Notes from this morning’s Council Briefing

There is a lot happening as Council members try to move things forward before their recess later this month.

Council President Bruce Harrell will be having a discussion of the Uber driver unionization ordinance at his Education, Equity and Governance Committee on Wednesday afternoon. His preliminary appraisal, he noted is that the rulemaking process “isn’t where it needs to be right now.”

Council member Lisa Herbold has an updated version of the bill banning discrimination against tenants based on source of income. She needs to run it through the Introduction and Referral Calendar again because the amendments in her last committee meeting required a new title on the bill. It gets re-introduced this afternoon, and will go in front of the full Council for a vote next week.

Herbold also noted that Mayor’s announcement last Friday of his nomination of Mami Hara as the new Director of Seattle Public Utilities, succeeding Ray Hoffman who retired last week. Herbold said that she will work Hara’s confirmation through her committee (which oversees SPU) over the coming months.

Council member Rob Johnson said that on the “jam packed” agenda for his PLUZ committee tomorrow is consideration of several amendments for the Mandatory Housing Affordability residential framework legislation.

Johnson and several other Council members plan to participate in Tuesday evening’s Neighborhood Night Out block parties in their districts.

Council member Mike O’Brien asked Johnson, the Council’s designate on the Sound Transit Board, whether Sound Transit is paying close attention to the controversy over choosing a grocery store anchor tenant for the Capitol Hill transit-oriented-development project. Johnson replied that it’s come up, but the ST2 legislation didn’t have specific guidance on choosing anchor tenants for TOD projects so their hands are somewhat tied. He noted that the ST3 proposal corrects that oversight.

Council member Lorena Gonzalez brought the Council up to speed on the North Precinct controversy and the conversation held in her committee last week. She circulated an early-draft resolution to give the Executive Branch guidance on the project (including that $160 million is to much to spend). She is planning one-on-one meetings with each of her colleagues to discuss the resolution, with a goal of having a finalized resolution for the Council to vote on in the next two weeks.

Council member O’Brien briefed his colleagues on the “Safe and Healthy Communities” forum he hosted at St. Luke’s in Ballard last week. They attempted to get away from the less-than-effective “2 minutes at the mike” format these events usually take, by having three invited speakers make brief remarks, then spend most of the time in facilitated discussions of 15-20 people at tables. He said it was a great meeting, with no shouting and a lot of people trying to understand each other’s perspectives.

Council member Bagshaw just returned from a conference in Washington, D.C. on ending homelessness, where she said she spoke to many people who have done what the City of Seattle is trying to do. There were two things in particular that resonated for her:

  1. a Navigation  Center-style institutional response to get people off the streets;
  2. linking that with getting people into housing through expansion of programs like Landlord Liaison.

She mentioned that in particular she was impressed by the people from Hackensack, NJ, who have apparently received an award for ending homelessness in their city (not just reducing it). They are not “chasing people around in circles,” she said.  She wants to invite them out to Seattle to speak.

Bagshaw also mentioned that all of the Council members received a letter from the Mayor last Friday in which he committed to creating an “encampment stakeholders group.”

On a less happy note, she noted that Barb Poppe’s much-anticipated presentation of her report and recommendations on what Seattle should be doing to address homelessness has been pushed out from its previously scheduled August 10th hearing in her committee.

Finally, Bagshaw reminded the Council that there is a paid family leave symposium at UW next week.