Isn't It Weird That
Isn't It Weird That...
Some weird things we noticed in Olympia, in South Lake Union, and in Snohomish County.
Maybe the votes are falling away. Could it be that A) conservatives realize the bill could also fast-track the Columbia River Crossing project (which includes a light-rail component that they hate) and B) moderate Republicans, such a Sen. Steve Litzow (R-41, Mercer Island), realize—given the record-setting 125,000 public comments about the coal train (90 percent of them opposed)—they can't be caught voting for it?
Sponsor, conservative Democratic Sen. Steve Hobbs (D-44, Lake Stevens), who acknowledges that he supports the coal train, but says his intent for the bill was to fast track transportation infrastructure projects and conservation and energy developmement projects ("[the coal train] was not my intent with this bill, I wasn't even thinking about that") says simply, "I want to make sure we have a thorough discussion of amendments in both our caucuses. There's no rush."
Hobbs also says he likes the idea that the Columbia River Crossing project could be fast tracked.
2. Isn't it weird that ... City Council member Tim Burgess, widely seen as the council's most conservative member, is siding with his council colleague Nick Licata in supporting proposals to increase incentive-zoning requirements for developers in South Lake Union?
Liberals like Licata support requiring developers who want to build taller buildings than current zoning allows to pay more into a fund that pays for affordable housing elsewhere in the city—the so-called "fee in lieu" of providing actual affordable housing on site in South Lake Union provision of the city's incentive zoning rules). Burgess' proposal would reportedly increase the fee in lieu to as much as $60 per square foot, from the current proposal of around $15 per square foot.
Maybe it's not so weird: Burgess, of course, is challenging Mayor Mike McGinn, who's running for reelection this year. McGinn (joined by council member Richard Conlin) announced earlier this week that he was creating a new advisory group to look at the city's affordable housing incentive programs, including the fee-in-lieu program, and suggest how they might be changed.
McGinn's proposal could be an indication, proponents of stiff incentive zoning requirements suspect, that the mayor may be open to lower incentives than Burgess is proposing. However, his spokesman Aaron Pickus says that "because of the strong economy, and strong demand for new development, we expect that the review will lead to more in public benefits from new development."
(Licata and Burgess could part ways in the future over who should benefit from the proposed new "fee in lieu," because Burgess wants to encourage "workforce housing"—housing affordable to people making 80 percent or more of Seattle's median income—while Licata wants to fund housing for lower-income people, those making 60 percent or less of Seattle median.)
3. Isn't it weird that ... Disgraced Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon, who announced he was resigning effective May 31 after a series of scandals, including, most recently, allegations that one of his staff members made records requests to his political opponents using a false name, announced today that the county is unveiling a new "open data project" that gives residents "unfettered access" to public information.
In his newsletter, the (apparently irony-challenged) Reardon wrote that the new "SnoSTAT Gateway" is the "next step in open, transparent government" in the county and "across the United States."