West Seattle politics 1571 results

ELECTION 2019: First City Council candidate campaigning for West Seattle/South Park District 1

We’ve been watching the city’s Ethics and Elections Commission website for first indication of who’ll be running next year in City Council District 1, West Seattle and South Park, and tonight the first name is on the Campaigns page: Phillip Tavel. He is a lawyer who finished third in the 2015 primary.

We have a request out to him for comment, as well as an inquiry to incumbent Councilmember Lisa Herbold as to whether she’s yet decided on running for re-election. (2015 WSB photo)

ELECTION: As ballots arrive, West Seattle Chamber of Commerce provides one more look at 34th District State Senate hopefuls

Got your ballot(s) yet? King County Elections mailed them Wednesday. Ours arrived on Friday. (If you don’t get yours by tomorrow, call KCE at 206-296-VOTE.) Meantime, we have one more look at the marquee race on ballots in this area – the 34th District State Senate race to fill the seat from which Sen. Sharon Nelson is retiring.

(WSB photo: Chamber board chair Pete Spalding, candidates Joe Nguyen and Shannon Braddock, Chamber CEO Lynn Dennis)

The West Seattle Chamber of Commerce hosted the last scheduled WS forum with Joe Nguyen and Shannon Braddock on Thursday night at the DAV Hall in North Delridge. Here’s our unedited video:

The Chamber billed this as a “modified Lincoln-Douglas format.” No audience questions. We did take topline notes (not full transcriptions nor direct quotes outside of anything in quotation marks), if you don’t have time to watch:

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FOLLOWUP: Street robbery followed bus confrontation, police say

As promised, we procured the police report about the Thursday street robbery that led to a search through south Morgan Junction and three arrests in west Gatewood.

(WSB photo, Thursday)

The report says it all started on board a bus headed northbound on Fauntleroy Way. The victim – 18 or 19, not a juvenile as first reported – said he got on board at the ferry dock. He said he was confronted on the bus and asked where to buy “weed.” The victim said he didn’t know but that the people who asked him continued staring at him. He felt uncomfortable so he got off the bus at Fauntleroy and Myrtle. They followed him. He crossed the street and they kept following him. Two of them demanded he give them his stuff and swung at him with closed fists. He tried to get away from them by going into nearby retirement center The Kenney but its doors were locked. So he ran north and wound up in the yard of a nearby house. Witnesses told police they saw the victim being beaten and kicked in the yard. The victim said they tried to steal his backpack and eventually got away with his iPhone and Gucci belt. The robbers/attackers then ran eastbound and by then police had been called. Three suspects were spotted at the Morgan Junction McDonald’s. When police arrived there, the three took off running eastbound. Patrol and K9 officers tracked them into the west Gatewood neighborhood where three juveniles were arrested near 41st SW/Heights Place SW [map]. The report says all three were booked into the juvenile-detention center. The victim, meantime, got his phone and belt back; police say he was curled up on the ground in “great pain” when they found him and that SFD medics recommended that he go to a hospital but he declined. We’ll follow up next week to see whether charges will be filed.

VIDEO: 14 questions for 34th District State Senate candidates @ Delridge District Council/South Seattle College forum

The ballots are in the mail. The ballot dropboxes (including the brand-new one in The Junction) open today. What you’ll see on your ballot includes only one contested, open local seat: 34th District State Senator. Last night was the second-to-last West Seattle forum for the two candidates who survived the 11-candidate primary. Above, our video of the entire forum, presented by the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council (in place of its regular monthly meeting), at and with South Seattle College (WSB sponsor) on Puget Ridge; below, our notes with key points – NOT full transcriptions – from the candidates’ replies to the 14 questions asked at the forum (including some “different ones!” as they observed with some measure of delight).

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UPDATE: West Seattle gets second ballot dropbox

3 PM: Two years after getting its first permanent ballot dropbox from King County Elections, West Seattle is about to get a second one. Lora Radford of the West Seattle Junction Association has been working with KC Elections on a location for a dropbox in The Junction. She sends word that they expect “any day now” to install one on the south side of SW Alaska west of California SW: “I’m excited this box will be permanently located in the Junction.” The KCE website already shows it! West Seattle’s only dropbox until now has been along SW Raymond by the High Point Library, installed in 2016; that one will remain. General-election voting will start later this week, when ballots start showing up in voters’ mailboxes. If you’d rather drop your ballot in a mailbox, the new prepaid-postage program continues, too.

4:11 PM: Thanks to Angelo for noting in a comment that the box is now in place! Photo added above.

VIDEO: More chances to see 34th District State Senate candidates before you vote

This past week, 34th District State Senate candidates Shannon Braddock and Joe Nguyen spoke with the Admiral Neighborhood Association at its regular every-other-month meeting. This time, the format wasn’t the usual side-by-side format; each candidate was given time to speak and to answer questions. Here’s our video – dimly lit because that’s the way it is at the venue, The Sanctuary at Admiral:

Before your ballot arrives in the mail around the end of this coming week, you have two more chances to see the candidates in West Seattle:

-Wednesday (October 17th), 7 pm Delridge Neighborhoods District Council forum in Olympic Hall at South Seattle College (6000 16th SW; WSB sponsor)

-Thursday (October 18th), 6:30 pm West Seattle Chamber of Commerce forum at the DAV Hall (4857 Delridge Way SW)

Both are open to all. Voting deadline is November 6th.

VIDEO: Governors present and past at South Seattle College to launch Complete Count Committee

The 2020 Census is getting closer, and our state’s Complete Count Committee started its work today by having its kickoff meeting in West Seattle, at South Seattle College (WSB sponsor). The committee is described as “a group of 30 leaders (Gov. Jay Inslee) has appointed to support and advise state officials on how best to ensure an accurate count of all Washington residents,” chaired by Gary Locke, who has served as governor and as U.S. ambassador to China. Both Inslee and Locke were there for this afternoon’s meeting:

The visitors were welcomed by SSC’s new president Dr. Rosie Rimando-Chareunsap:

Gov. Inslee talked with the media after speaking to the committee.

The committee’s members are listed here.

They include Sili Savusa, executive director of the White Center Community Development Association.

VIDEO: 34th District State Senate candidates @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

Voting for the general election starts in less than 2 weeks. The most hotly contested race on local ballots is for 34th District State Senator, with Joe Nguyen and Shannon Braddock emerging from an 11-candidate primary. The latest major appearance by both was at this past Thursday night’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting in White Center; we recorded it on video and you can watch the unedited hour-and-a-half-long forum above. We’ve also noted key points in text below (after the jump if you are reading from the front page) – not full transcriptions, just excerpted points, but perhaps of interest if you don’t have time to watch the video or go see one of their upcoming appearances (listed below):

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ELECTION 2018: 34th District State Senate candidates @ Admiral Neighborhood Association next week

Missed the 34th District State Senate candidates at last night’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting? We’ll have video up this weekend – and also, we’ve just received word that candidates Shannon Braddock and Joe Nguyen are both expected at next Tuesday’s Admiral Neighborhood Association meeting, 6:30 pm at The Sanctuary at Admiral (42nd/Lander); details to come, says ANA president Larry Wymer. Voting starts when your ballot arrives in the mail in about two weeks.

Registered to vote yet? Deadline looming. Plus, an incentive!

The November election is just a month away, and voting starts in about two weeks. If you’re not registered yet, Monday is the deadline for registering online or by mail. You can do the former by going here; to print a form for mailing, go here – it’s available in 21 languages!

P.S. Here’s an incentive – the coffee shop Bird on a Wire (3509 SW Henderson) has voter-registration events both days this weekend, with forms printed and available: “Enjoy a free ‘bird drop’ cookie or small cup of joe with every filled-out application!” during these times – 9-11 am Saturday, 10 am-2 pm Sunday.

P.P.S. We are reminded that this is an important time to check to be sure your registration status is still active – that could have changed if, for example, you moved and ballots sent to your old address were returned as undeliverable. Go here to check your status.

Question for your councilmember? Lisa Herbold @ Southwest District Council this week

September 30, 2018 11:40 am
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 |   Southwest District Council | West Seattle news | West Seattle politics

As covered here this past week, the mayor’s budget plan is out and the City Council‘s review is on. One night before the first big public hearing next Thursday, West Seattle/South Park Councilmember Lisa Herbold will speak to the Southwest District Council. Besides discussing the budget process (which she is also updating on her website), she is also planning to talk about where the “vacant building” enforcement stands. She’s one of three guests on the agenda for Wednesday’s SWDC meeting, 6:30 pm at the Senior Center/Sisson Building (4217 SW Oregon, upstairs).

VIDEO: Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best cites crime-reducing goals in budget pitch

(SPD presentation starts 1:16 in)

In her Thursday afternoon appearance during the City Council’s first-round budget review, Police Chief Carmen Best revealed three goals for crime reduction in the year ahead: Cutting auto theft, residential burglary, and commercial robbery. She said that residential burglary had hit the Southwest and South Precinct areas particularly hard, so she wants to bring it down five percent in those areas, while reducing vehicle theft by five percent citywide, and reducing commercial robbery by two percent.

As noted when the citywide budget plan was rolled out by the mayor on Monday, the chief hopes to add 10 officers next year – beyond replacing those who leaving – and 30 in 2020. Councilmembers spent a significant amount of time grilling Best on staffing levels, saying they are hearing from constituents over and over again that the city doesn’t have enough police. The force currently numbers 1,457, she had said, “more deployable officers than it has ever had,” while acknowledging “we need more officers.” Recruiting, she said, is currently a big challenge.

Another number of note: The proposed SPD budget for next year is $363 million, a 10 percent increase, with most of the increase attributed to technology investments that have to be made next year.

SPD was the last department to present its budget overview in 2 days of presentations to the council. Councilmember Lisa Herbold‘s latest weekly update outlined where the process goes from here, including a public hearing at City Hall next Thursday (October 4th).

VIDEO: Mayor Durkan touts ‘community-based government’ @ Highland Park Action Committee

September 27, 2018 12:28 pm
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 |   Highland Park | Neighborhoods | West Seattle news | West Seattle politics

(WSB photos and video by Patrick Sand)

Mayor Jenny Durkan‘s visit to the Highland Park Action Committee finally happened last night – 7 months after she accepted the invitation extended by HPAC’s Gunner Scott during her February “town hall” at the Senior Center of West Seattle. We got it all on video – first, the mayor:

And in our second clip, the department heads who accompanied her, mostly to address homelessness-related issues such as the Myers Way east-side cleanup – interim Human Services Director Jason Johnson (a West Seattle resident), HSD’s Navigation Team manager Fred Podesta, as well as Seattle Parks and Recreation leadership, introduced by HPAC chair Charlie Omana:

Other top city staffers were there too, including new Department of Neighborhoods director Andrés Mantilla – a Highland Park resident – Seattle Public UtilitiesMami Hara, Parks interim superintendent Christopher Williams, and deputy SDOT director Elliott Helmbrecht.

If you don’t have time to watch the video and weren’t among the ~50 people at the Highland Park Improvement Club for last night’s event, here are the toplines:

She opened by talking about the budget proposal she unveiled on Monday (here’s our coverage, from attending a media briefing at the mayor’s office) and pitching for the Families/Education/Preschool/Promise Levy that’ll go to city voters in November.

Regarding homelessness, she touted her plan for hundreds of additional shelter beds and the need to close “gaps” in regional behavioral-care services. She said the city-sanctioned Camp Second Chance in southeast West Seattle “is being managed well.” And she said the Myers Way east-side cleanup had finished ahead of schedule.

Regarding police and crimefighting, she promised that she and SPD Chief Carmen Best would figure out how to “do better.”

In Q&A with the mayor, local community advocate Pete Spalding opened by mentioning how former Mayor Murray had cut ties with community groups such as neighborhood-district councils and asked Durkan about renewing a commitment to working with community groups. She declared that her presence last night was a “signal to you” that she has made that commitment, and she added that she believes in “community-based government,” that solutions come from communities. “You’ll see me back here,” she promised.

Another neighborhood advocate, Kay Kirkpatrick, brought up the Highland Park Way/Holden roundabout that neighbors have long been seeking. Is it in the city budget? Can money from other on-hold projects (such as Fauntleroy Boulevard) be diverted to it? The mayor’s answer (about 19 minutes into the video) was that “it’s clear that a roundabout is the best result” for the intersection, and that the city is planning in expectation that it’ll get a state grant to fund it – but if not, the city will find a “Plan B.” In the meantime, the mayor said they’re looking at “other ways to slow traffic down” there.

Another transportation issue brought up: Bus service to Highland Park, particularly Route 131. (While buses are managed by King County, the city has had an increasing role as it’s “bought” additional service hours on some routes, and more of that is proposed in Durkan’s new budget.)

In crime and safety, a neighbor from the 13th SW area shaken by home-invasion burglaries earlier this year said they still feel the response might have been better in a more-affluent area. “We want to feel safe in the area … and more has to be done for people to feel more trust in the Police Department.” The mayor acknowledged that she was aware of the community’s concerns and said she hopes that they are doing better now. “We know we can do better in parts of the city.” She again mentioned that her budget calls for more officers – 10 more citywide next year, 30 more the year after that, above attrition (though where they’ll be assigned isn’t clear, and the budget shows the Southwest Precinct overall staffing level not changing). Assistant Chief Adrian Diaz also addressed the concerns and mentioned safety/self-defense training to “empower” community members.

And one more question before the mayor left was from a South Delridge resident who spoke of the dozens of derelict/abandoned properties in the area, wondering why it takes so long to get them addressed. The mayor mentioned a South Park property that had been handled but invited the resident to get her more specifics so they could “work on (it).” (A p.s. on that, Councilmember Lisa Herbold‘s been working on the issue and is scheduled to talk about it at next week’s Southwest District Council meeting, 6:30 pm October 3rd at the Senior Center of West Seattle.)

We will add notes later this afternoon from the conversation with Human Services Department leaders that followed the mayor’s departure; you can watch the 30-minute video above in the meantime.

VIDEO: What the mayor wants to do with your money in her budget proposal

(Seattle Channel video of mayor’s budget speech)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Mayor Jenny Durkan is announcing her budget proposal for the next two years. (Click the “play” button above for the live stream from Seattle Channel at Fire Station 10 downtown.) It’s almost $6 billion a year. Just before leaving City Hall to present the speech, she hosted reporters in the mayor’s office conference room to provide background on toplines. We were among those invited – so here are some notes of interest.

She was joined by the city’s budget director Ben Noble, who acknowledged that the budget includes a “significant increase,” but he and Durkan stressed that it is balanced and includes “sustainable” sources of funding for a variety of city programs as well as recognizing that revenue growth is slowing, while inflation is on the rise.

A few big-picture notes – close to half the budget, $2.6 billion, goes to utilities: Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utilities. That’s separate from the city’s General Fund spending, which Noble said is proposed to go up six percent next year. The budget has a “focus on basic city services … that our taxpayers expect,” promised the mayor.

Some specific areas:

PUBLIC SAFETY: 40 new police officers – above attrition – are proposed, 10 next year and 30 in 2020. In the Fire Department, the mayor wants to add 120 new fire recruits. Noble said the added personnel are needed because maintaining required staffing levels is currently leading to lots of overtime. Durkan said that Chief Harold Scoggins found savings in other areas to cover the cost of adding personnel. We asked for specifics; fuel savings was mentioned, and they promised to provide details of others.

Back to police, the mayor does include money for 12 Community Service Officers – as originally called for by the City Council – and says they will be part of a new Collaborative Policing Bureau.

UTILITIES: 24 people will be added in the Customer Call Centers to reduce wait times. The mayor said City Light in particular needs a lot of “re-tuning” and she expects to spend a lot of time with new GM Debra Smith – assuming the council confirms her – doing that.

TRANSPORTATION: The city wants to pay the county to add yet more bus service – 100,000 more hours. In all, more than $600 million is budgeted for transit/transportation, including $101 million for “maintenance and replacement of key roads, trails, bike paths, bridges.” No specific projects mentioned for our area, but there was talk about dealing with the upcoming Period of Maximum Constraint downtown, including signal adjustments to keep transit and other traffic flowing. The mayor also mentioned going to Olympia to try to get approval for transit-lane-blocking enforcement cameras. (This would be a repeat try.) She promised they’ll be working “block by block” to figure out how to keep people moving.

HOMELESSNESS: Next year’s budget includes $89 million total in all areas in which the city deals with this, up a bit from this year’s $86 million. The spending includes “increased case management” for tiny-house villages (sanctioned encampments); we asked what that might mean for a specific encampment such as Camp Second Chance in West Seattle, and were promised details on that too. (Currently the city’s contracted camp operator. LIHI, provides a case manager, paid from what it gets annually to run the camp.)

The city’s going to try a “safe parking” program again for people who live in vehicles, with $250,000 allotted for that. No specifics of where/when, yet. And the Navigation Team will be increased.

NEIGHBORHOODS: $4 million is included to continue the Matching Fund program that funds many programs and projects around the city.

IF YOU REALLY LIKE NUMBERS: Noble explained that city revenues are “highly dependent on the local economy.” Sales, business/occupation, and utility taxes comprise more than 56 percent of what goes into the city’s General Fund. They’re continuing to grow but more slowly – this year sales tax was expected to go up 8.7%, but next year 3.5% and 2% in 2020; B&O is expected to grow 7.4% this year, 5.1% next year, 3.3% in 2020. The city expects construction activity to drop more than 10 percent over the next two years, while inflation is “creeping up,” in the three percent vicinity. But Noble stressed, “this is not a recession forecast – it’s a slowing of growth.” And new revenue streams are helping – $22 million a year from the “soda tax,” which at one point was expected to drop dramatically as the years went on, but, Noble said, other cities that have it are NOT seeing those drops so it “provides an opportunity to use these monies to fund more sustainable activities.”

THERE’S MORE: What’s above is just part of what was discussed at the briefing and a small part of what’s in the budget. The full document is due out now (update: find it here) and we’ll be reviewing it for other notes of interest that we’ll add to this report later.

WHAT HAPPENS FROM HERE: The City Council spends the next ~2 months reviewing the budget. District 1 Councilmember Lisa Herbold outlined the process – and how you can get involved – in her newest online update.

1 week until Mayor Jenny Durkan @ Highland Park Action Committee

September 19, 2018 9:32 am
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 |   Highland Park | West Seattle news | West Seattle politics

(WSB photo from June fact-finding walking tour with HPAC and mayor’s rep)

A mayoral visit that’s been months in the planning is now one week away – Mayor Jenny Durkan, hosted by the Highland Park Action Committee. You’re invited. HPAC chair Charlie Omana has just sent the agenda for the September 26th event, with word that the city’s Human Services Director will be there too:

6:15 Doors open

6:30 Calling meeting to order

6:35 Guest Speaker – Mayor Jenny Durkan

6:50 – 7:00 Q&A with Mayor


7:10 – Conversation with Randy Wiger, Recreation Program Coordinator, Parks Department, about programming in HP parks

7:30 Guest – Jason Johnson, Interim Director, Department of Human Services: Open conversation about City of Seattle policies on homelessness

8:00 close meeting

This is at Highland Park Improvement Club (1116 SW Holden). Here’s the letter sent by HPAC to the mayor earlier this month as a reminder of what they’re hoping to address.

West Seattle resident Andrés Mantilla confirmed as city Department of Neighborhoods director

September 17, 2018 9:32 pm
|    Comments Off on West Seattle resident Andrés Mantilla confirmed as city Department of Neighborhoods director
 |   Highland Park | West Seattle news | West Seattle politics

After four months as its interim director, Highland Park resident Andrés Mantilla is now officially in charge of the city Department of Neighborhoods, confirmed today by the City Council.

He succeeds Kathy Nyland, who led the department for three years following Bernie Matsuno‘s four-year tenure. Mantilla has worked for the city in a variety of roles for the past decade, detailed here with other info about his background. The announcement of his confirmation quotes him as saying, “I am deeply appreciative of the power that community engagement and inclusive outreach has in building a more equitable Seattle. I look forward to working with community and neighborhood groups as we continue this important work.” (Photo from seattle.gov)

VIDEO: 34th District State Senate candidates Shannon Braddock, Joe Nguyen debate @ 34th District Democrats

Five weeks from tonight, you’ll likely have your ballot for the November election. The marquee local race is for State Senate in the 34th District, which includes West Seattle, White Center, Vashon and Maury Islands, and part of Burien. The two West Seattleites who finished the primary atop a field of 11 – Joe Nguyen and Shannon Braddock – went head to head last night at the monthly meeting of the 34th District Democrats, who endorsed both before the primary.

The format, billed as Lincoln-Douglas-style debating, meandered a bit, so you’re just going to have to watch. It started with a topic both tackled in the WSB interviews we published earlier this week (Braddock here, Nguyen here), taxes. Moderator Chris Porter also asked about gun laws and about the candidates’ respective 34th Districts-specific priorities, should they get sent to Olympia.

The debate had its moments. Before it was all over, each candidate had used the f-word once (no, it’s not bleeped out, we run event video unedited); and each had gotten in at least one direct dig at their opponent. Nguyen also complimented Braddock at one point for a “fantastic” answer to a particular question. If you missed this, there’ll be other opportunities to see the two side by side, including the October North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting and a date-TBA West Seattle Chamber of Commerce forum.

ALSO AT THE MEETING: A standing-room-only turnout had gathered by debate time. The 34th DDs voted to endorse three state initiatives – 940, 1631, and 1639 – plus the city Families, Education, Preschool and Promise Levy, though the latter was not without some pre-vote controversy, as Leslie Harris, the longtime local activist who currently leads the Seattle Public Schools Board, said Mayor Jenny Durkan had yet to respond to requests for information on whether any of that levy’s money would go to charter schools. … The 34th DDs also heard pitches for help with the November vote in swing areas outside the 34th.

VIDEO: Conversation with 34th District State Senate candidate Joe Nguyen

EDITOR’S NOTE: A month has passed since the August primary, and general-election voting is a little more than a month away. Our election coverage continues with a closeup look at both candidates running for the open 34th District State Senate seat. We interviewed Shannon Braddock and Joe Nguyen separately before Labor Day; after featuring our conversation with her last night, tonight we’re reporting on our conversation with him.

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Joe Nguyen‘s 34th District State Senate campaign is his first try for public office – and while he says that “I knew we worked harder than anyone else” in the primary field of 11 contenders, he was still “shocked” to have ended up with the most votes.

Though he hasn’t run for office before, Nguyen says he has “been involved with politics for a long time … I actually paged for (now County Executive) Dow Constantine when he was in the Legislature.”

Our opening question in our conversation (which you can see above, in its entirety, in unedited video): Why do you want this job?

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VIDEO: Conversation with 34th District State Senate candidate Shannon Braddock

EDITOR’S NOTE: A month has passed since the August primary, and general-election voting is a little more than a month away. Our election coverage continues with a closeup look at both candidates running for the open 34th District State Senate seat. We interviewed Shannon Braddock and Joe Nguyen separately before Labor Day, and are presenting the stories tonight and tomorrow.

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Of the 11 candidates who were on the primary-election ballot for the 34th District State Senate seat, Shannon Braddock was the only one who had run for office before.

Three years ago, she finished a very close second in the first-ever District 1 City Council election, losing to Lisa Herbold by just 39 votes.

Now, Braddock is campaigning again, this time to represent a larger area – the 34th Legislative District, which includes West Seattle (where she lives), Vashon and Maury Islands, White Center and part of the rest of North Highline, and part of Burien. Its senator is one of three legislators for the district; the two State House Reps., Eileen Cody and Joe Fitzgibbon, both ran for re-election this year, both unopposed. Sen. Sharon Nelson, the outgoing Senate Majority Leader, chose to retire.

Why does Braddock want the job? was our opening question when we sat down to talk at Fauntleroy Schoolhouse. (You can see and hear our entire conversation, unedited, in the video above.)

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ELECTION 2018: 34th District State Senate campaign revs up with Wednesday debate

The hottest local race on the November ballot, 34th District State Senator, is revving up. Tomorrow night (Wednesday, September 12th), candidates Joe Nguyen and Shannon Braddock will debate at the monthly meeting of the 34th District Democrats, who endorsed both before the 11-candidate August primary. According to an advisory from the Nguyen campaign, it will be a “Lincoln-Douglas style debate,” not the standard Q&A forum; the advisory explains, “Lincoln Douglas style debates are similar to the format used in high school debate competitions. Candidates will have the opportunity to cross examine one another and respond to claims made during the debate.” The 34th DDs’ meeting starts at 7 pm Wednesday at The Hall at Fauntleroy (9131 California SW).

P.S. We recently interviewed both candidates, recording a half-hour conversation with each one, and will be publishing those stories – text with video – here on WSB tonight and tomorrow.

Testimony ends in HALA upzoning appeal: Here’s what happens next

After 19 days of testimony before city Hearing Examiner Ryan Vancil, the appeal of the HALA Mandatory Housing Affordability upzoning is now in his hands. Friday was the last scheduled day of testimony – the 19th, in sessions spread across 2 1/2 months – in the appeal challenging the city’s Final Environmental Impact Statement on the plan. We listened to audio from the hearing’s conclusion to find out what happens next: Both sides have deadlines to submit their wrap-up briefs to Vancil, and he indicated he doesn’t expect to announce his decision before November.

HALA MHA would upzone commercial and multifamily property citywide, plus residential property in “urban village” areas, with developers allowed to build higher/denser as a result, while being required to include a certain level of “affordable housing” in their projects or to pay the city a fee to fund construction somewhere else. (Check the interactive map here to see how/whether any particular site would be affected.) The coalition of more than 30 neighborhood groups that filed the appeal last November (plus some individual challenges that were heard concurrently) contends that the FEIS is inadequate for a variety of reasons and wants the city to have to go back to the drawing board and work directly with neighborhoods to address their specific challenges and conditions. Until the appeal is settled, the City Council’s vote on HALA MHA – a proposal initiated before Jenny Durkan was elected mayor – is on hold. They’ve had a multitude of meetings and hearings on it, including in-district hearings that concluded with one June 5th in West Seattle (WSB coverage here). Meantime, documents in the appeal case, as well as minutes (detailing who testified but not the substance of their testimony) and audio, can be found here. The Hearing Examiner (whose role is explained briefly here) has the city’s final say in matters brought before him; a court challenge would be the next step.

How to keep more vacant buildings from turning into problem properties? City Council committee discussion Wednesday

A problem that’s been before the City Council off and on for more than 10 years is back in the spotlight at a council-committee discussion tomorrow (Wednesday).

The problem: Vacant buildings. It’s been 9 1/2 years since the issue gained some attention when a Delridge community advocate invited councilmembers, department heads, and others on a tour of problem properties in eastern West Seattle.

The vacant-building problem has been addressed with incremental legislation over the years. But it’s still a problem. Stats prepared by Councilmember Lisa Herbold‘s staff for tomorrow’s meeting of the Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee show that West Seattle/South Park District 1 had the most vacant-building-related complaints last year of any of the city’s seven council districts – 95.

95 complaints – but only 2 properties in D-1 were enrolled in the city’s vacant-building-monitoring program. Beyond that, Herbold’s staff found that 44 District 1 addresses accounted for 284 Seattle Police responses last year alone, while 66 houses in West Seattle are signed up for SPD’s criminal trespass program. The slide deck (48 MB PDF) to be presented by Herbold assistant Alex Clardy also shows multiple examples of vacant, deteriorating properties in West Seattle and South Park.

The point of tomorrow’s briefing is to look at what might make the vacant-building-monitoring program more effective; this report from the Department of Construction and Inspections looks at a variety of possibilities, including changing the standards for enrolling properties in the program. For example, the report notes that properties slated for redevelopment usually aren’t enrolled because they’ll be demolished before long. (The report does not address the length of time that can elapse between the initiation of a redevelopment plan and demolition – sometimes years.) Another possibility addressed by the report is a “temporary caretaker” program in which good-quality vacant properties could be made available through nonprofits/social-service agencies identifying people who could live there until demolition is imminent.

You can see how the discussion goes by going to City Hall, or watching Seattle Channel, for tomorrow’s 9:30 am PLUZ committee meeting.

Mayor announces interim SDOT director, permanent Neighborhoods leader

While Mayor Durkan looks for a permanent SDOT director – 8+ months after Scott Kubly‘s departure – she’s announced a new interim director to succeed Goran Sparrman. That new interim SDOT director is a former head of the state’s Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program, Linea Laird. The mayor’s announcement says that Laird’s appointment takes effect Saturday (September 1st) and that she will “focus on upcoming permanent closure of the Alaska Way Viaduct and realignment of SR 99.” The same announcement also mentions that the mayor is seeking City Council approval for making three interim department directors permanent:

Calvin Goings, Interim Director of Department of Finance and Administrative Services; Sue McNab, Interim Director of the Seattle Department of Human Resources; and Andrés Mantilla, Interim Director of the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods.

Mantilla is a West Seattle resident who became interim Neighborhoods director 3+ months ago.