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Комитет по жилью

To provide policy direction and oversight and to deliberate and make recommendations on legislative matters relating to: Seattle City Light, including but not limited to City Light finances, energy utility rates, resource matters, energy policy, regional matters, air pollution regulations, and alternative energy sources; Office of Labor Standards; monitor implementation of the priority hire program, and promote worker protections; housing policies and programs, investing and promoting the development and preservation of affordable housing for workers, families, and retirees; and local and regional public health.

The Seattle City Council is considering two pieces of legislation that would (1) rezone portions of the Fort Lawton site from Single Family (SF 7200) to Lowrise Multifamily (LR2 (M1)) in the areas shown on the map (below); and (2) adopt an updated redevelopment plan-2019 update. The approximately 34-acre Fort Lawton site is located on Magnolia Bluff in northwest Seattle’s Magnolia neighborhood. The site is bordered by W Lawton Street to the north, 36th Avenue W to the east, W Government Way to the south, and Discovery Park to the west.

The redevelopment plan-2019 update will create an affordable livable community with housing and parks and open space. It will provide: 85 units of supportive housing for older adults, including veterans; approximately 100 units of family-sized housing for renter households with incomes up to 60% of median income; and up to 52 townhomes and rowhouses for homebuyers with incomes up to 80% of median income. In addition, approximate 22 acres will be acquired for parks and parks-related uses, including development of two multi-purpose athletic fields.

Public Hearing

The City Council’s Housing, Health, Energy, and Workers’ Rights (HHEWR) Committee will hold a public hearing to take comments on the proposed Fort Lawton rezone and application for federal surplus property at Fort Lawton on Tuesday, May 21, at 5:30 p.m. The hearing will be held at:

  • City Council Chambers
  • 2nd floor, Seattle City Hall
  • 600 Fourth Avenue

For more information on the time of the hearing, please check the Committee agenda a few days prior to the meeting at http://www.seattle.gov/council/committees.

The entrances to City Hall are located on the west side of Fifth Avenue and the east side of Fourth Avenue, between James and Cherry Streets. For those who wish to testify, a sign-up sheet will be available fifteen minutes before the public hearing.

Print and communications access is provided on prior request. Please contact Faride Cuevas at 206-727-8809 or via e-mail at: Faride.Cuevas@seattle.gov as soon as possible to request accommodations for a disability.

Questions concerning the public hearing may be directed to Faride Cuevas in Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda’s office, by calling (206) 727-8809 or via e-mail at: Faride.Cuevas@seattle.gov.

Written Comments

For those unable to attend the public hearing, written comments may be sent to:

No plans to sanction encampments

What isn’t on the table is the idea of sanctioning or funding encampments, including A Better Tent City in Kitchener, the committee report said. According to the report, this would take resources away from the region’s broader goal of getting people into permanent housing.

Aleksandra Petrovic, executive director of the Social Development Centre of Waterloo Region, questions that position.

«If we don’t sanction them, then what is the alternative? To continue criminalizing people who resort to public spaces and living in safety of their peers?» said Petrovic.

  • ‘Van life’ is trending, but for some Yukoners it’s a final resort amid housing crisis

She pointed to a report on encampments by Leilani Farha, a UN special rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, that calls for governments to ensure people in camps have access to basics like sanitation facilities and drinking water while different housing options are being negotiated.

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Petrovic also thinks the regional government’s current numbers underestimate the number of people who are unsheltered in Waterloo region.

At least 105 people in #WaterlooRegion living in homeless camps.

Grave underestimation of unsheltered homeless. If we have 100 encampments across the cities, and if we add rural and urban hidden homelessness. we are well over 1000 people in need. https://t.co/IkihzPB8oz

As of June, the report says, 206 people were staying in shelter on a given night, and an estimated 339 people locally were chronically homeless. A point-in-time count set for September is expected to provide more detail about who and how many people are homeless in the region.

  • Fallout from Toronto’s homeless encampment removals continues

Anne Tinker, executive director of the Bridges Shelter in Cambridge, says it could be politically difficult to sanction encampments. Still, she thinks it’s likely encampments will be around for the foreseeable future, which means it could be helpful to provide more public washrooms, showers and other facilities for people who choose to stay in them.

«I can’t force them to come into a shelter, but they’re still human beings,» said Tinker.

Aaron Kunkler: What have you been thinking about in terms of housing and evictions?

Sen. Patty Kuderer: “Foundationally, I can tell you that I view housing as an essential need. And so we look at housing differently than we look at other areas of the economy. At least I do and my committee does, and we have what I would say are three goals. We’re trying to implement protections where appropriate, and you saw a lot of that happened with the changes to the Residential Landlord-Tenant Act and the Mobile Home Landlord-Tenant Act.

Then we look at preservation of existing tenancies whenever we can, wherever we can. That is through establishing the permanent emergency rental assistance programs that you saw happen this last year, and also the establishment of the mediation process that was in my bill, SB 5160. That applies to not just people who are behind in rent, that program also applies to behavioral issues as well to try and work things out and get to a good solution for both the tenant and the landlord, and to preserve that tenancy whenever we can.

The last goal that we have is production. Right now in terms of inventory, it’s estimated that we’re anywhere from 225,000 to 350,000 units behind in terms of development for the needs that we have. And we’re also looking at an expected population increase here in the state of Washington. I’ve seen numbers that have ranged from another million here by 2030, to upwards of two to 3 million. So we know that a large percentage of the increase in our population will be west of the mountains. We’re landlocked, so we have to get creative in terms of how we look at increasing production. And that saw some builds already around increasing density and in traditionally transit-oriented areas, and then expanding that out, as we look at zoning issues and things like that.

One of the things that was clear from this last year, that we don’t have that would be very, very helpful, is [a] housing registry. And that would allow us to actually have a point-in-time count of rental units that are available to renters, in a given area at any given time. We don’t have that information right now. And I think that that would be very, very useful and helpful. Not just in terms of knowing what we need to build and being able to have a public-private partnership in terms of building those additional units, but also I think it would have helped tremendously with outreach, especially to the small mom-and-pops [landlords].

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Now I’ve been told that we estimate this is true, both from commerce and from the landlord lobby, that we have about 50% of our rental units owned by small mom-and-pops which are defined right now, roughly as about four units or less. We created a program this last year where we put $2 million away just for small mom-and-pops, but we actually increased that to six units or less. Plus, it would be helpful to reach them directly with information on the emergency rental assistance program that we’ve now established the permanent funding source for, and how that’s going to work.

Also, it would help with information on the other programs. We have the landlord mitigation program and the tenancy preservation program that we have set up through [the Department of Commerce] as well. I was talking to a small mom-and-pop owner [and] she and her husband owned three units and she had no idea. And those units, by the way, are managed by a large property management company. She has no idea that we had any programs set up specifically for a small mom and pop, I think that is a serious, serious problem. Because in an emergency situation where it could mean, essentially, you’re on the street during a pandemic, or you’re not, I think being able to get information out to people about resources that are available to help is critically important. So I think you’ll see a bill to establish a housing registry next year as well.”

AK: How would that work, and which agency would implement and oversee it?

PK: “I think that it would be set up through Commerce. I think there might be a nominal fee to have the registry here, but the idea is that it would serve as a conduit for information for land owners. So there would be a benefit to that registry. Seattle has registered right now, and we would simply take that statewide so that we know what we’re dealing with, in terms of how many rental units, [which] we estimate [to be] about 1.1 million in the state.

Another bill that might be coming forward next year is potentially a fix of SB 5160. Relating to that is the bill that also established the right to counsel statewide. And we expect that protection to be very, very helpful in terms of saving tenancies. But there’s been some question as to whether or not that program will be available in every county, which is what we at the legislature — I know as the prime sponsor of that legislation — … absolutely intended to [make] mandatory that every county has a mediation program established. And I did use the word “shall” in the bill. We also included funding for dispute resolution centers that will be in charge of this mediation program through the courts.”

AK: What other bills should we expect to see next session, or what are your top priorities?

PK: “We’re taking a look at some condominium issues in light of the collapse in Florida, and that might go through Law and Justice, as opposed to my Housing Committee. There are discussions underway in terms of making the inspection schedule uniform. Right now, that is done on a city-by-city basis. The issue with any kind of uniformity at the state level is that the cities don’t all have the same amount of resources. So unless that comes with additional funding for cities for at least assistance with expertise, either Commerce, or some other state agency, it really is something that you have to carefully consider. So that you don’t put cities into a position of having to do something that they don’t have sufficient manpower or funding to do.”

AK: What are your top priorities in general looking ahead to the 2022 legislative session?

PK: “Housing is definitely one. Housing affordability as well as production of new housing is definitely on my list of priorities. Also add to that gun safety measures. After the open carry ban that passed last year, I had several cities reach out to me, both during the legislative process, and I’ve spoken to many since the session has ended. There’s an interest amongst cities to have the ability for them to implement the same kind of ban, should they choose to do that. So I’m looking at crafting a bill that would give them the permissive authority to ban open carry at their city council meetings, and at city buildings [when] they felt that was appropriate.

I’m also looking at the backlog in the courts. This is a serious problem, our courts have been underfunded in the past. I think part of the reason why the courts are thinking they may not want to stand up the mediation program is again, they’re thinking that it’s too much for them because they have a lot on their plate already, and they don’t have enough resources, aside from the fact that we didn’t fund that particular program and that’s now becoming more abundantly clear to the courts. I don’t think that was fully appreciated initially. But we have a backlog due to COVID, and there’s a cost to that backlog to the taxpayers that is not readily apparent. I think in order to clear out that backlog I have a bill that would make a simple change and bring us more in line with the rest of the states in terms of when prejudgment.

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…I’m [also] in the very beginning stages of talking with the courts about the creation of a housing court. They have that in New York, I believe. And I believe San Francisco may have a similar program. It would be along those lines. I think that housing is such a critical need that it shouldn’t be something that is left to be one of the last things that gets on the courts docket. So by creating a housing court, you would see expedited handling of those matters … We are examining what other cities and, quite frankly, what other countries have done in terms of how they handle housing issues in court, and what it would look like for Washington State.

This interview was edited for clarity and length.

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