In brief: The state Supreme Court found that the way in which our death penalty has been implemented is unconstitutional due to racial bias; The Stranger released their influential endorsements for the November 6th general election; rents have plateaued thanks to the massive number of new construction apartments that have been completed recently; and it turns out that Snopes is run out of a guy's house in Tacoma.
Sunday, October 7th - Saturday, October 13th, 2018
Image The Seattle Times (AP / Rachel LaCorte)
Last Week in Seattle
Death penalty:
  • The state Supreme Court ruled that, as Josh Kelety at Seattle Weekly put it, "while the death penalty itself isn't unconstitutional, its usage is unconstitutional because it is 'imposed in an arbitrary and racially biased manner.'" 
  • The ruling effectively ended the death penalty in Washington state and removed 8 men from death row.
  • The court's decision was based in large part on a UW study titled "The role of race in Washington state capital sentencing," which found that, in the words of the report's authors, Katherine Beckett and Heather Evans, "the evidence is clear and compelling that black defendants are far more likely to be sentenced to death than other similarly situated defendants in Washington's capital cases."
  • Danny Westneat at The Seattle Times talked to Beckett in the wake of the decision.
  • The state legislature could theoretically create a new version of the death penalty that would avoid the constitutional pitfalls of the current one, but it's unlikely that the political will exists to do so.   
  • King County Executive Dow Constantine announced plans to convert the unused west wing of the county jail downtown into a homeless shelter for 125-150 people. 
  • Erica C. Barnett looked at the prospects for homelessness funding in the City budget as it winds its way through the City Council. 
  • The City released their performance metrics for homelessness funding in the first 6 months of 2018, which included 35% more households exiting services into permanent housing than the same period in 2017.
Election Watch:
  • The Stranger released their influential endorsements for the November 6th general election (cheat sheet here), and the Seattle Transit Blog released their legislative endorsements for state legislative races. 
  • An Elway poll in the 8th Congressional District showed Republican Dino Rossi opening up a 10-point lead over Democrat Kim Schrier following the Kavanaugh hearings, while a New York Times poll in the same race showed that it's still a toss-up.
  • The same Elway poll found I-1631 and its carbon fee leading with 50% support (vs. 34% opposition and 14% undecideds), and the beverage-industry-financed campaign to outlaw sugary beverage taxes in cities other than Seattle (I-1634) going down by similar margins, with 51% opposed, 31% in support, and 18% undecided. The latter is in spite of the fact that the beverage industry and other backers have spent a combined total of $13 million in support of the initiative, whereas its opponents have only raised $8,650.
  • Bill Gates and the Seattle City Council came out in favor of I-1631's carbon tax, and the Seattle Chamber of Commerce came down on the side of the beverage industry in favor of I-1634's ban on taxing sugary drinks.
  • Ryan Blethen at The Seattle Times looked at I-1639's gun regulations, which would be among the most restrictive in the country if it passes.
  • The Seattle Times did a breakdown of how much the Families, Education, Preschool and Promise Levy will cost, and where the money will go; the City released a positive progress report on its preschool program (which will receive significantly more funding if the new levy passes); and education blogger Melissa Westbrook announced that she plans to vote against the levy (see also an additional post by her on the subject here).
  • KUOW looked at why voting can be dangerous for domestic violence survivors
  • Erica C. Barnett previewed the 2019 City Council strategy of the group that opposed the head tax earlier this year. 
Real Estate Corner
Due in large part to the huge number of new construction apartment buildings that have been finished recently, rents in Seattle only increased by 1.1% in the third quarter of 2018 compared to the third quarter of 2017.

Mike Rosenberg at The Seattle Times found that unlike home prices, rents didn't really go down even in the a plateau in rent prices like the one we're currently experiencing is likely a best-case scenario over the long run. 

Thanks in large part to the number of microhousing units that have been built in the last 8 years and the number of larger studios contained in all of those new apartment buidlings, 1 in 10 homes in Seattle is now a studio apartment

The Gridiron condo building in Pioneer Square released 12 income-restricted units for purchase. 

And the Puget Sound Business Journal looked at the buyers and sellers behind the 25 most expensive home sales in the state between September of last year and September of this year. 
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
The Washington Department of Transportation selected a contractor for the next phase of work on SR-520 in Montlake. [Seattle Times]

Bicycling Magazine named Seattle the best bike city in America...but not everyone in Seattle agrees. [The Stranger]

Kevin Schofield dug into the expenditures in Mayor Durkan's proposed 2019-20 budget in great depth. [Seattle City Council Insight]

A group of local earthquake scientists and "preparedness experts" did an Ask Me Anything to answer questions about The Big One and disaster preparedness. [Reddit]

Natalie Bicknell looked at Dow Constantine's county budget for 2019-20, and some of the challenges it faces in the coming decades. [The Urbanist]

KNKX, the public radio station formerly known as KPLU until it crowdfunded the money to buy itself from Pacific Lutheran University, is now moving from PLU campus to a new home in Tacoma. [Seattle P-I]

Seattle Hockey Partners released design photos of their forthcoming practice facility in Northgate. [My Northwest]

A natural gas pipeline explosion in Canada temporarily impacted customers of Puget Sound Energy, including disrupting garbage pickup services for Waste Management's fleet of natural-gas-powered trucks. [Seattle Times]

Meghana Kakubal told the story of a teenage refugee from Myanmar and his journey from his home country to Mercer Island. [KUOW]

Erik Lacitis interviewed the founder of, who now runs the fact-checking website from his house in Tacoma after moving there from California last year. [Seattle Times]

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal proposed a state capital gains tax to fund K-12 public schools. [KING 5]

Students at the UW created a website to allow people to anonymously name men who they say have raped or sexually assaulted them. [KING 5]

And Uber threw its support behind a congestion pricing plan in Seattle that's being studied now (they see it as a better alternative to limiting the number of drivers that they can have on the road). [Curbed Seattle]
Events this week
10/15, 7:00 - 8:30 pm: NE Regional Town Hall [SPS Superintendent Denise Juneau]

10/17, 7 - 8:00 pm: 8th Congressional District debate [WA Debate Coalition]

10/18, 7:30 pm: Poverty and Prosperity in King County

10/19 - 10/21: KINOFEST Seattle [German film festival]

10/19 - 10/21: Seattle Home Show

10/19 - 10/28: Seattle Polish Film Festival

10/21: March for Our Lives: Glimmer of Hope

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