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1. The Seattle City Employee Retirement System (SCERS) presented some findings about fossil fuel investments to its board members this month. The findings were a response to board member and lefty city council member Nick Licata's persistent request that the city divest from fossil fuels; last January Licata's agitating forced the board (after failing to pass his divestment measure) to at least monitor the markets.

According to SCERS's June 11 calculations, a fossil fuel free index—that is, a portfolio that doesn't include oil companies—consistently outperforms one that does.

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SCERS clearly remains skeptical of Licata's idea, though. In the same report they noted:

University of Washington recently decided to divest from companies whose principal business is the mining of coal for energy purposes. UW expects to lose $13 million from divesting from coal companies over the next 20 years. It would have expected to lose $250 million over the next 20 years if it had decided to divest from all fossil fuel companies. UW stated: “…we support divestment of coal companies whose principal business is the mining of coal for energy generation. However, further action by this board is neither recommended nor warranted with respect to its investments in other fossil fuel companies.”

2. Seattle Speaks Up, a group that strongly opposes more density in Seattle's multifamily zones, was dismayed that the bulk of city council member Tom Rasmussen's amendments to rein in development failed in the land use committee last week.

It's true that Rasmussen's attempt to discourage basement apartments and additional loft space, known as clerestories, along with his amendment to put strict density requirements on row houses, both failed. But Rasmussen's most significant amendment, one that would change rounding calculations in all low-rise zones with a default to fewer units, passed.

Regardless, SSP sent an email to its members after the vote urging them—in dramatic language—to lobby council in the run up to the final July 6 vote, to pass Rasmussen's full list of amendments (another one would disincentivize green design.)

They also want to stop developer lobbyists from undoing the antidensity amendments, such as the rounding change, that passed.

They wrote:

The outcry from the residents of Seattle's Lowrise Multifamily neighborhoods has largely fallen on deaf ears... Leading the charge on behalf of the developer lobby was PLUS Committee chair Mike O'Brien. His remarks during the hearings make it evident that he considers those of us who live in the multifamily zones to be expendable. It is now obvious that he is completely unmoved by the displacement of families from their homes and apartments, the rapid destruction of our urban forest, the demolition of our architectural heritage, the gentrification of our neighborhoods, and the breathtaking loss of the economic, cultural and ethnic diversity that once made Seattle a vibrant and welcoming city... The legislation now goes to the full Council for a vote on July 6th. Developers are at this moment scrambling to strip it of the 3 very important amendments we won last Tuesday. Their arrogance is outstripped only by their avarice. The choice is now up to you: rise up in anger, or hand over your neighborhood to those who want to strip-mine it for personal gain. You decide.

 

3. A quick thought: Districts were supposed to shake up the incumbency status quo. 

But Bruce Harrell, Kshama Sawant, Jean Godden, Mike O'Brien, and Sally Bagshaw, the five incumbent council members running in districts, all seem well positioned to make it through the primary with strong showings.

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