In brief: Your ballot for the August 6th primary has arrived in your mailbox and may even be inside your home as you read this, biding its time and silently judging you for not having voted yet; a court overturned the state law that's prevented any Washington city from passing an income tax since 1984; King County Executive Dow Constantine is being investigated over a whistleblower complaint from a County employee; and the Showbox building was officially designated a historic landmark.
Sunday, July 14th - Saturday, July 20th, 2019
Last Week in Seattle
Income tax:
  • A state court of appeals issued a somewhat unexpected ruling on the City's high-earners income tax that it passed in 2017, and which has been tied up in various lawsuits since then: while the appeals court followed existing precedent set by the state Supreme Court that "income is property and that property must be taxed uniformly" and found it unconstitutional on those grounds, it also ruled that the 1984 state law that's prevented any city in Washington from passing an income tax of any kind for the past 35 years is unconstitutional because it addressed multiple topics at once rather than just one.
  • The stage is now set for the state Supreme Court to potentially overturn its 1933 decision that classified income as property, which would open the way for Seattle and other cities to pass progressive income taxes.
  • Republicans in the state legislature, who were as blindsided by the ruling as supporters of the income tax were, are already mobilizing to pass an updated version of the ban on municipal income taxes in next year's legislative session that would hold up in the courts.
Dow Constantine:
  • Sydney Brownstone and David Gutman at The Seattle Times broke the story of a whistleblower complaint against King County Executive Dow Constantine by the former head of King County Parks and Recreation, which is currently being investigated by the King County Ombuds Office.
  • The complaint alleges that Constantine improperly pressured the head of the county parks department ensure that a concessions contract at Marymoor Park was awarded to Constantine's friend and campaign contributor Dave Meinert (who in an unrelated matter was accused of sexual assault by multiple women last year).
  • Constantine denied the allegations and called on the Ombuds Office to drop their investigation, which they refused to do, saying that the investigation is in the public interest. 
  • This new complaint against Constantine comes on the heels of a series of reports by KIRO-owned MyNorthwest about first an anonymous complaint over the way in which Constantine uses his executive protection detail and then alleged retaliation against members of that detail after KIRO's reporting on the subject.
  • Last weekend a Vashon Island man "armed with a rifle throwing 'incendiary devices' at vehicles and buildings" was shot and killed by police officers outside the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma. 
  • President Trump's widely publicized nationwide immigration raids apparently failed to take place.
  • An undocumented father of three who had been taking sanctuary in a church in downtown Seattle was detained by the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency after he gave up his sanctuary and marched to the nearest ICE office to request a stay of removal.
  • And the Yakima City Council narrowly voted down a proposal to ban ICE flights from using the Yakima county airport (which has seen increased activity since the flights were banned from King County's regional airport).
Election Watch 2019:
  • Ballots went out in the mail last week! You should have already received yours--see here for instructions on how to vote by mail or locations for in-person drop boxes near you. If you haven't received your ballot yet, you can track its status here, or register to vote or update your voter registration address online here. You have until Tuesday, August 6th (primary Election Day) to either drop your ballot off at a drop box or get it postmarked and in the mail.
  • A whole slew of endorsements and ballot guides were released by local publications, including:
  • The Stranger invited all 55 City Council candidates to come smoke weed with them, and 5 candidates actually showed up.
  • Statistically speaking you probably don't need any encouragement to vote for the library levy that's on your primary ballot--but just in case you do, read this Crosscut piece by Paul Constant. 
  • Several local Democratic groups are blacklisting candidates who are using former King County Democrats chair Bailey Stober as a consultant. 
  • Rich Smith at The Stranger looked at some of the most hotly contested races in SeaTac this year. 
  • And The Seattle Times and Erica C. Barnett looked at the massive independent expenditure spending by business and labor groups in this year's City Council races. 
Real Estate Corner
In the latest chapter in the effort to "save" the Showbox, the City's Landmarks Preservation Board voted to designate the building that houses the longtime music venue (which is operated by global entertainment conglomerate AEG) as a historical landmark, in order to prevent its current owner from selling it to a developer who wants to tear it down and build a residential tower in its place. The building's owner already notified AEG in April that the Showbox's lease won't be renewed when it expires in 2024, but members of Historic Seattle hope to be able to crowdfund enough money to buy the building and allow the music venue to continue to operate in the space.

The City Council passed out of committee its new "notice of intent to sell" ordinance, which would essentially implement a limited right of first refusal for tenants, the Office of Housing, the Seattle Housing Authority, or a private non-profit housing developer to get first dibs on purchasing any naturally affordable duplexes, triplexes, quadplexes, or apartment buildings before they're sold on the open market.

Crosscut's Josh Cohen debunked the idea that the City's newly passed mother-in-law apartment/backyard cottage legislation will suddenly lead to a spike in investors buying up homes and building backyard cottages on the lots.

Cohen also looked at the "community preference" policy through which a new affordable housing development in the Chinatown-International District was able to give priority to low-income residents living in neighborhoods the City has identified as being at high risk of displacement.  

Katherine Khashimova Long (a new Seattle Times reporter who happens to be the second Katherine Long hired by the paper as a journalist) looked at the increase in Airbnb units since 2015 for every zip code in Seattle. 

Meg van Huygen looked at the history of Seattle's King Street Station

And Curbed Seattle's Sarah Anne Lloyd looked at what $2,400/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
The West Point Wastewater Treatment Plant in Discovery Park experienced a power failure that spilled 3 million gallons of untreated sewage into Puget Sound and led to the closure of multiple beaches (for comparison, a much larger incident at the same facility in 2017 spilled 255 million gallons of untreated sewage into Puget Sound; improvements made after that incident were cited as one reason this spill wasn't larger). [Seattle Times]

Three City Councilmembers (Lorena González, Teresa Mosqueda, and Lisa Herbold) sent a letter to Mayor Durkan urging her to resolve deficiencies in the recently passed police accountability legislation that have been identified by the City's federally appointed court monitor by re-opening negotiations with the police union, rather than trying to convince the judge that no changes are needed to the police contract. [Seattle Times]

Councilmember Mike O'Brien proposed legislation that would prevent Mayor Durkan from using excess funds from the City's sweetened beverage tax to back-fill cuts to existing programs. [The C is for Crank]

In response to Mayor Durkan's consideration of a congestion tax that would only apply to Uber and Lyft rides, Uber is lobbying hard for a congestion tax to enter downtown that would apply to all drivers. [Seattle Times]

The City reached a $1.55 million settlement with a cyclist who was injured in 2015 when his bike wheel got caught in the streetcar tracks and he fell under a Metro bus. [Seattle Times]

The EU started investigating Amazon over "possible anti-competitive conduct." [GeekWire]

Paul Roberts at The Seattle Times looked at the 5 highest-paid CEOs in the Pacific Northwest for 2018 (John Legere of T-Mobile was #1, with total cash and stock compensation of $66,538). [Seattle Times]

Neal Morton looked at the impacts on school districts across the state of the legislature's K-12 education funding changes from 2017 and 2018. [Seattle Times]

King County held a two-day summit to look at the public-health impacts of gun violence. [Seattle Times]

A study by the state Department of Transportation estimated that a high-speed rail line between Portland and Vancouver BC would cost between $24-42 billion but "spark $355 billion in economic growth in the region." [GeekWire]

The number of people involuntarily detained for mental health treatment in King County has doubled since 2007 (and roughly 25% of cases between 2014 and 2017 involved someone experiencing some form of housing instability). [Seattle Times]

The only overnight sobering center in downtown Seattle shut down last month without opening a replacement, leading people experiencing homelessness who would normally use the center to stay overnight at Harborview or just sleep on the street instead. [Seattle Times]

The medical director for the state prison in Monroe was fired for negligent care that may have played a role in the recent deaths of seven inmates. [Seattle Times]

Despite protests across the country, Amazon's "Prime Day" two-day sale broke records, with the company doing more business than it did for 2018's Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales combined. [GeekWire]

BMW's free-floating car-sharing service, ReachNow, shut down abruptly on Wednesday and encouraged its customers to sign up for car2go instead. [KING 5]

And according to Census data, the white population of King County declined from 2017 to 2018 in absolute terms, even as the net population of people of color continued to increase. [Seattle Times]
Upcoming events this week
7/23 - 7/25: 48-Hour Film Project screenings

7/26, 6:00 - 9:00 pm: Tasting Flight [Woodland Park Zoo]

7/27, 7:30 pm: Seafair Torchlight Parade

7/27 - 7/28, 10 am - 6 pm: Alki Art Fair

7/27 - 8/24: Movies at the Mural [Seattle Center outdoor movies]

7/28, 2:00 - 5:00 pm: Renter Picnic: Celebrating 2019's New Tenant Protections [Tenants Union of Washington]

Sol Villarreal
Broker, Windermere Real Estate
Sol's Civic Minute: What's happening in Seattle, in 60 seconds per week.
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Windermere Real Estate Co.
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Seattle, WA 98109
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