In the runup to the August 4 primary election, Fizz’s regular Friday LIKES & DISLIKES column has been commandeered by this year’s city council candidates.
For today’s sixth installment of City Council Candidate LIKES & DISLIKES, candidates in District Three and District One have their say.
District One (West Seattle) will follow in separate post. (As will a more traditional installment of PubliCola’s own LIKES & DISLIKES…it’s been a serious week.)
But to start: Here’s District Three, East of I-5, just North of I-90 up to the Montlake Cut.
Urban League leader Pamela Banks is the favorite of Seattle’s liberal (yes) establishment (for lack of a better word) to challenge socialist phenomenon Kshama Sawant. Banks has gotten lots of donations from Sawant foes—from restaurateurs (the Washington Restaurant Association) and business leaders who challenged the $15 wage campaigns (Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden, Retail Lockbox CEO Craig Dawson, former Starbucks exec Howard Behar), to developers (Vulcan, Martin Smith), and even sitting city council members such as council president Tim Burgess (and his wife too, who maxed out)—but her progressive career at the Urban League working on education, affordable housing, and police reform, belies the Sawant camp’s demonization of Banks as a corporate flunky, particularly for a woman who brings such an acute awareness of gentrification to the race. “I knew the neighborhood was gentrifrying when The Facts magazine [space] turned into a doggie daycare and when Thompson’s Point of View [a former C.D. African American hang out] became a vegan restaurant,” Banks wryly quipped at the New Hope Baptist forum. (My pal Erica C. Barnett filled me in on that memorable Banks’ one-liner.) Take it away Pamela Banks
1. I LOVE the Community Response to Homelessness being organized by the Capitol Hill Community Council. This group of engaged residents identified a critical issue in our community, organized support, and on Thursday contributed in a very meaningful way to local organizations who serve our homeless residents. I was proud to contribute and encourage anyone who cares about the safety and well-being of residents in District Three and citywide to join them. We need more local solutions like this one!
2. I DISLIKE the gun violence in Seattle has got to stop. There have been more than 228 shootings in Seattle this year alone, including last week’s tragic killing of my friend and hero, a community activist in Chinatown/International District. Seattle Police have confiscated hundreds more guns already this year than they did in all of 2014 or 2013.
As a longtime central district mom and CEO of the Urban League, I know firsthand how disproportionately rates of violence and trauma are experienced by men of color. We have to get serious about reducing gun violence in our City and invest in programs like Career Bridge, which helps give young black men and other men of color access and opportunity to begin meaningful living-wage employment and break the cycle of poverty and violence.
American Red Cross staffer, Planned Parenthood legislative district chair, and Seattle’s Women’s Commission member, Morgan Beach, has distinguished herself (among 47 candidates!) as the most focused on equal rights for women. Take it away Morgan Beach.
I have a little bit of a LIKE/DISLIKE relationship with the Mayor’s office this week.
1. I DISLIKE Mayor Murray backing off of the HALA recommendation to allow duplexes, triplexes and cottage units in single family zones. We may have needed to make adjustments for the sake of politics but that should not have been made in a unilateral directive from the Mayor. This should've gone to the full council for debate.
HALA convened the best experts Seattle had to offer to spend ten months coming up with the best solutions for both affordability and livability. I expected more leadership and tough choices on this from the Mayor as it came time to turn the recommendations into policy. It is long past “we need more time” to think about this, to study this, to talk about this. HALA did that, and I think in reading their report we came up with an answer: we can’t leave the 65 percent of the city that is zoned to low density single family untouched if we expect to build an affordable and livable city.
Look, I get it. I understand that people moved to their neighborhoods for a reason and the neighborhoods are changing around them at a precipitous pace; that there is great concern for displacement and preservation of neighborhoods that needs to be addressed. But change and growth is the nature of the urban environment and a rapidly growing and prosperous city.
I pose this question: What exactly about living next to a triplex is going to ruin a neighborhood’s daily experience? Perhaps less street parking, more noise comes with more people. I can tell you some far worse consequences that will come from not allowing more development in single family zones and for those of us at the area median income and below: it will force the parts of the city already seeing the most pressure to bear the burden even longer. It will push us into smaller and smaller and less stable rental housing as more people move here for higher paying jobs and further flood the rental and home purchasing markets. It will force the poor and middle income, the immigrants, the communities of color, the artists, the wage workers into the suburbs, into microhousing (because that’s all that’s left at an affordable level) and yes, onto the streets.
So tell me again why we need an extra parking space to build an accessory dwelling and we can’t let people live in a duplex with the same floor area ratio as a single family home on the same lot. The city doesn’t owe it to anyone to stay the way it was in Seattle forty years ago. What it owes all its citizens is a better shot at accessible, affordable housing.
Thank you, Mayor Murray, you just made it MUCH harder for people like me to buy anything other than a 500 square foot condo in my district.
2. I LIKE a plethora of plans that will improve public safety on Capitol Hill that have come in the last week. Yesterday, Mayor Murray and his LGBTQ Task Force released their action plan to address the rise in bias crimes and verbal attacks in the city, much of which was concentrated in Capitol Hill. Their recommendations include (amongst many other recommendations) continuing the Safe Place program which encourages businesses on Capitol Hill to offer safe space for anyone being harassed, increasing cultural competency training for SPD officers and evaluating reporting and response systems, focusing extra funding and outreach for emergency housing and services access on transgender and gender nonconforming youth who are disproportionately vulnerable to experiencing homelessness, exploitation and violence, and creating a built environment that fosters safety through things like adequate street lighting and painting more of the ubiquitous rainbow crosswalks that appeared in everyone’s Pride weekend selfies.
These recommendations from the LGBTQ Task Force and the Mayor’s office fit well with the announcement last week from the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict that the Pike/Pine corridor will officially be piloting pedestrian only zones all four weekends in August. Three blocks on Pike between Broadway and 12th will be blocked off from about 10pm to 3am on the first two Saturdays (focus will be on public safety and crowd management) and 8pm to 3am on the last two Saturdays (focus will extend to include community programming). I’m all in with the EcoDistrict and the SPD East Precinct’s hopes that this change in the street access during peak nightlife hours will help with crowd management/mitigation, decrease violence especially sexual harassment and gaybashing, and give us a better way to keep the streets clean and safe while everyone is enjoying those great cocktails we all love on the Hill.
All said: combining hosting community centered events like Three Dollar Bill Cinema’s family friendly outdoor movies (which start next Friday, LIKE that!) in Cal Anderson Park AND funding adequate street lighting in the park for safety is smart. Integrating community arts programming into pilot pedestrian only zones AND increasing the police presence and training with this pilot to minimize violence and street disorder is terrific. The purposeful, persistent effort to build a soft and hard power approach to public safety on the Hill is outstanding, and should be replicated around the city.
Council member Kshama Sawant hardly needs an introduction. A charismatic speaker and skilled organizer, the freshman council member has not only changed the debate at city hall (making every issue run the gauntlet of class analysis), but she has changed expectations (big things need to happen), the tone (it’s getting chippy in there), and the process (packed chambers, public forums, and rallies are now essential.) Sawant regularly draws cheers in chambers for every anti-corporate utterance (though it was fascinating to watch her get booed by an overwhelming crowd from the Vietnamese community when she, like any good doctrinaire Marxist, came out against a council resolution to recognize the South Vietnamese flag.) Her populism can unwittingly (and ironically) find common cause with the classism that defines Seattle’s single-family neighborhood rubric, but it has also galvanized young voters in her district. Take it away Kshama Sawant.
1. I DISLIKE that rents in Seattle have gone up 40 percent since 2011, according to a new report. That’s anywhere from a $400 to a $500 per month increase depending on whose definition of average monthly rent you use. This shows just how dire the city’s affordable housing crisis is, and that now is the time to do something about it so more people aren’t economically evicted from our city. I LIKE that this week seven city council candidates from across the city joined with me to propose a Progressive Housing Plan to address the affordable housing crisis.
This broad based group of candidates are uniting around common sense housing solutions like making big developers pay for affordable housing, ending the undemocratic state ban on rent regulations, and strengthening tenant protections. While appreciating the hard work and positive proposals of the Housing Affordability & Livability Agenda Committee, we share in the belief that there remain more immediate policies that can be enacted in response to Seattle's housing crisis. Council member Nick Licata and myself will be bringing bills in the city council this Fall to take immediate action on many of these proposals, allowing the council to stand up for working people against the greed of big developers who are opposing our progressive agenda.
2. I LIKE that the Shell No movement which started in Seattle has spread to other cities, and now has scored a win against Shell by so far shutting down a drilling ship attempting to leave Portland. This is an important victory showing that when people organize and fight back they can win—even in a David and Goliath battle of kayak activists against a massive corporate fleet, hell bent on poisoning the arctic.
And speaking of Shell. I DISLIKE that corporate cash has flooded into local council races, including an independent expenditure PAC against council member Mike O’Brien backed by BNSF and Port interests, after his participation and arrest in Seattle’s Shell No protests this summer. But the corporate funding tsunami has landed on many more races, leading Wayne Barnett, head of Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission, to remark, "The independent spending is outstripping anything we've seen in Council races before." Last week the National Realtors' Association dropped a $64,000 bomb in North Seattle's district race for an anti-developer fee, anti-rent control candidate. This was followed by major spending by the Seattle Chamber of Commerce ($88,000) and the Washington State Restaurant Association ($20,000) on pro-business candidates in Districts One and Four. In light of this brazen attempt at buying political influence by the Chamber and other business interests, it will be interesting to see if council members will once again attend the “nonpartisan” and purely “informational” Chamber retreat during the city's budget deliberations this fall.
For previous installments of PubliCola's council candidates LIKES & DISLIKES start here with last week's rants from the District Four candidates.