In brief: The NHL formally voted to give Seattle an expansion team for the 2021 season after Key Arena is fully renovated; Republicans in the state Senate blocked an investigation of state Senator Joe Fain from proceeding; and Governor Inslee is going through the motions of running for president in 2020.
Sunday, December 2nd - Saturday, December 8th, 2018
Image from NBC Sports / Associated Press
Last Week in Seattle
An NHL team for Seattle:
  • The NHL Board of Governors voted to give Seattle an expansion team starting in the 2021-22 season, after the Seattle group behind the private renovation of Key Arena finishes doing the work that will allow the new hockey team to play here.
  • The original plan for the new team to start playing in the 2020-21 season was pushed back by a year to ensure that the Key Arena renovations can be completed on time.
  • The ownership group expects to have a name for the new franchise picked out by the summer
  • In the state Senate, Republicans on a key committee blocked a planned investigation of Candace Faber's statement that outgoing state Senator Joe Fain raped her in 2007, leading the legislature to officially call off the investigation.
  • A City Council proposal to create a new Office of Employee Ombud, which would provide City employees with a path to raise workplace grievances that's less formal than HR, passed out of committee and will be voted on by the full council tomorrow. 
  • A female employee at the Port of Seattle filed a pregnancy discrimination claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, joining six other female employees of west-coast ports who have recently filed similar charges. 
Mayoral transparency:
  • Lewis Kamb at The Seattle Times reported that four of Mayor Durkan's senior staffers used their personal email accounts to coordinate the Mayor's Office's official response after the City Council voted to repeal the head tax earlier this year, an issue that Erica C. Barnett has also encountered when trying to get public disclosure requests filled by the Mayor's Office.
  • David Gutman at the Times reported that Durkan is close to choosing a finalist to lead the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), but that her office declined public records requests seeking the names of the finalists.
  • Erica C. Barnett broke the news that the Mayor's Office awarded a close friend of Durkan's who's married to one of Durkan's deputy mayors a no-bid contract for $720,000 over four years to help the City work with Sound Transit to develop a plan for light rail between Ballard and West Seattle. 
  • And several local journalists sent a letter to the City Auditor requesting an investigation into the use of private email accounts by local elected officials to conduct official City business.
Election Watch 2019:
  • Publicola's Hayat Norimine looked at the current state of the 7 district City Council races that are going to be up for grabs in next year's municipal election.
  • MyNorthwest reported that the numbers from a previously-unreleased poll from August on behalf of the education levy campaign also showed a 48% disapproval rating for the current City Councilmembers. 
  • And 36th District State Representative Gael Tarleton, Fremont Brewing co-owner Sara Nelson, and former City Councilmember Heidi Wills are all apparently considering running against incumbent Mike O'Brien in the 6th District. 
The tunnel is almost upon us:
  • After the tunnel opens in early February, the demolition of the viaduct is expected to last until next summer.
  • The Seattle Times published a list of answers to frequently asked questions about the closing of the viaduct and the opening of the tunnel. 
  • And KUOW looked at how the tunnel stacks up in terms of cost and time overruns compared to other megaprojects across the country. 
Real Estate Corner
The Northwest MLS released their sales stats for last month, which you can view in full here for Seattle and King County (click here for the Seattle Times story, which has a misleading headline as always but great data in the infographics). The median home price for houses and townhomes in Seattle proper in November was $760k, up 2.5% from November of 2017 and up $10k from October's median home price of $750k. Seattle's median home price peaked at $830k in May of this year and has been fluctuating around the $760k mark for the last few months after dropping steeply in July and August due to sharply lower buyer demand, which was accompanied in September and October (and again last month) by an increased number of new listings on a year-over-year basis as well. At this point the median home price is unlikely to change significantly until the spring, when buyer demand is traditionally at its highest point for the year.

The Seattle Times published an interactive map showing how neighborhoods across the city will be affected by the 27 upzones that the City Council plans to approve en masse in late March. 

The Stranger's Lester Black looked at East Link's likely development implications for the Bel-Red neighborhood of Bellevue, which is expected to add two new light rail stops by 2023 and 5,000 new units of housing and 10,000 new jobs by 2030.

The Bellevue-based developer behind the Sonata building by the Columbia City light rail station, which began its life as a condo development before quietly switching to apartments earlier this year, announced plans to break ground on another planned condo building across the street from Sonata, this one called Encore.

A group of nine tenants and landlords sued the City over its rental inspection policy, which currently doesn't allow a tenant to deny a code enforcement inspection for privacy or other reasons. 

And Curbed Seattle's Sarah Anne Lloyd looked at what $2,000/month will rent you right now around the city. 
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
Anti-homeless group Safe Seattle sued the City in an attempt to force them to close their tiny home villages across the city. [MyNorthwest]

UW scientists are trying to figure out how to reduce car noise from the 520 bridge for waterfront neighborhoods in Seattle and Medina. [Seattle Times]

According to a new study, Seattle would lose all water pressure within 24 hours after a major earthquake, and it would take two months to fully restore service. [Seattle Times]

Ted Alvarez interviewed the director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network about what the impacts of the Anchorage earthquake would have been if it had happened in Seattle. [Crosscut]

Governor Inslee has raised over $112,000 in the last two months to explore the possibility of running for president in 2020, something he plans to decide on one way or another by April. [KUOW]

The state Supreme Court blocked a ballot initiative that would have prevented any municipalities in King County from opening safe injection sites. [Seattle Times]

The King County Democrats elected Shasti Conrad as their next chair. [The Stranger]

A report by the Seattle Planning Commission found that the prevalence of single-family zoning across the city "is contributing to income and racial inequality, and has forced the city's booming population to crowd into small pockets of the city." [Seattle Times]

Spurred by a case in which an officer who was fired for punching a woman while she was handcuffed was recently re-hired, the district judge overseeing SPD's federally mandated reform process threatened to find the City out of compliance unless it can prove otherwise. [Crosscut]

A Seattle University student reached a $2,800 settlement with Sound Transit after she was wrongly ejected from the Husky Stadium light rail station due to racial profiling. [Crosscut]

And the Tacoma News-Tribune plans to cut 67 jobs next year as it shuts down its printing press and outsources its printing operations instead. [Seattle Times]
Upcoming events this week
Tonight, 7:30 - 9:00 pm: Z-Sides: Poetry Tastemakers

12/13, 5:30 - 7:30 pm: Neighbours Alley Celebration

12/13, 6 - 9 pm: SAM Lights

12/14, 12 - 1:30 pm: Seattle CityClub 2018 Year in Review

12/15, 12 pm - midnight: Seattle SantaCon 2018

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