Urban Politics #5: Call for Public Hearing Ordinance

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By City Councilmember Nick Licata.

Urban Politics (UP) blends my insights and information on current public policy developments and personal experiences with the intent of helping citizens shape Seattle’s future.


Call for Public Hearing Ordinance

This email is a short wrap-up on the Freeway Park Garage status and makes a positive suggestion on how such situations can be avoided in the past.

I believe that Charlie Chong’s election to City Council showed that voters wanted have more accountability from City Hall. When people hear of city assets like Brandner Park or the Freeway Park Garage being given away they naturally respond with confusion and anger when the resulting benefits are at best marginal.

I’ve proposed to Charlie Chong that the council hold public hearings in these situations. He suggested I draft an ordinance for consideration. So here it is. Please read it over and email your reponses to his office or me.

I’m also sending copies of it to Jane Noland, Martha Choe, Margaret Pageler, and Tina Podlodowski. These are the council members who took some time to thoughtfully respond to my suggestion that the city not transfer the $ 9 million Freeway Park Garage to the Convention Center for a $1 a year.

It’s apparent now that since the Mayor has signed the Memorandum of Agreement with Jim Ellis, President of the Board of the Convention Center, the council will not revoke this transfer. However, I think the council members are interested in having the public receive adequate notice the next time something like this happens, so they should be receptive to supporting this ordinance. Please email them your comments. Remember it takes 5 votes to pass an ordinance.

Thank you, Nick Licata

A Public Hearing Ordinance

An ordinance amending The Rules and Procedures of the Seattle City Council by adding to subsection A and adding a new subsection C “Public Hearings” to section VI Public Testimony.

Whereas, the City of Seattle must conform to Washington State’s requirements to hold public hearings on certain subjects; and

Whereas, there is currently no complete annotated list of subjects which the city is obligated to hold public hearings on; and

Whereas, it is in the public interest to allow adequate time for the general public to respond to city proposals to transfer public assets of significant value; and

Whereas, it is in the public interest to allow the public to address questions directly to city staff contributing to the formulation of such recommendations,

Be it ordained by the city of seattle as follows:

Section 1. The Rules and Procedures of the Seattle City Council and, if applicable pursuant to SMC 3.02.020, are amended in the following manner.

Section 2. Section VI “Public Testimony” subsection A is amended to add a new Section 6: “Persons testifying before the Committee of the Whole, standing committee, ad hoc committee or fact-find committee, may personally submit questions at the hearing to the appropriate city staff , and outside consultants if available, who have significantly contributed to the formulation of the proposed legislation, resolution or council actions being considered or discussed at a public hearing held by such body. The Chair of the meeting will determine the time allocated for responses to questions and may request that questions be submitted in writing before such meetings.”

Section 3. Section VI “Public Testimony” is amended to add subsection C, “Public Hearings”: “The Council must hold public hearings not less than 10 working days before voting on either the transfer or trade of public assets or the revenue streams from long term leases of such assets having a value of $1 million or more to another public body or private concern. Such hearings must be held in the evening and notice for them must appear in all the daily Seattle newspapers not less than 5 working days before such hearings are to be held. The notice must state the value of such a transfer and

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