SNC Interviews with City Council Candidates

Introductory remarks (2 minutes)

3 Quick Questions:

  1. What are the 3 biggest challenges do you think Seattle needs to address within the next 4 years, and what do you think Council needs do about it? (2 minutes)
  2. What are the 3 biggest challenges do you think Seattle faces over the next generation, and what do you think Council should begin doing about it now? (2 minutes)
  3. What are the first three things you will accomplish if elected? (1 minute)

SNC policy issues/discussion (see below) and Questions from the floor (30 minutes total)

Bridging the Gap will need to be renewed in 2015 to address the rapidly growing backlog of road, bridge and sidewalk maintenance (now well over $2B) that is necessary for an effective and safe transportation network.

How big should BTG2 be? What changes do you want to see in how the city invests and operates to ensure our transportation network is complete and functional?

There are bleak funding prognoses from Metro, with its capacity already insufficient on many key corridors and its citywide reach incomplete. Along with the stratospheric costs for grade-separated Light Rail (with system extensions still years away) this does not suggest that public transit will be adequate to support our current and growing demand.

What will you do to ensure our public transit capacity is adequate?

All over the City established communities are suffering from gentrification. Affordable housing – especially for renters – continues to move out of reach for a large segment of our population. Landlords are raising rents to capture the demand from a rapidly growing jobs base, thereby displacing some long term city residents. Affordable housing providers such as Capitol Hill Housing are not only raising rents annually, but are now often producing housing stock beyond the reach of the struggling communities that are most in need.

What will you do to address the escalating costs of living in the city? Do you believe that Council should address income inequality, and if so, how? What will you do to ensure housing is affordable to all segments of our current and future population?

Stabilizing the City Budget

The City’s revenue stream is largely tied to economic growth, development, and consumption – which are all undependable and fluctuating sources; and, arguably not sustainable.

What do you believe needs to be done to ensure that Seattle has funding sources to support current and future needs?

Seattle Growth Management
Seattle is nearly at its 20 year Comprehensive Plan household growth target for 2024 (47,000 units). In 2012 alone, Seattle added 10,179 housing units (while 1,100 were demolished for a net gain of 9,000 housing units) and Seattle ranks in the top cities in the country for value of construction underway. Last year Council adopted by Resolution a new PSRC 20 year target of an additional 70,000 households (which is roughly 120,000 people – a 20% increase in population).

How would you like to see that population distributed in the City? Do you believe we have adequate infrastructure and amenities to support that growth, and if not, what do you believe we need to do to ensure that our quality of life is maintained and concurrent delivery of amenities and infrastructure is in place to support that growth?

The Comprehensive Plan identifies ‘areas of change’ (the Urban Villages) and ‘areas of stability’ (the Single Family zones outside of the Urban Villages). 75% of the 56,000 households added since 1995 have been in the Urban Villages, indicating nearly 14,000 housing units have been built in single family zones in that period (with an additional 2,300 already permitted).

Do you believe there is adequate capacity to continue to grow in the urban villages, or should single family zones be opened up for higher density development?

Seattle does not appear to be growing according to plan or in a balanced manner. The south end Light Rail station areas are still under-developed and many town centers in identified urban villages remain blighted or underdeveloped compared to their zoning envelope and potential. Other areas such as Ballard, Uptown, Capitol Hill, Pike/Pine, and Eastlake have already doubled and even nearly tripled growth targets for 2024.

What will you do to ensure that growth plans are followed, that there is equitable development in the city, and that communities are not placed under duress by excessive development?

The City has clearly stepped back from comprehensive Neighborhood Planning. With plans for many areas completed almost 2 decades ago, we seem to be opting for narrow “updates” and “action plans” instead of more thorough neighborhood planning. DPD and DON suggest that Neighborhood Planning is a Council directive. Council sought guidance from a Neighborhood Planning Advisory Committee, but recommendations remain unaddressed.

Do you believe that Neighborhood Planning is working? Does it need to be more broadly revisited in preparation for the Comprehensive Plan update due in 2015?

Balanced investment in Seattle infrastructure
While downtown is the economic engine and main tax revenue source for the city, it often appears the vast majority of capital improvements in the city are not going to the neighborhoods outside of downtown. The many investments in South Lake Union, the proposed Arena, the AWV replacement and waterfront park, the sea wall replacement, the First/Capitol Hill Street Car and the downtown connector, Bell Street park, and other infrastructure improvements in downtown neighborhoods far outweigh investments in other parts of the city. Investments to build complete neighborhoods and improve quality of life within any of the outlying urban villages have largely diminished in the last decade.

Do you believe that this represents an unfair allocation of city resources, and if so what will you do to support the needs of our communities outside of the downtown area?


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