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Thursday, July 6, 2006

Five to Four Revisited

Posted by on July 6 at 17:48 PM

Erica C. Barnett is on vacation. Sooooo, today, I got to revisit my FivetoFour days—that is, the days when I did a City Hall column, and had to go down to city hall all the time.

Here’s what I got at city hall today:

Best Quote: “They’re thugs!” —Council Member Peter Steinbrueck on the K.C. detectives who arrested the Critical Mass bikers last Friday. “Let us take care of our own business.”

Hottest Issue: It’s a toss up between Peter Steinbrueck’s proposal to make city dept. heads get reconfirmed by council (Jan Drago says she’s for it…except in the cases of the police chief and the fire chief) & Nickels’s proposal to lower ethics standards for boards and commissions so that members only have to disclose potential conflicts of interest… as opposed to recusing themselves. A crew of Nickels staffers—including legal counsel Regina Labelle— was on the floor lobbying council members on the issue.

What do people think about the big Ron Sims proposal for the North lot? It’s about time!

Biggest change since I last haunted the floor: Team Nickels has a council liason (AKA lobbyist) that council actually likes. Her name is Emelie East, and one fawning council aide—an aide for a council member who detests Team Nickels—described East as “absolutely charming…I wanted to go out to coffee with her immediately.”

Festering Issue: Council President Nick Licata’s outright campaigning for I-91, the anti-Sonics subsidy initiative. “If he spent as much time being council president as he did on this…” Council Member Drago groused, handing me a Yes on I-91 mailer she got with Licata’s face plastered on it.

Proof that These People Lead the Most Boring Lives in the World: The outright giddiness caused in one office by the irony that longtime U.W. antagonist Matt Fox had written a letter to the city earlier in the week siding with the U.W. against a 520 expansion proposal (the Pacific Street Interchange proposal) that would disrupt the campus.

Erica! Please get back here!

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Man, I went to one -- ONE -- university district council meeting and had to deal with Matt Fox and his ilk. Talk about a group of do-nothing CAVERs (Citizens Against Virtually EVerything) who can't represent their actual neighbors (ie young / students / okay with density) worth shit. I'd be amused, too, if he had to side with the UW on something.
It's about time, too, considering the UW is, you know, why it's called the UNIVERSITY district, not the OH MY GOD THAT SAFECO BUILDING IS STILL REALLY FAR OFF THE GROUND district.

Yep. I've got to agree with you on Matt Fox. I remember how he championed the people's glorious drive to stop the Seattle Commons Park and keep South Lake Union for the little guy, the small buisness, the low income resident.
Matthew got his wish. We didn't get the park. Instead, we got Paul Allen Land.

Thanks a load, Matthew.

Face it, noone loves the Sonics, and we're sick and tired of being forced to pay for Stadiums we don't want or need.

P.S.: We'll get your little underwater tunnel too, Dorothy! It's the Viaduct way or the highway! Just ask C4MIT ...

Have to agree about Matt Fox. I tried explaining to him that the end result would be worse, but he never listens.

Fox is a screamer. Like that fat bitch that used to dominate the Gay Pride Parade committee. She always got her way because she could scream louder and longer than everyone else.

I wonder whatever happened to her - the parade never would have been moved if she was still around. Maybe the library finally booted her sorry ass and she left town.

I have no regrets whatsoever about my efforts to defeat the Commons (which, by the way, 57% of Seattle voters concurred with in a large turnout election).

First, Commons supporters initially promised that the project would pay for itself. Not true, even for O & M, let alone the $400+ million capital costs. Many of the people who thought it would have been nice in principle recognized that the Commons put too many of the city's eggs in one basket. Had we built the thing, it would have been a continuing drain on the City General Fund, limiting the ability to fund other projects citywide.

Second, Commons supporters used to say that South Lake Union would never be developed w/o the Commons. Obviously not true (and not true now with respect to Hallivulcan's attempt to get public subsidies for new streets/cold water piping from Lake Washington/Streetcar/etc etc etc).

Third, Commons opponents always supported expanding SLU park, which is now occurring (of course, we didn't support spending $100 million to reconfigure Mercer/Valley, and still don't, but that money has yet to be spent). We also supported pocket parks throughout the area, and Paul Allen certainly showed his true colors when he took back the park he put at Westlake and Denny during the Commons campaign(s) to put their real estate sales office there.

Fourth, many of the small businesses and lower income residents in the neighborhood are still there ten years later. The landowners who willingly sold to Paul Allen got fair market value for their property, which is far better than they would have done under an eminent domain campaign with Joel Horn at its head.

Fifth, a ragtag $50,000 campaign defeated a million dollar effort backed by the weight of Seattle's business and political establishment. As a result, the subsequent Libraries for All and ProParks levies funded projects citywide, where previous city-sponsored efforts neglected neighborhood facilities in favor of downtown monoliths.

You might also note that the only people who have raised a peep of opposition to Paul Allen's ongoing effort to get Seattle taxpayers to subsidize his real estate speculation/holdings in SLU are former Commons opponents. Much of the so-called "progressive" community in our city is apparently OK with this kind of corporate welfare, and I find that a whole lot more depressing than the fact that Seattle voters rejected the Commons twice at the polls.

I think you're all wrong about the Anti-Commons campaign and it's impact on the current development of that neighborhood. Since the Commons proposal was defeated Allen's still getting what he wants but the tax payers are spending less and electeds are making Vulcan pay a bit more.

1) We're still getting a park - Vulcan's kicking down $10 million and another $17 million has been raised in private funds.

2) Vulcan bought 8 parcels of property from the city for upwards of $21 million.

3) Vulcan has to clean up hazardous waste from a gasoline leak of approximately 60,000 gallons on the Tosco site.

4) Vulcan has to develop 500 units of housing - w/low income units included.

5) The bulk (something like $20 million) of the stupid street car is gonna be paid for w/a special tax paid by the property owners surrounding the line - mostly Vulcan props).

6) Low-income residents of the Lillian got to live there about 5 years longer than they would have if the Commons moved forward.

7) About 100 small businesses were able to stay in operation longer.

How would any of this been possible if the voters (not Matt Fox you dummies) hadn't said "no" to the COmmons 2X?

Here's the "NO" statement from 1995...the same is true today (particularly what it says about Mercer), only we're getting a slightly better deal now.

"We must set our public funding priorities. The proposed Commons will consume vast resources for decades to come. It can only be funded at the expense of other neighborhoods.

Businesses create jobs, parks don't. South Lake Union businesses provide 30,000 jobs. City studies project another 12,000 will occur without this $400,000,000 project. This area has experienced over half a billion dollars of private development in the last decade.

There is no state or federal money designated for Mercer Street. There likely won't be because proposed changes will reduce traffic capacity. Also, there is no funding in this levy for planned low-income housing.

There are other ways to "build a better city". Demolishing neighborhoods is not one of them. As long as the city is willing to bulldoze existing neighborhoods, the notion that this is our "last chance" is nonsense. Help us save a hard-working neighborhood! Vote NO on Proposition 1."

you people are crazy - disclaimer - I know Fox - I worked with him on the I-75 campaign (making possession for adult personal use, the lowest law enforcement priority).

defeating the commons twice was a good thing...changing a 'hood slowly w/more public involvement is ALWAYS a good thing, though more painstaking.

also, do you guys have any clue about how much northend hoodies worship him for his work - to making the UW's development more balanced with the needs of residents. sometimes you have to oppose shit to make it possible. he's not prez of NE District Council, U District Council and CUCAC (a group rep. about 12 groups) because people think he's a "screamer."

how much are you people involved in local civic issues? how many hours do you spend writing letters to the city, reviewing city planning documents, getting people to vote, testifying at public hearings, meeting with electeds?

we're way more involved than you are, TGAAL. Much much more.

Now, STFU and go enjoy your concrete park for millionaires, thanks to Matt Fox.

Hey Affleck - learn to read. I never said you weren't. I said I bet you weren't nearly as active as Fox is.

I thought Gene's Addiction was pretty cool...


Quit yer bitching and go hang out at Denny Park or SLU park - they both have lots of grass for you to sit on.

We couldn't afford the Commons in 1995, and we can't afford to subsidize Allentown now, either.

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