Notes from today’s Council meetings

There were some pretty important votes this afternoon. Plus some notes for upcoming meetings.

This afternoon the Council voted to extend for another six months the temporary expansion of the Pike Place Historic District to encompass the Showbox property. Their hope is that this will give the city time to finish its study of the impacts of making the expansion permanent. According to city officials, the consultant hired to do the study is expected to wrap it up by the end of June. Apparently the city is looking at whether not only the Showbox property should be included, but also other properties along First Avenue near the Market. The vote this afternoon was 8-1, with Council member Pacheco casting the sole “no” vote after stating that he was concerned over the loss of housing — and up to $5 million in MHA payments. While Council member Gonzalez voted “yes” today, she cautioned that she had concerns with using historic districts to fight against density, and she was particularly worried about the notion of extending the district to other properties along First Avenue since that is the area of the city intentionally zoned for the greatest density and the highest MHA performance/payment requirements.

The Council also approved unanimously the redevelopment plan for Fort Lawton — a plan 13 years in the making.

The Council also approved a one-year extension to the moratorium on rent bidding platforms such as Rentberry.

Two out of these three moves already are being litigated in court (the Showbox spot zone and the Rentberry moratorium). The Fort Lawton plan’s EIS has already been through one round of litigation in front of the Hearing Examiner, and don’t be surprised if it ends up back in court shortly after the Mayor signs the plan into law (an appeal of the Hearing Examiner’s ruling on the EIS may only be made once legislative action has been taken).

The Council also confirmed Robert Lee as the Director of the Office of Economic Development.

And finally, the Council approved neighborhood design guidelines for Ballard and Capitol Hill.

This Wednesday, as a start to the run-up to this fall’s budget season, the Finance and Neighborhoods Committee will hold a discussion on how the revenues from the Sweetened Beverage Tax and Short-term Rental Tax should be spent. This is in a response to a Statement of Legislative Intent from the Council last fall requesting that the Mayor’s Office submit legislation that would establish separate funds for the revenues from each of the two taxes to be deposited into, and would provide guidance on spending priorities for those revenues.

Council member Bagshaw also announced that at her committee meeting on June 26th, execs from the Seattle City Employees Retirement System (SCERS) will present on their analysis of whether the city should move toward co-investing with the state public employees’ retirement system fund. Earlier this year, State Senator Reuven Carlyle introduced a bill that would authorize such co-investment, though it failed to pass. Nevertheless, Bagshaw wants to understand whether this is an idea worth fighting to pass in future years, or whether the heads of SCERS think the city is better off going it alone.