Seattle City Council — District 7

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 primary election is Tuesday, Aug. 6.

 

Meet the District 7 Candidates

Additional Candidate:

Naveed Jamali  /  No Response

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 the anchor of District 7 — it’s the city’s job center and one of the fastest-growing residential neighborhoods in the region. However, downtown still lacks some of the basic assets and infrastructure associated with livable communities, like family-sized housing, parks space and public schools. As a representative of downtown, what would you do on the council to ensure the center city is responsive to the growth we are seeing?

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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Michael George

The current council is making progress on education with the passage of the Promise Plan, a willingness to reconsider some of the overly burdensome regulations that daycares face, and hints of a closer partnership with Seattle Public Schools.

Council has not been effective at solving the housing affordability crisis. One particular issue is the broken permitting system. I would focus on fixing and upgrading the Accela permitting system, process improvements, and hiring more experienced staff to reduce permitting timelines.


Jim Pugel

The incumbent City Council will cease to exist in 2020. Four current councilmembers are not running for reelection, and the remaining district-based incumbents are facing spirited challenges.. There is a reason for this: This council has often been ineffective in discharging their basic responsibilities to govern through representation of the priorities and needs of their electors. For too long, private agendas, individual priorities and exclusive objectives have dominated the legislative responsibilities of what should be a representative, neutral and rigorously analytical body. Specific duties – Mayoral oversight, budget and policy development, objective, data driven decision-making and providing a voice for their constituents – have been neglected in pursuit of personal opinions and selective advocacy. I am running for the 7th District to be part of a new era of City Council governance: Leadership through listening, objectivity, rigorous analysis of data and understanding the needs and priorities of our electors and the government we represent on their behalf.

The general assessment, from what I have discerned from constituent input in District 7, is that the current Council is not a listening Council, nor a representative Council. Worse still, there is a lack of confidence that they can effectively and competently craft policy to implement new and needed programs, such as those involving homelessness, crime and public safety, or the management of new revenue.

The impression one is left with is that the current Council is reactionary, and chooses paths of least resistance rather than thoughtfully implementing policy based on data, research and input from all constituents. Sadly, it appears to many to be government by those who yell the loudest and longest.

It is not enough to describe shortcomings. Here is what I bring: I am running for District 7 – my home and workplace for my entire life and career years – to provide leadership in pursuit of real solutions, and in the spirit of genuine, inclusive democracy. I am guided by 4 basic principles: Common sense; Engagement and continuous communication with my electors; Guidance by data and science; and Selflessness.


Jason Williams

The current City Council has passed laudable policies to advance equity in Seattle through expansion of such programs as the Seattle Preschool Program and Seattle Promise.

Where much improvement is needed, however, is in its approach to legislating. To me, this is of greater concern than policies in any particular issue area. Recent public uproar from the Head Tax, KOMO’s Seattle is Dying, and more, suggests that stakeholders do not feel adequately consulted on policy. What’s more, there is a feeling that the current Council vilifies certain sectors (e.g., business) rather than working in partnership with all sectors to solve our most pressing problems.


Andrew Lewis

The current City Council has done a good job advancing the rights of workers. All people deserve the dignity of being able to dependably and predictably schedule their work shifts, accrue paid sick and safe leave, and earn a liveable wage; and these rights should be enforced by a well-resourced and professional Office of Labor Standards.

The Seattle City Council has not done a good job prioritizing the charter service of public safety. The most recent publicly available data indicates Seattle has 1.9 police officers per 1,000 residents, well below the average of 2.7 officers per 1,000 residents for a City over 500,000 residents. The hiring, support, and retention of police services needs to be a higher budget priority.

Additionally, the City Council has had limited success elevating the crisis of our large numbers of neighbors experiencing homeless to a regional priority. Seattle cannot solve the problem on our own, we need extensive collaboration with King County and suburban jurisdictions to increase available permanent supportive housing and spread the burden of paying for it.

Finally, the City Council can be a bigger driving force for accountability and oversight through Performance Auditing, a competency within the legislative branch. I wrote an editorial in the fall about creating an annual performance auditing plan similar to the one used by King County, a government that has found $127 million in savings over the last three years. The City budget has increased from $4 billion to $6 billion over the last seven years, we need to put in place feedback loops and aspire to be the best run government in the country.


James Donaldson

The current City Council is focused far too much on scoring ideological points, on becoming the “First in the nation to do X, Y, and Z”, and on trying to out-do each other on the most extreme issue posturing than on actually accomplishing the most important functions of municipal governing.

Municipal governments must achieve public safety, municipal courts, transportation, utilities, building & construction codes and compliance, and solid financial administration. On each of these most basic elements, the City Council is failing. To be clear, the Council is not alone in these failures, as our ricocheting administrations have helped create chaos. Nonetheless, the Council’s ideological swing and contentious interpersonal conflicts and relationships with the public they should be serving have led to one bad policy outcome after another.

There have been a few bright spots, including better accessibility and a bit less discrimination for people with disabilities, the quick repeal of poorly thought-out head tax, scrapping the bloated plan for Seattle Police Department’s North Precinct, and ending Pronto bike share. What’s notable here is that each of these “good” moves came after initial lawsuits, referenda, and citizen outrage about plans and proposals.


Daniela Eng

I believe repealing the head tax was a smart move and passing the MHA, while not perfect, is a great step in the right direction. The MHA allows for more housing to be built in Seattle. It created upzoning in new areas of the Seattle neighborhoods and will allow for growth. I would have liked the MHA to have not passed the in lieu of clause that allows developers to pay a small fee in order to not provide low income housing in new developments. I believe in mixed income housing as it helps prevent pockets of income segregation in neighborhoods. We do need to do a more with regards to the homeless, those addicted to opioids and those with a mental health illness. This mean being transparent within the city government, not making decisions behind closed doors and ensuring that the City Council listens to its constituents.


Isabelle Kerner

There are not many issues I would say that the current City Council has been particularly effective at solving. I feel that the lack of progress and implementation of successful policies and practices can be attributed to lack of creativity, inability to compromise, lack of full understanding of these issues, and the explosion of private contracts which obstruct the public’s ability to trace where their tax money is going.

While most would refer to Seattle’s biggest problem as a ‘homelessness crisis’, I cannot adopt this terminology because it implies that this issue is only about housing. While housing is an important variable in this equation, I can say with absolute certainty it is not the only contributing factor. There are many variable and to solve the problem, we need to target and address all variables at the same time, at the same place.

Homelessness has become so conflated with housing, that I believe it has confused the public into thinking there is a shortage of housing in Seattle. After the City realized that creating more housing only made the problem worse, the city adopted the phrase ‘affordable housing’ and it became an ‘affordable housing crisis’. However, the developers don’t have to pay the same property taxes as other owners in the area. Other owners in the area saw their property taxes skyrocket. This ensured that the City would have an increase in funds retained from property taxes that would compensate for what the developers don’t have to pay.

Obviously, this solution failed because it only addressed the housing variable to combat increased growth, density, and ‘homelessness’. First came the minimum wage increase. Then Seattle paid the highest wage, but was to expensive to live in. Now most people commute. They work here, but can’t afford to live here. Then came the bus lanes and the bike lanes. Down went the viaduct. The City didn’t know what to do with it, so they decided to fill the Battery Tunnels. Now, they want this streetcar along with a mobile RV to help make shooting up heroine safe. The City came up with all these very strange ‘solutions’ but didn’t keep in mind the big picture or consider the impact these changes would have on the system and our City as a whole.

As far as the ‘homelessness crisis’ goes, I will refer to the issue as the Urban Camping Crisis as I feel that is really what it is. It is also a much broader, less divisive term that makes it clear that this is not a one-size does not fit all issue and therefore should not be treated as such.


Don Harper

The City Council showed its most effectiveness when they cancelled the head tax. The tax was going to do more harm then good. The Council should not punish the employers for problems the council has been unable to solve. The City Council has been least effective in working with its citizens. The Council has taken a top down & one size fits all to everything they have done. This has disenfranchised the neighborhoods and created anger from the very people who are needed to create real solutions.


Gene Burrus

I can’t say that I find the current council has been particularly effective in any area. Every problem seems to have gotten worse. Money is wasted in obvious and easily avoidable ways. The police department cannot retain or recruit effectively. It has been less effective in addressing homelessness. In addressing crime and drugs downtown. In managing the city transportation dollars responsibly and effectively. And in overall fiscal responsibility, the imposition of the Waterfront LID was the height of contempt for voters, and fiscal irresponsibility.

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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Michael George

I have read the report. As a councilmember I will work with my elected colleagues by doing what I’ve done my whole career, convening all parties together to hash out agreements. It’s imperative to the health of our government to listen and work with everyone, regardless of their views.

Here are a few policies I would pursue to curb property crime and address these issues in downtown:

  • Prioritize bike and foot patrols in hot spots, and as resources allow, replicate parts of the 9 ½ Block strategy.
  • Continue supporting and expand Seattle’s commitment to Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) to reducing crime through urban and environmental design and management.
  • Work with my colleagues to create enough temporary shelter with wrap-around services to allow Seattle to enforce our no-camping laws. I don’t think shelter needs to be concentrated in one area or have a one-size-fits-all approach. I would advocate for some to the shelters to be built outside of Seattle, where land is cheaper and more abundant. For example, the state-owned surplus land at Fircrest in Shoreline would be one potentially well suited property. I was at an event where Tim Harris of Real Change mentioned that moving everyone out of the Jungle was an issue for treatment providers and outreach workers that now needed to search more areas to reach those in need. While I don’t agree with re-opening the Jungle, I do think that large shelters would serve the same purpose.
  • If someone commits assaults and robberies they should face jail time. There should be more support for inmates in jail and pathways to housing and career support upon release to break the cycle of recidivism.

Jim Pugel

I have read the report numerous times, and sought counsel from public safety and other experts to better understand its arguments and conclusions, including the police chief, police officers, detectives, and prosecutors, as well as downtown residents, visitors and business owners. I have leveraged my strong relationships with human service advocates for their candid input. I have also reached out to the report’s critics and detractors.

While there are methodological and other research concerns which arise in a thoughtful reading of this study, it is important to note that it captures both a perception and reality that many feel is present in the City Center, and the neighborhoods of District 7. As a long term resident of Queen Anne, and in my previous life as a 32 year veteran of the Seattle Police Department, I witnessed similar degradation and dysfunction while serving as a police officer, the West Precinct (District 7) Commander, Assistant and Interim Chief of Police. Most recently, I have first-hand experience as the Chief Deputy and second-in-command of the King County Sheriff’s office, which oversees the operation of Metro Transit Police and Sound Transit police that serve the area but more importantly directly serve the 52,000 daily riders (and increasing) that patronize the transit systems.

I view our current situation with property crime to be a crisis. The economic drivers of this predatory criminality will not be solved overnight, and will require rigorous, long-term programs, inter-agency cooperation and initiatives. But the crime spree itself, to put it plainly, is a policing problem and challenge. Good old fashioned focused patrols, supported by crime pattern analysis and using the community’s eyes and ears – remember Block Watch – remain the most efficacious means to reduce and ultimately prevent property crimes. I was part of the comprehensive 911 patrol staffing and deployment analysis at SPD called Neighborhood Policing, and the key to having the capacity to undertake emphasis and proactive enforcement is adequacy of staffing according to a scientific model. It is clear we have neither staffing adequacy nor science behind our current police deployment system, a problem exacerbated by nearly a decade of Council inconsistency on budgeting to a baseline of 911 patrol resources.

If elected, I will come to my position with both experience and a track record of collaboration and inclusive leadership. I have been fortunate enough to work with myriad criminal justice agencies – both prosecution and defense – as well as businesses and business organizations – like the Seattle Chamber, DSA and BOMA – and, most important, all those who live, work and visit our city to enlist their ideas on how to address these complex challenges. My hands on experience shows me that meaningful progress is realized only through close and constant coordination between all involved and impacted public and private institutions, through cooperation and respecting all opinions. We must begin by passing unequivocal and enforceable laws, and ensuring clear pathways – including treatment and alternatives to incarceration – out of unlawful behavior. The absence of clear, enforceable laws and realistic policies – which include effective, humane alternatives balanced with responsibility and equitable consequences for criminal conduct – is the hallmark of our current Council, and therefore the focus of my reformist candidacy.


Jason Williams

Yes, I have read the System Failure report. The report helps elevate real concerns about health and safety in our city. It is clear the status quo is not working.

First and foremost, we should make it a goal to prevent people from becoming prolific offenders in the first place. That means increasing behavioral health services and building financial resiliency of at-risk individuals and households. These services can lead to greater stability, thereby rendering a life of crime unnecessary.

Secondly, we likely need to make improvements to our criminal justice system. We must hold prolific offenders accountable because their actions have a deleterious effect on society. I admit that I do not have all of the answers for how to do this. I am inclined to offer alternatives to incarceration, where possible, but believe there need to be consequences.

Lastly, we should develop well-coordinated and regional responses to problems related to mental health, drug addiction, economic insecurity, and more. That’s why I am in favor of recent efforts by the City and County to address homelessness under a new joint authority. Greater coordination can improve our ability as a region to test and learn from new public policies — then focus greater resources on those policies that yield the best results.


Andrew Lewis

Nobody in Seattle should be expected to tolerate being a victim of crime, and yes, I have read the report. First of all, the broad narrative of the report is certainly born out by my experience as a prosecutor in the Seattle Municipal Court. I can attest that I have seen many frequent flyer offenders cycle through the court only to return a few weeks later with a new charge.

I will briefly quibble, for the record, that the report suffers from a couple of inaccuracies and shortcomings that could have been addressed by contacting the City Attorney’s Office for comment. For example, citing incorrectly that the City Attorney’s Office did not charge an assault where urine was thrown at a nurse (we did), and only one name overlaps between our internal familiar faces list and the list compiled in the report. It is also difficult to discuss a report without any substantive recommendations.

That said, I have a long list of public safety reforms we can implement in the short and long term to make a substantive difference.

First, we need to commit to prioritizing police hiring and retention as a key budget priority. Public safety is a charter service of the City, and public safety starts with well-resourced community-based police officers. Most property crime is crime of opportunity, an opportunity presented by the lack of emphasis patrols from law enforcement. As we increase the number of police officers we should emphasize putting more officers onto the street conducted regular and routine patrols.

Second, we should prioritize proactive property crime enforcement. Undercover operations with decoy delivery packages or cars set-up by SPD with nearby surveillance officers can help build strong cases against professional property thieves, and deter future property crime.

Third, once prosecutors receive strong well-investigated cases, an emphasis on bolder and further reaching pre-file diversion programs needs to be our focus for resolving them. I am very proud of the work I have done in the Seattle City Attorney’s Office on the Choose 180 Program, an organization that provides mentorship, education opportunities, self-reflection, and community to young people (aged 18-24) as an alternative to the traditional accountability of jail and probation. Of the 245 we have referred to Choose 180 since September of 2017, only 8, or 3%, have reoffended. Most of the initial referrals are for some type of property crime, and are typically retail thefts. Early and meaningful engagement with young people just starting a career in property crime is critical to prevent recidivism and get them on the right track. The approach of Choose 180 is evidence based and works.

I would like to see a variety of additional pre-file diversion programs for different populations and peer-groups. For example, the carpenters and iron workers offer a program called Trade Related Apprenticeship Coaching (TRAC) which over the course of 16-weeks provides prison inmates with up to 460 hours of foundational training to pursue a career in the building trades after release. What if we offered a similar program on a pre-file basis, and declined a misdemeanor case in exchange for someone pursuing a career in the building trades?

Moreover, in the City Attorney’s Office, we are in the nascent stages of significantly increasing Legal Intervention Network of Care (LINC), which diverts people with significant behavioral health and substance abuse issues to in-patient emergency stabilizing care rather than the King County Jail. If people referred engage significantly with service providers our office will then decline to file charges. Pre-file diversions based on public health, employment, and mentorship reduce recidivism and get people the help they need. We need more of them.

Fourth, as Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes recently stated in a public statement, “I have envisioned for years an office where sworn, trained prosecutors have the capacity to review all police reports within 24 hours and make charging decisions within 48-72 hours–simply because justice delayed is justice denied.” I share Pete’s aspiration in this regard, and I would prioritize it as a Seattle City Councilmember. The Criminal Division of the Seattle City Attorney’s Office processes 14,000 criminal referrals a year with 32 prosecutors. We are constantly underwater and need more staff. In the meantime, I would support a dedicated retail theft prosecutor being funded to exclusively work with businesses, Retail Theft Program Officer Chris Shean, and loss prevention officers to make sure retail theft cases are being processed in a timely manner. Additionally, I would encourage employers to emphasize long term retention of loss-prevention officers, to retain contact information for loss prevention officers after they resign, to authorize overtime for loss prevention officers (And other witness employees) when testifying, and to contractually promise to pay loss prevention officers for their time testifying on cases after they have left the office. All of these have been issues from retail theft cases I personally have prosecuted.

Fifth, behavioral mental health is one of the biggest public health challenges we face as a State. Western State Hospital is no longer federally certified, and people referred for involuntary treatment to King County languish on Seattle streets instead. In some instances, and without the ability to appreciate the wrongfulness of their actions, our community members with behavioral mental health conditions violate the social contract and commit crimes. We need more capacity to address behavioral mental health.

I fully support efforts in the Legislature to pass HB 1593, which would create a 150 bed behavioral health teaching hospital at the University of Washington. This idea, based on my training and experience as a prosecutor, would do more than any other program to get people the treatment they need in a modern and therapeutic setting. As a City Councilmember, I will work with the Legislature to site this teaching hospital, either someone on the UW Montlake campus or Northwest Hospital. I will make it unequivocally clear that any environmental impact statement, permitting, design review, and other essential City requirements will be expedited. We need to do everything in our power to meet the public health crisis of untreated behavioral mental health.


James Donaldson

According to the “System Failure” report, just 100 of the most prolific repeat offenders “resulted in 3,562 criminal cases, including theft, burglary and assault. All displayed signs of homelessness and substance abuse. Thirty-eight people suffered from mental-health issues.” Yet our City Attorney and city policies have enabled this continued lawlessness. When people “get away with it”, they keep doing “it”.

The law allows misdemeanors to be punished by up to 364 days in jail. While we don’t want to criminalize homelessness or mental illness, we need to hold people accountable for bad behavior, particularly when it involves assault. There is a sad fact that many of these crimes involve stealing to get money for drugs. That’s why we have to put a far, far greater emphasis on drug treatment, instead of enabling addiction. Taking chronic offenders off the street and into mandatory treatment programs is much more effective and humane.


Daniela Eng

Yes I have read the report of the top prolific offenders. It is important that everyone living in Seattle feels safe, as they deserve to be safe. In order to curb property crime we need to start by supporting our police. If police officers continue to arrest the same individuals whom are continuously re-released back into society, it becomes harder to re arrest the same individuals. Our city attorney needs to prosecute the offenders and we need to have services in place that will monitor the offenders and get them the treatment they need. That means having mental health and addiction treatment centers with available space. I stand by if someone is not competent to stand trial they are not competent to live out on the streets by themselves. We need to ensure that the prolific offenders have access to behavioral treatment and case workers to support them in their treatment. Case workers need to build a trust with a patient and thus we should ensure that when someone is incarcerated they have a caseworker that will follow them throughout their release and through treatment.


Isabelle Kerner

I have definitely read the report. In October of 2017 I was attacked by a violent repeat offender. I never got some of their names because the police only named two in their report. An independent witness stepped in, pulled the men off me, and chased them down. I remember thinking there is no way the police will ever catch these men. Then, I found they did. I was extremely relieved. The men were stopped by several officers while urinating in the middle of the sidewalk with an open bottle of Tequila in their pocket. (all on video)

They admitted to attacking the independent witness and myself, yet the police chose to release them before even coming to the scene where I was waiting in an ambulance.

They did not run a background check on anyone. They did not follow proper protocol or SPD policies either. They misclassified the case on their GO database as nothing a disturbance—a practice I now know they do frequently. The only injury mentioned in the report was how one of the men broke a nail.

I did a background check on the individuals listed. One of them has more violent assaults than I can even list on a few pages. Despite having multiple DUI’s, these repeat offenders drive a black BMW and are drug suppliers (this is discovered from an urban camper who is familiar with the individuals). Within two months of this assault, the same repeat offender was arrested twice for assault and another time for DUI/Hit and Run. None of the men are in jail. They go in, they come right back out.

There is a notion amongst the public that we need more police officers. I can tell you directly from my experience that the SPD is one of the most elusive departments of this City. It does not matter how many police officers we have if these officers see themselves as above the law and operate under an Office of Professional Accountability

(OPA) that does not have the ability to oversee them. In every OPA interview, there is an SPD guild member sitting in and listening to make sure every officer has the same story if there is a complaint. I think that is one of the reasons that so many good officers are leaving.

There is another part to this. The police respond and write the report. That is step one. Then, the report goes to the City Attorney’s office and the City Attorney decides which cases to prosecute. It is more profitable for them to prosecute cases that come with high fines, tickets, and other charges than it is to prosecute violent crimes, drug-related crimes, or property crimes. The City Attorney’s office also created a drug-diversion program which has essentially made it impossible for judges to sentence and penalize violent offenders. Judges must go off what the District Attorney says and the District Attorney goes on what the SPD report says. If we do not have good police officers that actually protect us, it will not matter how many we have.

I would work with my colleagues to address this issue by ensuring we are all committed to leading Seattle by ensuring all departments are on the same page. Departments must all be more transparent. They need to operate more collaboratively and less independently. Every department needs to be be on the same page. Departments and officials must compromise when its necessary, but more importantly departments must stand united and committed to resolving the problems we all clearly see.

All public officials need to take responsibility when they make a mistake. We all make mistakes. For some reason the City would rather waste everyone’s time and money pointing fingers to evade responsibility than just admit they made a mistake or their plan failed. We learn through failing only when we acknowledge it.

The City Council needs to put our political affiliations aside until we create a plan we are all supportive of that will work. This will be difficult if we elect more bureaucrats into City Council. They are great at talking, but they just don’t get anything done. We need team of A players who are really talented and solution-oriented in a variety of ways. I think that if we elect a team of A players who truly represent the diversity amongst this City, we will have no problem working with each other because many of us have never had that chance before.


Don Harper

Yes I have read the System Failure report. We need to hire more police, prosecuting attorneys, and guards at our jails to be able to adequately process the people committing crimes and getting them off the streets. This is a solution for all of Seattle. We also need Permanent Supported Housing for after they have served their time or they will be back out on the streets. My years of serving on the QA Community Council, two levy oversight committees, and 30 years running a business has given me the experience to work with anyone to create solutions.


Gene Burrus

I have read the report. I find it disturbing. I live downtown, a block from Third Avenue and Pike. I understand quite clearly the problems we have in this area. I have been told repeatedly that we shouldn’t worry when people are shot in our neighborhood because they are shooting at each other, not the residents and tourists. Cold comfort. I would take a number of steps to change what I have been told for a decade is a “fact of life” that is unavoidable and has always been. First, the SPD should lease a storefront on Third between Pike and Pine to set up a substation. Second there should be constant foot patrols in the area. Third, we need to stop calling some crimes “low level” and making excuses for non-enforcement. They are not low level crimes to victims. Fourth, we need to stop making jail, and treatment/services separate concepts. We can offer addiction or mental health treatments in jail and remove this notion currently held by the City and County prosecutor offices that there is a choice that needs to be made between treatment and jail. Criminals need to serve time. And incarceration is an excellent opportunity to begin solving addiction issues. Finally, the failure to address this issue downtown discourages use of public transit. I know many people that work in downtown offices. They dread waiting for the bus. They refuse to cross Third Avenue to go to lunch. This has to end.

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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Michael George

I believe the city’s role is to do everything in its power to address homelessness in Seattle. This is a crisis, and one that requires our undivided attention. In terms of where I spend my energy, leadership and resources to have the greatest impact, I would focus on the area in which I am strongest: I am the only candidate who truly understands the complexities and process that goes into more building affordable housing. I have spent my career successfully working on large housing and transportation projects, and I want to use my expertise in this area to scale up Seattle’s efforts to build more affordable housing more efficiently.

I am supportive of the Landlord Liaison program, rental and mortgage assistance and other programs to keep people out of homelessness because they are effective and cost effective. I would expand these programs and increase partnerships with non-government entities to provide no-strings funding to people that need immediate assistance when feasible.

Seattle is not going to be able to solve this crisis on our own. This is a regional problem that is going to require a regional solution. Seattle by itself will never be able to come up with the necessary funds to solve this problem alone. We can no longer ask our neighboring cities to do their part, it’s time we start telling them.

Seattle has less than ⅓ of the county’s population and almost ¾ of the county’s homeless population. It also has the vast majority of extremely low-income housing units, services, and the county jail. While it made sense to concentrate services in the City that is home to the region’s largest homeless population, this approach has gone too far and is now overburdening our cities resources. Tax payers are frustrated that they keep funding new housing and services with little perceived on-the-ground positive impact. I propose working with the State to force wealthy cities like Bellevue that are not doing their fair share to step up with us.

Wealthier suburbs must still plan for and fund their fair share of the region’s housing and services targeted at the hardest to serve populations. For those which don’t, sanctions could include loss of the city or county’s ability to collect property tax or to receive their respective portion of the sales tax, gas tax or other state taxes. This would be no different than the sanctions used to enforce the Growth Management Act (GMA) pushed through in the 1990’s. As a council member I would lead the charge in Olympia to make this happen, because it’s the right thing to do.


Jim Pugel

I believe that the City’s role in addressing the homeless crisis – thusfar unfulfilled – is to offer clear and unwavering leadership and a clear plan toward resolving the homeless crisis, all the while respectful of the fact that homelessness also impacts communities and businesses. We substantially fund fragmented approaches to address chronic homelessness and its co-occurring conditions, specifically mental illness, emotional and substance abuse disorders. The bottom line: We do not have a clear plan. While there are important, data driven assessments at our disposal (e.g. The Poppe Report) we lack a comprehensive and courageous approach which balances the objective to stabilize the lives of homeless, disabled people with public safety and humanitarian objectives. Allowing homeless encampments, car camping and other laisse faire approaches is not a Program, nor fair or effective to either the businesses and residents impacted, or the homeless themselves. I have always believed – and as a police officer personally witnessed – that allowing homeless encampments is unhealthy and unsafe for both the inhabitants and those residents and business owners whose lives are detrimentally impacted by them. I have always been a strong supporter of preventing homelessness, rapid re-housing and the policy of ‘housing first’. I believe that the gold standard to address homelessness is permanent supportive housing. While we invest a lot of tax dollars in this great city, we likely need more investments, but –unlike the current approach – they must be smart, effective and data driven. It is only then that we can achieve what my friend David Wertheimer articulated so well: Make homelessness ‘rare, brief and one time’.

The looming specter of diminished support for homeless housing via Federal funding sources increases the urgency for a more regional approach to managing our resources and crafting a comprehensive approach to this crisis. In a real sense, we are on our own when it comes to addressing homelessness. One of my priorities will be to work toward a substantive consolidation of City and Counties government entities addressing human services, housing and mental illness as well as rational programs of addiction response. This common sense approach was achieved in the past with Metro Transit (e.g. the consolidation of county/city bus services), the Public Health agencies (into Seattle/King County Department of Public Health) and with Wastewater Treatment, which occurred in the 1970’s.

My core values on the issue of addressing homelessness are as follows – I refer to them as the ‘four pillars’ approach – the 1) prevention (both long term and immediate), 2) Harm reduction for those in homelessness now 3) Housing (rapid re-housing, transitional housing, supportive housing and permanent housing) and 4) enforcement (not criminalizing the status of homelessness but holding offenders responsible regardless of homeless status).

I adopted this approach/belief after being a founding member of the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) initiative in the Belltown neighborhood of Seattle. The program focused on drug users, non-violent sellers and sex workers. They were predominately homeless, addicted, had co-occurring physical and mental disabilities and were mostly unemployed. The scientific based study showed a recidivism reduction of 66%,a significant increase in housing, increasing is housing, significantly improved psycho/social qualities and no increase in cost compared to the ‘trail, nail and jail’ approach used for the previous 3 decades.


Jason Williams

 


Andrew Lewis

Seattle needs to be a partner in a regional coalition, we cannot go it alone. I am a committed supporter of permanent supportive housing, and a housing first approach to getting people off the street and into a stable living situation. As a prosecutor, I have seen the massive failure of incarcerating people for crimes of poverty at a cost of $188 a day, when by most estimates permanent support housing can be provided for a third of the cost.

In District 7, I am a big supporter of permanent supportive housing at Fort Lawton, as well as King County’s proposed modular development on Elliott. But these projects alone will not provide the large scale of permanent supportive housing we need for all our neighbors experiencing homelessness.

I support working with King County, and our suburban neighbors, to dramatically expand the number of modular living units to create new permanent supportive housing sited on public land (King County, City of Seattle, Suburban Governments, Sound Transit surplus property). The modular units cost about $150,000 per-unit and are equipped with full plumbing, electricity, and in every respect are indistinguishable from a normal studio apartment. They are estimated to have a lifespan of about 20 years. If financed by a public bond over 20 or 30 years, the cost per-unit could be well under $10,000 a year. The burden of the bond could be spread across multiple jurisdictions, and supported by a modest countywide sales tax.


James Donaldson

We must upend the way we approach homelessness. We must face the fact that half of those experiencing homelessness self-identify as having a disability. 66% of those have two or more disabilities. And 100% of the chronic homeless are disabled through addiction, mental illness or a physical disability. These are not just housing issues. Far too many people on our streets suffer mental illness, or other disabling conditions brought on by trauma. Homelessness itself is traumatic, and people have turned to drugs to self-medicate, and become addicted. But we are not addressing drug addiction except to enable it. It is an uncomfortable debate, but other cities have found ways to work with those who refuse treatment, and we must try those other methods. We need triage, more Mobile Crisis Response Services, and more supported living residences. But we cannot allow people to camp on our downtown streets, in neighborhood business districts, and in parks.

The City’s approach is not working for anyone. Counting public safety, emergency medical treatment, housing assistance, and the specifically targeted “homelessness funding”, we are already spending hundreds of millions each year. The City has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in expert consultants, who have given us roadmaps and pointed out our missteps, our bad policies, and our inefficiencies, and yet we aren’t following most of the recommendations. To make matters worse, we cannot retain City staff leading these efforts – partly because of poor leadership by certain City Councilmembers.

Unsanctioned encampments simply cannot be allowed in business districts, in parks, blocking sidewalks, and many other areas. One of my earliest initiatives as a Councilmember will be introducing legislation establishing no-encampment/no sleeping zones between business doors and the sidewalk.

I propose the City partner with key allies and develop a system of caseworkers who will work with, continually, the individuals experiencing homelessness, getting people treatment for disabilities and conditions such as mental health care, addiction treatment, and housing in a more effective and accountable manner. We must build more supported living residences, 24-hour shelters for families, veterans, people with pets, and special needs/unique populations.

Until we can get more shelters established, we have to face the ugly reality of unsanctioned camps and apply triage to them for public health & safety. We might consider temporarily allowing very limited camps where they keep recurring, such as under highways, but with waste receptacles, hand-washing units and restrooms, cleaned daily. It is far from ideal, but until we can open shelters, this is fast and better than what we are doing now.

We do need more money for specific housing needs. For that, we need more public-private partnerships on par with the recently announced $75 million Plymouth Housing project to build 800 permanent, supported apartments for those experiencing chronic homelessness along with physical disabilities, behavioral health disorders, and other challenges., 2/3 of the funding thus far has come from local corporations who are willing to invest in solid projects managed by effective leaders with expertise. We need more of this, and less Socialist-level extortion.


Daniela Eng

We need to look at homelessness with a multi-prong approach. The City needs to help out with the crisis by providing adequate shelters, substance abuse programs and job training. My family is a supporter of FareStart and I believe more programs like it should be started. Not everyone would like a job in the food industry, so let’s create a nonprofit that teaches woodworking and construction. We need to help those who are unable to find jobs learn the resources and means to provide for themselves. In addition, we need to ensure we have enough social workers to help the homeless. Someone who is going to go in to treatment for opioids needs to be able to rely on a support system. We can help create that support system with more social workers.


Isabelle Kerner

As mentioned, I’m calling it an Urban Camping Crisis. Here is why:

I have been visiting every one of these camps I can find alone. As it turns out, I’m not a huge threat to them. They trust me. I don’t give them any money, food, or water and they know that. They also know I am running for City Council which is why so many of them trust me. No one else running is talking to them or trying to understand the problem from their perspective. They know it best. The reason I go down to these camps against the advice of others is because I know that they need to be part of the solution in order for it to work in the long term. The urban campers are not all the same. They have different backgrounds, interests, talents, stories, and many of them are heavily addicted to meth and heroine. Addicted or not, the majority of them are incredibly intelligent. What you see on the streets is half what is actually going on. Some can unlock any electronic device. Some know how hack the power grid. Some can hack the water supply. Some of the camps have booby traps. You have to know what to look for. The traps are not meant for the common citizen but for the other campers who steal from them. Not all the camp groups get along.

I have also been to a few of Seattle’s emergency overnight shelters. I had to pretend to be ‘homeless’ and my urban camping friends told me exactly what I needed to say just to get in for 5 minutes and see for myself what it looked like on the inside. I can say that the conditions of some of these shelters are hardly less horrific then the camps we see every day. You also have to line up, bring all your things, and then get out first thing the next morning. It’s exhausting and not all of them are motivated, hopeful, or inspired.

Here is the plan.

I am going to describe it the same way I would plan any project. Seattle is the canvas. Here are the materials:

  1. 550-650 Shipping Containers
  2. 23-27 plots of Vacant/Underutilized city-owned land (parcels mostly located where the urban campers and shipping containers already are (i.e. industrial district, side of i-5 and i-90, etc.).
  3. Kiosks
  4. Urban campers
  5. On-Site Managers (qualified and experienced to diagnose, prescribe and treat mental/health addiction disorders too)
  6. 65 Desk Top Computers
  7. 23-27 Printers
  8. 40,000 thousand sheets of paper
  9. Support and collaboration from businesses of all sizes in all industries

All of the Urban Campers will be off the streets in the first 6 months of 2020 and be placed in secure, modified shipping containers. These containers will be arranged like LEGO’s and serve as transitional housing for 3-8 months depending on which ‘set’ they best fit with and the circumstances. This is not permanent housing. This is a Grace Period Project that gives every individual access to temporary housing so they can shower and securely store their belongings. This is also not jail or an institution. It is not self-governed, there will be cite managers at each of the sets trained to address the needs of the individuals and families who temporarily reside there. These sets would be spread out across Seattle. Each ’set’ would directly correlate with the issues these individuals are facing.

In other words, you would have the drug-addicted and mentally ill in some sets, families and/or individuals who have just fallen through the cracks and do not have serious substance abuse and/or mental health issues in a different ’set’. Women and children fleeing domestic violence are placed in another ’set’.

There would also be a program that would give these individuals the opportunity to save money by helping to clean up the mess that urban camping has created. In other words, individuals would use their access card to deposit trash, used needles, etc., into a large ATM like Kiosk. These funds would serve as a retirement fund that is not for retirement, but instead serves as an FSA-like fund for housing. Cash cannot be taken out this fund. This would clean up the mess, get individuals off the streets, provide them with an opportunity to save money and work with Washington State programs like the Apprenticeship Program to concurrently pair these individuals with businesses struggling to meet the increased demand for skilled workers.

This way, the campers stop camping, they exit the program with a job that aligns with their own talents, passions and interests. Additionally, we would also partner and trade with large tech companies like Microsoft and Amazon to set up the technological infrastructure in return for avoiding any type of future head tax. They could do it a lot faster than Seattle.

In sum, these shipping container sets are basically college or trade school for urban campers. They might have to live in a box with a roommate they could choose and sign up to shower, but that’s how it was when I went to college. They will also have to follow some rules. Trust me when I say they want and need this opportunity. I have spent a lot of time talking to them. They are on board. This is how we save Seattle. If it works, which I am confident it will, it will also be profitable. If we get to the end point, we won’t need them anymore and we can load them up and sell them to another city. We have to set the example here first.

Here is the LEGO model prototype for one example ‘set’!


Don Harper

The City needs to have a results based approach to our funding and more strictly follow Barbara Poppe’s strategies as written in her report on Seattle’s homeless dilemma. Temporary rent money to help those facing eviction, bail money help for those facing minor offensives with strict rules for the use, and Permanent Supportive Housing for those who are now homeless. It worked in Utah and it will work here.


Gene Burrus

I think the city has a role in providing emergency shelter, providing effective treatment options, and supporting organizations that help people transition back into permanent housing. There are two things the city can do immediately to begin to address the problem. First, treat the situation like the emergency that it is and construct FEMA style dormitory shelters…and require their use. The parks, streets and open spaces can no longer be an option. We will provide shelter. But won’t allow people to refuse it. Second, and a way to cut the problem down quickly, is to do what every other city in the country does: offer free transportation out of town to people seeking to leave and who might have family or friend support structures elsewhere. Even Portland gives out free bus tickets to Seattle. I volunteered in social services in Los Angeles 25 years ago and they were doing that then. That we don’t do so out of some notion of not shipping the problem elsewhere ignores the reality that a percentage of the homeless here are from somewhere else.

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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Michael George

We must work within the reality of available funding to solve this issue. I firmly believe that we can house everyone, but not necessarily within the boundaries of Seattle, which faces a severe lack of land and high construction costs. Below is a partial summary of what I believe needs to be done, broken down by household Area Median Income (AMI) level. This is my current thinking, but I’m always open to criticism and fine-tuning as I learn more.

  • <30% AMI Units: Better regional coordination is needed to produce Extremely Low-Income Housing (ELI) units. Seattle needs to continue funding these units and coordinated services, but we can’t do it alone. While I’m excited that King County is stepping up, other cities and counties need to commit more funding and make room for more shelters and ELI units in their communities too. A good place to start would be work toward fair share commitments for cities across the region targeted at ELI units and shelters. I’m optimistic about the passage of state legislation that allows public entities to consider discounting land for affordable housing; however, this is only the first step in producing affordable housing at scale on these properties. Since this legislation passed, I have worked with multiple public entities that are hesitant to actually discount land for affordable housing. As a council member I will work with other public entities across the region to come up with a strategy to strategically leverage these surplus properties for affordable housing in a geographically and socially equitable manner. Without this coordination and commitment at the city/county/public-entity level the state legislation won’t produce the opportunity that we all hope it will. I worked on Sound Transit’s 80/80/80 legislation, which in some ways was the precursor to the state legislation. Although ST’s legislation isn’t perfect, it is producing results and there are transferable lessons for the city from this experience. Another angle I’d like to consider is prioritizing a portion of these units for front-line outreach workers, on-site health care workers and others that make this city work, but are not earning an adequate wage to afford our region’s high cost of living.
  • 40 to 60% AMI Units: Seattle needs to step up efforts to produce units at this income level. These units are critical to retaining Seattle’s middle class. More could be done to incentivize on-site performance through MHA for these types of units. I would also like to look into targeting a portion of these units to specific groups like police, fire, teachers and other groups that the communities benefit from. For example, I would like to see more police live in the communities they work in and this could allow that to happen.
  • 60% to 150% AMI – There is tremendous opportunity to work with the private sector to subsidize this type of housing. A lack of housing at this AMI level hurts tech and other professional employers that compete with lower cost areas for employees. I hope we see more announcements like the recent Microsoft affordable housing revolving loan program for this reason. This is also the AMI level that many mid-to late career police, fire, and teachers make. The City can do more with the MFTE program to incentivize housing at these levels too, particularly family-sized housing, by extending the abatement period to 24 years and looking at using AMI levels based on City not county averages – something I’d like to dig into as a council member. Overall, we need to be smarter with the fees we impose so it doesn’t make it infeasible to deliver housing, particularly for small builders that are targeting housing-within-reach for middle class families.

There are a number of other things that need to be done to solve the affordable housing crisis including fixing the permitting process and working with neighborhoods on other common-sense zoning reforms. While many of the solutions are focused on housing targeting households at specific income levels, it is also important to incentivize a greater diversity of housing types including family-sized and senior housing units. Seattle also needs to think more holistically about how development and other neighborhood infrastructure like public transit and schools are coordinated, so that development doesn’t overburden neighborhood infrastructure. Other items worth considering are; pushing for a right-to-cure allowance to the proposed condo amendments; using deed restrictions on small public properties to simplify the disposition process for affordable housing where practical; an, extending MFTE term for 24 years, particularly for 3+ bedroom units.

I want to convene these efforts and push other jurisdictions into joining us for the herculean efforts that will be necessary to continue to make a dent in this region’s biggest issue, housing affordability.


Jim Pugel

While there are remaining concerns held by many of the recent MHA vote, the objective of using public policy to increase opportunities to expand affordable housing options is a high priority of my candidacy. As a city, we should do what is necessary to ensure that below median and moderate income workers and residents have access to quality housing, should they freely choose to live in Seattle. It makes absolutely no sense for those who serve us in the hospitality industry, the trades, our child care, teaching, public safety and health care fields to spend multiple hours a day transporting themselves to and from their work places. There are myriad negative consequences to a City being unaffordable to workers and residents: Traffic congestion, stress and unhealthy life styles, absence from the civic life of their City, time away from family and friends, and other components that determine quality of life.

In my engagement and communication with District 7 residents and business owners, I am just beginning to see the wealth of progressive thinking on this issue. Like most daunting challenges, the answers are out there, as long as we value listening over personal agendas. I support converting city, county, ‘regional’ and state land to below median and moderate income use – an option recently permitted by state law – with the goal of developing public/private collaborative partnerships with the economic sectors and non-profits to develop quality housing, and to develop low cost programs to prevent any of these folks from being forced out of this housing.

I also support moving low-income and affordable income projects to the front of the line at Department of Construction and Inspections and allowing alternative construction approaches to the current onerous one experienced by everyone.


Jason Williams

Seattle should be a city where people can live, work, and play in the same community. Unfortunately, living in our city is increasingly out of reach for working people.

Since affordability is defined by the percentage of one’s income that is spent on housing expenses, we cannot effectively improve housing affordability without fundamentally addressing underlying issues of economic equity and financial security. That means giving everyone a fair chance at earning a living wage. Right now persons from (typically) the southern half of our town, who tend to come from historically disadvantaged groups, don’t have meaningful pathways into good paying jobs. We need to strengthen coordination between local government, schools, employers, labor, and workforce development systems to create pathways into trades and professions. Finally, we can do more to increase financial resiliency of low-income households so a financial emergency (like health care issue) doesn’t put someone out of their home – and out of our city.

Of course, there is also the cost component to affordability. Here, I believe we need to take a portfolio approach to driving down costs: increase the number of available units (via upzoning, especially in urban villages and near transit zones, permitting backyard cottages, etc.); increase the percentage of all housing stock that is income-restricted (via MHA and workforce housing); and, offer a path for ownership to at-risk communities (see Forterra’s Wadajir project for refugees and immigrants in Tukwila). What’s more, we should use innovative market-based mechanisms – like Transfer Development Rights – to prevent unintended consequences (like suburban sprawl) as we add density in our urban core.


Andrew Lewis

I strongly support inclusionary zoning and a wide variety of available housing types. I grew up in a single-family neighborhood, but I have also lived in an apodment and I currently live in an old apartment building. Seattle has room for housing of all types, and these are decisions we should be making as a community.

First, I would prioritize in-fill development. I walk to work almost every day from Uptown to the Columbia Tower, and I walk past quite a few underutilized parking lots in Belltown which could be potential sites for new housing, perhaps with parking underground and retail on the ground floor. We will not get to our growth goals by simply making already dense communities more dense, but we need to take advantage of opportunities to in-fill neighborhoods with already dense zoning.

Second, I am a strong supporter of transit oriented development. Upzoning areas directly around transportation hubs, particularly as light rail is expanded, is a generational opportunity to plan growth dependent on grade-separated transportation, and not the automobile. I also support reducing the amount of required parking for transit oriented projects. I am a full supporter of Enterprise Community Service’s Home and Hope program, which aspires to create 5,000 units of affordable housing over the next three years through public, private, and non-profit partnerships.

Third, I do support loosening our overly restrictive accessory dwelling unit (ADU) ordinance, but support some changes to the current ordinance. Instead of categorically repealing the on-site parking requirement for ADUs, I support basing the parking requirement on access to transit and the walkscore of the property. Under the Transportation Benefit District (TBD) 8 out of every 12 households in Seattle are a 10 minute walk away from public transportation running on average every 10 minutes. But, for the communities falling in the 4 out of 12 households without effective access to public transportation, a parking requirement may be warranted. It is an ongoing conversation I look forward to having.

Additionally, it is overly restrictive to require the property owner to live onsite for every property with an ADU, but I do support some reasonable policies around resident occupancy requirements. For example, as the City of Tacoma just reaffirmed in their recent ADU ordinance, I support maintaining a residency requirement for Air BnBs or other short-term rentals. Again, this is a conversation I look forward to continuing to having.

Fourth, I support continuing to take advantage of opportunities to use public land to site affordable housing projects. I am a strong supporter of the Fort Lawton housing proposal, as well as the enhanced King County shelter on Elliott, and the possibility of adding affordable housing to the National Guard Armory in Interbay. These projects alone will not be enough to increase our supply of affordable housing to meet demand, but they will help considerably and at a lower-cost to the taxpayer.


James Donaldson

The City has driven up cost of building anything, while creating many disincentives for small landlords and homeowners to rent. If we want existing units to stay as rentals instead of short-term, AirBNB-types, we need to stop erecting these policy barriers.

The permitting and review process, and inspection requirements, must be dramatically streamlined, both for the small stuff (ADUs/duplexes) and the large complexes or towers. This will lower the construction cost and decrease the time to completion. We need to identify aging multi-family buildings for City investment, and create public-private and non-profit partnerships that buy and operate them, to protect and upgrade but keep these affordable units.

Likewise, we need to identify venerable buildings in historic neighborhoods and work with property owners and public/private and non-profit partners to provide funds that enable the conversion of old hotels or run-down apartments, even office buildings, into workforce and affordable housing units. We need to re-examine and remove some of the impediments the City Council created in the construction of micro-housing units (such as Apodments); none have been constructed in the past five years.

We need to create city-led, low-rate private financing to build backyard cottages (detached accessory dwelling units or DADUs), as Portland has done. And, we must continue to be innovative. The Olympic Sculpture Park and the Washington State Convention Center show that lidding rail beds and highways creates acreage. We can, and should, move forward on projects that build workforce housing over more roadways in Seattle.


Daniela Eng

While I believe the MHA is a step in the right direction, I do not support the in lieu of fee. I don’t believe that developers should be able to pay a fee to not provide low income housing in new developments. I see that as further segregating our neighborhoods. Mixed income housing is a great idea that I fully support. I believe in upzoning high transit areas making it easier for individuals to take the bus to and from work and not be reliant on a car.


Isabelle Kerner

I would work with my colleagues to enact a policy that restores the zoning regulations and the decisions about them back to the people. The City can control the height limits and regulate safety, but they should not have the power to police what people can or cannot build in their own backyard. This decision should be left to neighborhood and community councils. We have an Urban Camping Crisis so I don’t really understand why there is so much emphasis on zoning. People are camping on the sidewalk. I don’t that is zoned for camping but it is happening anyway.

The MHA is not creating more houses. It is creating more apartments. The apartments it is creating are not affordable.


Don Harper

MHA is a perfect example of a failure in communication with the many separate and diverse neighborhoods by the City. What is needed is a zoning code with neighborhood planning based on their needs and assets. Increased density does not mean affordability. This approach worked very well during the first iteration of urban villages and created buy in by the neighborhoods. There is 10% vacancy at last report for apartments in the greater downtown area. Low income and Permanent Supportive Housing is what is needed and what I will work for.


Gene Burrus

I am a firm believer that we cannot fight supply and demand when it comes to housing, and because we don’t want demand to drop, we need to increase supply… And that means increasing density in the city…but in a smart planful way that takes into account transportation and infrastructure. I would upzone dramatically around light rail stations and major transport hubs.

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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Michael George

Here are some key areas that need to be taken into consideration:

  • Getting Third Avenue in Downtown and Westlake Avenue right in SLU are key to creating a city that functions for both surface-transit riders and pedestrians. A 16th Avenue Mall (Denver) type transit corridor in either location could be a wonderful addition to the city. I look forward to reading the Third Avenue Design Vision report to learn if this type of project is feasible for Third Ave.
  • Most people are pedestrians at some point during the day, no matter how they access the city. As our downtown grows, we need to widen our sidewalks to accommodate the growing number of pedestrians.
  • Getting Light Rail right is important, including paying close attention to station access issues as we develop downtown/SLU stations in areas with major topographic challenges and street grid challenges.
  • I would also like to see increased communication between SDOT and business/residents of downtown and reinvigorated alleys to create new pedestrian options where practical.

Jim Pugel

Transportation of people via dependable means is paramount and both a business and quality of life necessity. In addition, freight mobility through and into the region is essential. Innovating and maximizing this core Council responsibility requires local leadership and regional cooperation to achieve, as well as working WITH corporations and operators of transportation systems toward mutually agreeable solutions. Everything must be examined and researched, with some more readily and proven solutions able to be implemented sooner than others: How we design our building/residences (loading docks/storage lockers for packages delivered to tower residents, etc.) hours of operation, hours of delivery, as well as alternative work schedules for employee must be examined and continually reevaluated for adjustment. Public transportation, car-pooling, safe pedestrian accessibility and evaluation of our current bike lane needs will be among my priorities. Consistent with my core values, this evaluative process will require both existing and new data analysis, particularly to ensure that our tax dollars are spent to achieve the highest benefits to the most people, balanced against serving those with access and functional needs.


Jason Williams

If we are to scale as a city, we need to provide more frequent and reliable transportation alternatives. Neighbors in my district, especially those who live several blocks away from major transit corridors, frequently complain about unreliable bus service. While some are inclined to take mass transit into downtown, they are hesitant to do so until they perceive the benefits outweigh the costs. In the near- term, we can consider increasing the perceived benefits by: improving reliability of mass transit service; experimenting with small shuttle services or otherwise partnering with on-demand service providers, e.g., Uber, to link residents to distant transit corridors; and, providing safe pathways for pedestrians and people on bicycles.


Andrew Lewis

We need to invest heavily in policies to drive that 25% number down ever further.

First, one of the greatest policies the City has enacted over the last decade is the Transportation Benefit District (TBD) which allows the City to purchase supplemental service hours from King County Metro to meet the growing demand to commute in and out of the City. As mentioned above, the TBD has guaranteed that 8 out of 12 households in Seattle are 10 minutes away from transit that comes every 10 minutes or faster. I want to see a survey of the transportation deserts the final 4 out of 12 live in and see how we can use the TBD to drive re-routes, or create entirely new routes, to serve them.

Second, we need ST3 now, not in 20 years. I will work with Sound Transit, King County, and the State to get light rail through Uptown, Interbay, and to Ballard sooner rather than later. There is no easy fix to this, and it may require courageous conversations and creativity for how to pay for it, but we need to build a sense of urgency to expand grade-separated rail all over Seattle and King County.

Third, we need to replace the Magnolia Bridge. I know this sounds odd in a questionnaire for DSA, but as I knock on doors in Magnolia I have been surprised to learn that a great many of the 20,000 plus residents of the neighborhood commute downtown on a daily basis for work and play. A great many of them use the bridge to do it, and many of them use public transportation to get there. The Magnolia Bridge supports 265 daily bus trips, all of them serving commutes from Magnolia to downtown. The alternative access points to Magnolia at Dravus and Emerson are not equipped to deal with 265 displaced daily bus trips, and failure of the bridge would result in Magnolia becoming an exceptionally isolated transit desert, leaving residents with no choice but to drive downtown on a daily basis. This will not only cause congestion on downtown streets, but also on 15th Ave, a critical freight corridor.

Replacing the Magnolia Bridge is going to require building a coalition of Port, State, Federal, and County actors. I am proud to be endorsed by Rep. Gael Tarleton, who approved a proviso this session to get a State study of the Bridge, hopefully elevating it to be a WSDOT priority. I am proud to be endorsed by Fred Felleman and Peter Steinbrueck on the Port of Seattle Commission, and look forward to working with them to make sure a replacement Bridge preserves access to the Smith Cove Uplands and other critical Port facilities. We need to build a coalition to replace the Bridge, and I can build that coalition.


James Donaldson

We must complete the Center Connector Streetcar with a dedicated lane, and put the SLU and First Hill/Capitol Hill streetcars in dedicated lanes. We can build 5-7 miles of streetcar lines for the cost of one mile of light rail, and track construction is much, much faster. Streetcars are more accessible for people with disabilities than either buses or getting down to the light rail platforms. It is truly a tragedy that the entire waterfront renovation is being done with no transit; the old waterfront streetcar was very effective and a new one should be constructed that would connect to the other lines.

While the City’s taxpayers and car owners have been paying for more frequent bus service, Metro has not been able to fulfill the obligation. Some of those funds should be shifted to streetcars.

In the downtown core, signal timing must be improved. And next legislative session, we must lobby more effectively to pass the “Don’t Block the Box” state legislation. Until we get such legislation, we need more “sticks” to ticket drivers who block the box, who block curb ramps, stop for long periods in 3-minute zones or loading zones, and more. At the same time, the City is far short of police officers for traffic enforcement. To fill the gap, I will look at city legislation that allows parking enforcement officers to issue tickets for these infractions.

Addressing the 3-minute and loading zones, it has been clear for years that we need to fundamentally change these. First, we must make space for wheelchair accessible taxis/vehicles (WATs and WAVs) mid-block, with a curb-cut. Most WATs & WAVs have ramps in the rear of the vehicle; with the wheelchair ramp extended, at least 22 feet is required to safely load/unload the passenger. Currently, the WATs/WAVs park where they can, which too often is in a traffic lane, and the person using the wheelchair has to access the street at the end of the block and wheel up to the van. This is very unsafe. At the same time, we have all witnessed the explosion in Transportation Network Company vehicles. TNCs, such as Uber and Lyft, serviced more than 30 million trips in Seattle last year, creating congestion. TNC drivers are among the most prolific offenders blocking boxes and double-parking while they wait for or drop off passengers. More center-block curb space, which priority for WATs/WAVs, would help tremendously.

We need to examine making more downtown streets and avenues with bus-only lanes. And we need to work with shippers and delivery services on mechanisms and incentives to minimize deliveries during peak commute hours.


Daniela Eng

We need to ensure that downtown is accessible to both cars and buses. As a mother of four young boys, I know how essential driving throughout downtown Seattle is in a car. If we want to continue to decrease the amount of individuals that drive into and through downtown we need to add more bus routes throughout the city. Downtown needs to be a high transit epicenter with the increase in buses interconnecting our neighborhoods.


Isabelle Kerner

The first thing we need to do is get these bus lanes under control and start the timing the traffic light. I drive and it is ridiculous to me. We could build pedestrian bridges to speed things up and it would be safer than current crosswalks. Going up Denny, or driving downtown is a nightmare. There has been an explosion of bus and bike lanes. Some of them make sense but some if just not good enough. It seems counter- productive to squeeze all the cars into one lane and have a bus land that is often empty. Buses are also slow. They are big and some of them are quite aggressive. Some of these buses don’t even stay in their lane. Parking costs are astronomical. I have found that it is actually less costly to roll the dice, risk getting a ticket by not paying if you plan on being downtown for more than 3 hours and mitigate the ticket in the event that you do get one.

I think the Monorail is one of the most effective forms of transportation and I think a similar system should be implemented to connect areas with access to the light rail without taking up so much ground space. It just shifts the congestion around. Further, if people working for the City could afford to live in the City, they would have to spend hours commuting. They would also be able to vote for the administration that hires them. This would make the administration more willing to work together and communicate more effectively.


Don Harper

I do not support the trolley. While a fun component of our transportation system, buses have proved to be cheaper and more versatile. Create accountability for the creation and extensions of bike lanes. Bike lanes need to be held to the same measure as buses, cars, and light rail.


Gene Burrus

I feel that streets downtown have become ways for the current council to install pet projects rather than effectively work for everyone. Boondoggles like the 2nd Avenue Bike Lane, and the First Avenue Streetcar spend large sums to move very few people while taking away traffic lanes that cars and busses could use. I would immediately seek to cancel the First Avenue Street Car. And examine removing the Second Avenue bike lane. I would work with businesses to stagger work hours to alleviate peak traffic hours. I would manage transportation budgets with efficacy in mind and bang for the buck.

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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Michael George

I am in favor of these types of agreement and grateful that organizations like the DSA are willing to step up and support high-functioning parks in this way. I am a proponent of similar partnerships for new open space being contemplated along the Waterfront and above I-5. I understand the equity concerns posed by these types of public private partnerships and will always keep an eye out for potential equity issues, but overall these partnerships provide much needed support for urban parks.


Jim Pugel

I completely support it, Based on the research I did with the DSA in 1998/99 on the “miracle” of Bryant Park in mid-town Manhattan, coupled with the incremental build out of the then just formed Metropolitan Improvement District and Clean and Safe program, I wholeheartedly support this collaborative concept. It works. You have my commitment that I will ensure the City holds up its end of the bargain, as the crux of this approach is a sustained and dependable partnership where the City (Parks, Police, Human Services and Transportation among others) does not abandon or abdicate their inherent responsibility and leave DSA and Downtown businesses and residents to carry the burden, on the premise that “DSA said they would take care of this”. Nowhere is this commitment to collaborate more critical than in the design of our future waterfront and along the I-5 corridor.


Jason Williams

I am in favor of this kind of public/private partnerships and will look to form deeper ties with DSA and other organizations (business and nonprofit) as a city councilmember.


Andrew Lewis

When I lived down in the Bay Area during law school I became familiar with San Francisco’s “Living Innovation Zone” (LIZ) program through the Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation. The goal of LIZ is to activate public spaces through public interactive installations that can define the character of neighborhoods and build community. I have very fond memories of the giant interactive “whispering dishes”, allowing people passing by to stop and experience the novelty of having a quiet conversation from 60 feet away. Many of the LIZ installations I experienced were created in collaboration with the Exploratorium, San Francisco’s version of the Pacific Science Center.

The LIZ manual, linked above, mentions numerous other participatory public installations and dynamic works of art. For example, The Great Wall of Oakland, a 100×100 screen with art projected onto it, or the Shadowing installation in Bristol UK that allows passersby to record their shadows under special streetlights, and then play them back.

Through partnerships with the Pacific Science Center, we could create our own interactive and dynamic installations. While most LIZ installations are temporary, some of them could become semi-permanent additions to our public spaces and perhaps landmarks in their own right.


James Donaldson

We need more of this. DSA, for decades, has done what the City of Seattle’s Parks & Recreation Department, Police Department, and Department of Neighborhoods has failed or been unwilling to do. These “activation” areas are fun, safe, and well-used.


Daniela Eng

I enjoy the idea of having activities and games available throughout the city and that the city is able to engage in this type of partnership. We should continue to work with groups to expand the activities throughout D7.


Isabelle Kerner

There is obviously a large Cruise interest in Seattle. It is also a competitive interest. While tourism is good for Seattle’s economy in the sense that is generates sales tax, it is a seasonal industry. Tourists also do not tend to tip very well. They are not the type of customers who are going to return to support local businesses in the long term.

This answer might not be popular but I have noticed a proliferation of these ‘urban parks’. I am all for parks, but I very rarely see people in these urban parks that aren’t in the City’s highest crime area. I think part of the problem is they don’t have any grass. There is something unappealing about a concrete park.

I also do not support the development of Chris Hansen’s NBA Arena. Key Arena is already undergoing one of the most innovative renovations in Seattle history and I strongly believe that it will be able to serve as a Hockey Arena and an NBA arena. Seattle Center also provides a very easy and accessibly route downtown via the Monorail. If we divide the tourists by diverting the business they bring to two separate sides of downtown, the tourism industry will suffer severely and no economic prosperity will be seen.

Further, at this point I don’t think any amount of new cruise terminals or new sports arenas can solve these issues unless the same economic interests financing and backing these ‘projects’ are willing to temporarily succeed competition amongst each other in order to first solve the Urban Camping Crisis. The reality is that at the rate things are going, a lot of prospective tourists are not going to choose to visit. Unless they are coming to camp that is.


Don Harper

The activation of Westlake and Occidental Square Parks and McGraw Square has shown great success using a public/private partnership. Since this is the use of public property by a private entity the agreement, funding, and operations should require open meetings and be subject to freedom of information act along with audits and a sunset feature in the agreement. Putting a lid over I-5 is a great idea to create open space in the downtown area but it is very expensive and financing it needs to be an honest and open discussion.


Gene Burrus

I think more of it needs to take place. While those areas are now activated during the day time, they remain threatening spaces for residents who remain downtown after dark. I am deeply concerned that the Waterfront will become a haven for homelessness and crime. I am a plaintiff leading a lawsuit that seeks to overturn the LID funding mechanism for that park. But in addition to being, in my opinion and hopefully that of the court, unconstitutionally undemocratic, it was also fiscally irresponsible, committing the city irrevocably to build the park as designed, with no ability to reprioritize or deal with budget overruns and certainly not to patrol and maintain the park.

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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Michael George

I was not in favor of the head tax, and believe it is an example of the adversarial relationship that has come to exist between the Council and Seattle’s business community. I believe that the Council has to do a much better job of communicating with our business community, and working together to come up with solutions that both parties can agree to. Instead of bringing in business at the end of the decision-making process, the Council should confer with all potentially impacted parties as they consider tax and/or regulatulatory changes.


Jim Pugel

Much of the disconnect between the current City Council and the people they are sworn to serve is based on choosing personal agendas over representative governance. As I stated above, I am running for the 7th District to be part of a new era of City Council governance: Leadership through listening, objectivity, rigorous analysis of data and understanding the needs and priorities of our electors and the government we represent on their behalf. If I am elected to represent District 7, tax and regulatory proposals will be guided by my pledge TO REMAIN IN TOUCH, LISTEN TO AND TALK WITH ALL CONSTITUENTS when examining challenges, data and – ultimately – in the public process of crafting policy and legislative solutions. Period. Detractors notwithstanding, I believe that Downtown is the engine of both of our progress, and progressivity – we should never forget that our most innovative, progressive and humanitarian initiatives are only made possible by the economic and ideological contributions of Downtown businesses and residents working together with advocates for equity and positive change. In terms of my candidacy, I seek to achieve the following formula: To ensure a strong and successful business community with a strong and successful employee/management base that serves a strong and successful client/customer/tourism/convention base.


Jason Williams

First, I would take an approach to legislating that is open, participatory, and accountable for results. Our city needs to stop vilifying the business community because solving our most urgent problems will require help from all sectors. Second, I will ensure that employers have a voice in policy-making as they are important stakeholders in our community. Third, as a candidate with private sector experience, I will be mindful in creating policy with implementation in mind (e.g., the amount of time and money it would take to comply with new policies).


Andrew Lewis

As I mentioned at the top of this survey, I do support the recent labor regulations passed by the Seattle City Council. All workers deserve dignity in the workplace and as the power of labor generally has declined over the last 40 years government has a role in regulating a floor of basic working standards.

But these reforms need to be a conversation, not ultimatums. Businesses are valuable civic partners and their voice is critical to shape regulations that are enforceable and pragmatic, as well as progressive. My door will always be open to both business and labor. It is in our common interest for Seattle to be a vibrant place to do businesses as well as a wonderful place to work.

Additionally, calling back to my answers on public safety, the City needs to commit to delivering basic charter services to business as well as the citizens of the City. While a core part of the social contract is that hard work should be rewarded and all workers should be free from exploitation; that same social contract demands a responsive police force, well run utilities, health and sanitation, and well maintained roads. One of the biggest concerns I hear from small business as I doorbell around District 7 is public safety. Slow police response times have forced some small business owners to take on the task of protecting themselves and their patrons, something we should never be asking any civilian to do. Critical labor regulations protecting the dignity and wellbeing of workers are an essential component of the social contract, and so is public safety. It is manifestly unfair for us to demand concessions from small business while not delivering the full benefit of public services they pay taxes toward. I will fight to make sure public safety is a higher budget priority.

Finally, I support efforts to create a legacy small business registry similar to San Francisco. It is hard to imagine Magnolia without Niko’s Gyros, Queen Anne without Hilltop Ale House, Belltown without Shorty’s, and everyday I miss Bakeman’s in Pioneer Square. I am interested in looking into property tax schemes for legacy small businesses based on profitability rather than property value, and other creative ideas to make sure that businesses which become community institutions in their own right can continue to do business in the City.


James Donaldson

I know the challenges of operating small businesses, and how government can help or hinder the cost of doing business. I started Donaldson Fitness and Physical Therapy midway through my NBA career (1989) and operated three clinics for 30 years. I served as Chair of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business group for many years, and on the Snohomish County and Tacoma Chambers of Commerce.

The City of Seattle’s record with business owners and executives is not optimal. I propose that small, start-up businesses have tax breaks in the first few years. Every business owner deserves a more collaborative approach when it comes to policy making. I will work with larger businesses and corporations that create jobs to ensure they won’t be punished for doing so, but are engaged effectively to invest in things that mitigate any challenges created by growth. Bottom line, I do not think we can have strong neighborhoods without strong local businesses, and I don’t think we can remain a top US city without strong corporations – what we have lacked for several years is strong political leadership that works in collaboration with business.


Daniela Eng

We need to ensure that we speak with our constituents at every level and not make any back handed deals. I believe in 100% accountability and transparency within the city government. Increasing the B&O hurts small businesses who are not able to pass on that increase to their customers. For example, the local independent architect who charges a fixed % on the entire project. Increases in the B&O tax decreases his profit.


Isabelle Kerner

We need cut back on the taxes and regulations. The regulations aren’t working. The Urban Camping Crisis is just one example. We need to get rid of the sugar tax too. Seattle does not need more money. Seattle needs people who know how to very efficiently manage money by devising and implementing creative, new solutions that actually work. We have plenty of job opportunities, and as surprising as it sounds, some of the urban campers are already qualified. Some need a little intervention. Some need a lot of intervention. Once we solve the Urban Camping Crisis we will add new jobs to our economy, new workers trained for those jobs via partnering with businesses struggling to meet the demand for skilled workers, utilize the Washington State Apprenticeship Program and develop a stronger middle class that engages in consistent long-term consumer spending.


Don Harper

I ran a successful business for 30 years and I have been self-employed most of my working life. Without employers we do not have employees. Rules and regulations should be openly vetted, carefully formulated, and then implemented with all parties being involved throughout the process. One important criterion in creating these rules and regulations is this: businesses have to make money or they won’t survive. If the risk/reward ratio becomes to narrow there will be an impetus to go where it is better which will kill downtown.


Gene Burrus

Among all the candidates, I have the deepest experience on understanding business incentives. I have worked in business for three decades. The current council has seemingly no understanding of how businesses respond to incentives.

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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Michael George

We need to fix our permitting system in order to speed up the processes to meet the growing demand for space. We also need to clarify some of our vague zoning code. I’d be curious to know which areas the DSA has identified as having additional development capacity. A few locations I might consider after hearing from all potential stakeholders are;

  • All half-mile station areas around link light rail stations for further upzones.
  • Additional height in certain areas downtown like Denny Triangle and SLU after accounting for seaplanes, space needle view corridors, and livability concerns.
  • Industrial areas like SODO and parts of Interbay in collaboration with the Port and other industrial users. Liquefaction and environmental considerations must also be accounted for. For example, if land values rise enough to warrant development over bus layover facilities, there are opportunities for vertical development along 6th Ave to the south of I-90 in SODO.

Jim Pugel

At the outset, we need to re-examine and where needed reform the current permitting system. We are certainly not the first metropolitan area to experience “unprecedented growth”, and the lessons learned from comparable cities needs to be rigorously analyzed. So, too, we need to listen to the ideas of those who seek permits for commercial development, a process which many characterize as overly restrictive and byzantine. If we listen to our developers, builders, current businesses and organizations as well as experienced city planners we will arrive at the most effective and equitable set of alternatives. We must honestly confront a simple truth: The city is about 86 square miles, bounded by water east and west and legal boundaries north/south. We either go ‘down’, ‘up’ or ‘out’. As noted in question 7 above, this process will require continual reevaluation and integration of the human and freight mobility infrastructure and overlaid systems to determine the best time, place and manner for movement. And we must closely monitor not only our transportation systems, but our power and water storage, delivery and capacity systems to ensure sustainable growth.


Jason Williams

Seattle can and should own its place in the world as a global hub of innovation. Our city should welcome further economic growth as growth creates jobs and attracts investment. To create this future that we desire, we will need to add development capacity to accommodate growth. Though I would want to look at more data before making any policy decisions regarding added capacity, my initial hypothesis is to upzone downtown for commercial, retail, and hospitality use. I am hesitant to rezone certain parts of the city, e.g., parts of SODO, from industrial to commercial use, as I want to ensure Seattle retains trades and middle-income jobs. I will readily work with neighborhood groups, employers, and the development community to ensure future development capacity is added with input from all stakeholders.


Andrew Lewis

Seattle needs to embrace more mixed-use zoning and encourage developments with both residential homes and office space. My priority would be to focus such developments around transit-oriented hubs, particularly light rail stations. Portions of the University District may be particularly well-suited to accommodating this kind of growth, as well as my own neighborhood of Uptown. We cannot continue to have zoning siloed to a small slice of allowable uses on one property. The future of Seattle will be defined by projects where people can live, work, and play all in the same neighborhood.

However, I will caution that I am reluctant to rezone traditionally industrial or maritime lands to accommodate new commercial development. Our traditional maritime economy is an engine of blue collar and family wage jobs with low barriers to entry. As we grow, we need to protect and expand our traditional industries as well.


James Donaldson
  • Moderate-sized buildings in the non-industrial parts of Interbay
  • Accept the fact that many buildings in SODO are converting to retail, and allow some upzones north of the Spokane Street Viaduct
  • Upzone for higher buildings, but with greater setbacks, in SLU and Belltown
  • Allow even taller downtown-core buildings, but with greater setbacks
  • Develop the hole that’s been languishing across from City Hall
  • Replace multi-story parking garages in the DT area with more business towers

Daniela Eng

It is important for us as a large city to be prepared. We need to start broad studies on the best places to build, how we can better manage the cities properties to help with housing and schools and look at partnerships with local cities to the north and south of Seattle.


Isabelle Kerner

While we are adding jobs in Seattle, inflation caused by the minimum increase paired with the increase in property taxes as a result of increases in land valuation, many people working these jobs can’t actually afford to live in Seattle. Now Amazon is mad over the head tax and they are moving to Bellevue. Hopefully, other companies don’t follow. I will not be convinced that we have a housing shortage until I stop seeing ‘vacant’ and ‘for lease’ signs everywhere.

Some developers and construction companies who might contract with the City don’t even bother going through the permit process. I know this because they come put their easel no parking signs up in the middle of the night without proper permits and then get angry when they can’t ticket and tow your car.

If people want to build something in their backyard or their garage, I say just do it. Make sure your neighbors are okay with it. Get permission from your block in writing. This decision should be left to land owners. It shouldn’t be a decision made by nine people. As far as I am concerned, there is very little oversight over zoning and regulations anyway. Call it art project if you need to. I don’t think there are many regulations on art yet as long as it is on your own property, isn’t blocking anyone’s view, creating disruptive noise, or hurting anyone. The rate that this City’s administration is moving is way too slow to effectively manage the growth on their own. The City needs to restore some of its power back to the people until they can better operate. We need to work with businesses of all sizes and include everyone to make sure there is no displacement.


Don Harper

We need to create satellite locations using incentive zones outside the downtown corridor and that are linked to light rail. The Interbay area north of W Dravus Street is a possible location and Aurora north of the Aurora (George Washington Memorial) Bridge is also ready for innovation.


Gene Burrus

I would seek to upzone in areas where transportation and infrastructure can handle it. Especially around light rail stations and major transport hubs, while taking infrastructure and use patterns into the planning.

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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Michael George

BIA’s are a great tool and downtown benefits from the work lead by the MID, Pioneer Square BIA, and STIA.


Jim Pugel

I want to consider BIAs to be our allies and partners. As with any partnership, true value is defined by the quality of the products of collaboration: Clear plans, inclusive proposals, well defined budgets, honest stewardship of public funds and on-going performance measurement systems. The same criteria applies to City government programs. An ideal relationship would involve continuous dialogue: The BIA should be brought into analysis of City initiatives – like homelessness – in the same way was the City should be brought into analysis of BIA initiatives, like regulations and permitting. I witnessed the success of the original BIA with the DSA, the ‘Clean-Scapes’ program to address disorder/hygiene in Pioneer square and what other municipalities have done to leverage better outcomes. As a council member, I will never turn a blind eye to my role to enforce the law or fulfill my responsibility as a caretaker for the City, but I emphasize that positive, collegial relationships with Downtown BIA and other leaders and constituents is powerful force multiplier.


Jason Williams

I am in favor of Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) as they encourage local ownership of district issues and devolve authority to the communities most impacted by the policies and programs put into place.


Andrew Lewis

I am a big supporter of BIAs. Businesses that form the core fabric of our urban hubs and villages have immeasurable expertise and insight into the needs and future vision for our neighborhoods. As a Seattle City Councilmember, I will look to BIAs as a valuable partner to strengthen neighborhood specific projects on a public/private partnership basis.

Debora Juarez’s annual “Live in D5” event, a community gathering with music, local food, and information booths from civic organizations, is a good example of the kind of collaboration that can be facilitated by a BIA. The earlier examples of Living Innovation Zones (LIZ) present exciting opportunities for BIAs as well to add dynamism and interactivity to public spaces in their neighborhood.

The only problem with BIAs is that there are not enough of them. We only have 10 in the City of Seattle, and I would love to encourage more to develop in District 7. I would be supportive of a BIA seed fund to incentivize the creation of BIAs. The Magnolia Village, for example, would be a perfect candidate for a BIA. My own neighborhood of Uptown would as well. While BIAs have considerable benefits, they also can come with considerable costs for the businesses making them up. Having a more generous match for innovative projects proposed by BIAs could encourage their expansion.


James Donaldson

I appreciate the great work that BIAs have done and their importance to the City. I do worry that the City relies too heavily on the BIAs to do the job the City should do more of, but the advantage of the BIA is that those engaged in those organizations have much greater say and control over the projects and investments. As long as the BIAs are willing partners, we should do more of them.


Daniela Eng

BIAs are another way to integrate the community. They create a positive impact on the local neighborhoods by allowing businesses, local communities and neighborhoods to work together and decide what services are needed in the area.


Isabelle Kerner

I am neither for or against them because I don’t know a lot about them yet, but I can tell from their structure that they are also interest groups. I don’t think that they increase civic engagement because I have never heard of them. The idea behind interest groups is that the interests will compete amongst each other to represent their interests in the same way that voters do when they vote. What I will say, is that all interest groups have an agenda. That’s okay. That is the purpose they are supposed to serve. Now that I’ve looked into a few of them, it seems that they are also lobbyists who write legislation and submit it to the legislators because the legislators don’t have to time to write it.

With all policies and solutions, I feel there are three variables most predictive in determining whether a policy or solution will succeed or whether it will fail. Those three variables are:

  1. Efficiency
  2. Cost-Effectiveness
  3. Feasibility

While often overlooked, the third variable on the list, feasibility, is of tremendous importance. We can pass any policy we want, but the reality is that unless the policies we pass align with the values and interests of those impacted by such policies, they won’t be effective.


Don Harper

BIA’s have been shown to be effective in creating thriving and safe neighborhood commerce centers. Since local property owners are taxed to provide the working capital we need to ensure affordability and buy in by those property owners and businesses.


Gene Burrus

The BIAs are a good way to allow localities to deal with their own local issues. Care needs to be taken (as wasn’t done with the LID) that they aren’t used in an undemocratic way to impose things on residents and voters however.

10. Downtown is the anchor of District 7 — it’s the city’s job center and one of the fastest-growing residential neighborhoods in the region. However, downtown still lacks some of the basic assets and infrastructure associated with livable communities, like family-sized housing, parks space and public schools. As a representative of downtown, what would you do on the council to ensure the center city is responsive to the growth we are seeing?

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Michael George

As a downtown resident, one of the founders of Parents for a Better Downtown Seattle, and former co-chair the DSA family-friendly subcommittee, I will continue advocating for basic assets and infrastructure associated with livable communities. Creating a livable downtown is something I wholeheartedly believe in and one of the reasons I’m running for City Council. As a Council Member I will;

  • Continue the push for downtown public schools.
  • Work toward incentives to allow for more daycare space downtown and legislation to allow daycare space to meet outdoor space requirements in public parks.
  • Push to increase the practicality of the family sized-housing incentive so that it works outside of the small section of Belltown with wedding-cake zoning.
  • Make sure our pedestrian infrastructure works for people with strollers, walkers, and wheelchairs.
  • Advocate for more greenspace and parks for all ages.
  • Advocate for a Belltown Community Center replacement.
  • Work to improve the Belltown dog park and find space for additional dog parks downtown.
  • Listen to residents to better understand their needs.

Jim Pugel

Back to the basics of my candidacy: I will always be guided by Common sense; Engagement and continuous communication with my electors; Honest adherence to data and science; and Selflessness. Fundamentally, I read this question as a set of priorities for consideration, and respect their importance to the people who work, live and visit Downtown.

I am optimistic about the future of Downtown parks and public spaces. I believe it is going from good to great. We have a progressive, vital residential community in the fastest growing population center in our City, whose ideas and needs for public space will result in a vibrant process. With the four different revenue sources dedicated to the re-development of our waterfront, and with the public/private collaboration on our current parks – and through vigilance and smart management – we are headed in the right direction.

It is extremely important to me that we both build and maintain adequate ‘family sized housing’ in the Up-Town, Queen Anne and Magnolia neighborhoods, as part of our strategy for adding appropriate density along the major existing and proposed transportation routes.

I have always supported and would love to see a public school in the center/downtown city. As we grow as a city, and if we are truly committed to being a welcoming and affordable city for families, we must provide access to quality schools in EVERY neighborhood, regardless of the cost. Seattle voters have been consistently among the most generous when it comes to capital levies, and the State must also step up to the plate and acknowledge that a child in downtown Seattle is as deserving of a good public school as a child in any other part of our state. The work done in partnership with the City to seek potential sites for a full service school or schools at Seattle Center, Westlake, area, or other locations are welcome and overdue. We should also look at private developers and opportunities to integrate education spaces in new buildings.

As a product of our public schools in a working class household, who raised my own family in one of our quickly growing neighborhoods, I am committed to making sure we have quality schools for all, regardless of income, zip code, and background.


Jason Williams

I believe that everyone should be able to live, work, and play in the same community. To that end, as downtown continues to grow and become more dense, I will look for ways to: tie future development to new parks and open spaces; preserve those heritage sites that make Seattle special; provide funding for new arts and culture programming downtown; and, add a downtown school(s) or otherwise help families create a neighborhood school atmosphere.


Andrew Lewis

As a graduate of the Center School, the public high school located in the Seattle Center Armory, I know first hand the value of going to school in the City’s core. The never ending calendar of festivals, plays, sporting events, distinguished visitors, and some of Seattle’s most famous cultural and architectural icons made the Center School a perfect fit for me. But the Center School is not enough, and we need to make sure that some of the fastest growing neighborhoods in our urban core are getting the full benefit of the social contract.

I am proud to be endorsed by School Board Directors Leslie Harris and Eden Mack, and I look forward to working with them on the critical issue of school capacity. I support creative solutions to add a new public school to the Memorial Stadium property on the Seattle Center campus. The property itself is owned by the Seattle School District, but the City will have a critical role in making sure the project runs smoothly since it is surrounded by one of the most unique public and cultural spaces in the City of Seattle.

Additionally, I am a strong supporter of Seattle’s community centers and the amenities they provide. There are few public spaces in the City of Seattle that offer services and diversion for people of all ages. Pre-schools, teenagers playing basketball, retirees playing chess, dance classes, cooking classes, day care; I could go on all day. Every neighborhood in this City should have a community center. I fully support restoring a community center to Belltown. We can do it through creative public and private partnerships, like the recent acquisition of the Lake City Community Center, or a development agreement to incorporate a public community center into the first few floors of an otherwise private new downtown project.

As far as parks, I support lidding I-5 and using a significant proportion of that space for a central park connecting Downtown and First Hill. The vision of Downtown as a neighborhood situated between a centerpiece waterfront park with sweeping views and access to Pike Place Market, and a robust lid park covering the large gray scar of I-5 is one we must aspire to realize.


James Donaldson

The City has waded more deeply into education with each new mayor, rather than work more aggressively with the Seattle School District. Now that we have an entire department and Education Director, we must ratchet up the work with the SSD to identify sites or buildings that can become downtown schools. We can also engage with our large corporations to provide sites and/or buildings.

As I wrote in my response to Q-8 regarding downtown commercial development, we can require setbacks from the construction of taller towers, including park spaces. We can wrangle more aggressively for a lot of amenities, including rooftop spaces accessible by the general public and mandatory childcare facilities in both office and residential buildings, and more grocers and gardens. We must ensure that more – if not all – residential towers include affordable housing, and larger units.

While it is now too late to do a “High Line” type park on any part of the Viaduct, we can seek out other opportunities. I addressed this earlier, but we can create more land by putting lids on freeways, roads and railroad tracks. The lids on Mercer Island and the Olympic Sculpture Park, and the then-innovative Freeway Park are all fine examples of the success of this investment.

But the most important thing we can do to ensure that downtown becomes more family-friendly and a lovely, livable community is to stop enabling drug addiction and stop letting the tail of homelessness wag the dog of Seattle. I will devote my time on City Council to doing just that.


Daniela Eng

I would ensure that downtown has the budget to address local issues such as the additional of a public schools, . I don’t believe family sized housing is likely to happen in an epicenter. We need to ensure we work with the parks department to ensure adequate park space (the new waterfront will be a great location for a park and even a splash park for local families) and allow for schools to be integrated within the community of Downtown Seattle. D7 is a rapid growing and vibrant community with many opportunities for dynamic and welcomed change. All of us in Seattle should endeavor for a more livable, vibrant and full of life community for everyone from a single mother, new partners and retirees. As a representative I will listen to my constituents and seek to better understand their needs in housing and what livability means to them.


Isabelle Kerner

As a representative of downtown, I want these urban parks to have grass. I also think we need to reform our waste system. We need better, brighter, persuasive waste bins. Then we need agree to repeal the sugar tax in return for the compliance with a new policy requiring every package or label printed to have one visible color dot printed on it that directly corresponds with where it should be deposited.

As it turns out, Seattle does not really recycle. Now — I won’t lie. I’m not a great recycler or composter. Truth be told, it is very difficult to know what is and is not recyclable, compostable or trash anymore. It is very much like the periodic table of sustainability with more invisible numbers than there are options. It just is not clear. After visiting and talking with some of the trash, compost, and recycling facilities, it turns out almost of all of it really does go into a landfill.

Further, there are not enough trash or recycling bins. I am not sure who decided to make them all grey, black, blue, or green. I’m sure that at one point someone thought it was a good idea to camouflage waste bins so they ‘blend in with nature’. I think it’s time for a reform. Even the Urban Campers have figured out that recycling is profitable when executed the correct way (that’s why so many scrap metal and camp right next to the recycling facilities).

Our recycling industry is frustrated because China won’t accept any of our cardboards or plastics anymore. They are too contaminated. We replace the small bins, provide everyone with new ones in return for free waste collection and pass a very simple policy requiring packaging and label companies to just print one single colored dot on every material. That colored dot corresponds with the section of the receptacle the object must disposed in. No need to replace the large bins we already have or the trucks that collect them. There’s a plan for that too. All it involves is changing the lids on the large bins into a funnel that goes the opposite direction. I did also test to make sure this works for the color-blind as well.


Don Harper

I support the idea of combining a Parks community center with a kindergarten through 8th grade school. This will help provide funding from two different sources. The Seattle Center site of the Memorial Stadium has been on the radar of the community for quite some time now. My understanding is the KCTS lease is coming up so incorporating that into the redevelopment of the stadium is a real possibility.


Gene Burrus

I am and have been a resident of downtown for a decade. I have been generally supportive of the idea of a downtown public school, but there may be a bit of a chicken and egg challenge between critical mass of families with children living in the neighborhood. I have been frustrated with management of public spaces downtown as they have been allowed to become gang turf. I am obviously opposed to the LID by resolution mechanism for funding projects downtown. And am concerned that the proposed Waterfront public space will be poorly managed and become a severe liability for the city. Just this week, we had two more shootings in the heart of downtown, one directly across the street from my home in broad daylight. The first step towards any plan of making downtown livable is the most basic infrastructure of providing for public safety. We aren’t even doing that today.