Caffeinated News & Gossip

1. City council member Tim Burgess, long rumored to be considering a run for mayor, has been calling supporters to confirm their contact information in anticipation of a "big announcement" after Thanksgiving (presumably, duh, that he's running for mayor).

 

 

Burgess confirms that a volunteer has been calling his supporters and says he's "exploring options" but hasn't "made an absolute decision" yet, adding, "It's complicated."

Burgess has been calling supporters to confirm their contact information in anticipation of a "big announcement" after Thanksgiving.

Burgess says he wants to talk to his family—including his three daughters, who have helped out on his previous campaigns—before making a decision, or an announcement.

Other potential challengers to Mayor Mike McGinn include former council member Peter Steinbrueck, current council member Bruce Harrell, and Seattle state Sen. Ed Murray (D-43, Capitol Hill). 

2. In the Bertha Knight Landes room downstairs last night at city hall, about 20 folks attended a panel discussion on an extremely controversial loophole in the city's land-use code that allowed developers to build tall, skinny houses on single-family lots (the loophole relates to the relatively rare case of so-called "substandard lots," lots that are now part of single-family lots but used to be independent parcels of land before the city adopted its first land-use code back in 1957); the city council adopted emergency legislation to temporarily halt the loophole in September. 

The only real fireworks on the quiet (literally hard-to-hear, because the mikes weren't working) panel came from economist and Laurelhurst resident John Taylor, who argued that people who buy property in a neighborhood have a right to assume that the character of a neighborhood they move into will remain "predictable," i.e., the same, for the duration of the time they live there.

"We want some control of our living environments."—a Laurelhurst resdient"We want some control of our living environments," Taylor said. "Height should be consistent with existing homes. ... When you buy a home, you want to know what you're getting into. Skinny houses that are taller than their neighbors, he argued, violate that principle. 

3. The skinny-house panel, however, couldn't rival the action upstairs in council chambers on the second floor of city hall, where hundreds of people turned out to air their views on the South Lake Union upzone proposal and a related proposal for Vulcan to give a block of land to the city for affordable housing and other amenities in the neighborhood. Generally, a majority of the huge crowd supported the South Lake Union upzone, arguing that it would provide affordable housing and create community benefits in the neighborhood. 

For example, King County Conservation Voters board chair Rachel Smith said the proposal "really embodies good planning decisions made at the local neighborhood level" and was "an extraordinary example of good planning." Ben Schiendelman of Seattle Transit Blog, similarly, argued that "we’re really not even making a dent in the demand [for housing] that’s coming to Seattle."

"We’re really not even making a dent in the demand [for housing] that’s coming to Seattle."—Ben SchiendelmanIn contrast, opponents like former city council members Louise Miller and Peter Steinbrueck argued that the current zoning in the area is more than adequate to accommodate new population growth. "It’s not just an issue of aesthetics; it's about what kind of urban experience we aer guaranteeing for future generations," said Steinbrueck, who is representing the Mirabella retirement community and two other South Lake Union community groups.

"We ask that the draft [include] stronger mitigations and adopt a more sensitive, stepped-down proposal," with much shorter buildings directly on Lake Union than the Vulcan proposal, which could allow buildings as tall as 240 feet, Steinbrueck said. 

4. Seattle Met, along with co-sponsors Regence and Canlis resturant, held Seattle's first annual Light a Fire awards dinner last night honoring 12—out of 400 nominations—superstar non-profit staffers, volunteers, and organizations.

Check out the winners (and video tributes)—including "Best New non-profit," "Extraordinary Volunteer," "Extraordinary Board Member," and "Most With the Least"—here.

The place was packed. The food was great. (Wow. Fizz had never been to Canlis before.) And all the proceeds went to the great organizations that were honored last night.

The event was such an obvious winner that Regence committed, on stage last night, to sponsor it again next year.