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Sunday, June 12th - Saturday, June 18th, 2022
In brief: This will be the last Civic Minute until after Labor Day; Seattle was announced as one of the cities that will host the 2026 World Cup; the federal government is set to approve vaccines for kids between 6 months and 5 years old in the coming days; mortgage interest rates rose above 6%, up from just over 3% at the start of the year; and Redfin and Compass each laid off around 10% of their employees in response to a sharp decrease in buyer activity and a cooling market.
Editor's note: I'll be on vacation from June 24th through September 5th, returning the day after Labor Day, so this will be the last Civic Minute until Sunday, September 11th.

If you need a real estate agent while I'm out, I can refer to you an excellent colleague of mine who will be covering for me over the summer. And if you're thinking of buying a place in 2023, I would strongly encourage you to consider starting your search right after Labor Day instead. The back half of this year is likely to be a good time to buy real estate in Seattle, and September is always the best month of the year for buyers as far as the ratio of buyers to listings is concerned (which is why I time my vacation around it every year). 

Thanks for being a Civic Minute reader, and enjoy your summer!
COVID News
The FDA signed off on vaccines for kids between 6 months and 5 years on Friday, and the CDC is widely expected to do the same in the coming days, with local healthcare providers and vaccine clinics prepared to start administering the vaccines as soon as they're approved. [KING 5]

There were 1,546 outbreaks in K-12 schools across the state during the 2021-22 school year, tied to around 11,000 individual cases. 58% of all elementary schools in the state, along with 22% of middle schools and 29% of high schools, experienced at least one outbreak. [Seattle Times]

Washington state currently has plenty of supply for several types of antiviral COVID treatments for high-risk folks who test positive, including Paxlovid, which is 89% effective at preventing hospitalization and death; but the general public and many primary care providers often don't realize that they're an option. [Seattle Times]
Public Safety
SPD's average response time citywide is currently just over 10 minutes due to ongoing staffing shortages (which, contrary to the popular local narrative, is part of a nationwide trend of police staffing shortages, in addition to staffing shortages in many other public- and private-sector professions), up from 9 minutes and 15 seconds in 2021 and just under 8 minutes and 30 seconds in 2020. [MyNorthwest]

The King County Auditor's Office released a report based on data from 2019 - 2021 showing racial disparities in use of force by the King County Sheriff's Office during that time, with differences showing up both based on the race of the people being arrested and the race of the officers arresting them. [Seattle Times, Publicola, KING 5]

Councilmember Lisa Herbold proposed legislation to create a formal process the City would use to investigate complaints about police chiefs, after it came to light that Mayor Durkan simply declined to refer three complaints about former Chief Best to outside investigators as requested by the Office of Police Accountability. [The Stranger, MyNorthwest, Seattle Times]
Homelessness
Seattle is poised to see a record number of homeless deaths this year, due in large part to the fentanyl epidemic, the continuing negative health impacts of the pandemic, and an increase in encampment removals. [Seattle Times

The amount of money that the City spends funding the construction of affordable housing units nearly doubled last year thanks to tens of millions of dollars apiece from the Mandatory Housing Affordability upzone fees charged to developers and the JumpStart payroll tax on high-earners...but the 1,910 affordable units that were funded last year are still just a drop in the bucket in terms of what we need. [Crosscut]

And in some good news for Real Change's "Social Housing" ballot measure (think fully government-run affordable housing a la Singapore), the Low Income Housing Institute--a local non-profit housing developer who also runs the City's sanctioned tiny home villages--endorsed the measure at the 11th hour and announced that they'll canvass their buildings to get signatures for it. [The Stranger]
Election Watch 2022
With the August 2nd primary fast approaching and ballots going out in the mail starting on July 13th, if you're not already registered to vote at your current address, take a few minutes to do that now

Your November ballot will include an initiative to adopt "approval voting" for Seattle races (like ranked-choice voting, but instead of ranking candidates 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc, you can just vote for as many candidates as you want in a given race, and whoever gets the most votes wins), and it'll probably also include a proposal from the King County Council to shift county races--but not city-specific races--to even-numbered years when voter turnout is dramatically higher. 

Hannah Krieg looked at the candidates for the wide-open race to be the next state Representative for the 36th legislative district. [The Stranger]
Meanwhile, in Olympia
After Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler fired a whistleblower who complained in February about his bullying behavior and use of racially offensive language, Governor Inslee and a bipartisan group of state Senate leaders called on him to resign, which he said he has no plans to do. [KNKX, KING 5]

The Olympia office of Republican state Representative Andy Barkis was vandalized by masked men Monday morning, who were also caught on camera 20 minutes later breaking into a nearby antiques store. [MyNorthwest]

And an appeals court upheld an earlier verdict holding Seattle Tunneling Partners (as opposed to Washington State) responsible for more than $300 million in cost overruns on the Highway 99 tunnel. [Seattle Times]
Real Estate Corner
Interest rates rose above 6% last week, to the highest levels they've been since sometime in 2008. [Mortgage News Daily]

Two publicly traded real estate brokerages, Redfin and Compass, each announced that they'll be laying off around 10% of their employees in the midst of declining buyer demand. [Seattle Times, CNBC]

And Bloomberg reported on Amazon's recent policy shift towards buying the land that its next generation of fulfillment centers will be built on instead of leasing warehouse space--a decision that exposes them to additional risk with the current downturn in consumer spending. [Seattle Times/Bloomberg]
Other News
Lumen Field was announced as one of 11 stadiums across the country that will host the 2026 World Cup. [KING 5, KNKX]

The City of Seattle and King County will together allocate $7.4 million to give local childcare workers bonuses of around $800 apiece. [KING 5, KNKXThe Stranger]

The City is forcing a handful of retirees who received overpayments of their monthly pensions for years due to an error on the City's part to repay the extra money in full. [Seattle Times]

A former Amazon employee was found guilty of a 2019 hack that compromised the data of over 100 million Capital One customers, in addition to dozens of other companies. [GeekWire]

Around 45 Seattle Pacific University graduates handed the university's president pride flags instead of shaking his hand when they got their diplomas, in protest of the school's policy that prevents it from employing LGBTQ+ staff members. [KING 5, Seattle Times]

An analysis by the Seattle Department of Transportation of five years of traffic data from 2015 to 2019 found that 17% of all traffic fatalities in the city happened on Aurora Ave N, and that pedestrians accounted for half of all traffic fatalities in the city despite being involved in only 5% of the collisions. [MyNorthwest]

A Black Lives Matter protester who was critically injured during a protest on I-5 in July of 2020 filed a lawsuit against the state, the city, and the driver who hit them. [Seattle Times, KING 5]

An 18-year-old Kirkland high school student was charged with felony harassment and held on $200,000 bail after he made school shooting threats on Instagram. [KING 5, Q13 FOX]

And this year's cherry crop from around the Northwest is on track to be the smallest since 2013 thanks to the unusually cold and wet spring we've just had. [Crosscut]
Ending on a high note
Here's a video of a giant waterfall rainbow at Yosemite Falls. 

And here's a night-vision video of a coyote waiting for his little badger friend before they cross through a culvert together. 

Sol Villarreal
Broker, Windermere Real Estate
sol@windermere.com
solvillarreal.com
206-765-6108
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