Notes from today’s meetings

Here’s what went down.

This afternoon the Council approved:

  • the confirmation of Lily Wilson-Codega as Director of the Office of Intergovernmental Relations;
  • creation of Neighborhood Design Guidelines for the Central Area, and a new Design Review Board for the Central Area (previously it was split between two other design review boards; this will hopefully give the area more consistency in decision-making);
  • a project administration agreement with Sound Transit for the West Seattle and Ballard light rail extensions.

The Council also approved a resolution establishing a work plan for reviewing the existing regulations on taxis, for-hire vehicles, and ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft, with an eye towards creating a level playing field. Before approving it, a last-minute amendment was adopted that:

  • rewrote the resolution’s demand for data from Uber and Lyft, which have been reticent to provide data that would be useful in establishing city policy. In particular, the Council members would like to understand what drivers actually make when working for Uber and Lyft, rather than relying on “anecdata” that covers the spectrum. Harrell and O’Brien mentioned in the Council Briefing this morning that Uber approached them late last week and offered to make data available in “slices” rather than for individual drivers. The amended resolution requests the companies to “work collaboratively with designated City staff to develop a list of data that they will voluntarily share with the Council through a secure mechanism, that will be responsive to the Council’s need to have a clear understanding of the current state of the for-hire industry as it formulates policies.”
  • added another topic to the work plan, at the request of Herbold: “addressing issues specific to Wheelchair Accessible Taxis.”

Council member O’Brien gave an update this morning on the alley and street vacation request for the planned expansion of the Washington State Convention Center, which is working its way through his committee. Next Tuesday, he will hold a second hearing, in which the Council will hear from SDOT and the Design Commission. O’Brien noted that the Design Commission had a divided vote, but ultimately voted 4-3 to approve the proposal. Next Wednesday there will be a public hearing on the street and alley vacation request, and O’Brien hopes to deal with amendments and vote it out of committee on May 1.

Next Monday the Council will once again dive into the city-wide MHA upzone. Monday morning the Select Committee will meet, review the feedback from the Districts 5/6 public hearing, and review the proposed changes for Districts 3/7. Monday evening at 6pm there will be a public hearing on the Districts 3/7 changes at Broadway Performance Hall.

Last Friday, special benefit and preliminary assessments were posted for the proposed Waterfront Local Improvement District. If you live within the proposed LID area, you can visit the Waterfront Seattle web site and find out what your assessment would be. Note that these are early estimates and are subject to change, but the Office of the Waterfront wants to give everyone early notice.  The site gives complete details on the LID formation process, including how you can file a formal written protest.

Council member Gonzalez announced that her committee meeting on Wednesday will include a presentation from Barb Graff, Director of the Office of Emergency Management, on her annual report. There will also be a briefing on the recent audit of SPD’s cost recovery for special events they provide police services for.

Gonzalez also gave a quick update on the “head tax” legislative process. She said that she, Herbold and O’Brien are organizing meetings with representatives of businesses of all sizes and from all districts of the city — what she called “the roadshow.” They are also organizing a “business roundtable” for Tuesday April 17th at 12:30pm, to which they also hope to invite a broad and diverse group of business representatives.