Notes from today’s meetings

Three meetings today, lots of ground covered.

  1. This afternoon the Council approved a resolution reiterating their intent to stay deeply involved in the negotiating process with OVG on the redevelopment of Key Arena, including a robust review process. As Council member Herbold pointed out this morning, the resolution, sponsored by Council member Juarez, is somewhat redundant with the letter that the Council recently sent to the Mayor, though it contains less of the details on the matters that the Council is most interested in. Herbold offered an amendment this afternoon that would attach the letter to the resolution.
  2. This morning the Council also heard an update from the Office of Economic Development on the timeline for negotiating the agreement with OVG. OED Director Brian Surratt said that the city remains on track to deliver a draft MOU to the Council by September 12th. He said that to-date they have held three day-long negotiation sessions, and expect to hold one more. The Council is paying close attention in order to avoid repeating the mistakes of the SODO Arena MOU, which was originally negotiated by the Mayor’s Office but subsequently renegotiated by the Council because they found it acceptable. Kirsten Arestad, head of the Council’s Central Staff, is participating in all of the negotiations in order to keep the Council in the loop.
  3. This afternoon the Council also passed the Fair Chance Housing ordinance, restricting landlords’ ability to screen applicants based on prior arrests and convictions (with a few limits and exemptions). Landlords can still consult the public sexual offender list, and can still do credit checks.
  4. Council member Rob Johnson announced that he is hosting a District 4 Public Safety Open House this Wednesday, August 16th, from 5-7PM at Gasworks Park. Several departments and their leadership will be participating.
  5. Council members Bagshaw and O’Brien recapped last week’s controversy over a potential new policy for managing the issues around people living in RVs and other vehicles on the streets of Seattle. Council member O’Brien reiterated the contents of the resolution and ordinance that he announced last week. He said that in an ideal world it would still be in the draft phase, but since an early, obsolete draft leaked out, he was forced to talk about it publicly. He noted that there is no timeline for introducing the legislation, and he has at least a week’s worth of work to do with the Executive Branch to incorporate their feedback. Depending on how that goes, the earliest there might be another discussion in committee would be “some time in September.”  He also said that his proposal discusses making more safe lots, though not under the expensive model tried in Ballard last year. He envisions something closer to the “road to housing” model, where they get some services but are not staffed 24 hours per day.  Council member Bagshaw said that she hosted the discussion in her committee last week to ensure that the public could hear what was being discussed. Bagshaw noted that she wants to look for best practices in other cities, and to approach this as “housing first.”
  6. The most controversial item on this afternoon’s agenda turned out to be the lease and management agreement for the Leschi and Lakewood marinas. Perhaps it shouldn’t have been a surprise, since the issue has been percolating for over five years and generated six iterations of an agreement. since Marina Management, LLC. was the only company to respond to an RFP. The final version of the 20-year agreement requires the company to complete a series of repairs and improvements to the two marinas at its own expense (the Leschi one in particular is in dismal shape), to seek Parks Department approval for future rent increases, to “grandfather” in existing liveaboard tenants, and to maintain public access to the marinas. Nevertheless, Council members Herbold, Harrell and O’Brien found the agreement unsatisfactory, particularly for lack of specifics on the monetary investment in improvements and for the amount of revenues the city will receive in return for the lease.  The agreement passed by a 5-3 vote (Sawant was absent today), and I am sure Council member Juarez is delighted to finally have it off her plate.