If you read the blog then I’m sure you saw this candidate question coming. Also, to keep the train rolling on these questions I’m skipping a separate calendar post this week, check out our calendar page for what’s going on in Wallingford over the next week.

The Question: 45th street over I-5 is one of the most congested, dangerous roadways in the city for pedestrians and cyclists, yet the Move Seattle Levy does nothing to help connect Wallingford pedestrians or cyclists to light rail in the U-District. This is the top ask by Seattle Greenways for district 4 and has been widely covered on Wallyhood. To fix the levy Wallingford needs money to be allocated for structural improvements on or near the 45th Street overpass by the 2021 opening of light rail.

Further, the Move Seattle Levy was devised and feedback was collected without levy planners ever setting foot once in Wallingford. SDOT has not incorporated any feedback into their plans that Wallingford did provide, and has released contradictory statements about what their plans even are. While the goals of the levy and integrated transportation planning may be excellent, the levy plans for Wallingford are completely mismatched to our community needs, with cycle tracks going where they aren’t wanted and critical connections needed to complete a safe and integrated transportation network going unfunded.

As our District 4 representative, will you vote against the Move Seattle Levy as it stands today? What changes to the levy do you need to see, if any, before you will support it?

Michael MadduxMichael Maddux’s Answer: I am generally concerned with the reliance on property tax levies, especially with the upcoming proposals from the County, as well as expected expansion proposals for the Library Levy, Families and Education Levy, and Housing Levy. These are all great things that we need, but, beyond the issue of levy capacity being bumped up against, also raise concerns about who is being priced out due to increases. While low-income seniors and disabled persons have access to programs to lower their property taxes, this does not apply to renters’ “pass through” by way of rents paid, or moderate income individuals and families. I cannot stress enough the importance of pursuing revenue reform in Seattle to move away from over-reliance on real property taxes, sales taxes, and flat fees – all regressive forms of revenue.

On the Move Seattle proposal, while I appreciate the funding to study what we can do to improve east-west connectivity pending future investments in light rail (Ballard Spur!!!), I do believe there is a need for a pedestrian/bicycle connection between Wallingford and the U-District. Having ridden across the 45th Street Overpass, I know I would personally feel safer with something protected, which, based on overall mobility needs, would likely mean a separate overpass akin to what is proposed in Northgate.

Rob JohnsonRob Johnson’s Answer: In my day job, I advocate for more and better public transit throughout Washington State, so I’m very excited about the opening of the new light rail station in 2021.  As we prepare for the opening of that new system we need to make sure that Wallingford has such great east/west transit connections that you can go to a stop without needing to look at a schedule and get quickly and easily to anywhere you’d like to go. I’ve been advocating for new funding in Move Seattle for better transit and safer bike and pedestrian infrastructure across the city, which is one of the reasons why I’ve been endorsed by both the Cascade Bike Club and ATU 587 (our bus/light rail drivers union). At a minimum we need to expand the sidewalk infrastructure at 45th to make it easier for people walking or biking to cross I-5.  A separate 47th street crossing would be an expensive option, and thus not likely to get included in this year’s measure, but the city should at minimum study the cost of a crossing so we can start getting it into our future transportation plans.

Tony ProvineTony Provine’s Answer: The Move Seattle Levy must include a plan to build a greenway connection for bicyclists and pedestrians across I-5 at NE 47th Street.  Additional funds should be allocated for structural improvements throughout Wallingford.  In the meantime, I would seek immediate funding to improve pedestrian and bicycle access on the NE 45th Street bridge across I-5.

Throughout NE Seattle neighbors feel they are being ignored by downtown decision makers. Outreach processes have been inadequate and stakeholder’s voices are not being heard.  Long-time residents are weary of this pattern and a strong majority chose to elect city council members by district.  I am a proven neighborhood leader with a history of advocacy for my community on local and city-wide issues.  Smarter transportation and community-led processes are needed to complete a safe and integrated transportation network in our neighborhoods.  I support many aspects of the Move Seattle Levy but it is only one tool the city has to fund our neighborhood’s transportation needs.   This Levy includes many desirable projects that are not immediate needs while failing to address the more urgent needs of neighborhoods like Wallingford.  So many of our roads and highways need improvement now to increase safety and alleviate congestion.

Jean GoddenJean Godden’s Answer: Seattle’s transportation system must include a safe and accessible connection for walkers and cyclists over I-5 to the U District Link light rail station. I will work to assure that connection is in the Move Seattle plan that goes to voters this fall.

The mayor is transmitting his Move Seattle levy proposal to City Council, and we will examine it and make changes to assure it best fulfills the city’s transportation needs for the next nine years. It’s important that the plan be broadly appealing to Seattle voters, because without the funding that levy will provide, there would be drastic cuts in our transportation budget. Not only would street improvements not get built, but basic maintenance like street repaving would be drastically reduced

Abel PachecoAbel Pacheco’s Answer: Outreach on the Move Seattle Levy, development projects and other programs is critical. Instead of having to fight against an entire program because it was sprung on a neighborhood without input is ineffective, wasteful, and creates unnecessary hostility. The Move Seattle Levy did have outreach, but some communities such as Wallingford were missed.

I’ve suggested that organizations such as community councils should be given an opportunity to “opt in” or registered to be notified of public and private projects which impact their neighborhoods. People who are interested and want notice, should be allowed to register to get it.

I won’t commit to opposing the entire Move Seattle Levy because it does not provide a solution for the 45th St. problem. It is a significant oversight in the levy that not enough input was considered, it must be evaluated as a whole. Before making a commitment to support or oppose the levy as it stands today, I need to have input from other communities in the fourth district. Going forward, our district election system will likely result in the need for more give-and-take and compromise. What I can say now is that I’m committed to our community and its constituents, having worked hard to promote our values on the Wallingford Community Council, and will continue to do so. Going forward we can’t lose sight of the problem, and I am committed to keeping neighborhood transportation issues in the forefront with regard to future plans.

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As a preface, here is an interactive map that the Northlake Safety and Security Team put together of the camper problem down on Northlake way. They state that in addition to the increasing numbers of vehicles, there are “numerous bags of garbage and debris” plus “12 unusually large piles of dog poop/human feces (?) in just a small section of the walking path”.

Also, I apologize for pairing homelessness with property crime in the question. I was trying to boil the questions down to 5 total and the issues both relate to city responsiveness, but the pairing is ugly and unfair and I regret it. Anyhow, moving right along…

The Question: Wallingford has several camper vans parked down on Northlake Way and homeless encampments in Gasworks and Meridian parks. This has been resulting in violence and mess to the point that the Northlake Safety and Security Team was recently formed to try to contain the problem after they found city government unhelpful. Further, police responsiveness to property crime like car prowls and mail theft and even home burglary is effectively non-existent in Wallingford.

The community has service agencies like Familyworks and Solid Ground, plus local churches that provide services. Programs like low income housing and Conservation Corps with Seattle Parks help with individual cases, but the 10 year plan to end homelessness in Seattle resulted in more homeless people than ever. It is argued the problem is exacerbated by the fact that neighborhoods like Wallingford are the best place to be homeless and receive services in our region.

Solving the problem requires the sort of sustained effort that Seattle government has not demonstrated an ability to undertake, from providing supports to everyone while also deterring abuse of property and laws. What are you planning to do so that city government becomes able to address these problems in a sustained effort?

Tony ProvineTony Provine’s Answer: As a caring and compassionate community, we should provide shelter and programs that connect homeless people with effective services, like job training.  Our region’s 10 year plan is well-intentioned but an ineffective attempt to solve the problem of homelessness. Other cities have been more successful.  Salt Lake City created a system of supportive housing where unsheltered people wanted to dwell and provided generous on-site counseling for challenges such as drug abuse and unemployment. The SLC results were stunning. In 2004, SLC estimated that each chronically homeless person cost taxpayers $61,000 a year, compared with $16,000 for supportive housing.

As a neighborhood leader I have heard the urgent need for more police officers.  Seattle’s police force is understaffed by hundreds; SPD is at 1970’s levels. It is essential that the City of Seattle establish its own police academy to increase staffing quickly. Wallingford would benefit from neighborhood policing with visible foot patrols that deter criminal activity.

We also need to expand the promising pilot program, Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD), throughout north Seattle Instead of arrests and jail time, LEAD takes a public health, harm-reduction approach where drug offenders receive treatment and housing to transition out of criminal behavior.

Jean GoddenJean Godden’s Answer: First of all, you have correctly explained the situation as I see it: Seattle is an attractive city with a moderate climate. It holds out the promise of jobs and it has a wealth of social services compared to other destinations. For this reason, we draw increasing numbers of newcomers, some of whom have found work; others, alas, have become the new homeless.

Because of a vastly increased need for transitional housing, we recently approved three additional encampments. These encampments will need experienced management and cannot be sited in single-family neighborhoods. Yes, we do need more transitional housing, but not under the nearest underpass nor alongside interstate ramps. Another step is that we need to encourage other communities in the region to assume responsibility and provide for some of the homeless population. If these other communities want help with regional transportation, housing, trails and more, we should expect them to help with the problem.

Despite our efforts to help move the homeless into a more stable existence with a secure roof over their heads, we may always have populations in need. Given the present dearth of services at state and federal levels, the city must work to secure more mental health services. One last note, I have noted the increase in private security forces due to the increasing exasperation with property crimes. I am convinced, in talking with our new police chef Kathleen O’Toole, that she is aware of the issue. Seattle needs more police per capita. We have the smallest ratio of any large city. Increasing the force will be a large undertaking, but it is one that stalled during the recession and we must now address.

Abel PachecoAbel Pacheco’s Answer: We need to remember that being poor and homeless is not a crime, and shouldn’t betreated as one. On the other hand, those who refuse help and disregard the health, safety and environment of our communities and are not truly homeless should be required to obey the law. Regarding the issue down on Northlake way, it is my understanding that many of the large vehicles are there months at a time and interact with the neighborhood and authority in not only a hostile but dangerous manner. When the vehicles are moved, they often leave mounds of trash, garbage and even feces in their wake. Alternatives to parking on the waterfront should be available, and if refused, the law should be equitably enforced.

Homelessness is and will be a continuing problem as it is said the poor will always be with us. Fortunately Seattle has a wide variety of nonprofit organizations willing to tackle the problem. These organizations should be given greater flexibility to experiment with different models in dealing with homelessness. One example is to allow “housing first” programs. City grant requirements should be reviewed to allow accountability, flexibility, and innovation.

Michael MadduxMichael Maddux’s Answer: Clearly our city needs to invest in more shelter beds, transitional housing, workforce retraining, and day centers with attached services. I believe it is time for Seattle to be bold on revenue, and will work with willing council members to review what options we can and should push for – including a local income tax – to stabilize our revenue stream, decrease regressive taxes and fees, and ideally have the funds in place to provide improved human service infrastructure. In the interim, I do believe we need to identify a short-term measure to address Northlake (and other parts of the city with similar situations). To that end, I will work with service providers, fellow council members, and neighborhood groups, in order to identify options, such as a car-camper encampment, so that people who are living in their vehicles have somewhere safe to be.

On property crime, a separate issue, I do believe we need to be proactive in funding and recruiting more officers, activate community policing within all communities, and ensure our officers have the support they need to adequately patrol neighborhoods and respond to calls – including property crime calls – in a timely fashion. As your next council member, I will accompany officers during each shift for each beat – whether as a ride-along, bike-along, or walk-along – and take the opportunity to learn from our frontline officers what their needs are, while ensuring my district office is a place for residents to bring information about neighborhood and block crime spikes, and know that their concerns are being heard by myself, my staff, and our precinct commanders.

Rob JohnsonRob Johnson’s Answer: 
In Seattle unsheltered homelessness has increased by 30% over the past 5 years, which has been exacerbated by the national and state reduction in mental health and social service funding. Clearly it’s time for a renewed effort to tackle the problem. I’ll push to see us work to expand the successful LEAD program into neighborhoods to reduce crime, I’ll advocate for hiring more officers to improve response times, I’ll push for more community policing efforts so officers can work more closely with communities on chronic public safety issues, and I’ll advocate for the budget to include more support for Solid Ground and other service providers to be able to stay open later, provide more services, and assist more people. I have a strong track record of collaboration with local officials throughout the region on complex policy issues and would engage early to combat homelessness. For example, I fought for the adoption of a low-income fare for Metro bus and Sound Transit light rail riders, both of which were implemented in 2015. Nearly 25% of King County residents are now eligible to ride transit at 50% less than the normal fare, a huge increase in mobility and access for working families.

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District 4 Wonkathon: Low Income Supports

As a preface, the podcast Planet Money from NPR is a great listen, and they do a good job of covering the gap between rich and poor and the difference between handouts and redistribution.

Rich vs Poor

A mash up of two of the better graphs on income inequality, from Planet Money and the Washington Post

The Question: Seattle has a myriad of programs for people that are low income that must be opted into through a complex set of lotteries and qualifying paperwork. People in low income brackets are deterred from rising across income cut off lines for fear of losing their benefits, while others who qualify but are not able or willing to advocate for themselves are not receiving benefits.

This has led to a push for simplified systems like rent control and a rising minimum wage that benefit everyone who qualifies. Another idea has been to assess developer impact fees and use those funds to subsidize rents. Another option is to have utilities be free up to half the median per capita use rate, then be charged at double the rate above that line, putting in place a revenue neutral, progressive carbon tax.

Do you support rent controls? How about development fees for rent subsidization? How about making utilities free up to half the median per capita use rate? What other systemic changes to address low income needs do you support?

Rob JohnsonRob Johnson’s Answer: I’d like to see us significantly increase the funds in 2016’s housing levy. I’d like to see us explore more housing on public lands. I’d like to see us work more closely with Sound Transit on surplus properties to build more transit oriented development that could be targeted for affordable housing. I’d like to see us increase our height limits around Sound Transit light rail stations, particularly in the University District, Roosevelt, and Northgate. I’d like to see us go to Olympia and get the authority (if we don’t believe we have it already) to implement a form of land value taxation to (ideally) flatten out some of our construction booms and busts to fund affordable housing. I’m a supporter of increased tent city encampments provided that they are placed near frequent transit service and that we have the social service workers available to get residents access to the services they need. And most importantly, I don’t want us to build a multi-billion dollar light rail system that is extremely frequent, reliable, and affordable (especially now thanks to ORCA LIFT) that subsequently prices the working families who need that frequency, reliability, and affordability out of the city.

Tony ProvineTony Provine’s Answer: Our current affordable housing crisis disproportionately impacts older adults, immigrants, people of color and other underserved communities.  People are being displaced, rents are out of control, and incentives given to developers are not working.  We can take steps now to address this crisis and produce thousands of low-income and affordable housing units. We should require inclusionary zoning in new developments rather than just incentivizing it. Affordable housing linkage fees should be required of developers to set aside a percentage of units within a building or pay a set fee. The city should also issue $500 million in long-term bonds for a Housing Bond Program; reestablish Seattle’s Growth Related Housing Fund; establish a loan and bond guarantee program for non-profit housing projects; expand the use of housing vouchers; and build more high-quality public housing with job training and social services. Tenants deserve fair treatment and we should strengthen tenant rights and consider rent stabilization tools.

Seattle is experiencing unprecedented growth and development.  Through enactment of Developer Impact Fees, we can cover some of the costs associated with new development.  These fees directly fund schools, roads, parks, and fire services and lessen the burden on the city and taxpayers.

Jean GoddenJean Godden’s Answer: To address affordability concerns, we have to look at simplified solutions that we can implement now. We are building more affordable housing units, and we must ensure that current tenant/landlord policies are being enforced.  Other solutions include easing zoning requirements for detached accessory dwelling units and requiring longer advanced notice of rent increases. These possibilities will help ease the housing affordability crunch Seattle faces, but we need more. I will advocate for local municipality jurisdiction over implementing rent stabilization. Seattle, not the State Legislature, should make the choice about rent control. I signed onto Resolution 31551 which states the City’s intent to implement an affordable housing linkage fee program and establishes policy parameters for such a program. I believe that incentive zoning bonuses and/or linkage fees should be one part of a wider network of solutions to create more affordable housing.

Abel PachecoAbel Pacheco’s Answer: As a renter who lives in a mother-in-law apartment I’m well aware of the housing crunch in Seattle. Homeownership and renting an affordable place to live are becoming out of reach of many of the people who protect our communities, teach our kids, and make our economy function- myself included as a UW employee trying to save, pay off student loans, and make ends meet. As an adjunct professor at North and Central Seattle Community Colleges, I too hear of the struggle many of my students undergo to progress out of many of these low-income programs.

Our rapid growth is coming with a cost on the community through its impacts on infrastructure, transportation, elimination of housing in old neighborhoods, etc. Reasonable and appropriate fees which consider the costs to the public are ideas I am open to exploring. Under a comprehensive plan to address growth and our housing crisis, developers should pay its share in dealing with the consequences of growth. Having said this, our city leaders must also do a better job at preparing for our growth to minimize the number of levies we ask voters to approve year after year as these levies add to the cost of housing. These costs can add another burden to already struggling middle-class families and individuals like myself. We, Seattleites, are a generous community but we want results. I do not like the common practice of coming year after year to voters, asking for approval of another levy when city leaders have not been good stewards of public funds- it erodes public confidence in our ability to address the problem. It is important that those fees, and levies, be used to effectively address problems caused by the growth and support our low-income neighbors, and not become another revenue source for the city.

Current state law does not allow us to implement rent control, but I am willing to study the issue further if state law changes. In general, I have reservations regarding rent controls as they can easily benefit those who don’t need the help and they ignore the need to create more housing. Specific, targeted, and limited rent controls might be feasible. In the short run, we can lessen impacts of people being forced out of their homes. Given the housing crunch and the difficulty in finding a place to live, notice requirements for rent increases and termination of tendencies should be expanded. People need not only living space but breathing room in having to deal with the pressures of growth.

Michael MadduxMichael Maddux’s Answer: Focusing on the questions posed – I do believe that the city can and should demand local control over housing, including repealing or amending RCW 35.21.830. I believe this would give the people of our city more leverage in housing affordability discussions. Whether I would support actual price controls on rent would depend on a lot of factors, including what efforts were in place to build new units where appropriate, how would the city ensure that landlords have the means to invest in building and unit improvements, and what the equitable application would look like. There are other measures that could be implemented more immediately that I support without hesitation, including regulations to make all leases automatically transition to month-to-month (requiring justification for evictions), ensure that people who are economically evicted receive relocation assistance, and requiring greater notice for no-fault evictions. The Community Housing Caucus has proposed additional measures, many of which I am supportive of.

I have been researching other funding sources, and one idea that was sent my way is exploring a capital gains tax on certain property transfers to ensure that not only developers and residents are paying into taxes for infrastructure (property taxes, REET taxes, and proposals for Linkage Fees and Impact Fees on developers), but speculators who are selling properties for massive profits – properties that are very valuable thanks to investment by the city in transit infrastructure, parks, and other amenities – are also participating in funding our city’s infrastructure needs.

On utilities – Santa Fe has a program for water that sets tiered rates based on usage, and has seen significant decrease in total water usage, even as the population has grown. I would be interested in looking at options like these to not only balance out the cost, but also encourage more conservation of our natural resources.

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District 4 Wonkathon: Neighborhood Planning

For the next 5 days we will be running Wallingford’s Seattle City Council District 4 Candidate Wonkathon! As promised, Wallyhood put out 5 Wallingford-specific questions to all District 4 candidates and asked each of them to answer the questions in 200 words or less, although some candidates couldn’t contain themselves. At the end of each post you get to vote on which candidate best spoke for your point of view. We’ll begin with the wonkiest question of all…

Question 1: Wallingford’s Neighborhood Plan dates back to 1998. Unfortunately, this has meant that we have not had plans at the ready when levies are devised, so we get short changed. Further, the development plans we do have are no longer well enforced by DPD, with developers having connections downtown that allow them to get zoning exceptions.

Going beyond plans, priorities are being set downtown with haphazard outreach to impacted neighborhoods. For instance, the Wallingford Community Council was consulted on the detailed design of a bike lane at Latona and 50th, but was never asked about priorities and plans for the $930 million Move Seattle levy. Many neighborhood groups want to see a return to having neighborhood planners that coordinate government outreach and set priorities collaboratively with neighborhoods.

Do you agree all neighborhoods should have current neighborhood plans, and are you willing to say you will not run for reelection unless Wallingford gets an updated neighborhood plan first? Beyond that issue, how do you plan to productively reconnect government priorities to neighborhood priorities?

Jean GoddenJean Godden’s Answer: I support neighborhood planning. For those plans to be meaningful, they must incorporate the goals and values of the neighborhood and be kept up to date. Any plan dating back to 1998 needs to be updated or completely redone.

Neighborhood plans must be developed in a spirit of true collaboration between City Hall and the neighbors. No more top-down planning, where the City controls everything and neighborhood citizens are little more than observers. I want to prepare, educate, and train the neighbors so that they are empowered to secure the necessary funds for their neighborhoods. Seattle is a fast growing city, and it’s important that we get the planning right, so that we preserve the neighborhood character and other features that people find attractive.

The City is now in the process of updating the Comprehensive Plan. I will work to assure that neighborhood planning is included as a necessary implementation tool.

Abel PachecoAbel Pacheco’s Answer: Seattle used to be a leader in providing support for neighborhood planning and citizen involvement. However, in the past several years those efforts of been frustrating. Being a member of the Wallingford Community Council board, I’m aware of these problems. In Wallingford, neighbors put in thousands of hours developing the South Wallingford Amendment to the neighborhood plan. Once finished, City Hall refused to conduct evaluations necessary for steps toward adoption. The City Council must push for the revitalization of the Department of Neighborhoods, and undergo a broad and inclusive effort at neighborhood planning with follow-up by city departments.

The lack of notice to Wallingford regarding the Move Seattle Levy is a representation of the broader problem. So often projects which will have a direct impact on neighborhoods are only disclosed once it is too late to have effective input. As result, neighbors often find their only option is expensive and extensive litigation. When developers and city departments have brought issues to the Wallingford Community Council early, the neighborhood has negotiated important improvements in projects, and everyone avoided expensive litigation. Some Wallingford examples include negotiations with SPU over the rebuild of the transfer station, and input to the CVS pharmacy going in on 45th.

The city’s current process for providing public notice is too limited and too late. I think we need to take a long look at existing notice requirements. One option would be to allow community groups such as committee councils to register with the city to receive notice when projects are proposed which will affect their community. Since notice is required in any event, cost should be minimal, and goodwill and cooperation more likely.

Regarding not running for reelection unless Wallingford gets an updated plan first, my answer is no. It is not my character to quit if I run into obstacles or delays. District 4 needs someone that will hang on and fight, and Wallingford needs a resident from the neighborhood willing to take on the challenge.

Michael MadduxMichael Maddux’s Answer: I do agree that all neighborhoods should have current neighborhood plans, and would be willing to explore including land-use overlays as part of such plans in instances where it made sense. With districts as our new system, I am hopeful that there will be greater connection between city government and neighborhoods. As a council member, I would work to ensure successful implementation, and expansion as appropriate, of Council Member Licata’s Participatory Budgeting proposal. For future major investments in local infrastructure, I would advocate for using community advisory committees comprised of representatives from stakeholder groups and neighborhoods to be part of the design and prioritization of local investment packages.

Rob JohnsonRob Johnson’s Answer: Seattle is a city of neighborhoods and our neighborhood plans are one of the most unique and important elements of our city’s processes. I’m an urban planner so I spend a lot of time thinking about where people live and how they get around. As we continue to grow as a city we need to work closely across departments be it DPD, SDOT, Housing, Human Services, Neighborhoods, to better prioritize community investments. And growth can be a scary thing, but when done right can bring incredible new community members and community assets to our neighborhoods. But that only works when the public sector outreach coordinates well with community interest and is followed by public and private investment to achieve a common goal. I’ve got a great track record of working across governments to get things done; I helped run the 2008 light rail plan under construction now and 2014’s successful Seattle bus measure, which will result in the biggest increase in bus service in Seattle history. I also plan to open a district office to be able to more quickly and easily work with individuals in the district to help cut red tape and get the most out of government.

Tony ProvineTony Provine’s Answer: Neighborhood plans are routinely ignored and violated. Most are 16 years old and badly outdated. Despite urging from several neighborhood leaders, little has being done to update these plans. We need resources to update neighborhood plans and the city must ensure developers adhere to them. The 38 plans developed in 1998-99 were the result of a neighborhood driven, bottom-up community engagement process that emerged from years of frustration with indifferent city planning practices and policies.

As President of Ravenna-Bryant Community Association, I worked along with the Wedgwood Community Council to proactively plan for change. We sponsored a grassroots neighborhood planning effort that produced Zoning recommendations and Supplemental Design Guidelines for the 35th Avenue NE Business District. I am proud that, even though our neighborhoods were not designated urban villages, I was able to help obtain funding within the 2015 budget from City Council for DPD staff to conduct a Legislative Rezone based on our recommendations.

I support active community participation in neighborhood planning and I will work to obtain the support and resources needed. Updating Wallingford’s neighborhood plan so that residents there can enhance their neighborhood’s safety, character and livability will be one of my top priorities for this District.

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We had a GREAT turnout for the Move Seattle levy “fix-it” tour on Sunday! About 50 participants showed up as we toured paths from Wallingford to the U-District, mostly people from Wallingford. Seattle City Council Transportation Committee representatives Jean Godden, Mike O’Brien, and Tom Rasmussen all attended, and news stations were there as well. For a wonky tour of neighborhood greenways and an I-5 bridge crossing that’s a great turnout!

Rasmussen Godden O'Brien

Thanks to Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren for taking photos of the walk

While we were on the walk all three council members spoke in favor of improving Wallingford’s connection to the U-District, along with several community members. Tom Rasmussen, chair of the Seattle City Council transportation committee, said he would have SDOT draw up a response to our request. More on that as plans come into view!

A visual approximation of how Mayor Murray’s office took part in the walking tour

Once again, nobody from the mayor’s office or SDOT leadership attended the walk, continuing their streak of not visiting Wallingford once for Move Seattle levy planning or feedback. My sense is that the mayor is having SDOT operate through an exclusively top-down process and simply doesn’t want any dialogue with little people at the neighborhood level. We might pull them off message.

We were blessed to have the presence of Brian Dougherty from SDOT on the walking tour. Brian seems to be the only guy in city government that everybody loves, but is a lower level transportation planner and not higher up in city government (unfortunately). Brian indicated that SDOT would favor beginning the process to build a bike and pedestrian bridge at 47th, although some neighborhood participants favored the more pedestrian-centric option of improving the NE 45th street bridge.

The good news is that we already have more traction and attention from Seattle City Council than we ever got from Scott Kubly at SDOT or the mayor’s office. It remains to be seen if city council’s attention translates into action, but at least there’s a dialogue and that’s a huge step forward.

One point that was made clear by multiple people at the walk that know more than me about the process is that there is only one reason Northgate is getting a bike and pedestrian connection to light rail and we aren’t: Northgate activists demanded it at the right time. I’m an engineer and I like to think of city government as rationally looking at safety data and traffic patterns and building networks according to cost / benefit analysis. On that basis, it’s really clear this very dangerous, congested, and obvious connection needs to be built. Unfortunately, city government priorities are really about greasing the squeaky wheel. Thanks to Wallingford for squeaking today!


Hamilton Wants to be Pesticide Free

Wallyhood Peter Carter SignaturesA few weeks back, when I posted about pesticide use at Wallingford Park, I heard from several families at Hamilton International Middle School. As noted before on this blog, Seattle Public Schools routinely utilizes pesticides at public schools, because it is more cost-effective than hand-weeding. There are so many concerns about the use of pesticides around children and pregnant women that I don’t even know where to begin my rant about this short-sighted behavior, so I will point you to the fact sheets available at the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides (NCAP).

Seattle Public Schools has an official Integrated Pest Management (IPM) policy that includes using pesticides, “only as a last resort for solving pest problems.” However, people on the frontlines of this issue, such as Megan Dunn at the NACP, have discovered that SPS’s IPM policy is neither funded nor staffed. Ms. Dunn has appealed to SPS Superintendent Larry Nyland, who “was receptive” to funding and implementing the policy, but thus far no steps have been taken in that direction.

Enter the student Green Team at Hamilton International Middle School. This group of students wants to make Hamilton a “no spray zone” and are working to raise community awareness about this issue. To support their cause, neighbors can:

  • Sign their petition. It takes about one minute. I counted.
  • Come out to Wallingford Playfield at 3 pm on Sunday to support the students in their signature collecting efforts. They will be there dressed as bees and butterflies, and you (or your children) are welcome to don a pair of wings and meet them out there. They hope to raise awareness within the local neighbor and parent communities that Seattle Public Schools uses pesticides, as many people don’t know this. They will have paper copies of their petition available to sign as well.

Fingers crossed that the school district finds its students hard to ignore and actually starts implementing its own policy. It’s a good policy, and ought to be a model for the country instead of a document collecting dust while the district continues to spray.

Pick up some junk and get plied with pizza and beer and neighborly gossip. If the weather holds then it’s not so bad for a Saturday out and about:

Wallingford Spring Clean 9 AM to 12 PM: We will meet up at the Wallingford Center at 9 and come back at noon for pizza! Tools provided (but feel free to bring your own favorite implement if you have one) Bring a team, or join a team! A great way to earn those community service hours!! There will be PRIZES!!! Thanks to the following organizations for their support: Wallingford Center, Wallingford Boys and Girls Club, Wallingford Chamber of Commerce

N Northlake Way from 12 to 4 PM: Come remove trash, weeds, and debris while walking along N. Northlake Way in Wallingford and Fremont. Meet at Waterway 22 (at the intersection of Stone Way N. and N. Northlake Way) at noon on May 16th. All event equipment and materials will be provided. All ages are welcome. There will be a post-event celebration at Fremont Brewery.

Orchard Pest Prevention on the Burke-Gilman Trail from 12PM to 3PMJoin City Fruit for a work party on the Burke-Gilman Trail. We need volunteer to help us place protective bags over the young apples along the Burke Gilman Trail. These bags will keep out pests that like to eat the growing fruit. The more apples we can protect, the more fruit we can harvest and share with the community! Meet at 555 NE Pacific Street, intersection of NE Pacific and lower NE 40th. Sign up here.

U-District Street FairThe 46th Annual U-District Street Fair is also this weekend. The Ave will be chock full of vendors and buskers on Saturday from 10 to 7 and Sunday from 10 to 6, between 50th and 40th on University Avenue. It’s always a good time. More info is here.

Sunday at 11 AM is the walking tour of Wallingford with Seattle City Council. It’s been mentioned. After the walk, go to the U-District street fair!

Family Day at Meridian Orchard 10 AM to 1 PM on Sunday. Don’t care about transportation or city government or street fairs? Join us for Family Day at Meridian Orchard! City Fruit needs volunteers to help us place protective bags over the young apples in our orchard – a fun activity for the whole family. These bags will keep out pests that like to eat the growing fruit. The more apples we can protect, the more fruit we can harvest and share with the community. Sign up here.

Tuesday: Teacher strike!

Volunteer work party for the Good Shepherd Center grounds at 6 PM on Wednesday: We could use some extra hands to help maintain the gardens at the Good Shepherd Center. Many hands make light work and will help us tackle things we don’t have time for otherwise. It will also give volunteers a chance to do a little gardening and get to know the garden better, including the plant collection, history, and future plans.

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