Category Archives: Politics

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:

“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.

City Councilman Bruce Harrell On South Seattle Crime

Our friends over at the South Seattle Emerald have an interview posted with Seattle City Councilman Bruce Harrell outlining his thoughts on the recent uptick in Southend crime and how the city should go about addressing it. From the interview:

Emerald: Some people say that the easy remedy to violence in the area is to simply have more police officers around, however, an expanded police presence is a very polarizing issue amongst South Seattle residents. How can it be assured that police officers are viewed as actual partners bhwith the community in fostering a safer South Seattle?

BH:  The fact of the matter is that we can not have police officers on every corner arresting kids for just standing around being who they are. We also have to give our own community leaders the tools to empower themselves.

I think that there are people who have come from the street life, and have found a way to overcome it. They have dealt with the negative messaging that they have received in their lives and now are giving back and can help us improve our communities. I think that as an investment strategy we need to know who these individuals and groups are, and we need to double down on them.  Again, we all know that we can’t arrest ourselves out of all the problems we have. We need to flood the streets with these kinds of good folks.

I also think that our officers need to be better trained to build community trust, and community relations at every opportunity. I recently attended a meeting at Rainier Beach High School, and I watched a couple of officers stand by the hallway and simply watch the crowd for a long period of time, to then only walk out of the school and get right into their car. What I wanted to impress upon the officers is that this is the time you build community, and public trust. So I want to see more officers, like Captain John Hayes, who seems to know everyone’s name in the community, and who can walk around and mix it up. Because when we couple that with the right kind of outreach, we can move the needle. The other component is that  the “no snitch”policy is a cancer to our community, and when we see shootings, we need to be able to break that. What has been effective in some other cities is to get high profile spokespeople, athletes, celebrities, people that come from the community, to help us change that cultural norm and that has to be very intentional when we are losing these lives.

Read the whole thing here.

More Response to SPD’s South Precinct Changes

The Seattle Times’ Jennifer Sullivan has a new article on South-end activist, Pat Murakami, and her response to the recent changes in the SPD’s South Precinct leadership:

Photo: Alan Berner Seattle Times

Photo: Alan Berner Seattle Times


Longtime South Seattle community activist Pat Murakami concedes she was frustrated when she emailed subscribers of her crime-advisory list last week, alerting them that Seattle police Capt. John Hayes was leaving the department’s South Precinct.

Hayes has been in the position for six months after replacing Assistant Chief Carmen Best, who ran the precinct for just over a month before she was promoted to another job.

With Lt. Steve Strand now stepping in as acting captain, the precinct is on its seventh leader since 2006.

Murakami said the revolving door of precinct leadership results in “poor policing,” especially in light of the recent shootings that have echoed in South Seattle neighborhoods.

“The officers in the precinct have to adjust to a new leader each time a new one comes in,” she said. “Each captain has their own leadership style. They’ll deploy their officers in different ways.”

Murakami thinks precinct captains should be required to stay in their respective precincts for three to four years. She plans to share her frustrations with Mayor Ed Murray when she and other community members meet with him next week..

Click here to read the whole article.

Darryl Smith + Columbia City

Darryl Smith, former Deputy Mayor and longtime Columbia City community organizer, is featured on the latest Making Change podcast. In the interview, Smith goes into his long-history with Columbia City and his early efforts to help revitalize the neighborhood. It’s worth a listen (click for audio):

In this episode of Making Change, Darryl Smith, a former deputyphoto_51095_landscape_large mayor of community in Seattle and a longtime community organizer, talks about how a group of trained community members can help bring more people into
important conversations about policy and change.

“The more organized a community is, the more actively engaged they are and the better we all are for it,” he says.

To boost participation and bring more voices to the table during his tenure, he recruited, trained, and paid a network of advocates to encourage greater civic activism among their neighbors. He invited those advocates and the public to more than 150 events in four years, including “open house” days at city hall.

Those efforts paid off.

Facing an increase in gun violence and other crime, his network turned to neighbors and asked, “What do you need to feel safe in your neighborhood?”

Their answers helped the city institute new training and procedures for the police, some as simple as making officers more available to talk to people in the neighborhoods they patrol.

In this episode, Mr. Smith also talks about his transition from an actor to a community organizer and his successful efforts to revitalize the Columbia City neighborhood in Seattle.

SPD: New Leader for South Precinct (…again)

The Rainier Valley Post has the details of more Seattle Police Department changes for South Seattle.  The title of the RVP‘s post spells it out pretty clearly: “SPDs South Precinct Gets 7th New Leader in 5 Years.” In light of the recent uptick in Rainier Valley violence over the past few weeks, the RVP’s article is definitely worth reading:

The game of musical chairs continues at SPD’s South Precinct where Captain John Hayes, the sixth precinct commander in five years, is out after just six months.SeattlePoliceDepartment-281x300

According to SPD, Hayes is headed to the Compliance Bureau, while South Precinct Operations Lieutenant Steve Strand will fill-in as acting captain of the South Precinct. There has been no word of a permanent, long-term replacement.

Last fall, Captain Hayes replaced Captain Carmen Best after her brief, two-month stay on the job.

Prior to that, Captain Steve Paulsen led the precinct for just 10 months before being promoted to oversee Violent Crimes.

“I was expecting to stay for quite a bit longer,” wrote Paulsen in 2013. “This move was completely unexpected for me.”

Before that, Captain Mike Nolan ran the precinct for two years before being bumped back to Traffic where he’d been prior to running the precinct.

At that time, the RVP contacted SPD by telephone and email to learn more about the reasons for the transfer that came less than one year after SPDasked for the public’s help in fighting a “sharp rise in violent crime,” but we never received a response.

Prior to Captain Nolan’s tenure, Captain Dave Emerick spent about a year at the South Precinct after replacing Captain Les Liggins, who had taken over for Captain Tom Byers in 2006.

The chronic instability in leadership at the South Precinct, which has seenalmost daily drive-by shootings for the last two weeks, seems counter-intuitive, but Chief Harry Bailey says change is good…

Click here to read the whole piece (which includes some outraged community response).

SDOT Walking & Biking Meeting on Saturday

This Saturday, SDOT is hosting an informal community input meeting about biking, walking, and hiking in Seattle. The meeting is being held at Victrola Coffee up on Beacon Hill. Here are the official detailsimage006:

Have Coffee with SDOT on Saturday, May 16th and tell them what you think about walking & biking in Seattle

In celebration of Bike Month and perfect springtime weather, SDOT is hosting coffee chats around the city to hear what YOU think they can do to encourage more walking and biking in your neighborhoods.

Please share your thoughts with SDOT between Friday, May 9 – Monday, June 2, 2014, by:

  1. Completing a fast and easy online survey
  2. Stopping by for Free Coffee at Victrola Coffee Roasters – Beacon Hill (3215 Beacon Avenue South) on Saturday, May 17, 2014 from 12:30 to 2:30 PM
  3. Emailing your thoughts to:


For more information or to request accommodations, please contact Dawn Schellenberg, Community Engagement Liaison, at (206) 684-5189 or by email at


Update on Harrell’s “Starting Point” Meeting on Rainier Valley Crime


Photo from Seattle Met’s Publicola.

Seattle Met’s Publicola Blog has a short piece up on Seattle City Council member, Bruce Harrell’s,  meeting last night to to address recent crime in the Rainier Valley:

As it always does in Seattle when it comes to police issues, the public ping-pongs between either being outraged about over-aggressive policing and lacking police accountability, or outraged about rising crime and a lacking police force.

At a packed meeting at the Southeast Seattle Senior Center near Rainier Beach last night, where City Council member Bruce Harrell held a community meeting on public safety, the mood among the racially diverse and multi-generational crowd fell into the second category; neighbors were understandably upset at several recent high-profile shootings (five in the south end since April 19) and muggings, particularly those around light rail stations.

The piece covers the mood of the meeting, the comments from the attendees, as well as SPD’s advice to residents. Click here to read the whole thing.

Rainier Valley Crime: Important “Starting Point” Meeting Tomorrow

Seattle City Council member, Bruce Harrell is hosting a meeting tomorrow (5/7) to serve as a “starting point” on how to best handle crime in the Rainier Valley. SPD’s Chief of Police will also be participating.

The Rainier Valley Post has a number of details posted on a variety of factors/incidents leading to this meeting. Harrell’s invite to the community reads as follows:

Dear community member and neighbor,

Please join me and fellow community members at a Special Public Safety Committee meeting on Wednesday, May 7 at 5:30 p.m. The meeting will be held at the Southeast Seattle Senior Center (4655 South Holly Seattle, WA 98118).

The following representatives from our police force and our community will be at the meeting to join the discussion: Chief Harry Bailey, Captain John Hayes, South Precinct Ops Lt. Steve Strand, and Mark Solomon Seattle Police Department; Chief Ken Cummins, Sound Transit Police; Matt York, City Attorney.

Because of the most recent shootings in South Seattle, I have organized this special meeting to review the recent violence we have experienced and examine what immediate actions we can take moving forward. This meeting will be a starting point to drive a discussion and allow us to find solutions.

Your presence and input at this meeting will be invaluable and I would be truly grateful for you to come and participate.

Thank you.

City Council Districts & the Role of Neighborhoods

Jordan Royer, at Crosscut, has a piece up up on the changes coming to city council districts and how that will impact the role of neighborhoods in local government. Columbia City is not mentioned specifically, but it directly applies:



So, will the election of seven of the nine Seattle City Council members by district help to solve any of this? Yes, the new system can. The city will have elected council members who are closer to the neighborhoods, better known to residents and, therefore, more representative. Community councils, which are not formally recognized in statute by the city, will grow in influence as City Council candidates spend more time with them. Neighborhood business chambers will also see their influence increase. In other words, the whole purpose of the longstanding neighborhood district council system can be met in a much more open and organic way.

Knute Berger also has an earlier piece from last week on Ed Murray’s recent Neighborhood Summit that’s worth reading:

Still, the recent Neighborhood Summit was important. Seattle’s disaffected hinterlands — almost anyplace outside of downtown — carry a lot of anger and distrust about city government’s intentions and responsiveness. The neighborhoods were asked to plan for growth; most did, then saw their plans shelved, overrun by events, or ignored. Some neighborhoods have had to absorb more than their fair share of growth, others have seen affordable housing shunted aside for high-priced high-rises, most have seen potholes proliferate.

Every neighborhood has bones to pick — too much crime in South Seattle, too few sidewalks in North Seattle. And in the last two administrations — Nickels’ and Mike McGinn’s — there was a general sense that the grassroots were being paved over by downtown planners, top-down edicts and Astroturf groups posing as neighborhood advocates but acting more as developer shills.


Seattle Bicycle Master Plan Approved (as well as Matt on the CC Facebook page) is reporting that the City Council unanimously approved the proposed Bike Master Plan for the city. Included in the plan are protected bike lanes on Rainier and MLK and a few neighborhood Greenways.

There’s a ton of information on the official Master Plan site as well as on this SE_Sector map (be sure to click for viewable/zoomable pdf).