Notes from today’s Council meetings

A few heated moments, lots of speeches, and some new information about upcoming meetings.

This afternoon and after a contentious debate, the Council rejected by a 3-5 vote Council member Sawant’s resolution that would have sent the nomination of Jason Johnson to be Director of the Human Service Department back to the Mayor with a requirement that she conduct a full, transparent and inclusive search process.  In a related move, Council member Mosqueda introduced a new resolution that would update the Council’s expectations for the process though which the Mayor selects nominees for department head positions.  More on these later tonight, in a separate post.

This morning the Office of Intergovernmental Relations delivered another update to the Council on the current state legislative session. You can read their full (21-page) report here.

Council President Harrell’s Governance, Equity and Technology Committee will be meeting Thursday afternoon, and there will likely be a vote to advance out of committee the appointment of Saad Bashir as the City of Seattle’s CTO.

Council member Juarez’s Civic Development, Public Assets, and Native Communities Committee meets Wednesday afternoon. On its agenda:

  • the reappointment of Robert Nellams as Director of the Seattle Center;
  • The Office of the Waterfront will present its 2019 work plan;
  • The Parks and Recreation Department will present its community center strategic plan.

Council member Sawant’s next Human Services, Equitable Development, and Renters Rights Committee will be on Saturday, March 16, at 1pm at the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church. The committee will discuss the proposed redevelopment of the Chateau, currently a Section 8 affordable housing provider. In the brief conversation on the topic today, Council member Herbold noted that her proposed ordinance requiring replacement for demolished affordable housing wouldn’t cover the property because it only covers high-displacement-risk, low access-to-opportunity areas — but she is open to expanding that.

Council member Sawant, who is chairing the next meeting of the Select Committee on Homelessness, has scheduled its next meeting for March 12. She is putting on the agenda a discussion of last week’s decision by HSD and the Mayor’s Office to condition the funding contract of SHARE/WHEEL on its ability to work with the city on improving certain performance metrics, most notably the number of its residents who are entered into the King County HMIS system. Some have characterized the move as an attempt to close the SHARE/WHEEL shelters, and/or to punish SHARE/WHEEL members for speaking out against the appointment of Jason Johnson as HSD Director. In this morning’s meeting, Council member Herbold said that she had spoken with the decision-makers on this, and clarified that it wasn’t a planned closure; SHARE/WHEEL’s contract is guaranteed through June, and beyond that if it meets required improvements in data collection. She said that she believed it was a sincere statement on HSD’s part, which is using the contract process as a way to incentivize changes in practices.

Council member O’Brien noted that Crown Hill had a meeting for its neighborhood planning process yesterday; the community wants a “main street” pedestrian corridor — but they don’t want it to be 15th Avenue N. They would prefer for it to be just off that arterial.

Council member Mosqueda announced that her Housing, Health, Energy and Workers’ Right Committee is meeting on Thursday and will hear an update from the Seattle Housing Authority.

Council member Johnson announced that his Planning, Land Use and Zoning Committee meeting Wednesday morning will take up Council member Herbold’s recently-introduced anti-displacement bill.

This afternoon, the Council unanimously approved a resolution, sponsored by Council member Gonzalez, that articulates the Council’s support for Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s “Medicare for All Act.” There were speeches all around, including by Jayapal herself who called in to the meeting to provide public comment.

This afternoon the Council also approved the pending ordinance authorizing SPD to offer hiring bonuses to new recruits and lateral hires — with a few last-minute amendments. More on this in a separate post later tonight.



  1. Your site is great and you fill a much needed reporting space. Thank you.
    A question I have been wondering- will the upzones in dense areas lead to a rise in property taxes for single family dwellers in those areas (commensurate with new zoning)? I have never, ever seen this addressed. Thank you.

    1. That’s a good question, without a simple answer.

      Independent of how much is actually taxed, the upzones could lead to increases in property values, to the extent that the valuations are based on redevelopment potential vs. what is already built on the property. And that’s contextual. A paved parking lot that gets upzoned will probably see its value go up. A lot with a 5-year-old building on it probably won’t. A 50-year-old building might go up in value; a 20-year-old building, who knows.

      Taxes are a separate layer on top of that. Seattle’s property taxing authority is capped, so if all the properties across the city were to raise in valuation uniformly, no one’s property taxes would change very much. But to the extent that the MHA upzone ordinance increases the value of some properties more than others, it shifts the property tax burden ever so slightly toward those upzoned properties. And the property tax bills for neighboring single-family homes might go down ever so slightly. But since MHA upzones affect such a small percentage of the total area of the city, it probably won’t be very noticeable in either direction.

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