In brief: The state legislative session ended on time following the last-minute passage of a new two-year budget; the results of January's one-night count of people experiencing homelessness showed a decrease for the first time since 2012; Mayor Durkan announced new public safety "emphasis patrols"; the names of the victims of the crane collapse were released; and the legislature passed new laws concerning condo construction and real estate excise tax for home sellers. 
Sunday, April 28th - Saturday, May 4th, 2019
Image from The Seattle Times / Rachel LaCorte (AP)
Last Week in Seattle
Homelessness and housing affordability:
  • The results of January's one-night count of people experiencing homelessness across King County were released, and they showed an 8% decrease from 2018, the first time there's been a year-over-year decrease since 2012 (and as a subset of the data, the percentage of people living unsheltered was down 17% from 2018). The one-night count still found 11,199 people experiencing homelessness of one kind or another, though. 
  • King County is planning to open a 100-bed homeless shelter in a building on the Harborview campus that's been vacant since 2011. 
  • And the City hired three new contractors through the end of the year to do outreach work to people experiencing homelessness in First Hill, Capitol Hill, and the International District. 
South Lake Union crane collapse:
  • The four victims of the crane collapse at Mercer & Fairview last Sunday were identified publicly: Sarah Wong, a Seattle Pacific University student; Travis Corbet and Andrew Yoder, two ironworkers who were working on the site; and Alan Justad, a former City employee who retired in 2014. 
  • State regulators opened an investigation into multiple companies that were involved with the crane dismantling operation that caused the collapse, and KUOW reported that it appears to have been caused by human error.
Election Watch 2019:
  • Seattle Met looked at the rise of a Seattle version of the Green New Deal among some of the current crop of City Council candidates. 
  • Capitol Hill Seattle reported from a District 3 candidate forum hosted by the King County Young Democrats. 
  • Daniel Beekman at The Seattle Times interviewed newly appointed interim City Councilmember Abel Pacheco
  • KUOW's Amy Radil looked at the state of the Democracy Voucher money race in this year's City Council races (and meanwhile, presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand unveiled a plan for a national version of Seattle's Democracy Voucher program). 
  • Washington governor and long-shot presidential hopeful Jay Inslee criticized fellow candidate Beto O'Rourke for copying a phrase Inslee has used over and over again to describe the threat of climate change...which Inslee himself had copied from former Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn ("We're the first generation to feel the effects of climate change, and that last generation who can do something about it"). 
  • And Seattle's voter turnout in last year's midterm elections was the third-highest of any major American city at 65%.
Meanwhile, in Olympia:
  • The state legislature passed a new two-year budget minutes before the midnight deadline last Sunday night, closing out the 2019 legislative session without the need for an extension. 
  • A proposal for a state capital gains tax failed to pass, but the budget did include several other tax increases, including a new graduated rate of real estate excise tax (the tax paid by the sellers in real estate transactions) with a higher rate for homes over $1.5 million, higher B&O tax rates on the state's largest tech companies, and a new B&O tax on the largest banks in the state. 
  • The legislature adjusted its previous cap on the amount that local school districts can raise through local property tax levies and increased funding for special education, albeit not by as much as districts say that they need. 
  • They also unexpectedly passed I-1000 instead of sending it to the ballot, overturning the state's 1998 ban on affirmative action. Opponents of the measure immediately filed a referendum to put it on the November ballot anyway.
  • Among the other bills that passed over the course of the session were a significantly larger Housing Trust Fund, which pays for affordable housing across the state; legalized human compostingsidewalk delivery robots; updates to the state's rules around new condo construction that are designed to spur more of it; and a number of bills related to education, transportation, health care, and gun control
  • The Stranger's Jasmyne Keimig interviewed freshman state Senator Emily Randall, the first openly queer woman elected to the state Senate, about her first session in Olympia. 
Real Estate Corner
According to the most recent Case-Shiller index data, between February of 2018 and February of this year the median home price for the three-county Seattle region (Pierce, King, and Snohomish counties) increased 2.8%, vs. a national average of 4%. Case-Shiller divides the home sales into price points of under $385k, $385k-$600k, and above $600k; prices in the top tier were down slightly from February of 2018 to February of this year, whereas prices in the lower tier were up 8% in that same period.

Amazon expanded its Bellevue footprint further with the lease of two upcoming office towers. 

Danny Westneat talked to several Seattle homeowners who are continuously deluged by offers from developers to buy their homes. 

A Crosscut/Elway poll found that 68-69% of Seattleites think our city is a good place to live, although more longtime residents than relatively new arrivals think that it's getting worse. 

The Puget Sound Business Journal reported that local man Jeff Bezos was the mystery buyer of a $45 million estate in 2010, with information about both the identity of the buyer and the sale price having been previously unreported. The revelation means that what was previously believed to have been the most expensive home sale in the region's history, a $37.5 million mansion that closed last month, no longer holds that title. 

Sarah Anne Lloyd at Curbed Seattle, meanwhile, looked at what $1,300/month will rent you in Seattle today.
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
According to the Anti-Defamation League, there were 32 anti-semitic attacks in Washington state in 2018 vs. 20 in 2017, an increase of 60%. [Crosscut]

Mayor Durkan announced a temporary series of public safety "emphasis patrols" in an attempt to beef up enforcement of low-level crimes in several downtown neighborhoods plus Georgetown, South Park, Fremont, and Ballard. [Seattle Times]

"Barefoot Bandit" Colton Harris-Moore asked for an early end to his federal probation to start taking gigs as a motivational speaker. [Seattle Times]

Lillly Fowler looked at what King County's ban on ICE flights at Boeing Field will mean, and whether they could simply shift north to Paine Field instead. [Crosscut]

Judy Furlong looked at Duwamish tribal chair Cecile Hansen and her decades-long fight to get federal recognition for her tribe. [South Seattle Emerald]

The City Council passed a law requiring bars, restaurants, and other public places to turn on closed captioning on their TVs by default. [Seattle Times]

Mike Carter wrote a feature story about how a King County sheriff deputy's sting gone wrong led to the death of an innocent teenager in Des Moines in 2017. [Seattle Times]

May Day and its annual celebration of workers' rights happened with no violent incidents or property damage, marked primarily by a peaceful annual immigrants' rights march. [Seattle Times]

Neighborhood activist Patrick Jones, the "Mayor of Melrose" and a tireless advocate for more off-leash dog parks across the city, passed away peacefully in his sleep at the age of 60. [Capitol Hill Seattle]

Jon Talton looked at the diversity and strength of the Seattle region's economy, which goes far beyond big tech companies and Boeing. [Seattle Times]

An SPD report filed as part of the City's ongoing consent decree with the federal government revealed that, as David Kroman put it, "People of color are more likely to be searched by a Seattle police officer, but less likely to have a weapon. And officers pointed their guns less often at white people." [Crosscut]

Lilly Fowler looked at the progress of a lawsuit against the Trump administration by a woman who was forcibly separated from her son after seeking asylum in the U.S. last summer. [Crosscut]

In an attempt to smooth the transition to tolling the new waterfront tunnel sometime this summer, WSDOT is waiving the $5 cost to purchase a Good to Go sticker for your car (although you'll still need to load it with at least $30 to get started). [MyNorthwest]

And after "the driest start to the year in over a decade," forecasts are calling for another busy wildfire season this summer all along the west coast. [KING 5, KING 5]
Upcoming events this week
5/7, 7:00 pm: Become America book launch with Eric Liu

5/7, 7:30 pm: Rooted in Rights Film Festival [Town Hall Seattle and Disability Rights WA]

5/9, 7 - 9 pm: Anti Racism on Tap [European Dissent]

5/9, 7:30 pm: UW Science Now

5/12: Seattle Mother's Day brunch [OpenTable]

Sol Villarreal
Broker, Windermere Real Estate
Sol's Civic Minute: What's happening in Seattle, in 60 seconds per week.
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Seattle, WA 98109
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