Jayapal & Wantanabe: 37th District State Senate Candidates on the Rainier Upzone

Publicola’s Erica C. Barnett has put up a post outlining where 37th District State Senate candidates, Pramilla Jayapal and Louis Wantanabe, stand on the Rainier Upzone:pramila-logo-fb-cover

Jayapal, who supports the upzone, told PubliCola:

“We have an affordable housing crisis and a need for family-wage jobs and transit. The zoning piece of this rests squarely with the city council, but I definitely think that the upzone is an important part of what we need to do to provide affordable housing and jobs.

We need to attract people to that area. Right now it’s a Lowe’s and a parking lot. I can’t imagine that it won’t transform the Rainier wasteland into a viable economic district. I support the upzone. People seem to be worried about what is going to happen to their neighborhoods, and they’re worried about job development. The city has to be worried about how to we bring businesses here. That’s going to require a concerted effort from the city.

I acknowledge the fears and I have talked to a lot of people about this because people only see what is happening in their neighborhood. They’re worried about their neighborhood still being livable. But given that people are still calling a lot of the Rainier Valley an economic wasteland, I don’t think people are necessarily happy with the way things are right now. If you look at how Columbia City developed, it didn’t develop by having a giant manufacturing plant here. It developed by creating housing and having small businesses that were able thrive.”

Jayapal is also concerned over the possibility that a lot of people simply won’t be eligible for enough publicly financed social services and environmental cleanup for new housing even if the city does upzone the area; although “I do support TOD,” she says, “you need to do more than one thing at once, and I do hope that the city will focus on Southeast Seattle and the Rainier Valley more than they have.”

Barnett goes on to include Wantanabe’s views:
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“The problem with the rezone is that I think it’s completely ignoring, first of all, a large amount of the community that is opposed to it. There’s really not any clear objectives other than just to raise the height limits. …

Just because Darigold might maybe not be the appropriate industry for the future, that doesn’t mean that there are no other industries—for example, green independent technology—that might make sense… My primary concern is about the displacement of economic activity.”

In a followup email, Watanabe sent us two photos of the Othello light rail station that demonstrated, he said, the “blight that continues for the small business district” across from the light rail station despite plans for transit-oriented development there and despite the fact that the Othello station is more pedestrian-friendly than the Mount Baker station, which is accessible from the east side of Rainier only by a long, massive pedestrian overpass (or by jaywalking across two major thoroughfares, Rainier and MLK.)  

“The city works best when it is brave enough to gather people who disagree with city staff and even the elected officials, and honestly listen to what they have to say. As we witnessed with the Mayor’s wage committee, facing uncomfortable opposition may be painful, but it results in outcomes that are more acceptable to a broader sector of our society.”

Click for Barnett’s complete post.

3 thoughts on “Jayapal & Wantanabe: 37th District State Senate Candidates on the Rainier Upzone

  1. Ray says:

    Jayapal is entirely wrong about how Columbia City developed. I’ve played an integral role in the revitalization of Columbia City for the last 20 years. The transformation started with business, not housing. New housing came much, much later in 2010. Jayapal is also misinformed about the success of TOD housing in SE Seattle. TOD rental units built since 2005 are among the most-expensive rental units in 98118. The commercial portion of TOD has failed at every new mixed-use building in the Rainier Valley: 1)The Station at Othello Park defaulted and was repossessed, 2) The Claremont has threatened default, 3) The Pontedera has required a taxpayer bailout –and Sally Clark just submitted new legislation last week to lift the income restriction on the ‘affordable’ units. In fact, TOD is currently at 100% failure rate, at every building, in every location where it has been built in the Rainier Valley. High rents & failed commercial with dark, empty storefronts cannot be called ‘success’ no matter how Ms. Jayapal spins it.

    TOD has failed and Jayapal is supporting more of the same bad plan at Mt. Baker.

  2. regularjoan says:

    To be honest, I am quite ignorant on the subject of the politics of my community’s development. This is why I’ve signed on to receive these posts and others about the state of my neighborhood.
    That said, this piece on Pramila Jayapal is atrociously written.
    It is incredibly irresponsible in a piece that supposedly represents both sides of an argument and I am offended on her behalf.

  3. @ regularjoan: You are right about the typos. I copied and pasted from Publicola’s original link and it now appears to have been revised on Publicola’s original post. I updated the post above to reflect these recent changes to the original Publicola piece (a few misspellings and an incomplete sentence or two that Publicola seems to have initially overlooked). I don’t, however, see how it changes much on the overall balance of the argument. Both candidates have a fair share of coverage…both also had typos in the original Publicola text, although Jayapal’s were a bit more noticeable.

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