Notes from today’s Council meetings

Here are my collected notes on the highlights from today’s Council Briefing and Full Council meetings.

The big event, both this morning and this afternoon, was the ordinance proposed by Council member O’Brien to retroactively correct a mistake in the legislation that allowed the King County Youth Services Center to receive a permit (but forgot to add it to the list of land use decisions that can be appealed to the Hearing Examiner). In a moment of refreshing candor this morning, Council member Bagshaw pointed out that despite O’Brien’s positioning the legislation as “correcting a mistake,” the point of the legislation is really to let the No New Youth Jail activists another shot at blocking the project from moving forward. She offered an amendment that would no longer make the correction retroactive, but she could only garner the support of Council member Burgess and her amendment failed. Likewise, O’Brien’s bill passed this afternoon by a vote of 5-2, with Bagshaw and Burgess voting “no” and Gonzalez and Juarez absent. There is some debate, however, as to whether the change can really be made retroactive, and in the end (assuming the Mayor signs the bill into law) it will be up to the courts to determine whether the activists will get to have their appeal after all.

Council member Burgess is now saying that he isn’t sure that they will be ready to vote the soda tax legislation out of committee tomorrow (Wednesday) morning, so he is scheduling an extra meeting of his committee for Friday just to make sure they finish up this week.

Tomorrow morning, Burgess’ Affordable Housing, Neighborhoods and Finance Committee will also have two presentations on tax reform in Washington State (read: an income tax) from John Burbank of the Economic Opportunity Institute, and from noted local economist Dick Conway.

Wednesday afternoon the results of the annual One Night Count (renamed this year to Count Us In) will be released in a joint meeting with the King County Council, in King County Council’s chambers.

This morning the Council received a presentation on the community workshops that have been organized by the Office of Housing, the Office of Planning and Community Development, and the Department of Neighborhoods over the last year in seventeen neighborhoods across the city.  The meetings were part of planning for the last step in the MHA rezone process: the big rezone of “everything else” outside of the one-off efforts already underway for the U District, Downtown/South Lake Union, Chinatown/International District, and the Central Area. The draft Environmental Impact Statement for the rezone will be released next week, followed by a 45-day public comment period. This summer, the city will take that feedback and pair it with its own analysis to generate draft MHA legislation to submit to the Council in September. In turn, the Council will run the bill through its legislative process; it expects to complete its work by June 2018.