Sunday, March 5th - Saturday, March 11th, 2023

In brief: Wednesday was the deadline for most policy bills to make it out of their house of origin in Olympia; one of the most important banks in the country for financing tech startups failed following a bank run; King County Executive Dow Constantine gave his annual State of the County address; Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz agreed to testify in front of a Senate committee; City Councilmember Dan Strauss proposed a compromise on the perpetually delayed Missing Link portion of the Burke Gilman Trail through Ballard; and the NWMLS released its real estate data for February.

House of Origin Cutoff

This past Wednesday, March 8th was the deadline for most non-budget-related bills in the state legislature to pass out of their house of origin.

I’ve updated my big list of bills that are still alive and that died in their house of origin, which you can find in full here.

For the sake of not making the newsletter too long, below are some highlights from that bigger list:

Still alive

Died in house of origin

Last Week in Corporations

The biggest news in the tech startup world last week was the dramatic and sudden failure of the 40-year-old Silicon Valley Bank, which was taken over by the FDIC on Friday following a bank run triggered by high-profile venture capitalists after the bank announced short-term liquidity problems on Wednesday. 80% of venture-backed tech companies in Seattle banked with SVB, as did roughly 50% of tech startups nationwide. While the bank’s failure appears to be a one-off for a number of reasons, it’s going to have major ramifications for the tech startup community—especially if the federal government can’t find a buyer for its assets over the weekend and thousands of companies aren’t able to make payroll starting this week. For good coverage of this story, I highly recommend this article from the New York Times, this long but very good Substack post by economic journalist Noah Smith, and this article by GeekWire’s Taylor Soper comparing SVB’s failure to WaMu’s (which was where I found the Noah Smith post).

Microsoft laid off another 689 workers in the Seattle area, bringing the company’s total number of local layoffs to just under 2,200, or roughly 22% of the 10,000 positions it announced in January that it would be cutting globally. [Seattle Times, GeekWire]

While unemployment remains very low, and there are a lot of open tech positions at companies in more traditional industries, many laid-off tech workers are finding that the jobs that are available don’t pay as much as their previous Big Tech jobs. [Seattle Times]

The Federal Aviation Administration cleared Boeing to resume delivering its 787 Dreamliner; but the Seattle Times reported Tuesday that the company has had to delay deliveries of two variants of its 767, including one that serves as a refueling tanker for the Air Force, due to additional quality control issues.

And Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz agreed to testify in from of a committee chaired by Senator Bernie Sanders to answer questions about Starbucks’ ongoing anti-union campaign. [KING 5]

State of the County

King County Executive Dow Constantine delivered his annual State of the County address, part of which included a proposal to redevelop the county’s downtown Seattle campus as part of the ongoing efforts to revitalize downtown. [Seattle Times, KING 5]

The King County Council voted a bill out of committee (originally proposed by Constantine) that would move roughly 50 people from the county’s downtown jail to a regional jail in Des Moines that’s jointly owned by the cities of Auburn, Burien, Des Moines, Renton, SeaTac, and Tukwila. [Publicola, Seattle Times]

King County Metro announced a revised and expanded ridesharing service that’s now called Metro Flex, which will allow riders in several specific service areas (including part of Southeast Seattle) that are under-served by the county’s public transportation network to get Uber/Lyft-style on-demand rides within the boundaries of the service area for the price of a bus fare. [Seattle Times, KNKX, GeekWire]

And one year after the King County Board of Health repealed its mandatory bike helmet law, a study by Seattle-King County Public Health found that the rates of bicyclists wearing helmets hasn’t changed. [Seattle Times, Seattle Bike Blog]

Real Estate Corner

The Northwest Multiple Listing Service released its real estate data for February, which showed that the median home price for houses and townhomes in Seattle proper was $825k, up 2.6% from $803,750 in January but down 10.8% from $925k last February during the hottest market in Seattle history. On the Eastside the median home price was $1.34 million, up 1.5% from $1.32 million in January but down a whopping 21.1% from $1,697,500 in February of last year. [Seattle Times]

If seasonal trends continue to hold, median home prices should continue to rise through the spring before peaking in May or June and then declining in the back half of the year—the dramatic rise in interest rates that we’ve seen in the past year, and the corresponding drop in the number of buyers who are able to afford homes, have so far failed to break the market out of its usual seasonal patterns and instead just made the size of the price cool-down that always happens in the back half of the year much larger than usual in the last half of 2022. My operating assumption coming into 2023 was that we’d see conditions somewhat similar to the spring of 2019 (following a similar big correction the last half of 2018), during which the market was as close to balanced as I’ve ever seen it during the spring months and prices rose by roughly 10% between January and May. So far this year’s early spring market appears to be hotter than 2019 was, though, despite the fact that interest rates continue to hover just below 21-year highs. My NWMLS model’s data for March so far shows that we’ll likely see a large month-over-month increase when all the data is in at the end of the month—take this with a huge grain of salt, since it’s going to change as the month progresses, but it’s currently showing $925k for March in Seattle, which if previous months are any indication will likely end up being within 5-7% of the final number (I don’t have an accurate model of the NWMLS’s Eastside dataset).

Daniel Beekman at The Seattle Times wrote a great deep dive on accessory dwelling unit (ADU) production in Seattle since 2019, when the new law that made building AADUs and DADUs much easier went into effect (the article is based on the City’s annual report on the subject, which you can find here). I recommend reading the whole thing, but here are some stats that stood out to me:

  • In 2022 the City permitted 437 Attached Accessory Dwelling Units (AADUs; generally converted basements) and 551 Detached Accessory Dwelling Units (DADUs; backyard cottages), for a total of 988 ADUs—for the first time it was more than the number of traditional houses built in the same time period.

  • Since 2019 there have been 1,336 total ADUs built and 554 single-family houses demolished as part of that process, with most ADUs built in wealthier, lower-displacement-risk neighborhoods.

  • Nearly half of all ADUS built last year were in new construction projects, typically involving a house, an ADU, and a DADU on the same parcel. The rest were presumably primarily homeowners building them on their own properties.

  • And in 2021, the most recent year that condoization data was available, roughly 33% of newly permitted ADUs were condoized by developers so that they could be sold as individual units (if you ever really want to go down the rabbit hole on this model, feel free to reach out; I’ve been obsessed with it for the last few years!).

According to U.S. Census Bureau data, in 2021 Kirkland was one of only six American cities with at least 65,000 residents whose top 5% of residents had an average annual income of more than $1 million. [Seattle Times]

And Freddie Mac’s weekly mortgage rate survey for last week showed an average 30-year fixed rate of 6.73%, increasing for the fifth straight week. [Freddie Mac, Seattle Times/Associated Press]

Thank you to everyone who's sent me a real estate referral or used me as an agent yourself! If 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.

In Other News

Crosscut looked at the state of the pandemic three years after Governor Inslee implemented the first social distancing measures. [Crosscut]

The rate of Washington teachers leaving the profession between the 2021-22 and 2022-23 school years was nearly 9%, a 1.6% increase from the previous year and the highest rate on record in the 38 years that the state has been collecting the data. [KUOW, MyNorthwest]

The state Department of Health launched a new portal for finding telehealth options for sexual and reproductive healthcare services across the state. [MyNorthwest]

Greg Kim at The Seattle Times looked at homelessness spending per capita for all 39 cities in King County in 2021 and found that no other city is anywhere close to Seattle (we’re number 1 at $109.3 million and $148 per capita; Bellevue is second in absolute terms at $3.2 million, and Tukwila is second in relative terms at $25 per capita). [Seattle Times]

In non-legislative-session Olympia news, the state confirmed that its first-ever carbon auction raised roughly $300 million; and the President of Finland became the first foreign head of state ever to address the state legislature, as part of a nationwide tour promoting Finland’s desire to join NATO. [Carbon auction: Seattle Times, MyNorthwest; President of Finland: Seattle Times, KUOW, KING 5]

City Councilmember Dan Strauss asked Mayor Harrell to study completing the “missing link” of the Burke-Gilman bike trail through Ballard with a connection on Leary Way and Market Street instead of the route on Shilshole Avenue that’s been in various forms of litigation for more than two decades. [Seattle Times, Seattle Bike Blog, The Stranger]

There were three new City Council candidate announcements: social equity consultant ChrisTiana Obeysumner for North Seattle’s District 5, Deputy Director of Seattle’s Department of Arts & Culture Maritza Rivera in Northeast Seattle’s District 4, and Capitol Hill Eltana Bagels owner Stephen Brown in West Seattle’s District 1.

The defamation lawsuit brought against City Councilmember Kshama Sawant by two Seattle police officers was dismissed by a federal judge after winding its way through the legal system for the past 5 years. [Seattle Times]

The City’s Parks and Recreation Department is looking at 30 potential sites to build two new dog parks (one of which will be in West Seattle) in the coming years. [Seattle Times, MyNorthwest, KUOW]

Seattle’s P-Patch community garden program is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year; in the past 50 years it’s grown from a single garden in Wedgwood to 91 gardens spread across 34 acres throughout the city. [Seattle Times]

In honor of International Women’s Day, the Seattle Times looked at “20 important Washington women you should know about.” [Seattle Times]

And after a lot of back-and-forth over the course of the week about the fate of the eight cherry trees on Pike Street directly across from Pike Place Market, Mayor Harrell ended the week with a Friday announcement that the City will remove the trees as planned (they’re already past their typical life span and aren’t in great shape; five others have already died), but instead of replacing them with hybrid elms that would arch over the street they’ll be replaced with new cherry trees. [KUOW, Mayor’s Office blog]

Ending on a high note

Rejoice, Seattle! The long night has ended and the time of additional daylight is finally upon us.

The fungus from The Last of Us is apparently real and found right here in Washington…although it doesn’t usually cause zombification.

And if you’re curious about your fellow Seattleites’ sex lives (or at least your fellow Seattleites who read The Stranger and enjoy filling out anonymous surveys about their sex lives), just click here.