Urban Politics #45: Error In Numbering Urban Politics

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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.



  • Error In Numbering Urban Politics
  • Public Hearing On Pacific Place Garage
  • Public Hearing On Right Of First Refusal
  • The Olympics Coming To Seattle?
  • Dogs And Parks
    Error In Numbering Urban PoliticsDue to a faulty memory, mine not the computer’s, there were two number 42 Urban Politics. Consequently this issue is number 45. All of the past Urban Politics can be found in correct sequence at my web site: http://www.seattle.gov/leg/licata/up00dex.htmPublic Hearing On Pacific Place Garage

    The Finance and Budget Committee of the Seattle City Council will hold a public hearing on Monday, September 14, 1998 at 5:30 p.m. in Council chambers to provide information to the public and receive public comment on the financing of the parking garage at Pacific Place in downtown Seattle. The Committee expects to have available at the hearing a draft of the proposed ordinance that would authorize debt not to exceed $74.5 million to finance the transfer of the garage and associated property interests to the City, the costs of carrying out the financing, and other City purposes.

    For those wishing to testify at the hearing, a sign-up sheet will be available outside the door to the Council Chamber at 5:00 p.m. Speakers will be given three minutes to address the Committee. Written comments will be accepted through September 14, 1998.

    Comments may also be faxed to (206) 386-9018 or e-mailed to sung.yang@seattle.gov

    The Olympics Coming To Seattle?

    The Olympic Games for the year 2012 may seem far off, but the City Council is being asked to start the marathon run towards it within the next 30 days. The non-government body, The Seattle Bid Committee, must receive an endorsement from the City Council to submit their bid to the USOC (U.S. Organizing Committee) for the International Olympics.

    King County Executive Ron Sims and Seattle Mayor Paul Schell are the honorary co-chairs of the Bid Committee. Kathy Scanlan, who ran the Seattle Goodwill Games in 1990, is in charge of the operations.

    The resolution as described by the City’s Office of International Relations “will begin what will be a long, two-year public process leading to a (State) public vote in November 2000 and that the Bid Committee would be asked to come back to the Council in 1999 when they began to negotiate with the City on possible use of venues.”

    In addition, other city staff have provided the following information:

    1) All the cities bidding for the 2012 games have tried to get out of the requirement that they guarantee any liability or leftover costs of the bid committee and the USOC; the USOC has rejected this in all cases.

    2) Unless the resolution is worded carefully, the Seattle Bid Committee could later sue the city. It would need to say that a) the city is getting a release from the SBC on claims & expenses, and b) that it doesn’t commit the city to moving forward.

    3) There may be some contention over the use of the name “Olympics” by businesses; by provision in Federal Law, which the USOC refuses to waive, says that any business using “Olympics” in its name could be liable for trademark infringement, unless adopted prior to 1952. There are 3 pages of businesses i n the Gra y Pages that could be liable. The bid committee has asked for a waver on this, and it has been rejected.

    This week Alex Steffen, President of Allied Arts, sent an email to City Council Members stating that ” the City Council should not vote on this resolution without first creating a serious and meaningful public process, including a public hearing before the vote.”

    Council President Sue Donaldson has announced that there will be a public hearing on September 28th with a City Council vote to be taken on the following Monday, October 5th. at 5:00pm in the Council Chambers.

    Before that date Allied Arts is holding a forum on The Olympics at the Two Bells Tavern ( 2313 4th Ave. in Bell Town) on Monday, the 14th at 7PM.

    Steffen noted that by passing this resolution the Council will be expressing its initial support for the Olympics bid itself. Consequently, he suggested that Council Members investigate the following areas:

    What financial risks is the City undertaking by agreeing to seek the Olympics, and are these risks wise?

    What level of public funding will be involved in becoming a host city, and what are the opportunity costs of using our scarce budget resources to host the games?

    If the games are to be viewed in part as an economic development mechanism, who will benefit from them?

    This is a truly massive series of events: what kinds of disruptions in the lives of residents will the games cause?

    Are the Olympics worth it?

    Public Hearing On Right Of First Refusal

    On Thursday, September 17th, at 6:00 p.m. the Housing, Human Services, and Civil Rights Committee will hold a meeting to be followed by a public hearing on “Right to Purchase Legislation” at 7:00 p.m. in the City Council Chambers.

    A public hearing regarding proposed legislation that would give tenants, non-profits and others a “right to purchase” certain rental housing properties will begin at 7:00 p.m. Call Lisa Witter or Andy Grow in Steinbrueck’s office for more information at 684-8804, or e-mail to lisa.witter@seattle.gov.

    Dogs And Parks

    Former Seattle Mayor Charles Royer recently told me a story. He was visiting with the Mayor of a small town in the Midwest that in the past three years had witnessed a major flood which submerged half the town and a tornado which blew away the other half.

    Royer asked the Mayor, “Considering how much your town has been through, as a public official what has been your most difficult issue to solve?” The Mayor, without missing a beat said, “Dogs.”

    Mother Nature can rip up trees and float away homes, but an Off Leash Area for dogs twists and pulls at the social fabric of a neighborhood in a way that Mother Nature never touches.

    There are two permanent OLAs in the city right now and one “pilot site” located at Volunteer Park.. The “discussion” has begun as to whether this site will remain or be removed.

    Last year, before I was on board, the City Council passed Resolution 29628 which established the Volunteer Park Off Leash Area (OLA) as a pilot site. The pilot status of this site by ordinance “extended until October 25, 1998, or until another site on Capitol Hill is secured and opened.” The resolution requires that the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) submit “at least three alternative sites (one of which may include rotation of the Volunteer Park area) to Council for consideration as a replacement for the Volunteer Park site.”

    The Parks Department, after consulting with me and Citizens for Off Leash Areas (COLA), decided to remove the GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) site from the list of possible replacement sites. The “Triangle House” site at 1500 Lakeview Boulevard East has also been removed from the list of possible replacement sites.

    The remaining sites under consideration are: — “The Ramps to Nowhere,” or State Road 520 — Under the I-5 Freeway, between E. Blaine and E. Garfield along Lakeview Boulevard — Volunteer Park in rotation with one of the above sites

    In the upcoming weeks the Parks Board will be making a recommendation to Parks Superintendent Ken Bounds who will then make a final recommendation to the City Council. The City Council will hold a public hearing before making a final decision, one that will not be made lightly. There are strong emotions on all sides.

    Last summer when running for City Council I said I would support OLAs, preferably outside of parks, but when necessary within them. I also said that an OLA must be fenced properly and rotated so that no one area bears the brunt of overuse.

    How well I know that this position is not supported by everyone. But that’s what I said then and that is still what I believe to be the fairest approach to the use of our limited urban park land.

    Let me share with you why I’ve come to this conclusion.

    I believe that parks should be open to everyone, those who have children as well as those who have dogs. It is obvious that OLAs have a significant impact on the land. It’s an impact that necessitates a commitment by the City to maintain those sites with sturdy ground covering and aesthetically acceptable fencing – preferably cedar and not steel.

    As a city-wide community, we should recognize that dog owners have a right to use public parks and a responsibility to use them properly. Dogs outside OLAs should be on a leash. Dog owners who fail to leash their pets outside of OLAs should be fined. As I see it, that is part of the deal when we have OLAs in parks.

    Should the Capitol Hill OLA continue in Volunteer Park? Well, I’ve lived on Capitol Hill for more than 20 years and have walked or jogged through Volunteer Park at least twice a week for each of those years. I love this park and I have spent many hours in the area of the present OLA. To be honest, I don’t spend time in the OLA now and I admit that I don’t think it looks very pretty. But there is no disputing the fact that there are more people using that portion of the park than ever before.

    I don’t know if the OLA will remain in Volunteer Park. I wish that there was an alternative site that offered an equally large, accessible space on Capitol Hill. But, that may not be possible. If that is the case, a rotation of the Volunteer Park site, limiting the intensive use of the site and allowing for some restoration, may be the best option. If it is our best option, then I’m willing to live with something that, although I personally may not spend time appreciating, still brings enjoyment to the lives of others.

    Keep in touch…



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