as we’ve also detailed in various instances of backstory, the city’s had other proposals for the site including considering it as the site for a municipal jail that local community advocates argued wasn’t even necessary … and after spending a lot of time (and inarguably $) on studies, meetings, etc., the city came to the conclusion that they were right. What some would call NIMBYism, led mostly by the Highland Park Action Committee (which at the time, contrary to the current “portrait of a community advocate,” was led by a military veteran renter in his 20s who works in social services) saved the city millions on that. – Tracy

  • Macartisan July 15, 2016 (8:40 am)

    My wife and I voted for our current mayor, but he’s lost our support. It’s time to find a mayor who can tolerate neighborhood-based planning.


    • RayK July 16, 2016 (4:06 pm)

      Agree with your expectations for the city executive. This one has gone to the “red” side; not acting blue at all.

  • AIDM July 15, 2016 (8:57 am)

    I’m liking Herbold a lot more than I was thinking that I would and really appreciate her responsiveness to West Seattle issues like the conjunctive low-bridge, viaduct closure and the Meyer’s parcel.  I agree with her that this is a very weird move.  Its an affront to all of the men and women who have volunteered their time on these district councils.  I can’t help but wonder why they didn’t get their technology based solutions implemented and working correctly before disbanding the councils?  Do we have no representation during the interim period? Could they have worded this differently and slowly transitioned to the new system?  Are there an equal number of technology naive indigent and elderly citizens who will be equally disenfranchised by the new system? 

    • WSB July 15, 2016 (9:46 am)

      AIDM – The district councils technically are not disbanded – unsupported – until and unless the “legislation” mentioned in the mayor’s announcement is written, considered, and approved. (Certainly disrespected, though, as a couple people observed at the Admiral Neighborhood Association meeting the night before the mayor’s announcement, when all we knew was that he was going to announce something to “replace” the system.) Our next local scheduled district-council meeting is Delridge District Council on Wednesday (July 20, 7 pm, Youngstown Cultural Arts Center – update: changed to Highland Park Improvement Club) and we’ll see then what the actual immediate effects have been. The technology mention is interesting because the city has never created actual webpages for the district councils, aside from pages like this where if you scroll way way down you will see a mention of the “district council.” – TR

    • Nancy Folsom July 19, 2016 (11:36 am)

       Are there an equal number of technology naive indigent and elderly citizens who will be equally disenfranchised by the new system? “

      Oh, man, you have raised such a critical issue that has fallen by the wayside. The North Delridge Neighborhood Council was explicitly worried that shifting from paper and phone trees to an electronic mailing list was going to disenfranchise many people. We had no good answer to this, though some have maintained lists within smaller neighborhoods. We had to shift to electronic because few people had the time or inclination for the labor required to manage a paper list. That said, you raise a fair point, and one that we just sort of cover our ears and go lalalala over. 

  • iggy July 15, 2016 (9:45 am)

    Lisa Herbold was a total unknown to me.  Since her election I am so very impressed with her smart, common sense approach to government and her true responsiveness to her constituents.  She really walks the talk.  I would vote for her for Mayor !!!!!   (hint to Lisa: have you thought about running?)

  • LStephens July 15, 2016 (10:21 am)

    I agree that Lisa Herbold has done very well for our community.  I voted for her and am really pleased to see how she has rallied for West Seattle and our neighboring communities.  Unfortunately I also voted for Murray and regret that vote more every week he comes up with some stupid, hair-brained and dis-enfranchising scheme that only seems to want to tax homeowners more and more.

  • Brendan J. July 15, 2016 (10:52 am)

    DITTO @ all of these comments. Especially pertaining to the impressive actions and stances Lisa Herbold has taken thus far in her position. Murray/Nyland need to be gone. We need more Herbold’s helping represent us!

  • Diane July 16, 2016 (5:39 pm)

    ditto; grateful for the 39 votes that gave us in WS/SP the best CM in the city; on the other hand, I deeply regret worst mistake of my long life participating in politics (voting for Ed); HUGE terrible mistake, and we’re all paying the price; so very sorry; I will never do that again 

  • AceMotel July 16, 2016 (6:44 pm)

    Totally agree with these comments.  I voted for Herbold and Murray.  I regret the last.  Murray needs to go, and he needs to take Nyland and Kubly with him.  Herbold has been wonderful.

  • David Whiting July 16, 2016 (9:24 pm)

    @John. I am the co-chair of the Southwest District Council and I am African American. My fellow co-chair is Asian American and we have both served in this capacity for the past 18 months largely because few were willing to step forward. 

    I am well aquainted with the chair and vice chair of the Delridge District Council, to openly state both Mat and Pete are committed to implementing the values of diversity and inclusion.

    One of the purposes neighborhood district is to help select recipients for Dept of Neighborhoods Large Project Grants and last month I represented SWDC in this capacity. Social equity is one of the primary criteria for these grants of up to $100,000. This year’s recipients include a local radio station to serve just the Rainier Valley, the arts group 206 Zulu based in the Central District, a digital oral history of seniors residing in the International District andfacility improvements for a school that predominately educates homeless students.

    If you know any specific or rumored instances where current district council leaders that acted to “not want to expand or relinquish their coveted places” please contact me directly. Yes, I know about the woman who openly objected to the renter/blogger who recently ran for office to the Wallingford Community Council, but I also know that two elected officers chastised her since his residency and tenant status had no merit to his eligibilty or candidacy.

    David Whiting

  • CanDo July 18, 2016 (10:33 am)

    I was also very unsure of Lisa Herbold after her election, but have since gained a tremendous amount of respect for her.  I feel well represented by her…  unlike Mayor Murray!

  • Question Mark July 20, 2016 (5:59 pm)

    Re: middle-aged District Council members, you all do realize that the median adult age in Seattle is over 40, don’t you? Meaning that a full half of all adults are middle-aged or older. 

    Youngsters, don’t worry too much. You’ll catch up in time …

  • Brad July 22, 2016 (11:44 am)

    I am also impressed by Lisa Herbold, and so disappointed by Mayor Murray. I kick myself for voting for him. I won’t make that mistake again.

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