Parking, Renting, Endorsing, and Regulating
1. In a bit of a surprise last week, the environmental advocates at the Washington Conservation Voters split their endorsement in the Democratic intramural in the race for Commissioner of Public Lands. WCV endorsed both Futurewise director Hilary Franz and King County council member Dave Upthegrove.
With the race expected to divide between party insiders going for Upthgrove and activist nonprofits going for Franz, WCV’s dual endorsement was a win for Upthegrove. WCV is a longtime Olympia lobbying partner with Franz’s green group, Futurewise.
2. City council member Lisa Herbold wants to upgrade a proposal by the city’s office of civil rights that's trying to crack down on landlords who rent to people from favored employers. Current city law doesn’t address the issue—known as source of income discrimination—at all.
The office of civil rights wants to add language to the books that would allow tenants to complain about landlords playing favorites this way. The civil rights office would review complaints and see if the landlord’s policy was having a disparate impact on protected classes such as race, gender, and sexual orientation.
Herbold, however, wants to put the burden of proof on the landlords from the get go and require them to prove to the city’s office of civil rights that there would be no disparate impact before getting permission to screen tenants that way.
Herbold’s amendment is part of the source of income legislation her civil rights committee previewed last week at its regular meeting. At the hearing, landlords objected to another part of the proposed legislation. The city wants financial assistance, such as section eight vouchers, to be subtracted from the total rent calculation when landlords apply a rent/income ratio; traditionally, if tenants can’t show that rent would be no more than a third of their income, landlords won’t rent to them. The Rental Housing Association complained that the city’s proposal to decrease total rent by the amount of assistance tenants get would leave landlords with tenants who couldn’t afford “food, clothes, etc.”
3. During a Capitol Hill community forum last Thursday, Capitol Hill Housing planner Alex Brennan presented a proposal for a Capitol Hill parking benefits district. The idea? Raise local revenue by charging for parking on Capitol Hill after 8pm—currently people have to pay meters for street parking in the commercial blocks on Capitol Hill between 8am and 8pm (between $2.50 and $4.00). As Brennan pointed out, the highest demand for parking on Capitol Hill comes after 8pm.
The new dollars could be used locally on Capitol Hill to pay for transportation needs which, if interpreted super broadly could include pedestrian amenities such as benches.
The overwhelming majority of streets in the city doesn’t charge for parking. Currently, the city gets about $37 million annually in meter money from where it does charge (primarily in neighborhood business districts).
The Seattle Department of Transportation is expected to issue a study on parking benefits districts in June.
4. With “gig economy” companies like Uber emerging as villains on par with developers in Seattle’s public imagination, watch for a city proposal this week to outline regulations on Airbnb.
Council member Tim Burgess called for tougher regulations on Airbnb late last year.