Notes from today’s Council meetings

Here’s what went down today.

Council member Juarez announced that there will be a presentation Friday afternoon at 3pm in the Bertha Knight Landes Room on Seattle’s Native American history.

Council members Bagshaw and Gonzalez gave an update on the aftermath of the Progressive Revenue Task Force. This Wednesday, Bagshaw’s Finance and Neighborhoods Committee will take up the topic again, looking at various progressive revenue sources as well as options for an employee hours tax. They will also discuss the administrative aspects of an employee hours tax versus a payroll tax (a payroll tax would be less burdensome on businesses that pay lower wages). Gonzalez is finalizing a workplan for developing legislation, and she hopes to have a timeline by Wednesday as well. This week’s meeting will be followed by another next Monday, when the committee will discuss the range of options for people at risk of homelessness and options to structure an employee hours tax or a payroll tax.

Council member Mosqueda announced that she would be holding a committee meeting this Thursday, at which they would take up and possibly vote on an ordinance removing the ability for employers to pay sub-minimum wages to people with disabilities.

This morning, the Select Committee on Education Levies met to start discussions on renewals of the Families and Education Levy and the Seattle Preschool Levy this fall. They heard two presentations: an overview of the Department of Education and Early Learning, and a discussion of the state of funding for Seattle Public Schools (and the gaps therein). Wednesday, Council member Gonzalez’s committee will dive deeper into the details of the Families and Education Levy.

This afternoon, the City Council approved an agreement with WSDOT on decommissioning the Battery Street Tunnel after the new deep-bore tunnel under Seattle opens up later this year. It was not without controversy, however: while the agreement calls for filling the tunnel with rubble and sealing it up, several Belltown residents have been pushing for alternate plans that would “activate” the space — or minimally use it as “layover” space for Metro buses downtown. However, the tunnel would need significant seismic retrofit costing tens of millions of dollars in order to keep it open. Without any obvious sources of the funds to explore alternatives and with the clock ticking on a carefully-orchestrated plan to reroute traffic, tear down the viaduct, and remake the waterfront, the Council voted 7-2 to approve the agreement (Bagshaw and Juarez voted “no”). Bagshaw will continue to push for SDOT and the Parks Department to use the two acres of open space at the west approach to the tunnel to provide open and activated space for the Belltown community after the tunnel closes.

This afternoon, the Council also approved vacating the alley behind Town Hall on First Hill for a housing development project that will fill up much of the rest of the block. In return for the alley, there will be a public plaza in one corner of the block.

The Council also approved a resolution opposing the “concealed carry reciprocity” law working its way through Congress.

Council member Mosqueda is working on a letter to send to the Trump administration raising concerns about its plan to include a citizenship question on the 2020 Census. The Commerce Department announced today that it has made its final decision to include the controversial question, which is expected to suppress census counts in immigrant-heavy states (which tend to lean Democratic).