The Seattle City Council elections: our predicted winner in each race isn’t always who we would prefer

The good, bad, and ugly and our wishes for the victors

Ok folks, here’s our predictions for the seven Seattle City Council races.  Mind you, they are not always who we would prefer, but rather those most likely to succeed.  We’ll also look at the pros and cons of each and then offer our preferred selection and what we hope they’ll do once elected.  Our standard of evaluation is based on those supporting and taking real leadership in efforts to ensure a managed growth agenda and that developers pay their fair share, achieving economic and racial justice in our city – something that starts by working to prevent the continued loss of our existing low income housing stock, ensuring police accountability, stemming homelessness, preserving our mature tree canopy and open space, and re-establishing a strong role for neighborhoods in land use planning and zoning.

District 1:  Lisa Herbold vs. Phil Tavel  

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Lisa Herbold for District 1

Our crystal ball tells us that Herbold will win going away.  She secured over 50 percent of the vote in the primary to Tavel’s 32 percent.  Yes the PAC’s are pouring money into this race, most for Tavel.  And he isn’t as conservative, nor a shill he’s made out to be by his detractors.  Nor is he on the pro-density pseudo-urbanist bandwagon, showing sympathy to the neighborhood movement.  However, we’re very unimpressed by his flirtation with the Safe Seattle anti-homeless crowd.  By contrast, Lisa’s got a broad base of Democrats and the Union’s backing her, she’s popular in her district because of her attention to her constituent basic needs, backs developer impact fees, no one works harder, and is a leader on efforts to expand tenant rights, address homelessness, and preserve our existing low income housing stock.  Yes, she has disappointed some in the neighborhood movement who expected more from her in terms of standing up to the pro-developer Mosqueda/Gonzalez wing of the Council. But hands down we recommend a vote for Councilmember Herbold.  Our wish for her second term – that she’d be more outspoken in support of the neighborhood’s fight to rein in runaway growth, stand up more often against the pro-developer loudmouths on the Council, and that she doesn’t settle only for eking out very small improvements to larger very negative land use legislation.

District 2:  Tammy Morales vs. Mark Solomon

Our crystal ball says Morales will win in a landslide.  Despite running against several candidates in the primary and vocal opposition from our Mayor, and PAC’s inveighing against her, Morales brought down over 50 percent of the vote to Solomon’s puny 23 percent.  Yes Solomon has the backing of the big monied interests but it’s impossible to imagine how he can overcome such a large deficit in this coming final election.  While Solomon focuses his attention on feel good stuff like public safety, calls for “transparency” and exploiting voter disenchantment with incumbents, we are impressed with what Morales repeatedly refers to as her top priority – stopping displacement of low income and minority communities from our neighborhoods.  We don’t like to see her standing arm in arm with pro-density zealots Mosqueda and Gonzalez but believe she falls more into the “managed and responsible growth” camp and making sure developers replace housing they tear down and pay impact fees.  We see her as a critical voice in support of efforts to prevent demolition, speculation, and runaway rent increases forcing people from their neighborhoods.  Our recommendation goes to Morales.  Our wish for her – that in addition to backing calls preventing removal of existing low cost units, she’ll be a voice for our neighborhoods and support efforts to re-establish a meaningful role for them in land use decision-making. No area of the city is more threatened by recent upzoning, areas predominantly people of color.

District 3:  Kshama Sawant vs. Egan Orion

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Kshama Sawant for District 3

Our crystal ball has Egan Orion winning:  Mind you, we will be disappointed with this outcome for reasons we stated in a recent column of ours, but it’s hard to see how Sawant can dig herself out of a very deep hole she has in part dug for herself. And no incumbent has ever recovered to win when garnering less than 37% in a primary.  On the other hand, she has a highly motivated, well-funded and dedicated following.  While CM Herbold works more quietly on the inside, Sawant is a vocal leader on homelessness, police accountability, tenant rights and worker rights issues.  And contrary to others who label it a negative, to us it remains perhaps her most impressive attribute; Sawant has never succumbed to the insider group think that dominates at City Hall. She calls out other councilmembers and really is a voice for the disenfranchised. She doesn’t play by the “get-along-go-along” rules religiously adhered to by other councilmembers that most of the time guarantee status quo outcomes. She publicly and on the dais routinely thanks groups and people for their role in passing progressive legislation, doesn’t just pump herself up.   By contrast, it’s unlikely Orion would support any of these justice oriented causes; certainly not be a leader or make them a priority. Nor has he shown any inclination to work with the neighborhoods seeking to restore sanity in land use planning.  Frankly it’s hard for us to imagine Egan Orion winning a seat on the Council by himself – some other primary candidates of larger stature split votes between them allowing Orion to slip through.   And now, he’s backed by literally over a million dollars in PAC money saturating District 3 with mailers, digital adds and even paid phone banking and canvassers.  And then there’s the histrionic attacks against Sawant from the mainstream media.  But the margin of difference that may cost her re-election – the hole Sawant has dug for herself – is the fact that she’s alienated many from the very neighborhoods making up the district she is supposed to be representing, including many who helped get her elected in the first place.  And her staff provide almost zero customer service, except for callers who raise a problem that feeds directly into her party’s agenda. While constantly inveighing against corporate wrong-doing, she has remained completely AWOL in the fight to rein in runaway development and requiring developers to replace housing they remove or pay impact fees.  That said, we still want to see Kshama Sawant re-elected.  And Kshama if you get re-elected or for you Orion, please seek out and work with the neighborhoods on matters of growth and development and help us in our fight to prevent displacement, for developer impact fees, and to preserve our tree canopy and open space.

District 4:  Alex Pedersen vs. Shaun Scott  

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Alex Pedersen for District 4

Our crystal ball has Alex Pedersen winning.  In past columns we’ve written at length about the political stances of both Pedersen and Scott and explaining why Pedersen is far and away the best choice (here and here.)  Pedersen for over half a decade has quietly built a base of support in District 4.  Over years, he’s meticulously undertaken outreach and offered support and advice to community and small business leaders, running a blog called “4 to Explore” highlighting both hot issues and fun things to do in the District.  Unlike nearly every other candidate, except for Herbold who’s already doing it, he promises to make his office first and foremost a place that constituents can go to get that pothole fixed or its equivalent. Pedersen backs restoration of the role of neighborhoods in land use planning, imposition of developer impact fees, and measures to rein in runaway growth.  He’s on board with improved protections for our Continue reading

Posted in Affordable Housing, City Hall, Density, Displacement, Housing Preservation, Neighborhoods, Politics, Upzoning

Neighborhood challenge to MHA upzones is not over: State Growth Management Hearing Board to hear citizen’s appeal Tuesday November 5th

Room 1610 Seattle Municipal Tower, 9AM-4PM (PST): A decision favoring SCALE representing over two dozen neighborhood and housing groups would overturn Seattle’s city-wide MHA upzones implemented earlier this year

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Battle isn’t over: Neighborhoods appeal to Growth Management Hearing Board

In an appeal hearing that may take two days (November 5th and 7th), the State’s Growth Management Hearings Board finally will hear a citizen challenge to the City’s city-wide upzones approved last March affecting every neighborhood in Seattle.  The challenge is being brought by over two dozen community and housing groups under the banner of the Seattle Coalition for Affordability and Equity (S.C.A.L.E.).

The zoning changes, adopted unanimously by the City Council, give developers substantical increases in allowed density provided they met a “mandatory housing affordability” (MHA) requirement setting aside from 3-9 percent of the new units as “affordable”.  However, developers only have to set aside those units at rents affordable to those earning at 60 percent of median, more than average rents in many neighborhoods and well above what low income people earning at or below 30 percent, those most in need in our city, can afford.

Developers also have the option of paying an in-lieu fee equivalent to 40 percent of the cost of including those units in their new buildings.  Critics say the developers MHA set-aside requirement is paltry and the upzones will directly result in maximum profit to developers and maximum damage to both the physical and social character of Seattle’s neighborhoods.  Mapping of areas most hard-hit show that a majority of areas upzoned are in low income and minority neighborhoods.

The MHA plan was hatched nearly four years and at every stage of review was met with widespread opposition from neighborhood and housing groups.  Following a largely unsuccessful appeal from the SCALE’s coalition to the City Hearing Examiner challenging the adequacy of the environmental impact statement, the Council earlier this year passed the legislation virtually ignoring citizen concerns about the impacts of such added density on their communities.   Following that Council’s decision, SCALE filed it’s appeal with the Growth Management Hearing Board.

SCALE will raise many of the same issues it raised in its appeal to the City Hearing Examiner charging failure to adequately assess impacts on the city’s infrastructure, on it’s existing affordable housing stock and amount of displacement the upzones will cause.  A decision from the hearings board favorable to the appellants could overturn the city’s upzones and it’s MHA plan.

 

Posted in Affordable Housing, City Hall, Density, Displacement, Gentrification, Housing Preservation, Neighborhoods

GMA Hearing Board last July overturned Olympia’s “missing middle” upzone plan

The decision was a victory of neighborhood groups in Olympia effectively striking down that city’s upzone plan – does it portend the fate of Seattle’s massive MHA upzone plan?

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Map of affected Olympia neighborhoods: source city of Olympia

Olympia’s “missing middle” ordinance allows more multifamily housing—duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, accessory dwelling units (ADUs), and courtyard apartments—to be built in low-density neighborhoods.   This plan was described by city officials as the “missing middle” in order to suggest that by upzoning lower density neighborhoods and adding a supply of these lower density housing types into single family and lower density areas, it would free up more affordable housing options on the spectrum between single-family homes and large apartment buildings.

But last January, a group called Olympians for Smart Development & Livable Neighborhoods represented by Bricklin and Newman filed a petition for review with the state’s Growth Management Hearings Board. These are the same attorney’s representing Seattle neighborhood groups under the banner of SCALE in its current appeal of recent MHA upzones to the GMA board.

In its July 10th opinion, the GMA Board found the city of Olympia failed to comply with the Growth Management Act by not anticipating impacts on the environment, public facilities and services. The Board was also persuaded by the arguments that the “missing middle” changes fail to implement Olympia’s comprehensive plan, namely the call to preserve “neighborhood character.”

Here’s what attorney Bricklin had to say about the decision:   

“The State Growth Management Hearings Board (GMHB) told the City that the Missing Middle Ordinance is invalid.  Through implementation of this ordinance, the City was impermissibly increasing densities and destroying neighborhood character. The city did it wrong.”
 
The Board invalidated the entire Missing Middle Ordinance #7160 because they felt that leaving it intact would substantially interfere with Oympia’s ability to comply with major parts of the GMA (Growth Management Act) and the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA).  Let’s be very clear: The GMHB did not invalidate parts of the ordinance…they invalidated the entire ordinance.

Members of our group share below their interpretations of what this decision means for Olympians: 

THE BOARD’S FINDINGS/RULINGS:

  • The Board found that densities allowed under Missing Middle exceeded, in some cases greatly, those allowed by the City’s recently adopted Comprehensive Plan, and did not, as represented by City Staff to the City Council and the public, merely to allow for allow additional housing types.
     
  • The Board also ruled that the City had failed to analyze adequately the impacts of Missing Middle, especially in relation to sewers, storm water, parking, and budgets.
  • Going forward: Any applications for development proposals that would be allowed by Missing Middle and which are filed after July 10, the date of the Board’s ruling, will be governed by the redone or replacement ordinance. (In other words, no more new MM housing permits until the ordinance is revised!)
THE CITY HAS UNTIL DECEMBER 18th TO COMPLY WITH THE GMHB RULINGS
The text of the decision can be found
Posted in City Hall, Density, Neighborhoods

Shaun Scott’s vendetta against single family housing – where 60 percent of all Seattleites live

Scott suggests you’re racist if you don’t want to abolish single-family zoning: does that mean 88,000 people renting one in Seattle are racist (28 percent of renters) and 29 percent of all African-Americans?

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South of Othello between 46th S and 48th S : All lots shown are “likely to be redeveloped” due to recent MHA upzones according to city data.  Southend communities of color are most affected.  These lots are in a block group that’s 91 percent single-family, 43 percent renter, and 93.5 percent people of color (source: 2017 ACS Data)

For those here in Seattle who live in a single-family home – almost 60 percent of the city’s population – 4th District candidate Shaun Scott doesn’t think much of your housing choice. One plank of his platform is “the abolishment of single-family zoning, a racist holdover from the early 20th century”. In his responses to a questionnaire from the Democratic Socialist Alliance, he claims single-family zoning precludes people of color from many Seattle neighborhoods and “makes the kind of multifamily housing working families need illegal.”

In a December 6th 2018 interview with the pro-density blog, The Urbanist, Scott accuses those who ignore “the hard data“ about single-family zoning of “deny[ing] racism exists and it’s tantamount to being a climate denier.”

His statements are troubling on several levels. First, Scott is smearing the housing type (and zoning which preserves it) that’s occupied by most Seattleites regardless of income or race. Nationwide, polling shows that 70-80 percent of the American public clearly prefers a single-family home with a garden, trees and birds singing out back.

In a recent story for Outside City Hall, George Howland contradicts Scott’s “hard data”: The difference in racial diversity between multi-family neighborhoods and single-family neighborhoods is negligible: 34 percent (sf) to 35 percent (mf). This refutes the urbanist contention that single-family residents are keeping people of color out of their neighborhoods by opposing multi-family zoning. These figures are in The Seattle Times’ columnist Gene Balk’s article today. Balk doesn’t address this issue but it’s plain for all to see in the numbers. ”  

What about low income people, large families of color, and seniors who own a home?

Of course, it’s true that increasingly few in Seattle can afford to buy a single-family home (without public assistance the city offers to some homeowners – more is needed). But what Scott and other upzoning zealots overlook, intentionally or naively is that there are over 15,000 low-income households including seniors and families of color in Seattle who own a home, and most are paying far more than a third of their income in housing costs, deemed unaffordable by HUD. These folks are trying desperately to hang on in the face of rising property values and taxes, pushed even higher by recent upzoning.

And don’t expect recent backyard cottage legislation to help lower-income homeowners. They’ve got little or no equity to sink into the estimated $200,000 cost of building one.  Removal of an owner-occupancy requirement simply incentivizes developer speculation, pushing up land values and taxes higher still.

As Outside City Hall recently reported, about 60 percent of lots the city identified as “likely to be redeveloped” due to the recent MHA citywide upzones are located in the Continue reading

Posted in Affordable Housing, City Hall, Density, Displacement, Gentrification, Housing Preservation, Neighborhoods, Politics, Upzoning

Our response to Shaun Scott’s claim you’re a climate-change denier if you don’t jump on his pro-density crusade.

Scott claims he has a corner on “hard data” but there’s nothing environmentally sound about cramming more growth into Seattle’s neighborhoods  

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Fastest growing cities in the region are on the margins of the four county area and spilling outside of GMA urban growth boundaries:  As Seattle has grown so has suburban sprawl.

We’re breaking records for new rental construction in Seattle at three to four times our normal annual rate.  And contrary to Scott’s “build-baby-build” mantra it hasn’t curbed sprawl. (Nor has it freed up housing affordable even to working people. Rents have not fallen and there’s been little if any trickle-down effect, in part because a lot of new expensive development has required removal of a lot of the existing older affordable housing stock.)

In the last decade and a half, Seattle’s electeds have binged on upzoning our neighborhoods with more than a dozen major upzones since the early 2000’s.  It’s more than doubled our current capacity for additional units to over 205,000 – nearly three times the capacity we need to meet our city’s 20-year 2035 GMA-assigned regional growth target of 70,000 units. And since 2015,  we’ve built so much market rate housing that we’ve already reached over half that 2035 target.  It’s not logical or good planning driving the call for still more upzoning but developer greed, a sycophantic Mayor and councilmembers.  And Scott naively swallows it.

Seattle’s growth target and targets set at the regional level for Bellevue, Tacoma, Everett and a dozen smaller cities around the region were set with environmental goals in mind – that being to help ensure a more even distribution of jobs and residential development concentrated in numerous activity centers around the four-county region. it’s called a “multi-activity” centered approach to growth and it’s the best way to reduce sprawl, bringing down our carbon footprint, and getting people out of their cars.

By concentrating jobs in the region’s other activity centers, rather than pouring them all into Seattle’s core, you’re locating more jobs closer to where a growing number of people choose to live.  Ideally, you’d then allocate enough dollars for much less expensive mass transit systems (rapid bus, car and vanpool) that would serve more people and move them shorter distances to and from their homes in the ‘burbs to their jobs in these other activity centers.  Creation of a series of smaller transit centers with routes into and out of them… that’s the way to address sprawl and get people out of their cars.

Curbing sprawl is not accomplished by greatly exceeding Seattle’s growth targets and pushing more development into our neighborhoods – a monocentric approach to regional growth.  And it’s not accomplished by spending the great majority of the region’s transit dollars on a rail system serving Seattle’s downtown and only a few of the regions larger cities along the route. Only about 5 percent of the region’s commuters will use it but it’s consuming 60-70 percent of the region’s transit dollars.  The effect is to sap the rest of the region of the dollars desperately needed out there in those rapidly growing areas for bus and other mass transit systems.  And lacking mass transit, these commuters will have no choice but to continue to drive their cars and we’ll continue to see land use patterns out there premised off and that encourage more sprawl.

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Data from 2017 https://onthemap.ces.census.gov/  60 percent of those employed in Seattle live outside the City: the percent has fallen by only 2 percent since 2011

The “hard data” also shows that a large majority of Seattle’s workers are choosing to live in the suburbs and commuting longer and longer distances to and from inner-city jobs.  In 2000, Census Data showed about half of all Seattle workers living in the city.  That Continue reading

Posted in Density, Politics, Transportation, Upzoning

Pedersen vs Scott and Gossett vs Zahilay: October 15th, 530pm at UHeights Center

Forum

Join us at a unique candidate forum that brings together both City and County councilmember candidates to discuss issues affecting the U District. City Council candidates Alex Pedersen and Shaun Scott, and King County Council candidates Larry Gossett and Girmay Zahilay will answer questions from our community groups and neighbors in attendance.

See how our future city and county councilmembers will respond to calls for managed growth, developer impact fees, tree canopy protections, and measures to preserve our historic and important small business districts.  Will they work with the neighborhoods that make up the district to prevent displacement and ensure developers replace 1 for 1 any low cost housing they destroy?  How will they help mitigate traffic and ensure adequate connector bus service to the new light rail stops?  What can they do to ensure critical social services, youth, and homeless programs still can afford and find space in our communities in the face of rising rents and gentrification.  And what about legacy businesses – will they work with the community to ensure they can stay?  Join us to hear their responses to these and other critical issues facing our communities.

This timely forum is on Tuesday, October 15th at 5:30pm at U Heights, just as ballots are mailed out to voters. As an informed voter, this is one evening you don’t want to miss. In case you missed our very successful forum in June, you can check out the event video online.

The forum will be co-hosted by the U District Small BusinessesU District Community CouncilLivable U DistrictSeattle Displacement Coalition, and U District Advocates; held at U Heights Community Center; and live-streamed by KODX Radio.

 

Posted in City Hall, Neighborhoods, Uncategorized

Kshama’s rent control “Hail Mary” to mobilize her base; it’s illegal but so what?

kshama sawant

Sawant’s re-election in doubt: don’t count her out just yet

Her effort to rein-in rents shows why we need her on the Council

Honestly, we didn’t initially take the time to read Kshama’s draft rent control law, because in the literal sense, it’s “not going anywhere fast”. State law explicitly bars rent control and there aren’t even enough enlightened Democrats in Olympia right now to pass any legislation removing that restriction.

It’s possible, we suppose, that four of her colleagues on the City Council would take up her rent control law, but not around the budget process and likely not before a new city council is seated next year – one that most political prognosticators say will not include Kshama. In my 45 plus years of tracking City Council elections, regardless of how many candidates may have divided the ballot, I know of no incumbent bringing down less than 40 percent in a primary – Kshama got 36.7 percent – ever winning re-election.

Her dire electoral prospects certainly explain why she’s introducing this rent control measure now.  It’s clearly a Hail Mary to mobilize her base and get her backers to the polls. I wouldn’t count her out, however. Kshama overcame great odds when she unseated Richard Conlin and took her place on the Council. During that 2013 campaign, I recall telling her over coffee that she didn’t “have a prayer”.  Boy did I get that wrong and a couple of her staff subsequently haven’t hesitated to remind me of my mistake.

But the political climate has changed.  Kshama has alienated a platoon of interests, including many who voted for her in the past – especially those from the neighborhoods.  It was this latter constituency of community council, parks, tree, and open space advocates that were instrumental in getting her elected in the first place – mostly but not exclusively homeowners – fed up with Conlin’s pro-density and pro-downtown proclivities. Most of them now say anybody but Kshama should fill the seat. She often doesn’t even show up at committee meetings to listen, let alone cast a vote around a land use matter that affects the neighborhoods, even when displacement and gentrification are key issues.

So now the tables are turned. Kshama, the incumbent, draws the ire of folks from the neighborhoods. Mix in the developer crowd, out to get her since the day she took office, and her re-election prospects look bleak.  And tenants, her natural base, rarely if ever do they match homeowners at the polls although in the recent primary, city-wide, 38 percent of all voters were tenants.  Likely, in Kshama’s District 3, tenant turnout will rise well above that in the general election. District 3 is very dense with rental housing including Capitol Hill.  Back in 2013 when all seats still were filled by a city-wide vote, Conlin won the primary with 48 percent of the vote (to Kshama’s 35 percent), but still lost to Kshama in the final.

If Kshama does lose, I won’t be excited about that. And for neighborhoods, it may be out of the frying pan and into the fire.  Her opponent, Egan Orion, seems far more anxious to do away with single-family zoning and without concern how it might affect the 20-25 Continue reading

Posted in Affordable Housing, City Hall, Housing Preservation, Politics, racial justice

Cliff Cawthon writes about Reagan Dunn’s misguided “homeward bound” program

Busing the homeless out of Seattle won’t help

Homeless Article #1 (19)

Earlier this month, King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn offered what he characterized as a more effective answer to homelessness: free bus tickets out of town. It’s his rebuttal, and what he claims is a “less costly” alternative to a proposed county-wide agency that Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and King County Executive Dow Constantine recently announced in order to centralize delivery of city and county homeless programs.

Dubbing his program ‘homeward bound’- named after similar programs nationally, Dunn would re-direct a large chunk of homeless funding for one-way, one-time bus tickets out of town to homeless people – those who have family or a friend who can support them in another locality.  His plan closely resembles similar ones across the country.  But a review of the results of these programs show little or no real benefit to the individuals who’ve been bussed out.  More often such programs simply rationalize cuts to homeless funding while doing little to reduce a locale’s homeless population or at best off-loading a small fraction somewhere else.

In an 18-month investigation, the Guardian – a highly respected United Kingdom news site – conducted what they have described as “the first detailed analysis of America’s homeless relocation programs”. Calling it Bussed Out and released in 2017, the authors concluded these programs were largely a failure. Busing programs for the homeless have been implemented in some of the cities that have the most acute levels of homelessness, such as Portland, San Francisco, and Salt Lake City.  The Guardian’s analysis however shows that while some have benefited from being connected with estranged family and friends, many often remained homeless or have ongoing issues.

In 2018, the San Francisco Chronicle did a profile of their city’s pilot relocation program and found that,

“Nearly half the people who used Homeward Bound over those seven months — 125 — told caseworkers they were living with a caretaker, such as a family member, friend or significant other. An additional 24 said they were living on their own… Outcomes for many others were far less positive. Thirty-five people either never showed up at their destinations or disappeared from their caretaker within a month. Six ended up in jail, four were homeless elsewhere in the country, and six returned to San Francisco — where it’s unclear whether they were homeless or housed. One never left. Sixty-one other people who used the program and their caretakers didn’t respond to the follow-up calls, so the city wasn’t able to learn their fates.”

In this sampling of 262 cases, slightly less than half were under-served in their new location and either slipped back into homelessness, became incarcerated shortly after, or Continue reading

Posted in Cliff Cawthon articles, Homelessness, Politics

Councilmember Pacheco wants to remove ‘SEPA’ rules requiring city to study displacement impacts on small businesses due to upzoning

Pacheco’s bill makes study of economic impacts optional and removes right of an appeal to hearing examiner; small businesses along Seattle’s historic “Ave” say it’s intentionally designed to rob them of any chance to secure measures to minimize impacts of upzones on them 

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Abel Pacheco

Late last week, the interim 4th District City Councilmember Abel Pacheco introduced legislation to remove provisions in the City’s State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) ordinance that currently requires the city to study the ‘economic impacts’ of upzoning on neighborhood business districts. The planners charged with implementing SEPA instead could opt out and would no longer be required to propose mitigation even when those upzones threaten displacement of several hundred shops and small businesses.

To top it off, even when the planners do analyze the impacts of an upzone on small businesses, citizen and small business groups would be denied the right to appeal the adequacy of that analysis to the city hearing examiner.  Pacheco’s proposal also would impose strict time limits for all appeals and allow the city to hire outside help when the hearing examiner was overloaded.

The first airing of Pacheco’s bill, (which would apply to all ‘nonproject’ actions city-wide, not just upzones for the U-District) will take place in the Land Use Committee, that he chairs, this coming Wednesday 930 AM in the Council Chambers.   More details of the proposal also can be found here.

Councilmember Pacheco is an un-elected appointee whose district includes the University District that theoretically he’s supposed to be representing.  But his legislation Continue reading

Posted in City Hall, Density, Displacement, Gentrification, Housing Preservation, Politics, University District, Upzoning

A second round of upzones for historic University District moves forward; activists to hold “Save the Ave” fundraiser, 5pm-9pm, Aug 10th at the Big Time

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Rob Johnson, former Councilmember from the 4th District is long gone but his proposal to upzone the Ave and over a dozen other blocks in the neighborhood lives on.

Residents and small businesses wonder why CM Johnson proposal moves forward since over half of the “U-District” was upzoned for highrises less than three years ago.  They say the current round of upzones directly threatens over 200 ‘legacy’ and minority-owned small businesses, dozens of historic buildings, and over 400 units of low cost housing.

On Saturday August 10th, 5pm-9pm, at the Big Time Brewery, 4133 University Way residents and small businesses will hold a rally and fundraiser to raise funds to help them continue their fight to stave off the wrecking ball and loss of the physical, social, and historic character of their community.  All are invited for a good time, not to mention, a great excuse to drink some beers from one of the regions first and best tasting brew pubs.  The Big Time Brewery has been located on the Ave for over 20 years.

The event specifically will raise funds for the University District Small Business Association (UDSBA) so they can continue to organize the community and rally the public to their cause. It will also go towards their effort to create a “historic district” overlay along the Ave and to landmark many it’s buildings already identified as eligible for such a designation.  They say this “would go a long way towards preservation of the communities unique character.

The Ave now maintains what perhaps is the most racially and ethnically diverse small business district in the city.  According to one activist helping organize the event “all is now at risk as long as these upzones move forward and without the city first putting in place measures to save the older buildings and prevent displacement of small businesses and the lower income residents who live here who call this home”. There is a mind boggling 30 new developments, much of it highrises, either being built or pending in the areas of the neighborhood that were upzoned early in 2017.  The amount is 3-4 times what was anticipate and it’s resulted already in the demolition of 114 existing low cost apartments.   

More about the University District Small Business Association and their fundraiser can be found here   https://www.savetheave.org/.

Posted in City Hall, Density, Displacement, Gentrification, Housing Preservation, Neighborhoods, Politics, University District, Upzoning