Friday Afternoon Fizz: McGinn vs. FOX, SLU vs. Downtown, and More
Late-Friday Afternoon Fizz featuring Cascade Bicycle Club, McGinn on FOX, and affordable housing downtown.
1. City council planning and land-use committee chair Richard Conlin (the only council member on duty this afternoon at city hall; the council is on its annual recess) tells PubliCola the council is working on legislation that could increase the amount downtown developers are required to pay into an affordable-housing fund in exchange for the right to build taller buildings.
Some background: Earlier this year, the council adopted legislation allowing developers to build densesr, taller buildings than were previously allowed in South Lake Union; in exchange, developers have to either build a certain amount of affordable housing on site ("affordable," that is, to people making 80 percent or more of the area median income) or pay a fee into a city affordable-housing fund.
The proposal the council adopted increased the amount developers who choose to pay into the fund will have to pay from the level Mayor Mike McGinn proposed—$15.15 per square foot of extra residential density—to $21.68 a square foot. The idea is to make the fee, known as a "fee in lieu" of building on-site housing, so expensive that some developers will decide to build affordable housing on-site instead.
The new legislation would increase the fee developers have to pay downtown, from the standard $15.15 to perhaps the new SLU rate, $21.68. The new legislation, which won't be in play until after the council adopts the city's annual budget in November, would increase the fee developers have to pay downtown as well, possibly to the same level as in South Lake Union; currently, the fee-in-lieu downtown is the same as what McGinn proposed in South Lake Union, $15.15 per square foot.
Conlin says "folks in South Lake Union feel pretty strongly that they would like to see it extended and the folks downtown feel that perhaps we should not."
For his part, Conlin says, "I think [downtown] should probably be compatible with South Lake Union."
2. Tonight on FOX News at 7:40, Mayor Mike McGinn will talk to Greta Van Susteren, one of the conservative cable network's hosts, about the new city program providing stickers to businesses that want to declare themselves gun-free zones.
Looking for a preview, we called McGinn pokesman Aaron Pickus who told us he watched McGinn during the interview (the interview was filmed in Seattle yesterday) and says the mayor held his own, telling Van Susteren that the idea of private businesses banning guns "isn't that new—in the Wild West, saloon owners would put a sign outside saying, 'Check your gun at the door.'"
3. The Cascade Bicycle Club, whose longtime executive director Chuck Ayers announced he was leaving the group back in March, is still looking for a new leader, and six of its 14 board seats are up for reelection, sparking speculation that the group, may be changing direction—potentially moving away from advocacy and becoming more of a recreational riding group.
Back in 2010, the board fired Ayers, citing issues with his managerial style; however, his backers in the group speculated that the firing was due to his emphasis on advocacy over recreation, and his support for the group's controversial then-lobbyist, David Hiller, who now works for Mayor Mike McGinn. Days after firing Ayers, the board abruptly reversed course and reinstated him.
Cascade policy and government affairs manager Brock Howell says the group is "still on track to hir[e] an ED soon."