Urban Politics #25: Introducing My Staff


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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.

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CONTENTS:

  • Introducing My Staff
  • Spirits In Sports Facilities
  • Cedar River Logging
  • Meeting Branch Library Needs
  • Dsa The Hygiene Center

Introducing My Staff

Lisa Herbold and Newell Aldrich are my two full time Legislative Assistants. Lisa was my campaign manager and is a graduate of Syracuse University with a degree in Political Science and Journalism. She has been with the Tenants Union for the last 5 years. Newell is a graduate of the UW with a dual degree in Political Sci. and Spanish. He handled press relations during the campaign. Prior to the campaign he had been Co-Chair of the Ralph Nader Washington State Campaign for Democracy. Frank Video, a former member of the Seattle Arts Commission and an established artist, is coming on as a half-time Legislative Assistant in February. Frank also preceded me as President of the 911 Media Arts Center. He attended the University of Washington and majored in Communications Research.

Spirits In Sports Facilities

My Culture, Arts and Parks Committee will hold its first meeting this Wednesday at 2PM in the Council Chambers. The meeting will begin with two briefings. The first is on the Aquarium’s expansion plans. The second will cover the Park Dept’s ’98 work program. At approximately 2:45 we will have a discussion on the proposed change in the sale of hard liquor in all major sports facilities. The State Liquor Control Board has been requested to allow the sale of alcohol throughout these facilities, whereas in the past they have been limited to only certain areas. Sport facility operators have been quoted in the Seattle Times complaining that the current law leads to trying to calm angry customers who want to take their liquor back to their seats. Community representatives from the communities adjacent to the stadiums and arena, SODO (the area south of the still standing Kingdome), Pioneer Sq., the International District and lower Queen Anne, have been invited to talk to the committee. Paul Isaki, from the Responsible Alcohol Management Coalition (who thinks up these names?) representing the proponents of easier access to alcohol in the sports facilities, will also be speaking. This is not a public hearing so no testimony will be taken, but email and letters are welcome. Send them to Nick Licata, Seattle City Council, 600 4th Ave. 98104-1876 or nick.licata@seattle.gov

Cedar River Logging

Council members Richard Conlin, Peter Steinbrueck and I contacted the Seattle Public Utility (SPU) requesting that they include a “no-logging” alternative in the Draft EIS being done for the Cedar River Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). Previously it was not being considered as a separate scenario. We believed that it should be since the intent of SEPA (the State Environmental Policy Act) is to explore all reasonable alternatives. In addition, over 50% of the letters sent to SPU during the scoping period soliciting public comment requested a no-logging alternative be included. Last Friday, Diana Gale, the head of SPU, informed me that it would be included as a separate alternative and that a letter would come out this week confirming that decision. Peter Steinbrueck also received confirmation from the Mayor’s office. The Mayor’s office and SPU will also be contacting environmentalists this week to further explore the no-logging alternative as part of the HCP.

Meeting Branch Library Needs

The joint City Council/Library Board meeting last week revealed a discernible amount of uneasiness among at least some CM’s that the library board had not followed through on the Council’s August Resolution (#29616) asking that the library board show progress in some critical areas. One such area specifically mentioned was: “Further review of the proposed investment in neighborhood branch libraries to ensure that Seattle’s branch libraries will be expanded and improved to serve neighborhood needs long into the future… including participation of the existing neighborhood planning committees.” The Seattle Times seconded this critical issue in an editorial at that same time, when it said: “Before the matter (the library bond) bodes for a vote they must develop workable plans for bigger and better branches, with the help from the citizens who use those libraries.” Council member Richard Conlin, in a memo to other council members, may have hit the nail on the head when he said “It appeared… that the Library Board may not have given enough thought to the question of how to make choices about neighborhood libraries, as no decision criteria were cited and the response was simply that they were listening to what the neighborhood’s want.” The library board does have an extensive line up of neighborhood meetings set up, but they did not present any new branch plan to the council, even though upon my questioning they admitted that it has been changed. For instance, it now includes a branch in Northgate, an area that is significantly undeserved. But other areas also need to be addressed. Currently 75% of the books checked out, come from the branch libraries. According to Kent Kammerer, a former member of the citizen’s advisory committee for library facilities, the Northeast Branch does nearly half the business as the central library in one month with a fraction of the space. Doug Ancona, president of the Northeast District Council, makes a strong case for locating an additional library branch in Sandpoint given that the closest branch, the Northeast one, is the busiest in the city. A Sandpoint location would be on a major transit arterial, is accessible by bike from the Burke- Gilman trail, and has ample free parking without encumbering land acquisition costs that other branches face. And the buildings are already there! Given the huge amount of building space available and the adjacent park land, Sandpoint offers an unique location for a special children’s library collection. Branch library meeting rooms are also one of the few free places available for neighborhood groups to schedule events and meetings. Having an adjacent children’s reading room to a community meeting room makes it easier for working parents and single parents to bring their children with them to a community meeting. Their children get to study in a safe environment while the parent can be an active citizen. The 6 smallest branches are not scheduled to have meeting rooms, according to the last plan presented to the council. But one of these branches, the Beacon Hill branch, has the highest number of children users of any branch. Two of the other 6 smallest branches, Holly Park and High Point, are similarly in communities with a high portion of children. These branches could probably use meeting rooms more than any other branches. The library board is expected to present a new branch plan to the council by March 13th. I hope they present it to the various communities before then. Otherwise, the council will be in a position of having to approve a plan without the affected communities having an opportunity to review it first.

Dsa And The Hygiene Center

I recently received a call from Sharon Lee of LIHI (the Low Income Housing Institute) saying that she had just been informed that an expected $300,000 contribution from DSA (the Downtown Seattle Association) towards LIHI’s purchase of the Julie Apartments would only be in the amount of $100,000. The Julie Apartment building, instead of the Glen Hotel, was agreed upon by both LIHI and DSA as the site of a public hygiene center to meet the needs of the homeless in Seattle’s Downtown. LIHI must close on the Julie Apartment building by Feb. 6th. The shortfall in DSA’s expected contribution may endanger LIHI’s ability to acquire this building and hence could reopen the issue of where to site a downtown hygiene center. The question that immediately comes to mind is, “Did DSA actually commit to $300,000 for this project?” I’ve reviewed some articles, editorials and correspondence, to answer this question. Although I’m sure there are many more documents to review, and some may definitively answer the question, from what I’ve reviewed either DSA’s message or its interpretation has changed over the course of time. Towards the end of 1996, the Seattle Times wrote that “the DSA passed the hat among its members and collected $350,000 in a last-ditch effort to stop a planned hygiene center for the homeless in the Glen Hotel.” The same article also reported that while the collection of the funds was spurred on by the desire to stop the Glen Hotel from being used as a hygiene center, the money “would go toward funding two smaller, alternative sites…” A letter from the Mayor’s Office on 9/26/96 to LIHI again makes reference to funding two dispersed sites and a $350,000 private contribution: “There is a private sector commitment of $350,000 to assist with immediate and long-term funding needs at both sites for at least the next few years.” A letter from DSA’s Ex. Dir. to her own Board about a week later (10/4/96) references the same amount as a commitment to be raised for two sites. Now these documents seem to make it fairly clear that not all of the funds would go to just one site. However, the City Council on 11/12/97, passed by 7-0, its 1998 Statement of Legislative Intent for the 1998 Budget. It makes reference to a DSA letter “demonstrating a financial contribution of up to $300,000 to the (Hygiene Center at the Julie Apartments) project.” This does not match the reference to two sites in the DSA letter of 10/4/96. Is there another DSA letter which reflects the above statement? If there isn’t, there seems to have been a widely held belief that DSA did have a specific commitment to LIHI to acquire the Julie Apartments, as evidenced by a Seattle Times editorial of 11/12/97 which said: “The City Council, with $300,000 worth of help from the DSA, proposes ultimately to spend $6 million to acquire the Julie Apartments…” From what I’ve reviewed, over the course of less than a year, both the City Council and the Seattle Times had come to expect the DSA to make a contribution of $300,000 to just the Julie Apartments.

Keep in touch…

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