Notes from today’s Council meetings

The Council wrapped up some loose ends — and passed some more rental regulations — before the 2022 budget process officially kicked off this afternoon.

This afternoon the Council approved a bill tweaking an ordinance they passed over the summer that relaxed zoning restrictions for affordable housing on properties owned by religious organizations. When originally passed, organizations were required to make housing affordable for those earning 60% of AMI, but after feedback from those organizations today’s bill changed that to 80% of AMI. Councilmember Herbold attempted to find a compromise by keeping the 60% threshold for some areas of the city facing high displacement, but her amendment was rejected by a 3-5 vote, with Herbold, Sawant and Pedersen the only “yes” votes (Juarez was absent today). Not surprisingly, the bill ultimately passed by a 5-3 vote.

The Council also approved two new rental regulations, both sponsored by Councilmember Sawant. The first requires a minimum of 180 days prior written notice to tenants for any rent increase.

The second requires landlords to pay relocation assistance for tenants who are forced to move after a rent increase of 10% or more. While in committee, the Council amended the bill so that it only applies to tenants earning 80% of AMI or less. Sawant offered an amendment today to try to undo that change, but her colleagues rejected it. The Council did amend the bill to push out the effective date until July 1, 2022, in order to give SDCI time to prepare to enforce it. The bill was approved by a 8-0 vote.

The Council also approved an ordinance establishing a new 15th Avenue East Business Improvement Area, and a bill lifting a proviso on the Strategic Investment Fund dollars.

The Councilmembers also approved a bill creating alternative development standards for small lots in Belltown to allow modular and panelized construction in order to make it more sustainable and cost-effective to develop the sites. Councilmember Lewis offered an amendment tweaking those new requirements by limiting height and width, and increasing setbacks, to allow more light down to street level; the amendment, and the final bill, passed unanimously.

The Councilmembers expressed their excitement today for the grand opening of the Link Light Rail stations this coming Saturday in the U District, Roosevelt, and Northgate. Several Councilmembers said they would be attending the festivities at the Northgate station, which will include the ribbon-cutting for the John Lewis Memorial bike and pedestrian bridge over I-5. Councilmember Pedersen, who represents District 4 (including the U District and Roosevelt), said that both of those stations would also have festivities going on all day.

Councilmember Strauss mentioned this morning that he may need to schedule two meetings of his Land Use committee during the budget season in order to process two contract rezones, which the Council is required to handle within a specific timeframe. Committee meetings during the budget process require the approval of both the Budget Chair (Mosqueda) and Council President (Gonzalez).

Councilmember Juarez also reminded her colleagues that the Parks District Board, which consists of the nine Councilmembers and approves the annual budget, will hold a public hearing on October 18th and will meet to vote on the 2022 parks district budget on November 22.

Councilmember Mosqueda announced that her bill renaming “single family” zoning to “neighborhood residential” will come up for final approval next Monday, October 4.

This afternoon the Council officially received the Mayor’s proposed 2022 budget. Mayor Durkan delivered a short-and-to-the-point six-minute speech highlighting her budget priorities — a bit strange, given that she will leave office on January 1.

Omari Salisbury and I discussed the Mayor’s proposed budget after her remarks this evening — you can watch it here on Converge Media. Look for a more detailed breakdown of the Mayor’s proposed budget later this week (it’s 768 pages — I’m a fast reader, but not that fast).

Click to access 2022-proposed-budget-final-for-printer.pdf

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One comment

  1. I went back and looked at rent increase numbers 25.6% Sawant and public commenters were using from Pretty darn sure she was misstating the increase. Should be anywhere from 11.15% (overall jan2017-sept2021) , 12% & 13.5% 2021 ytd depending on what data table is used.

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