Notes from today’s Council meetings

Here’s what happened in the virtual Chambers today.

This afternoon, the Council passed an ordinance accepting transfer of a 3.79 acre property next to the Mount Baker light rail station that was formerly the UW consolidated laundry facility It will be used for transit-oriented development projects, including affordable housing and childcare. the Office of Housing expects to issue an RFP next summer to kick off the development process.

The Council also passed a pair of bills that repealed existing laws banning prostitution loitering and drug traffic loitering. The bills’ main sponsor, Council member Leis noted that while some have called the bills “outdated,” he disagreed with that framing. “Fax machines are outdated. These laws were never appropriate.” While prostitution and drug trafficking remain illegal, loitering laws are used in many jurisdictions to harass people of color, and the police’s use of them often fails to distinguish between traffickers and victims being trafficked.

This afternoon Council member Mosqueda officially introduced her payroll tax package bills, which now officially have four co-sponsors: Herbold, Gonzalez, Strauss, and Lewis. Mosqueda, who chairs the budget committee where both her package and the competing Sawant/Morales package were referred, also announced that she had reached an agreement with Sawant and Morales to have her bills be the base legislation that the Council considers — effectively killing the Sawant/Morales bills. It was probably not a difficult decision for the two of them, given that Mosqueda’s package now has majority support. Morales is already talking up two amendments that she intends to propose:

  • changing the 10-year sunset clause to be conditional on the county or state passing a progressive revenue package of its own that gives Seattle at least as much revenue;
  • increasing the revenue amount.

The bills will be taken up Wednesday morning in the Budget Committee, where the Council members will discuss issues with the legislation. Mosqueda said that most of the questions she has received from her colleagues relate to the spending plan, rather than the tax itself.

Meanwhile, Council member Lewis announced that he plans to officially introduce on next Monday’s Introduction and Referral Calendar the capital gains tax bill that he pre-announced last week. Lewis said that he is waiting for the City Attorney’s Office to finish its review of the bill.

Lewis’s bill is not mutually exclusive with Mosqueda’s payroll tax, so it’s possible that the Council will approve both.

This morning Council member Mosqueda announced that the Mayor will be transmitting her proposed re-balanced 2020 budget to the Council this week; in an unrelated press conference this afternoon, Mayor Durkan confirmed it. Mosqueda has reserved time in Wednesday afternoon’s Budget committee meeting for an overview of the Mayor’s proposal.

Council member Pedersen noted this morning that next week he expects to have more information related to a proposal for renewing the Seattle Transportation Benefit District, which expires at the end of the year. Initiative 976, COVID-19, and the ensuing economic upheaval, have all raised questions about whether voters will approve a renewal.

Council member Juarez let it be known this morning that despite COVID-19, the renovation of Key Arena is still on track for a grand-reopening in September 2021, in time for the start of the NHL season. She said that construction the team’s training facility in Northgate is also proceeding, with expected completion in July 2021 and opening to the public in October 2021.

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