In brief: The Seattle region experienced a 4.6 magnitude earthquake early Friday morning; a King County Auditor's report revealed that King County Executive Dow Constantine failed to implement a 2018 county ordinance preventing county agencies from providing personal information to federal immigration officials; and the median home price in Seattle for June was flat month over month and down 3.9% year over year.
Sunday, July 7th - Saturday, July 13th, 2019
Image from The Seattle Times / Mark Nowlin
Last Week in Seattle
The earthquake:
King County vs. ICE:
  • A report from the King County Auditor's Office revealed that federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents continued to receive data from county employees and systems following the passage of a "sanctuary county" ordinance a year and a half ago, because county employees were never trained on how to enforce the ordinance.
  • Local Democratic elected officials held a press conference in front of the King County Administration Building Thursday at noon to object to the county's continued, if inadvertent, cooperation with ICE.  
  • The news came the same week that President Trump announced a series of ICE raids in 10 major cities (but not Seattle) for this weekend, leading Mayor Jenny Durkan to order all City departments to be prepared in case the agency decides to target Seattle residents as well.
  • Crosscut featured an anonymous op-ed by an undocumented immigrant parent talking about the impact that just the announcement of the sweeps has had on their life.
  • And Rich Smith looked at "How to Prepare for ICE Raids in Washington State."
The homelessness and housing affordability crisis:
  • Erica C. Barnett wrote a longform piece for Grist about the significant amount of illegal dumping by housed individuals and companies that appears to be happening at tent encampments around Seattle, which is exacerbating the number of no-notice removals of those encampments (since an excessive amount of trash is one of the criteria that allows the City's Navigation Team to waive its 72-hour notice rule for clearing encampments). 
  • Along those lines, she also profiled a new volunteer project by Facing Homelessness founder Rex Hohlbein to pre-emptively clean up trash at tent encampments in order to prevent them from being swept.
  • David Kroman & Josh Cohen at Crosscut looked at a piece of City Council legislation that would give workers at City-funded social service providers--many of whom are only a paycheck or two away fro homelessness themselves--automatic annual cost-of-living increases.
  • Same-day voter registration, which will go live in time for this year's August primary, could allow more people experiencing homelessness to be able to vote than has historically been the case. 
  • And Hanna Brooks Olsen wrote a Medium piece titled "What Happens When Homeless Folks Die in Seattle."
Election Watch 2019:
  • The Seattle Times put together a district-by-district election guide in which they asked each candidate running for City Council to answer the same set of questions and then published their answers.  
  • Melissa Santos at Crosscut looked at the arguments for and against holding our off-year primary elections in the middle of the summer.
  • Tim Burgess's People for Seattle PAC released its list of endorsements, as did the Washington Technology Industry Association, which "endorsed political candidates for the first time in its history" in order to weigh in on the Seattle City Council races. Unsurprisingly, both sets of new endorsements are completely identical to those of the Chamber's PAC, with the exception of District 7 (in which all three groups endorsed the same candidate, but Burgess and the Chamber made additional endorsements as well).
  • The Stranger's Lester Black put together a handy chart of the institutional endorsements thus far in the various City Council races.
  • The state Supreme Court ruled that Seattle's Democracy Vouchers aren't unconstitutional
  • In the 3rd Congressional District in southwest Washington, Democrat Carolyn Long announced that she'll be reprising her 2018 role by challenging incumbent Jaime Herrera Beutler again in 2020.
  • David Gutman at the Seattle Times profiled state Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz, who's been calling attention to the need for more firefighting resources across the state while also making it very clear that she wants to be our next governor if Jay Inslee decides not to run for re-election. 
  • The rollout of a new statewide voter registration and elections management system called VoteWA--which will help protect our election systems from cyberattacks and make same-day registration possible, among other things--has been going poorly so far according to election administrators in several counties. 
  • And The Stranger's Nathalie Graham looked at where you can go to register and vote in person at the same time this year all the way up to Election Day, thanks to a new same-day voter registration law passed by the state legislature.
Real Estate Corner
How's the market?
The Northwest MLS put out its monthly stats for June, and they showed that the median home price in Seattle proper for houses and townhomes was essentially flat month-over-month at $781k (vs. $784,925 in May), and down 3.9% from where it was in June of 2018. For context, the median home price in Seattle peaked at $830k in May of 2018 and then began dropping precipitously, bottoming out at around $711,500 in January of this year before starting to climb again, which it's been doing steadily ever since--since last year's correction ended in January, prices in Seattle have increased by 9.8%. The January low represented a drop of just under 14% from their peak last May, so we still have some ground to recover before we get back to $830k...but that $830k number was the result of the dramatically overheated market conditions that caused the correction in the first place, so the fact that we haven't gotten back to it quite yet is frankly a good thing in my opinion. We're still definitely in a seller's market, but it's a seller's market that's closer to being balanced than it has been since the end of the recession, with solid price growth but also enough inventory that there's a lot less pressure on buyers than there has been for most of the last 6 years.

Other news
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
Journalists at Crosscut and KCTS announced their intention to join a local union, which their management refused to voluntarily recognize (meaning it'll now go through an official NLRB vote); and employees at The Seattle Times are currently involved in their own union organizing effort around their contract negotiations. [KUOW,, Twitter]

There were four unrelated murders in Seattle last week (in Madison Park, Licton Springs, the U District, and Belltown), which is highly unusual--according to SPD's crime dashboard there were a total 19 homicides in Seattle in 2016, 27 in 2017, and 32 last year. [MyNorthwest]

A security company called released a report based on FBI data which showed that hate crimes in Washington state were up 78% between 2013 and 2017. [Seattle Times]

A report from the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs showed that crime overall was down 0.7% from 2017 to 2018, but "crimes against people, which include assault, murder, and rape" were up 4.3%. [KING 5]

Levi Pulkkinen looked at the dramatic rise of youth suicides in Washington state in the past 5 years, which is part of a broader national trend, and what some non-profits and lawmakers are trying to do about it. [Crosscut]

King County Executive Dow Constantine ordered an inquest into the fatal 2017 shooting of Charleena Lyles by Seattle police officers. [Seattle Times]

David Kroman obtained the results of a survey of 76 SPD officers commissioned by Mayor Durkan that found low morale and dissatisfaction within the ranks of the department. The survey was part of an effort to reverse a trend in which SPD has been losing officers even as it's trying unsuccessfully to grow the department with new hires. [Crosscut]

Amazon announced a plan to spend $700 million to "upskill" 100,000 of its employees to prepare them for various increasingly hard-to-fill jobs in the tech sector. [GeekWire]

Washington state is suing the Navy on two separate counts: for a massive expansion of jet training exercises on Whidbey Island and for "dumping [anti-barnacle] toxic paint into Puget Sound" at a shipyard near Bremerton. [Seattle Times, Crosscut]

Glenn Nelson looked at Renton as an example of "[a] model city for a majority nonwhite future." [Crosscut]

Seattle Public Schools passed its 2019-20 budget. [Seattle Times]

Mike Lindblom and Michelle Baruchman looked at the challenges of trying to build light rail faster than the timeline laid out in the Sound Transit 3 funding package. [Seattle Times]

And the rainy start to the summer has had one big advantage: it's "doing wonders for Washington's drought and wildfire situation." [KING 5]
Upcoming events this week
7/17, 11:30 am - 1:30 pm: Housing Voter Forum [Tech 4 Housing, Seattle University]

7/17, 7:30 pm: No Small Matter: A Documentary and Discussion of Childcare Access

7/17, 5:30 - 8:30 pm: Lid I-5 Community Open House

7/18, 6:00 - 7:30 pm: Segregated by Design: Film Screening & Discussion

7/19, 8:00 pm: Mueller Report Live: A 24-Hour Marathon Reading

7/19 - 7/21: Seafair Indian Days Powwow [United Indians of All Tribes Foundation]

7/19 - 7/21: Bite of Seattle

7/19 - 7/21: Capitol Hill Block Party

7/20 - 7/21: Renegade Craft Fair

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