Ron Davis is running for the Seattle City Council in District 4 on a progressive, stridently urbanist platform and he shared his positions on transportation, housing, and other issues at The Urbanist’s lunch and learn event this Thursday.

Davis has pulled in an impressive set of progressive endorsements including that of King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay and State Senator Joe Nguyen. On Thursday, we also announced our slate of primary endorsements, which included Davis.

In The Urbanist‘s rundown of the D4 race, I wrote: “At first glance his Harvard-educated tech entrepreneur pedigree might seem upper crust, but Davis’s rags to riches story and passion for pursuing housing abundance and lessening wealth inequality could convince progressive voters he’s a worthy antidote for Alex Pedersen’s tenure on the city council. He’s penned op-eds for The Urbanist and other publications and is a board member at sustainability-focused nonprofit Futurewise, honing his chops as a wonk not afraid to wade into policy details.”

Davis’s housing platform is meaty with clear priorities like “eliminate bans on missing-middle housing” and “make Alternative 6 part of our Comprehensive Plan,” as he opined in The Urbanist. On transportation, Davis’s priorities include rededicating road space to bus lanes to speed up high frequency buses and ungapping the map of safe bike facilities.

Read our interview with Davis for more on what inspired him to run and what he hopes to accomplish. We went deeper into his mobility platform on Thursday, include how Ron would speed up Route 44 and other bus routes and pedestrianize more streets.

The Urbanist was part of a coalition of transportation groups that hosted a “Mobility Forum” series. After rescheduling the initial date, ultimately, we had to cancel the D4 mobility forum due to a lack of interest from other candidates. Our lunch and learn with Davis helped make sure Ron’s transportation stances still got broadcast out there.

Transcript below:

Transcript, edited lightly for clarity:

Doug Trumm 0:03
All right, everyone, welcome to The Urbanist Lunch and Learn with Ron Davis where we’re gonna learn more about Ron’s platform, especially his mobility platform and housing platform for District 4 for Seattle. This is sort of taking the place of a mobility forum we had planned with the other candidates, but we couldn’t make that happen, had to reschedule, and couldn’t get a date that worked for everyone, but still wanted to definitely hear what Ron had in mind for this race. He has a really detailed platform, and we’d love to dig into it here today. So we are recording this for folks who can’t make it.

We just shared the news that The Urbanist Elections Committee did endorse Ron, and we definitely want to share more, because we don’t publish those interviews. This will now be there for folks to really get familiar with what Ron stands for. So I will hand it over for to Ron to introduce his platform, and then we’ll get into some specific topics.

Ron Davis 1:08
That’s great. Thank you, Doug. And thank you so much. That endorsement means the world to me. I’m an avid Urbanist reader and booster, and I write sometimes for it, and this makes me very excited. So a little bit about me. I’m Ron Davis, I live with my wife, who’s a family physician and executive, and our two rascally little boys in Roosevelt, right on the border with Ravenna in the U District. I didn’t start life in a place like Roosevelt, though. I’m the product of a teen pregnancy. When my dad quit his job at a diner for a factory job with benefits here on minimum wage, and it took him 10 years before he didn’t have to work 60, 70, 80 hours a week just for us to make ends meet. But that is the way it was, you know, at least back then my parents were able to buy us a house in an okay neighborhood, and he build us a beautiful, stable life, and we were able to build on that. And I ended up graduating from Harvard Law School and developing skills as a deal maker in enterprise sales and tech startups.

And the reason I’m running is, you can’t launch a journey like mine in Seattle today, you know. People are working 80 hours now just to survive, and they never get ahead, certainly aren’t buying houses. So I, you know, I’m running to make sure that everyone gets a real shot like I did. And to make sure that when people’s luck runs short, we take care of that, because it could happen to any of us. And that happens to show up in a very urbanist platform because housing affordability is really the key to access to building that future life.

Yeah, thank you for that quick introduction. But yeah, we are especially hit hard on mobility, since this was going to be a mobility forum. And I don’t know, if you’re excellent on this issue, you know, I don’t know if it scared off some of the opponents, or if they were just busy. I won’t, I won’t say for certain what that one is. But I also think we can do something interesting here. Because I know, in some of these forums, the whole goal is to get candidates out of their shell, to take a stance. I think that’s a really important thing for candidates – being up front, and also thinking about how to take those values into action.

Doug Trumm 3:33
Yeah, I think I will just add, you know, we’ll find out if it’s a strength or a weakness, it’s something I appreciate about politicians – when they’re clear, and so I try to be clear, too. And you know, there are not that many politicians who are clear, so we’ll see how I do at achieving that with you during this interview.

Yeah, so when we were a coalition, trying to write the questions for the forums, you know, we’re thinking about a million different things to ask candidates to be like, how, you know, you say you have these values about helping people walking, biking, rolling, and those using public transit to get around. But when push comes to shove, you know, and it’s against a car project, or parking, or something like that, there were all these questions getting at, you know, will you prioritize, human-centered, active mobility over cars. And I, instead of having to write a bunch of those here, I thought I would just ask you how you’re thinking about it and, obviously, we still need to provide mobility for people in cars, but how to provide safe access for other folks who really don’t have great bike, walk, and transit options sometimes.

Ron Davis 4:45
So there are a lot of layers to consider. First, I will say, you’re right. Cars are part of the equation. They’re not going away anytime soon. I know that you know, that we’re a very public transit oriented family, but among the four of us, we do share one car that we try to use as little as we can. But I do understand that, and I’m not trying to go to war on it. But when I do think about priorities as our city matures, that tends to mean that more people live here, and we are out of space on the roads, and cars are the least efficient use of space, and they also happen to pollute the most. They’re noisy, and they run over people.

And so, as we think about how to get people around the city, we do have to start to think more smartly about it. In terms of, how we do that, obviously, there are a million layers to this, so maybe we can pick them apart. But I think about our neighborhoods first. So before we think about moving from neighborhood to neighborhood, we should also think about satisfying people’s needs in their own neighborhoods. So you often hear this term, 15-minute city, and some jurisdictions use different terms.

I’m particularly impressed by Barcelona. Its goal is to get 85% of trips to stay in their neighborhood within the next five years. Now, Barcelona is denser than us, and has been doing mixed use for a long time. So I don’t think we can hope for solutions that are that ambitious to happen here that fast. But I do think, intentionally legalizing retail in neighborhoods without having to build parking is a start. And doing so in a way that strategically makes sure that the vast majority of trips can be satisfied on foot, or maybe on a bike, by people of all abilities, is the first thing, right, we will reduce car trips, right? Most people don’t like driving. While I do prefer riding on the train and listening to, you know, a book on tape or a podcast, I also really prefer walking just around the corner to satisfy my needs.

So I think that my first priority is making sure our neighborhoods are complete. Second priority, then, is thinking about how we get around between our neighborhoods, right. And so something I often say on the stump is, I think we need to make it as quick, easy, safe and convenient to get around the city without a car as it is with one. And that sounds kind of sweet and anodyne. But the truth is, that’s a pretty radical proposition. Right now we place an enormous time tax on people if they want to get around without a car, especially if it’s east west. I mean, it can be really brutal, honestly, north, south, a lot of different ways. You know, you get stuck. And then there are other taxes, too, there’s a tax on your safety. Because when you’re a pedestrian, you’re more vulnerable.

We have public safety issues on our buses too. So the bus drivers union actually endorsed me because I have an actual public safety plan that they think is deliverable, right. So we have to get all of these pieces right. And to do that, it involves things that we can dive into more deeply. And, it involves completely gridded networks, basically, with bike lanes that are protected by firm barriers. So they go from where you are, to where you want to go, and back, and you can do so safely. And the same thing with transit – where we need increased frequencies. But we also know that transit is never going to be as convenient as whatever is sitting in your driveway. And so if you want to get rid of that time penalty, you need to do things that help transit skip some traffic – and make these options be real choices. And once people start to have real choices, and they don’t pay those penalties, they shift modes, because it’s cheaper to travel without a car, and you can listen to something, or take a call, and people prefer that.

Doug Trumm 8:09
Yeah, thanks for laying that out. And I think those are great values. It’s always interesting to put those changes into the real world and in real projects. And, I know you’ve dug into some of the ones that really impact your district. And I’m thinking of something like a RapidRide J Line, which, some folks haven’t learned about yet. We can take the route 70 and upgrade it to a rapid ride project. It’s sort of truncated from the original vision that used to go all the way to Roosevelt, but it would now kind of end probably in the U District. It’s apparently still happening. But it’s an older –like 2027ish timeline. I thought I’d bring it up because it’s a contrast with the current holder of the D4 City Council seat. Transportation chair, Alex Peterson, has been looking at ways to water that down if not cancel that project because of the included bike lanes and Eastlake, which means you trade a little bit of parking for a safe bike route for folks to get from the university to downtown and parts in-between these, and obviously, you’re gonna start off kind of excited about that trade-off. So, what do you think of that project? Is there any way for you to think realistically, to make sure we either get that on time or speeded up?

Ron Davis 9:43
Yeah, so there are a lot of layers to this first, maybe about Alex, and the bike lane, and Eastlake. I think Alex is deeply confused about how cities work. So he wouldn’t, I think, anyway, he wouldn’t allow a neighborhood to veto power lines or sewer lines coming through from neighborhood to neighborhood for some reason. He does think neighborhoods should have a veto on connecting neighborhoods to one another. And so, the problem is, we can’t have a city if we don’t have network services like power lines, like pipes, like roads, like bike lanes. And so, the idea that, you know, 50 neighbors are upset and should be able to stop the mobility of 1000s. And 1000s of people in northeast Seattle, who might want to access downtown by a bike, is foolish. There are a lot more people that are impacted, but also foolish, in that again, once again, it continues to be an inefficient and unsafe use of this space.

In terms of the project itself, you know, yes, the J Line does feel like it’s been on this slow death, like death from 1000 cuts. It was called the Roosevelt RapidRide at one point, but they’ve had to rename it in part because they’re not sending it to Roosevelt. There is a person or two inside SDOT [the Seattle Department of Transportation] who has been opposed to that project from the beginning. And I’ve had some folks that come to me and tell me about this. And they have done their best to kill it or water it down. Alex has been somewhat complicit in that, and that’s been really disappointing. So, you know, for me, we do need redundancy with Link. We need easy access to light rail. And, RapidRides are just an extremely efficient way to move people. And so, I would be much more inclined to protect a lane for the buses and easy access, loading and unloading, and payment, including shelters, that rapid ride provides. And I’d actually like to see this go all the way to Northgate. But one way or another, I do think it should be restored and go to Roosevelt. And yeah, that does mean trade-offs with car lanes. Now, what you do end up getting is substantially more mobility, more people moving through the same corridor faster. That data is very clear. You might have fewer cars moving through that corridor fast, although even sometimes when you actually make these changes, that doesn’t happen as well. So it depends, but one way or another, you’re going to get more people moving faster. And look here in Northeast Seattle, especially the part that it would run through, we’re fairly urbanized, like many, many people are, and we’re living without a car which would prevent a lot of unnecessary trips.

Doug Trumm 12:16
Absolutely, yeah. And your district is one of the fastest growing parts of the city. Lots of residential towers going up near the campus. And that’s credit to them. Mandatory housing affordability up, making that possible.

Ron Davis 12:33
it’s going nuts. And then also the same with Roosevelt. Puget Sound Regional Council helped determine that this is how fast it’ll grow over the next 20 years. And it was seven years, but we’ve almost doubled our 20 year target. Right? So this part of the city is going nuts, and it’s urbanizing. And our thinking around it is still very suburban, our planners thinking around it, and really need to catch up.

Doug Trumm 12:53
Yeah, and one of the complicating factors for policymakers and advocates is that this wasn’t really the Seattle promise. You know, there are seven corridors that were kind of called RapidRide+ and look at that. One isn’t dead. It’s still still progressing, but the timeline of it – we haven’t delivered that yet. But we’re going to be asking voters to approve another levy next year as the old one expires because so much of the sales department transportation budget is dependent on these levees. So this makes us dependent on the goodwill of voters to continue supporting them. And obviously, meeting those promises could ensure the better chance of success?

Ron Davis 13:36
Yeah, I mean, you want to do it, you know, because the theory of changes is that if you deliver, when you go to voters, and you ask them for their money, you should deliver as much as possible. And obviously, there are constraints. And yes, costs went up. And we’ve all been shocked by how much inflation has gone up. And, I have to be fair to the folks involved. But we often either under or over promise and under deliver, or just because someone else in the future can deal with the problem. And I think that really hampers our ability to win over voters. I also would love to back up and just say RapidRide is awesome. And I’m a huge fan of it. But I also think if you’re thinking of an S curve of value and things you can do, paint a damn bus lane, and just move all the buses in the corridor much faster. And you can. It’s not that expensive to do that. And you don’t have to do all the signalized changes, all the loading and unloading changes, and you get you know, 70 or 80% of the value. So I also think, in the meantime, we should be considering, you know, the term is often, Tactical Urbanism, for these sort of smaller changes. I do think we need to be considering this if we run short on money. We still need to deliver most of the value to voters, rather than trying to be perfect…

Was that clear? So, basically, there’s a shortcut way, and it’s painting lines. So when we fall short, we still need to deliver and start painting lanes. There is a shortcut when we are running short on money, and I think canceling a whole bunch of projects isn’t the best way to do it. And I do think in this next levy, we do need to go bigger. But also, I think we need to be picking strategic corridors like that, where, maybe, we need to be realistic about costs. And so if we can’t deliver a RapidRide, we need to be honest about it. But we still need to be shifting our use of right-of-aways to more efficient use of space.

Doug Trumm 15:33
Yeah, and that’s definitely exciting – to have everything have a five to 10 year planning period, and build up to get what some cities would make as a commonplace change, you know, that I think is going to be healthy as far as getting momentum rather than everything being a tooth and nail fight. One project that got a few blocks of bus lanes was the route 44, and thinking of that, did you think they went far enough?

Ron Davis 16:03
I think they should have gone at least to 17th or 20th. Ideally, it would have just dropped all the way down, you know, gone to 45th, all the way down to U Village. And then I’d like, of course, to see it crossing the bridge and going deep into Wallingford, as well. And I think a lot of people would ride that line. It’s miserably slow now. But you know, it’s a workhorse for our district. And because it’s connected to light rail, essentially, you’ve got a massive corridor with a lot of people along it that would get much faster, easier access to getting over to Link and being able to hit north or south. So it seems to me, strategically, that it is extremely valuable. And I will say that, like the throughput of cars on that corridor is awful, right? Because there’s a stoplight every five seconds. So if you’re gonna prioritize getting people around, that’ll be a great low hanging fruit thing to expand. And it should be going the other direction, too. It shouldn’t just be one direction.

Doug Trumm 17:01
For sure, and that is sort of the key crosstown bus in your district. But obviously, there’s been a little bit of news lately about the route, and maybe some changes coming. I’d say it’s very early. But these routes are the poster child of late buses. Obviously, one example has been the late eighth forever. But we’re seeing now with the sort of pandemic maybe slight respite from traffic congestion. it’s broken, and back with a vengeance, especially with more people going into the office in South Lake Union. But the route eight was miserably late over the past few weeks. And people were complaining about it online. And don’t say whining on Twitter never got anyone anywhere. It sounds like Assad’s working on something there. What type of thing do you think should be on the table there? Is it similar to the route 44? How can we become more nimble in situations like this where suddenly the bus is just not a reliable option for people?

Ron Davis 18:01
I have a better answer to the second question than the first because I have been so intensely outdoors the last few weeks that I haven’t been paying as much attention to the recent debacle with rowdy riders. So you know, I’d have to go back and look at the specifics. But as a general rule, I think something I’ve really appreciated about our new SDOT director is that he does understand that there are small tactical changes that you can do that make a big difference. I think he’s somebody who would be fairly easy to sell on paint over some complete rebuild. And so I think that’s a great example of a way we could get a lot of bang for our buck fast while starting to work toward a longer term plan. And we’d be setting ourselves up to do it, because people will go through the emotional shift of maybe handing over some right-of-way, and then, all of a sudden, see all these mobility benefits, and then we would just be upgrading those benefits.

So that would be my sort of standard answer to that. Obviously, we also have a problem with staffing right now. And that’s a very tough problem. And so, building that pool of workers is going to take some time. And we do have to be realistic about that. I would say in terms of how we build that capacity, I think something that, for instance, I know Greg is doing is he’s hiring a new, very, very senior position that will report to him. It used to be called the senior traffic engineer. And now it’s senior traffic safety and mobility, or something. It’s not just the name, but also the KPIs that they report on, and they’re really starting to move their focus to safety. They obviously have a long way to go, and have a lot to say about Vision Zero. But I think that kind of fundamental rework where what people are responsible for at the top will make a big difference. And it just happens to turn out the things that make us safe. Also make neighborhoods nicer, get better throughput, and, make things like buses not fall apart on the job, right. I’m sorry, not the bus – like it’s actual mechanically fall apart, but the route.

I actually want to say something that I think is worth thinking about. So, we as urbanists, we often talk about how we need to shift lanes. We need to do this, but I think stepping back and just recognizing that we have an enormous asset in the city, which is our right-of-way that takes up so much space in our city, and that is sometimes frustrating because we’re looking out, and right now it’s a sea of cement that’s inefficiently used and drives a lot of runoff and people get hurt. But it is an enormous asset, it is an opportunity to get people around the city safely, to increase mobility for people who have mobility issues, to increase quality of life, and to rebuild our tree canopy. It is a big public asset that we need to think about. It’s something that we can build upon. And all these things we’re talking about are ways to make it more efficient, more safe, and to get people around more effectively, right? That is an enormous asset. It’s not just a problem to fix. It’s actually something we bring to the table. Imagine if we had to acquire all that land, we would be completely screwed.

Doug Trumm 20:56
Yeah, and it’s something that’s coming up, time and again, whether that’s trying to figure out how to increase our tree canopy, or where to site our light rail stations, both to be cost effective and good for riders. Yeah, let’s pivot over to Sound Transit a little bit, because some of those big decisions might get punted onto the next city council’s plate as well, at least, potentially. They just did a study where they just had to give it an up or down as far as land use approvals, but hopefully some charity is happening ahead of time. I’m getting a little into the weeds. But how do you think that ST3 planning is going so far? And you know what kind of feedback would you be giving to Sound Transit? Should you be either just one of the counselors, or even search to replace Sound Transit board member?

Ron Davis 21:52
I think the voters did a fantastic job in selecting sites for Sound Transit, or representative sites. And I think the planning apparatus and the board is screwing it up really badly. Now, there are a few people on the board like Claudia Balducci, who are perennially brilliant and saying all the right things and pushing for all the right things. But we have a governance problem, which is, Sound Transit is governed by a bunch of jurisdictions, a number of which don’t even really want rail, or certainly don’t have the need for it, because they’re much more farther flung. So we do have just the basic setup and that is very frustrating. And it has enabled some really foolish behavior – kind of classic pennywise pound foolishness. So, sort of backing up, one of my volunteers worked for Sound Transit for years, and he was in the room when they were making a decision about escalators. And he remembers the discussion and people saying, this kind is cheaper, and they won’t break unless people walk up them. And in Seattle, people don’t walk up and down escalators. So we’ll be fine. And other people said, if we become a city that commutes more people will walk on the escalators, they do it everywhere else, we should buy the more robust ones. And they said, let’s save the money. And we’ve all been living with those consequences ever since.

To me that is a microcosm of the foolish decisions we’re seeing. Let that play out to adding stations where people aren’t, which is nuts, and where people are unlikely to be anytime soon, or where there’s a strong, powerful, constituency in favor of not developing. So, let’s say into industrial lands, and I support preserving our industrial lands. And there’s also a very organized set of folks who want to prevent, moving a bunch of housing into industrial lands. And when we say, oh, let’s put it on industrial land, it’s cheaper, well, that’s great, but then it’s a ride to nowhere. We don’t need bridges to nowhere. We don’t need trains to nowhere, and especially, we don’t need $50 billion trains to nowhere. So, I’m a tech CEO. And I was perfect for user testing products, because I’m really bad at figuring stuff out that’s kind of basic or technical. And the same thing is true of transit, I see the seams because I just get frustrated and trip over myself. And when I have to cross a big road with my kids when the wayfinding is unclear, when it’s out, or when it’s out of range, I get super frustrated. I am 43 and mobile and I’m a distance runner but what about people that actually have challenges getting around or who don’t feel safe crossing the street or can’t do it as fast as me – this is not what we’re going do. If we’re going to drop billions of dollars on building assets they need to be assets that will serve our community for 100 years. Specifically, that means we should be connecting people in the CID not doing the north and south – the CID, like Ballard should be in Ballard. You know, we should make sure that when we’re locating a transit in South Lake Union, it’s where the people in South Lake Union are, we should not be deleting stations, especially some of the highest traffic stations. The whole idea is to get people to ride it, not to be able to draw a line on a map.

Doug Trumm 24:54
Amen, and unfortunately, that seems to be the direction that the Sound Transit Board is drifting toward. So, this will take some course correction with Mayor Harrell backing some of these options that do end up losing entire stations, including this new option for Denny Way that ends up consolidating it with South Lake Union.

Ron Davis 25:16
Some of the densest census tracts on the West Coast. right. First Hill, for example, was extremely frustrating.

Doug Trumm 25:24
And, put a station at Aurora. It’s where all the buses are. You know, it’s certainly a strange idea to take that particular station out of play when there are more than 10,000 daily riders projected there. So that’s our little soapbox on ST3 planning, but there are a lot of other issues to cover as well. So I will keep it moving. Let’s let’s talk about another kind of thorny issue that has the potential to provide some help as far as safety, but obviously has its own set of challenges, which is camera enforcement. There is some hope that this will improve. On another low number of levels, including there are some cameras that are allowed to enforce bus lanes within the urban core of Seattle, thanks to a pilot program approved by the state, which also helps with blocking the box, which is when motorists drive into the crosswalk which prevents people from crossing it as designed – think of Mercer Street and you’ll think of that problem. The city has rolled that out very minimally so far. And there’s also talk of expanding the school zone cameras that we use from about 35 right now to double it. And that’s a proposal from councilmember Alex Pederson. But there’s some uncertainty of how that will work. Because it’s sort of unclear what the goal of that expansion is. So some advocates, including, Whose Streets? Our Streets, have raised concerns with that, because they’re worried that it’s just going to over police the south end and create equity impacts. So anyway, that’s a quick rundown of the current controversy of camera enforcement. Do you see a way forward that can use cameras for camera enforcement, which does have the benefit of not involving an armed officer, but avoids some of the equity pitfalls, so that we can have Safe Routes to School and have better bus lanes? So bus lanes don’t have cheaters in them, and so forth?

Ron Davis 27:31
Yes, so I am for more camera enforcement. For some of the reasons you mentioned, and I’ll add, we do know that although it’s only part of the puzzle for slowing traffic down and not killing people, it does work. It is part of that puzzle. And so we need to be doing that to protect people. I’m also for it, because we’re down 362 sworn officers and so we have trouble showing up to 911 calls right now. And also so cops don’t need to be chasing people down for going 10 miles an hour over the speed limit. I understand that if someone’s driving recklessly, and they’re in imminent risk, but otherwise, we could get them out of traffic enforcement. And that does happen to be the source of a ton of inequitable policing, right. So there’s a bunch of data around this saying that traffic stops tend to escalate. And we see real, unfortunate radicalized bias in that kind of policing. So that’s a fantastic option to start to essentially specialize. Your point about equity is a well taken one because for instance, many of the roads are where we have the most speeding, and they run through marginalized neighborhoods, which is no accident. We’ve been forcing marginalized communities to live along those big, busy, scary, deadly roads for years through our zoning practices. So if we’re going to try to really tackle the problem, we’re going to end up putting cameras on those roads, and then those communities will be over enforced. And so I think the answer is, yes, we do need cameras, we need them in a lot more places, we also need to set up an independent governance mechanism, probably, I would think, I would be inclined to work with the ACLU on this, who has done some interesting critiques of camera enforcement inequities. And we would need to set some kind of core key performance indicators to make sure that we stay in an in an equitable place. It would be very surprising to me if we couldn’t do better than human enforcement at this point, though. And it would just allow us to make city streets safer all over the city, right. And I think the idea of backing out from schools – starting from schools, and from Parks – these tend to be actually located in wealthier neighborhoods – you’re less likely to have the equity issues, partly because we’ve once again, built the city in a way that inconveniences marginalized communities. But it will give us the opportunity to protect groups of people that are very sympathetic to kids, of course, as a parent, me too, and we’re also less likely to end up over policing BIPOC communities.

Doug Trumm 29:52
Yeah, I think that this does seem like there’s a way to thread that needle. So thanks for walking us through that. Let’s shift gears over to housing because I don’t want to short change that discussion either. I know you have a lot of thoughts about housing, you’ve been a proponent of kind of going big on the sale of the comprehensive plan so that there is enough housing for everyone. And there are currently five alternatives in the plan, including the new change alternative, but you’ve got me talking about Alternative Six. So walk us through that, and what your thinking is behind how we set our growth strategy, as we do this big reset next year which the council is going to get to determine. It will have a huge impact on a number of things, including housing opportunities.

Ron Davis 30:37
Yeah, I do have a lot to say about this. So, as I mentioned earlier, when my parents bought their drafty house in an OK neighborhood, it was enough to change everything for us, right. There was no more worrying about rent hikes, we had security and stability, and we built relationships with our community. And my sister and I were able to build from that. And we also know from research, that stable housing and healthy neighborhoods is the bedrock for a thriving life. And so my goal is that our planning will make it so that Seattle is a place where people from any background can raise a family, start a career, and age in their homes, without breaking the bank. And we should be planning to that. So first, we know that we are way behind, we have a deficit of 10s of 1000s of units. Depending on if you look at how many people have moved into the region, how many jobs we’ve created, you get different numbers, but the number is very big.

We’ve had years and years of people who don’t want housing in their backyard, abusing the power of our legal system to keep people from living near the largest job center for essentially 1000 miles in every direction, 850 to San Francisco, but basically, that right, and on top of that, we’ve had these economists and housing experts say, hey, if you keep doing this, your prices are gonna skyrocket, you’re gonna push 1000s of people out and onto the street. And now we live in this unaffordable city with 1000s of people on the street. And we’re scratching our heads saying, well, how in the world did we get here? And how can we fix it?

So I do think the top plan is an opportunity to really start to address these, as you mentioned, five options. I’m for Option Six, the reason I’m for Option Six is that none of the five options are really makes any significant headway on the housing deficit. Four of them clearly make it worse. And the fifth, arguably makes it only slightly worse, maybe slightly better, but none of them dig it out. So if we’re gonna make a 10-year plan, and we have a big old problem, we ought to be planning to fix things. So in the comp plan, this Option Six community has been like kind of a big tent, a lot of people project their ideas onto it. But it’s Jen who generally said something like, every neighborhood should have significant amounts of housing in it, be livable, and it doesn’t have to be, you know, high rises. We can use things like lot coverage requirements to make sure there are still trees, but we need it to be human scaled, with compact neighborhoods everywhere, and no neighborhood should be excluded from change. And by doing so, by the way, then that means other neighborhoods won’t have to change overnight.

I want to work backwards from this plan and say, okay, exactly how many units? How many? What is our growth? Likely growth trajectories? Low, medium, high? What is our deficit? And how do we then know what the three plans – the low, medium, and high plan will be to get us there. That’s what we need to be doing. So, of course, as I mentioned, that does mean upzoning all over the city. And then, it also means being thoughtful about how to create more affordable housing. So if we catch up on our housing deficit, we will do a better job of serving the middle class, and maybe even the fledgling middle class. But at some point, in a society as equal as ours with land as expensive as ours, we also know the market is not going to serve everybody. And so we do need to be upgrading our investments in affordable housing, social housing, as well, right. So there’s a lot of opportunity to do that, through land banking, through raising more progressive taxes to invest more aggressively in affordable and social housing, through removing barriers to building it that add up to $50,000 a unit in many places. And so, you know, those are sort of core for me, there’s a bunch of stuff in the plumbing, like in how we build housing, the rules, we put on it, you know, silly things like upper level setbacks, or a bunch of rules about where housing goes on a lot, that make it harder to build and more likely to cut down trees, I think we could get out of our own way on a lot of that by following more of the European models. You know, eliminate parking requirements, and turn our permitting process from a two- to three-year to dual track permitting process into a six-month or less single-track permitting process. So if we did that, I think we would start to actually see real progress on the housing deficit. Obviously, you know, there are certain things we can’t control like interest rates, but over time, those should adapt.

Doug Trumm 34:53
Yeah, I’m really glad you brought up how to make sure that housing on paper actually comes to fruition so people can live in housing instead of just say, our neighborhood has enough planned capacity, even if it’s not happening. In actuality, I think it’s pretty cool comfort for folks who are looking for a home. But one thing that I don’t think will help is the boy who cries wolf, but I get why they look at a lot of things as added costs. But some of them have obviously a little more public benefit and thought behind them, such as when we updated our building codes and efficiency standards in Seattle to provide greener housing. Obviously, that comes with a cost to developers. So to do that sort of makes sense. But then if you’re doing that by 1000 cuts, you know, there are other things that are less defensible, like let the market decide how much parking there is, since that just ends up being passed along to the renter or homeowner anyway in driving the cost of housing.

Ron Davis 36:00
So I’ve been reducing the amount of housing that is driving up the cost of housing elsewhere. Exactly. Yeah. Yes, I don’t think every obligation we put on developers is bad. In fact, I actually want to be continuing to turn the screws on those green building standards. But if we’re going to do that it means we still want housing to be affordable and we need to at least get rid of the dumb rules. And the good news is there’s a lot of them. So that’s that, obviously, yes, I’m not into just giving developers what they want. I’m into eliminating silly rules that increase the cost of housing. And in some cases, we’ll be able to offset that by ratcheting up the really good ones, right. So, yeah, and sometimes these are in conflict. So I definitely get that sometimes the frustration is where an upper left foot setback, as you rightfully point out, is not a great idea, because generally, if you want your house to have good thermal performance, be efficient, not be expensive to heat, you don’t want a bunch of weird shapes in it, like a rectangle will generally do pretty well. So, to do mass timber construction that way, like in Europe, there’s around a million gorgeous European cities, or East Coast cities, or Montreal or whatever, or even some of the parts of this city, and most of those buildings do not have upper level setbacks. It’s one of those things where people thought about it, and it seemed like it’d be a good idea, and it would do a lot for beauty. And I don’t think it does, but it does create a whole lot of other costs.

Doug Trumm 37:28
Yeah, it’s pretty much like talking about a little green building. So it’s sort of seems like one of those things that hopefully we can correct after being an MHA, designed-by-committee kind of thing, that was seen as a concession to people with the tomato plant next or something. You know, obviously, we want to try to meet all these goals. But some of these aren’t compatible.

Ron Davis 37:51
And you just said a great thing, which is by committee. So you know, realistically, threading the needle on all this policy stuff is hard, even in the in sort of a ivory tower space. And then, you’ve got to deal with all the constituencies and to get things passed. Right. So you know, that we’re not going to do a perfect job. But I do think that good policy thinking can at least give us a true north that we’re aiming at instead of just aiming in the wrong direction while we’re trying to build those coalitions.

Doug Trumm 38:22
Definitely. Let’s talk about socializing a little bit more, you referenced it as being part of your goals. But obviously, there’s a huge opportunity in the city, now that we have a public developer of social housing, a new public development 40, that it’s definitely still on the groundfloor. But you know, there’s this entity now tasked with building social housing, and it’s looking for a funding source. But that would be a new model, a new way of doing things because usually Seattle is either all or nothing market for affordable housing. Currently, occasionally, some hybrid models, but this would be the most hybrid model yet, where you’re getting some moderate income housing up to 120% of area median income. That would, if all goes according to plan cross subsidize some of the affordable housing that’s below 60% of AMI, some gradation in there to potentially flexible. Do you think this is something that can be contributing soon, and how would you look to get it, get it up and running efficiently?

Ron Davis 39:25
Yeah, so I was the only person in my race who, as far as I can tell, supported this. Kenneth Wilson did not. Maritza Rivera at our 43rd Dems forum said she didn’t know what I-135 was. So I don’t know if she supports it or not. So it’s a little unclear there. But I advocated for this beforehand, because I do think it’s a great idea. It’s not perfect, but it is a great idea. We don’t have a ton of US based examples. We do have one and it does seem to be pretty capital efficient, because as you said, Doug, the higher income units subsidize the lower income units. So I always love a way to stretch a buck, because there’s a limited number of them out there. So I like, of course, the idea of mixed income buildings just like mixed income neighborhoods is great. And there’s a bunch of research that it’s better for upward mobility, it’s better for social cohesion, it means that we’re not concentrating poverty in places, which has all kinds of negative effects. So I love that I also liked that it provides a new potential source for revenue, which is our bonding authority. So we can build earlier, because the earlier you can build, the better because construction costs go up faster than inflation. And, then taxes are gathered. So we need to do that, too.

I’m so happy about all the above. How fast can we build up the administrative capacity, of course, depends a little bit on the executive side, which is always a challenge. I do think funding is going to be part of that, though. And I think it needs to be provided significant funding, both for its administrative capacity and just to get started, right. So on top of being able to use bonds, I do think it needs some significant seed money. So the advocate community’s calling for $20 to $30 million a year to really get that going. And I do think we need to do that. And we have a lot of options now because we’ve got a more permissive Supreme Court than we’ve had in the past to actually do more progressive revenue generation to do that. So we’re not gutting other affordable housing sources. So I’m 100% for that.

Doug Trumm 41:26
And you meant the state supreme court, in case anyone’s confused.

Ron Davis 41:29
Oh, yeah, not that other one. Sorry, yes. Thank you. Our state Supreme Court has been, I would say, like winking at us repeatedly, saying, you know, so just for those who don’t know, we have this rule in our Constitution that makes it so that our property taxes have to be flat. And in the 30s there was a state Supreme Court that said, hey, income is property. And this made it so we have not been able to have progressive taxes in Washington State. And it’s been brutal. But we had some very creative policymakers who figured out ways to punch holes in that and they’ve passed taxes like JumpStart, that have gone up through the courts and been successful. And now our most recent capital gains tax at the state state level. And so there’s a template there that I think we can build on for raising more progressive revenue. And you know, that’s not soaking the rich right now, we are the most upside down or one of the most upside down, now, with those past states in the country in terms of how much we take from the poor versus how much we take from the rich to fund our taxes. So I think there’s great opportunity there, real low hanging fruit for stabilizing our revenue sources, just for the basic general fund, and for addressing some of these priorities like social housing. If you want to get into revenue mechanisms, I can.

Doug Trumm 42:59
Let’s do it. Yeah, you’re kind of halfway there.

Ron Davis 43:04
It keeps me up.

Doug Trumm 43:07
And we’ll post your questionnaire soon.

Ron Davis 43:12
Yeah. I know, so I could tell you.

Doug Trumm 43:16
Talking about those, I’m curious, circling back to transportation sores, there are the impact fees that are in the discussion. But also there’s this road pricing thing looming farther. That was a thing during the former administration, but then it disappeared. But now, New York’s actually doing it. So I don’t know if we’ll bring it back in Seattle. You know, for long term, it seems like, we’re going to need that because gas taxes are no longer going to be the revenue mechanism. So something’s got to replace it. But anyways, I’ll let you get into it. With sorry, with this wrinkle of road pricing.

Ron Davis

Yeah, yeah. So alright, I’ll also address road pricing now that you want to make me sweat. That’s a hard one. Not because of policy, but just because of politics. But I will, I’ll give you my straightforward answer. Okay, but first on revenue. So first, just a little bit of context, we get a lot of our annual revenue for the city from the real estate excise tax, which is a tax on real estate sales. Well, interest rates went up, so there are not as many real estate sales. And so we are facing an enormous deficit in the coming years, you know, on the order of about $200 million. And thinking about this, our general fund is $1.6 billion. There’s other money out there for capital projects in the utility, but that’s the part that we really spent. So you’re talking about a ton of money. On top of that, here we are, one of the richest cities in the history of human civilization, with some of the most upside down taxes where the rich and corporations are getting off quite well, and our chamber of commerce just called for a $230ish million dollar holiday from JumpStart, which is a teeny tiny tax on top incomes, roughly one to 2% on the very top incomes. So you put that together and we’re talking about blowing nearly a half billion dollar hole in our $1.6 billion general fund. So if you want a safe Seattle, or a clean Seattle, or a place where people aren’t all having their mental health crises on the street, and if you think it feels bad, right now, it could be a lot worse, or a place where people can afford their houses. Or if you want to place where the buses run on time or at all or where the potholes get filled, ever. That is not an option.

And we need to be serious about that. It’s ridiculous. So right now we do have this JumpStart tax, which is this small tax on top incomes, there was a proposal, this last budget session to expand it. You know, when you’re talking about a one to 2% tax on incomes, there’s a ton of great work out of some of the top economics departments in the country on this, this stuff does not affect the local economy. It does not affect migration, it doesn’t. The Federal Reserve said it does not affect startup creation. I mean, it is nothing, right? If you think about it, and you’re a business owner, and you’re like, should I locate in Seattle, you do have costs, you’re thinking about, wow, it’s 30% more expensive to pay someone here because housing is so damn expensive. And, or, you know, it’s 300% more expensive as an offshore employee or whatever. It turns out, the businesses are not deciding based on 123 or 4% taxes, it’s just absurd. So we can grow that and get, you know, 100 to 150 million bucks off the top.

Next, you know, I think we need to be putting parking fees in more places in the city. Right now a lot of our parking is free. There’s great work that’s been done on the damage to cities that free parking creates or free-ish parking. And we’ve been smart about this and applied some of this policy in the center of the city, and we could do it more places. And I actually think we need to be taxing open parking lots. And we should, and Doug, I am generally against impact fees, but there’s one kind of impact fee I do favor. And that is a fee on new parking spots, especially surface parking lots or open parking lots, because in a city that has very large external costs, in terms of runoff, in terms of generating more traffic, and in terms of the cost of housing. So I do think we should be charging those. So I’m working with somebody who’s got some expertise on this, figuring out exactly how much money we think we can generate from that one. But it’s a lot.

Next up, and really my most favorite, is we have been set up by the courts to be able to do 1% income tax for quite some time now. 1% flat taxes suck. But they’re still much more progressive than most of our taxes, which are, you know, sales taxes which fall much more heavily on the poor than the rich, or, or property taxes which fall somewhat more heavily probably on the poor than the rich, there’s some theoretical issues with that one, but one way or another, an income tax is better. And I have a theory, and and it’s not just a pet theory, because I’ve now sat down with one of the top state constitutional experts in the state who very flatteringly said, I can’t believe I never thought of that. So I have a theory about how we can raise substantially more money and make it more progressive while getting past our state Supreme Court, which is to simply to say we have a a tax, that’s 1% of your income minus 500 bucks. So what that means is, if you make $50,000 a year, you pay nothing, if you make $30,000 a year, you get a $200 rebate, if you make nothing, you get a $500 rebate, if you make more than 50,000, right, you might pay $100, $200, if you make $100,000. Now, you’re paying 500 bucks, it goes up from there, right? What’s cool about that is that raises like $300 million bucks, doesn’t hurt the poor and actually sends a bunch of them a check, and gives us the kind of money we need to do the kind of stuff we’re talking about here, right, the ambitious projects we’re talking about. And again, this is not a tax the rich 1% It’s a tiny, teeny, tiny tax. When I think about Seattle, we are known for industry or commercial businesses, which is our ambition. I mean, look at Boeing, essentially bringing flight to the world. Look at Amazon bringing e-commerce to the world, or Starbucks, bringing, you know, not just coffee, coffee existed, right? But the idea of, oh, yeah, there we go. Yeah, Costco, bringing us whatever the wonderful things are – bulk buying, fast service, right? All of these things. We are really pretty badass at building and scaling businesses. But our politics have been weenie, I don’t know, we really, really have a certain kind of hand-wringing and fear and sort of small, pokey, provincial sort of thinking here. And I think it’s time for us to catch up to our industrialists. And that means we need to make some investments in our future. And to do that we have to raise the money and there are ways to do it without hurting our economy. And this is one of them. So I’m basically in favor of it.

Doug Trimm

Yeah, it sounds like the mayor would have a partner in some space, you know, thinking some big ball and all its other metaphors, for the more bold Big Picture kind of policy wins.

Ron Davis 50:02
Yeah, and I mean, the mayor has talked about a lot of that. And, you know, a lot of people have criticized him for maybe not always delivering specific things that actually align with that. But I do think he wants to do it. You know, and so I think there is an opportunity there to build a coalition of businesses and labor, obviously, businesses, some businesses, are gonna have a hard time with taxes, but some of them are actually in favor of investments that expand the pie for them. Labor is going to be on board.

You know, there is an opportunity, I think, to go bigger here and actually build the political tent to deliver on it. And I think if that tent were forming, and tax had something that was real space, you know, thinking, I think it would not be impossible to get the mayor on board. You know, Mike, the current seat holder in my district, it might be impossible to get him on board, but I think the mayor could get there.

Doug Trumm 50:55
What was your favorite part of the downtown activation plan? If you’ve had a chance to peek at that between door knocking all that?

Ron Davis 51:01
So I’ve seen it, but I haven’t looked at it yet. Since it has been just a few days. But it did it include I-5 land or include thinking about it?

Doug Trumm 51:12
It includes thinking about it. Yes.

Ron Davis 51:15
I mean, I would like to see. So I think we clearly need to. I will tell you, you know, when I think about revitalizing downtown, once again, we know that little tax breaks aren’t going to make a difference. But what will work? Well, of course, making it safe will make a difference. And we have a lot of work we could do in behavioral health in, as I said earlier, using our resources more efficiently to shorten wait times, etc. But also getting more eyes on the street. So you know, if I think about the three pillars for downtown, there are offices, tourism, and housing, right, and so, you know, offices are struggling, and we can do what we can to bring that back. But this is a global phenomenon. And it is sharper here. But basically, it’s much higher in downtowns that are tech heavy. And so that’s, that’s part of what we’re dealing with here. So yes, industry diversification making downtown more attractive. So that office workers want to be down there.

Certainly getting daycare downtown. I know a bunch of people that would happily leave North Seattle on a daily basis if they could find daycare. So I do think there’s a lot we could do to get office workers to go downtown without paternalistically just telling them they have to, but the other two legs of the stool, which would, by the way, reinforce this because they would make downtown more awesome. You know, say, start with housing. So it’s all the stuff we’ve been saying about housing, but I’ll add that the downtown population is at its highest ever. And I think we could do a lot to doubledown there. And to make it more of a complete community you need more grocery stores, and a K through eight school, at least, down there. And I know that seems crazy when schools are closing, but there’s a lot of population down there being shipped out. And especially if we can make it a family-friendly place, that’d be excellent.

A library in South Lake Union is a something I’ve seen on a lot of people’s wish lists. And then parks, you know. We have really bombed it on parks. So, you know, living by I-5, we obviously did not make wise decisions on the waterfront, you know, but once again, we do have certain spots downtown that could be turned into parks that are currently right-of-way. And especially as we use that right-of-way more efficiently, especially as we’re building light rail, and as we’re bringing more rapid rides online, we really do have the opportunity to create more placemaking, to do more placemaking downtown, and that’s going to make it so more people want to live down there, which between that and good lighting, we know also reduces crime because eyes on the street and lighting reduces crime on the street. And then again, this is going to make it more attractive of a tourist place.

I do think I’d like us to see us up level our museum game a little bit too, although that’s not on the very top of my list. And then one last thing is, I am for the city center connector or the streetcar or as Greg Spotts is calling it, the cultural connector. Both because redundancy and transit is good and because attractive, beautiful transit is good. And because if we have a downtown revitalization problem, doing things so that people go, oh, that’s awesome. I want to build stuff next to it. I want to live next to it. I want to see it. I want to write about it is a very, very, good idea. And so, that’s the kind of stuff I think about when I think about downtown was that finalization. And by the way, the good news is some of the public investments involved in that will attract a lot lot lot of private capital for investment alongside it, right, maybe not in the project itself, but right next door to benefit from its benefits.

Doug Trumm 54:36
So, great. Yeah, the tree cars are also in the plan, and obviously there’s some of these more unfunded than others, but the Mayor’s vision is still there. So I think he’ll be glad to have council members who are good at finding ways to get it done, but funding and, you know, being willing to sweat out some of the pushback that may come when, you know, whatever, whatever this parking or just you know, only been a curmudgeon about change in other ways.

Ron Davis 55:04
I’ve actually wanted to say something about that. Yeah. So I think it’s important for counsel to listen. And I think particularly to listen, to find new information. But when it’s such a small percentage of people that show up at it it tends to be a self-selecting group of people with more means, not always, but with more means, that show up to counsel and advocate. I think it really distorts a lot of our leaders sense of what the populace wants. And I think that’s why I’m trying to run with a really clear set of values, really clear kinds of policies that I am trying to enact, so that if people do vote me in, I know what my voters want. And 30 people showing up, can’t cancel out the, you know, the voices of 20,000, who voted. And I think it is important for us to listen, and to empathize, and to get new information out of communities, but to not let that distort our sense of what the population at large wants, and to look at better indicators of what the population wants.

Doug Trumm 56:05
Yeah, that’s a good point. And it’s good to hear fresh perspectives here. Folks, I’m just kind of ping ponging, back and forth, a bit about the last person who yelled at them in a public meeting, you know, but we want you to listen, and we don’t want you to lose sight of that bigger picture. So yeah, we’ve been focusing on housing and transportation. But obviously, you’ve alluded to safety and homelessness and issues that are very top of mind for folks. And you’ve addressed some of that in some of your answers, even as we’ve talked about other things. And certainly, adding more housing is a good long term solution. But what do you say to folks who are saying, what are you going to do in the more immediate term on those issues? How do we address those in the shorter term?

Ron Davis 56:48
Yeah. So, a lot of people amalgamate these in funny ways. So I think, even though there’s some overlap, I break this into homelessness, crime, and drug use. So, let’s start with homelessness, because that is especially complicated, but I can easily tie it to some things I’ve said earlier. So, then, crime apart from drug use, is its own discussion. One option is getting people into housing and services which can help prevent crime, giving people real opportunity, but that takes a long time. So the short term things we can be doing is sort of a Swiss cheese public health approach to crime and gun violence. The committee, the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, does a lot of advocacy work around this.

Community violence intervention programming, which actually interrupts violence, typically in the 15 to 30-year-old male population, who may have lots of testosterone and less prefrontal cortex for most of those years, they do most of the shooting. And having been one of those 15 to 30-year-old males, I understand how short-sighted we can be. These groups need more support at the city level. On top of prevention, though, when I think about our emergency response, we are 362 sworn officers down, and right now we have to be able to be responsive. Our police need to be able to responsive. But we need to also be realistic about what can be done with hiring.

So Bellevue, Tacoma, Olympia, they’re all saying they have a hiring crisis. Now 85% of jurisdictions in Washington are below their peak number of officers. Memphis is down 25%, Tulsa is down 20%, suburban Atlanta, Gwinnett County is down 27%. Now, Seattle’s down 27% too. We are kind of at one end of the curve. But we’re not even off the curve. Right. But there’s this kind of local mythology that because the Seattle City Council ruined everything, so now that’s why we don’t have police. And they make some statements, they said may have moved us along that curve. And maybe we can do better. But we can’t do magic and make the police hiring market change nationally. So what can we do?

Well, as SPD has told us, what we can do if we stick with the plan they have right now, and the bonuses, and the marketing, and all that we can get is about 30 officers in the next budget cycle, which is you know, 112 of the deficit. So if that’s true, we need to have a plan to get more done that doesn’t involve doing magic. So for me, I mentioned earlier, traffic enforcement, which is a great way to release a lot of time that tie up officers unnecessarily, similar with directing traffic at events, that often is paid for by third parties, like you know, the mariners, or whatever, but in some cities, they allow flaggers to do that. We should be letting them do that. They shouldn’t have to show up every time someone administers Narcan for an overdose. That’s another big source of wasted time. So you can start to narrow that aperture.

And then of course, the big one that everybody’s been talking about for years but nobody’s been delivering, which is actually scaling up a behavioral health crisis response, like Denver, like Albuquerque, like Eugene, and, you know, even SPD, which is famously conservative about this, you know, says 12% of calls that 911 answers are triage to people for behavioral health responses. And, you know, other folks have looked at that data and said, it’s 49%, whatever the number is, it’s a lot. And we could save on 1000s of calls.

So we can also increase police responsiveness very quickly, which is really important. And then, I also think we need to be addressing accountability. So right now, we do have a problem with legitimacy in our policing in the city. And some of it, you know, it’s often blamed, you know, on sort of an activist culture, but the truth is, our police department has had some pretty bad behavior. So much of the Justice Department had been parachuted, and say, Wow, you’ve got some unusually bad behavior, and they really struggled to fix it. And, so one of the biggest challenges, we don’t have good governance, we don’t have good accountability and oversight. It needs to be made independent. That independent body needs to be able to have full transparency, which means subpoena power, and they need to be able to offer disciplinary action, right, full disciplinary action. And so, I think taking those steps, and then funding, recidivism prevention, essentially, the kinds of treatment that work for folks that are in the criminal legal system, are the sort of best, fastest set of things we can be doing to increase safety in our public spaces.

So that’s a long answer, but it’s the truth. And then the other piece is drugs.

You know, we just had this hearing, and there was all these big feelings, and I thought it was very interesting to see that when all the scientists and public health folks and professors came out and said, Hey, we’ve been studying this for years, we have great data. We know when it works, we know when it doesn’t, Sara Nelson put her air pods in, you know, is the equivalent of a council member sitting up on the day assuming la la la, and this is not great behavior. You know, the truth is, we do know what works. We know that if we want to get drugs off the street, we know that if we want to reduce overdose deaths, and we know that if we want to get people into treatment, there’s really one path to that. And that’s saying, hey, you can’t do drugs on the street. But you can do them in this medically supervised overdose prevention space, right? That reduces drug deaths, precipitously in those spaces, it makes enforcing something like a kind of no smoking ban, which is realistic, because a person who is addicted to opiates can’t decide to just not use, but they can decide to walk down the street into a safe space. And then addicts are in a concentrated space where they are interacting with social workers and medical professionals who are trained to identify the moment of readiness where that person is likely to be successful and get them into treatment.

That model has been very successful elsewhere. And we need to adopt it. It will help get our streets clean the fastest, for the people that are concerned about that, and it will save the most lives, for the people that are concerned about that. And it will also not waste a bunch of resources. Because right now we’ve got a set of folks trying to advocate for our city attorney to be able to direct enforcement resources toward that, well, we have a finite number of enforcement resources, and they’re having trouble keeping up with sex offenders and murderers. And so, to move them to doing something that doesn’t work for people who are having drug overdoses seems like a really bad idea to me.

Doug Trumm 1:03:14
That was really thorough, as I’ve come to expect from you. And we are a little over the hour. So I will wrap up. But I wanted to give you a chance to add anything you wanted to say that you didn’t get a chance to or any final word if you want to.

Ron Davis 1:03:28
Yeah, so look, I am doing this because I love my community. I’m doing this because I got really lucky, and I want to pay it forward. And, I think it’s terrible that people can’t start a life successfully here unless they inherit wealth and social class. I’m doing this because I care about the climate, and cities play a huge role in addressing and preparing for climate change. And I have children. And, I’m also the only candidate that hasn’t recently been caught either giving money to Republicans or brought in by the chamber to get them a $200 million tax cut. So I hope that people know that. Understand that, and know that I’m going to bring a lot of energy, a lot of warmth, freshness, and a lot of dealmaking experience to the council, and I think we can build a progressive, thoughtful urbanist majority and really get stuff done in the city.

Doug Trumm 1:04:20
Well, thanks so much for joining us. Thanks for folks who are either tuning in now or who are going to catch it later. Check out the website if you want to learn more. Thank you.

Ron Davis 1:04:33 Yeah, we have vouchers. And by the way, it’s getting to be that time of year where we are knocking on doors like crazy volunteers. My Urbanist volunteers are my hardest core, and I would really love to see more of you out there with me.

Doug Trumm 1:04:47
Excellent. And thanks to Seattle subway who helped put this together. Yeah, thank you.

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Doug Trumm is publisher of The Urbanist. An Urbanist writer since 2015, he dreams of pedestrianizing streets, blanketing the city in bus lanes, and unleashing a mass timber building spree to end the affordable housing shortage and avert our coming climate catastrophe. He graduated from the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington in 2019. He lives in East Fremont and loves to explore the city on his bike.