Seattle City Council | KUOW News and Information

Seattle City Council

An example of a 400 square foot backyard cottage.
KUOW Photo/paintchipdiaries (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/CXL53

Backyard cottages and mother-in-law units are back on the city of Seattle's priority list — and they will be for at least the next year. City officials want to make it easier for people to build them in order to add to the housing stock.

Crosscut reporter David Kroman.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

Bill Radke speaks with Crosscut city reporter David Kroman about the recent move by the City Council to equip Seattle's officers with body cameras by the end of 2017. Kroman says that multiple groups are concerned about privacy issues, decreased accountability for officers, and the possibility that footage could be used to identify undocumented immigrants. 

Housing in the Yesler Terrace area.
KUOW Photo/Dominic Black

Just over half the households in Seattle are renters. And they may soon get a formal voice at City Hall.

Legislation to be introduced to the City Council this week would create a 15-member commission to advise on issues of development and affordability and represent tenant rights.

Apartment buildings in the University District, Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

Seattle lawmakers are on the verge of rezoning each neighborhood to be denser, taller versions of what they are now. 

The Seattle City Council is scheduled to start the process Tuesday with a vote to rezone the University District. It’s part of what city leaders call HALA (Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda), the city’s response to Seattle's affordable housing crisis.


M. Lorena González
KUOW Photo/Meghan Walker

New moms and dads who work for the city of Seattle will now be allowed 12 weeks of paid leave. The City Council unanimously adopted a new parental leave policy Monday with the support of Mayor Ed Murray.

Supporters say expanding the paid parental leave law is a step toward closing the gender pay-gap.


Where will Seattle put its $3 billion?

Feb 8, 2017

Bill Radke talks to Seattle Weekly reporter Sara Bernard about the Seattle City Council's decision to divest $3 billion from Wells Fargo for their connection to the Dakota Access pipeline and questionable business practices. Bernard explains why the council is focused on placing their money with a bank that they feel is more ethical and how hard that may actually be. 

Paul Wagner, center, of the Saanich Nation on Vancouver Island, takes part in a protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline and the City of Seattle's use of Wells Fargo Bank, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017, at City Hall in Seattle.
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

UPDATE 2/7/2017, 4:30 p.m.

The Seattle City Council unanimously voted Tuesday afternoon to cut ties with banking giant Wells Fargo over its role as a lender to the Dakota Access Pipeline project, as well as other business practices.


Wells Fargo
Flickr Photo/Mike Mozart (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/okhmqR

Seattle lawmakers will take a final vote Tuesday on whether to stop banking with Wells Fargo over ethical concerns. The ordinance already received support from eight out of nine City Council members at the committee level.

Wells Fargo's days as the city of Seattle's bank may be numbered.

The city council's finance committee has voted to disqualify Wells Fargo from doing business with the city. They cite ethical and environmental reasons.

File photo of Uber driver near the San Francisco International Airport.
AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

The global ride-hailing company Uber is suing the city of Seattle. Uber is challenging new city rules that allow for-hire drivers to unionize.

After 36 people died in an Oakland, California warehouse fire in December, artists in Seattle want to prevent that kind of tragedy here. To do so, they are asking city officials for help.

This month Seattle lawmakers will start taking steps to rezone the University District. In a sign that City Council members want to get it right the first time, they plan to amend their proposal even before they introduce it.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announces more resources for immigrant families in the city's public schools.
KUOW photo/Liz Jones

The City of Seattle plans to boost counseling resources in public schools for immigrant and refugee students, particularly those who are undocumented or Muslim.

'Week in Review' panel Dan Savage, Chris Vance, Bill Radke and Joni Balter.
KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

Washington state's presidential electors meet to pick a president at noon on Monday, and in an effort to derail President-elect Donald Trump, two of them say they won't be casting their votes for Hillary Clinton even though that's who state voters chose.

Also, some of Seattle's big names in tech are meeting with Trump, including Amazon's Jeff Bezos, who once joked about sending the president-elect to space on a rocket.

And Governor Jay Inslee wants a carbon tax to help fund education, a three-term Seattle City Councilmember said he won't run for reelection, and how badly do you need to check Facebook from Mount Rainier?

How densely packed should Seattle get?

Dec 14, 2016

Bill Radke speaks with Queen Anne Community Councilmember Martin Kaplan and housing advocate Laura Bernstein about the city's decision to put a hold on more backyard cottages and mother-in-law apartments until an environmental impact study can be performed. They discuss density issues, affordable housing and the changing character of Seattle's single family neighborhoods. 

A view of one of Cast Architecture's backyard cottages. The firm has been a leader promoting backyard cottages in Seattle
Courtesy of Cast Architecture

A housing plan to bring more backyard cottages to Seattle was halted Tuesday when the city's hearing examiner ruled that the proposal needs to undergo a full environmental review, not just approval through the city council.

City Councilmember Kshama Sawant speaks at her election night party at Melrose Market in Seattle on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015.
KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

There are new limits on how much Seattle landlords can charge for move-in fees. The City Council unanimously approved the rules Monday after months of debate between tenant advocates and landlords.

Apartment buildings in the University District, Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

Jeannie Yandel talks to Xochitl Maykovich, an organizer with the Washington Community Action Network, and Brian Robinson, a Seattle landlord who's on the board of directors at the Rental Housing Association, about the pros and cons of the Seattle City Council legislation that would put a cap on move-in fees. 

The Seattle Police Department will soon have a bigger presence in neighborhoods. Community members will be trained to handle non-emergency incidents. They will be part of the Community Service Officer program, which the city is bringing back to Seattle after a 12 year hiatus.

An early draft of the democracy vouchers Seattle Elections will send to residents in January 2017.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

Seattle's Ethics and Elections Office is ramping up its alternative way for candidates to raise money. It's called the Democracy Voucher Program, and at least one candidate plans to participate.

A Dakota Access pipeline protester defies law enforcement officers who are trying to force them from a camp on private land in the path of pipeline construction, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016 near Cannon Ball, N.D.
AP Photo/James MacPherson

A Seattle official is speaking out in support of the protests in North Dakota, a week before the camp could be shut down. Seattle City Councilmember Debora Juarez has supported the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline all along.

Flickr photo/Alvin Smith (CC BY-NC 2.0) / https://flic.kr/p/dkzcUU

More 32-story buildings, like the UW Tower, could be on the horizon for Seattle's University District. Proposed zoning changes head to the city council for review next week. Just as big as the high-rise buildings are the arguments for and against the rezone.

Seattle renters could get a break on rental costs as soon as mid-January. A City Council committee advanced a measure Tuesday that would cap move-in fees.

Stackhouse Apartments, South Lake Union
KUOW Photo/Ross Reynolds

This week the Seattle City Council and Mayor Ed Murray passed a budget package for the next two years. With it, council members hope to take on one of the city's biggest problems: housing affordability.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Kim Malcolm talks with Seattle Times reporter Geoff Baker about a new proposal from Chris Hansen to build a sports arena in Seattle's Sodo area. Hansen now says he doesn't need the public to chip in $200 million in public financing.

Policing and homeless services are high profile items in Seattle's proposed budget. A program that helps drug users touches on both. Now, the fate of the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program is stirring up debate.

Through LEAD, police connect low level drug and prostitution suspects to community services, instead of arresting them.

Bill Radke speaks with City Councilmembers Tim Burgess and Mike O'Brien about proposed legislation that could allow camping on public lands within the city. 

Over the past several months, protesters have interrupted City Council discussions. Like on Sept. 19:

Councilmember Bruce Harrell: "You're giving me no choice but to adjourn the meeting and I don't want to do that, I want to hear from you."

The City of Seattle is breaking ties with Wells Fargo after revelations that the bank opened accounts nationwide without the knowledge of the account holders.

Seattle city leaders were considering taking out a $100 million loan from Wells Fargo to cover a Seattle City Light bond. In a letter Friday, city leaders say they're calling off the contract before it's finalized this month.

SPU reports that residents are confusing bags made out of recycled materials with bags that can be used for composting.
Courtesy of Seattle Public Utilities

Seattle will be the first city in the nation to take a citywide plastic bag ban to another level, and ban any plastic produce bags in the colors green or brown.  Seattle leaders want to help people who are composting wrong to finally get it right.

People have been throwing plastic produce bags in their compost, since they resemble the green/brown biodegradable bags meant for compost bins. Plastic bags jam up the city's composting machines, which are costly for the city to fix.

To prevent the problem, the City Council has unanimously approved a plan that requires grocery stores to limit what bags they give away. For produce, stores can either offer clear plastic bags, or green or brown compostable ones. The purpose is to tell shoppers: green and brown are compostable, other colors are not.

The city council measure alo makes the five-cent fee for paper bags permanent.

KUOW's Paige Browning asked shoppers on Capitol Hill: should Seattle offer compostable produce bags? Listen to what Seattle residents Sandra Wagner, Fatima Malik, Kevin Mason, and Anthony Hall had to say about it:

Pages