In brief: The City released a consultant's initial report on the pros and cons of several options for reducing congestion by charging to drive downtown; the 90-year-old Magnolia bridge is nearing the end of its useful life; Governor Inslee continued signing legislation from this year's legislative session into law; Sydney Brownstone left KUOW to join the Project Homeless team at The Seattle Times; and Governor Inslee declared a drought in 27 of the state's 62 watersheds. 
Sunday, May 19th - Saturday, May 25th, 2019
Image from Seattle Magazine / Alex Crook
Last Week in Seattle
The housing affordability crisis:
  • Scott Greenstone looked at the clearing of a homeless encampment under I-5 by the City's Navigation Team from the perspective of one of its residents.
  • In response to an increased focus by the City on clearing tent encampments that are deemed to be obstructing public parks or rights of way and are thus exempt from the usual 72-hour notice requirement, REACH, the non-profit whose outreach workers make up one component of the Navigation Team (along with cleanup crews and SPD officers), said that they will "no longer participate in encampment removals except when camp residents explicitly request their presence."
  • KUOW's SoundQs team talked to homelessness reporters Kate Walters from KUOW and Vianna Davila from the Seattle Times about the question "why do so many people live in tents and RVs in Seattle?"
  • And the Huffington Post ran a great article looking at the systemic causes and elusive solutions to homelessness across the country. 
Election Watch 2019:
  • Because the Chamber of Commerce's PAC isn't being forthcoming yet about which candidates it plans to support in this year's City Council races, Lester Black and Nathalie Graham at The Stranger polled all 54 City Council candidates to ask them if they want the Chamber's money or not.
  • Erica C. Barnett live-tweeted a District 2 candidate forum, and Rich Smith at The Stranger did the same for a District 3 forum
  • Four of the seven seats on the Seattle School Board are up for election this year, with only one incumbent running for re-election; and longtime incumbent Betty Patu announced that she'll be stepping down on June 26th, well before her term would have ended in 2021, kicking off an appointment process in which the other school board members will appoint a temporary replacement for her. 
  • The King County Young Democrats endorsed a slate of young challengers to established incumbents, siding against Kshama Sawant on the City Council and councilmembers Larry Gossett and Jeanne Kohl-Wells on the King County Council.
  • And Governor Inslee passed the 65,000 donor mark in his long-shot presidential bid, securing a spot on stage at the first Democratic debate (which will be spread out over two nights to accommodate the large number of candidates).
Meanwhile, in Olympia:
  • Governor Inslee signed a number of newly passed bills into law from this year's legislative session, including the new two-year operating and capital budgetslegalized human composting as an alternative to burial or cremation; making Washington a sanctuary state; increasing transparency around PAC funding; implementing a controversial tax on vaping products; creating a publicly-financed long-term care benefit; allowing municipalities to keep some of the sales tax that would otherwise go to the state as long as they use it to build affordable housing; and making it a requirement that members of Washington state's electoral college delegation cast their ballots according to the popular vote
  • Melissa Santos at Crosscut looked at the details of the new paid family leave act that the legislature passed in 2017, which will will provide 12 weeks of paid leave for new parents when it goes into effect starting in January. 
  • The state auditor's office found that the commissioner of a small King County drainage district misappropriated more than 80% of the funds raised by his taxing district in the last seven years. 
  • The state Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) agreed to an $8 million settlement over the repeated failures of its Adult Protective Services division to intervene on behalf of a vulnerable Seattle man despite multiple calls by neighbors asking for the state to assist him. 
  • And Democratic state Senator Guy Palumbo, who was elected to the legislature in 2016, announced his resignation effective this past Friday to take a government affairs job with Amazon. The timing of his announcement means that Democrats will get to choose his temporary replacement, who will serve through next year's legislative session and then run for re-election in 2020.
Real Estate Corner
According to a report commissioned by the City, it would cost roughly $1.28 billion to retrofit the 944 unreinforced masonry buildings across the city, which could collapse in the event of a major earthquake. 

KUOW's Joshua McNichols looked at the coming wave of development in the Chinatown-International District through the lens of both a market-rate developer who grew up on Beacon Hill and is in the midst of building a 17-story residential tower in the CID and a grassroots group opposed to the new development and its displacement of existing neighborhood residents. 

The City estimates that replacing the 90-year-old Magnolia Bridge, which is nearing the end of its useful life, will likely cost between $190 million and $420 million, with a source of funding for the project yet to be identified. 

The non-profit Historic Seattle kicked off an effort to buy the Showbox from its current owner in order to prevent it from being turned into a residential tower.

A group of Seattleites have launched a campaign to catalogue all of the remaining "exceptional" trees in the city called The Last 6,000

The Seattle Times published an interactive graphic showing a chunk of the downtown waterfront with the viaduct/lack thereof on January 13th vs. May 19th.

And Sarah Anne Lloyd at Curbed Seattle looked at what $1,400/month will rent you right now in Seattle.
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 federal judge overseeing Seattle's police reform efforts told the City that they still need to fix issues with officer accountability and extended the period of court oversight of SPD until they do. [Seattle Times]

The City released a consultant's initial report on the pros and cons of implementing various types of congestion-based pricing schemes to reduce gridlock downtown. [Crosscut]

Governor Inslee declared a drought for 27 of the 62 watersheds in the state (but not Seattle and King County). [Seattle Times, Curbed Seattle]

The National Transportation Safety Board released its findings on the Amtrak derailment that killed three passengers in December of 2017. [Curbed Seattle]

The new director of the City's unified IT department, Saad Bashir, "fired 14 upper and middle managers in the [department] as part of a significant reorganization." [Crosscut]

The driver of the Ride the Ducks vehicle involved in the deadly 2015 crash on the Aurora Bridge received a $2 million settlement from the Ride the Ducks company. [Seattle Times]

The Trump administration threatened to withhold federal funds from Boeing Field unless the county stops preventing ICE from using it for deportation flights. [KUOW]

Sydney Brownstone announced on Twitter that she'll be leaving KUOW to join the Project Homeless team at The Seattle Times effective this week, and Hayat Norimine announced that she'll be moving to Texas in June to take a job covering local politics for the Dallas Morning News. [Twitter, Twitter]

Seattle was the second-fastest-growing city in the country from July of 2017 to July of 2018, adding 15,000 residents for a new total of 745,000. [Seattle Times]

Benjamin Romano reported from Amazon's annual shareholder meeting, at which activist employees and shareholders unsuccessfully pressured the company to commit to take concrete action to fight climate change and a woman asked Jeff Bezos to take some items back that she'd been unable to return through customer service. [Seattle Times]

And the non-profit events venue Town Hall Seattle re-opened after completing a 20-month remodel. [Capitol Hill Seattle]
Upcoming candidate forums this week
5/28, 6:00 - 7:30 pm: District 2 Candidate Forum on Transportation, Housing, & Sustainability

5/29, 6:00 - 8:00 pm: District 7 Candidate Forum on Transportation, Housing, & Sustainability

5/28, 5:30 - 7:30 pm: District 2 Candidate Forum on Transportation, Housing, & Sustainability
Upcoming events this week
5/29, 6:30 - 8:00 pm: Pramila Jayapal town hall

5/30, 6:00 - 9:00 pm: Pecha Kucha: The 50/50 Gender Equity Challenge

5/31, 8:00 pm: The Seattle Process with Brett Hamil

5/31 - 6/1: Summer Solstice Night Market

5/31 - 6/2: Bite of Greece

5/31 - 6/2: Honk Fest West

6/1, 10:30 am - 12:30 pm: Civic Saturday

Sol Villarreal
Broker, Windermere Real Estate
Sol's Civic Minute: What's happening in Seattle, in 60 seconds per week.
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Mailing address:
Windermere Real Estate Co.
1177 Fairview Ave N
Seattle, WA 98109
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