High quality artistry.
High quality artistry.

Over 40 individuals hope to win voter approval to sit on a new City Council in 2016. All nine City Council positions are up for election in the new district-based election. Seven positions will be elected at the district level with with the remaining two positions coming at-large citywide. The first major step in that process is the Primary, which will be held on August 4, 2015. The top two vote-getters will proceed to the General Election in November.

Staff from The Urbanist are in the process of conducting a comprehensive series of candidate interviews for the Seattle City Council. Our focus in the interviews are on important urban issues ranging from social equity to planning and growth in Seattle. Over the course of the next four weeks, we’ll be releasing summaries of our discussions with Council hopefuls. We plan to share these interviews in district batches starting with District 2 on Monday.

For those who may not be familiar with the candidates running or the new districts, we’ve put together a handy interactive map. Candidates included the map will be interviewed by The Urbanist. Use the menu toggle on the top left to access district-level information. At a later stage, The Urbanist will consider endorsements for candidates. Stay tuned.

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  1. Excellent. I really appreciate this. I live in the fifth district, and candidates tend to focus on the issues for the area (sidewalks, a bridge over I-5 at Northgate and a station at NE 130th). But I would like to hear every candidate’s opinion on zoning. Specifically, I would like them to consider two proposals: First, get rid of the parking requirement for all new construction. Second, get rid of the ownership clause (or otherwise liberalize the laws) for ADUs. Neither of those would be that radical a change, but they could lead to a lot more affordable housing.

      • Thanks Renee. Encouraging that at least a couple candidates might be interested in getting rid of the parking requirement. Other than that, there isn’t too much that is encouraging (from any set of candidates). Barnett’s article shows the “cognitive dissonance” that seems to exist amongst most candidates. They are strong on talk about funding for low income housing, but short on reforming the zoning laws. Both are needed. Below a certain point, the market can’t provide for housing. But a severely restricted market that exists with high demand will mean that all market rate housing is extremely expensive. This basically creates what exists in San Francisco — only folks that win the lottery (either for section 8 housing or the lotto) can afford to move into an apartment.

        As far as these interviews go, I’m afraid I’ve been disappointed. The questions are vague, but then the answers are, too. They beg for a followup, or more specificity. For example, Herbold was asked (as all candidates are asked) “What would you do to make housing affordable for everyone in Seattle?”

        She said that the solution “can’t be purely supply-side, as the market doesn’t guarantee affordability.” which is exactly the first part of what I said above. But then she never specified any market solutions whatsoever. In fact, she suggested further restrictions to the market, which would make market rate housing even more expensive.

        I would be much happier with a question (or set of questions) that asked specifically about zoning. Something you might consider, especially after the primaries (when you aren’t tasked with interviewing so many candidates).

        • Thanks for the suggestions and thanks for reading. We’re going to do a thorough review of the whole process once we are done and hope to improve on it for next time. Any feedback we receive will be taken into consideration, including the helpful comments you made here.

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