In brief: An initial report found that the Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX crash happened despite the plane's pilots following Boeing's instructions for how to handle its malfunctioning autopilot system; with state Attorney General Bob Ferguson rumored to be considering running for governor next year, AG hopefuls began positioning themselves to run for his seat if it happens to open; and Amazon announced that they'll be growing their presence in Bellevue in the next four years. 
Sunday, March 31st - Saturday, April 6th, 2019
Image from The Seattle Times / Mark Nowlin
Last Week in Seattle
Boeing 737 MAX crashes:
  • On Monday the federal criminal investigation into the safety certification process of the 737 MAX continued with a grand jury subpoena of an aviation consultant and flight-controls specialist. 
  • On Thursday the preliminary investigation into the Ethiopian Airlines crash determined that the plane's pilots had followed the instructions that Boeing circulated following the similar Lion Air crash last fall for how to deal with a malfunction in the plane's autopilot system, but that doing so had failed to prevent the crash. 
  • Congressional leaders reacted by calling for an independent review of Boeing's proposed fixes before any 737 MAXes are allowed to fly again. 
  • On Friday Boeing announced that its monthly 737 MAX production will be reduced by 20%, and CEO Dennis Muilenberg asked the company's board to form a committee to review the company's airplane design processes.
Homelessness and housing affordability:
  • Journalists, elected officials, and community groups continued to push back against KOMO's hour-long "Seattle is Dying" video op-ed:
    • Tyrone Beason at The Seattle Times wrote about the need to show compassion to people experiencing homelessness--rather than, as Seattle is Dying literally advocates in its grand finale, rounding up all of the visibly homeless people in Seattle and locking them up in an island prison. 
    • City Attorney Pete Holmes and Mayor Jenny Durkan talked about what the City is doing to reduce homelessness and address drug-related crime, and Police Chief Carmen Best reiterated that SPD doesn't arrest people because they're homeless, but that they do and will continue to arrest people for criminal activity. 
    • The Third Door Coalition, which formed in the aftermath of the head tax to advocate for solutions to our homelessness crisis, wrote about the effectiveness of and need for significantly more permanent supportive housing, which has "a 98%+ utilization rate, and a 99%+ success rate" at keeping people with "mental health challenges, physical disabilities, or substance abuse disorders" out of homelessness. 
    • Gene Balk at The Seattle Times debunked the myth that crime is worse in Seattle now than it has been in the past, instead finding that both personal and property crime rates are less than half what they were in the late 80s
    • And a large coalition of local foundations, philanthropists, non-profits, companies, and prominent individuals signed a letter laying out some of the facts around homelessness in King County, including the fact that "[t]he number of families housed through King County's homeless response system increased by 63% between 2014 and 2017."  
  • The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld its earlier ruling that it's illegal to prevent people experiencing homelessness from sleeping on sidewalks and other public spaces if there's nowhere else for them to go.
  • KUOW looked at the continuing practice of "psychiatric boarding," in which mentally ill patients with nowhere else to go end up staying in emergency rooms because there aren't enough beds at mental health facilities for them. 
  • After Seattle's new U.S. Attorney, Brian Moran, indicated that the federal government wouldn't allow Seattle and King County to open safe consumption sites (in which healthcare workers supervise the injection of illegal drugs in an attempt to reduce overdoses and connect drug users to treatment), the two at-large City Councilmembers, Lorena González and Teresa Mosqueda, vowed to press on with plans for safe consumption sites anyway. 
Election Watch 2019:
  • With Governor Jay Inslee running for president and widely expected to seek some form of federal appointment if a Democrat other than him wins the presidency next year, Crosscut's Melissa Santos looked at the front-runners to replace him...and, since the presumptive front-runner in that hypothetical race would be current Attorney General Bob Ferguson, she also looked at who's potentially interested in replacing Ferguson if he decides to run for governor. 
  • One of the potential 2020 Attorney General hopefuls, Noah Purcell, who currently works in Ferguson's office as Solicitor General, announced an exploratory committee to look into a potential run...and then the following day Port Commissioner Courtney Gregoire, who also happens to be former governor Christine Gregoire's daughter, announced that she won't be running for re-election to the Port Commission, saying cryptically that she'll be considering "other options to serve the public," including, according to her spokeswoman, potentially running for Attorney General. 
  • Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce leader and PrideFest director Egan Orion threw his hat into the ring to challenge Kshama Sawant in District 3, after the previous small business candidate, Beto Yarce, abruptly withdrew his candidacy earlier this year. 
  • KUOW's Kara McDermott reminded us how to use our democracy vouchers.
Meanwhile, in Olympia:
  • Heidi Groover at The Seattle Times looked at the two competing transportation budgets released last week by the state House and Senate. 
  • Former state Representative Matt Manweller arrived at a $155,000 settlement in a lawsuit against his former employer, Central Washington University, after they fired him from a tenured professorship last summer following their conclusion that he'd "engaged in a pattern of unprofessional and inappropriate behavior" with female students.
  • A coalition of affordable housing advocates [full disclosure: including the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, on whose board I serve] is pushing the state legislature to double the size of the Housing Trust Fund, which helps pay for affordable housing projects across the state. 
  • Conservative initiative promoter Tim Eyman was thwarted in his attempt to block state Attorney General Bob Ferguson from permanently barring him from managing the finances of any future campaigns as part of a civil suit over his alleged violations of state campaign finance laws. 
  • After a local non-profit that donates used books to prisoners discovered that the state Department of Corrections (DOC) had banned prisoners from receiving books through the mail (because of past instances in which contraband had been hidden in them), there was a public outcry that led DOC Secretary Stephen Sinclair to talk to the Seattle Times on Friday and vow that he'd work with the non-profit to find a way for them to continue to deliver books to prisoners. 
  • Republican state Senator Doug Ericksen, who was the co-chair of President Trump's 2016 campaign in Washington, registered with the federal government as a foreign agent representing the government of Cambodia in order to accept a $500,000 lobbying contract from them.
  • Librarians from Seattle Public Schools lobbied the legislature to fully fund the K-12 public school system in response to planned cuts to funding for librarians in the district. 
  • A bill to formally eliminate the death penalty in Washington state is still alive and looks likely to be passed into law this year.
  • And Governor Inslee formally signed legislation to raise the legal smoking age to 21 from 18. 
Real Estate Corner
The median home price for houses and townhomes in Seattle proper for March of this year was $752,500, up 3.1% from $730k in February but down 8.2% from March of 2018 ($819,500)...and contrary to what the Seattle times headline would have you believe, condo prices in Seattle proper increased 10.9% from February of this year ($444k) to March of this year ($492,475), although they were still down 6.6% from March of 2018 ($527,450). The fact that home prices are lower now than they were a year ago shouldn't be surprising, though; prices reached an all-time peak in May of 2018 ($830k for houses and townhomes), and one of the hallmarks of the market after the correction that started last June has been a slower rate of growth, rather than the unsustainable 15-20% per year increases that caused median home prices to double between 2013 and last May. For the raw stats from the Northwest MLS, see here

A record 17,450 new apartments were built in the Seattle metro area in 2018, but average rents in the region still increased 4.7% over the course of the past year, largely driven by the higher prices of the new units (rent increases at existing properties averaged just 0.5%).

The City's protracted legal battle against a small group of Queen Anne neighbors who have been fighting common-sense backyard cottage reforms since 2016 may almost be over, with the City hearing examiner set to rule soon on the adequacy of the latest environmental review of the proposed new policy.

The City's Department of Construction & Inspections put out a moderately helpful blog post outlining the City's complex rules about which trees you can and can't cut down on your property. 

John Roderick of the Long Winters (who also ran unsuccessfully for City Council in 2015) is selling his house in Rainier Beach

And Curbed Seattle's Sarah Anne Lloyd looked at what $1,200/month will rent you in Seattle right now. 
Thank you to everyone who's sent me a real estate referral or used me as an agent yourself! The city of Seattle is my geographic area of expertise, and while I'm also very good at helping sellers get top dollar for their homes, my true passion is helping first-time homebuyers get homes that they love quickly and easily.

f you need a residential real estate agent to help you buy or sell a home of any kind--or you know someone who does--I'd love to be of service. My website is here, or see here for client reviews. 
Quick Takes
Dental care clinics run by Neighborcare Health in 12 schools in Seattle and Vashon Island failed to properly sterilize their equipment, potentially exposing 1,250 students to HIV and Hepatitis. [KUOW]

"Since 2008, at least 306 people across the Northwest have died after being taken to a county jail, according to an investigation by [Oregon Public Broadcasting], KUOW and the Northwest News Network." [KUOW]

Monica Nickelsburg broke the news that Amazon is planning to move several thousand jobs in its worldwide operations team (which oversees the company's 175 global fulfillment centers and their 250,000 employees) to Bellevue between now and 2023, something that's been planned for more than a year. [GeekWire]

Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos finalized their divorce, in which MacKenzie Bezos received 25% of the couple's Amazon stock, valued at roughly $35 billion. [GeekWire]

The Seattle Department of Transportation announced a draft plan to the City Council that would involve building fewer bike lanes than 2015's Move Seattle levy initially promised, due in part to higher than anticipated costs. [Seattle Times]

The East Link light rail line to Bellevue and Redmond, which is scheduled to open in 2023, is now 50% complete. [KING 5]

Building light rail tunnels in West Seattle and Ballard instead of elevated lines, as some community members want, could add up to $2.1 billion to the cost of the lines, which wouldn't be covered by the existing Sound Transit 3 ballot measure funding. [Seattle Times]

The Northwest Seaport Alliance, which is comprised of the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma, approved a $500 million renovation of Seattle's Terminal 5 to allow it to accommodate larger ships. [Seattle Times]

24 power poles fell along a one-mile stretch of East Marginal Way S (possibly because of "a strong micro-burst of wind"), including one that destroyed a car but only caused minor injuries to its two occupants. [KING 5]

The new Denny Substation (that low-slung, futuristic-looking block-long building on the north side of Denny just west of Stewart), which was built to provide power to a growing South Lake Union, is finally open for business, complete with its own public dog park. [Seattle Times]

Sydney Brownstone reported on an internal Microsoft email thread about various forms of gender-based discrimination and harassment that women who work there have experienced. [KUOW]

Claudia Rowe looked at the growing number of Washington students who are being removed from their opioid-addicted parents and placed in foster care. [Seattle Times]

Motel 6 agreed to pay $12 million in restitution to guests whose information they provided to U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) without their consent, following a 2018 investigation by Attorney General Bob Ferguson. [KING 5]

A group of local community leaders and elected officials announced a $1 million fund to local community groups to help ensure strong participation in next year's census by traditionally under-counted groups. [Seattle Times]

"As the Metropolitan King County Council continues to mull how to best dispose of the 2,500 tons of trash deposited daily at the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill near Renton, one thing they’d like to see is a plan to better manage the hundreds of bald eagles that haunt the landfill, feasting on the refuse." [Seattle Times]

And fewer cars are using the tunnel each day than anticipated--roughly 5,300 cars during peak times (6-9 am and 3-6 pm), vs. the 7,000 that WSDOT forecast back in October. [KING 5]
Upcoming events this week
4/7 - 4/18: Seattle Restaurant Week

4/10, 5:00 - 6:30 pm: Happy Hour Tour at Mercy Othello Plaza [Tech 4 Housing]

4/11, 5:30 - 7:30 pm: YPIN: Hypervisible/Invisible: Women of Color in the Workplace

4/11, 7:30 pm: UW Science Now [Ada's Technical Books, Town Hall Seattle]

4/13 - 4/14: The More You Look: An Experimental Baby Opera

Sol Villarreal
Broker, Windermere Real Estate
Sol's Civic Minute: What's happening in Seattle, in 60 seconds per week.
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