The bill (2SHB 1811) includes amendments that will give nightclubs more time to install sprinkler systems (from December 2007 to December 2009) and provides a tax credit for bars and clubs that rent rather than own their space. The Seattle City Council prioritized these amendments in our legislative agenda. For those interested or affected by the bill, you can contact your state representatives by clicking here.
Return to Index
Sally and Mayor Greg Nickels at Thurgood Marshall recognizing young artists who submitted drawings for the city's annual Neighbor Appreciation Day.
Living Wage Initiatives
Housing Our Future Speaker Series
I've spent much of the past year working on projects to get people into living wage jobs. Related to that is making available housing people can afford. The Urban Land Institute and the City of Seattle are digging into the challenge of providing affordable, decent and local housing in a speaker series entitled: "Housing Our Future."
The surge in Seattle real estate prices makes it difficult for "regular" workers to live near their jobs. In fact, a new report from the City's Office of Housing shows that half of those who work in Seattle don't live here. This presents problems for a number of reasons:
- Productivity is lower and worker retention worsens when commutes are long.
- Companies move outside the city to find workers.
- Living away from your work makes childcare complex and increases commute times, taking away from time with families and communities.
- Increased commuting increases greenhouse gas emissions.
Henry Cisneros, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary, kicked off the speaker series at City Hall on February 15, discussing the many ways housing availability impacts our economy, and the growing disparity between wages and housing costs. The series will continue with two more morning events:
"Employer Assisted Housing for a Competitive Workforce"
Robin Snyderman, Housing Director, Chicago Metropolitan Planning Council
April 17, 2007 - Seattle City Hall
"Housing Our Workforce: Why Business Leaders Should Care"
Ron Terwilliger, Chairman and CEO, Trammell Crow Residential
September 18, 2007 - Location TBD
Return to Index
Middle wage jobs report
Middle wage jobs are a key component to a healthy city and vibrant economy. These jobs maintain our middle-income families. Often they are occupations that do not require workers to earn a bachelors degree, but they pay a wage or salary that meets the basic necessities of families, and allow them to save for retirement or perhaps a down payment for a home.
Seattle Jobs Initiative has produced a report on the status of middle wage jobs in our region. Titled Accessible Middle Wage Jobs in Seattle and the Puget Sound Region, this report assesses the number of accessible middle wage jobs in King County and the other central Puget Sound counties of Snohomish, Pierce, and Kitsap. In this case, the report used $17 per hour and looked at the jobs available and what it takes to land the job.
Return to Index
Economic Development and Neighborhoods
Neighborhood Plans Audit
Approximately 10 years ago Seattle embarked on a brave experiment in urban planning. In the best sense, the City took a back seat to neighborhoods. The City funded neighborhood groups to do the planning and dedicated staff people to shepherd the process, but neighborhoods took the lead. We energized thousands of people by asking"What do you have now? What would you like to look like and feel like in 20 years assuming a certain amount of growth?" The results were fantastic both in terms of the neighborhood plans that resulted (38 of them) and the civic leadership that continues to grow from neighborhood planning and implementation.
As someone who has worked a great deal with neighborhood plan implementation (as a Neighborhood Development Manager in the Department of Neighborhoods), I'm focused on how the plans are faring as they near the 10-year mark. We built these plans to last 20 years, but the pace and scale of change in some of our neighborhoods has been more rapid than we could have imagined. How are we doing implementing the plans? How relevant are the plans at middle-age? Does a middle-aged plan need some work?
These are a few of the questions I'm asking this year. For a start I've asked the City Auditor to do a performance-style audit of plan implementation. While I am interested in how many traffic circles have been installed, how many new libraries have opened and how many feet of sidewalks have been built, I'm more interested in whether the neighborhood-generated plans have truly become a part of how the City works. I'm also interested in whether neighborhood residents and businesses still remember the plans and use them. If change is the only thing we can truly count on, how has the expected change in residents and businesses affected the relevance of neighborhood plans drafted almost 10 years ago?
More on this topic as I work with the auditor. For now, you can read a commentary I wrote in the March 16, Seattle Times.
Return to Index
In the Field - Beacon Hill
Like last year, the Economic Development & Neighborhoods Committee meets in a neighborhood location for its second meeting of the month (third Thursdays, 6 p.m. check here for locations).
The Committee met before a standing room only crowd at the new Beacon Hill Library on February 15. Beacon Hill is one of those Seattle neighborhoods with so many great people working for its success. We heard of new plans to extend the Mountains-to-Sound trail from Jose Rizal Park through the west slope of Beacon Hill. We heard about new plans for upgraded play equipment at Jefferson Park and high hopes for the final open space and playfields when the reservoir-covering project wraps up. Another group is working to ensure that a great plaza takes shape adjacent to the light rail station in 2009.
Before the meeting I walked some of the Beacon Hill business district around Beacon Ave. S. and S. Hanford. I highly recommend el Quetzal for lunch or dinner. I grabbed a huarache with mushrooms (a"ginormous" thick tortilla with your choice of filling) to snack on before the committee meeting. It was better than the ones I've eaten in the Yucatan.
Return to Index
April Brown Bag
Economic Impact of Local Arts Brown Bag
Please join Councilmember Clark on Tuesday, April 3 for a Brown Bag to talk about the Economic Impact of the Local Arts.
In the hour we will look at the economic impact of the arts on our local economy with a focus on job creation, specifically living wage jobs, small business opportunities, and the city's role in the arts.
Michael Killoren, Director, City of Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs
Dwight Gee, Executive Vice President, ArtsFund
Kelly Tweeddale, Administrative Director, The Seattle Opera
Laura Penn, Managing Director, The Intiman Theater
Anne Derieux, Executive Director, Spectrum Dance Theater
Scott Nolte, Producing Artistic Director, Taproot Theater
Bill McSherry, Director of Economic Development, Puget Sound Regional Council
Seattle City Hall
600 4th Ave. 2nd Floor
Seattle, WA 98124
Tuesday April 3, Noon-1:15 pm
All members of the public are encouraged to attend this free presentation.
Return to Index
Sally is a chocolate judge at Naral's Chocolate for Choice annual fundraiser.
The Viaduct Vote
Many of us didn't like the idea of a vote on how to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct, but at least the viaduct election March 13 bought what many of us hoped for - an uneasy truce.
The elevated replacement option fell, but the tunnel option fell harder. No one came out a winner, although some people contend that the surface+transit idea came out on top. I read the outcome to mean that most voters don't like the options they've seen. I've received a lot of email from people who: a) didn't like the vote in the first place, or b) didn't see their preferred option (retrofit, suspension bridge, surface+transit, etc. ) on the ballot. I didn't like the idea of a vote either, but I saw it as a tool to convey a message when it seemed like all else was failing. The vote was imperfect, though. A choice between two flawed options we arrived at through the hurdles and hoops of the environmental impact statement process. Many of us are hungry for a more creative discussion truly addresses safety, capacity, transit, people and freight in new ways.
So,"What happens now?" you ask. A lot. The day after the vote, the Governor announced a $900 million slate of immediate actions to build better connections at the south end of the Viaduct, improve safety in the Battery Street Tunnel, and to repair damage to a couple of pillars in the Central Waterfront section of the Viaduct. Work on these projects starts immediately while the planners and electeds step back from the brink and rethink the 10-block stretch in the middle.
Over the next months the City of Seattle, King County and the State of Washington must build a partnership that solves the puzzle of moving people and goods into and through the downtown of the region's densest city. I am committed to that partnership and to a modern-day solution that moves people and freight while respecting the livability of our downtown, the environment and the web of decision-makers needed to make things happen.
Return to Index
You have received this newsletter because you have contacted our office with a comment and suggestion. To unsubscribe, please reply to the email with the word 'unsubscribe' in the subject line.