Mayor Ed Murray is notably absent on a major issue on the city agenda: Microhousing.
The Seattle Times recently reported that aMayor Murray is all in on City Coumcil member Mike O'Brien's aPodment legislation.
The only actual quotes they've got from Murray, though, make it sound like Murray is a big aPodment fan.
But Murray has limited sympathy for residents of urban centers and villages concerned about density.
“That can’t come as a surprise for folks when you’re in an area designated going back to (Mayor) Norm Rice as an area where we would concentrate growth,” the mayor said.
Micro-apartments aren’t right for everyone, but “people have different lifestyles and different needs,” he said.
The problme is, O'Brien's legislation—and aPodment developers are up in arms about this—would scale back aPodment production and raise aPodment prices. (aPodments are micro apartments that don't have their own kitchens and weigh in around 100-200 square feet and about $850 in rent, and are seen as a more affordable option for young urbanites.)
Either the Seattle Times didn't understand the legislation or Murray didn't understand the legislation, but mostly, it seemed the Times was giving Murray a political pass by quoting his pro-aPodment sound bites while simultaneously calling him a "fan" of O'Brien's anti-apodment legislation. If you don't trust aPodment developers as legit critics of O'Brien's legislation, check out the amendments to the proposal that environmentalists at Futurwise and Washington Bikes are proposing—including ratcheting back the 220 square footage average requirement—outlined in a letter today).
Murray is hiding behind O'Brien, letting O'Brien take the heat from the urbanists while simultaneously standing back and letting slow-growthers dictate city policy.
We asked Murray's office to clarify the mayor's position. Murray spokesman Jason Kelly told us: "The mayor’s comments in the Seattle Times interview make it clear that he supports the approach that Council member O’Brien is taking with his proposal."
Does he support the "approach" or the "legislation" itself? And does he support the new limits? We're still waiting to hear back on those specifics.
More important, after wathcing Murray kill the council's plan to cap ridesharing companies (he re-worked it and got rid of the caps) and after watching him rush forward on the 2nd Ave. bike lane, we've come to expect leadership from Murray, particularly on urbanist issues, not answers that sidestep the debate.
Murray is hiding behind O'Brien, letting O'Brien take the heat from the urbanists while simultaneously standing back and letting slow-growthers dictate city policy. It's a cop-out for the mayor—and a cunning one. O'Brien is seen by environmentalists as the new leader of former Mayor McGinn's urbanist sect. Murray is desperate to win those voters over. If Murray catches hell from those greens, he can point to O'Brien for a stamp of approval. Simultaneously, Murray's letting O'Brien take the heat from neighborhood groups that want even stronger limitations on aPodments. When community groups blast the city for allowing aPodments at all, Murray can point to O'Brien and the council.
Frustrated about a lack of leadership on this issue? Point to Murray himself.