Caffeinated News

1. City council member Bruce Harrell LIKES first-time city council candidates Lorena González (running citywide in position nine, one of the two at-large seats), Mian Rice (running in North Seattle's fifth district), and Pamela Banks (who's running against one of Harrell's sitting colleagues, socialist star Kshama Sawant, in district three). There are no incumbents in positions nine or five.

At his own packed campaign kickoff party last night at the Filipino community center in southeast Seattle, Harrell, the council public safety chair and two-term incumbent who's running for southeast Seattle's district two position himself—called all three newcomers (all people of color) to the microphone to give speeches of their own. Harrell told the crowd they needed to help get all three elected.

It's rare for council members to endorse challengers over incumbent colleagues. Banks is the head of the Urban League and raised a solid $17,000 in her first month of fundraising brand new campaign finance reports show. She has about $6,400 on hand. Sawant's latest numbers aren't in yet, but she had raised $24,000 by last month with about $5,000 cash on hand.

While Harrell's Banks shout-out was slightly gauche, he also went all in for council president Tim Burgess last night, calling Burgess up to speak as well; Burgess is running in the other at-large spot, position eight, and has drawn three serious challengers. 

 

2. North Seattle (Pinehurst neighbors in specific) LIKES an amendment (proposed by Sound Transit board member and city council member Mike O'Brien) that the ST capital committee passed yesterday afternoon.

The amendment to ST2, the extension from Northgate to Lynnwood (coming on line in 2023), adds the possibility of an additional station at North 130th Street between two north Seattle stations, the Northgate station set to come on line as part of ST1 in 2021 and the likely NE 145th Street station that's already in the ST2 mix.

Neighbors from Broadview to Cedar Park have been clamoring for the 130th Street station which, the environmental impact statement shows (thanks Seattle Transit Blog), actually gets higher ridership than ST's preferred 145th Street station.

The full board will vote on the final plan—which says the design must make 130th Street "station ready" and calls for an elevated crossing—on April 23. If the board approves the design, the 130th Street station could either be part of ST2 or an add-on in an ST3.


3.  Smarth growth group Futurewise DISLIKES mayor Ed Murray and city attorney Pete Holmes's plan to seize slumlord property across the street from Roosevelt High School and turn it into a park.

The city’s decision is inconsistent with its stated commitment to create more affordable housing and its commitment to creating “more livable, walkable communities for all.”

Like everyone on the planet, Futurewise applauds the city for booting infamous landlord Hugh Sisley's derelict properties, but they don't like park idea as much as they'd like to see housing built on the site; the street, just two blocks east from the future (2021) Roosevelt light rail station, was recently upzoned from 40 to 65 feet precisely to accommodate increased housing.

In a letter to city council this week, Futurewise wrote: 

Publicly owned land presents that opportunity to not only demonstrate the City’s commitment to affordable housing but also the urgency and the priority the City feels this issue requires. That is why we were excited about the opportunity the City’s seizing of the Sisley properties. We were, however, surprised by the City’s quick decision to use these properties to create a new public park before considering their use for affordable housing. The City’s decision is inconsistent with its stated commitment to create more affordable housing and its commitment to creating “more livable, walkable communities for all.”

While we understand the benefits of parks in neighborhoods, we feel strongly that this is not the best use of these properties. With affordable housing being one of the most significant challenges the City of Seattle is facing and given the location of the properties, we believe the properties should be utilized for affordable
housing.

The properties present the opportunity to produce between 50 and 60 affordable residential units which would provide 50 to 60 families with safe, quality housing in a neighborhood that has the amenities and services which all affordable units should enjoy. When affordable housing is placed near strong schools, jobs, transit and basic services, it means even more to help lift a family out of poverty and more investment in that family’s future. The provision of stable, safe, and affordable housing is shown to have a profound effect on childhood.

I've asked Futurewise what they think of a grassroots plan that was put on the table by green architect Rob Harrison (and signed off on by a parade of environmentalists and forwarded to the mayor and council) that would go with housing on the Sisley slum while turning the adjacent street itself into a park. 

They say, while they've been in touch with Harrison, they haven't gotten a full debrief on his plan yet.