‘We vilified businesses for too long,’ city councilmember tells West Seattle small-biz proprietors gathered to share concerns

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

For the third time in a week, District 1 City Councilmember Rob Saka sat down this afternoon to talk with a group of West Seattle constituents.

Last Wednesday, it was the District 1 Community Network; last night, it was the Admiral Neighborhood Association; today, it was a group of more than a dozen people, primarily small-business proprietors, gathered by the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce.

Saka heard a lot about public safety and street disorder. But he also got an earful about the effects of a relatively new city law co-sponsored by his D-1 predecessor Lisa Herbold – the App-Based Worker Minimum Payment Ordinance that took effect in January, which some restaurateurs say has resulted in delivery costs going up and business going down.

Today’s gathering was part of a small-business-focused “listening tour” that Saka says is spanning the five neighborhoods in D-1; he’s already been to Pioneer Square, SODO, and Georgetown, and will finish the tour in South Park. Today’s West Seattle participants gathered with Saka (who was accompanied by chief of staff Elaine Ikoma Ko and district-relations director Leyla Gheisar) at Realfine Coffee‘s 35th/Kenyon shop.

(WSB photos. Councilmember Saka with Elliott Bay’s Todd Carden, Easy Street’s Matt Vaughan, and in background Realfine’s Julie Mierzwiak)

After some introductory chatting and coffee orders, the group trooped a few doors down to The Westy to hear from Saka, followed by Q&A.

He assured the group that his intent was to pay more attention to them, saying their “voices haven’t been given enough attention at City Hall,” though “your perspective as small-business owners matters … I recognize your contributions.”

The businesses represented included Alki Beach Academy, Distinguished Foods, Easy Street Records, Elliott Bay Brewing, Papa Tony’s Hot Sauce, Realfine Coffee, Snip-Its Haircuts for Kids, The Grove, and The Westy, as well as three organizations, the WS Chamber of Commerce, WS Food Bank, and WS Junction Association. Saka was introduced by the chamber’s executive director Rachel Porter:

As he’s told other groups, Saka said he’s “laser-focused” on transportation and public safety (as chair of the council committee dealing with the former, and vice-chair of the committee handling the latter). but also deeply concerned with the smaller issues affecting people (yes, potholes included) – the “nitty-gritty stuff.” Porter acknowledged that public safety is the top issue of concern among local businesses. One attendee, Easy Street RecordsMatt Vaughan, talked about dealing with some “smashes, no grabs” vandalism at the corner that’s like “the windows to the world” for The Junction. And he said he’s had to install more security equipment – more to protect his staff than his stuff.

Several participants mentioned dealing with people in crisis; the Junction Association‘s Chris Mackay said one man who had harassed and assaulted people had recently been arrested. Realfine’s Julie Mierzwiak, who has two West Seattle shops and one on Capitol Hill, said staffers have to deal with “volatile” people who need help, but don’t know how. Mackay mentioned hearing CARE Chief Amy Smith say last week in West Seattle that her department’s crisis responders will eventually expand services to West Seattle – how soon? she asked Saka. He responded with a long explanation centering on the city’s looming quarter-billion-dollar budget deficit, though he promised that public-safety services would be last on the list for cuts to deal with it. He later also clarified that the city’s current hiring freeze does NOT include public-safety jobs – those positions are funded and will continue to be. Issues with police hiring, he noted, include the process challenges that came to light at the committee meeting we covered yesterday, as well as “morale” – he said officers are disheartened by the “catch and release” that may result after they arrest suspects. Saka also made mention of Councilmember Bob Kettle‘s term “permissive environment” and said it was “branding” that many people appreciated.

That’s when the city ordinance’s effects on food delivery arose. Claiborne Bell, who hosts businesses at his Distinguished Foods Kitchens in The Triangle (including his own Seattle Sorbets), said that both restaurants and drivers are being hurt by fewer orders as an unintended result. The legislation is explained here – intended to guarantee app-based workers a minimum wage. According to citywide outlets’ reports, the app companies added fees to cover what they are now required to pay – and that in turn has led to a customer rebellion. Bell says that of the seven “virtual restaurants” based in his kitchens, their volume is down 30 percent to 50 percent. Porter added, “Restaurants are taking a huge hit.” But some don’t use the delivery services at all – Elliott Bay‘s Todd Carden says he’s in that camp – or minimize their use.

It’s not just that ordinance complicating operations, Saka was told by several participants – the city has added so many new rules, it’s difficult to keep track and comply, but if they slip up, they face sizable fines; more education was suggested to help entrepreneurs understand what’s expected. Vidican noted that the rules seem to give the advantage to corporate entities, because they can cope by scaling up with management layers, purchasing power, etc., compared to small-business entities where proprietors have to wear many hats. Added Bell, “You have to be an expert in so many things … we’re already wearing 37 different hats.”

Saka reacted with sympathy: “We can do so much better as a city … you need a better partner (in) the city, I’m hearing that.” That includes being aware of “unintended consequences” of actions, he said. And, “the best thing I can do is create conditions where you can be successful … and (we can) get out of your way.” He promised he would be “an advocate … I think we vilified businesses for too long – if half, three-quarters of small businesses closed up, that would create havoc.” At that point he also briefly mentioned big business, expressing concern that 75 percent of the JumpStart tax revenue (the city’s payroll-expense tax, explained here) is reported to result from 10 employers.

Not long after that, the conversation veered back to public-safety issues including the frustration many have with the juvenile-justice system, citing the infamous case of teenagers who have long been reported to be harassing people inside local businesses and don’t seem to be facing consequences. Saka said his family had witnessed this firsthand and suggested that the system is failing the troubled youth as well as victims: “I’m committed to doing better for them and for you.”

The last topic before the group broke up was city resources – Kimora Lee of Snip-Its wondered if the city Office of Economic Development was a good place to turn for help as she deals with the effects of construction next door and road work out front. Short answer offered by the councilmember, his staff, and the Junction Association: Yes. Though city departments report to the mayor and not the council, Saka clarified, he’s found them responsive to issues, so far.

WHAT’S NEXT: As the meeting closed, Saka’s chief of staff told the group he’s interested in a district-wide small-business summit. Meantime, the Chamber’s next lunch meeting is tomorrow, with a guest speaking to the topic of dealing with people in crisis via Mental Health First Aid – more info here.

58 Replies to "'We vilified businesses for too long,' city councilmember tells West Seattle small-biz proprietors gathered to share concerns"

  • WS Guy March 13, 2024 (11:45 pm)

    So far Rob Saka has been right about everything.  10/10.  I may yet invest in this city.

  • Jay March 14, 2024 (1:27 am)

    I don’t like the maga-esque “we have vilified small businesses” rhetoric. Nobody is vilifying small businesses, that’s rhetoric that corporate politicians use to tell people the real reason the economy is suffering is that companies are regulated too much. Having rules isn’t villification! And what specifically is he going to do? Many of our small businesses have gone under due to rent hikes, is he going to go head to head with the private equity firms that own our neighborhoods? Commercial rent controls? Tax deductions to support for higher wages so that small businesses can compete with McDonald’s on salary? It sounds like he’s just going to deregulate and “get out of your way.” Regulations aren’t the problem. It’s so frustrating to see everyone cheering on solutions that aren’t going to fix the roof cause of problems.

    • Small Biz March 14, 2024 (5:36 am)

      Small business here, 100% agree. No one has vilified small business. Being a small business owner is A LOT, but that’s what we signed up for. Wearing all those hats is the job. I don’t like pandering in general especially when the City Council has such limited power to help out small businesses. Want to help? Let’s get more transitional housing and mental health services online, let’s help find ways to reduce rent so our employees can live in the city and not in Burien or Kent. Those are some of the bigger issues facing business, threat the illness not the symptom.

    • Robert March 14, 2024 (8:05 am)

      Regulations aren’t the problem.”  It is small business owners that are telling you they are a problem.  These aren’t large corporate systems. As we can see in the voting pattern in recent years the public is moving past the utopian and address all the root causes logic. A new balance is being created. More public safety and civic order. More realistic and helpful relationships with small businesses.  And yes, still more attention to mental illness and addiction. Maybe to include an ability to require treatment when a person is so ill that their ability to make decisions is compromised. 

      • Nolan March 18, 2024 (6:24 pm)

        Small business owners, much like you, are not immune to propaganda.

    • WSresident March 14, 2024 (8:09 am)

      Jay- are you a business owner? 

    • Dog Whisperer March 14, 2024 (8:14 am)

      If these concerns from small business are off-putting to you Jay then I’m certain you never ran a small business, hired or fired an employee, or watched your livelihood disappear during the pandemic shutdown. This city has taken advantage of businesses and job providers to the detriment of we citizens. 

    • Troy March 14, 2024 (8:20 am)

      “regulations aren’t the problem” you say after a bunch of small business owners say literally that the regulations are a huge part of the problem. What?

    • Nicholas March 14, 2024 (8:36 am)

      Totally agree. Nobody is vilifying small businesses – that’s a lazy political cliche. Amazon and other giant companies are vilified at times, and rightly so, for warping the cost of living in the places they do business. But it’s very hard to devise regulation that counteracts that warp without hurting smaller businesses in the process. The ills that our punching-bag regulations are trying to address are bigger than Seattle’s power to unilaterally fix them. But we can start by doing what we can to capture revenue from people who can afford to pay it (Amazon), and giving it to issues and people who need it the most.

    • Dwest March 14, 2024 (9:02 am)

      Rent control and minimum wage are the root cause of many of the problems. Price controls have the opposite effect of their intentions, these rules make everyone poorer, especially the poor. Economics studies are very clear here and the arguments from socialist for price controls draw many parallels with creationism and the anti vax movement, just because you want science to work this way doesn’t mean it does. First step is get rid of all price controls, after that we can build a safety net that actually works and doesn’t cause more harm than good.

      • backwards day? March 14, 2024 (10:37 pm)

        I legit can’t tell whether this is sarcasm or not. For the sake of my faith in humanity, I’ll chuckle at the parody. 

    • Blbl March 14, 2024 (10:47 am)

      Agree. And more typical fear-mongering. If a small business closes, that doesn’t “create havoc”. 🙄

      • WSB March 14, 2024 (11:13 am)

        He did not say closure of “a” business would result in “havoc.” As quoted above, he said if “half, three-quarters” of them closed, that would be “havoc.” In West Seattle, for example, “half to three-quarters” would be hundreds of businesses. – TR

        • Blbl March 14, 2024 (2:44 pm)

          Threatening half to three-quarters of all businesses closing is fear mongering. There is absolutely no evidence of that. 

    • Keven Ruf March 14, 2024 (11:48 am)

      I know, name a single case of someone “vilifying business.” Hollow.

  • HappyCamper March 14, 2024 (5:31 am)

    So far he’s acting like a representative and not an activist. So refreshing!

  • AlkiDreamin March 14, 2024 (7:35 am)

    @Jay, agree!  Saka doesn’t seem very interested in solutions; just polarizing rhetoric. App drivers deserve wage protections and if the app-based companies pass the costs onto businesses, they are the problem, not the drivers. Jumpstart taxes employers that pay extremely high salaries in Seattle… it’s designed to just target huge corporations, not small businesses. In turn, that funding supports affordable housing and equitable development to root those in our communities most at risk of displacement. You may not like these policies, that’s fine. But it’s disingenuous and simply pandering to equate them to villifying small businesses. 

  • Alki resident March 14, 2024 (7:47 am)

    Thank you Rob Saka- we finally have a glimmer of hope that this city can get put back on the right track. “Unintended consequences” sums up the results of the ill-thought-out  policies of the last city council group that ruined our city. We look forward to your pragmatic solutions! 

  • Seattlite March 14, 2024 (8:28 am)

    How many small businesses have you owned?  Small business owners work 24/7/365 to have a successful small business.   Discouraging small business with over-regulation on all levels does not bolster the workforce or economy.  

  • Bob March 14, 2024 (9:08 am)

    Uhh, all I ever hear about it small businesses… since when have they been vilified? 

  • M March 14, 2024 (9:15 am)

    Vilified? Complaining about Amazon and other large businesses paying the majority of the Jump Start tax? He lost me.

  • Mrs. Myrtle March 14, 2024 (10:11 am)

    The city ordinance might have had “unintended consequences” to restaurants but certainly not “unexpected consequences.” This is something taught in Econ 101. I’m sure an unpopular opinion but when you mess with the free markets you don’t benefit anyone. The most efficient and beneficial for society is to allow consumers and businesses to sort it out through supply and demand. Unpopular but literally factual. People may disagree but we are watching it happen and it’s not unexpected. 

    • heartless March 14, 2024 (10:45 am)

      You’ve, uh, never taken Econ 101, have you?

      “Unpopular but literally factual” is my new  favorite catchphrase.  I plan on using it at every single possible occasion–thanks!

    • Keven Ruf March 14, 2024 (11:50 am)

      Yes the markets are always perfect, thank you Ayn Rand!

      • JoelT March 14, 2024 (12:58 pm)

        Neither the free market nor the government is perfect. The council needs to figure out that small businesses are important to the health and diversity of the economy. Keven, where do you think tax revenue comes from? How do we fund city services without business owners taking a chance on the city? Helping and encouraging small business doesn’t mean some dystopian, Ayn Rand style future where we blindly worship the free market.  

  • WestSeattleDavid March 14, 2024 (10:23 am)

    I’m a 20-year small business owner, dealing with things today that make it harder than ever before. Matt Vaughan’s statement about smashing for no other reason to vandalize is spot on. Our equipment is in constant need of maintenance due to vandalism. It is hard to stay in business. But I am thankful that we have Rob Saka is engaged and trying to make a difference. He’s out here making contact and listening.   He’s taken the time to meet me for coffee and to hear my concerns. He wants to help make Seattle a better place for us all. With him, it really does seem like he’s looking for the best way to solve problems. I like him. I say we give him a chance to make West Seattle a better place for us all.

  • Elizabeth March 14, 2024 (10:59 am)

    I’d like to save his speeches and see what they look like in two years. Right now it’s all talk. 

  • WS Business Owner March 14, 2024 (11:11 am)

    I would say “vilified” is the correct term for some people. Maybe not for all. I think if you’re a strict liberal then you would likely disagree. But for those who are actually in business, having to pay the very high taxes and fees and deal with regulations that others who are W2 employees don’t, it certainly feels like that at times. I cant tell you how many times I have heard my most liberal friends utter the words “F*%K Amazon”. Being a business owner is hard work, and the City doesn’t make it any easier. What’s interesting to me is that the City of Seattle is complaining about their budget shortfall while simultaneously pushing larger businesses away with their jumpstart tax and negative attitude toward them. Large businesses may get a lot of tax breaks, but they still pay taxes and contribute to the local economy in some pretty big ways. One of the multitude of reasons that Amazon is moving many residents over to Bellevue is because of the JumpStart Tax that has hit them hard. A great deal of those thousands of residents will likely move into housing on the Eastside, which will lower tax collections for Seattle. Those residents also bring over income that is more overlooked, such as Seattle’s portion of sales taxes on goods purchased, lodging tax (for family visiting the city, renting in Bellevue instead of Seattle),  potential loss of tourism dollars if family members of workers do not travel into Seattle when they visit, etc. That’s definitely counter to what the City needs right now. It can’t simultaneously say “oh we really need to make up for the budget shortfall” while making it harder for businesses to come in and provide the work that leads to their primary income source (property taxes). The City Council seems to want to bite off their nose to spite their face sometimes with business. Take the minimum wage law for gig drivers for instance. The City Council assumed that companies like Uber, Doordash, and Grubhub just weren’t paying their drivers well enough and were pocketing money left and right. But a little bit of research (or a simple google search), would have shown them that few, of these companies are actually profitable as they were before. Most post losses consistently and aren’t profitable. So where was that money supposed to come from? I guess we know now, and its hurting businesses. Even drivers want to repeal the law because they are essentially out of work because the city didn’t fully think through what they were doing. Its nice to finally see SOMEONE in the city council who is willing to genuinely work with businesses to help solve some of the issues that affect the daily life of residents.

    • Small Biz March 14, 2024 (12:43 pm)

      As a fellow small business owner I don’t know what taxes you’re talking about. Payroll Taxes – are mostly State and FederalSales tax – you collect (it’s not your money) B&O Tax – City but it’s not awfulKing County Asset Tax – annoying but not SeattlePermits / Licenses – State/County/City low unless you serve hard liquor.These are all things that Saka can’t help with. And it’s NOT A LOT. I pay these too. Greed at larger agricultural and supply companies are driving up costs way more than any tax. Amazon does not pay meaningful taxes, hence the jumpstart tax. Neither do other large companies like Starbucks, Microsoft, GE, Boeing etc etc. if you want to advocate for better codes that make developers demise retails spaces into affordable spaces and get the City help with first year rent to get businesses off the ground I will meet you there. Otherwise I have to say that feelings aren’t facts, feeling vilified because your liberal friends don’t like Amazon is not actually being vilified. 

      • Erik March 14, 2024 (9:51 pm)

        Again, some may agree or disagree. I’m not sure what you’re referring to with “agricultural and supply businesses”. Maybe cite your source or give specific examples? Yes a large portion of those taxes are though FICA and Federal income tax. Some are through business licensing fees, B&O taxes, and professional licensing fees as well. But it all adds up when you have to pay tens of thousands of dollars a year in business expenses as well. And remember that businesses have to spend money for supplies in the city to operate as well, adding to the sales tax that the city collects. But everything you’ve stated are your own angry feelings and not necessarily “facts”. I’d hope for your sake as a business owner that your public facing persona is a little less combative because it certainly wont benefit you in the future if you treat your employees and customers the way you’ve just trolled on this post. 

        • Small Biz March 15, 2024 (11:42 pm)

          Ha! Where’s the anger? I’m curious what other taxes people are talking about, you don’t have to like my stance. But go off.

  • DRW March 14, 2024 (11:17 am)

    And we will lose seven plus small businesses to light rail.

    • shufflerunner March 14, 2024 (1:04 pm)

      We should put it to a vote and see if anyone even wants the light rail… wait, we did that already. 

  • Jeff March 14, 2024 (12:32 pm)

    King of Potholes  over here making stuff up. “Vilified businesses” nope, not small businesses we love, no we vilified Amazon because they don’t let their employees go to the bathroom at work. And vilified Boeing because they cut corners on safety inspections. What a joke!! Wish Costa won…

  • Rhonda March 14, 2024 (12:40 pm)

    THIS is why a majority of us voted for Saka over his anti-business opponent. It’s so refreshing to have pro-Seattle members on the city council for a change.

    • Jay March 14, 2024 (2:27 pm)

      Costa wasn’t anti-business. Nobody who has ever run for this position in the history of Seattle has ever been anti-business or vilified small business. This red-hat rhetoric is unhealthy for our community.

  • Josh March 14, 2024 (12:42 pm)

    Lots of bland speech. Our savior. Lol. 

  • Arbor Heights Resident March 14, 2024 (3:12 pm)

    If a business can’t exist without taking advantages of loopholes in the law to pay people less than they should, then it shouldn’t exist. You know what would be great for businesses? Bringing back slavery- if app based workers got paid nothing at all, imagine how cheap delivery would be, and all those orders pouring in!

    • North admiral March 14, 2024 (3:40 pm)

      This is a great point 

    • Roxhill Resident March 15, 2024 (1:43 pm)

      Glad i’m not the only one to think it. Being a small business owner isn’t entitlement to a successful business if it relies on not running said business within legal bounds.

  • WestSeattleDavid March 14, 2024 (3:12 pm)

    I would just encourage everyone to give Rob Saka a chance. He’s only been in this position for 3 months, and he’s out here talking to us, trying to best represent us.  Let’s work with him to find the solutions that will make West Seattle (and Seattle as a whole) a great place to live. 

    • Jay March 14, 2024 (3:35 pm)

      The problem with “let’s give politicians a chance” is that democracy is very fragile. Rules, regulations, and systems require hard work and a lot of time to put in place – and if removed it’s very hard to undo that. We do need to push back on politicians with an agenda of deregulation because it’s so much easier to tear things down than to build things up, so we need to make it as hard as possible to tear things down to avoid hasty and regrettable decisions. For example the minimum wage for app workers is a necessary thing that took a decade to fight for – and letting it be repealed by reactionary politics would be a huge mistake. It’s hard to run a business, but businesses should not be subsidized by poor people who have unpredictable poverty-level income.

      • Lawn Order March 14, 2024 (5:27 pm)

        Hasty and regrettable decisions – like enacting the app-based wage laws? You can implement a poorly thought idea just as hastily as you can tear a well thought idea down. The reality of the City of Seattle wage laws, as well as those of the state are that they were written and promoted by plaintiff side class action law firms, who needed new tools to boost their revenue and line their pockets. In this region, it was an easy sell – the faux white knight coming to rescue the downtrodden worker. Please spare me. We had the progressive analog of MAGA at the helm for the better part of a decade, and they contributed to the backslide of our wonderful city. They drove out Boeing and Amazon. Talk about short sighted and idiotic. 

        • Jeff March 15, 2024 (11:37 am)

          There was no progressive “MAGA” and Boeing and Amazon are still here. Stop with hyperbole.

        • MacJ March 16, 2024 (5:53 pm)

          Boeing HQ left Seattle 23 years ago. They and Amazon keep many, many law firms and lobbyists very well compensated.

  • CorvidFan March 14, 2024 (4:05 pm)

    Just want to remind everyone this is the guy who said adding an 8″ traffic barrier would be “triggering to immigrants” because it would “remind them of Trump’s border wall.”   He is disingenuous.  He will use whatever language he thinks will get him applause, but ultimately he doesn’t care about public safety. I hope his audience found that speech satisfying because that is all they will get from him.

  • BeTheChange March 14, 2024 (7:32 pm)

    “For the 3rd time this week, Rob Saka sat down with residents…”  That says a lot. I didn’t know Rob Saka prior to the election, but once I met with him and heard what he had to say, I liked the man.Now, 3 months into his first term, he’s out here listening to people.  Doing the work that we elected him to do.But reading through this thread, it’s obvious that there are some who are unwilling to give him a chance.  Come on people.  The personal attacks reflect badly on the writer, not on Saka, who is showing up to do the work.  We’re with you Rob. Keep focused on the job at hand. Your success is our success!

  • Admiral-2009 March 14, 2024 (10:45 pm)

    As a small business owner it’s really annoying to pay a fee to pay City taxes online.  Neither the State or County does this.  And neither does the Federal Government. 

    Time for the City to get rid of this annoying fee;  you can pay the tax the old school way and not pay the fee but the I’m sure the cost to process the payment is far higher for all involved.

  • Matt March 14, 2024 (10:48 pm)

    C’mon West Seattle, we better than this. We are acting a lil pessimistic and cynical in my opinion. It’s discouraging. In my 36 years as owner of Easy Street Records, never ever ever has a council member hosted a small biz group session/town hall…and to do so at the small businesses he represents. Not since those early days of Dow Constantine have we had such attention w the intention of finding solutions. We met at Realfine Coffee (thank u Julie), had coffee and then met in the backroom of Westy (thank u JP). Keep in mind, District 1 is a much larger jurisdiction now. Saka has conducted 5 separate town halls, all w varying degrees of needs and concerns, all within less than 3 months. I myself considered running for D1, but it appeared we were going to be in capable hands. Phil Tavel, Maren Costa, or Rob Saka…a few others were pretty strong too…we had some great candidates. I think Rob has been very direct and clear w his policies… from the campaign trail to now. Let’s work with him, not against him. His platform had been based on public safety, law enforcement, and supporting our businesses. I don’t hear any rhetoric or hyperbole. He is standing by what he campaigned on. As far as us small businesses feeling villified, I can see how many small businesses might feel that way, absolutely. Yes yes, no doubt. Add forgotten, isolated, worried, angry too. Lots of emotions. I have felt this way over recent years myself, but I must say I’ve tried to turn those feeling into grateful, proud, passionate, useful…During the pandemic, many of us went out of business, how quickly we may have forgotten and now coming out of the pandemic, we are finding we still aren’t out of it. The PPP $ running or ran out, the ERTC, the grant $ whatever it may been…we are still paying on the the loans we got w/ %. The accounting fees, the cleaning and maintenance fees, the patios and not patios, retainment, staff safety, broken windows (glass is not insured, did u know?), I could go on and on…Now, we have the food delivery ordinance that seems to be backfiring. It was intended to help the delivery drivers, but they are getting less orders and the restaurants that we have been supporting and many who adopted delivery as their main source of income, they are getting less orders. We heard Chamber award winner, Claiborne Bell from Distinguished Kitchens commercial kitchens (across street from YMCA) talk about how many of his tenants are reporting 30-40% losses. Some are going out of business. Todd Carden from Elliott Bay spoke up about having to cut staff, raise prices, chase vandals down the street. JP from Westy talking about having a 2nd location (Roosevelt) because the odds that he might lose one of the locations is highly possible, and at least he’d have one to fall back on. We recently lost The Mission, Jet City Beignet, The Swinery…Never did I sense that Saka wasn’t listening to our concerns, he was very much engaged, he had his staff there, he was asking questions, he was very honest and direct w what to expect, what the hurdles are, what we can accomplish together. I’ve already heard he reached out to a business after the meeting to assist w some special funding and services.  When I opened my business mid block in late ’87, later moved to corner it is now in Aug ’89, we had terrible crime, shoplifting, break-ins, I bought cameras (money I didn’t have), spent the night (40-50 x) in my shop w a baseball bat close by. Every other storefront was vacant. U remember then? So, now we are back to that, but what we have going for us, more resiliency and a community that is far more aware of each others safety and protecting our neighbors, our parks, schools, our favorite businesses. I feel the love…thank u and I see ppl looking out for each other more than they used to. We are more aware. We have a well run WSJA and Chamber of Commerce. We have a year round Farmers Market, Harvest Fest, Tree Lighting, Hometown Holidays….the greatest community street festival in Seattle, a really great well attended Summerfest…and we have the best Blog in the State!  The JumpStart tax (head tax) is a controversial one and also seems to have some ill fated consequences. There are 10 businesses/corps that have a large enough payroll to contribute to it, but it’s forcing these big businesses to leave Seattle or cut back on payroll. The general fund we expected from JumpStart is going to be less than forecasted. That’ll put more pressure on all of us… and small business. Services (health, mental health, addiction), Parks/Rec, community centers, affordable housing, environmental agencies…I’m not gonna villify a big corporation for cutting their labor costs or even leaving Seattle…oftentimes the founder or ownership group wrote their idea down and dream on a back of envelope no different than I did…or Stu at Alki Bike did…or Cory at Mystery Made…Derek at Revelry Room….Dan at Peel and Press…Papa Tony’s Hot Sauce (Chamber Award winner)…the boys from Rush Hour… Saka spent 10 years in the Air Force, he’s been a business attorney, son of immigrants, a community volunteer. He has 3 kids going to school, playing soccer, playing baseball, all in WS. He lives in Delridge. Please support him, don’t vilify him, he didn’t need this job, he wanted it, he got it, he earned it, he worked hard for this, I think u all saw that. Please align, advocate, and do your part too.   

    • Lawn Order March 15, 2024 (6:45 am)

      Mic Drop. Wow, Matt – well said. Thank you for your insights. 

    • Scarlett March 17, 2024 (8:22 am)

      You got the cart before the horse, Matt.  Mega-corporations aren’t the solution, they’re the problem.  A monstrosity like Amazon, presumably one of the corporations you’re referring to, distorts the entire economic system by forcing other mid-sized and small businesses to play by their rules,  distorts the labor market, housing markets, and begins to dictate consumer choices by virtual of economies of scale.   The fact that they pay a majority of JumpStart revenue is meaningless compared to the damage a company like Amazon does.  Many of us don’t want to live in Company Town, U.S.A.., Matt, so your defense is a little “off-putting,” to put it as diplomatically as I can.    

    • Derek March 22, 2024 (10:16 am)

      This part! Well said, Matt

  • Fairmount March 15, 2024 (6:48 pm)

    Get rid of the app based worker ordinance. It’s clearly not working and was pushed through the old council. Less drivers/workers are needed now, less business for restaurants and more expensive for consumers. How is this a win? Start undoing the mistakes of the old council. 

    • Derek March 16, 2024 (7:19 am)

      Uhhh no. We need workers to be paid their worth. Boycott the company not paying them, don’t blame council.

  • RentIsTheRoot March 16, 2024 (6:37 am)

    Every time a small business closes and the owners are asked why, they say one thing, “We couldn’t afford the rent.”Not that they were being vilified, or that vandalism was too much. It was your friendly local landlord leech that wanted even more money for doing nothing.The only small businesses that can survive these days own their buildings. Anyone else is just on borrowed time.The problem we have in Seattle is a land baron aristocracy problem. We need to break up land ownership. No one person or company should own dozens of homes and/or business properties.Until that changes, businesses will have to keep squeezing their employees for the difference right up until they close, making it management vs labor while the real villains get away with murder.

    • Matt March 16, 2024 (2:48 pm)

      For the most part, many of our landlords in the Junction and throughout WS are local families/residents themselves. I’ve found most to be very fair. Oftentimes, they are fellow merchants themselves. (ie Menashe, Husky). Not disagreeing that there may be a handful of greedy ones, but we have to understand that many of the local landlords are small biz folks too…small rental service co, property mgmt…They may own 2-3 , 5-10 or even 20+ and have diversified into commercial and/or residential…or have become builders themselves. Some worked hard for many years and invested in real estate rather than stocks (or both), they became richer and possibly even wealthy, but we can’t disparage them for that. One of the biggest landlords in town was a dock worker/stevedore/laborer, retired early from Todd Shipyard and took a chance on real estate. It worked out for him and his family. Many of these folks took a big hit during the pandemic, it’s still risky business. With new construction and mixed use buildings, the costs have been high (inflation applies here too) …the rents in turn, are gonna be high.  Thing is….when it comes to owning a small biz, be that a record shop, a rental company, a boutique, flower shop, bar…it’s a risk at every turn. With all that being said, nothing irks me more than a wealthy landlord, who fell into the money, raised, in it, trust fund, or whatever….and is only greedy, conniving, and heartless. They out there. 

    • WSBizOwner March 18, 2024 (9:13 am)

      I hope you realize that every time property tax is raised the rent will go up. You can say the problem is the rent, but it is equally the never-ending rise in property tax. Imagine a world where ineffective City programs are cancelled (like most of the homeless grifting) and taxes are lowered, then rents wouldn’t go up as fast and businesses would have a better chance of keeping up. But this is Seattle so taxes will never go down I guess, too many people are getting rich from our naive charitable spending on the wrong solutions (LIHI for example).

      • Derek March 18, 2024 (7:12 pm)

        You just defined rent as the problem literally. The property taxes aren’t the cause, they’re the excuse. Along with greed.

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