Amazon announced that they'll be expanding their presence in the New York and DC areas, a week after the news first leaked to the press...
In brief: Amazon announced that they'll be expanding their presence in the New York and DC areas, a week after the news first leaked to the press; the state Senate committed to move forward with an investigation of Candace Faber's public statement that state Senator Joe Fain raped her in 2007; the City Council approved a controversial new police union contract with SPD; and the City Council is set to pass its 2019-2020 budget this week.
A week after the news leaked prematurely, Amazon officially announced that they'll be dividing HQ2 into two smaller "headquarters" in New York City and northern Virginia. Each city will eventually house 25,000 Amazon employees in approximately 4 million square feet of new office space, roughly the same amount of office space by which Amazon already plans to grow its footprint in Seattle over the course of the next few years.
As Danny Westneat and many others pointed out, Amazon's choice of two of the highest-tax, most expensive, and most congested cities in the country for their mini-HQ2s put the lie to the idea that Seattle's business environment, cost of living, or transportation issues played any role in their decision to grow elsewhere. In the end the company's decision was all about access to talent, and Seattle remains one of the best cities in North America on that front.
As Crosscut's Josh Cohen put it, "it appears HQ2 is an expansion, not an exodus, from the Pacific Northwest." The company isn't going anywhere anytime soon...but just like other local companies that expanded out of state, we can expect them to use their newfound leverage on the east coast to exert increased political influence here.
The state Senate committed to move forward with an investigation of Candace Faber's claim that state Senator Joe Fain raped her in 2007. Democratic leaders had previously indicated that they might reconsider the decision if Fain lost his re-election campaign, which he did; he'll still be a member of the Senate until January, though, and the investigation is set to wrap up by the end of December.
The City Council approved the new contract with SPD's union that was negotiated by Mayor Durkan's office, despite significant push-back from the Community Police Commission, the ACLU, and dozens of other community groups.
Everyone agreed on the need to pay SPD officers more in order to make it easier for them to recruit new hires, but there were significant concerns from the community groups over several provisions that could make it easier for officers to avoid discipline and that supersede the City's earlier police reform legislation.
The contract will now need to be approved by the federal monitor in charge of the Department of Justice's consent decree against the department.
Meanwhile, in Olympia:
Three races in the state legislature appear to be headed for recounts and will be decided by tiny margins (currently just 90 votes in one case). As of Friday afternoon Democrats were leading in all three races; if those results hold, Democrats will come into next year's legislative session with margins of 28-21 in the state Senate and 57-41 in the state House.
Senate Democrats chose Andy Billig from the 3rd Legislative District in Spokane as their new Senate Majority Leader. He replaces Sharon Nelson from the 34th, who's retiring at the end of the year.
Three Republican state Senators announced plans to introduce legislation in next year's legislative session that would provide property-tax breaks to veterans and seniors, make it easier to build tiny homes on rural land, and adjust the state's Growth Management Act to make it easier to build affordable housing in urban areas.
And the NRA and the Second Amendment Foundation filed a lawsuit in an attempt to block I-1639's gun control measures from taking effect, echoing their unsuccessful lawsuit to prevent the initiative from going on the ballot to begin with. Meanwhile King County passed yet another gun control measure, this time requiring gun shops to post signs notifying customers of the public health risks of owning a gun.
The City Council hammered out most of the details of their 2019-2020 budget, which they expect to pass in its final form tomorrow.
Kevin Schofield at Seattle City Council Insight looked at the details in depth--as is usually the case, it's substantially the same budget that Mayor Durkan transmitted to the Council in September.
Real Estate Corner
Mike Rosenberg at The Seattle Times looked at the likely impact of the HQ2 announcements on the local real estate market. Short version: Amazon's plans to add at least the equivalent of another mini HQ2 in Seattle over the course of the coming years, combined with the fact that the housing markets in New York and DC aren't any cheaper than Seattle, mean that a) Seattle will continue to see a big influx of new Amazon workers and b) it's unlikely that a large number of the company's current Seattle-based employees will decide to move for cost-of-living reasons.
The City released a report showing that a legal challenge last year to the expansion of its Mandatory Housing Affordability rules citywide has already resulted in between 653 and 717 fewer units of affordable housing being built than would have been built otherwise.
And Sarah Anne Lloyd looked at what $1,100/month will rent you right now across 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.
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The number of hate crime in Seattle increased from 82 in 2015 to 118 in 2016 and 234 in 2017. [Crosscut]
Municipal income tax opponent Chris Rufo announced that he's ending his brief City Council campaign against incumbent Mike O'Brien because of online harassment. [KUOW]
Now that the midterms are over, Governor Jay Inslee is seriously considering whether or not to run for president in 2020. [Seattle Times]
Seattle's Urban Indian Health Institute released a study highlighting the inadequacies of data collection and reporting around the number of missing and murdered indigenous women in Seattle and around the country. [Seattle Met]
Alaska Airlines became the first airline to put tickets on sale for flights from Paine Field in Everett, with service starting on February 11th, 2019. [KIRO 7]
T-Mobile has reportedly reached an agreement with the Mariners for the naming rights to the stadium in which they play, which had been known as Safeco Field since it opened in 1999 until that company chose not to renew its 20-year naming rights agreement last year. [Seattle Times]
A state task force on orca recovery released several recommendations on how to protect the endangered orcas of Puget Sound, including removing several dams and temporarily halting all whale watching trips. [Seattle Times]
Several dead sea lions that washed up on the shore in West Seattle were found to have died from gunshot wounds, possibly as part of a vigilante attempt to protect Puget Sound's orca population (orcas and sea lions both feed on the same increasingly endangered salmon runs). [KING 5]
A group of rural business owners held a press conference to highlight the negative impacts on Washington's economy of President Trump's trade wars. [KIRO 7]
Sarah Anne Lloyd looked at some of the road connections that will need to be made after the tunnel opens for business early next year. [Curbed Seattle]
Seattle students participated in a Youth Empowerment Summit at Franklin High School as part of a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the founding of Seattle's Black Panther Party. [Seattle Globalist]
And the City plans to install a public toilet based on the successful Portland Loo model in Ballard next summer. [Curbed Seattle]