By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
One more time, the two candidates for Seattle City Council District 1 are side by side tonight answering questions, with two more weeks of voting ahead.
This district has the highest number of ballots received so far – more than a thousand – according to brand-new numbers from King County Elections.
We’re there, for coverage we’ll bring you tomorrow. First – this story is about the third event, presented by the West Seattle Junction Association on Saturday morning, moderated by your WSB co-publishers. Here’s the video:
Ahead – quick summaries of the hour-long Q&A:
As you’ll hear explained at the video’s start, the first five questions were received by WSJA when they invited their merchants to submit suggested Q’s. The rest are ours, largely followups on what we’ve heard while covering other recent debates/forums. What’s below are summaries/paraphrasings, not direct quotes unless denoted by quotation marks:
Q from a local businessperson: What incentives, tax breaks can/will you give to new business owners?
Herbold: Direct $ prohibited by state law, but – working with Office of Economic Development “1% for project impacts.”
Tavel: Streamline permit process. Incentivize hiring.
Q from a local businessperson: Can high commercial rents be capped, or can there be help for businesses in dealing with them?
Tavel: Maybe talk with landlords to see the benefits of charging less rent.
Herbold: Commercial Affordability Task Force considered that but did not recommend. I’d be willing to revisit. Could create incentives for offering low rents, as we do with residential.
Q from a local businessperson: How will you support immigrants, minorities, women, women of color? Be specific.
Herbold: Continuing to do work that I’ve done … including ready-to-work and citizenship readiness.
Tavel: Outreach into the community – have met with two groups, two more meetings set. Also: We’ll put together an entrepreneurial summit.
Q from a local businessperson: Dealing with effects of homelessness – people sleeping behind business, trash, human waste, what will you do to help with this?
Tavel: Properly fund and staff our police department.
Herbold: If no criminal activity alleged, get more outreach services to those people. Working on connecting REACH with people who need it.
(Our followup – but some of this IS illegal activity.)
Herbold: I agree that more police visibility would help.
Q from local businessperson: Is LEAD, REACH, Navigation Team funding limited for our area?
Herbold: LEAD just now taking referrals for this area.
Tavel: Navigation Team is a great resource. Herbold wants accountability metrics, we should do that with service providers. LEAD expansion has taken too long.
From here, our questions:
Q for Herbold: Clarify where you stand on Navigation Team funding.
Herbold: I support the mayor’s 2020 funding proposal.
Q for Herbold: Tavel has mentioned human services providers mostly don’t meet all the standards. If so, why are we still paying them?
Herbold: Results-based accountability is to work on improving outcomes. It would be absurd to just cut off everyone who’s not meeting all the metrics.
Tavel: It’s not about cutting funding, but they need to meet expectations.
Q: A person is found camping in a park. What should happen?
Tavel: Find out what they need.
Herbold: City has a process – it’s not legal to camp in parks, and that’s considered an obstruction so they can be removed immediately.
Q: The city doesn’t actually determine the real cost of sweeps, someone on Twitter suggested we ask – why?
Herbold: That’s what the budget process is for = $10 million proposed next year for Navigation Team and related cleanup costs.
Tavel: The city doesn’t keep track of what it’s spending. Also doesn’t track what’s saved if neighborhood groups do cleanups themselves, as some have done.
Followup Q: What neighborhood?
Tavel: Pigeon Point.
(In an ensuing exchange, Herbold said she was present for that cleanup, but later clarified to WSB that she had confused it with another neighborhood cleanup in which she participated.)
Q: An RV is cited for violating the 72-hour parking limit. What should happen to it and the person in it?
Tavel: Towed. This is why we need “safe lots.”
Herbold: Police don’t have resources to respond to every 72-hour tow. That’s why I worked on the RV Remediation Program.
Q: Did the 99 bus lane tweak work?
Herbold: I’m getting messages of thanks.
Tavel: It seemed like the response was a little slow.
Q for Tavel: You were opposed to the 99 tunnel when you ran for council the first time. What’s your thought about how it worked out?
Tavel: It’s done pretty well so far. We’ll see what happens when tolling starts. View now is amazing.
Q: Mailer from PAC supporting Tavel asks people if they’re tired of sitting in traffic. What can you do to change that?
Tavel: Increase bus service. Encourage more water-taxi use.
Herbold: Voters taxed themselves to buy more bus service. Need to defeat I-976 so that continues.
Q: Herbold said at recent debate that she hoped to be remembered for getting third-party funding to pay for light-rail tunnel funding into The Junction but nobody’s working on that – so what are you doing to change that?
Herbold: Spend the money from proposed Uber/Lyft tax on that.
Tavel: Talk to port, Nucor, “I’ve been listening, I’ve been waiting.”
Followup: What are you hearing?
Tavel: Have heard that port wants to see tunnel option too and is willing to put money into it.
Q: Tavel talks about parking challenges. What do you back in terms of returning to required parking?
Tavel: Says he mostly meant free/low cost Junction-lot parking. But we do need to revisit parking requirements in new developments.
Herbold: It’s actually Junction merchants who want to charge for parking.
Followup Q: But do you support any changes?
Herbold: I was the only councilmember to vote against expanding frequent-transit areas where no parking is required.
Q: Speaking of that, Tavel has criticized Herbold for being on the losing end of 8-1 votes. Response?
Herbold: Sometimes it’s important to go against the group think. I’m proud of that.
Tavel: Yes, sometimes you have to take a principled stand. But I want a Council rep who can convince others to go the right way.
Q: Rescind the sugary beverage tax?
Herbold: No, but might support changing it.
Q: Tavel has often mentioned having an office in the district and being there daily – how would that work?
Tavel: I didn’t say I’d be there every day. Staff would be. We have an office near the Junction Association now. Rent’s low enough that it would fit into council budget. Would also like to have Delridge, South Park offices. What if we teamed with legislators and King Co. Council?
Q: Herbold – are monthly district office hours enough?
Herbold: Open to revisiting it. Turnout ebbs and flows. But not in single location – important to move around the district.
Q: Tavel says he hears while doorbelling that people are unhappy with the city. Herbold – tell us about a recent criticism you’ve received while canvassing.
Herbold: Less about me than about general issues such as homelessness.
Q: Do you support campaign-spending limits, and specifically CM Lorena González’s new proposal?
Tavel: Absolutely would support limiting contributions like the Amazon $1 million to CASE. Re: González proposal, maybe with some tweaks – want to be sure it would also limit union money.
Herbold: Nominal labor PAC spending for me, compared to PAC spending for him. Supports González proposal.
Q: Would higher-earner income tax really allow “dialing down” sales, property, B&O taxes?
Herbold: It was projected when we passed it to bring in $140 million/year. Haven’t yet analyzed how much “dialing down” that would cover.
Tavel: Have to look at doing “something like that” (higher-earners income tax). But still doesn’t address spending.
Q: South Park – what can be done to stop gentrification from changing it like the Central District?
Tavel: HALA MHA could have been changed to not make it so attractive to developers. Shouldn’t be an urban village.
Herbold: Working with Duwamish Valley Affordable Housing Coalition. SP received minimal upzone, to Residential Small Lot. Development happening, but not because of HALA MHA.
Followup Q: Should urban village designation be removed?
Herbold: I’ve proposed evaluating that.
Q: HALA MHA – if it turns out developers are opting too often to pay inlieu fees rather than providing affordable housing in a project, how much higher should the fee become?
Herbold: Too soon to say.
Tavel: Need to speed up the evaluation.
Q: Tavel has said it’s taken too long to move on impact fees. Herbold has said legal action is holding things up. Is that really all?
Herbold: We’ve taken legislative action before getting sued.
Tavel: Big campaign issue in 2015. Not moving fast enough.
Q: Pro-Tavel PAC mailer has said high cost of housing is another reason to be unhappy with the city. What can you do to bring it down?
Tavel: High property taxes need to be addressed.
Herbold: While not saying she supports rent control, she supports removing state prohibition on local rent-related regulation.
Q: What action in Seattle Green New Deal should be passed first?
Herbold: Electrified vehicles.
Tavel: Same. Also, tough green-building standards, recycling practices.
Last Q for Tavel: You often speak of your business experience making you ready for this.Name a specific business you ran and how that specific business prepared you.
Tavel: Game business in Australia – budgeting, employees, facility problems … “Those things I went through.”
Last Q for Herbold: You’ve said that part of your value is that you’ll be a voice of experience at a time when at least 4 new members [replacing incumbents who aren’t running] are joining the council. Talk more about that, including how you would mentor new councilmembers.
Herbold: Has good working relationships with council’s new members but too humble to say she’s “mentored anybody.”
Each got a minute for a closing statement, and you can see those in the final two minutes of the video.
VOTING: You should have your ballot by now. All the info about sending it in is here; November 5th is the deadline.