Council President Gonzalez was absent today, an absence that was planned and announced before last Tuesday’s election, and Councilmember Strauss was the designated President-pro-tem to chair today’s meetings. Other than a tense back-and-forth with Councilmember Sawant when he tried to encourage her to wrap up her remarks twenty minutes into a speech this morning, things went smoothly for him.
Here’s what else happened.
A good chunk of this morning’s Council Briefing, as well as a public hearing in this afternoon’s Council meeting, were devoted to a proposed alley vacation for the Grand Street Commons mixed-use project that will feature 360 units of affordable housing. The project has broad support among the Councilmembers, though Councilmember Morales pressed the developers and SDOT as to whether its site, adjacent to Rainier Avenue S., will (or should) require additional crosswalks or other pedestrian safety measures. Councilmember Mosqueda will be bringing forward an amendment to the alley vacation that would waive the $400,000 payment for the alley itself, since the project is being developed by a city-funded nonprofit — it makes little sense for the city to grant money to a nonprofit, and then charge them a fee to move the project forward. Mosqueda that she is working on legislation to authorize the city to waive such fees for any city-funded affordable housing project; she hopes to have that bill approved by the Council before their December recess.
The public hearing on the alley vacation this afternoon generated no opposition from members of the public, so the Council will vote on approving it next Monday.
Councilmember Sawant announced that her next committee meeting will be on November 30, at which she intends to discuss two bills: her rent control legislation, and a bill giving the Green New Deal Oversight Board the opportunity to push for the city to divest from banks that fund fossil fuel infrastructure projects.
Sawant also noted the resolution she introduced today that would limit the Mayor’s recent emergency executive order to authorizing hiring bonuses for 911 dispatchers, and not SPD officers. Sawant said that it will be on the agenda for the Council’s November 22nd meeting.
A few other quick notes:
- Councilmember Herbold said that the Seattle Relief Fund has received nearly 26,000 applications to-date. The last day to apply is November 15th.
- Councilmember Juarez gave a libraries update this morning — or more specifically, a libraries maintenance and repair update. She said that the Green Lake Branch library has received its seismic update permit, and will now work with the landmarks board on specific plans for modifications to the building. She also said that window repairs are underway at the Central Library downtown: the large windows along Spring Street have been replaced, and special-order diamond-shaped replacement windows have been ordered.
- Councilmember Morales noted that her office recently partnered with Seattle City Light to repair street lights in Little Saigon.
- Morales also said that the Arts Commission is recruiting four new commissioners. and that they received 50 applications in the first week. Applications are still open.
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Will the nonprofit own the affordable housing building on the alley? Are they allowed to sell it at any time? Is it affordable housing which still collects rent? If the answer to all these questions is yes – the non profit should pay the fees. They will make back the 400,000 quickly and will make lots of money if they decide to sell the building because they got the land for free. Remember this land could have been sold to make money for the city budget. You don’t have to give it as a gift to the non profit.
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