Here some outtakes from this morning's Mayor Ed Murray press conference this morning, where he announced plans to propose new city rules that would make it easier for companies like CenturyLink to build wi-fi networks in Seattle.
1. In response to a question from PubliCola, Murray addressed legislation (which Fizz mentioned this morning) that would give the city more options to crack down on parking "scofflaws" who fail to pay more than four parking tickets by "booting" their cars or towing them away to impound lots.
Those "scofflaws," as Fizz noted this morning, include hundreds of homeless Seattleites living in their cars, who are not allowed to park in a single public location for more than 72 hours at a time.
A program designed to encourage these "car campers" to park at religious institutions has yielded only 13 parking spots for hundreds of homeless people living in cars, according to city council member Mike O'Brien's office, making their position both illegal and untenable, if they live in non-functioning cars that get towed away to city impound lots that charge between $130 and $200 for a tow, plus $13 for every 12 hours a person's vehicle is in "storage."
Murray deflected a question about whether it was fair to crack down on homeless people living in cars, given that the city offers few alternatives and punishes them financially for doing so, saying, "For people who have nowhere to live, but they are car campers, there has been no long-term solution.
"So it's a lose-lose situation and we've got to find a way to address it. I don't have an answer for you. It's part of a larger discussion we're going to have about creating a city where folks who work here can actually afford to also live here. And I think once we start to answer that question, we can get at issues like this."
2. Meanwhile, as we await the results of the parks district election tonight (conventional wisdom, by which we mean every political insider we talked to, has it that parks are going down), Murray said today that he wouldn't rule out a levy to pay for parks in "the short term" (the metropolitan parks district would fund parks permanently through a citywide property tax, and would be overseen by the city council and the mayor), but said a levy is no substitute for a permanent parks funding solution.
"A levy is not a long-term answer to funding city government," Murray said. Noting that before Tim Eyman's I-747 (and, subsequently, the state legislature) restricted property tax increases to 1 percent a year, parks were paid for out of the city's general fund, Murray added, "We are depending more and more on levies."
Given all the levies the city will likely have to pass in the upcoming years—including a housing levy, a basic transportation levy, a transit levy, a universal pre-K levy, and a public safety levy, to name a few—Murray said, "Yes, a levy would be an answer, but it would only be a short-term answer. We still lack that long-term fix."