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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As chair of the committee on Civic Development, Public Assets, and Native Communities, I am proud of the legislation and funding my committee appropriated to activate both Westlake and Occidental Parks.
The Seattle City Council has been quite effective in working on capital projects that benefit the city and its residents. I have led on a number of the projects:
Renovation of the Seattle Center: $1.6 billion
- Waterfront Local Improvement District: $712 million
- NHL Headquarters at Northgate: $80 million
- Lake City Community Center: $18 million
Ann Davison Sattler
(a) The current city council has been ineffective on the issue of the city’s officially declared state of emergency on homelessness since it was officially declared in 2015. They have done little to improve the suffering on the streets during their entire term.
(b) City council has also been ineffective at keeping our city clean, and neighborhoods and green spaces free of litter and dumping.
(c) It has been ineffective at addressing the addiction crisis overwhelming much of our city.
(d) As these multiple issues converge, the current city council has been ineffective at the management of businesses’ and residents’ outcry for public safety.
(e) The current city council also ineffectively negotiated the financial terms with the private investment group who wanted to bring hockey here. Unknown to many are the unfavorable terms the city agreed to in the details of that negotiation. A corporate sponsor will be paying a lot of money to have KeyArena’s name changed to a name of its own. The current city council let all of this revenue go to the private investors instead of negotiating to split the revenue evenly (as it had been before, for the arena under the previous Sonics’ lease with the city from 1995-2010.)) This loss of corporate sponsor revenue will result in an estimated loss of $4-6 million dollars per year, multiplied by 39 years of the lease, for an estimated $156 million dollar loss in revenue for the City of Seattle. The current city council has also allowed this deal to be described to us as “privately funded.” Initially, investor funds will be used, but that financing will be repaid by the City through multiple, atypical, public tax subsidies to the corporation (B&O, parking, leasehold excise tax and others.) Ultimately, the City of Seattle will be paying the hockey team owners well over $450 million over the 39 year lease; and it will be more if the private corporation exercises its option for another 16 years thereafter. The ineffective negotiation and management of this deal resulted in the interests of the public being shortchanged.
(f) The council was also ineffective at recognizing a significantly better option for bringing a professional sports team to our city. The current city council denied the conditional street vacation permit and rejected the SoDo Arena proposal. That deal not only would be completely privately funded with zero public subsidies but would also provide millions of property tax dollars, of which, more than half would go to our public schools. All that plus getting us much closer to bringing the Sonics back to Seattle, part of our civic history.
While in many areas I believe the Council has performed acceptably, I don’t believe there is any major area where I would describe it as “particularly effective.” The Mandatory Housing Affordability legislation was obviously a major accomplishment, but I have serious concerns about its effect on existing affordable housing, and I also don’t think that the zoning changes it included were well-communicated to many of the urban villages in District 5 that were affected. I’ve appreciated the Council’s support for three specific issues that I have advocated: increasing funding for the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program beyond that proposed by the Mayor; committing to fully fund a replacement for the Lake City Community Center, which is an important priority in District 5; and placing a moratorium on redevelopment of the Halcyon Mobile Home Park while the City and residents there determine a long-term strategy to preserve affordable housing there.
The most important issue that I think the Council has not effectively addressed is homelessness—which is really a complex set of issues. The Council has not recognized and seriously attempted to address the drug crisis that is enmeshed with so many aspects of homelessness. The Council also has not given adequate weight to the impacts homelessness is having on neighborhoods and businesses. The City needs to communicate and enforce clear rules about where encampments are allowed and where they are not. It needs to increase capacity for authorized encampments, so that basic services (sanitation, hygiene, case management) can be provided, while reducing the scale of unauthorized encampments. It needs to increase treatment and case management services more generally, while applying the criminal justice system appropriately, especially for repeat offenders.
The current City Council has been successful in raising taxes, but hasn’t developed a coherent strategy for dealing with the issues surrounding growth, affordable housing, and involving the community at large in developing policies.