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Friday, August 10, 2007

Where the City Council Candidates Live; What Their Property is Worth; and What They Think About Affordable Housing

posted by on August 10 at 13:40 PM

by Rebecca Tapscott

Affordable housing is a major issue in Seattle right now. And the landscape is not good for middle-income, low-income—and by definition—young people.

The cost of a single-family Seattle home has risen nearly 100 percent in the past decade, pushing young would-be buyers to rentals outside of the city.

Additionally, increasing rents on King County apartments (up nine percent this year), magnify the trend.

On a related note, developers are reaping the financial rewards of converting low-priced rentals to condominiums that now sell for $250,000. The high returns have resulted in a 450% increase in conversion rates since 2004—and a potential loss of 3,900 low-cost rentals. (All the candidates told us they supported the condo conversion cap that Seattle unsuccessfully shopped in Olympia last year.)

We looked into public records to check out this year’s candidates’ housing status: Where they lived; the value of their house; or (horrors) were they a renter? One candidate has a home valued over $1 million (Bruce Herrell) and two were renters (Lauren Briel and Scott Feldman.)

We don’t want to persecute candidates for owning fancy houses in nice neighborhoods. But we are interested in how their living experience might influence what they think about housing issues. For example, for those candidates that live in single-family homes—are they willing to support legislation that will increase density at the cost of neighborhood comfort?

We also asked them to guess the average rent on a one-bedroom apartment in Seattle (correct answer: $1010.

*This slog includes only council members we could reach for comment.

Joe Szwaja

Status: Homeowner; Neighborhood: Ravenna
Total home value: $447,000
Rent guess: $800

“A lot of the programs we have now are good programs with good sounding titles—[but] they don’t really prioritize the money very well.” Szwaja discussed a multi-family tax break that provides subsides to developers to provide affordable housing in areas like South Lake Union and the University District, where he claims it already exists. “It gets a lot of wealthy developers money to use it in a way we don’t need to subsidize.” He suggests requiring developers to provide low-income housing to be eligible for subsidies.

Jean Godden
Status: Homeowner; Neighborhood: Viewridge
Total home value: Total: $756,000
Rent guess: $1000

Godden shut down Szwaja’s proposals, saying that when the Council tried to provide subsidies for low-income housing, developers wouldn’t take the bait. In response, the Council changed the requirements, trying to spur development, even if it produced slightly less affordable homes. “It was just a practical matter,” she says. “We are in a growth period—and it’s wonderful to have full employment, it’s wonderful to have a place where everyone wants to live, but it makes land more expensive.”

Lauren Briel
Status: Renter; Neighborhood: Queen Anne
Rent guess: $1200 to $1400.

Briel clearly explained that Seattle’s affordable housing problems are caused by a lack of incentive for builders to construct affordable apartments. Since building condos pays off, they buy condos instead. She says, “I haven’t talked to any builders, so I don’t know specifically what tools they need but [lack of incentives is] the issue we need to address.”

Robert Sondheim
Status: Homeowner; Neighborhood: Queen Anne
Total home value: $305,000
Rent guess: $850

Sondheim also advocates the “incentives for builders” route. He expressed concern that the middle class and arts community are suffering from this surge in housing prices, and says that on the City Council he would work to provide affordable housing in central neighborhoods, like Capital Hill.

In a follow up phone interview, he added an additional idea. “We can build affordable housing in the way of condos and apartments, but for people to find affordable housing they really have to leave the city. One possibility no one is really talking about is improving transportation so that people can find affordable housing outside the city and get back and forth efficiently, and that would be a solution as well.”

Venus Velazquez

Status: Homeowner; Neighborhood: Mount Baker
Total home value: $692,000

Velazquez emphasizes the necessity to increase supply, which she hopes will decrease demand and cost. She also hopes to increase incentives for non-profit developers to build affordable housing. To support non-profit developers, Velazquez would like the City Council to take two steps. First, to developers purchase land to keep on cue—currently, they can only afford to purchase when they are ready to build, slowing down development—and second, provide tax breaks on affordable housing construction.

Specifically on the condo conversion cap, Velazquez says, “I’m hesitant…because for some people condos are actually a way to get into home ownership right away…Do I think that we have too many condos being converted right now and displacing renters? Yes. That’s why if I had to vote on it this year, I would actually vote [yes] on it now.”

Bruce Harrell
Status: Homeowner; Neighborhood: Genesee/Mount Baker
Total home value: $1,044,000
Rent guess: $749

Bruce Harrell covered a range of possible solutions, including living with roommates, increasing wages, and land acquisition and growth related housing funds. His overall emphasis rested on his desire for “all nine members of the City Council to embrace this issue.”

“Whether it’s called a land acquisition fund or a growth related housing fund, let’s define it and say, we’re going to earmark funds specifically for this issue. It’s critical in our city.”

Scott Feldman
Status: Renter; Neighborhood: Pioneer Square
Rent guess: $800

Like Velazquez, Feldman emphasizes supply and density.

“A core aspect that I believe is that we need to be able to work, live and educate ourselves within the city so we can protect our outlying areas. I mean, where did all this stuff in Sammamish come from? When did we get strip malls up in our foothills? That’s something that really concerns me about our area. I don’t want to see this sprawl taking place.”

Feldman suggests improving public transportation, which might cut the overall cost of living and allow people to spend more on housing. He also suggests a subsidy for public servants, who may not be able to finance city living.

John Manning
Status: Homeowner; Neighborhood: Rainier Beach/Dunlap
Total home value: $266,000
Rent guess: $750

Manning emphasized keeping affordability in the city, saying “something needs to be set aside for low-income housing,” and it’s important to “[make] sure that there is affordability built in to whatever [developers] are building.”

Al Runte
Status: Homeowner; Wedgwood
Total home value: $361,000
Rent guess: $1000

Runte didn’t weigh in much during the affordable housing discussion, except to point out that if housing remains too expensive for young people, the night life problem may take care of itself.

Sally Clark

Status: Homeowner; Mt. Baker
Total home value: $389,000

We still trying to reach Clark for her position. We don't feel like talking to her opponent Stan Lippmann anymore.

RSS icon Comments


You might want to add how long they've owned their homes. It's hard to call someone a fat cat when they bought twenty years ago.

Jean Godden has a much better idea of what rents are than Joe Szwaja -- surprised?

Posted by fnarf | August 10, 2007 1:39 PM

How much are Dan Savage's two homes worth?

Posted by Island Boy | August 10, 2007 1:59 PM

I'm also interested in what the renters pay for rent, although it's not same public record like homeowners. It's particularly interesting where renters guess the average rent of a one-bedroom.

Posted by Algernon | August 10, 2007 2:00 PM

How much did Velazquez guess rent was? It isn't listed in your post yet.

Posted by Brye | August 10, 2007 2:01 PM

Where did you get the home values? How is that part of "public records"?

Posted by zillow | August 10, 2007 2:01 PM

Maybe Joe knows better. Are they counting all units or only ones on the market? Smaller landlords probably have cheaper units and don't turn their numbers in. What does in Seattle mean?

From - Cost of Living & Apartment Prices
The overall cost of living in Seattle is about 8% above the national average, so it should come as no surprise that apartments don't come cheap here. The median price for apartment rentals is $730, with the average price for apartments at $860.

Posted by whatever | August 10, 2007 2:04 PM

fnarf has a great point about looking at what the price was when someone bought the house.

and to me it's clear that jean godden actually knows what she is talking about when she addresses low-income housing. she's been on the council for 3 and a half years dealing with these issues. joe szwaja isn't even close to knowing what the average rent for a one-bedroom is, yet his whole campaign is based on how he is best suited to address low-income housing issues. interesting discrepancy. it's also funny that he is proposing things (subsidies) that have already been tried and were not effective at generating affordable housing units. but try telling that to the stranger... sigh.

Posted by xiu xiu | August 10, 2007 2:07 PM

All property tax assessments, and the value of the taxed property, are public record. That means every home in Seattle. The problem is, those assessments are often wildly (as in 100k +) lower than what the property would actually sell for.

Posted by Eric | August 10, 2007 2:07 PM

Yeah, even my place is worth more than some of theirs.

Posted by Will in Seattle | August 10, 2007 2:07 PM

Wait, hang on: just because someone bought their house a long time ago when it was worth less doesn't mean they're not a "fat cat." Just the opposite: it probably means they have a tiny mortgage and heaps of disposable income. They're feeling no housing pain whatsoever. But folks who bought in the last couple of years -- they're the ones who know what the housing crunch really feels like.

Posted by Eric | August 10, 2007 2:10 PM

UNPAID INTERN is the shit. I would love even more info like this on the candidates.

#5 Zillow - can't you look up tax values? Aren't thos e public records? I know you have special interest since you work or own Zillow and probably have some reason for these figures not being as accurate as the valuations on your site, but I bet these valuations are more then adequate for the purposes of this discussion.

Posted by Ryan | August 10, 2007 2:11 PM
Posted by fnarf | August 10, 2007 2:11 PM

So Robert Sondheim is totally for economic segregation. What a fucking prick!! Litterally saying, if you can not afford to live in Seattle anymore than move out. BUT we will make sure you can commute to work for the rich in town.

Posted by Cato the Younger Younger | August 10, 2007 2:14 PM


Given how low the home prices are, I assume they reflect the appraisal values listed in King County records. Market prices are higher, sometimes very much so.

Where did Erica's median rental price figure come from? I don't think it is accurate.

Posted by Sean | August 10, 2007 2:18 PM

All I'm saying is that "assessed value" and "value" are totally different numbers. The value of a home is what it would sell for.

Posted by zillow | August 10, 2007 2:18 PM

Hotpads says the median Seattle rent is $677.

Homegain says it's $614.

These are within Seattle city limits and include studios, 1BR, 2BR, 3BR, etc.

Posted by Sean | August 10, 2007 2:26 PM

I love how ignorantly low their rent guesses are. Says it all.

And of course, the candidates who are renting seem to have a tangibly strong perspective on providing rental housing while the homeowners' takes aren't as strong.

And go figure the guy with the million dollar house (Harrell) suggests that people room together instead of having the city actually address the issue. Fucking silver-spoon asshat. I sure as hell am not voting for you.

Posted by Gomez | August 10, 2007 2:28 PM

16. I'm not sure which places Hotpads and Homegain are including in their estimates. Are they including subsidized housing that otherwise isn't available to the general public, or counting the split rent of people who room with others? If so, those numbers mean nothing to the average person seeking an apartment.

Posted by Gomez | August 10, 2007 2:30 PM

What's the median rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in Seattle?

Posted by Phil M | August 10, 2007 2:47 PM

I'm sure the median rent for apartments in Seattle is far less than the median rent for AVAILABLE apartments in Seattle. We don't have rent control, but a lot of people have long-term arrangements at low rents. If you're looking for an apartment now, those arrangements aren't available to you.

If we DID have rent control, we'd be like New York, with all these little old ladies living in 1,500 sq ft apartments for $120 a month while her upstairs neighbor in exactly the same unit pays $7,000.

Posted by Fnarf | August 10, 2007 2:52 PM

So what exactly is local government supposed to do about the supposed affordable housing crisis in Seattle? I see a lot of basically self-interested whining about this, but I don't see much in the way of specific solutions being offered.

Posted by Judah | August 10, 2007 2:54 PM

Gomez @17:

The median's are per unit, not per person.

I doubt they include subsidized housing, but for purposes of this discussion they probably should. That would bring the median down a bit.

Anyway, these medians are more in line with what I've seen than the $1000+ Erica cites. That seems more like the median for Capitol Hill, not Seattle in general.

P.S. The term "silver spoon" implies inherited money. Bruce earned his money all on his own.

Posted by Sean | August 10, 2007 2:54 PM

Harrel is a both practical but and a jackass. Sure, having a roommate would would work but for how long and at what cost to the person's mental health.

Here is my solution. Loans for subprime credit candidates that are then turned into securities and sold on the open market. or...

Renter buyout packages to at least the downpayment on the new condos and subisidized housing in the waiting period while they are built.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | August 10, 2007 2:56 PM

As I understand it, the average figure the Stranger is using is for new units. Old ones (you know, the ones that City policy now encourages developers to tear down or convert to condos in Greenwood, Delridge, Lake City, and just every other remaining working-class multifamily area) go for a whole lot less.

Put another way - I would guess that most of the Stranger's readership pays between $650 and $900 per month for a place, not $1100 and up (hell, you can find two bedroom houses in town for less than that)

Extending the Multifamily Tax Exemption to units renting to 80-120% of median income will increase - not decrease - the price of rental housing in Seattle by encouraging the demolition and redevelopment of the units that serve the half of the market that exists below the median line.

In other words, increasing the supply at the top will do nothing to reduce prices at the bottom - not a goddamn thing.

Posted by Mr. X | August 10, 2007 3:12 PM

Bellevue Ave @23:

Loans for subprime credit candidates that are then turned into securities and sold on the open market.

What you propose has already been done, big time. The result? Surely you've heard about the current turmoil in the credit markets, haven't you? Even Dan posted something about it here. Foreclosures, bankruptcies, and billions in capital throughout the world vanishing into thin air. If only we could have foreseen that risky loans would be so, um, risky.

Not sure I understand how your renter buyout suggestion works.

P.S. Boylston kicks ass on Bellevue.

Posted by Sean | August 10, 2007 3:20 PM

From Craigslist today

A tale of two U-District buildings

The NEW one

$1260 / 1br - Brand New Luxury Apartments Opening In September


The OLD one

$695 / 1br - $695.00 - $725.00 , Nice, Cats OK, PRE-LEASE, Showing Friday **

Posted by Mr. X | August 10, 2007 3:24 PM

Sean, It was a joke. I thought it was too topical and obvious to not be taken as such.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | August 10, 2007 3:26 PM

So back to the question asked the candidates about average rent. If the majority are correct on this board then the answer should have been somewhere around $700- $800.

xiu xiu, that would make Joe's answer much closer than Jean's which might be explained by the fact that Jean's info comes from staff briefings while Joe's comes from living with regular people.

BTW I don't work for Joe nor have I contributed to his campaign yet.

Posted by whatever | August 10, 2007 3:27 PM

You know, that occurred to me, but I was thrown off by the second suggestion. (If that's a joke too, it's over my head.)

I'm dead serious about Boylston, though.

Posted by Sean | August 10, 2007 3:32 PM

I don't see what the value of a city council member's home has to do with their knowledge of the rental market or position on affordable housing. Each council member will not be living in every situation they legislate on.

Posted by PA Native | August 10, 2007 3:37 PM

as for the renter buy out, it's a way to protect renters of apartments that are converted into condos.

example. My apartment sells out ot a condo developer for X amount of money. built into the contract of sale of land is a provision that gives me, the displaced renter, the equivilent of a credit for the entire downpayment (or to prevent loopholes, two years dues and mortgage) on the condo, plus monthly payments for the median rent of the city while I am displaced.

This will allow renters of small apartment buildings a chance to stay put in the place they love, but allow new tenants to move in also.

The benefit is that larger condos will be built (and this requires a reworking of municipal code to allow larger condo buildings) also driving down the price per unit on new buildings.

Condo developers will make money from the new development, just not at a quick of a rate to begin with.

Furthermore anyone that sells their condo soon (6 months to a year) after buyout and development (who was a displaced renter) will not be compensated the downpayment of a condo (it will be deducted from the sale price as a fee, pro rated for time spent in the unit), and will only receive a rental credit for a standard short period of time. This will prevent renter speculation.

these are just some small ideas though

Posted by Bellevue Ave | August 10, 2007 3:38 PM

Bellevue Ave @ 23:

Your first suggestion is basically what's trashing the housing, credit and retirement money-market sectors of the investment economy as we speak.

You second suggestion is just ludicrous, if I read you right. Are you asking developers to hand $10k to every renter they displace, and then subsidize housing until units they can afford are built? Or are you saying something else that makes more sense?

And for Judah, here wild-ass proposals of my own:

These four proposals are designed to make sure that (1) people displaced by condo development can find new housing near the same standard as their old apartments; (2) make sure that the local housing economy isn't demolished by a long-term surplus of condos; (3) make sure that people making a decent but not outrageous living can afford to buy into the homeowner economy; and (4) make sure that new developments don't destroy the "vibe" of a neighborhood.

First: require developers to pay the equivalent of current first and last months' rent plus a full refund of the security deposit to all renters displaced by a condo development. Also, require that the money be given to displaced renters before they're displaced, not after they've moved. It's disingenuous to deny someone a security deposit for an apartment you're going to tear apart anyway.

Second, pass a condo conversion cap that can vary from year to year, which is pegged to the development of apartments in the city. We decide what mix is good for residents and business in the city, and we build at that ratio.

Third, require developers to build affordable housing -- linked to the Seattle median income -- while maintaining appropriate profit margins. We'd develop a matrix that would require developers to create as much affordable housing as possible while still meeting a certain percent profit on projects. We would use this leverage to decrease the large profit advantage of condo development over apartment development.

Fourth, raise the eligibility cap on first-time home purchasing assistance funds (provided by the city) by around 20% to approximately $50,000, and provide a phased-up level of assistance. Right now, anyone making under $40k is eligible for around $45,000 (I think) in long-term (37 year term with an 8-year deferment) low interest loans good for making a down payment. We can make that system more flexible and cover more people.

Fifth, I'd want to see retail spaces demolished by condo developments replaced with like sized retail spaces (with a 10% size variance) and I'd like to see an initial retail rent cap locked at %115 of previous per-square foot rent.

Those five proposals might be a good start. Three of them are even politically possible. Can you guess which ones? I'm thinking 1, 2 and 4.

Posted by erostratus | August 10, 2007 3:42 PM

10k per resident + cost of rent they were paying for teh amount of time they are displaced isnt a lot of money.

whats the average units per building on capitol hill?

when you consider that the displaced renter can opt out completely from this (due to innability to secure financing for payments or wanting to make a long term obligation), or you arrange the obligations to be so that you get only half the people to commit, then the costs will be reduced even more.

i mean, isnt the problem not only renters being displaced, but also being unnable to get back into the same unit period?

Posted by Bellevue Ave | August 10, 2007 3:52 PM

@ 28

I'm going to defer to the "journalists" at the stranger and assume that their figure is probably the correct one.

As for your second point, I have no idea what you're talking about. Joe and Jean both have houses in nice neighborhoods. Yet someone Joe "lives with regular people." Huh? Does Jean live with robots? Is Viewridge populated with "unreal people" while Ravenna has actual people living in it? Give me a break.

I'm glad you haven't contributed to Joe. Give your money where it's actually needed and can actually make a difference: the King County Prosecutor race.

Posted by xiu xiu | August 10, 2007 3:56 PM


Okay. I don't agree with all of those but, since nobody in politics is talking about anything remotely like that, we don't need to agree. It at least has the advantage that you wouldn't have to be high on angel dust to think it could possibly work. Unlike, say, Bellevue Ave's suggestions.

Here's another question for the general list: Right now there's room for about 600,000 people in the City of Seattle. Suppose, just for the sake of argument, that there are 600,000 people willing to pay more than $1,000 a month, per person, to live in Seattle. These people will, in effect, walk up to your landlord, look at your apartment, and go, "Hey. I'll give you $1000 a month for that place if you kick that person out and let me move in."

Now suppose further that there are thousands of people willing to live outside city limits and commute in to fill all the service industry jobs in the City of Seattle proper.

What would you do about that?

Posted by Judah | August 10, 2007 3:59 PM

im not saying they would work, but they are ideas to begin with that can be worked on and developed.

i think the idea of providing current residents the opportunity to stay put is a desirable goal. and a downpayment credit (or perhaps a subsidized downpayment loan) would be a way to do that.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | August 10, 2007 4:02 PM

bellevue @ 33:

That's a shitload of money! We don't need to ensure that renters can buy the condos they lived in as renters -- that would be going to far. In my building, which is going condo right now, there are 30 units. $10k a piece is $300,000. The building only sold for $4,282,000. That's a 7% purchase tax right off the bat. That's too high.

And you want to add rent subsidies? Rent subsidies could be an additional $1,000 a month for over a year for a condo conversion. We're up another $360,000 now. That's $660,000 or over 15% of purchase price going to displaced renters.

It's just too much money. I think it will really slow down condo conversion -- which may or may not be a good thing, depending on how much -- but I don't think it's fair.

Posted by erostratus | August 10, 2007 4:06 PM

Unpaid intern: You like to a posting that gives a median rent, but you call it average rent. (Newsflash: average and median aren't the same thing). Nowhere do you (or Erica) source the figure, or explain what it is actually measuring. My guess is that it is for new construction, multi-unit buildings over a certain size. So to ask someone what the average rent is without any explanation of the "universe" you're using is just wrong and unfair. There is a huge difference in what people who already rent are paying, and what it would cost someone who is looking for a place right now. I could go on and on about how inept this "journalism" is but hell, isn't that somebody else's job? Somebody who works at "Seattle's Only Newspaper"? You all should be embarrassed.

Posted by tree | August 10, 2007 4:16 PM

22. That also includes apartments that are probably never going to be available, because if somebody has a sweet low-cost deal on a local apartment, they probably aren't going anywhere. No, not even to buy a home, because why pay all the costs of owning a home if you have a $500 a month rental pad with a landlord covering peripheral expenses?

Those facts preclude that such cheap rental homes are openly available, which they're probably not.

Posted by Gomez | August 10, 2007 4:33 PM

Judah @ 35:

Well, first off, Seattle is going to get a lot more dense. I think we could immediately increase capacity and affordability by making those mother-in-law cottage thingies legal in single family neighborhoods. Second, I think we need to raise height limits.

But, that doesn't answer your question, which is this: "suppose Seattle is just so great that people from other parts will always be willing to displace locals; what then?"

Well, we need to make sure our neighborhoods are planned well as they are remade, with enough light industrial and bedrock commercial usage to maintain a well-paid, urbanized workforce and a diversified civic economy.

Second. we need to make sure that we have very strong regional and state leaders that can more effectively throw around Seattle's economic weight. We are the major economic engine in the area, and we're loosing ground because we don't get our tax dollar's worth here in the city.

I need to finish the copy of Jane Jacobs’s “The Economies of Cities” a friend recently loaned me. Then I’ll know more about this bigger question.

Posted by erostratus | August 10, 2007 4:34 PM

I rented one-bedrooms in Seattle for about 6 years between college and moving last year. I paid:

&750 (U District)
$800 (Capitol Hill - nice, old place)
$740 (First Hill)

These all had hardwood floors and old world charm, were not shit holes, and with the possible exception of the First Hill apt. (depending on your tastes) were in higher end locations. Add in all the apartments in Haller Lake, Northgate, West Seattle, and I really really doubt that the average 1-bedroom apartment is $1100. I would have guessed around $800. I say link a source for that number - you might be unfairly mislabeling candidates as clueless.

Posted by Jude Fawley | August 10, 2007 4:36 PM

perhaps a deposit credit on temporary housing while condos are being built.

perhaps a downpayment loan at favorable interest rates for the tenant.

I dont like the idea of development or conversion caps that arent based a lottery, rather how much they are willing to pay off the people they are displacing.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | August 10, 2007 4:54 PM

sorry, are based on a lottery. I also dont like development caps that are based on a bidding process without contingents for displace residents.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | August 10, 2007 4:55 PM

None of this matters.

Until we wise up and start building 100-story tall residential apartment buildings which rent to 25 percent people with $25K or less annual income and 25 percent to people with $50K or less annual income, there won't be any good news for renters.

And that's just common sense.

Posted by Will in Seattle | August 10, 2007 4:58 PM

why dont you put together a co-op to do such a thing will ;)

Posted by Bellevue Ave | August 10, 2007 4:59 PM

Bellevue @ 42

First, last and deposit. It's a generous offer, and it sets up the displaced renters for their next rental. That's all the developers owe them, and it's a generous deal.

Also, a cap should be based on a desireable mixture of apartment and condo development. Developers wishing to build condos should be entered in a lottery. Asking them to bid on displacement benefits will only serve to increase the number of developments that are targeting high-end customers. Their margins are higher, so they can afford to offer more to the folks they displace. Of course, if we regulated the percentage of profit margin and required additional affordable housing...

A lottery system would be fair.

Posted by erostratus | August 10, 2007 5:01 PM

oh, and even the city figures show the mother-in-laws will only add 300 units.

In a city of how many people?

Not going to have an impact. Period.

Posted by Will in Seattle | August 10, 2007 5:02 PM
I need to finish the copy of Jane Jacobs’s “The Economies of Cities” a friend recently loaned me. Then I’ll know more about this bigger question.


Posted by Judah | August 10, 2007 5:06 PM

a lottery system might spook developers and sellers too much though. could you imagine having to wait on a lottery to tell you whether you could or could not sell, as either a developer or seller?

Posted by Bellevue Ave | August 10, 2007 5:06 PM

will @ 44:

That's cute, except there is a real problem with housing in Seattle right now. And 100-story housing towers are obviously not feasible. Common sense would dictate that we work together to find real, politically viable solutions to our crisis before the local housing market utterly collapses.

Although, a smart friend did point out that we'll all be glad for the condo boom, provided that we didn't buy in the last two years and don't buy for the next three. There's gonna' be a bargain bonanza on soon. But a lot of people are going to be screwed in the mean time.

Posted by erostratus | August 10, 2007 5:12 PM

bellevue @ 49:

there'd be no cap on condo sales, just the conversion of renter apartments into condos. It'll work.

Posted by erostratus | August 10, 2007 5:14 PM

Will: I suggest you do some research on the history of low-income high-rise public housing. The crime and vandalism rates are insanely high because there's never enough through traffic in any of the thoroughfares. You make a 100 story tall building with 25 stories of low-income housing you've essentially just created 25 stories worth of dark alleys in a low income neighborhood. The outcome is essentially a foregone conclusion. See: Cabrini-Green.

Posted by Judah | August 10, 2007 5:21 PM


Posted by Judah | August 10, 2007 5:22 PM

Posted by xiu xiu - I'm going to defer to the "journalists" at the stranger and assume that their figure is probably the correct one.


Are you from out of town?

Posted by whatever | August 10, 2007 5:27 PM

No, Godden's campaign.

Posted by Mr. X | August 10, 2007 5:29 PM

How are we defining conversion btw? is it just a straight up change of how units are lived in, or are we talking teardown rebuild etc?

Posted by Bellevue Ave | August 10, 2007 6:31 PM

If the City of Seattle was serious, really serious and the not the usual asshat serious that passes for government these days: Alaska Building. Two words. Cave-in to the hotel deal, ok. That’s a compromise, but those condos? Lock them into a subsidized program. A family of four, median income, let that level and lower qualify for that building. Middle management income living above a Marriott? Give them break in price and if they agreed to not own a car? How SEATLLE. The upper crust already have The Four Seasons.

It sickens me to see these ethically challenged city/developer deals go from cream, to sour, to just plain awful. And that is a really cool historic building being developed with a breach of trust if anything, since it doesn’t seem to be a matter of law.

Posted by Phenics | August 10, 2007 6:46 PM

At the risk of being off-topic, why is Joe Szwaja's domestic violence forgivable, but John Manning's is inexcusable? Is it because Joe has raised more money and has a stronger base of support? Is it because he used a plate instead of his fist? Or because his partner 'started it'? Or because Joe is a thin man with a gentle demeanor from nicey-nice Madison, WI and John is a muscle-bound dark black former cop? What gives?

So many people are like "Joe's episode was so LONG ago and he's SO sorry so how dare you bring it up you politically-motivated cretin" whereas everyone assumes John is a smart guy, but a sad excuse for a candidate and shouldn't embarrass himself by running for office?

They both have held office before and have run unsuccessful campaigns before as well. What's the deal?

Posted by and | August 11, 2007 11:12 AM


Misspelling the names of Seattle neighborhoods = credibility demolished.

Posted by amp | August 11, 2007 4:45 PM

$305K in Queen Anne? What is that, a double-wide?

Posted by K | August 11, 2007 11:03 PM

@56: Conversion = the first.

Posted by K | August 11, 2007 11:07 PM

41. Hey, Jude (SEE WHAT I DID THERE)...

A lot has changed in six years. The affordable housing problem that exists TODAY probably did not exist in its current form when you were renting. A lot of rental homes on the market are probably converted to condos and no longer on the market. The supply has dwindled, and yet the new residents continue to pour in, thus the rents go up.

I'm sure you'd have a much more difficult time right now finding a 1-bed rental at the rates you stated in the locales you stated.

Posted by Gomez | August 12, 2007 8:37 PM

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Posted by dftsvwbhm zaqhcvoxu | August 15, 2007 10:54 PM


That must be why Jean Godden didn't even bother to show up at the Yesler Terrace forum on affordable housing sponsored by Real Change, unions and many other local community groups on August 2nd.

Go to the Seattle Channel (online or cable TV) to see what Joe *does* know about the issue from his three-plus terms on the Madison, Wisconsin city council and his 14-plus years of teaching and living in Seattle.

Jean didn't think it worth her time to divulge her knowledge to the public in this forum. We are still waiting.

Posted by Hugh Geenen | August 16, 2007 11:32 AM


Until you sign with your real name, you are not worth addressing. Don't hide behind anonymity, chickensh*t.

For the curious, please look up "Joe Szwaja" on the Wikipedia. I think you will be impressed as his record speaks for itself.

[from a Joe volunteer, someone who lived in Madison when he was on the city council and have personal knowledge of his record and character]

Posted by Hugh Geenen | August 16, 2007 11:52 AM

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