Seattle City Council | KUOW News and Information

Seattle City Council

Amy Radil

The Seattle City Council is trying to determine how it should handle new rideshare companies that compete with taxis. Council members told a packed meeting Thursday they are leaning towards embracing — and regulating — them.

Flickr Photo/Mayor McGinn

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn presented his 2014 budget proposal yesterday. In a speech before the Seattle City Council, he outlined a plan to boost spending for a host of government programs — from police staffing to universal preschool.

McGinn said the city is in a position to spend more because tax revenues are coming in stronger than expected. “Construction remains strong, our sales tax and real estate excise tax are exceeding forecasts," he said. "That means we can make new investments in our people and our infrastructure.”

Flickr Photo/Ian Fisher

The problem of public toilets in Pioneer Square has been ongoing and unsolved.

A Pioneer Square merchant built a guerilla porta-potty because the aroma from the alley next door getting to be too much. The city spent millions on self-cleaning toilets but ended up pulling them out because of issues with drugs and prostitution. The city ended up selling the toilets on eBay in 2008.

Is there finally a solution in sight? Until a few days ago, the Seattle City Council had a tentative deal with a local developer to bring a public toilet to Pioneer Square. In exchange for adding 30 feet of height to its Pioneer Square building, developer Urban Visions was going to purchase a $250,000 “Portland Loo” for the city.

Flickr Photo/Ian Fisher

The Seattle City Council is considering a proposal that would bring a free, public toilet to Pioneer Square.

Local development company Urban Visions is offering to purchase the so-called “Portland Loo” for the city, in exchange for being allowed to add three stories to its mixed-use building in the neighborhood.

KUOW Photo/Ann Dornfeld

The city of Seattle would create a plan to let all children attend preschool for free or on a sliding scale under a resolution proposed by City Councilman Tim Burgess.

Cycle Track Plan Worries Business Owners In Ravenna

Aug 16, 2013
Flickr Photo/Jean-Pierre Chamberland (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Seattle’s Bicycle Master Plan includes a proposal for a bike lane on NE 65th Street. The bike lane would be a cycle track, which is a protected lane for bikes. Usually such lanes take away some parking.

Smoking Pot In Public In Seattle Could Cost You

Jul 26, 2013

Seattle City Council is considering a law that would make public pot smoking a ticketable offense. Tickets would cost more than $100 dollars, mirroring a state law. At the playground at Cowan Park in Seattle on Friday, people had mixed reactions to banning pot smoking in public.

Surprise, Seattle! City Council Members Are Up For Election, Too

Jul 16, 2013

The crowded Seattle mayor's race is sucking up a lot of attention, so you may be surprised to know there are contested City Council races on your primary ballot as well. 

Four incumbent City Council members are up for re-election: Nick Licata, Sally Bagshaw, Mike O'Brien and Richard Conlin.

KUOW Photo

Brian Carver is one of two candidates challenging 16-year incumbent Richard Conlin in the August 6 primary. The other is Socialist Alternative Party candidate Kshama Sawant.

Carver holds the title principle product manager at Amazon's Kindle direct publishing division. He has an MBA and an engineering master's degree from the University of Washington.

Carver ran unsuccessfully for an open City Council seat in 2009. He's been a local Democratic Party activist in the 43rd Legislative District. He says improving the city's schools is his top priority.

On the web:

Brian Carver's campaign website

KUOW Photo/Deborah Wang

Richard Conlin is the incumbent in Position 2 of the Seattle City Council. He's being challenged in the primary by Socialist Alternative candidate Kshama Sawant and Amazon manager Brian Carver.

Conlin was first elected to the council in 1997. He served as council president in 2008-2009 and had a public dust-up with Mayor Mike McGinn over the building of the downtown tunnel.

Recently, Conlin presided over a massive re-zoning of the city's South Lake Union neighborhood, he led the effort to pass a $123 million library levy, and he spearheaded the city's "Happiness Initiative." Conlin cast  the sole vote against an ordinance requiring employers to provide paid sick leave to their workers. He was one of two members who voted against using city funds to build a basketball and hockey arena in SODO.

KUOW Photo/Deborah Wang

Kshama Sawant is a Socialist Alternative Party candidate who is challenging incumbent Richard Conlin for Seattle City Council Position 2. The other candidate in the race is Amazon employee Brian Carver.

Sawant teaches economics at Seattle Central Community College. She has been active in the Occupy Seattle Movement. Last year, she ran for state House of Representatives against Democrat and long-time House Majority Leader Frank Chopp. She received 29 percent of the vote, which her campaign touted as the highest vote for a socialist candidate in decades.

Sawant is calling for a $15 minimum wage (it's currently $9.19 in Washington state) and a "millionaires' tax" to raise money for transit, education and social services.

On the web:

David Ishii is a retired postal worker who makes his living as an artist and street performer. In his first run for office, he is challenging Mike O'Brien in Seattle City Council Position 8.

Ishii had originally declared his intention to run for mayor, but then switched to the council race because the mayor's race was "too crowded," he said.

Ishii believes that the city could solve its fiscal problems by developing its own google-like search engine. "That would be worth gadzillions of dollars," he said. Fighting corruption at City Hall would be his main focus in office.

Ishii said he would not take a salary if elected to office, but instead would donate it to "The First Tee," a program which teaches golf to city kids.

On the web:

David Ishii's campaign website

KUOW Photo/Deborah Wang

Mike O'Brien is running for re-election to Position 8 of the Seattle City Council. He is currently serving his first term.

Prior to joining the council, O'Brien served as CFO of the downtown law firm Stokes Lawrence. He has a degree in economics from Duke University and an MBA from the University of Washington.

O'Brien is a close friend of Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, who also took office in 2009. The two men joined forces to oppose the building of the deep-bore tunnel through the city's downtown, a battle which they lost. O'Brien championed a ban on plastic bags in the city, an opt-out registry for telephone books, and is now pushing for campaign finance reform. He is widely regarded as one of the more progressive members of the City Council.

KUOW Photo

Albert Shen is one of two people challenging first-term incumbent Mike O'Brien for Seattle City Council Position 8. The other candidate is artist David Ishii.

Shen is the owner of Shen Consulting Inc., a transportation and environmental consulting firm. He graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in environmental science.

Shen says he wants to bring a small business person's perspective to the council. He has been endorsed by CASE, the downtown business association. A large number of supporters to his campaign are Asian Americans, and he's the only candidate in the race who has a Chinese language page on his website.

On the web:

Albert Shen's campaign website

Should Seattle City Councilmembers Be Elected By District?

Jun 12, 2013

 Beginning in 2015, Seattle residents might see a big change in how they’re represented in city government. A proposal that is likely to make the ballot this fall would create a hybrid system with seven geographical districts and one councilmember representing each. Two council seats would remain at-large.

Currently, Seattle voters elect nine at-large councilmembers who represent the entire city, and that’s fairly unusual. For cities with more than 500,000 residents, only Detroit, Mich. and Columbus, Ohio currently have at-large city council systems. So what are the arguments for creating a hybrid system? What are the arguments for keeping things the same?

David Hyde talks to Eugene Wasserman, president of the North Seattle Industrial Association and campaign coordinator for Seattle Districts Now, an organization proposing its own map of districts. David also hears from former city councilmember Jim Street and University of North Carolina government professor Kimberly Nelson.

City Councilmembers Push For Publicly Funded Elections

Jun 10, 2013

The Seattle City Council is considering a proposal to publicly fund council campaigns through a new property tax levy.  Supporters say using public funds strengthens our democracy by allowing candidates to focus on important issues, not just the issues of big donors. Opponents say public financing in other cities hasn’t made races more competitive or lessened the power of incumbents. Councilmember Mike O’Brien is sponsoring the public financing legislation and joins us today.

Jean Godden: The Columnist, The Councilmember, The Kayaker

Jun 4, 2013
Jean Godden's Facebook page

 You may know that Jean Godden has served on Seattle’s City Council for the last 10 years. Before that she worked as a journalist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the Seattle Times. But you may not have heard that before age 17, Godden lived in over 100 different towns. As part of The Conversation’s feature interview series, Ross Reynolds chats with Godden about her life and work. 

Seattle Parks Plan
Seattle officials want to hear from you about the future of the city’s parks. They're holding meetings this month to get public input on a parks plan that will guide where the city directs its resources in the years to come. We hear more from City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw.

Art Of Our City
A new live music and film project explores the line between ambition and bad luck as it applied to the Donner Party. "We Are All Failing Them" is a new commission by Seattle’s Northwest Film Forum (teaser below). It’s a song cycle performed live to film. We talk with composer Robin Holcomb about the latest venture in her wide-ranging career.

Neal Thompson On Robert “Believe It Or Not!” Ripley
A 1936 newspaper poll declared Robert Ripley the most popular man in America. How did a young, awkward newspaper cartoonist become a worldwide adventurer synonymous with the strange and unusual? Official Ripley biographer  Neal Thompson joins us.

Flickr Photo/bryce_edwards

Budget officials in the city of Seattle delivered some good news yesterday. For the first time since the financial crisis, the city is forecasting a budget surplus.

Cheryl Chow, Educator And Politician Dies At 66

Mar 29, 2013
The Seattle Channel

Cheryl Chow died Friday. Chow served on the Seattle City Council and the Seattle School Board. She grew up in Seattle and had also worked as a teacher, a principal and an assistant director for Girl Scouts of Western Washington.

Eugene Gorny

Yesterday the Seattle City Council unanimously passed legislation to require city departments to obtain council approval before acquiring and installing certain surveillance equipment. How do you feel about cameras in public spaces? Ross Reynolds talks with listeners about the pros and cons of having big brother watch us.

Flickr Photo/rwoan

The Seattle Sonics' basketball season is penciled-in at Key Arena for next year. During a Seattle City Council briefing Monday, city officials said game days have been set aside at Key Arena starting in November.  

A King County Superior Court judge has rejected a lawsuit that would have stalled plans to build a new professional basketball and hockey arena in Seattle’s Sodo neighborhood. It's part of a proposal to bring an NBA team back to Seattle.

12th Ave Arts
Illustration/SMR Architects

The 12th Avenue Arts project will transform a Seattle Police Department parking lot into one of Capitol Hill's newest multi-use buildings. In addition to retail and apartments, the building will include two theaters and office space for three small theater companies.

A campaign is mounting to switch up how Seattle City Council members are elected. Currently, members can live in any part of the city and their job is to represent the whole of Seattle. A campaign called Seattle Districts Now aims to divide the city into seven smaller districts with a council seat based in each one. Voters in each district would then elect a council member to represent their specific neighborhoods and interests.

Image Courtesy/Vulcan

The Seattle City Council is debating a plan that would transform a huge swath of the city’s center, and that for the first time would allow developers to build residential high rises just a block from Lake Union.

Amy Radil

Members of the Young Urban Authors program meet twice a week in a small storefront near 23rd and Jackson in Seattle. The program is one of many funded by Seattle’s Youth Violence Prevention Initiative. In this program, the teenagers spend months writing and editing their own books — fiction or non-fiction — which are then printed in paperback form.

The Seattle City Council is voting on the city budget next Monday. They’ve made some changes in  Mayor McGinn’s original proposal.  Ross Reynolds talks with Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn about the upcoming budget vote.

Last week Seattle voters approved funding for rebuilding Seattle's waterfront seawall. But some waterfront businesses say the construction schedule will hurt the tourist trade. Ross talks to Seattle City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, who chairs the transportation committee.

Flickr/Bellevue Fine Art Repro

Applications are now available to serve on Seattle’s new, court-ordered Community Police Commission. This citizen oversight board is part of the city’s agreement with the Department of Justice about police reforms.

This is not exactly a new idea. Seattle’s created civilian panels in the past to monitor police and propose changes. But City Council Member Nick Licata says this new one has a key difference.

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