Tuesday, May 25, 2010


City of Seattle

Office of the Mayor


For Immediate Release Contact: Aaron Pickus

May 25, 2010 Tel: (206) 233-2650

SEATTLE – Mayor Mike McGinn today published a blog post comparing the views of the state attorney general and city attorney on state law, and what it means for Seattle. The blog post is published in full below. The blog post may also be viewed on the Mayor’s Office blog:


Comparing the views of the state attorney general and city attorney on state law, and what it means for Seattle

It is worth taking a close look at what our city attorney, Pete Holmes, and the state attorney general, Rob McKenna, have to say on the state law that caps the state's contribution to the Viaduct Tunnel at $2.4 billion and requires Seattle area taxpayers to pay all cost overruns.

Both believe the state's cap on spending is enforceable:

Holmes: “The cap on the state’s contributions is quite enforceable. It is essentially carved in stone.”[1]

McKenna: “It's really going to come down to whether or not the Legislature wants to try and hold Seattle's feet to the fire and they don't do that through a law, they do that through the state transportation budget. That's where their real leverage is."[2]

On the provision requiring Seattle to pay cost overruns, they have differing viewpoints:

Holmes: “It is not enforceable. . . . We are solid on that, we are very clear on that. It is a red herring.”

McKenna: "Once it's adopted, it's our job to defend it. A law which is adopted by the Legislature is presumptively constitutional.

If Seattle chooses to go ahead without addressing cost overruns now, that means in the event of cost overruns we will be locked in litigation with the state over the city's responsibility to pay. Even worse, we will have no standing to compel the state Legislature to lift the spending cap.

McKenna's final analysis: "This is going to be figured out by agreement with the city and the state Legislature."

That is why it is critical for Seattle elected leaders to stand together on the issue of cost overruns now before we enter into a final agreement with the state. We have a path to negotiate now for an agreement that protects Seattle from cost overruns. If we avoid the issue and wait for cost overruns to occur, we will be in the worst position of all -- an unfinished tunnel, lawyers litigating Seattle's share of cost overruns, and a state Legislature with the undeniable power to enforce its spending cap.

[1] Holmes’s quotes throughout: “City Attorney on Tunnel Cost Overruns: "The City Cannot Be Forced to Pay" - The Stranger’s SLOG 5/24/10 http://tinyurl.com/392c9kh

2 McKenna’s quotes throughout: KUOW’s Weekday 11/24/09 http://tinyurl.com/399svqu

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

No May Meeting, see below

Because of the upcoming Memorial Day holiday the Seattle Community Council Federation will not be meeting this month. The next meeting will be on June 24th,2010.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Allied Arts Invitation Tuesday, 18 May at GGLO (1301 First Avenue, Suite 301) @ 7 p.m.

"Seattle Center: Balancing Private Partnerships With The Promise Of Public Access" Sponsored by Allied Arts Tuesday, 18 May at GGLO (1301 First Avenue, Suite 301) @ 7 p.m.

Join us for this compelling discussion as we launch The Public Square Salon series. We were inspired by the Salon movement of the late 1800's and early 1900's where folks gathered to share ideas, concepts and debate the news of the day.

Today, we exchange most of our news and ideas by channeling our online experience. Through The Public Square Salons, hopefully folks will be inspired to share their views on a variety of topics which may lead to further civic action.

This Salon will also serve to further acquaint folks with The Public Square, which opens the door for Allied Arts to engage in broader discussions around place making in Seattle and throughout the Northwest Region.

Allied Arts recently supported the Seattle Center Century 21 Master Plan to redevelop the 74-acre campus, including the Fun Forest space which was slated to add 5 acres of public open space.

The Seattle Center has enriched the lives of millions of visitors over the years. There is no question that improvements are long overdue. At our recent board meeting, we learned more about the proposed plan to use 1.6 acres of the Fun Forest to establish the Chihuly Exhibition, which inspired us to launch the Salon Series with this topic on May 18th.

The Center has a history of demonstrating how public funding can also be the catalyst that spurs private investment - and how private investment can support public programs. What are the 'good choices' for private development partnerships? Will this result be viewed as creative, constructive or controversial?

Please join us for a lively conversation.

Jeff Pelletier, Chair of The Public Square, Seattle Chapter will kick off the event.

City Council Member Sally Bagshaw, Chair of Parks & Seattle Center Committee, has been invited to discuss this issue with the group.

Light refreshments will be served.

Please RSVP: 206.624.0433 | info@alliedarts-seattle.org

Seattle-King County suspend new jail plan

Seattle-King County suspend new jail plan

The Associated Press


Plans for a new jail in Seattle or a suburb to the north or east have been put on hold.

County Executive Dow Constantine said Thursday that existing jail space should serve through 2020. Previously the county jail had threatened to stop accepting some inmates in 2012.

With the announcement, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn said the city would halt the process of looking for a new jail site and would be looking at safe alternatives to detention.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

DNS for the Multi-Family/Lowrise Zoning Update


May 6, 2010

John Shaw

Senior Transportation Planner

P.O. Box 34019

Seattle, Washington 98124-4019

Subject: DNS for the Multi-Family/Lowrise Zoning Update

Dear Mr. Shaw:

This letter represents comments on the DNS for the Multi-Family/Lowrise zoning update from the Seattle Community Council Federation for inclusion into the SEPA record.

The Federation has been monitoring and engaged in the legislative process for amending the land use code affecting the Lowrise Multifamily zones and related amendments to SEPA concerning parking mitigation authority for many months. The DNS was discussed at our April 22nd meeting.

It is not evident that any thorough SEPA analysis was performed in developing the checklist and determination, nor are supporting documents resulting from analysis referenced in the Checklist or the Determination. In fact, the zoning approach now proposed by Council has existed for only a couple of months (and has been changed even within that time) and is extremely complicated to determine resulting density and other environmental impacts – even for the architects and professionals that have done the evaluation for the Federation.

The fact that DPD only allotted two weeks to citizens to evaluate the SEPA documents and legislation (almost 200 pages), and because of missing supporting information in the determination, reinforces our claims that the determination of “no significant adverse impacts” itself is questionable.

The proposed changes to the zoning will increase housing density, increase lot coverage, and increase demands on public infrastructure for almost 6 square miles of the city.

· The DNS is framed around the proposal as a non-project action, and for the majority of the checklist no evaluation is identified because of that. Yet elsewhere in the checklist it is stated that over 12,000 additional units of housing will result from the zoning changes proposed and elsewhere specifics of units are used to assess traffic and parking.

· The proposal itself is clearly meant to increase density of units in these zones through redevelopment of existing housing stock. All evidence shows that new units developed to replace existing, more affordable units, results in higher cost of housing and displacement and dispersion of some peoples to outside the city. These result in additional transportation impacts.

· The proposal will, as indicated in your SEPA documents, result more lot coverage and less open space and permeable surfaces. Storm water run-off, loss of tree canopy and other affects clearly have not been analyzed.

We have concluded that the Determination of Non-significance is an incorrect assessment of the impacts of the proposed legislation and that thorough evaluation of the broad and cumulative impacts, and identification of mitigations to them, is required through an EIS.

Thank you for considering the views of the Seattle Community Council Federation.


Jeannie Hale, President

3425 West Laurelhurst Drive NE

Seattle, Washington 98105

206-525-5135 / fax 206-525-9631


Lowrise Zone Code Amendments

Lowrise Zone Code Amendments ORD v8.docx April 21, 2010 Version

The City is proposing, with an extremely short timeline and very little public outreach, an “update” to the current Lowrise Zone Code which appears to have many deficiencies and errors which will have adverse effects on Seattle’s Lowrise zones, and these adverse effects will then inevitably spill over into Single-Family Zones.

The current comment period ends at midnight today, May 6, 2010, but may be extended for ten working days as a result of citizen comments, Regardless of the ultimate deadline it is important that the City receive many comments, as the prevailing attitude is that lack of comments equals lack of problems with the legislation.

To be safe, it would be wise to submit your comments today.

Bear in mind that your comments will not be considered if you neglect to include the name of the legislation in the Subject line &/or neglect to include your name and address.

I urge you all to submit comments today. Even though you haven’t had time to carefully consider some of the points that I’ve commented on, some of them are certain to be obvious to you, so you can just copy these into your comments. You may even find some undesirable aspects of this legislation that my comments overlook. The important thing is to submit a comment ASAP.

The proposed legislation is found on the City’s website athttp://www.seattle.gov/DPD/Planning/Multifamily_Code_Update/Overview/

Here is a copy of the comment letter that I sent to John Shawjohn.shaw@seattle.gov today:

Re: DRAFT for Public Review Lowrise Zone Code Amendments ORD v8.docx April 21, 2010 Version

Dear Mr. Shaw,

1. The DNS should be withdrawn and an EIS prepared ASAP.

2. The public comment period must be extended so citizens can confirm claims of no significant adverse environmental impacts.

3. The list and location of reports used in making the determination is missing, such as the city's complete developable housing capacity, etc..

4. Higher costs of housing will displace existing more affordable units. Dispersion of the population outside the city will entail more adverse environmental impacts from commuting.

5. Making yards optional will reduce usable permeable open space, i.e. natural infiltration of stormwater. This is the least expensive and surest way of reversing the degradation of Puget Sound, a matter the state now requires urban areas to address.

6. If urban villages and centers are to be more impervious, than all the areas outside them will have to make up the difference in water infiltration.

7. It is environmentally unsound to be relegating trees to the street right-of-way because sites will be stripped bare, while assuming green roofs will suffice. Claims that Green roofs delay the release of stormwater are still unconfirmed, which is not a substitute for natural infiltration. Furthermore, high maintenance and invisible location makes them most likely to be abandoned by residents.

8. The definition of "frequent" transit service is not the industry standard for the level of high use assumed. Removing SEPA mitigation for unusual circumstances is equally misguided.

9. Meanwhile, the Council should stop the packing of townhouses by directing DPD to either enforce the access easement requirements, or provide the text for an emergency amendment so that it is enforced.

Rick Barrett

1711 N 122nd St

Seattle WA 98133

Monday, May 3, 2010



To Seattle park advocates:

Thank you to those who are re-circulating my earlier analysis that raised questions about a possible Seattle Metropolitan Park District. But please discard and replace it with this retitled and rewritten version that I sent April 28 to the Seattle Parks Board. It includes many more citations to the Washington MPD statute, which can be found at http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=35.61.

This revision also refutes claims that a state-chartered MPD’s overriding of Seattle’s Charter, ordinances, resolutions, and regulations that now protect our parks and open government could somehow be cured by the wording of a Seattle ballot measure or by the City Council’s re-enactment of these lost protections in its new guise as a state MPD board.

Neither the Parks Board nor the Seattle Parks Foundation have taken a position on whether an MPD would be good for Seattle. My hope is that they and other groups will urge the Mayor and City Council to better fund our parks without an MPD, and urge the City Attorney to release to the public a detailed legal memorandum analyzing the various issues raised below. Without major changes in state law, a Seattle MPD would be an historic mistake, and the proposals are letting the Mayor and City Council off the hook from funding our parks from the City treasury. Hard-won protections must not be sold for a sketchy increase in property taxes, which state law should allow to Seattle and other localities without their having to create a state-chartered MPD that endangers the very parks it supposedly is helping.

Chris Leman (206) 322-5463



Seattle’s parks, community centers, nature centers, and other Park Department facilities are endangered by proposals for a state-chartered Metropolitan Park District. Like the ill-fated Monorail Authority, a Seattle Metropolitan Park District would operate under a state charter, evading any of the protections that have been painstakingly built into the City Charter, ordinances, resolutions, and regulations. As a state entity, a Seattle MPD would be governed only by state laws, which are weaker and which the legislature could further weaken at any time.

Background. Although unaccountable to Seattle voters (who would be denied even the ability to close it down by public initiative), a Metropolitan Park District would have vast powers of eminent domain, employment, taxation, and the issuance of bonds, and it could operate a wide range of businesses, including stadiums and performing venues, airports, port facilities, and anything else “it shall judge desirable or beneficial for the public, or for the production of revenue for expenditure for park purposes.”

It is disturbing that public officials and civic leaders who should be strong stewards of Seattle’s parks and of open government have been quietly rushing to establish a Seattle Metropolitan Park District without thorough analysis or public discussion of the serious accountability issues that would accompany an MPD under current state law. Seattle should be strongly opposed to an MPD until major improvements are made in the state legislation, as listed below.

Instead of seeking the needed improvements in state law, in 2002 Seattle successfully lobbied for a change that further reduced an MPD’s accountability--allowing a City Council or County Council to serve as the governing body of a Metropolitan Park District [RCW 35.61.050 (3)]. This change eliminated the independently elected park commissioners who would otherwise be in charge of the District, and who would be more accountable because their election would depend entirely on their stewardship of parks facilities.

Unlike almost any other Seattle program, the City’s parks and their funding needs are recognized in the City Charter. Unfortunately, mayors and city councils have had other priorities, giving parks an ever decreasing portion of City funds. The Mayor and City Council should correct this imbalance, not create a Metropolitan Park District that, under current state law, would make Parks Department funding even shakier and would destroy the park system’s protections and accountability.

Advocates for a Seattle Metropolitan Park District are attracted by the small additional property tax capacity that it would have without need for regular voter approval. But they forget that the tax capacity of Metropolitan Park Districts is junior to other taxing entities such as school districts, the Port of Seattle, the County, and the City itself. In years when property tax revenues are down, a Seattle MPD would suffer huge losses. The largest existing MPD, in Tacoma, has been chronically short of revenue, forcing it to ask voters for funding just as if it were part of the Tacoma City government. State law prohibits a City from contributing funds to an MPD unless the City declares an emergency.

Were a Seattle MPD to be established with its own limited claim on property taxes, advocates for reducing City spending or for spending more on fire, police, and social needs will have a case against the spending of City property taxes for parks, and these funds are likely to diminish further. Tacoma once had a well-regarded and well-funded Parks Department, but it withered once the Tacoma MPD was established.

If Seattle really wants the additional tax base that state law allows to a Metropolitan Park District, it should seek a change in state law, providing this additional tax base to a City that chooses not to create an MPD. Establishing an MPD, with all of the accountability problems that it would bring, is not a responsible way to increase park funding.

Problems in accountability and state law. The City Council, in meeting as the Metropolitan Board of Park Commissioners, would not be covered by any City ordinances, resolutions, or regulations--not even by its own City Council rules. It would be acting as a state-chartered body, and thus be subject only to state laws and regulations. And unlike the elected Tacoma MPD commissioners, the City Councilmembers would not be elected specifically for their work on a Seattle MPD, greatly diminishing their accountability for what they would do on the MPD’s governing board.

Some argue that Seattle can get around the unaccountability of a City Council acting as the state-chartered MPD Board of Park Commissioners by writing into a Seattle MPD’s charter that it must obey the Seattle Charter, ordinances, resolutions, and regulations. But such a requirement could not stand up in court, as state agencies are not subordinate to local agencies, and no agency can be bound beforehand by charter provisions, laws, and regulations that may be passed in the future.

It would also be unworkable if, acting as a state-chartered MPD Board of Park Commissions, the City Council tried to re-enact as MPD policies the City Charter and the hundreds of thousands of pages of City ordinances, resolutions, and regulations, including the constant changes as they arise. Even worse: acting as an MPD Board, the City Council could repeal any of those commitments at any time, and unlike with its decisions under the City Charter, its decisions would be beyond any power of the public to challenge by initiative or referendum, which do not apply to an MPD. As a local government, Seattle now has home rule and more than a century of protections for parks and citizens rights. These it would all be giving up by creating a state-chartered a Metropolitan Park District.

Seattle should not even consider establishing a Metropolitan Park District without removal of the following invitations to abuse. Most of the solutions would require a change in state law. Under current state law (which could be worsened further, without any way for Seattle voters to prevent it), a Seattle MPD would have the following powers:

· Can acquire property, including by eminent domain (condemnation), and not only for parks, playgrounds, parkways, and boulevards, but also to “widen, alter, and extend streets” and to build and operate airports [RCW 35.61.130].

· Can acquire City property (including street rights of way) by transfer without the procedural safeguards and public notice required when the City transfers property to other entities [RCW 35.61.290, RCW 39.30.010].

· Can increase the property tax assessment on adjoining private properties that it claims have benefited from any street improvement it has done [RCW 35.61.220].

· Can establish local improvement districts (additional taxes in a limited area) [RCW 36.69.200].

· Can “sell, exchange, or otherwise dispose of” property by declaring it surplus [RCW 35.61.132].

· Can issue revenue bonds and general obligation bonds, many without voter approval [RCW 35.61.100-115, RCW 39.46.110].

· Can use community revitalization financing, under which a portion of the taxes collected in an area near one of its facilities can be denied to citywide uses or schools and be kept for its own use [RCW 35.61.137, RCW 39.89.050].

· Can commission its own police officers with full police powers [RCW 35.61.370].

· Can conduct any business activities “as it shall judge desirable or beneficial for the public, or for the production of revenue for expenditure for park purposes” [RCW 35.61.130]. This includes merchandise and food sales, concerts and other entertainments, and the operation of airports and port facilities.

· Can fund a wide range of public improvements, including street construction and maintenance, water, sewer, and drainage construction, sidewalks and streetlights, parking, and terminal and dock facilities [RCW 839.89.020].

· Is not subject to any of the initiative and referendum powers that citizens have in the City Charter. Although initially established by voters, an MPD cannot be undone by voters. RCW 35.61.310 gives this sole power to the MPD board, and only if ten percent of the number of voters in the last election have petitioned them with this request.

· Is not subject to any of Seattle’s laws and regulations on competitive bidding, equal employment, human rights, ethics, civil service, whistleblower protection, percent for the arts, tree protection, and even the comprehensive plan.

· Escapes the jurisdiction of all of Seattle’s boards and commissions, even its Board of Parks Commissioners (Park Board), and also its Civil Service Commission, Public Safety Civil Service Commission, Ethics and Elections Commission, Design Commission, Planning Commission, Human Rights Commission, and Commission for People with Disabilities,

· Is not subject to the overwhelmingly passed Initiative 42, a law which protects Seattle parks from being misused, sold or given away.

· Can acquire and manage land outside the City limits [RCW 35.61.130].

· Can annex land outside the City limits [RCW 35.61.275].

Conclusion. The Seattle City Council in 1999 considered a proposal for establishment of a Metropolitan Park District, rejecting it because of many of the above concerns. At that time, parks and good government advocates urged the City to release to the public a thorough analysis of the legal and policy issues that they had raised. Now eleven years later, the City has still not done so.

Now that the issue of a Seattle Metropolitan Park District is arising again, the public is no closer to receiving from the City even the semblance of a careful analysis of the legal and policy issues that are listed above. There is one hope, in that City Attorney Pete Holmes (if enough people urge him to do so) may issue a detailed public legal opinion on the subject.

Please act! The Mayor, City Attorney, and City Council need to hear from you on this issue. Contact the Mayor at mike.mcginn@seattle.gov, by voice mail at (206) 684-4000, by fax at (206) 284-5360, and by mail at P.O. Box 94729, Seattle 98124-4025. Contact City Attorney Pete Holmes at peter.holmes@seattle.gov, by voice mail at (206) 684-8200, by fax at (206) 684-8284, and by mail at PO Box 94769, Seattle 98124-4769. It’s always best to write each Councilmember separately, not address them all in one message. The City Council fax number is (206) 684-8587, and the U.S. mail address is P.O. Box 34025, Seattle, WA 98124-4025. Here are the e-mails and voice mails:

sally.clark@seattle.gov 684-8802
tim.burgess@seattle.gov 684-8806
tom.rasmussen@seattle.gov 684-8808
jean.godden@seattle.gov 684-8807
richard.conlin@seattle.gov 684-8805
mike.obrien@seattle.gov 684-8800
bruce.harrell@seattle.gov 684-8804
nick.licata@seattle.gov 684-8803
sally.bagshaw@seattle.gov 684-8801

The above alert is authored by Chris Leman, who can be reached at (206) 322-5463 and cleman@oo.net

Christofer Williams' letter to staff

From: Williams, Christopher
Sent: Monday, May 03, 2010 1:53 PM
To: PKS_all_staff
Subject: Checking in with employees

Dear Employee,

As many of you were already aware, back in 2001 I was diagnosed with cancer. I was recently informed by my physician that a more aggressive form of this cancer has returned. I must admit that I was not caught completely by surprise by this information. Being a cancer survivor, I have gotten used to looking over my shoulder.

I am currently working with my medical provider to determine the best course of treatment and consulting with my family regarding both short-term and long-term decisions. As soon as I have more information I promise to share it with you.

In the meantime, please carry on business as usual.