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.
We posted District Three (Capitol Hill, the C.D.) earlier this morning. (And I'm going to post a more traditional installment of PubliCola’s own LIKES & DISLIKES too…it’s been a serious week.)
But now: Here’s District One, West Seattle.
Democratic King County Council member Joe McDermott aide Shannon Braddock claims that if she's elected she'll be the only council member with kids in Seattle's public schools (take that Mike O'Brien.) The "mom" candidate certainly gets liberal cred working for McDermott, a progressive KC council member who fights for civil rights, social funding, and transit (and her endorsement from West Seattle icon, liberal KC executive Dow Constantine is big.) But she is the recent recipient of a mixed blessing: an Independent Expenditure from business interests like the chamber of commerce. Her spin: She's also got labor endorsements (including SEIU 1199 NW) and other progressives, like West Seattle's liberal state representative Joe Fitzgibbon and the Cascade Bike Club. So, couple that with her mainstream support, the chamber and the realtors, and she's the candidate who can unite folks. Take it away Shannon Braddock.
1. I LIKE the results of Sound Transit’s outreach for light rail. I like that public and local government input revealed West Seattle light rail as one of the highest priority projects! More than 1,000 people wrote in, over 400 people attended meetings and 25,000 responded to the website survey. Clearly, Seattle residents—and particularly District One residents—know that light rail is a necessity to get our infrastructure caught up with our growth. It is also vital that we improve bus service, especially our east/west connections here in District One, while we gear up for light rail in the future. And I like that today the city will announce recommendations for improving traffic incident management practices—no more ‘toppled over fish truck’ type delays please! These are all important steps toward easing our traffic issues.
I also LIKE that Tuesday, August 4th is not only primary election day—be sure to vote!—but also Neighborhood Night Out Against Crime! I encourage residents across Seattle to participate in this community based approach to heighten crime prevention awareness, increase neighborhood support in anti-crime efforts, and unite our communities. Check out the neighborhood map to find a local Night Out event in your neighborhood—there are over 25 in District 1!—or organize your own.
2. I DISLIKE that 34 Republican state legislators have signed a letter asking for an investigation into Planned Parenthood. I stand with Planned Parenthood in the fight for greater access for all women to affordable reproductive health and family planning. I’m tired of women’s bodies being used for political gamesmanship. I’m proud to live in a city and region that works hard to support and ensure access to quality healthcare for women and families.
(I also DISLIKE that the Mariners are 10 games under .500. and that Kam Chancellor isn’t reporting to Seahawks training camp today.)
Before there was Kshama Sawant there was lefty city council member Nick Licata—or more specifically, there was Licata's brainiac, energized, left wing staffer, Lisa Herbold. Herbold, a former Tenants Union organizer, has been Licata's superstar aide since Licata was first elected on a populist anti-Nordstrom garage, anti-stadium funding platform in the late 1990s. In the ensuing 15-plus years, Herbold has done heavy behind the scenes (and often, not behind the scenes) lifting on all of Licata's signature social justice accomplishments: stopping the racism and classism inherent in car impounds, getting cops and city social service workers out of immigration enforcement, winning tenants rights such as making rental inspections mandatory rather than complaint based, making police officer records available for review, and, oh, paid sick leave.
Herbold is also one of the candidates who has joined her fellow Tenants Union alum, candidate Jon Grant, and Sawant herself, in calling to add the now-discarded blanket linkage fee on developers back into the HALA recommendations. Take it away Lisa Herbold.
1. I LIKE that the mayor's proposed upzones in single family zones have been put on hold. Without a preservation strategy, thousands of units of private, unsubsidized, “naturally affordable” housing would have been vulnerable to redevelopment pressures with the incentive created by the proposed upzones to tear down existing affordable family housing. In the last ten years, nearly 5,800 housing units in single family and multifamily buildings have been demolished in Seattle (with another 1,300 still in the demolition pipeline for this year).
Thousands of single family structures are affordable homes to renter families today. PubliCola points to Portland as a city that’s come to grips with the segregative impacts of zoning and land use policy. In Portland, just last week, they voted to require a displacement analysis as a part of future land use and zoning decisions to make sure that as they grow they identify and mitigate the racially disparate displacement impacts of their policies. We must make the same commitment before we move forward with upzones that might be considered in the future.
The City of Seattle reports in its Housing Capacity Report that we currently have the capacity for three times (224,000 units) our 20 year housing unit growth goal (70,000 units). We have the time to pause and consider carefully the impacts of upzones as it relates to affordability, racially disparate segregative impacts, and a lack of sufficient investment in transportation solutions before we unquestioningly accept the need for them as part of our affordable housing strategy. We can pull together a true coalition of progressive environmental, housing advocacy, and social justice groups to decide how Seattle will grow, while promoting policy that stems the exodus of our workforce from the City we all love.
2. I DISLIKE that council member John Okamoto’s recent op-ed opposing rent control continues the polarizing debate on rent control. This debate only creates division on an outdated form of rent regulation. Only 38,000 housing units in NYC are rent controlled; one million are stabilized—comprising the majority of NYC’s affordable housing stock. 200 jurisdictions in the nation have some rent regulation. That some of those cities are also unaffordable is because of the erosion of those regulations. In NYC, over 10 years, 54,000 units have been deregulated, more than the number of affordable units built since then. Similarly, in San Francisco, as a result of the Ellis and Costa-Hawkins Acts they are losing as many affordable housing units as they are building. LA has recently reviewed the impacts of their policies and found that "The CPI (consumer price index) annual increase standard fairly balances the interest of renters and owners."
Debating rent control does not help us find a path to a solution that works for Seattle. The question before us now is whether we want the state to grant us the right to a local option to pass any sort of rent regulation at all. They are all prohibited today.
I’ve talked with several landlords who agree that some rent regulation might be fair. This is the place to start. We cannot appeal to fear. To be successful in crafting a strategy that works for Seattle we have to engage all stakeholders, landlords and tenants alike. This is how we passed Seattle’s successful Rental Housing Registration and Inspection Program. We found common agreement that there was a problem that we shared an interest in addressing. For that program we also had to go to the State Legislature – together with landlords - to get the authority.
The Washington Housing Alliance Action Fund interviewed candidates running for City Council and found 26 candidates supported removing the ban, including 4 incumbents. 1 candidate gave an answer that equivocated. 4 candidates opposed seeking local control for Seattle, including one of my opponents whose campaign is supported with a $44,000 independent expenditure campaign from the Greater Seattle Chamber, $10,000 from the Rental Housing Association, and $15,000 from the Realtors. Yet, individual landlords have spoken up about the unconscionable rent increases Seattle renters face. I hope the new City Council will engage them and tenants together to convince the State Legislature to grant us local authority
For some gender balance (all of today's guests have been women), we're giving the microphone to potential District One spoiler candidate, Chas Redmond, a longtime, tireless community activist— particularly on ped issues. Take it away Chas Redmond.
1. I LIKE that mayor Ed Murray removed the contentious, seemingly wholesale, upzone of single family home zones from the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda's recommendations. I support the general concept of upzoning in the urban villages and hubs, but like the original neighborhood planning effort nearly two decades ago, the conversation must involve the people who live in the areas being discussed. In order to be an effective solution, the introduction of townhouses, row houses and other adjacent dwellings into an area needs to be an all inclusive conversation with neighborhood residents, be they home owners, or renters in someone else's home. I look forward to a more complete and engaging discussion of the future of Seattle's urban villages and urban hubs. I would also be pleased if the Department of Neighborhoods took a lead approach to this discussion, much as they did twenty years ago.
2. I DISLIKE and am saddened by the study presented on Monday to City Council by Mark Putnam, Director of the Committee to End Homelessness in King County, that showed that on average across the country, an increase of $100 in median rent corresponded to a 15 percent increase in the homeless population. The study, published in the Journal of Urban Affairs, also named high population growth and low vacancy rates as factors for homelessness. Although this comes as no surprise to those of us concerned about the struggle for affordable housing in our city, it really sucks to see the actual data to prove it. However, with actual data like this we can prove to our opponents that this is happening and that it needs to be addressed.
It is also why I do LIKE one of the other HALA recommendations—mandatory inclusionary zoning—which taxes construction of new commercial and multifamily residential buildings by requiring developers to include affordable units in their building or fund subsidized housing elsewhere. It will ensure that the new buildings that are driving our rent increases also become part of the solution to maintaining affordability. And it will ensure that affordable housing is built in the same neighborhoods where rents are increasing the fastest and the older housing is being lost.