Last Week in Seattle
Major changes are coming to the legal marijuana industry
  • The state House and Senate both passed--and Governor Inslee will almost certainly now sign--a bill that combines the recreational market and the medical market into one unified set of rules, similar to what Colorado did post-legalization.
  • Most of the city's 300 "green cross" dispensaries would be shut down, with medical patients shopping at specially licensed recreational stores instead; by signing up for a voluntary patient registry they would be able to purchase up to 3 ounces of marijuana at a time, as opposed to the recreational limit of 1 ounce and the current medical limit of 24 ounces. 
  • Allowed home grows would also be reduced from 15 plants per person to 4 plants per person (6 if you're on the registry).
  • There are separate proposals working their way through the legislature to substantially reduce the tax burden on recreational pot purchases, too.
  • If Inslee signs the bill into law as expected, the new rules will take effect in July. 
Shell's Polar Pioneer drilling rig entered Washington waters en route to Seattle
  • A small group of "kayaktivists," Greenpeace workers, and journalists were out in the Port Angeles harbor to meet it--click the headline link above for a first-hand account by The Strangers's Sydney Brownstone. 
  • The Polar Pioneer should reach Seattle sometime in late May or early April, with a second ship, the Noble Discoverer, due in mid-May. 
  • Local kayaktivists are training now to ensure that they'll be ready when it's time to paddle out and meet their destiny.
It was [un]officially Homelessness Funding Week at the City
  • First there was the release of the Human Services Department's (HSD's) Homelessness Investment Analysis, which provided an in-depth look at how the City currently spends and has historically spent money addressing the issue.
  • Then there was an announcement that Peace for the Streets by Kids from the Streets is receiving a $130,000 grant from HSD that will allow their LGBTQ-friendly winter shelter for homeless youth in the Central District to expand its capacity and operate year-round.
  • After that was $620,000 in "homeless diversion funding" for rapid re-housing of "non-chronically homeless single adults," especially veterans. 
  • And capping off the week was the announcement of a new 100-bed homeless shelter in a City-owned property (TBD), in partnership with the Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC).
It was a big week in Councilwatch 2015
  • James Keblas and Taso Lagos both suspended their campaigns.
  • 44 people applied for Sally Clark's now-vacant seat; the finalists will make their pitches to the Council at a special meeting at 4:00 this Friday the 24th, and the Council will formally appoint Clark's temporary successor at their full meeting next Monday the 27th.
  • With newcomer John Roderick raising $40,000 in mostly out-of-state money his first week, the fundraising race is really starting to heat up. Erica C. Barnett breaks down the numbers by district here.
  • Meanwhile Josh Feit, her erstwhile partner in local politics reporting at first The Stranger and then Publicola, broke the story that Kshama Sawant's campaign has been, as The Stranger's Heidi Groover put it, "avoid[ing] payroll taxes by paying consultants as contractors."
  • And, in a nice bit of symbiotic reporting, Erica's and Josh's separate pieces on Tuesday night's north Seattle candidate forum ended up dovetailing nicely together, for those of us who weren't able to make it.
Meanwhile, in Olympia
  • The most appropriate adjective to use to describe State Auditor Troy Kelley is no longer "embattled"; it's "indicted." Jim Brunner at the Seattle Times has an in-depth piece in today's paper looking at Kelley's career up until he was indicted by a federal grand jury last week for allegedly stealing millions of dollars and then lying under oath about it. 
  • John Stang at Crosscut previews what's in store for the legislature between now and July 1st, when the state government will partially shut down if the Republican-controlled Senate and the Democrat-controlled House can't agree on a final budget (hint: it's not looking good).
  • And ridesharing legislation to regulate Uber, Lyft, and similar companies statewide just passed out of the legislature and will now go to Governor Inslee for his signature. It focuses primarily on insurance requirements, and won't affect legislation already in place in Seattle and other municipalities in Washington.
Real Estate Corner
Image taken from Northwest Green Home Tour website
Gene Balk at the Seattle Times has a mostly human-interest piece about the manager of the El Capitan on Capitol Hill and his desire to keep the building affordable for current tenants and new tenants alike. He also crunches some numbers, though, and finds that rents in older Class C buildings have increased at half the rate of new Class A buildings (see here for an overview of multifamily classification codes). Short answer: if you want affordable rents, focus on buildings that have been around for awhile.

Any planner/developer/activist folks out there have a list of class B & C apartment buildings in the city they'd be willing to share with your fellow Civic Minute readers? If so, send it to me and I'll include it in a future edition.
If you need a real estate agent or you know someone who does, please let me know! I'd love to be able to help.
Be sure to mail in your ballot for the 4/28 special election! (Stranger cheat sheet here)

As expected, the Council approved 4 weeks of paid parental leave for City employees.

They're also considering increasing water rates over the course of the next two years.

Woodland Park's elephants are en route to OKC; Eric Scigliano reflects on their saga.

SDOT is rolling out smart parking meters 
that change rates by time of day citywide.

The Office of Arts & Culture is looking for a new Civic Poet for a two-year term.

SPU is going to be replacing a water main that was damaged during Bertha's rescue.

Mayor Murray and the Council are working to address the Somali remittance crisis.

Stay tuned for a City/County public safety initiative focused on downtown hotspots.

Seattle Central College President Paul Killpatrick is stepping down, effective June 25th.

On-again off-again interim HSD Director Catherine Lester got the job permanently.

What could make traffic on the east side even worse? 14,000,000 bees, it turns out.

A local CEO is increasing his 120-person company's minimum wage to $70k per year.
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Sol Villarreal
Broker, Windermere Real Estate
Sol's Civic Minute: What's happening in Seattle, in 60 seconds per week.
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