Back to Basics
We need to restore common sense, accountability, and fiscal stewardship and the things that make a difference in our everyday lives, including safe neighborhoods, clean parks and improvements to our transportation infrastrucuture.
- Public Safety
- Affordable Housing
- Transportation and Environmental Leadership
- Growing a Diverse Community
Too often Seattle operates in a silo on complex regional and state-wide issues. This go-it-alone approach does not advance our most pressing needs. Seattle spends more money on homeless services than any other city in the country besides New York and Los Angeles, but we’re not getting a good return on that investment. Seattle dedicated $92 million this year. The Point In Time count on Jan. 25 estimated we have 11,199 people in King County who are experiencing homelessness. While Seattle has 30% of the County’s population, we have 70% of the County’s homeless population. Our state spends less on mental health than almost any other state in the country. We rank 49th out of 50th in how much our state dedicates to mental health. We have only 729 mental health beds in the entire state. People in need are living on our streets. Clearly, we can do better. We need city leaders who will collaborate with state and regional jurisdictions on a coordinated regional approach because homelessness doesn’t begin or end at our city borders. I worked for King County government for 6 years before serving on the City Council. I think regionally, and we need more city leaders who do as well. I helped get the first Sound Transit ballot measure passed. I will collaborate with other leaders in our region to tackle our region’s homeless crisis, because it’s not just Seattle’s to solve. .
We need transitional housing and effective wrap-around services. We must provide more services for people in need, including drug treatment on-demand, and more case workers to get people off the streets and into housing to make a lasting impact in their lives. I will work with the All Home and One Table coalitions to make sure Seattle is working collaboratively with regional and state agencies to coordinate service providers and reduce duplication of service.
In the short-term, the city can no longer condone people sleeping in tents in our parks and open spaces. It is not compassionate to allow people to continue to live in such deplorable conditions. It is unsafe and unhygienic. This is a public health issue for people in tents and for our broader community. Because of the 9th District Court Ruling and because of common sense and decency, people need somewhere to sleep that has hygienic facilities. Until we have enough shelter beds, I favor immediate short-term housing such as modular housing or container housing with running water and toilet facilities, private lockers for personal storage, and accountable, and competent service providers to manage these temporary facilities. In the long-term, we need more permanent supportive housing with wrap-around services. I would work with the private sector in a collaborative way to help fund more permanent supportive housing. Premera, Providence and Swedish showed the way by each donating $5M to Plymouth Housing. We need more of this.
To build trust with the electorate, there needs to be more transparency and accountability on how current funds are being spent and what taxpayers are getting for their dollars. The Council should follow the recommendations of the Poppe Report, which outlined what’s not working with our status quo. That will require political will, and I have the fortitude to stand for necessary course corrections to use existing funds most wisely and only resort to requesting additional revenue as a last resort.
Public safety is more than a core function of city government, it is a charter service. As I go door to door in District 6, a frequent issue raised is to prioritize public safety. Between 2016 and 2018, property crimes in south Ballard experienced a 24% increase. In Fremont, property crime is up 57% from 2016-2018. Citywide during the same period of time, it’s up less than 1/2 of 1%. My family and friends outside of my district aren’t expressing the same concerns. But the statistics are mirroring what I have been hearing as a candidate going door to door in District 6. Public safety, and in turn property crime, is a top issue with neighbors.
The “Pre-summer Emphasis Program” is a step in the right direction. Many people and small business owners in Ballard and Fremont would like to see more of a police presence, fixing streetlights, removing graffiti, trimming trees and making our small business districts and neighborhoods safer.
Our police department is relatively small compared to other big cities. New York City has about twice as many police officers per capita as we do. We have about a 10% vacancy rate. We need to address police vacancies stretching the department too thin, a lack of diversion programs, and prosecution of repeat offenders. I have studied the “System Failure Report” which illuminated a problem with keeping our communities safe from prolific offenders. One hundred of the most prolific offenders in our community have committed over 3,500 crimes such as shoplifting, assault and arson. People who are most vulnerable are also most at risk. Habitual offenders need to be prosecuted and held accountable.
We must acknowledge the importance of police accountability and we need to ensure that police receive proper training. As we look to recruit more police officers, we should focus on the recruitment of a diverse police force that reflects the broader diversity of our community.
The high cost of living and out-of-reach housing costs for many working families is one of the most significant issues facing Seattle. About half of our residents are renters. And 46% of renters below 50% of the area median income are severely cost burdened, spending more than half of their income on housing. A financial or health set-back could have dire consequences on their housing situation. Access to affordable housing means investing in our community’s future. Children who are housing insecure and who change schools lag behind their peers academically and are more likely to have poor health. To become the community we all deserve and for our children’s future especially, we need more housing of all shapes and sizes for people of all income levels, especially for low-income and for the “missing middle” (60% – 120% of Area Median Income.) We must make this a priority.
Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) increase affordable housing opportunities in a way that is consistent with neighborhood character, and yet they are fraught with opposition. There are many reasons to favor them. They’d allow aging homeowners the income stream of a rental on their property, or even renting out their home to a family while they move into an ADU on their own property. They’d allow adult children the ability to move back home after college and live autonomously. I support making ADUs easier to permit and build because we’re experiencing a housing crisis. It benefits our community if people like teachers, nurses, police officers and firefighters have housing options close to where they work. Estimates are that 2,300 ADUs could be integrated into our neighborhoods over the course of the next 10 years. Of course, the City should regularly monitor and evaluate how ADUs develop over that time to ensure there aren’t harmful unintended consequences.
To integrate more housing into D6, we need to involve the neighborhoods in those decisions. When I was on the council, we had a robust neighborhood planning process led by Jim Diers in the Dept. of Neighborhoods. It was heralded as a model around the country. It’s time to engage neighborhoods again. There are valid concerns about displacement, concurrency and the need for adequate public transit to serve additional residents, loss of tree canopy, and other relevant issues that should be heard. We should set targets for each neighborhood and let each community decide where and how we will integrate more housing. Seattle’s future needs to include adding housing opportunities in our urban core, near our job centers and near our public transportation network. Personal transportation from distant, suburban communities adds to our carbon footprint and is expensive. The average cost of owning a vehicle is $10,000/ year. I will be a leader who engages the community in how we integrate new housing opportunities into our neighborhoods.
One way to make housing more affordable is to build more efficiently by saving costs and time. Our building code could be changed to allow for cross-laminated timber (CLT) in high-rise affordable housing. Our current code limits buildings made of wood products to no more than 85 feet or 6 stories. Taller buildings have been made of CLT in other parts of the world, including Europe and Canada. It reduces construction time and costs, and it’s less carbon-intensive than steel and concrete. CLT buildings have the environmental benefit of being carbon-neutral. The carbon stored in the building helps offset greenhouse gases released in making and hauling the other building materials used in construction. It is estimated that a 6 – 10 story building made from CLT has the same emissions control as taking over 1,000 cars off the road for a year, and they are more energy efficient to heat and cool. The manufacturing of CLT locally would create more green jobs in the Pacific NW.
Transportation and Environmental Leadership
Seattle must be a leader on climate protection and reducing our carbon footprint. This is a core issue for me. I have served on the Climate Solutions board for over 10 years, and I understand the urgency with which we must approach the warming of our climate. This is about our kids’ future.
My activism goes back to my UW days as student body president when I helped start the campus recycling program and championed the U-PASS program, the universal bus pass given to all UW students to make it more convenient and affordable to take public transit.
When I was on the council, I helped create the Green Power Program and led the effort to sign our first wind contract at Seattle City Light. We were the largest public utility in the country to invest in wind power, and our power portfolio is among the cleanest in the country. Since our energy sources are green, the next area for major improvements is the transportation sector.
We need transportation improvements to ensure Seattle is safe to walk and bike while prioritizing public transportation and freight mobility. Currently, the largest amount of carbon emissions in our city comes from transportation. In Seattle, 50% of our greenhouse gas emissions come from passenger vehicles. It’s critical to make it convenient and safe to bike, walk, take transit, and to move goods efficiently throughout the city. Major projects, policies, and funding decisions need to reflect these values.
Remarkably, 20% of residents living downtown don’t own cars. This is a great trend. It shows that the nexus of providing dense housing close to jobs allows for a lifestyle with a lighter carbon footprint. If we want a livable, walkable city outside of downtown, we need to ensure that pedestrians have unobstructed and safe pedestrian facilities such as sidewalks and crosswalks on busy arterials.
Pedestrian safety is a serious issue. In 2017, Seattle had 11 pedestrian deaths and 56 serious injuries. We must make pedestrian safety a priority. One-fourth of our city still doesn’t have sidewalks which equates to 1,800 blocks of arterials and 10,000 blocks of non-arterials. Seattle only spends $2M annually on sidewalks which is enough for only 7 new blocks each year. The Move Seattle Levy has just over $4M over 9 years for remarking crosswalks, even though it promised voters a 4-year remarking cycle. More than 8% of commuters walk to work and downtown, it’s 13%. In Ballard, 31% surveyed in 2016 said they walked to their destination and 6% biked. These figures demonstrate that dense communities with safe pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure will use it. When I was on the city council 20 years ago, I earned the nickname “Sidewalk Wills” for my advocacy for pedestrian safety. This issue is as relevant now as it was then and I will make it a priority.
Beyond increasing public transit, we must be mindful to offer residents an array of transportation options, and this includes a robust and safe bicycle transportation network. For many years during and after college, I was solely a bicycle commuter. I appreciate the importance of dedicated bicycle lanes to feeling safe as a cyclist and also the need for safe and convenient bicycle storage. It’s great that our city offers bicycle-sharing, including e-bikes which are a good option for people who would like to cycle but are otherwise hesitant about our many hills. Bicycle sharing and e-bikes are relatively low-cost and convenient transportation methods.
I am open to congestion pricing done on a sliding scale so it’s not another regressive tax.
It will no-doubt be controversial at the beginning, just like the U-Pass was at the UW when I advocated for that as student body president in 1990-91. Now it’s replicated all over the country. To address equity concerns, we could implement a sliding scale for commuters based on income and type of driver with different structures for freight, delivery vehicles, work vehicles, carpools, and standard commuters. And perhaps only charge for peak times. If drivers utilize a “Good-To-Go” pass, it enables us to introduce a sliding scale payment structure. Seattle needs to move forward carefully. We don’t want to discourage people from coming downtown. I am open to adding a fee on to Lyft and Uber rides in and out of downtown and dedicating those funds to transportation improvements.
I support the completion of the Burke Gilman Trail through Ballard with an elevated bicycle path along Shilshole Avenue. Shilshole Avenue is a major freight corridor supporting hundreds of working class jobs in the maritime and industrial sectors. We can have a win-win solution with an elevated trail. For more info, please see the Facebook page called “Ballard High Line” which my campaign created in collaboration with Phinney Ridge resident and visionary Russell Bennett.
Growing a Diverse Economy
Ensuring that our residents have access to housing also requires attention to improving Seattle’s business climate. A healthy business climate is essential to the core functioning any municipality because businesses create jobs and generate the tax revenue necessary to fund basic governmental services. In Seattle, the business community contributes 59% of the City’s general fund resources in B&O taxes, sales taxes and property taxes. A healthy business climate in Seattle is needed for retaining and attracting the businesses that fuel the economic engine of this region.
There are currently no city councilmembers who own a business and it shows. As a business owner, I would bring a missing voice to the council. There is a need to address our tax structure, as it is the most regressive in the country. The most well-off among us do not pay their fair share in taxes; therefore, I support a state income tax and a capital gains tax. But to pass the head tax at the city level was wrongheaded. Taxing gross revenue says nothing about profitability. Many businesses such as Uwajimaya and other independent grocers have a high head count and low margins. Other cornerstone businesses of our community, such as Fisheries Supply Company which is vital to many other businesses serving Ballard’s maritime industry, were against it for the same reasons. I will work collaboratively with the business community in solving our region’s challenges. Clearly, that didn’t happen with the head-tax and reverberations of the divisiveness it caused are still being voiced as I go door-to-door in District 6.
I am concerned about our changing economy and how that will affect working people. As we transition from a fossil-fuel based economy to a green economy, we need to be sure to train workers for emerging new industries in the clean energy sectors.
Young people in particular need to be made aware of high-wage job opportunities available through local apprenticeship programs. There is a shortage of workers in the skills trades and the maritime industry. These are high-paying jobs for people from all educational backgrounds that many people, especially our youth, are unaware even exist. Collaborating with schools and social service agencies serving young people to outreach to them about apprenticeship opportunities can grow our skilled labor workforce.I have broad support among people involved with the maritime industry in Ballard. I support the idea of creating a Maritime High School working with the Seattle School Board and the Port of Seattle to give youth access to jobs in the marine industries.District 6 has vital industrial lands that I will work to protect along our working waterfront with many longstanding maritime industries. We need to support a diverse economy in Seattle and these industrial jobs.