In this video, Vox highlights a Sankey diagram that shows where all of America’s carbon emissions come, which can inform how the country should be most effective in decarbonizing. The shortcut to decarbonizing is changing the economy to carbon-free electric systems as fast as possible.
The veto overrides preserve $17 million for community safety programs, $3 million for participatory budgeting, and budget provisos intended to trim 100 positions from the Seattle Police Department (SPD).
The Seattle City Council rebuked Mayor Jenny Durkan’s attempt to collaborate by veto, overriding the Mayor’s rebalancing budget veto in a 7-2 vote Tuesday. Councilmembers Alex Pedersen and Debora Juarez dissented, but joined their colleagues for the two remaining unanimous override votes on new allocations for community investments.
The outcome of the special meeting was in doubt after several councilmembers played it close to the vest and didn’t announce their positions ahead of the vote. Nonetheless, when the dust cleared after a long and contentious meeting, the Mayor’s vetoes were erased.
Facing a troubling setback, backers of the effort to defund SPD and invest in community safety instead rallied support. In addition to phone and letter-writing campaigns, more than 70 people signed up for public testimony in favor of “holding the line” and overriding the veto. The Urbanist joined the chorus in sending a letter we also published yesterday. In comparison, only about 10 commenters argued for sustaining the veto.
Pro-veto vote-whipping was fierce, too–if ultimately ineffective. Mayor Durkan took the rare step of issuing a press release during the meeting directly appealing to councilmembers to collaborate with her–on her terms. The invitation came with more sharp criticism for the Council and a far-reaching ultimatum, which took most of the Council’s rebalancing budget off the table.
“While Council may not be concerned about the details, I am. And they actually do matter,” the Mayor said in one breathe, while in the next pivoting to “Our community is demanding that we work together…” and “I hope Council takes this moment to chart a path forward together.”
Though she supported overriding the Mayor’s vetoes, Council President Lorena González offered an alternative bill that incorporated the ultimatums from the Mayor. González said she wanted to ensure at least some of their progress was retained if the veto was sustained. Ultimately, the alternative bill was not needed with the votes to override.
Public Safety Chair Lisa Herbold (District 1) emphasized that the Council’s budget provided much greater funding to community safety groups led by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).
“The alternative short-changed community members and organizations who have the expertise we need to build community safety, by proposing a mere $3.5 million investment instead of the $17 million Council had appropriated,” Councilmember Herbold said in a statement. “The $2 million the Mayor proposed for investment in violence prevention and crisis intervention is wholly inadequate to the need, given the increase in gun violence that Seattle is experiencing. Funding the Seattle Community Safety (SCS) Initiative to scale up gun-violence intervention and prevention is necessary now for true community safety efforts like the work of BIPOC-led organizations like Community Passageways, Urban Family, SE Safety Network Hub Boys & Girls Club, and the Alive & Free Program – YMCA.”
Herbold also included an appeal to Durkan to implement the budget: “With today’s vote the Council can’t force the Mayor to spend these dollars. But I plea with her to do so.”
Negotiating by veto
Councilmember Andrew Lewis (District 7) worried a pattern of the Mayor “negotiating by veto” was emerging and hurting the chances of real compromise, for which he was still holding out hope.
“This process of veto, negotiate, and then insist on sustaining is wearing and it has been unproductive,” Lewis said. “It has contributed to be frayed relations between the Mayor and Council, and there have to be better ways to resolve our differences.”
Councilmember Dan Strauss (District 6) noted SPD forced their hand with its violent response to protests over the summer and lack of ability to control their budget. “It was as if eight years of reform didn’t occur,” he said. “And the 45% budget increase in those last eight years went unchecked. The changes proposed in the 2020 rebalancing package are not radical or earth-shattering; they are reasonable, responsible first steps to the long process of re-envisioning how we handle public safety.”
Using a pack of highlighters to show the absurdity of developing a private enclave in the city.
Last Tuesday, the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) held an online public information session to discuss the permitting process for redeveloping the Talaris campus. The proposal is to locate 65 new single-family detached homes onto the 18-acre former research institute. Neighbors in Laurelhurst have expressed opposition to changing the historic site and losing trees. Civic organizations like Affordable Talaris have expressed shock that the city would approve a cloistered enclave of McMansions at a time of climate, housing, and public health emergency.
Between the very big ideas of community and the very small plans to build a house, there is a thin layer of paperwork that establishes the shape of places we live. We’ve talked a little about it before, drawing property lines through subdivision. Right now, in real time, we see that process at Talaris. It is ruining an invaluable resource. By virtue of its single family zoning, the development is exempt from the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) program that would have required affordable housing contributions.
Understandably, “process” can be hard to see because it is difficult to connect those plansets with the real world. What does this mess of lines and tables actually translate to in real life? Today we’re going to talk about reading those documents, how you can do it, and why it’s very important you give it a try. Bonus: there will be coloring.
To start, let’s get a set of plans. Seattle makes this fairly easy. Start at the Seattle Services Portal. If you received notification as a neighbor or heard about the project through a community organization, you probably have a project number. Search using it. The Talaris project is 3030811-LU. If you don’t have a number, try the address or the name of the project. And if you don’t add the “-LU” extension, the search will turn up a lot of garbage.
Look for the most recent application that has a “review in process.” Depending on your search, this may be higher or lower on the list. When you find it, click and you’ll be directed to a page about the particular project. You want to click on “Attachments” because that’s where all the uploaded documents live. For Talaris, the plan set is on page 10 because there’s been a lot of correspondence. The full plan has text and extra images that we’ll use later, but here’s a picture of the overall version we’re going to work with:
Now that we have a current set of plans, let’s get into reading them. That starts with coloring. You can stick with a few basic colors. Leave the art markers for destress coloring. The point is to go around each type of line on the plan with a separate color. Here’s the breakdown in colors and the order that I layer them over the plan:
- Orange – Property lines
- Yellow – House lots
- Blue – Roads
- Green – Environmental
- Red – Easements
- I also keep a red pen on hand to liberally circle and label things “WTF?”.
For this article, I colored things digitally because I needed the illustrations for this article and I wanted to sit on the couch and watch Umbrella Academy (which had a much better second season than first). If you do this on a computer, anything more than a PDF markup app will be overkill. You don’t need a universe of colors and vector tools. My suggested colors come from a pack of highlighters that I used to mark up paper copies for years (darker colors and shades involved going over something a second time). The important thing is the process.
Northwest Nonsense – Ask Questions
Using color, we can build up an understanding of what’s happening on the site. Let’s start in the northwest corner at the top left. It’s the main entrance from Sand Point Way via 38th Avenue NE. The boldest black lines labeled with directions are property lines. Let’s start there and build up colors. Orange for property lines. Yellow for house sites. Blue for roads. Like so:
Join Share The Cites and The Urbanist in welcoming Shane Phillips to a Seattle-centered discussion about his book The Affordable City this Thursday September 24th from noon to 1pm. The book is a comprehensive look at how to make housing more affordable and has 50 recommendations focused on what the author calls the three S’s: Supply, Stability, and Subsidy. The event will feature a conversation with the author on his book and its recommendations followed by questions, with some time at the beginning and end to connect with other people interested in solving our housing crisis.
The Affordable City is a great read for anyone interested in how to make housing more affordable and secure, from those just getting interested in the topic to those who have been in the policy trenches for years. So often the issue of housing is presented as a polarized discussion between those who think that we just need to build more housing and those who think we need to focus only on protecting existing residents. The Affordable City says yes to both and shows in its 50 well researched policy proposals how we can help prevent displacement, make cost-burdened people more secure in their housing, while at the same time building more and different types of housing to welcome new people into our city.
The book, and this talk, are well timed for this moment in Seattle as we struggle to accommodate growth while protecting our existing residents, many of whom face eviction as the Covid pandemic persists and its related economic crisis continues to unfold.
Shane Phillips is an urban planner and housing policy expert based in Los Angeles. He currently manages the UCLA Lewis Center Housing Initiative and has recently taught public policy as an adjunct instructor at the University of Southern California. Originally from Seattle, Shane got his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry at the University of Washington before moving to LA for grad school, and he writes (infrequently) about housing and transportation policy at his blog, Better Institutions.
Structurally opposed to cities: The United States Senate is structurally set up against urban areas and in particularly large cities, effectively giving a third of their electoral power to rural areas.
Highway removal: Utrecht is restoring a historic canal by removing an old 1970s highway segment.
King County migration: During the boom years, where did King County residents come from and go ($)?
Funding transit: Lawmakers in Nevada have sent a constitutional amendment to voters that would allow the gas tax to be used on public transportation investments.
A Maryland first: The first bus rapid transit line in Maryland is almost ready to launch.
Inequitable distribution: Federal grants for transportation investments have been favored in rural areas by the Trump administration.
Delayed: Staffing shortages and budget shortfall may delay D.C.’s Metrorail Silver Line extension.
Disproportionate impacts: Migrant workers are getting hit hard by the pandemic.
BART funding: The Bay Area Rapid Transit system has gotten $1.2 billion in federal grants and another $500 million in grants from California.
Cleared for construction: Virginia’s Long Bridge expansion project for trains has cleared environmental review, which would primarily benefit regional passenger rail.
College town pain: Businesses in Washington’s college communities are feeling the economic fallout of the pandemic.
Equitable TOD: Chicago has released its first equitable transit-oriented development plan.
My name is Andrew Grant Houston and I am a queer architect of color, urban designer, housing activist, and serve as a board member for both the Pike/Pine Urban Neighborhood Council as well as Futurewise Washington. Though I have taken a backseat in recent months while watching and reporting on council actions related to civic issues, as this topic is within my personal area of expertise, I felt it imperative to provide my thoughts on the matter. I am writing you this note to express my concern with Resolution CB 31933, “A RESOLUTION expanding the requirements for the Summary and Fiscal Note that accompanies new legislation so that it also considers impacts of climate change.” As the resolution is currently written, there are four main reasons as to why I believe you should vote against the “carbon note” legislation in its current form:
- It lacks an understanding of the current state of the climate crisis and how a “carbon budget” works;
- It is not informed by local leaders or grassroots organisations working on this issue;
- It could delay climate action and do harm through those delays; and
- It is a distraction from actual action to combat the climate crisis.
Carbon Emissions Don’t Stop At the City Line
A major concern with the current resolution is that the questions focus solely on Seattle and only within the frame of an increase in carbon emissions or a decrease in carbon emissions, the goal being (from my understanding) that all new proposed legislation does not contribute to an increase in emissions. The problem with framing our emissions as a city in isolation from the county, region, and even the state is that emissions don’t stop at the city line. A discussion and strategy on how to best use the remainder of our carbon budget—the permissible amount of emissions between now and a 1.5° Celsius increase in global temperature—should be happening at the regional level.
As one of the jobs centers within the Puget Sound, we both have the right as well as the obligation to use more carbon emissions in the short term than other cities in the form of transit and housing infrastructure. When we choose not to do so, those policy choices have impacts on where people can choose to live and how they are able to get to work, which both have impacts on the amount of carbon emissions that the region as a whole produces over time. Does the legislation as written require this level of regional recognition of carbon emissions?