Sunday, February 13th - Saturday, February 19th, 2022
In brief: State and local officials announced that the state's indoor mask mandate will end on March 21st, and that King County will no longer require vaccine checks to enter bars and restaurants starting on March 1st; Mayor Harrell delivered his first State of the City address; the JumpStart high-earners payroll tax raised $231 million in its first year; and the deadline passed for non-budget-related bills to make it out of their chamber of origin in the state legislature.  
COVID-19 News
For current stats, see the following:
  • The most recent Seattle Times daily infographic, which is a great way to visualize the statewide numbers going all the way back to March of 2020.
  • King County's excellent new unified dashboard, which clearly shows cases, hospitalizations, and deaths for all of King County and each individual city within King County going back to October of last year.
  • The state's all-in-one COVID-19 data dashboard
To book a free vaccine or booster appointment, click here for the City of Seattle vaccine clinics or here for the state's vaccine appointment locator. 
Citing forecasts showing hospital capacity likely dropping below crisis levels in the coming weeks, Governor Inslee announced that the state's indoor mask mandate will end on March 21st for most settings, while King County Executive Dow Constantine and Mayor Bruce Harrell announced that King County will no longer require vaccine checks to enter bars and restaurants starting on March 1st

Local companies are pursuing a variety of return-to-office strategies, including Microsoft, who announced that their Washington offices will reopen fully starting on February 28th, with employees expected to work out their own long-term hybrid work plans with their managers within 30 days of that date. Amazon, on the other hand, has yet to make any announcements about a formal return-to-office date.
Meanwhile, in Olympia
Tuesday was the deadline for non-budget-related bills to pass out of their house of origin in this year's legislative session. Bills that died in committee without making it to a floor vote include a vastly watered down version of the high-profile push to allow more "missing middle" housing like duplexes and triplexes in cities with populations of more than 10,000 people; Governor Inslee's proposal to make lying about election results by elected officials a misdemeanor; a bill that would have allowed cities to implement ranked-choice voting; a requirement for landlords to give their tenants with 6 months' notice of rent hikes of more than 7.5%; and the extension of collective bargaining rights to all of the legislative staffers in Olympia (105 of whom called out sick in protest after it failed to make the cut).

Still in play are bills that would legalize backyard cottages and mother-in-law apartments in single-family neighborhoods statewide; try to crack down on catalytic converter theft through stricter regulations on scrap buyers; allow state legislative leaders to terminate a state of emergency declared by the governor; and make amendments to police reform bills that were passed into law last year. 
Real Estate Corner
King County announced that tenants will no longer be able to apply for rental assistance after February 28th, because the county has already received more applications than they'll be able to fund. [Seattle Times, KING 5]

Councilmember Kshama Sawant introduced a resolution to prevent Mayor Harrell from ending the City's eviction moratorium on February 28th as planned. [Seattle Times, KING 5, The Stranger]

Alec Cowan looked at the regulatory problems faced by a growing number of Washingtonians who live on boats in order to avoid increasingly unaffordable rents or homelessness. [KUOW]

A religious group called the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus announced plans to sell a 22-acre in Laurelhurst that could be developed into as many as 100 new single-family homes in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in Seattle. [Seattle Times]

The Sounders announced that their new training facility will open in 2024 as part of the redevelopment of Boeing's former commercial airplanes headquarters in Renton, which will also eventually include 3,000 apartments. [KING 5, KNKX, The Urbanist]

And Gregory Scruggs looked at attempts by the residents of the Methow Valley to try to combat the skyrocketing home prices that have come with a rise in remote work for them and many other small rural mountain towns. [Seattle Times]
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. 
Other News
Mayor Bruce Harrell delivered his first State of the City address, which focused on hiring more police officers, getting City workers back into the office, clearing homeless encampments, and finishing the police reform process that was started by the federal government more than a decade ago. [Seattle Times, South Seattle Emerald, Publicola]

A group of the region's billionaires and largest companies made a collective one-time contribution of $10 million to fund a peer navigator program requested by the Regional Homelessness Authority, which will attempt to establish a "by-name list" of every person experiencing homelessness in downtown Seattle and give them each personal assistance getting the shelter and services that they need. [Publicola, Seattle Times]

Meanwhile, the City Council's JumpStart high-earners payroll tax, which was unsuccessfully sued by the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce (whose most powerful members include many of the same companies that donated to the peer navigator program), raised $231 million in 2021 to fund affordable housing and small business assistance. [KING 5, Seattle Times, Council Connection]

Paul Kiefer looked at the Harrell administration's efforts to clean up the hot spot of criminal activity at 12th & Jackson in the International District, and how it compares to many previous unsuccessful attempts to do the same thing. [Publicola]

The union that represents Metro bus drivers called for stronger enforcement measures as many of their members have complained about an increase in violent behavior and drug use on their buses, including inhaling fumes from passengers smoking fentanyl and other narcotics onboard their buses. [Seattle Times, KING 5]

The King County Board of Health voted to repeal a long-standing law requiring cyclists to wear bike helmets because of its inequitable enforcement, but continued to urge the public to wear bike helmets for their safety. [Crosscut, Public Health Insider]

The Seattle Redistricting Commission released its first batch of proposals of newly redrawn City Council district boundaries. [MyNorthwest]

Councilmember Andrew Lewis called for a continuing investigation into who set Mayor Durkan's phone to automatically delete her text messages every 30 days, in order to discourage other elected officials from brazenly flouting public records retention rules with no consequences. [Seattle Times]

And a national union campaign called Pay Up that's pushing for a minimum wage for gig workers in cities across the country began to intensify its pressure on the City Council to pass similar legislation here. [GeekWire, KNKX, The Stranger]
Ending on a high note
For your enjoyment, here's a Twitter thread of film pitches from 6-year-olds

And in case you were wondering, Seattleites are apparently some of the worst Uber passengers in the country. 

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