MAKING IT WORK
The purpose of this newsletter is to provide information, inspire involvement, and make things work in this great city. You can request additional information or comment on the newsletter by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT DISTRICT (AKA ECO-INDUSTRIAL DISTRICT)
A partnership involving the City of Seattle, King County, and the State of Washington will soon issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) to seek innovative proposals for industrial development ideas that have been challenging to implement due to regulatory, policy, or financial issues. This is the first step in a project for adding new vitality to Seattle's industrial sector that we are calling the Industrial Development District.
Two years ago, my office began working on creating what we then called an Eco-industrial District in Seattle. Eco-Industrial Districts, which have been pioneered in perhaps a dozen areas around the world, are designed to foster the growth of mutually dependent industries that integrate economic development and environmental stewardship. The classic example is Kalundborg, Denmark, where a set of businesses maximize energy efficiency and minimize solid waste by using one firm's waste energy and by-products as inputs to another process. Since the mid-1990's this example as been cited as a model.
The experience of the last decade has shown that, while the concept of integrating environmental and economic factors in industrial development makes eminent sense, there are a number of important factors that need to be taken into account. First, the Kalundborg district grew organically – it was a set of decisions by businesses, not a government led initiative. Second, even Kalundborg is not self-sufficient – there are internal and external transactions – and the volatility of the business environment suggests that a balance over time is difficult to maintain. Third, there are many ways in which environment and economy can be brought together besides the exchange of energy and waste products. And fourth, the experience of other cities suggests that creating a new eco-industrial district works best when there is a significant amount of unused land that can be assembled and dedicated to the purpose.
Taking all of those factors into account, Seattle is taking a broader approach, renaming the concept as an Industrial Development District (IDD), and setting out three guidelines within which we want to foster development:
- Provide positive economic benefit;
- Result in equal to or better measurable environmental performance than would result from current regulations; and
- Be located on currently industrially zoned land.
So, rather than trying to bootstrap a new set of companies focused on the relatively narrow goal of sharing energy and waste exchange, we are looking for new development and innovation that will lead to better environmental results – which could cover a wide range of environmental benefits.
We are doing this because it has become increasingly clear that prescriptive regulations tend to be very good at stopping bad things, but we need to promote good things – and government regulations do not have the nimbleness or flexibility to encourage innovation. So we are setting broad parameters to foster creativity around the goal of providing jobs and economic activity while enhancing the environment.
So, what could this mean in practical terms? Some examples:
- Redevelopment of an existing industrial facility to increase efficiency and capacity
- Allowing an industrial/commercial mixed facility not currently permitted if it increases industrial jobs
- Innovative ways to manage stormwater or salmon mitigation that will deliver a better environmental result
- Renewable energy systems or reuse of waste energy
- Shared resource use by a group of companies
The IDD is an exciting concept that can create jobs and enhance the environment. It has special promise in the Duwamish, where the environmental cleanup can be leveraged for economic development. As the concept develops, the City will also look for ways to leverage our investments, such as providing stormwater treatment for an area and allowing businesses to buy into the project instead of having to do their own stormwater projects. Managing this work will be challenging, and will require great care and skill to navigate possible pitfalls – but, if we can make it happen, we will reap great benefits. This is why not only the involved governments, but business, labor, and environmental organizations have come together to support getting this work underway.
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DELIVERING ON OUR 2011 PRIORITIES
During my four years as President, I led the Council through a priority setting exercise each year, designed to identify the core issues to focus on for the year. Council President Clark is continuing this plan. In 2011, Councilmembers identified 17 priorities. Here's a report on how I think we did:
BUILD A LIVABLE CITY FOR OUR FUTURE
Advance strategies to foster economic development and promote new jobs, including considering a 'one-stop' permitting system, ensuring that regulations are data-driven and goal oriented, expanding workforce training, and developing new marketing tools for businesses.
★★★ We delivered on all of these and more, and Seattle is now leading the way out of the recession, but we still have a lot of work to do to reach full recovery.
Adopt legislation making Yesler Terrace replacement a model for sustainable mixed income communities, retaining and seeking to increase low-income housing units. Change zoning and land use rules in the South Downtown Neighborhoods and transit communities to promote more housing, smarter design, business success, housing affordability, and neighborhood sustainability
★★ Progress on Yesler and transit communities continues, but has been slower than expected; changes in South Downtown were completed.
Continue to implement the Council's Seattle for Washington strategy to strengthen Seattle's relationships on the regional and state level.
Develop specific milestones and steps for Seattle's carbon neutral goal, update the Climate Action Plan, and add "vehicle miles travelled" reduction targets to the Comprehensive Plan. Continue implementing the Zero Waste Strategy. Begin adapting to the unavoidable impacts of climate change.
★★★ Council formally approved Carbon Neutral 2050 goal, and climate work continues to advance, towards completion in 2012. Plastic bag ban and yellow pages opt-out program were significant steps in zero waste.
Work with Seattle Public Library on a proposed voter approved levy to expand library services, strengthen partnerships with Seattle Schools and to help relieve pressure on the General Fund.
★★★★ Council adopted resolution setting path for Library Levy in August, 2012.
FOSTER SAFE, JUST AND HEALTHY COMMUNITIES FOR ALL
Schools and Education
Renew the Families and Education Levy in partnership with Seattle Schools. Foster a community-wide belief that every child in every school neighborhood can excel and graduate from high school prepared to succeed in college or obtain a career credential of their choice.
★★★★ Families and Ed Levy doubled in size and renewed by 65% of voters. Progress in improving education system.
Ensure effective neighborhood policing and efficient use of police resources by supporting innovative community safety strategies, adopting the "Gold Standard" for batterer intervention services, and supporting a comprehensive response plan for juvenile sex trafficking.
★★★ Much progress made on community safety strategies and issues around batterer treatment and juvenile sex trafficking, continued work needed to make neighborhood policing work. Justice Department report highlights new emphasis needed to tackle issues of police accountability and procedures.
Reinventing Neighborhood Services
Develop a new operations model for Community Centers. Restructure the Neighborhood District Coordinator system and associated civic engagement efforts.
★★★★★★Operations model for Community Centers developed and implemented. Slower progress on Department of Neighborhoods, will be 2012 task.
Race, Social Justice, and Open Government
Promote race and social equity in city government work. Implement strategies to support education and job readiness, equal access to technology, and other community-based approaches. Implement new technology measures for increased citizen access through the public engagement portal and constituent relations management system.
★★★★ Implementation of Race and Social Justice Initiative, creation of new Refugee and Immigrant Office, new technology initiatives, including Great Student Initiative to provide computers for students.
Local Food Action Initiative
Emphasize rural-urban connections and economic development through encouraging local food production and food-related businesses. Work with community partners to develop opportunities for increasing healthy food production, distribution, and marketing.
★★★★ Great combination of community action and City support, long list of accomplishments.
Housing, Homelessness, Domestic Violence
Implement the Housing Levy to encourage long term affordability and support housing for the disabled and homeless communities. Support emergency, transitional, and permanent housing for survivors of domestic violence.
★★★ Housing levy continues to be effective, work is underway on addressing unmet needs for housing for domestic violence survivors.
INVEST PUBLIC RESOURCES FAIRLY AND EFFECTIVELY
Adopt a sustainable 2012 budget that invests in public safety and human services. Expand partnerships with the City's unions and employees to deliver services to the public in cost effective ways while respecting the skills and commitment of the City's work force. Work on potential changes to the retirement system, better management of health care costs, and increase efficiency of personnel functions. Develop strategies to fund parks operation and maintenance.
★★★★ Excellent budget work, partnership with unions and employees, significant steps in address efficiency measures. Initial steps on Parks successful.
Adopt a long-range strategic plan and new financial policies for Seattle City Light to keep focused on conservation and renewable resources for our future while ensuring financial stability and equitable rates. Continue exploring a smart grid and broadband services.
★★★ Much progress was made on these issues, continued work is required.
SR 99 Replacement Project
Consider legislation approving agreements with the State to advance the project on schedule while fully protecting Seattle's interests. Work to secure increased transit funding, protection for portal neighborhoods, and the foundation for the new waterfront. Place a funding plan for the seawall and waterfront on the ballot.
★★★★★★★★ Four stars for completing agreement with the State and moving forward with the tunnel. Three stars for continued progress on the waterfront and seawall design, and advocacy on transit funding. One star for not having reached the point where we can move forward with a funding plan for the seawall and waterfront (we were overly optimistic about the pace at which this can progress).
Continue to advance Seattle's interests in protecting the Arboretum and our neighborhoods, securing a full funding plan, increasing transit funding and access, and moving the project forward.
★★★ Success in continuing to advance Seattle's interests and negotiating a Memorandum of Understanding with the state, and in advocating for funding and transit, but there is still a big funding gap that the State has to figure out.
Capital Investment Plan
Determine options for funding Seattle's transportation system in conjunction with Citizens Transportation Advisory Committee III, and expand transportation choices and sustainable funding sources for the Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plans. Develop a strategic approach for major capital projects, including the Seawall, the North Precinct, the City's elements of the SR 99 Replacement program, and initiating strategic capital planning for Parks and the Seattle Center.
★ While there continues to be some progress, voters turned down the VLF proposal, and we have not put a strategic capital plan together.
Work with the County and State to Identify funding resources to support fairly allocated bus service connecting Seattle neighborhoods and linking Seattle to job centers in other parts of King County. Support the construction of the First Hill Streetcar, progress on Sound Transit lines, and continuation and expansion of electric trolley buses.
★★★★ This is a great example of the success of our outreach work, as the County changed its transit allocation formula and secured a short-term funding source from the State. First Hill Streetcar is moving forward, and East Link is now ready for final design.
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COUNCIL SETS 2012 PRIORITIES
Council President Sally Clark has led us through a priority setting process for 2012, and the Council has identified an ambitious agenda of thirty initiatives, organized in five core priority areas. We will all have involvement in the entire list in the course of the year. Each Councilmember will lead on certain issues, usually those within their Committee portfolio, and play a major role in others where we have experience or involvement. The core issues that I will take the lead on will be:
- Developing Transit Communities policies that ensure housing and job development is coordinated with transit corridors, and that provide guidance for neighborhood plans.
- Propose a levy to the voters that ensures Seattle's library system has sufficient materials, staffing and computers to provide a sustainable level of service.
- Change zoning in South Lake Union to match the goals and potential of Seattle's newest urban center.
- Ensure that Capitol Hill, University District, Rainier Valley, and Roosevelt neighborhoods get great development on former Sound Transit properties.
- Move forward on the Duwamish River clean-up and related environmental justice actions in South Seattle.
Here is the complete list of priorities:
- MAINTAINING SAFE, HEALTHY AND JUST COMMUNITIES
Public Safety and Justice
Take input from the Department of Justice, community, officers, and local and national experts to move Seattle into the forefront of effective urban policing. Commit to new strategies for police recruitment, training, supervision, and accountability. Monitor body-mounted cameras pilot program for SPD officers. Implement strategies that affirm, value, and strengthen all constituencies.
Excellence in Education
Oversee the implementation and administration of the 2012-2018 Families and Education Levy, the City's most critical investment in Seattle Public Schools.
Coordinate and advance the objectives of the Great Student Initiative to provide high-speed Internet access to low-income families with children in Seattle Public Schools.
Safe Shelter and Housing
Continue to expand affordable housing options and services for people experiencing homelessness, ensure families have shelter options in 2012.
Devise strategies and funding options in the 2013-2014 budget to address unmet needs. Implement the Safe Parking Program pilot in Ballard.
Implement the Rental House Inspection Program to assure renters of safe housing, prevent deterioration of rental housing and provide clear, fair guidelines for property owners.
Spotlight discrimination in housing and develop policies to eliminate this injustice. Promote and advance strategies to educate residents and communities on Seattle's fair housing and employment regulations.
- BUILDING HEALTHY, GREAT PLACES
Establish a unified, clear community-driven vision for the remaking of Seattle's waterfront. Make sure the proposed plan has the right combination of vision and practicality that will make it possible to fund replacement of the seawall and development of new waterfront elements.
Improve the downtown core through the Third Avenue Initiative. Work with the task force to produce and act on a clear plan to address public safety, transit mobility, retail health and a cleaner, more inviting environment for riders, shoppers and employees.
Adopt a Climate Action Plan that outlines short and long term policy paths for achieving the City's goals to be carbon neutral by 2050.
Move forward on the Duwamish River clean-up and related environmental justice actions in South Seattle.
Adopt legislation making the Yesler Terrace redevelopment a model for sustainable, mixed-income communities, with a net increase in low-income units.
Change zoning in South Lake Union to match the goals and potential of Seattle's newest urban center.
Develop Transit Communities policies that ensure housing and job development is coordinated with transit corridors, and that provide guidance for neighborhood plans.
Ensure that Capitol Hill, University District, Rainier Valley, and Roosevelt neighborhoods get the great development on former Sound Transit properties.
Break ground on construction of First Hill Streetcar between Pioneer Square, the International District, Little Saigon, First Hill and Capitol Hill. Oversee construction to minimize disruptions to nearby businesses and residences while ensuring start of service in early 2014.
- IMPROVING MOBILITY AND CONNECTIONS
Work with King County Metro Transit to lessen impacts from the County's elimination of the Ride Free Area, procure new Electric Trolley Buses that improve service and attract new riders, ensure that restructured routes improve bus service for Seattle riders, and help Metro secure long-term sustainable funding from Olympia.
Clear the way for better mobility between and through neighborhoods by embedding policies prioritizing neighborhood greenways, cycletracks, crosswalk and sidewalk improvements, traffic calming, paths and trails.
Develop a freight master plan while updating the bicycle master plan and acting on the pedestrian master plan.
- MAKING A MORE RESILIENT CITY
Responsible Taxation and Regulations
Review the City's tax policies for opportunities to enhance fairness and consistency and to encourage small and large companies to do business in Seattle. Continue efforts to simplify licensing and permitting.
Reprise Seattle for Washington, dispatching Councilmembers to other parts of Puget Sound and Washington State to look for ways cities can help each other succeed.
Collaborate with the Port of Seattle, the Manufacturing Industrial Council, the Prosperity Partnership, and others to support development of living wage jobs in export, marine, life sciences and other opportunity sectors.
Develop a set of goals, policies, and a sustainable organizational structure ensuring that the Department of Neighborhoods delivers services that are responsive to communities and supportive of community-initiated projects.
Propose a levy to the voters that ensures Seattle's library system has sufficient materials, staffing and computers to provide a sustainable level of service.
- INVESTING IN OUR FUTURE
Capital Investment Planning
Review prioritization of operations and major projects by Seattle Department of Transportation. Develop recommendations for more efficient operations, making the prioritization of projects more understandable to the public with clear reporting of departmental performance measures.
Adopt a six-year strategic plan and new financial policies for Seattle City Light, including a rate structure that supports conservation, equity and stability. Improve customer service and access to information about energy use, allowing customers to manage energy use and bills.
Initiate long-range strategic capital and operations planning for parks, the Seattle Center and other cultural facilities.
Develop a strategic approach for the City's major capital needs, including replacement of the seawall, building a new North Police Precinct and construction of the City's elements of the SR 99 Program.
Develop outcome-based budgeting and improve program evaluation to ensure that taxpayer money is invested effectively.
Maintain basic city services in the face of shrinking revenues.
Integrate financial empowerment tools for low-income individuals and families into the City's current services like shelters, workforce training and family support.
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HELPING BUSINESS BECOME MORE SUSTAINABLE
Seattle has a mission to become more sustainable, and we cannot attain that goal unless we work with our business community. Fortunately, much of that community is in harmony with Seattle's sustainability values, and we have forged many good partnerships. We offer so many great services to help businesses, in fact, that it has become difficult to identify them and figure out how to use them. And when you apply for a permit, you are not likely to be told much about them.
To make these work better, in 2010 my office authored a Statement of Legislative Intent (SLI), which was adopted unanimously by the City Council, asking departments to identify opportunities to coordinate, integrate, and improve access to the City's array of environmental sustainability services. We've now received the report, and have charged the Departments with taking action steps to:
- Improve effectiveness by developing a simple, high-functioning web-based portal, cross-training program staff in the different Departments, establishing common metrics for program tracking and evaluation, and addressing any logistical or legal issues that are potential obstacles to interdepartmental cooperation;
- Improve efficiency by integrating and coordinating outreach, beginning with a pilot outreach project to business sectors targeted by multiple programs.
- Ensure the best economic development benefits by doing coordinated market research to identify gaps in service and unmet needs.
By taking these actions, we can simultaneously advance our environmental goals and our economic development goals – the new paradigm that requires both of these to be met in order to become a more sustainable City.
The research found that six different City entities (Planning and Development, Economic Development, Sustainability and Environment, City Light, Seattle Public Utilities, and Transportation) offered 25 different services to businesses, aimed at:
- improving conservation and energy efficiency;
- achieving better recycling/waste reduction, water conservation, and stormwater management;
- promoting Green building; and
- Improving transportation through services like Commute Trip Reduction.
These programs provide technical assistance, assistance complying with regulations, incentives and rebates, information, and recognition for achievements. While many of them are available to any business, some are targeted to specific types of businesses.
Interviews with business representatives found that rebates and one-on-one assistance was most valuable; that recognition services worked only if there was associated marketing; and that businesses longed for a centralized website that was well-organized and up-do-date. Business people stated that they had a hard time finding services, but were eager to participate where possible.
The recommendations lay out a path for addressing issues. The Council will monitor the results of the continued work. We are confident that Departments can and will do better, and that businesses, the City, our workforce, and the environment will all benefit.
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SOUND TRANSIT STATION NAMING POLICY
On Thursday, February 23, the Sound Transit Board formally adopted a policy for naming stations and other Sound Transit facilities. Before this, the naming process followed a design manual, but there was no Board policy. This has become a problem as Sound Transit builds stations where there might be some controversy about the name, and as Sound Transit enters a new phase in its construction program, where there are multiple lines under construction. In the not too distant future, there will be trains traveling on different lines to different destinations. Right now, there is only Central Link Light Rail. In the future, there will be a north-south line and an east-west line.
Under the new policy, there will be five criteria for deciding station/facility names:
- Reflect the nature of the environment: neighborhoods, street names, landmarks, plus geographical locations
- Be brief and easy to read and remember
- Comply with Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines and requirements and be limited to 30 characters
- Avoid commercial references because they may change, prove confusing to the public and be costly to change
- Avoid similar names or words in existing facility names.
For naming lines, Sound Transit will use the common transit system method of identifying lines by color, with a direction for the train based on the last stop on the line. For example, the north-south line could be the Blue Line, with northbound trains identified as 'Blue Line to Northgate' and southbound 'Blue Line to Kent-Des Moines' (if those are the station names), with the end point changed as the line is extended further.
Station names in South East Seattle originally were based on the names of the cross streets. Neighborhood plans in both Columbia City ('Edmunds Street Station') and Rainier Beach ('Henderson Street Station") made strong representations that these names were relatively obscure and confusing in identifying the destinations served. They also argued that they would be a disservice to the commercial districts and future housing developments in these neighborhoods by failing to highlight them. The City Council agreed, and, as Chair of the Neighborhoods Committee, I led the successful effort to persuade the Sound Transit Board to adopt the current Columbia City and Rainier Beach station names.
As the line continues north in Seattle, most of the station names will be easy to agree on – Capitol Hill, Roosevelt, and Northgate are all widely accepted community names, and there is a lot of logic in naming the Husky Stadium station for the University of Washington.
The naming policy will become interesting when the Board considers the station at Brooklyn and 45th. Right now, this has the provisional name of the 'Brooklyn Station', but communities around the station are already lining up behind 'University District Station'. While there is some question of overlap with the 'University of Washington Station', I think we can probably overcome that. The real problem is with the 'University Street Station' in downtown Seattle. I think there is already a confusion problem with that and a 'University of Washington Station', but having three stations with 'University' in their names makes no sense. Since the 'University Street' station has no relationship to an actual University, I think that's the name that has to be changed. This will require concurrence from King County and Metro.
I will urge Sound Transit to begin that process in the near future so that the way can be cleared for a rational discussion of how to name the stations that are around the actual University.
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FOOD POLICY COUNCIL SETS 2012 STRATEGY
At its February 10 meeting, the Regional Food Policy Council (RFPC) agreed to the recommendations of its Steering Committee for an action agenda for 2012. The RFPC, which is entering its second year, worked during its first year to define its mission and scope of work and to understand the way in which the food system operates and the range of players involved in it. While we continue to learn more about this very complex area, RFPC members are eager to start carrying out our mission to "develop just and integrated policy and action recommendations that promote health, sustain and strengthen the local and regional food system, and engage and partner with agriculture, business, communities and governments in the four-county region."
The RFPC agreed to work on the following three major areas:
- Creating a Policy Landscape Map and developing and working on policy recommendations on specific issues. We are beginning to understand the food system and how it operates. The next step is to identify the policies that shape that system and to determine how those policies are set, whether by governmental action or by the private sector. We can then focus on critical policy changes that the RFPC can work on in 2012. Having a clear understanding of the policy landscape will give us the information necessary to identify the most important points of leverage.
- Focusing attention on issues around agriculture and land use. The RFPC has identified the preservation of agricultural land and the livelihood of farmers as critical issues in building a stronger food system. Among the areas under consideration are:
- Developing food and agricultural policy recommendations for Comprehensive Plans;
- Developing a policy framework that will balance the needs of farmers and regulations regarding building in the flood plain, protecting critical areas, the encroachment of development, and infrastructure needs for farm pads, packing, processing, and farmworker housing;
- Protecting land and water resources needed for sustained food production;
- Encouraging the retention of farmers and the education of people who plan to become farmers;
- Linking farming and agricultural land conservation to broader public benefits such as water quality, habitat protection, open space value and food security;
- Creating specific programs that would support these initiatives, such as targeted funding supports for farmers, farm business plans, and flood and surface water management.
- Developing an outreach and education program about the Regional Food Policy Council and the current conditions in the regional food system, and working with members of the RFPC to carry these messages to policy makers around the region.
The RFPC Steering Committee will take develop a more specific plan of action based on these areas, and the RFPC will review and adopt this at our March 9 meeting.
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CITY FOOD POLICY WORKSHOPS
My staff and I have been working on issues around local food since we secured approval of the Local Food Action Initiative in 2008. I am very happy that Mayor McGinn and the entire City Council have given great support to this work, and we have completed a large number of significant accomplishments on this important issue. For details, see this page of my website.
It is now time to take the Local Food Action Initiative to the next level of salience and organizational momentum. The City has hired a Food Policy Coordinator, who will be based in the Office of Sustainability & Environment, and we are now seeking public input on the elements and priorities for city food policy for the next few years.
Those who are interested in this effort are invited to participate in Our City, Our Food, Our Future: listening sessions on food in our community. These sessions will focus on how we can implement a just, sustainable, and resilient food system where:
- All Seattleites have enough to eat and have access to affordable, local, healthy, culturally appropriate food.
- It is easy to sell local and healthy food in Seattle.
- It is easy to grow food in Seattle, whether for personal use or for business purposes.
- The City provides sustainable ways to prevent and deal with food waste.
- Our community is educated about eating local and healthy food.
The Office of Sustainability & Environment is hosting three public meetings to talk about what the City should do next to meet these goals.
- Tuesday March 13, 5:30-8:30 p.m. Ravenna Eckstein Community Center (6535 Ravenna Ave NE)
- Friday March 16, 1:00-4:00 p.m. City Hall, Bertha Knight Landes Room (600 4th Avenue)
- Monday March 19, 5:30-8:30 p.m. Southside Commons (3518 S Edmunds Street)
To participate, please RSVP by March 2nd. Contact Sharon Lerman at email@example.com with any questions. If you are unable to attend, there will be an opportunity to add your perspective online at www.seattle.gov/food.
You can get more information on the City's food work and the listening sessions at www.seattle.gov/food. We look forward to hearing from you on where the Local Food Action Initiative should go in the future.
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SAVING CENTRAL CINEMA
Recessions are tough times to run a business, but they can also unleash entrepreneurial energy and creativity. The worst thing that government can do – all of the time, but especially in hard economic times – is shut down new ideas because 'we don't do things that way'. Yet, that threat is currently hanging over the head of Central Cinema, an all-ages, family-friendly dinner theater at 21st and Union. The City Council, Mayor, and City Attorney have all signed on to a letter petitioning the State Liquor Control Board to refrain from taking enforcement action – but we don't know what the result will be.
Central Cinema was actually founded in 2005, and it has become a wonderful asset to the community. Now, unfortunately, it has to petition the Liquor Control Board to amend WAC 314-02-027, relating to spirits, beer, and wine in dinner theater venues.
Here's what City officials wrote in support of Central Cinema:
"Until recently, the area… (around 21st and Union)… – and particularly the nearby intersection of 23rd and Union – was known as an open-air drug market, and experienced very high levels of crime. The City's "Safer Union" project, with help from many local business owners and residents, has worked to create a greater sense of safety and community in the Union Street corridor. Central Cinema has been a tremendous asset in these efforts, serving as a family-friendly destination that draws people to the neighborhood and brings neighbors together. The Cinema offers casual dining together with films that are often family-oriented – including a weekly "cartoon happy hour" and "sing-along" movies – and serves as host for a diverse range of other community events.
Although it has operated for over six years without incident, the Central Cinema was recently notified that it may be in violation of WAC 314-02-027. As adopted in 2010, this rule authorizes a restaurant/ spirits beer and wine license for "a cinema with a dinner theater venue," but only if minors are prohibited "in the individual theater rooms that allow alcohol service and consumption."Because Central Cinema operates with a single dining and theater room, strict enforcement of this rule would require the Cinema to substantially change its business model, and likely force it to close. For all of us who are interested in seeing the Union Corridor thrive as a diverse, safe, and family friendly community, this would be a terrible outcome.
While we can appreciate the rationale for WAC 314-02-027 as applied to a typical cinema venue, it makes much less sense when applied to an establishment like the Central Cinema. The Central Cinema has lighted booths, which meet the restaurant lighting requirements of WAC 314-11-055, and fully allow for checking of identification and enforcement of all liquor rules. Food and drinks are delivered by table servers, who are constantly working and monitoring the room. The Central Cinema thus poses no more threat to minors than many other restaurants and dinner theaters where families are allowed. In fact, we understand that if the Central Cinema were offering live music, or large TV screens, or no entertainment, instead of movies, it would be fully lawful; it is simply the presence of the movie screen that invokes the prohibition of WAC 314-02-027. We do not imagine this was the intended purpose of the rule.
We respectfully request that the Board initiate a rule-making to consider amendments to WAC 314-02-027, and stay further enforcement of the rule while the rule-making is pending. It seems likely that with minor modifications, the rule could serve its intended purpose and still allow family-oriented establishments such as the Central Cinema to operate. We appreciate your attention to this matter."
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"What's happening to libraries lately is like they're shooting the stars out of the sky. Libraries are such unnatural, incredible incandescent miracles and it's so easy to take little chunks out of them, like nighttime hours when people stuck doing something they don't much like the rest of the day can spend a few hours checking out the rest of the universe… "
"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science."
Your Seattle City Councilmember
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