Why only Hasegawa and Oliver measure up, Jon Grant for City Council Seat 8, and for Seat 9 “anyone but Gonzalez”

To view our story why only these candidates measure up on issues affecting our neighborhoods, racial and economic justice, housing, land use, homelessness, police accountability and ensuring equity in our city.  go here 

 

Posted in City Hall, Election 2017, Politics

Seattle politics: liberal versus left

 

Mayoral candidate Jenny Durkan (left) represents the status quo while Nikkita Oliver will bring transformational change

By George Howland Jr.

As Mayor Ed Murray prepares to leave office, let’s say goodbye to one of his favorite tropes: Seattle is a snake bed of divisive leftists who need to learn the art of compromise.

Instead, we need to understand the real difference between Seattle establishment liberalism and the socialists, populists, urbanists and social and racial justice advocates who want to change it. Understanding the distinctions will help people choose a new mayor: whether a liberal establishment figure like Jenny Durkan or a grassroots educator-artist-lawyer-activist like Nikkita Oliver. (Of course, there are 19 other candidates, but for the moment, I’m going to contrast these two.)

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Posted in Affordable Housing, City Hall, Election 2017, George Howland articles, Homelessness, LGBTQ, Politics, Protest, Resistance

Public Bank for Seattle; pipe dream or can it work here?

BND

The nations only state-run public bank:  Would it work here?

Neil Powers looks into some of the pros and cons of creating one here in Seattle

(Special note:  Outside City Hall was going to post this story later accompanying it with another post examining the legal and constitutional issues some say are major hurdles to creating a public bank here in Seattle or anywhere in Washington State. We’re’ still working on that story, but decided to go ahead now with Neil’s overview in light of last week’s well attended workshop on the topic and the fact that one Mayoral candidate, Bob Hasegawa, has made it a centerpiece of his campaign)

The public bank, Bank of North Dakota (BND) https://bnd.nd.gov/ serves as a model for advocates of a City of Seattle-run bank that could add hundreds of millions of dollars to city revenues over time and serve as one option to slow the rate of property taxes in the city. BND earned $477.9 million over the last three years. Pipe dream for Seattle?  It is one of several cities to explore creating city public banks in the U.S.  The timing may not align but Seattle is in the market for a new bank, given the city’s intent to withdraw its funds from Wells Fargo by the end of 2018.

The Seattle Public Bank Coalition http://www.seattlepublicbanking.org/  and Seattle mayoral candidate state Senator Bob Hasegawa want to see a public bank for the city. (One other Mayoral canddate, Nikkita Oliver, has expressed interest in a public bank.)  Hasegawa is working on another front in Olympia, promoting efforts for a state-wide public bank. No success on that front yet. If he is elected mayor, Hasegawa’s public bank efforts in the legislature will continue. “We’ve got a Legislative State Bank Caucus, who is committed to passing something in 2018,” he says. He questions if state authorization for a local municipal bank is absolutely necessary.

Why a public bank for Seattle?

Rather than individual accounts for customers the bank would be geared to financing efforts such as public infrastructure projects. Hasegawa says $100 million in a Seattle municipal bank could leverage $1 billion, some of which could be used to help build more affordable housing.  

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Posted in Affordable Housing, Budget, City Hall, Election 2017, Politics, Uncategorized

Only Nikkita Oliver and Bob Hasegawa measure up in race for Mayor

Jon Grant for Council Seat 8 and “anybody but Gonzalez” for Seat 9

Ballots are mailed out Wednesday for the August 1st primary and it’s a critical election for Seattle’s future.  Even though elections are probably far from your mind – only about 30-35% of you will take time to vote in an ‘off-year’ primary – Seattle is in a hotly contested race for Mayor and our remaining two ‘at large’ or citywide council races.

We’ve either interviewed or closely reviewed where candidates stand, especially front-runners, across the critical issues affecting our neighborhoods, and on racial and economic justice issues, housing and land use, homelessness, police accountability and ensuring equity and fairness for all in our city.  Here are our endorsements.

(Following this column, we’ve posted Neil Power’s interview with Oliver and reprinted our earlier interview with Hasegewa.)

The Race for Mayor:  Nikkita Oliver or Bob Hasegawa

Among the six frontrunners, only Bob Hasegawa and Nikkita Oliver measured up. Both were seriously willing to call for reassessment of the so-called Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) upzones. Both backed increasing the developer’s mandatory affordable housing set-aside to 25% of new units rather than the current paltry 2-11%. They gave unqualified support for requiring developers to pay impact fees for a portion of the infrastructure demanded by their projects. And they would require developers to replace at comparable price any existing low-cost housing they remove.

Both Hasegawa and Oliver favored decisions derived from the bottom up over technocratic and elitist solutions. Both called for a re-establishment of the District Neighborhood Council system and pledged to make sure it was more broadly representative and racially diverse, not arrogantly eliminated. Both supported new measures to preserve tree canopy, and older historic and culturally significant buildings and places like Chinatown/International District and Little Saigon now in the wrecking ball’s crosshairs.

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Posted in City Hall, Election 2017, Media, Upzoning

Neil Powers interviews Nikkita Oliver

An idealist and pragmatist who would seek impact fees, and re-assessment of HALA through race and equity lens

Screenshot 2017-07-10 at 2.07.55 PM

Nikkita Oliver began as the only serious challenger to Mayor Ed Murray.  “I got into this election when Murray was still undefeatable, when the incumbent had $300,000 already (plus PAC money),” she says.  Oliver sees her early commitment to run stands out among the progressive chorus of mayoral candidates.  This lawyer and community leader wants to do what two of Seattle’s last six mayors have done…become mayor without ever having held elective office.

She talks as an idealist and taking a pragmatic approach to getting things done.

Oliver wants to address your ever-rising property taxes, impacting renters and homeowners. She wants to do more in addressing homelessness. She wants Seattle to charge developers impact fees to help pay for infrastructure costs of development just like dozens of cities in the state, including Bellevue. Oliver wants to use bonding authority to build more public housing. She steps beyond the density all good/all bad debate. Oliver wants to develop density strategies with a race and equity lens that is respectful to neighborhoods, while not pushing people of color and others with modest incomes out of the city.  She believes in transforming the culture of policing. She flags the burden on local owned small businesses not being able to afford rental space, including at street level in new mixed-use buildings.

Oliver talks about growth.  “It goes back to that race and equity lens….acknowledge that displacement is about economics and also about when we look at whose neighborhoods who takes on what kind of density and whose neighborhoods resonate loudest at city hall,” she says.  “It is not often those neighborhoods that are black and brown.”

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Posted in City Hall, Election 2017

Mayoral hopeful Hasegawa on neighborhood councils, density and a municipal bank

Hasegawa headshot

Bob Hasegawa wants to bring “transformational change” to City Hall.

State Senator Bob Hasegawa, D-11th District, is running for Seattle mayor and critiques HALA, wants to empower neighborhoods and levy impact fees on new development

By Neil Powers

Since 2005, Bob Hasegawa, 64, has been a member of the Washington state Legislature, first as a state Representative then as a state Senator. Hasegawa is a lifelong resident of Beacon Hill and before joining the legislature, he was a leader of the reform wing of the Teamsters Union, locally and nationally. His signature campaign issue is creating the country’s first city owned bank.

How would a municipal bank build affordable housing?

Hasegawa says, “You have to get smart people who are familiar with public finance and banking and understand the politics too and just put them together.” He adds that he has the right people already lined up.

Hasegawa uses the example of the seven-year, $290 million housing levy approved by Seattle voters in August 2016. Instead of simply building housing with that money, he says, “we might do much better if we capitalized the public bank with that money and lent [the money] out.”

“The bank would be the depository for all of our tax revenues that are flowing. [Every] $100 million leverages about $1 billion in lending capacity. We could build a lot of [housing] units for $1 billion dollars. [The bank] will make revenue for the city without raising taxes and it drastically [increases] our financing capacity; that’s just what banks do. We can seriously kick start addressing the housing shortage.”

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Posted in Affordable Housing, Budget, City Hall, Density, Election 2017, Neighborhoods, Politics, Upzoning

Homeless housing in Magnolia faces tough odds

A recent open house at the Daybreak Star Cultural Center revealed intense opposition to the city’s proposals for the redevelopment of Fort Lawton. (Flickr)

A school, a park and housing compete for Fort Lawton’s 28 acres of surplus federal property

By George Howland Jr.

Twenty-eight acres of surplus federal property should be a great opportunity for Seattle. Instead, it shows signs of becoming a terrible civic imbroglio. I fear that the interests of homeless people will be lost in the melee.

Currently, many in Magnolia are organizing against Mayor Ed Murray’s proposal to build a new 235-unit affordable-housing development, including 85 studios for homeless seniors, next to Discovery Park. The majority of the 2,000 public comments on the proposal support a new public high school on the site. There is also significant public support for using the surplus land to enlarge Discovery Park from 534 acres to 562 acres.

This opposition is not giving adequate weight to our city’s very real emergency. There are 8,522 homeless Seattleites. Whatever the final plan in Magnolia, it is imperative that housing for the homeless remain part of the mix.

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Posted in Affordable Housing, City Hall, Density, George Howland articles, Homelessness, Neighborhoods, Politics