In brief: If you live in Seattle, you should have received your ballot for a special election to renew two big school levies; Councilmembers Sawant and Juarez announced that they're running for re-election, and two new challengers got into the races in D2 and D5; and the legislative session is well underway in Olympia. 
Sunday, January 20th - Saturday, January 26th, 2019
Image from The Stranger / Getty Images (JGI/Jamie Grill)
Editor's note: I'll be on vacation from the Civic Minute next week, but it'll be back in your inbox on Sunday, February 10th. May your Tunnel Day be blessed and joyous in the meantime. -Sol
Last Week in Seattle
Election Watch 2019:
  • Ballots have been mailed for the Seattle special election to renew two expiring Seattle Public Schools levies (as opposed to last year's Families, Education, Preschool, and Promise levy, which was for the City of Seattle), one to fund day-to-day operations and the other to fund maintenance of existing schools and construction of new ones. For more on the levies, see the SPS website about them here.
  • Incumbent City Councilmembers Kshama Sawant in District 3 and Debora Juarez in District 5 formally announced that they're running for re-election this year, leaving just two incumbents who are up for re-election (Lisa Herbold in District 1 and Mike O'Brien in District 6) who haven't yet announced their intentions. Rob Johnson in District 4, Sally Bagshaw in District 7, and Bruce Harrell in District 2 have already announced that they won't be running for re-election. 
  • Sawant, who raised more money than any other council candidate in her last re-election race in 2015, made headlines by saying that she doesn't plan to participate in the City's democracy voucher program, which was designed to limit the influence of money in local politics...although the council race in 2017 in which both candidates used the program, Teresa Mosqueda and Jon Grant, still ended up being "one of the most expensive...[races] recent Seattle history." 
  • Seattle City Light employee and race and social justice advocate Christopher Peguero announced his candidacy for the open seat in District 2 (southeast Seattle); The Stranger's Nathalie Graham interviewed former Tim Burgess aide Alex Pedersen about his campaign in District 4 (northeast Seattle); and neighborhood activist Ann Davison Sattler announced her campaign in District 5 (the northernmost part of the city). 
The shutdown ends (for now):
  • The federal government shutdown ended abruptly with an agreement to reopen the government temporarily for three weeks, after La Guardia airport was forced to temporarily stop operations due to a shortage of air traffic controllers.
  • Before the shutdown ended, though, Governor Jay Inslee announced that the state would offer unemployment benefits to all federal workers working without pay, who weren't previously eligible for unemployment (unlike federal workers who weren't working).
  • The cities of Seattle, Kent, and Renton announced programs to let furloughed federal employees defer their utility bills
  • And many federal employees had to rely on food banks to get by during the shutdown, highlighting the fact that, as Hanna Brooks Olsen put it on Twitter, "job loss, due to injury or layoff or illness, is one of the single biggest factors for homelessness."
Homelessness and housing affordability:
  • The woman who was in the process of being evicted by her property management company over $2 in unpaid rent was able to work out a deal with her landlord that will let her stay in her apartment until her lease ends in April after her story received a huge amount of media attention. 
  • Over 1,000 volunteers participated in the annual one-night count of people experiencing homelessness across King County (formerly called the One Night Count, now called Count Us In), the results of which will be released later this year. KUOW looked at the methodology behind the count, and why it's an important source of data despite the fact that it's impossible to account for every person experiencing homelessness in the county in a single night.
  • The Seattle Times looked at how American cities that have significantly reduced their one-night count numbers in recent years have done it, and found that a key factor in all cases has been the ready availability of affordable market-rate housing.
Meanwhile, in Olympia: Viadoom, week 2:
  • Everything is still on track for the the long-awaited opening next Monday, February 4th of The Tunnel Which Bertha Hath Wrought, Full Of Terrible Wrath And Potential Tolling Revenue (more commonly known as "the tunnel")...and this, submitted without comment but bursting at the seams with the fullness of its synecdochical representation of the entire process that's led us to this point, is the sign that WSDOT is using to advertise that fact.
  • 90,000 Seattle commuters per day, meanwhile--in a show of blatant disrespect to the loss of a north-south highway that as recently as 1.14 fortnights ago was all that stood between us and the utter chaos of being forced to sit in traffic while staring blankly into the abyss of our own mortality and unconscious participation in the, as visionary feminist activist and scholar bell hooks puts it, "imperialist white-supremacist capitalist patriarchy" (that, or just listening to podcasts; it's a toss-up)--found other ways to get to work and largely avoided the traffic catastrophe that had been widely predicted.
Real Estate Corner
Investors who have been renting out multiple homes as AirBnBs are in the process of transitioning them back to long-term rentals per the terms of the City's recently passed AirBnB ordinance.

The cafe that was featured in the opening credits of the TV show Northern Exposure (which is in the town of Roslyn, just off I-90) is up for sale, as is Edgar Martinez's Bellevue penthouse

In reaction to concerns about redevelopment from the residents of a mobile home site in northwest Seattle that's been on the market for awhile but hasn't sold yet, Councilmember Kshama Sawant is leading an effort at the City Council to impose a one-year moratorium on the redevelopment of any mobile home parks in the city. 

Several cities in south King County are working together to create a regional organization to work on building and maintaining affordable housing in their areas. 

Crosscut's Josh Cohen reported on a newly formed coalition of homeowners in the Central District who are looking for creative ways for longtime neighborhood residents to use their property to offset their rising property taxes, including through workshops on how to rent out spare rooms & unused parking spaces and possibly even giving ground leases to developers who would then build backyard cottages on their properties. 

KUOW's John Ryan looked at the damaging trend of waterfront homeowners "building walls around Puget Sound" in the form of seawalls, bulkheads, and other similar structures. 

And Curbed Seattle's Sarah Anne Llloyd looked at what $2500/month will rent you around 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
Governor Inslee declared a state of emergency over a measles outbreak in southwestern Washington. [Seattle Times]

Knute Berger looked back at "Seattle’s racist roots and the battle to recognize MLK" by officially saying that King County is named after him (which finally happened in 2005). [Crosscut]

Ari Cetron looked at how small businesses have been adapting to the gradual increases in Seattle's minimum wage. [Capitol Hill Seattle]

The City of Seattle reached a record $65.7 million settlement ($60 million of which was covered by the City's insurance) with the family of a high-powered corporate lawyer who was permanently disabled when an ambulance hit her car in an intersection in 2016. [Crosscut]

In the lead-up to the 100th anniversary of the 1919 Seattle General Strike, which lasted from February 6th to 11th of that year, Feliks Banel looked back on what happened over the course of those 5 days 100 years ago. [MyNorthwest]

A UW study suggested that increased rainfall over the course of the last two decades has offset what would otherwise have been a catastrophic loss of snowpack in the Cascades...and that it's only a matter of time before that trend of increased rainfall reverses itself. [Seattle Times]

The King County Council is set to consider a 6-month moratorium on "building or expanding major fossil-fuel facilities in King County," a measure being pushed by climate change advocacy groups to prevent possible future attempts to build new fossil fuel infrastructure. [Seattle Times]

Seattle's public preschool program received top marks for program quality in an academic report, but was dinged for the relatively small percentage of eligible children that it serves (which will be at least partially addressed by the expansion of the program that voters authorized last year). [Seattle Times]

The City of Sammammish is suffering from a ransomware attack that infected large portions of its computer systems. [KING 5]

A poll for The Seattle Times by local polling firm Elway Research found that in Seattle and King County both, people want more and better options for getting around without having to use a car. [Seattle Times]

King County is rapidly running up against a problem caused by the fact that our landfill is almost full: should we start shipping our garbage out of the region/state, or burning it like the Europeans do? [Seattle Weekly]

The Upstream Music Fest + Summit, the "SxSW for Seattle" that the late Paul Allen piloted in 2017 and brought back for a second year last year, announced that it'll be "taking a break" this year. [GeekWire]

And Katherine Long looked at how increasing interest in STEM careers among college students at the UW is eroding demand for humanities classes, and how that in turn is hurting the university's bottom line (since humanities classes cost the same as STEM classes but have much lower costs). [Seattle Times]
Upcoming events this week and next
Tonight at 7 pm: Mozart Birthday Toast: An Evening of Classical Favorites

1/31, 6:45 - 9:00 pm: Boldly Went: A Live Outdoor Adventure Storytelling Show

2/2 - 2/3: All sorts of opportunities to run, walk, and bike over the viaduct and through the tunnel, all of which you'll need to register for in advance

2/4: The tunnel opens to car traffic

2/6, 6:00 - 7:30 pm: Civic Cocktail: Rick Steves + Exiting Councilmembers

2/6, 7:30 pm: John and Julie Gottman with Bill Radke: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love

2/6 - 2/10: 34th Seattle Improvised Music Festival

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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