Mandatory Housing Affordability
The Seattle City Council last Monday unanimously approved implementing the Mandatory Housing Affordability program in parts of the Central District, a historically black neighborhood that's faced rapid gentrification.
The intersections affected: 23rd and East Cherry; 23rd and South Jackson; 23rd and East Union. The new upzones will allow building heights up to seven stories in some places and construction could start as early as 2018. Combined, council member Rob Johnson said the upzones would generate 172 units of affordable housing—far more than the 52 units the city was expecting—for a total of 550 units in all upzones combined.
In downtown and South Lake Union, developers from seven already-permitted projects have opted into the program. It's expected to raise $25 million toward affordable housing and create 320 new low-income units. The housing should be affordable for 60 percent of the area's median income or less.
There was considerable pushback when the city began plans for the rezones in the Central Area four years ago. But Johnson said community ownership was "front and center" in the plans and helped speed the process along. One-fifth of Midtown Center, a 2.5-acre block on 23rd and East Union, would be owned by Africatown, a local community group working to preserve the culture of the neighborhood against gentrification.
"I'm really hopeful that the city will work on an innovative financing and development tool that will allow residents to continue to own property and housing units on the property allow people to move back to the neighborhood," Johnson told PubliCola.
The city's also working toward reforming the design review process, which has been a source of frustration for both community members and developers, Johnson said.
"When everybody's frustrated, the system is broken," he said.
Council members are voting on the Chinatown/International District upzoning today.
There is still time: With 21 candidates in the mayor's race alone, it's more important than ever to make your vote count. Ballots are due August 1. Turnout in this year's primary election has been low so far, but the majority of votes typically arrive the last couple days of voting. PubliCola profiled all city council position 8 and high-profile mayoral candidates. Find them here.
Two polls suggested former U.S. attorney Jenny Durkan is likely to make it through the primary—she's also raised the most money ($459,000, along with $117,000 in independent expenditures) and received the largest number of contributions. (State senator Bob Hasegawa wasn't able to raise money until the legislative session ended.) The rest of the mayoral candidates are gunning for the second seat in the November 8 general election.
The Seattle LGTQ Commission called for Mayor Ed Murray's resignation on Monday with a strongly worded letter; but Murray said he has no plans to resign, and council members won't be trying to remove him.
"Due to allegations and mounting evidence that you have repeatedly engaged in sexual abuse of minors, we believe that you should no longer serve as the leader of the City of Seattle," the commission wrote.
Murray seems to continue to stay active in his remaining five months as mayor. In a released statement on Wednesday, Murray and council member Lisa Herbold announced they were revising the minimum wage ordinance. There's currently a loophole allowing employers to pay sub-minimum wages to disabled workers.
"Sub-minimum wages are an outdated practice that inherently devalue the employee receiving them," Herbold said in a released statement.
Seattle Versus Trump
In a tense Thursday night and early Friday morning, the GOP attempted to pass their "skinny repeal" plan to repeal Obamacare. With senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) already set to vote against the plan, Republicans couldn't lose another vote. Enter Senator John McCain (R-Arizona), who arrived from surgery after being recently diagnosed with brain cancer and voted against the bill.
Washington Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray celebrated and thanked their constituents for voicing their concerns:
We defeated Trumpcare tonight thanks to patients & families who made their voices heard. Thank you to all who showed up & fought back!— Senator Patty Murray (@PattyMurray) July 28, 2017
President Donald Trump sent a series of tweets saying the military would ban transgender individuals from serving, prompting Seattle city officials and legislators to condemn him. The ACLU also released a statement and said the organization is prepared to fight against any attempts to roll back transgender rights.
After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow......— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
....Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
....victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
Murray released a statement on Wednesday defending the trans community and pledging that Seattle would not take it lightly.
"The president’s attack on transgender people is a shameful, despicable, and unacceptable attempt to marginalize an entire community of Americans," he said. "Taking away that right is antithetical to the American value of equality and Seattle’s unwavering commitment to protect and promote the rights of the transgender community.”
So ridiculous how a few tweets can send a whole community into chaos. Trump is so irresponsible.— Danni Askini (@danniaskini) July 26, 2017