Seattle City Council — District 1

Downtown’s success depends, in part, on effective partnerships with Seattle’s elected leaders. While DSA does not endorse candidates for office, we do interview them about important issues facing downtown and the city, and rank them according to our priorities.

Candidates are given an opportunity to answer questions in writing and in person about key issues, including public safety, transportation, homelessness, economic competitiveness, and the urban experience.

Candidates who complete the questionnaire are scored on how closely they align with DSA’s priorities in these areas. All scores are posted below. As a part of our commitment to transparency, we also share all written responses — as we received them — so you have an opportunity to better understand each candidate’s perspective.

The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 5.

Meet the District 1 Candidates

Questionnaire

Click on a question to jump to candidate responses.

  1. Looking at the current City Council, on what issues would you say it has been particularly effective and, in your opinion, where has it been less effective? Why?
  2. More than 52,000 daily transit riders from across all seven City Council districts use Third Avenue daily to get to and from their jobs in downtown Seattle. While Third Avenue acts as a front door to our downtown, it’s also the epicenter of the Seattle’s largest outdoor drug market. A recent report commissioned by DSA and neighborhood district partners has outlined a large amount of criminal activity across the city, including property crime, assaults and robberies, is being perpetrated by a small number of prolific offenders who cycle through the criminal justice system. Have you read the report? If elected to the Seattle City Council, what policies might you pursue to curb property crime and address these issues in downtown in order to make our streets safer for all? How might you work with your elected colleagues to enact these policies?
  3. Homelessness continues to be the top issue facing Seattle, yet we have made little progress toward housing our homeless population. In your estimation, what is the City’s role in addressing this crisis? Where would you spend your energy, leadership and resources to have the greatest impact?
  4. Seattle’s lack of housing options that are affordable to our low- and moderate-income employees is an important issue for DSA and its members. In the wake of MHA passing at Council, what kinds of new policies would you pursue to help expand the availability of affordable housing in Seattle? How might current zoning fit into your thinking? Who would you imagine working with to enact these policies?
  5. Between 2010 to 2018, downtown Seattle added over 85,000 jobs. During this time, we have seen a major shift in how the majority of people get to and around downtown, with percentage of people driving alone to their jobs shrinking to roughly 25%. Still, as the regional transportation and economic hub, downtown street space is at a premium. What steps do we need to take over the next two-to-four years to ensure that people can access downtown and that our streets work well for all users?
  6. DSA currently manages and activates Westlake and Occidental Square Parks through an agreement with the City, which has allowed us to bring furniture, programming, staffing and security into these parks, as we work to make them welcoming for all. We also manage McGraw Square with some of the same types of activities. What is your view of this type of public/private partnership as the City contemplates major new public space opportunities along the waterfront and above Interstate-5?
  7. Downtown Seattle is the economic center of the region, with large and small businesses employing more than 300,000 people. However, economic success for employers and employees are continuously strained by unpredictable and burdensome regulations and taxes being imposed at the city level. How will you work to ensure that there is more predictability and consideration for employers to support growth in jobs, retail, restaurants and investment in downtown?
  8. In 2015, a city report looked at Seattle’s commercial development capacity and determined we could absorb another 115,000 jobs by 2035. Yet, in the last three years alone, we have added over 23,000 jobs, indicating that we are likely to surpass our growth targets much earlier than anticipated. Seattle has limited existing zoning capacity, and inadequate permitting systems in place to accommodate the future demand for commercial development. Where might you look to expand our city’s capacity in this regard?
  9. As the City strives to allocate limited resources to manage and activate our complex urban environment, it has increasingly turned to Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) for support. These BIAs build community capacity and give agency and tools to local communities to address their own priorities. What is your view of these groups and their impact?
  10. Downtown is not only one of the fastest-growing residential neighborhood in the region, but also the jobs center of Seattle. If you are elected to serve on the City Council, how would you go about balancing the needs of your district with the City has a whole? What are the top issues facing your district and how do you see them intersecting with the issues at play in downtown?

1. Looking at the current City Council, on what issues would you say it has been particularly effective and, in your opinion, where has it been less effective? Why?

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Phillip Tavel

Current City Councilmembers are the first legislative body in Seattle to represent individual Districts in almost 100 years. City Council has been effective in more of an activist role on topics ranging from immigration to environmental protections to homelessness.

Current City Council must listen and be more responsive to voter concerns. More effective systems are needed in all City Council offices which often have chronically full voice mailboxes and constituent email requests for basic needs and services (sidewalk repairs, safety issues) go unanswered for weeks.

Additionally, City Council has demonstrated less effective leadership in implementing solutions. Homelessness continues to be a major concern, as well as property crime and litter. Real people are reduced to causes and slogans, without meaningful help or lifelines in place. Local business owners feel left behind and unconsidered while residents wonder if their voices will ever be heard. This disconnect has led to four Council members, a numerical majority, choosing not to seek reelection.

The business tax is a perfect example, as City Council did not conduct outreach, listen or collaborate with businesses being impacted and had to walk it back.


Lisa Herbold

The Council consists of nine members, each of whom have different approaches and priorities. While it’s fair to evaluate the Council as a body, it’s also important to recognize individual approaches.

Areas where the Council has been most effective include agreeing to direct resources to public safety; the Police Department budget adopted by a previous Council in 2016 was $300 million; the budget adopted for 2019 is $400 million. Seattle police officers are now the highest paid in the state, with a starting salary of $81,000, rising to $106,000 after 54 months (not counting overtime). Additionally, the Council agreed that restoration of the Community Service Officer (CSO) program is a priority. It will come online later this year. The Fire Department has also seen significant funding increases.

During my 2015 campaign I committed to restoring the above referenced CSO program but also to expand LEAD, the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program that diverts low-level offenders to rehabilitation, services, and treatment rather than jail. This program has had extraordinary success in changing people’s lives. A 2015 study by University of Washington researchers found LEAD participation decreased the odds of re-arrest post-referral by 58 percent compared to a similarly situated control group. In the 2018 budget, the Council expanded LEAD to the South and Southwest precincts.

As an Councilmember working to address the unique interests of her district, I worked with Alki residents to do a public safety survey, and the worked with the Council to implement their recommendations, changing City law to make vehicle noise laws easier for SPD to enforce. I also worked closely with the South Park Community to commission a South Park Public Safety study, and then worked with the Council to implement their recommendations, which included funding a public safety coordinator, alley lighting to deter illegal activity, additional opportunities for youth, including late-night activities, and pedestrian safety improvements.

As it relates to addressing our affordable housing challenges, the Council has implemented numerous recommendations of the HALA Committee, as noted below in the answer to question 4. Most recently, the Council adopted the Mandatory Housing Affordability legislation. On an individual level, I worked closely with District 1 groups, also described below in the answer to question 4, which – after the Hearing Examiner’s ruling on the SCALE lawsuit, resulted in significantly less opposition than from other areas in Seattle. There was minimal opposition from District 1, despite the fact that several D1 community groups had previously participated in the SCALE lawsuit. The Council also adopted a measure I sponsored to boot funding of affordable housing in the 2018 Notice of Funding Availability, through a bond sale. This increased the funding available from the  affordable housing ballot measure passed by voters from $60 million to neatly $100 million in 2018.

As it relates to transportation, the five Councilmembers on the Elected Leadership Group have together worked productively with Sound Transit on implementation of Sound Transit 3. I have worked with Councilmembers to revising the criteria for the voter-approved 2014 ballot measure in order to allow for additional service for high-volume routes to Downtown, such as the 120. Previously routes like the 120 had limited eligibility. I’ve also focused on ensuring bus service to Urban Villages is in alignment with City plans, especially in Admiral, where previously service failed to meet the city standards for bus service.

To answer the question of how the Council could improve its effectiveness, it’s clear that some residents and businesses feel that they aren’t being heard. I spend significant staff resources, as well as my own time working on constituent issues. I believe that my commitment to this work is key in affirming, and in some cases restoring, the public’s faith in their government. This is one of my core principles.

That is why constituent services are such a high priority for me. My staff and I spend time every day helping constituents improve our community in the ways that impact their day to day lives, whether that’s by connecting them to a city department with my office’s constituent case management services or giving residents information about legislation that the Council is considering. Here is a link to some examples of that work.

Further, the Council can, and must, do a much better job on fiscal accountability and oversight. I’m working to reform how the Council and departments oversee large capital projects. This work has involved getting several departments to adopt common project terminology and approval phases, and quarterly updates to the Council to identify problems early. I have also successfully led the Council to pass legislation creating a new oversight policy, including creation of an annual “watch list” and requiring “stage gating” or capital projects, requiring Council approval between stages of project funding.

Another area where my oversight was strong was with the Pronto bicycle program. I argued against the City purchasing Pronto, and advocated instead for a private-sector approach along the lines of Car2Go; I also noted that technology was shifting toward free-floating bikes that didn’t required docking stations, and electric bikes. While that vote was 7-2 in support, with Councilmember Burgess joining me in opposition to subsidizing the program, when Councilmember Burgess and I later moved to remove funding from the budget, the Council supported ending the program. The City subsequently canceled consideration of purchasing a newer system, which allowed the private sector to provide solutions that have resulted in significantly higher ridership.

2. More than 52,000 daily transit riders from across all seven City Council districts use Third Avenue daily to get to and from their jobs in downtown Seattle. While Third Avenue acts as a front door to our downtown, it’s also the epicenter of the Seattle’s largest outdoor drug market. A recent report commissioned by DSA and neighborhood district partners has outlined a large amount of criminal activity across the city, including property crime, assaults and robberies, is being perpetrated by a small number of prolific offenders who cycle through the criminal justice system. Have you read the report? If elected to the Seattle City Council, what policies might you pursue to curb property crime and address these issues in downtown in order to make our streets safer for all? How might you work with your elected colleagues to enact these policies?

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Phillip Tavel

Yes, I have read the report and it is obvious the City is not utilizing all the tools available to protect citizens and their property while simultaneously offering viable and sustainable treatment and rehabilitation options.

As a public defender, I bring familiarity with both sides of our criminal justice system to the race. While I do not favor criminalizing those struggling with homelessness, allowing property crimes to escalate is not working. We can and should be using the criminal justice system more effectively and protect the public from prolific offenders. I would review past and investigate new programs such as:

1) Review probation services and supervision, including possible reinstatement of the probation van which was formerly located on 2nd & 3rd Avenues between Pike and Pine Streets to pick up violators;

2) Review the possibility of proposing a persistent offender felony program to address prolific offenders which would be activated once a 5th street misdemeanor occurs, shifting offenders to a cooperative court.

If elected, I would work with fellow City Councilmembers to review, discuss and hear their feedback on the above proposals and obtain input on new proposals. Presently, I am the only candidate with a significant background and knowledge in the criminal justice field, which includes a long history of mediation skills. I would alert my fellow Councilmembers of my plans to submit draft proposals on these critical issues within the first 100 days in office, with the goal of having mutually agreed upon policies by June, 2020. Voters are fatigued by the lack of leadership and meaningful solutions proposed by the current City Council. The timing is excellent to foster a more collaborative team dynamic between new Councilmembers – which would result in an exciting and more successful landscape for City Council in decades.


Lisa Herbold

I’ve read the Prolific Offenders report. It identifies issues that we need to urgently address. Shortly after it was released, I heard critiques of the report, and asked social service providers if they agreed with the criticisms of the report, many do not — they too see the issues as real. The  groups that commissioned the report has given voice to the impacts on their ability to run their businesses in a compassionate way that shows how they understand the complexity of the issue.

I recently reached out to the business and hospitality groups that commissioned the report, and asked if they thought a lunchtime forum would be helpful, in assisting public understanding of the issues, and approaches to resolving them. I’ve talked to, and received support, from the Mayor and City Attorney and some Council colleagues about how the Council can create a platform to further elevate the urgency of these issues and demonstrate our commitment to productive dialogue with community stakeholders to identify and implement solutions.

Though we should be careful to recognize that the criminal justice involved people the report are not, by any measure, representative of our homeless neighbors, they are the often the most visible face of homelessness. This can affect public perceptions of and the debate around homelessness in a way that, without a productive approach like that proposed above, can be harmful both to people living homeless as well as our efforts to agree upon solutions.

I believe that greater adherence to a Housing First policy for publicly funded housing projects is critical to reducing the recidivism and revolving door reality of the people that the Prolific Offenders report profiled. Housing First works, as we saw with the DESC 1811 Eastlake Project in 2005. Median costs for the research participants in the year prior to being housed was $4,066 per person per month in publicly-funded services such as jail, detox center use, hospital-based medical services, alcohol and drug programs and emergency medical services. The monthly median costs dropped to $1,492 and $958 after six and 12 months in housing, respectively.  Housing makes it easier for individuals to address addiction issues as well. The fact that Seattle was a Housing First pioneer, nearly 15 years ago, but has not been successful in bringing it to scale is an issue of political will.  As the great DESC Executive Director and visionary, Bill Hobson famously said, “What we should not do is ever again utter the totally counterproductive statement, ‘We can’t build our way out of this problem.’”

The King County “Friendly Faces” approach also provides a good model. Some elements of that approach include:

  • Long term coordination between prosecutors, officers, neighborhood groups and case managers is needed to make good individually-based decisions when known individuals engage in ongoing unlawful behavior.
  • Expanding LEAD to all of Seattle, connected with Housing First Permanent Supportive Housing units.
  • More immediate and greater access to Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT).

Using new State law, Ricky’s Law, allowing for, as a last result, involuntary commitment is a challenge to use due to: the lack of drug treatment beds that are a state law prerequisite to using the new authority, as is the the issue of competency to stand trial, the amount of time that individuals can be held to detoxify, and whether treatment and housing are available after people are released.

3. Homelessness continues to be the top issue facing Seattle, yet we have made little progress toward housing our homeless population. In your estimation, what is the City’s role in addressing this crisis? Where would you spend your energy, leadership and resources to have the greatest impact?

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Phillip Tavel

The City continues to struggle when it comes to addressing homelessness and its track record on this critical issue is virtually impossible to defend. Speeches and proposals for solutions have not produced significant results. The City may have declared a Homelessness Emergency, however there is no urgency in their actions. The data, as reported, is flawed.

Pursuant to the Charter of the City of Seattle, the City’s role in addressing safety and many other critical issues is clearly stated:

…For the purpose of protecting and enhancing the health, safety, environment, and general welfare of the people; to enable municipal government to provide services and meet the needs of the people efficiently; to allow fair and equitable participation of all persons in the affairs of the City; to provide for transparency, accountability, and ethics in governance and civil service; to foster fiscal responsibility; to promote prosperity and to meet the broad needs for a healthy, growing City…

We must get back to basics – increase the level of sworn officers, expand community policing efforts with an emphasis on helping people into multiple areas of treatment, focus on the ‘housing first’ approach to address a lack of shelter options, which could be a launching pad to address other life issues. We must also establish an authentic engagement process with our neighborhoods to protect their character and quality of life. The restoration of the Community Service Officer program should also be moved forward. I would work with local BIA’s and other community organizations to provide more City support where needed.

Under the current City Council Committee structure, I would serve on or Chair the Housing, Health, Energy, and Workers’ Rights Committee and would introduce draft policies to address homelessness. For example, a transitional program which provides temporary housing and a broader support environment to help them transition into housing, job programs and other mechanisms to improve the safety net. I would work with fellow Councilmembers, the Executive and relevant City Departments to find gaps in the budget to further increase housing options and remove barriers which slow down the permitting process. I would also work with the Mayor and the County to be actively involved with the Regional Response MOU, signed last May.

Finally, pushing forward on the Business Tax without broader consideration of the overall impacts was a serious error.


Lisa Herbold

It’s clear homelessness is a regional issue that requires regional solutions. The move to have a new joint King County/Seattle approach, that includes alignment of strategies and, most importantly, regional decision-making, is welcome.

There is no single solution, so we need a multifaceted approach. The leading causes of homelessness are  1) lack of affordable housing, 2) lack of a living wage, 3) domestic violence, 4) medical bankruptcy, and 5) untreated mental illness and addiction disorder conditions.

As the 2018  City budget noted, “Despite the economic prosperity driving growth in the City’s revenues, and in part because of it, Seattle is facing a homelessness crisis of unprecedented proportions.” A big part of the challenge of homelessness is that Seattle’s growth and overall prosperity, has created the conditions that have resulted in sharp increases in rents, and lack of affordable housing.  Despite the fact that we are growing faster (as in building more housing and adding moe jobs) than any other city in the nation, from 2010 to 2017, rents increased by 64%, also more than any other city.

Though your question asks: “yet we have made little progress toward housing our homeless population” we are moving more people, more quickly out of homelessness into permanent housing. We have made great progress toward housing our homeless population, but as a recent Zillow report makes evident, more people become homeless every day, because for every 5% of increase in rents, about 258 more people become homeless.

More affordable housing is needed — that’s one reason progress is limited. Permanent supportive housing is effective, 97% of people served by permanent supportive housing stay housed, and prevention programs have proven successful at preventing homelessness. Diversion, rapid rehousing can be effective at removing people from homelessness, with low rates of return.

Because more people becoming homeless daily, we must do what we can to reduce this. Eviction prevention is one key area for this, as a recent report, Losing Home, by the Women’s Commission noted.

As mentioned above, I sponsored legislation to require HSD to use results-based accountability for investments; this needs to continue. Further, I’ve called for the CIty Auditor to make recommendations to improve Navigation Team outcomes and, in the committee I chair, we’ve heard these recommendations for how to improve the effectiveness of the City’s Navigation Team. We need the political will to implement these recommendations.

I also created the SPU Purple Bag pilot program to reduce the amount of garbage from encampments.

4. Seattle’s lack of housing options that are affordable to our low- and moderate-income employees is an important issue for DSA and its members. In the wake of MHA passing at Council, what kinds of new policies would you pursue to help expand the availability of affordable housing in Seattle? How might current zoning fit into your thinking? Who would you imagine working with to enact these policies?

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Phillip Tavel

The MHA was a one-dimensional approach, due to its one-size-fits-all structure which doesn’t consider the character and quality of life of each individual neighborhood. Additionally, the ‘in-lieu of’ fees are too low. Funds raised must be prioritized to remain in neighborhoods taking the up zone. Now that MHA is reality, it’s imperative to consider those factors. Affordable housing can and should fit into existing neighborhoods as opposed to radically re-shaping and changing those landscapes.

Seattle’s burst of new development has created more density and economic development. Along with that growth, unintended consequences have occurred. I would take a much closer look at striking a better balance between building new housing, which is virtually always more expensive, and finding ways to hold onto the City’s most affordable housing stock, reviewing zoning for upper floors in commercial zones and reviewing City owned properties to find opportunities for housing options.

Mixed income neighborhoods and rent assistance have their place, as does new construction. If zoning needs to be adjusted, I’m willing to consider that. Steep and sudden rent increases must be curbed. I’m willing to work with tenants, landlords, and my colleagues on the Council to adopt fair policies to encourage affordable housing. Housing should also be more closely aligned with the scale of neighborhoods and offers affordable living space.

The City must get back to basics and review its planning process, which lags behind. Zoning is not planning. We must also improve permitting to further streamline the current arduous process. I would work with the City’s planning department, external stakeholders and of course impacted neighborhoods to strike a better balance in the City’s zoning / planning process and look at neighborhood plans which have been primarily mothballed.


Lisa Herbold

Seattle leads the nation in growth among large cities, At at time when the population of many cities is declining, Seattle is adding a high volume of high-paying jobs. Rents have increased significantly, as has the cost of buying a house or a condo. This places pressure on those with lower incomes, and contributes to homelessness.

85% of new housing has been luxury housing, so while it has served newer residents with high-paying jobs, it hasn’t helped enough to address the vast needs of lower income residents. More than 22% of Seattle residents are severely housing cost burdened,” meaning they spend more than half of their income on rent. We not only need more affordable housing to address homelessness, but also to address climate change (60% of carbon emissions in Seattle are from transportation, and longer commutes mean more emissions), and to have a sustainable employment base.

I voted to approve MHA. Before the vote, I spent months working with community members and groups in District 1. Consequently, the Council received few e-mails of opposition to MHA from District 1, in contrast to the rest of the City. Whatever approaches the City takes in the future, working with communities will be the most effective long-term approach.

In addition to supporting the affordable housing levy, as explained above, I sponsored a direct bond sale to produce affordable housing.

Last year, I also advocated for using the portion of King County’s hotel-motel tax authority to be dedicated toward affordable housing, and worked successfully with King County Councilmembers, who adopted $184 million in additional funding.

Transit-oriented development is an important approach for future light rail stations, and work on ST3 station area planning will begin soon after the Sound Transit Board adopts alignment options on May 23rd. Zoning is a necessary element of station area planning.

As noted in the HALA Report, addressing potential displacement is important as well. If we remove affordable housing, and develop housing with fewer affordable units, our progress to affordable housing will be limited, and people of color more likely to be displaced. In addition to MHA, below are elements of the HALA report I have worked to implement include:

  • HALA Strategy P1: I was the prime sponsor of increased funding for preservation in the Housing Levy.
  • HALA Strategy P3 I supported in the City’s State Legislative Agenda “state authority to enact a property tax exemption for private landlords who commit to income and rent restrictions in existing buildings.”
  • HALA Strategy T1 I led efforts to “combat displacement by increasing funding rental and operating subsidies for extremely low-income households,” with significant added funds for Rapid Rehousing Program and Permanent Supportive Housing when I was acting budget chair.
  • HALA Strategy R3 – I voted to “Renew and increase the critically important Seattle Housing Levy.”
  • HALA Strategy T1 – I championed and was prime sponsor for “legislation supporting fair access to rental housing for people with past criminal records.”
  • HALA Strategy T3 – I supported “budget funding for tenant counseling” when I was acting budget chair, and again this budget cycle.
  • HALA Strategy SF2 – Poised to vote to pass legislation to “allow for more variety of housing types, such as small lot dwellings, cottages, courtyard housing, duplexes and triplexes, in Single Family zones.”
 HALA Strategy  RP1 – Voted to support passage of legislation “reforming City design review process.”

5. Between 2010 to 2018, downtown Seattle added over 85,000 jobs. During this time, we have seen a major shift in how the majority of people get to and around downtown, with percentage of people driving alone to their jobs shrinking to roughly 25%. Still, as the regional transportation and economic hub, downtown street space is at a premium. What steps do we need to take over the next two-to-four years to ensure that people can access downtown and that our streets work well for all users?

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Phillip Tavel

The challenge of improving traffic while making the downtown corridor more walkable and accessible to transit is ongoing. Unfortunately, each new transportation method creates its own difficulties. For example, we have light rail through the city, at the expense of buses that used the tunnel. Now that bus traffic is shifted to surface streets, particularly 3rd Avenue, these moves are creating another logjam. Parking is limited, streets are congested, and it is a challenge to stay in front of the problem.

Over the next 2-4 years, we’ll have a chance to evaluate how the solutions are working. Are more people taking transit? Is business foot traffic staying in line with expectations? Is light rail exclusivity in the tunnel helping surface traffic, or is increased bus traffic making things worse? This is what I think we should be evaluating in the short term.

 


Lisa Herbold

Access to and through Downtown is important for all of Seattle, given its role as the leading  employment center. With removal of the Alaskan Way Viaduct, additional buses on Downtown streets with the tunnel being reserved for light rail, and the construction of an addition to the Convention Center, maintaining access to and through Downtown is critical. The arrival of light rail to Northgate in 2021 and East Link in 2023 will help a lot, but until then we have work to do, especially given the historically low unemployment.

I’ve voted to provide funding to implement the plan jointly developed by SDOT, KC Metro, Sound Transit, and the DSA, including retiming signals on 2nd and 4th, and providing new bus lanes on 5th and 6th Avenues. This has mitigated the impact of having additional buses on the streets. All-door boarding has helped with quicker boarding. I also voted to require regular updates from SDOT about the implementation of the joint plan; any future problems will need to be addressed quickly. This will be particularly important next year when 4,500 to 5,000 new jobs arrive in lower Queen Anne next year, when Expedia moves to Seattle from Bellevue.

An example of this is bus service from West Seattle to Downtown. Nearly 30,000 daily trips formerly used the Alaskan Way Viaduct, providing direct access to the heart of Downtown. With the Viaduct removed, access is on 1st Avenue through later this year or early 2020, when buses will travel on a rebuilt Alaskan Way. I advocated for a bus-only lane on 1st Avenue; due to the lack of strength of the underlying ground, this isn’t possible. I then advocated for a bus stop in Pioneer Square, to allow West Seattle commuters to more easily access that neighborhood, and not have to wait until 3rd at Seneca to disembark. SDOT found that stops were possible at King Street, and the stops were added.

 I also heard from numerous constituents in the Admiral and Alki neighborhoods that they drove rather than take a bus to Downtown, due to limited service, so I researched city plans. My work analyzing the Comp Plan and SDOT Transit Plan showed that the Admiral Urban Village was underserved by our own service standards. Service has since been added via the voter-approved measure from 2015 — this helps residents of those neighborhoods access Downtown easier by bus, which helps Downtown traffic.

The additional bus service approved by Seattle voters in 2014, for 2015 through 2020, must be renewed — otherwise we face a precipitous reduction in bus service in 2020. One-third of C Line service, for example, is now City-funded, and ridership has soared. It increased significantly when the line was extended to the employment center of South Lake Union; extending the H Line there in 2021, when Route 120 will be converted into the Rapid Ride H Line, should help as well. I voted to amend the criteria for city-funded bus service to allow for additional funding for the 120, providing more regular all-day and Sunday service, making it easier to avoid driving Downtown.

Finally, we must spend our transportation funds wisely. I don’t believe a Center City Streetcar is a wise use of our limited resources. While the construction cost increases are well known, less publicized are potential annual operations costs of $28 million annually, under current rosy ridership projections, which would require a significant subsidy that would leave less funding available for other transportation needs. Research shows that streetcars function principally to assist economic development; transportation funds should be used for transportation purposes.

Some have floated the idea of a renewal of Proposition 1 funding streetcar operations; I believe this would be a mistake. When Prop 1 was passed, the “transit” vs “drive alone” ratio of commutes to Downtown was 45% to 31%; by 2017 it was 48% to 25%. Meeting — or exceeding — the 2035 goal of 50% to 19% requires a focus on getting people to Downtown. As noted in the 2018 Seattle Transportation Benefit District Report, In 2015, only 25% of Seattle households had access to 10-minute or better transit service within a 10 minute walk. By 2018 it had increased to 67%. This kind of investment throughout Seattle’s neighborhood pays dividends for all Seattle neighborhoods, and reduces car traffic Downtown.

6. DSA currently manages and activates Westlake and Occidental Square Parks through an agreement with the City, which has allowed us to bring furniture, programming, staffing and security into these parks, as we work to make them welcoming for all. We also manage McGraw Square with some of the same types of activities. What is your view of this type of public/private partnership as the City contemplates major new public space opportunities along the waterfront and above Interstate-5?

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Phillip Tavel

I fully support public/private partnerships to provide as much ‘skin in the game’ as possible for public projects. This method has met with great success where implemented, and I believe the Council should seek to expand these opportunities. This is an area where I can leverage my involvement with the business community to identify potential projects that could benefit from this approach.

These partnerships improve our ability to highlight exactly what our council needs: learn to work more collaboratively that make Seattle what it has been, is and what it can be.

As the current VP of the Board of Allied Arts, I truly and fully support the WFA project and opportunities presented by LID I-5.


Lisa Herbold

Activating public spaces is a critical public safety strategy. These kind of partnerships can be effective; I voted to approve an operations agreement for the new waterfront park, after hearing from the proponents who had planned for this for several years.

This kind of public/private approach is similar to that used by BIAs to fund unmet public objectives, and has proven effective.

7. Downtown Seattle is the economic center of the region, with large and small businesses employing more than 300,000 people. However, economic success for employers and employees are continuously strained by unpredictable and burdensome regulations and taxes being imposed at the city level. How will you work to ensure that there is more predictability and consideration for employers to support growth in jobs, retail, restaurants and investment in downtown?

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Phillip Tavel

This is a matter of listening to business owners. Regulation and taxes are necessary but should not be so onerous that they make it impossible to conduct business. The Council appears to make policy decisions without talking to those who would be most impacted. This must change. Business owners want what’s best for the city, they want to contribute, and they need to be heard.

We must also create more stability in the Office of Economic Development. Many business stakeholders have expressed their concerns about how OED operates and conducts outreach across the city. As mentioned earlier, BIA’s should be better supported and we should strengthen and improve partnerships with Chambers and other business organizations and associations.


Lisa Herbold

Washington State has the most regressive tax systems in the United States. According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, Washington State households with incomes below $21,000 paid on average 16.8 percent of their income in state and local taxes in 2015, whereas households with income in excess of $500,000 paid only 2.4 percent.

Our tax system inhibits affordability for middle and lower income residents. Less revenue available contributes to our difficulties keeping people housed and results on our increasing and unsustainable reliance on property tax levies. I have sought to address this.

I sponsored a tax on personal income that is over $250,000 for individuals, or $500,000 for couples.

The first purpose listed for the legislation states, “(1) lowering the property tax burden and the impact of other regressive taxes, including the business and occupation tax rate.” The legislation is currently under legal challenge.

When the Council adopted increases to business taxes for police officer hiring, I worked to limit the increase so that 85% of businesses were held harmless. In the employee hours tax legislation, I limited it to only businesses with the highest revenues.

The B&O tax is also regressive, I look forward to implementing B&O tax reform and reviewing upcoming recommendations from the Mayor’s Small Business Advisory Council.

8. In 2015, a city report looked at Seattle’s commercial development capacity and determined we could absorb another 115,000 jobs by 2035. Yet, in the last three years alone, we have added over 23,000 jobs, indicating that we are likely to surpass our growth targets much earlier than anticipated. Seattle has limited existing zoning capacity, and inadequate permitting systems in place to accommodate the future demand for commercial development. Where might you look to expand our city’s capacity in this regard?

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Phillip Tavel

Seattle has a history of underestimating growth levels and must be constantly evaluating processes in response to new facts on the ground. We’re fortunate to have a growing job base. Infrastructure, zoning, and permitting must be evaluated and tweaked to keep pace. I will work with my colleagues on the Council to make the changes needed to protect the character of our city while accommodating growth. A booming job market is good for our city and good for our region. We need to facilitate that market without choking off growth.

Council must work with the business community to further understand and track what the city can do to not only keep pace with, but manage the growth:  earlier permitting, striking a better balance between market rate and affordable housing.


Lisa Herbold

Again, I voted to increase zoning capacity through the passage of MHA. This added zoning will allow the City to build an estimated 6,000 affordable units, in addition to 30,000 market rate units, over the next 10 years. This added development capacity will also support commercial development. In my experience, working with communities to gain support is important, and effective. Specifically, in D1, the community had expressed a desire for additional zoning capacity, but specifically in accordance with the light rail station. To that end, the Office of Planning and Community has committed to beginning a neighborhood planning process in 2019 and 2020. Transit-oriented development and station area planning is an important opportunity with the arrival of light rail.

The long delays at the Department of Construction and Inspection (SDCI) is an evident challenge which is why I cosponsored a budget proposal to add five FTEs at SDCI to shorten throughput time in Permit Services and Inspections. These positions are supported by permit fee revenue.

9. As the city strives to allocate limited resources to manage and activate our complex urban environment, it has increasingly turned to Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) for support. These BIAs build community capacity and give agency and tools to local communities to address their own priorities. What is your view of these groups and their impact?

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Phillip Tavel

I favor expansion and ongoing support of BIA’s, which are incredibly effective models in addressing neighborhood needs and revitalizing communities. I will work with neighborhood leaders and my colleagues on the Council to expand the formation of BIA’s.


Lisa Herbold

Business Improvement Areas have had a positive impact in Seattle’s neighborhood business districts. As Chair of the Council committee overseeing economic development, I heard and approved legislation to expand the BIA in Ballard and in the upcoming months will review and renew the BIA in the West Seattle Junction.

BIAs are different, with flexibility on how they are funded, and how resources are directed, based on local conditions that the member businesses observe firsthand.

10. Downtown is not only one of the fastest-growing residential neighborhood in the region, but also the jobs center of Seattle. If you are elected to serve on the City Council, how would you go about balancing the needs of your district with the City has a whole? What are the top issues facing your district and how do you see them intersecting with the issues at play in downtown?

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Phillip Tavel

District 1 primarily encompasses West Seattle and stretches to South Park, but every area of our city depends on the business corridor as Seattle’s beating heart. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where something good for downtown would be bad for the 1st District, but in such a case I would be obligated to place the needs of those I represent front and center. Ideally, there would be room to improve whatever proposal on the table to benefit both District 1 and 7, and striking that balance would be my aim.


Lisa Herbold

As District 1 representative, my focus has combined prioritizing District 1 issues and Citywide issues. It’s important to keep in mind that Downtown generates the highest tax revenues of any Seattle neighborhood.

Key issues include affordable housing and homelessness;  transportation and light rail implementation, and public safety. Those are important issues in District 1, and also citywide.

Many of these issues overlap: for example, homelessness and affordable housing are closely connected. Similarly, some district issues overlap with Downtown issues.

A specific example is the work I am doing to support implementation of the ST3 light rail line, and quality bus service: both entail maintaining good access to and from the peninsula, and to the job centers in Downtown and South Lake Union.

Candidates recently answered questions on local issues from The Seattle Times. You can read their answers here.