Notes from today’s Council meetings

Lots of votes this afternoon, lots of wrapping things up before recess — and a handful of items postponed until they come back in September.

This afternoon, the City Council voted 6-3 to override Mayor Durkan’s veto of an ordinance further restricting use of Sweetened Beverage Tax revenues. Council members Bagshaw, Juarez, and Pacheco voted against the override. Council member Gonzalez, who is in Copenhagen this week on business, called in and provided the critical 6th vote to achieve a 2/3 majority.

The Council also passed a resolution supporting a Green New Deal for the city. After some back-and-forth, the Council reworded a Sawant amendment adding in “rent control” to refocus on working with state organizations to give cities more tools to regulate rents. As Herbold explained, the city and its lobbyists have been working with Seattle’s state legislative delegation to repeal the state law banning residential rent control, but city officials have been told that loudly calling for rent control in Seattle makes it less likely that they will succeed in pushing through a repeal. Sawant that calling for “rent control” is a clear rallying cry for her movement and was successful in other jurisdictions such as New York City. Following the vote, Mayor Durkan issued a press release praising the Council’s passage of the resolution and committing city departments to expediting climate action.

And the Council also passed an ordinance authorizing $9 million to continue planning for the Center City Connector streetcar. Council member Herbold was the sole “no” vote, after an impassioned speech in which she went through the litany financial problems with the project, questioned the ridership projections,  and argued that the money should go to other transportation projects instead. Council member Sawant managed a “stealth abstention” by stepping out of the room for the vote; by rule, Council members are not allowed to abstain on final votes on bills (though they may recuse themselves if they have a conflict of interest).

Also, the Council passed a resolution and ordinance enacting the “local option” sales tax, which under a state law passed earlier this year allows the city to keep a portion of the state sales tax in order to invest in affordable housing.

FInally, the Council passed a resolution calling for the end of the United States’ embargo of Cuba. Council member Mosqueda pointed out Cuba has a higher literacy rate than the United States, a longer expected life span, and medical advances that are unavailable here because of the embargo.

Tomorrow afternoon’s Human Services, Equitable Development, and Renter Rights Committee meeting is cancelled.

This Wednesday, the Finance and Neighborhoods Committee meets. On the agenda:

  • another discussion of the Mayor’s proposed ordinance related to “RV ranching.”
  • a briefing on the the Seattle City Employee Retirement System.
  • five ordinances related to Seattle City Light property issues.

Thursday morning, the Housing. Health, Energy and Workers’ Rights Committee meets starting at 9am.  Committee chair Mosqueda said this morning that the first hour would be for Seattle City Light related bills, including a program to establish the ability for larger commerical buildings to include solar power on their roofs, and an ordinance authorizing SCL to join the western Energy Imbalance Market.  Then, starting around 10am, there will be public comment on the hotel workers’ bills followed by consideration of amendments to the bills. On a related note, the ACLU sent a letter to the Council earlier this summer expressing concern with some of the provisions of the legislation and in particular the “blacklist” of guests accused of violent or harassing conduct.” Mosqueda said this morning that she has proposed amendments addressing their concerns.

Friday morning at 10am, the Sustainability and Transportation Committee will hold a special meeting. On the agenda:

  • a discussion on Mayor Durkan’s proposed tax on heating oil and plan to phase out heating oil furnaces over the next decade;
  • a discussion on the Mercer Megablock deal. The deal will come back to the committee in September for a vote. This morning, both Mosqueda and Bagshaw noted that they were pushing the city to include childcare on-site, possibly as part of the 30,000 square foot community center.
  • legislation around Transportation Impact Fees, assuming a positive ruling from the Hearing Examiner on a legal challenge. O’Brien said that the Hearing Examiner is expected to rule this week.
  • legislation on requiring repaving projects over $1 million to build out any protected bike lanes in the Bicycle Master Plan for the repaved area.
  • a resolution on implementing the Bicycle Master Plan.

Council member Pacheco noted that the pending legislation revising SEPA regulations will be discussed at the next Planning, Land Use and Zoning Committee on September 4th, and again on September 11th. In addition, there will be a public hearing on the bill on September 9th at 5pm.

Council member Juarez reported back on how last Saturday’s scheduled “Live in D5” event got flooded out, but the food didn’t go to waste — through the efforts of many people it was brought down to the Rainier Beach Community Center and added to an event going on there.  Live in D5 is being rescheduled, and Juarez said that it would probably happen in the first week of September.

Juarez also highlighted her resolution introduced this week on missing and murdered indigenous women and children. It is scheduled for a first briefing on Wednesday, September 4th.