“DEIS” for the “HALA” mandatory housing affordability requirement conceals impacts on low income housing”

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Seattle Displacement Coalition challenges adequacy of Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS):

“The loss of existing low income units would greatly outweigh total affordable units produced under HALA plan.  The DEIS makes a mockery of responsible planning and analysis and thumbs it’s nose at the City’s statutory obligations under SEPA. And it thumbs it’s nose to the thousands of low income tenants in our city whose housing is being put on the chopping block due to this HALA-MHA plan.”

In a written statement submitted last Monday, a few hours before the deadline for acceptance of formal comments, the Seattle Displacement Coalition (SDC) said the DEIS would deny decision makers accurate information on how the HALA upzone plan would set off massive displacement, gentrification, and loss of low cost housing in our city.   These losses would greatly outweigh amounts of “affordable” units developers are required to provide under the mandatory housing requirement accompanying the upzones.

The Coalition’s 7-page letter with attachments identified numerous problems with the DEIS including: 

  • A lack of discussion/assessment/study of a true second alternative to ‘no action’.  Both alternatives studied assumed the same level of growth and added density, only moving it around slightly.  Consequently impacts are similar preventing decision-makers from viewing an alternative with fewer impacts that still could meet the proposals affordable housing objectives.  There is a need for a “managed growth” alternative that assumes less density and a higher mandatory housing requirement.  Without this, the DEIS does not fulfill the requirements of WAC 197-11-442 (2) that require a level of discussion of “alternative means of accomplishing a stated objective” and with detail “sufficient to evaluate their comparative merits”. Continue reading
Posted in Affordable Housing, City Hall, Density, Housing Preservation, Upzoning

Nikkita Oliver: A True Inspiration

nikkita Oliver 3

People’s Party could be a new ongoing force in Seattle politics

by George Howland Jr.

Win or lose, educator-lawyer-poet-activist Nikkita Oliver’s mayoral campaign was truly inspirational. At the moment, Oliver is in third place trailing urbanist Cary Moon by a mere 1,457 votes out of 90,000 ballots counted. There could be as many as 50,000 votes remaining to be counted.

Unlike Durkan and Moon, Oliver has no personal fortune. She started with little name recognition and no big-time backers. She is a young, queer, African-American woman who has been involved in grassroots politics, art and education. She built a movement campaign powered by 1,000 volunteers. She depended on turning out voters who don’t usually cast ballots in great numbers: people of color, young voters, the disenfranchised and activists to the left of the Democratic Party. Her achievement was extraordinary—even if she doesn’t make it into the general election.

If Oliver fails to overtake Moon, one questionable electioneering decision may haunt her: she only spent $66,000 of the $120,000 she raised. She should have spent every last dime to make it through the primary. Campaign contributions would have increased exponentially for the general election.

Raising $120,000 in small donations was just one aspect of her remarkable campaign. She held real listening sessions across the city and was clearly part of a social movement for transformative change—not a politician driven by ego and a desire for power. She supported rent control and participatory democracy, opposed the injustice of current law enforcement and imprisonment practices and refused to take corporate campaign donations. If she and the People’s Party of Seattle do not become discouraged and exhausted, they could represent a new political force in the city. On some issues, like the new youth jail and the new Seattle Police Department north precinct, members and allies of the People’s Party have already have played a significant role.

Oliver and the People’s Party may not win this election, but they represent the best hope for Seattle’s future.

Questions, tips, comments: georgehowlandjr@gmail.com

Award winning journalist George Howland Jr has been hired by Seattle Displacement Coalition to write for Outside City Hall about city politics, housing, homelessness and land use. He is not a member of Seattle Displacement Coalition and no part of his writing serves as a statement of the Coalition’s views. He works under his own editorial direction. The Coalition plays no role in choosing his specific subjects or editing his copy. He has never even been to a Huskies’ football game with the Coalition’s John Fox.

Posted in Uncategorized

Jenny the Juggernaut




Race for second place in mayor’s race between Moon and Oliver is very close, but Durkan is primary night’s big winner

By George Howland Jr.

On primary election night, former U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan was beating her closest opponent by 15 points. It was a remarkable showing for a first-time candidate in a 21-person field. Second place in the mayor’s race is very close with urbanist Cary Moon leading educator-lawyer-poet-activist Nikkita Oliver by a mere 1,457 votes out of 90,000 ballots counted. There could be as many as 50,000 votes remaining to be counted.

Before the election, King County Elections Director Julie Wise had predicted a 38 percent turnout of King County’s 1.3 million registered voters. As of election day, only 25 percent of Seattle’s voters had returned their ballots. The county didn’t count all of them last night—only 19 percent. Many more are still going to arrive in the mail. That is why there may be up to 50,000 ballots not yet tabulated.

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Posted in Affordable Housing, City Hall, Election 2017, George Howland articles, Homelessness, Neighborhoods, Politics

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

John Fox and Carolee Colter give their opinion 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

$469 million cultural levy: badly conceived and terribly timed

Woodland Park Zoo

Public money should not be used to cage animals. (Flickr)

Too much of Proposition 1, a county-wide tax measure, will go to  institutions that serve the wealthy and middle class or don’t deserve public money

by George Howland Jr

I love the arts, history and science, but I hate “Access for All”, the seven-year, $469 million King County Proposition 1. There are good aspects to this tax levy, but overall it is poorly conceived. Furthermore, at a time when King County Executive Dow Constantine has declared a state of emergency about our county’s 11,643 homelessness neighbors, Prop. 1 demonstrates a terrible set of priorities.

Prop. 1 is an increase of 0.1 percent in sales tax—a penny for every $10 dollars spent. If approved it would be levied county-wide. According to King County, Prop. 1’s $469 million would be split into four pots: 39 percent for around 35 big cultural organizations (including Seattle Opera, Museum of Flight and Woodland Park Zoo), 38 percent for around 350 little cultural organizations (Alliance for Pioneer Square, Bothell Historical Museum Society and Neely Mansion Association), 21 percent for a public-school access program and 1.25 percent for administration.

I find these numbers misleading. The so-called public-school access program would pay for school visits, curriculum and teacher training from and field trips to the 35 big non-profits. To my thinking, that means 60 percent or $280 million of this levy would go to 35 large organizations.

And to be clear: none of this money will pay for ongoing, actual art, theater, music, history or science classes in the school systems. It will provide, admittedly, some help to teachers already providing instruction in these subjects.

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Posted in Affordable Housing, City Hall, Election 2017, George Howland articles, Homelessness, 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?


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