City of Seattle District No. 6 candidates.

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    Who are you voting for and why?
    I voted for Mike O’Brien last time but after all the reactions that he has had to the re-zoning and homeless camps in Ballard I will not be voting for him this time.
    Jon Lisbin seems like a good choice, do any of you have any thoughts on this?



    I also voted for Mike O’Brien last election but I am voting against him this time for the same reasons as Vegan Biker.

    I voted for Catherine Weatbrook in the primary. I liked her experience as Co-Chair of the City Neighborhood Council and her positions seemed more reasoned. I am not sure she has my vote for City Council if she advances but I would like for her to advance and then see if we can get further information.

    Like most voting guide position statements Weatbrook’s were a little vague. Her website blog posts provided additional insights.

    I also reviewed additional materials and based on that I am not sure she is taking a consistent position on the issue of homeless encampments. But honestly there is not a lot of disagreement among the candidates in our district (and the at large candidates) on that issue. The issue of housing density, and any redesignation of SF-zoned residential areas, are more important to me.

    This is from Weatbrook’s website:

    “Affordable housing news: The crafted behind closed doors HALA report is deeply troubling. The report proposes little other than investor profits, and lacks anything meaningful to address affordability. In addition, it throws Seattle Public Schools under the bus. Created with a clear agenda from day one, by a non-representative group, at the urging of city staff, and the entire report is of questionable value.

    “Transitional Encampment news: The news that 2 of the top 7 sites in Seattle for transitional encampments are in Ballard, and 3 of 7 are within 2.3 miles of each other, is an ongoing topic in our community. Even those unanimously in favor of tent cities are deeply disturbed by the city’s dictatorial approach.

    “We are a district with many unmet needs of the homeless and chemically dependent already here. Requests for help routinely go unanswered. We seem to get city response only in election years. The many challenges for the sites have yet to be publicly addressed. The public meeting I asked for, as received no response, but July 25th 10am we’ll meet at the Market Street location – 2826 NW Market St. I’ll bring along the information I have, and please do the same. There are many smaller meetings happening, and I’m getting to as many of them as I know about.

    “Low rise zone – code corrections: The first draft of the low rise code corrections was an 11-month collaborative effort that got back to the original intent of the 2010 changes – changes that I was involved in and has concerns about at the time. In the 2010 changes, the height bonus + height bonus + bonus +++++ was discussed, and those of us at the table were assured by DPD and then Council Member Sally Clark that the regulations would never be interpreted that way. Anyone who follows low rise zoning in Seattle knows how that turned out. The original draft of the code corrections took 11 months and were a series of compromises that balanced goals. That legislation was on the way to council, when the HALA committee pulled it out of process, and not only gutted it, but when the dust settles, it will have more uncompensated impacts on neighborhoods than ever.

    “The common thread through these three topics, is the repeated and frequent dropping of changes on neighborhoods, the heart of our city, without meaningful community and neighborhood engagement and consideration, with a lack of a complete plan and strategy for having livable, workable, walkable, sustainable communities in the end. I bring a fundamentally different approach to the table, with a track record to back it up.

    Here is what she said in the Wallyhood District 6 “Wonkathon” on improving housing affordability.

    “Solving the affordable housing issue will require short and long term changes in many areas. Removing the shared housing utility rate penalty is one quick way of rewarding larger living groups in existing units. Expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit with a development tax is an idea worth exploring. I think we need to make it easier for owner occupied accessory dwelling units to be rented, perhaps removing rental inspection fees, and lengthening inspections to every 7 years after the first successful inspection. I know some areas of our city have many vacant homes that are not in foreclosure; I would like to understand why those homes are not being made available for rentals. We need to preserve naturally occurring affordable housing by purchasing those developments before they are sold off and jump to market rate. We need to better account for affordable units lost to development, other lodging models, and renovations. With each tool we use, we need results in more affordable rates, with low administrative overhead.

    “What we have been doing for camper vans, hasn’t worked. As a City Council member, I would work on new approaches. I would ask for regular garbage pickups in the areas they gather, rather than relying on the public to call it in when it’s a mess. I would work to either provide port-a-potties, or regular pump out services for the holding tanks to deal with the human waste. I would encourage social services to regularly partner with Seattle Police patrols so that we can start addressing the underlying issues and get these people on the road to health, employment, and housing, and off the streets. We need a “tent city” for camper vans.

    Here is what she said in response to written questions on her positions from the Housing Action Fund:

    Q. “If elected, what will you do ensure everyone in Seattle has the opportunity to live in a safe, healthy, affordable home?

    A. “We need to preserve existing affordable housing (SHA and naturally occurring), we
    need to build more, and we need both a levy and to look at leveraging the Seattle
    reserve funds to finance more units (CM Licata is working through this idea).


    Q. “What is the city’s role in addressing [racial/ethnic housing] disparities?

    “I see the need for Seattle City Council action as vital, and the approaches here in
    groups of time frames:

    “Short term, we need to:
    – Find additional funding to pay for partial rents
    – Incentivize property owners to have their own voluntary low cap on rental prices,
    perhaps with other offsets.
    – Identify naturally occurring affordable housing that’s been held a long time, and
    start conversations with the land owners, possibly paying for the first right of

    “Mid term, we need to:
    – Improve transportation options to lower that cost
    – Create more affordable housing of all types
    – Create more diverse housing types
    – Close the wage gap, because it’s the right thing to do and the majority living in
    poverty are women and if they were paid equally, they would struggle less.

    “Long term, we need to:
    close the education gap
    close the achievement gap
    create a supply of affordable homes to purchase


    Q. “Do you support an inclusionary housing policy that goes beyond
    voluntary incentive zoning and requires that development contribute to
    affordable homes?

    A. “Yes. We need housing NOW, not partial funding for a yet to be determined location,
    yet to be designed, and currently un-permitted future structure.
    And, we need people to be able to live where they work. The separate buildings,
    feel too much like a separate but equal approach, rather than inclusionary.


    Q. “Do you support asking the state legislature to remove the state ban on
    rent regulation?

    A. “No. Rent control has failed everywhere it’s been tried – New York and San Francisco
    are a bigger mess than Seattle. In addition, the state legislators with whom I’ve
    spoken, say it’s not an option in any sort of short timeframe.


    Q. “Should encampments for people experiencing homelessness be allowed
    in residential areas?

    A. “Yes, but with several requirements that apply to all encampment locations: Access
    to frequent public transportation, access to services, and with noise restrictions
    consistent with the zoning of the location.


    Lisbin, on his website, makes an emotional (perhaps slightly unprofessional sounding) statement about over-development and loss of neighborhood character. I do agree with him in several respects.

    Here is his website post on development:

    “If you want to piss off the entire city, I don’t know if the Mayor’s HALA task force recommendations could have done a better job. What the heck went wrong?

    “There are some good recommendations in the report to address housing affordability and I am not against density. I am against the way it is being done. Did the committee not learn from the destruction of central Ballard, Queen Anne and West Seattle in the name of housing affordability and environmentalism? Did they juice the strategy groups with developers, bankers, and Vulcanists to turn Seattle into South Lake Union? The report sounds like it came right out of a developer handbook on how to make profits without really trying. It’s time to stop the madness!

    “Honestly, it is hard to really piss me off, but this report has gone too far. I don’t know if I can be any clearer or shout any louder. This must stop! We can’t keep building density without the infrastructure to support it. We can’t reduce standards for off street parking and expect people to fend for themselves on already overcrowded streets. We can’t build row houses right up to single family homes and not destroy the neighborhood feel. There’s no more room in the schools, on the streets, and in the parks. There’s no more room at the INN. We need to build infrastructure to support growth. We need developer impact fees for non commercial development to help pay for it!

    “Call me a NIMBYIST and use any other developer tactic you can throw at me! If this sound like a rant; you’re right, it is. I am not going to take it anymore. The Council and good citizens of our city should put an end to this madness now.

    I don’t see that he has taken a specific position on the encampments issue.

    Here is what he said in the wonkathon:

    “It would be foolish to say I have the answer to the wicked problem of homelessness. As in business, I like to rely on the opinion of experts. The mayor’s emergency task force on homelessness came up with some good short term solutions, to get people off streets and out of vans, but we are going to need more permanent long term solutions.

    “I like to look at the issue of housing affordability from multiple angles.

    “I am an advocate for developer impact fees. Growth should pay for growth and developers should pay their share. Moreover, many developers are not committed to our community and should be taxed for the infrastructure needs their developments leave behind.
    The $15 minimum wage is an attempt to help low income workers afford housing in Seattle and not have to commute from outside the city. The UW Evans School of Public Policy (my recent alma mater) will be reviewing the impacts of the program, and I will be paying close attention.

    “An ongoing Harvard study is concluding that frequent, reliable transportation options are the most important factor in helping move people out of poverty; even more so than a two parent household. We need to triple down on transit especially in low income neighborhoods.
    Finally, being number one is not always a great thing. Washington State has the most regressive tax system in the country, primarily due to the sales tax which overly impacts the poor. That’s why we need to replace the local portion of our sales tax with an income tax and petition the state to do the same. According to economic forecaster Dick Conway, Washington’s effective local and state tax burden is below the national average. If we were average the state would have collected an additional $28.4 Billion over the past 10 years. That would pay for a lot of what’s ailing us!

    This is what he said in response to position questions posed by the Housing Action Fund:

    Q. “The Seattle City Council recently passed an ordinance authorizing encampments in certain areas for people experiencing homelessness. An amendment called for studying the impacts of allowing encampments in residential areas. Should encampments for people experiencing homelessness be allowed
    in residential areas?

    A. “Yes. I would like to see the results of the study before making a definitive decision.


    Q. “Do you support asking the state legislature to remove the state ban on
    rent regulation?

    A. “No. Rent control has been tried and failed in major cities like New York and San
    Francisco. Typically it’s reserved and held by those who got in early. Additionally,
    the republican led legislature would be very unlikely to remove the ban so the
    council would be wasting their time and effort.”


    Q. “Do you support an inclusionary housing policy that goes beyond
    voluntary incentive zoning and requires that development contribute to
    affordable homes?

    A. “Yes, I support with mandatory affordable housing provisions for developers;
    which most likely will be in the form of linkage fees.


    Q. “If elected, what will you do ensure everyone in Seattle has the
    opportunity to live in a safe, healthy, affordable home?

    A. “Homelessness is a wicked problem that must be tackled head on. I am not the
    expert in reducing homelessness so I would rely on the advice of those who work
    with the homeless population day in and day out. I would also support whatever
    means are available to reduce housing cost or build more affordable housing. The
    mayor has goals to build 20,000 additional affordable housing units in the next 10
    years and I support that goal whole heartily.

    Q. “What is the city’s role in addressing [racial/ethnic housing] disparities?

    A. “The city can target this issue by building more rent stabilized units in
    neighborhoods with higher low income and black populations. Similarly, targeted
    transportation initiatives to provide better access to employment is essential to
    moving people out of poverty. The $15 minimum wage is another tactic the city is
    using and we will see how that goes.”



    I say at the outset that there are obvious sociological / political reasons for why the priorities of the electorate have led them to choose to live in Seattle, and in Ballard / District 6 specifically. I’ll also state that in general, I kind of agree with most of those priorities, despite my background as a (said with heavy sarcasm) “seal-killing Republican troll” (ex-girlfriend’s words, almost verbatim).

    I guess my question is this – does anyone else feel uncomfortable with the idea that only one set of distinct viewpoints is represented in City government? It has always been my experience (software / business) that having two different ways of approaching a problem, when the two sides are people who are trying to work for the best solution, and not to seek temporary power / political advantage, leads to better solutions. Yes, I know that this is unrealistic, but I’m an idealist.

    I don’t want to go too far out on a limb, and I am not in any way going to defend the Republican party and their behavior for, oh, at least the last 20 years. It is pretty much indefensible. But I’ll repeat the question – is anyone else troubled by how there are not very clear demarcations between the candidates who are voted on during the General election in November?



    Thanks for the interesting posts, folks! KS – thanks for pasting some really useful Q&A that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise.

    Chris — you’re not being very troll-like! In my opinion, city governance issues are usually less ideological and more practical (although the Seattle City Council loves to poke its nose in other cities’ and countries’ business — tilting at dams, for example), so I’m not as worried about ideology here than at the county and state level, where things are more balanced.



    Mondo – thanks. I just got back from my annual seal-clubbing expedition, and boy, are my arms tired.

    RELAX, everyone, I was just making a joke. Not everything that is discussed here is of near-apocalyptic importance.

    But the question remains open – are you comfortable with an election system with one set of options that, while reasonable, and in large part justifiable* only a choice between candidates whose positions are not really distinguishable from each other?

    * Look, I do get it. I’m someone with Republican roots in a neighborhood that is decidedly NOT REPUBLICAN. As it happens, it was one of the reasons that I moved here. My In-laws are terrifying. I just hate the lack of choices, and my guess is that i’m not the only one.



    Fine, upstanding troll for City Council? :)
    That’s how many get started!

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