As part of our endorsement process at The Urbanist, we ask candidates to complete a standard questionnaire to better understand and evaluate their positions on housing, land use, transportation, and other important issues. We then share this information with our readers to help inform their own voting decisions.
This year we are considering 19 candidates running for Seattle City Council positions 8 and 9, Seattle Mayor, and Port of Seattle Commission positions 1 and 4. We are publishing the questionnaires in full this week and next week, concluding with our official primary election endorsements in mid-July.
The following questionnaire was submitted by Ty Pethe, running for Seattle City Council Position 9.
Do you consider yourself an urbanist? Why/Why not?
Yes. I support smart density and growth, increased mass transit, and the growth of a vibrant metropolitan core. I’ve lived in the U-District, Central District, Beacon Hill, and now in Columbia City. I work at Seattle Central on Capitol Hill. I’ve had the good fortune to live and work in a vibrant urban communities.
Do you support the King County Center and Family Justice Center as designed?
No, not currently as designed. We need to work more on restoration than punishment, and on keeping youth out of the criminal justice system. We need more resources for families who are going through these situations. We need to create a facility that is safe and supportive to the youth, families, and workers who go through it. The King County Children and Family Justice Center should be rethought from the ground up in partnership with the community.
What do you envision as a solution for the current North Precinct building?
I think there has been too much focus on smaller nuisance level crimes in North Seattle. This has overshadowed the need for more police investigators in the north end to respond to serious property crimes like household break-ins and car theft.
Along these lines, we can’t criminalize homelessness out of existence. Instead, we need to address root causes and fund housing for people to move into.
I don’t think we need the bunker. The North Precinct Building is too big, too expensive, and overkill for the needs of the community. I think that it should be rethought from the ground up with community involvement.
Are there reforms that you would make to the street vacation process to ensure that adequate public benefits are provided to city residents from vacated rights-of-way?
Before we agree to vacate any streets, we must clearly understand the purpose and benefit that the vacation of that street would provide our citizens. We should not take the vacating of public streets lightly – these have impact on our community’s abilities to move throughout the city and their jobs.
Permanent vacations of streets should only be for the benefit of the whole Seattle community and not to the detriment of current jobs. However we should consider other transportation options that might allow for people to move and for the impact the impact on commercial transportation to be minimized.
Temporary vacations of streets for legitimate community needs should be easier. We should support uses such as: cultural events, community celebrations, and reasonable construction that ensures community & pedestrian safety.
What changes do you think are needed for the city’s current policy on unauthorized homeless camp removal?
We should only continue unauthorized camp removal if we have a place for the displaced people to move to and we can ensure they do not lose their personal property. We need alternative options: unauthorized camps are not safe for the people who live in there and it’s unsafe for the DOT and other workers at these locations.
It takes tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars to cleanup and remove a single encampment. For that money, we could easily fund a safe tent city for a year, including sanitation and basic utilities. Our current unauthorized homeless camp removal policy is not only inhumane, it is an irresponsible use of taxpayer money.
In our current homelessness state of emergency, what actions can we take right away to address this issue?
We can increase the amount of permanent sites for homeless encampments on public and/or private property. We need to allow nonprofits to create and operate more tent cities. We must work with the 1811 Eastlake Project and other Housing First groups to create more permanent housing units for people who are homeless.
What would be your strategy with the remaining Mandatory Housing Affordability rezones? Would you push for higher/lower affordability or density levels?
We need to push for 25% MHA in all new developments, and settle for what makes sense within each community. We understand that setting the MHA too high might decrease development, but we needs to be high enough to provide the maximum amount affordable homes in Seattle. It’s a fine balance that will have to be worked out neighborhood by neighborhood. In areas where there is high demand for affordable housing and development will happen regardless of the MHA, we need a higher MHA rate compared to other areas where the demand for development and new affordable homes are lower.
We should allow for additional up-zoning as long as it creates a significant amount of new affordable housing.
We should encourage more density in urban areas that have mass transit and the right amount of utilities infrastructure to sustain the increased density.
Would you support efforts to raise additional revenue in Seattle directed towards speeding up construction of ST3 projects? If so, what revenue source would you target?
Yes. I fully support increasing funding ST3 projects, especially with the reprehensible cuts made by our federal government. As for funding, I have not settled on a good solution yet. Maybe an MVET (motor vehicle excise tax)?
What are your preferred strategies for increasing multi-modal transportation (e.g., walking, biking, public transit) in Seattle?
To encourage multi-modal transportation, we must start by creating livable and walkable neighborhoods with mixed income levels and where residential is mixed with light commercial use. This encourages residents to use multiple modes of transportation within their neighborhood and across Seattle.
Next we need to keep construction of sidewalks and bike lanes as a priority. We have too many streets without sidewalks and/or bike lanes across the city. We cannot expected multiple modes of transportation without creating the infrastructure necessary.
Finally, we need to continue to work with King County Metro and Sound Transit to increase bus and light rail service. We need to continue the integration of our community transit authorities to use ORCA card system while ensuring their needs are met by the ORCA card program and its software.
Seattle’s Vision Zero plan aims to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030. What policies do you support to work towards this goal?
We should try to design our transportation infrastructure to minimize our different modes of transportation from negatively interacting. Future mass transit rail projects should not be at grade so as to prevent accidents with vehicles, pedestrians, and bikes. I would also say we need to be concerned about intersections and roads without sufficient visibility to allow drivers and pedestrians to see each other. We need proper bike lanes and bike paths that run in parallel with our major arterial roads so that we remove the need of bicyclists to use highly trafficked streets.
Seattle Department of Transportation should do a better job of educating the community about how their proposed changes will actually affect the community. This may require more funding for outreach and community involvement.
Do you support permitting triplexes, rowhomes, townhomes and cottages, in single-family zoned areas across the city?
Do you support adding a local income tax in Seattle?
Do you support adding a head tax in Seattle?
Ty submitted an amended answer to this question before publication. We agreed to print both the original and amended version. Below is the amendment:
Do you support adding a congestion fee in Seattle?
Do you support the creation of a Seattle municipal bank?
Do you support the creation of a municipal broadband service in Seattle?
Do you support inclusion of the Community Package associated with Washington State Convention Center Addition’s street and alleyway vacation public benefits?
Photo courtesy of Ty Pethe campaign.
The Urbanist was founded in 2014 to examine and influence urban policies. We believe cities provide unique opportunities for addressing many of the most challenging social, environmental, and economic problems. We serve as a resource for promoting urbanism, increasing political participation, and improving the places we live. The Elections Committee consists of various staff members of The Urbanist and is a standing body representing the political values of our organization.