Homelessness is a complicated problem for which STB, with its narrow transit-and-land-use focus, would not claim to propose a full solution. [1] The proposal in Seattle Charter Amendment 29 (“Compassion Seattle“), which may be on the ballot later this year, attracts the usual complaints from those who insist on zero tolerance or zero coercion. Money for housing is good, though unfunded spending mandates aren’t so good.

But, like any worthwhile op-ed, this anti-amendment argument ($) by three former Councilmembers gives us enough information to learn there is at least one piece that I feel qualified to say is very good:

· CA 29 waives the land use code to site housing projects. Zoning, height limits, setbacks, greenbelt designations, notice and “due process” will not apply. This means new housing units or multifamily projects could be added in all zones, including single family.

and indeed, right there in the fifth bullet of Section 1:

Fifth. During a declared civil emergency related to homelessness, and to accelerate the production of emergency and permanent housing serving homeless individuals (“projects”) as required by this Article IX, it is City policy to and the City shall, to the full extent permitted by state law, (a) waive land use code and regulation requirements as necessary to urgently site projects, (b) waive all City project-related permitting fees for projects and, (c) process the application for project-related permits as first-in-line in order to expedite the permitting process. It also is City policy and the City shall refund to the projects all City imposed costs, fees, and the City’s portion of the sales tax on all project expenditures, paid on or after the enactment of this Article IX and during a declared civil emergency related to homelessness.

This is big. If your sense is that the City is spending enough, but incorrectly, this is the most plausible explanation why. These procedural mean lawyers, settlements, and concessions to buy off neighbors.

A very self-satisfied person in the comments is likely to ask whether I would like to have emergency housing put up next to me. One answer is that, as a Capitol Hill resident, these people are already in my neighborhood. Another answer is that of course this is likely to cause more trouble than my current neighbors, and I wouldn’t. But to me, the question is whether it is a fair and good policy outcome for a person of relative means to lawyer up, arguing their block is a very special flower, and shunting these badly needed projects to a place with lesser means. Obviously, it isn’t.

Relatedly, kudos to this measure for taking the notion of an “emergency” seriously, and suspending other considerations to address the problem. A crisis for which we aren’t willing to suspend any of our other policy priorities isn’t one that we consider an emergency at all.

[1] We would argue, however, that encouraging housing construction of all types and price points ($) is part of that solution.

30 Replies to “Charter Amendment contains good surprises”

  1. I think it needs to be mentioned that the definitions are narrow here:

    1. The exemption has to be for “homeless” and not low income people generally.

    2. The impact has to be “urgent” so if it’s not shelf-ready it’s probably not going to fit that criteria — even if it’s a permanent project.

  2. Yep. The fact that the homeless-industrial grifting complex (looking at you in particular SHARE/WHEEL) has lined up against the amendment tells you everything you need to know: it’s a good idea that might go some way to solving the problem.

    1. It isn’t just SHARE/WHEEL. Aside from DESC and The United Way, every homeless helping NPO I know of is against this Amendment.

      The fact that the DSA has supported this amendment should tell you everything you need to know: It’s all about making the homeless sweeps easier. It doesn’t even bother to create a funding source for the housing it demands. It’s an unfunded mandate, and as we all know those are worthless.

      1. Unfunded mandates aren’t worthless. They might not be a good idea, but they force the government to pay for something that they haven’t paid for. For example, the state is required to fund basic education. That is an unfunded mandate. Twice they have been taken to court over the issue, and twice they have lost. This forced the state to pay for more education, instead of just asking each district to come up with the money itself. The result is that a lot of kids are getting a better education.

        It is clear that the city (and county) haven’t done a great job in terms of homelessness. Part of that is funding, part of it is management. As a result, we are largely average (we aren’t Houston). This means that the cost of housing largely determines the number of homeless. Since our housing prices are very high, we have a lot of homeless. Forcing the city to address the issue — to actually treat it like a crisis, instead of making meaningless platitudes — is a good idea. It could lead to more money for housing, better management, and a more liberal zoning code (which in turn would lead to lower housing prices).

      2. RossB, I’m not sure the basic education debacle is as good an example as you might believe. The state dragged its heels for years while fighting the case, despite the fact that the relevant court rulings were never suspended. That means for years that mandate was completely ignored, showing how useless it was. It was the State Supreme Court and the McCleary case that got public education those funds, not the unfunded mandate.

        AJ, the ADA is a federal law, not a state or local one. Its cost was mostly placed on private businesses and state/local jurisdictions who had no other recourse since they could be fined/sued for noncompliance. I don’t see any punitive language in Charter Amendment 1 outside of punishing homeless individuals even when the shelters and new housing are full despite it violating Martin v. Boise.

      3. “It was the State Supreme Court and the McCleary case that got public education those funds, not the unfunded mandate.”

        They’re the same thing. The constitutional provision is the mandate. It was unfunded, and after the state was sued and the Supreme Court made a pronouncement, it got funded.

      4. Mike Orr, your description proves my point rather than refuting it. The constitutional mandate meant nothing. It wasn’t being honored. But the McCleary case didn’t start in the State Supreme Court. It started in King County Superior Court, which found for the plaintiff. That ruling was never suspended when the case was appealed. That’s the heel dragging I was directly referring to. The suit had already happened and judgement passed, and still the state refused to fund it. I seem to recall the Court also had to levy daily fines to finally force the state into compliance.

        My points still stand. Unfunded mandates are worthless. They are frequently ignored when convenient. The McCleary case only underlines how worthless they are, as it took multiple courts an coercion to get the already existing mandate fulfilled, not the mandate in and of itself.

      5. @ A Joy — Using your logic, every law is useless, since some people break it. What is the point of outlawing stealing, when so many people commit the crime? It takes the court system to stop these thieves, and they got away with it for years. Anti-theft laws are useless.

        @AJ — Yes, another great example. ADA — an unfunded mandate — has changed America, for the better.

        In both cases there are times when the agency fails to do their job. The point is, without the law, they simply wouldn’t do that. Federal Way, for example, would have a really bad public school system, because the state would not be required to help them. Those with disability would be screwed, as neither public or private groups would do anything to accommodate them.

        Of course it would be nice if there was funding from the get go. Go ahead and propose that if you want. But we’ve been at this for a very long time, and no one has adequately funded the homelessness crisis, even though they called it a crisis. An unfunded mandate is better than the status quo, which clearly isn’t working.

      6. RossB:

        “@ A Joy — Using your logic, every law is useless, since some people break it. What is the point of outlawing stealing, when so many people commit the crime? It takes the court system to stop these thieves, and they got away with it for years. Anti-theft laws are useless.”

        Wait, what? That makes absolutely no sense, is completely divorced of all reason, and has nothing to do with what I wrote. If anything, it is the exact opposite. In the criminal justice system, violating a law has a commensurate punishment. There is a penalty or cost for violating the law. This amendment, much like what happened for the longest time with underfunded basic education in this state, comes with no punishment. Nobody goes to jail. No individual pays a fine. There’s no accountability for refusal to fund. The governing body just doesn’t do it. And maybe, just maybe, the governing body has to pay a fine. That we the taxpayers pay.

        If not funding an unfunded mandate resulted in criminal prosecution half as often as stealing does, I wouldn’t have a problem with an unfunded mandate. Yet again, you prove my point for me. Bravo.

      7. @Mike Orr, you can’t put the state in jail. But you can put the politicians responsible in jail, and we should. Better that than fining the state taxpayer’s money. The habitually recalcitrant should be easy to find, and they’d still get their day in court, just like everybody else.

  3. I’m conflicted about the Amendment.

    There are bad parts: specifically, codifying sweeps (Section 2, Third bullet), and roping 12% of the general fund into a vague “Human Services Fund” for the six years of the amendment, leaving it up to the next administration to figure out where that money should be diverted from.

    And there are good parts: the focus on permanent supportive housing first with a mandate for 2,000 units of housing in one year (although I would be shocked if this was achieved); waiving land use code (as mentioned by Martin); actually directing funding at human services (yes, I see the contradiction). A few bonus points may be awarded for focus on BIPOC and other social issues, but all that can be waived as fluff at when it comes down to actually executing the policy.

    While it seems like bad politics to legislate via amendment, it also seems like a city that’s had a declared homelessness emergency for 6 years needs a kick in the charter to actually do anything to help unhoused people become housed.

    1. I’m not a public law expert, but at some point any action declared “urgent” and “temporary” could be deemed as no longer “urgent” nor “temporary”. Even if it’s allowed in a charter, a council action could be challenged in court if the determinations last too long.

    2. I like the goals and zoning overrides of the amendment, but I’m concerned about legislation by initiative, which has been increasing the past twenty years. When you have a measure that’s written by activists rather than urban-planning professionals and economics experts, it’s too easy for it to contain unintended consequences and externalities. The marijuana initiative was pretty good, and necessary because the legislature wouldn’t act, but there have been criticisms that other states have designed the market better. The monorail initiative was half-assed: it had a faulty financial plan, wrote specific streets and station locations into the legislation so they couldn’t be changed if further engineering turned up better options, and was so dependent on fare revenue it wouldn’t accept transfers. This was heading toward a situation that for people making hybrid mono+bus trips (i.e., everybody who lived in northern Ballard or went anywhere beyond downtown) would have to pay double fare or ride the bus under the monorail track. Other initiatives seem to be getting worse and worse.

      So on the one hand I want to light a fire under the councilmembers’ butts and say, “This is really an emergency and you need to step up.” On the other hand I’m leery of tying the city’s hands so much. But if it’s the only way to break the zoning strangelehold, then maybe.

    3. Seattle will not deal with — let alone resolve — its homeless situation. What you see today you will see tomorrow, next year, and 10 years from now, although the number of homeless camping on Seattle streets and in parks will increase.

      There is just too much vested financial interest in the problem, and too much self-virtue and identity politics in Seattle, to ever make the hard decisions, which is why the problem worsens year after year.

      Seattle first declared homelessness an “emergency” 15 years ago, and then again 6 years ago. Please stop talking about homelessness like there is any will, or money, to solve it.

      The rest of the county knows Seattle will never make the difficult decisions to address the problem, and the vested interests have been incredibly irresponsible with the huge tax sums provided to these vested interests. I can’t believe any voter would turn over 12% of Seattle’s general fund or exempt these charlatans from the land use codes. A sucker is born every second. Only Seattle could be so foolish. So the rest of the county has come to believe this is Seattle’s problem, which it is. Good luck.

      The reality is the money isn’t there. It was spent on transit projects we will probably look back on in 20 years as a great white elephant, and ignoring Seattle’s bridge infrastructure. Seattle has just been incredibly foolish with its — and the county’s — money. The last thing the homeless need are fools helping them, but if you are homeless you don’t get to choose your saviors.

      Upzoning residential property into new multi-family construction so a new condo costs $500,000 and not $600,000 is not going to help a 0% AMI individual (or a 30% or 50% AMI individual but it is hard to wrap yourself in self-virtue for the working poor). All upzoning does is incentivize developers to buy and demolish the older, more affordable housing to build expensive new housing, because that is where the profit is. Upzoning is a cause, not solution, of homelessness.

      Please stop talking about actually doing something about the homeless camping on streets and in parks (and on school grounds and ballfields) or living in campers when the same folks want to spend another $12 billion they don’t have on a second transit tunnel and more light rail.

      Seattle citizens made their decisions long ago where to spend their money, and it wasn’t on the homeless, which is a problem because Seattle’s policies attract the homeless like bears to honey.

      Just learn to live with the homeless camping on streets and in parks. That is what I have learned to do in Pioneer Square as I have watched the problem worsen year after year, and year after year watched the self-virtue and handwringing.

      Nothing has changed over the last 15 years and nothing will change in the next 15 years. No one else is going to swoop in and remove Seattle’s homeless, and Seattle won’t make the hard decisions to solve the problem, so please stop talking about nutty solutions.

      Thank you.

      1. >Seattle won’t make the hard decisions to solve the problem

        Some people watch Soylent Green and see a grotesque dystopia – others, apparently, are inspired by its depictions of private industry’s clever solutions to social unrest and poverty.

        A year in jail costs more than a year of housing and supportive services, so coercion clearly isn’t the most budget-conscient solution. However, if you actually have some extraordinarily novel solution to homelessness that doesn’t involve housing first, then I’m sure there are several policy makers who would love to hear it.

        In the meantime, you incessantly inquire what housing policy has to do with transit, on a blog that openly states it has a focus on transit and land use. If you can’t do the work to see what the connections are, then I must also beg you to please stop posting your wearisome diatribes.

        Thank you.

      2. If you don’t upzone, older, cheaper homes will still get demolished and replaced with newer, more expensive homes. But, instead of having 5-10 townhomes pop up replacing the one house that was demolished, you end up with one gigantic house, hosting just one family, costing far more than each of the 5-10 townhomes would have. Or, in some cases, the property is simply bought up by a rich neighbor who wants a larger yard and the one home on the lot gets replaced with zero.

        This is not just theoretical. The neighborhood in Texas where I grew up used to be mostly one-story single family homes, back in the 1990’s. But, just like Seattle, the land value over there has drastically appreciated and the city won’t allow denser development. So, every time an old 1950’s-era house gets torn down, it gets replaced not with a small condo building or clump of townhomes, but with a gigantic mansion. And, there are numerous instances of rich people buying up their neighbor’s house and tearing it down so that their giant mansion, taking up nearly all of the original lot, can have a large yard.

        Insisting on nothing but single-family homes makes the neighborhood more exclusive, not less. Sure, people making 30% of AMI might not be able to afford the neighborhood regardless, but denser development at least allows people in the top 10% or 20% of income to be able to live there. But, the combination of rising land values and single family home exclusivity makes the neighborhood become quickly unaffordable even to them, to the point where it eventually becomes nothing but a playground for the top 1%. This is exactly where much of Seattle is headed if the single-family areas never get upzoned.

      3. What ASDF describes is exactly what is happening in Portland. Pretty much any neighborhood is having smaller houses replaced with massive 3-4 story things that use every inch of the lot. You might as well build condos or townhouses for all the attractiveness they have, but have a fraction of the population density.

      4. Jeebus Chrestus, you just keep inflating the price of the tunnel in every more-unhinged post. Get a life outside trying to troll the libs on STB.

      5. Seattle will not deal with — let alone resolve — its homeless situation.

        Mercer Island ships its homeless to the Eastside and you defended that policy.

        Glass houses bro. At least Seattle’s attempts at a solution, whether bad or good, don’t involve shipping all our homeless elsewhere.

  4. The issue isn’t housing capacity. And as AJ I believe has pointed out, older, affordable SFH often have many people living in them at a reasonable rent. So converting them to brand new 4 or 5 one bedroom units with a mix of one and two tenants might increase total housing capacity from 5 in the house to 7 in the condos, but the cost of the housing increases dramatically. Not many builders are looking to buy and demolish a fairly newish house in Laurelhurst to build condos, even if they could. No profit. Buy low, sell high, or high enough to cover the building costs and interest on the loan.

    The same unintended consequence is happening with the relaxation on the long tail on new condo construction. The goal was to increase new condo construction to allow modest income folks to own and build equity. Under the old rule, new condo construction was hard to insure, and so developers would have to rent the unit for three years before selling it to avoid the long tail. Smaller, wood-framed builders cannot afford to tie up their capital for three years before selling, so what we got was apartments owned by large REIT’s. Seattle today is over 50% rental.

    But under the new rule the same market incentive works: builders look for the oldest, most affordable multi-family buildings because they are the cheapest to buy, demolish, and build as expensive condo’s as the neighborhood will allow (King County’s elimination of the exemption for older multi-family buildings from new updated fire codes hasn’t helped either). There is just a baseline cost to build any size new condo not including the cost of the land, and that is around $350,000 to $450,000.

    So there may be some increase in total housing capacity in mid to upper price ranges, but a reduction in the affordable housing, which is what we are talking about in this thread. Of course, in a city with high incomes like Seattle that is probably inherent, which is why 0% to 70% AMI affordable housing needs some kind of public subsidy. The market alone will not create that housing, certainly new construction.

    Nathan asks what solutions do I propose, and states ” However, if you actually have some extraordinarily novel solution to homelessness that doesn’t involve housing first, then I’m sure there are several policy makers who would love to hear it.”

    Nathan misunderstands the history in this region of addressing homelessness.

    Only very recently have Seattle and King Co. changed their paradigm from shelter migration and rehabilitation to providing housing first. Seattle and King Co. persuaded the legislature to allow counties (and cities if the county did not enact the tax by Sept. 30, 2020) to levy an additional 1/10th of one percent sales tax for emergency housing (a very regressive tax).

    King Co. did not enact the tax by Sept. 30 for unknown reasons, and every eastside city (except Mercer Island) opted out as allowed under the law, and decided to allocate their 1/10th share of the new sales tax to their own housing programs because there is so much distrust on this issue between Seattle/King Co.’s leadership and East King Co.

    King Co.’s pilot program was to take 220 untreated Seattle homeless and move them to a hotel in Renton. Not surprisingly, things inside and outside of the hotel deteriorated, and the Renton Council passed legislation outlying the hotel and program in Renton, and so has every other eastside city.

    The eastside still follows the original paradigm: 1. Street to shelter mat or cot with sobriety or mental health treatment (because there is no cure) 2. migration to an enhanced shelter room that allows privacy and storage of some personal items; 3. migration to affordable housing and work (usually 30% AMI); and 4. migration to 50%, 70% or 100% AMI housing. As someone like A Joy will point out, there are issues in the initial shelter stage, but then that stage is to determine whom to spend the resources on, not be a luxury hotel. Not everyone can be saved.

    I can understand Seattle’s and King Co.’s new approach, because the situation in Seattle is critical, and both retail and tourism in Seattle are huge cash cows for the county and Seattle (and King Co. lent $100 million to complete the convention center remodel). They don’t feel they have time to pursue the shelter migration paradigm, but their motivation is financial, not moral. They want the homeless off the streets when summer cruise season starts, whether in a shelter or some other city doesn’t matter.

    The rub in Seattle’s and King Co.’s approach is it is prohibitively expensive to simply give someone on the street a free place to stay, forever, without any incentive to earn and contribute to the housing, and it is very unfair to the working poor who follow the rules, work in low paid jobs, but don’t get a free place to live. There just are not 11,000 hotel rooms or 0% AMI units available in Seattle, and right now building costs and materials are sky high, and all the developers are building in Bellevue where the profit is.

    At this point I think there is too much distrust between east and west King Co. to cooperate on this issue, their approaches are different, and the homeless prefer Seattle. I think the number of homeless in Seattle today is simply too high to afford any solution, certainly if all the housing is 0% AMI, especially with Seattle’s financial situation. The problem has simply got out of hand.

    If Nathan is looking for a quick fix by summer’s tourist season I don’t have one, and after the Renton debacle moving the untreated homeless to other cities won’t fly. It isn’t financially feasible to give every homeless person a free place to live, especially if they have zero residual wage earning capacity, forever, and Seattle has abandoned teams and efforts to remove the homeless from parks and streets and move them to shelters, so my guess is the current situation will be with Seattle for many years to come.

    I was not being facetious when I said to learn to live with homeless camping on streets and in parks if you live or work in Seattle, and I have learned to do that over the last 5 or 10 years as the problem worsened, while the city issues emergency proclamation after proclamation.

    At one point it became so unbearable in Pioneer Square with virtually tents on every inch of every street tenants in the Smith Tower were triggering clauses in their leases to leave, until Mayor Durkan started removing the tents, but they are back and the removal teams are gone. So you either learn to live with it, or move. That is my solution for Nathan.

    1. https://publicola.com/2021/02/26/seattle-rejects-biden-administration-offer-to-pay-full-cost-of-hotel-based-shelters/

      Here is a good article highlighting how expensive and complicated this issue is. As noted it costs $70,000/year to house a homeless person in a hotel, and even with FEMA offering to pay 100% of the cost Mayor Durkan declined the financial help because Seattle could not afford the upfront costs, and the city claims it is a country problem

    2. In Washington State sales taxes are not “regressive”. This is a canard that reactionaries throughout the region parrot in order to get less-informed people to follow their Pied-Piper Politicians into the cave.

      Food, rent, prescription drugs, services, entertainment and public transportation are all exempted from sales taxation, though some cities charge a separate entertainment tax. Even gasoline is exempted. Those categories are 90-95% of the spending of lower income people.

      Net result: They pay hardly any sales taxes!

      Yes, they have to pay taxes on the toys they buy for their kids, cleaning supplies, hardware for fixit projects, parts for vehicle repairs and most things you’d buy at Office Depot, Wal-Mart (except the grocieries of course) or Kohl’s. Those are, however, to varying degrees “choice” purchases and in any case are generally not very expensive.

      In truth, for most low-income families, the greatest sales tax burden they will ever encounter is that to purchase a used car, and that happens only rarely.

      1. TT – Care to dispute this analysis? https://itep.org/whopays/washington/

        DT – It’s amazing how you seem to have a firm grasp of the facts (which is more than I can say about some other unpopular commentators) but then still manage to draw the same illogical solutions as head-in-the-sand NIMBYs/BANANAs. Of course new construction typically replaces old construction – that’s how cities grow up. When people move into new construction, they move there because they can afford it and they are interested in the neighborhood. If where the new units don’t exist, they simply buy an older home and that’s one less affordable unit on the market. New construction absorbs new, high-paid hires moving to the city. I literally see it happening on my block in Ballard. Besides, how do you think old construction became affordable in the first place?

        Only very recently have Seattle and King Co. changed their paradigm from shelter migration and rehabilitation to providing housing first.

        Seeing as how this change is only in the last few years, how well did shelter migration and rehab work in the past? Apparently, not well enough for you, since Seattle has simultaneously done nothing to reduce homelessness in 15 years, and also recently changed their paradigm to one that focuses on new construction. You rightfully understand that new-construction affordable housing must be subsidized, but since the city can’t afford to do all 11,000 units at once right now, so any attempt to do part of that is useless without raising taxes. Simultaneously, any proposal that would raise the required money to start to solve the problem 20 years late is too expensive and also therefore idiotic, apparently. So we just wait for… what, exactly, to happen?

        Not everyone can be saved.

        I guess our society is simply too weak to “save” everyone. If you really think the hard decision is between who lives in shelters and who dies on our streets, just come out and say it. If you’re going to point fingers at Seattle because they won’t make the “hard decisions,” at least have the courage to explain what you would do. Because if you think the decision is between euthanasia or nothing, I can see why you pretend you don’t have an solution in mind.

      2. I’ve seen that chart. But, the way sales tax works, at any income level, those with the financial discipline to live within their means pay less, while those that don’t pay more. The averages mean little, since any person at any income level can choose to pay much more or much less than their income’s “average” simply by choosing whether to overspend or save.

        Unlike other forms of taxes that you can’t really do anything about without moving or not working, forgoing that fancy dress, fancy car, or daily cup of coffee you don’t need is a choice that one actually has control of.

  5. ARCH is the eastside interlocal housing authority. During its existence it has created around 4500 affordable units. You are right it is slow and steady progress.

    The eastside cities adhere to the traditional shelter migration. If someone is able to restore or retain some residual earning capacity to contribute towards their housing that really helps. But the eastside cities pretty much uniformly enforce their no camping policies.

    A city like Mercer Island has very few homeless. Most years none need to be removed from Mercer Island parks, and if someone camping in a park is asked to leave, they do. They are always offered transportation to a shelter, but that is a voluntary choice. In 30 years not a single camper has been prosecuted.

    ARCH builds and runs the eastside shelters, and ARCH would never build a shelter on Mercer Island because of the cost of the land, the few homeless, virtually no intra-Island transit, and the lack of nearby critical medical facilities. As a result Mercer Island contributes to ARCH’s housing trust fund and administrative fund each year, plus a $10,000 direct payment to shelters for the one or two homeless who might be taken there, although usually there aren’t any. Many smaller eastside cities do the same. Coordinating funds makes them go further. Some eastside cities like Renton and Kent complain they get more shelters or affordable housing, but that is where the land is the least expensive, and there is good transit.

    If you think Charter Amendment 1 is a good approach for Seattle to address homelessness then you should vote for it. But the 12% annually from the general fund is probably going to come from other programs that serve the poor. Since I am not a resident I don’t vote on Seattle levies. No one is arguing for doing nothing: I am just stating I think with the current situation, the number of homeless camping in Seattle, and Seattle’s limited financial resources (it costs up to $70,000/year to house a homeless person in a hotel) I doubt there will be any dramatic change in camping in parks and on streets, and from what I read the council is eliminating sweeps of parks or teams to remove persons from camping in public, which makes a lot of Seattleites who might not participate on transit blogs angry.

    If you are suggesting East King Co. isn’t helping enough because most homeless migrate to Seattle I think you are correct, and have stated that before. But right now there is little trust between east and west King Co. on this issue, the approach, and the cost. The Renton debacle really set the relationship back, because the poorer eastside cities like Renton and Kent could see who would get Seattle’s homeless. Those cities are not rich like Seattle. It does seem odd to east King Co. that Seattle has the 18th largest population of U.S. cities, but the 3rd highest number of homeless. Maybe that is due to the cost of housing, but housing on the eastside is pretty expensive too.

    After working in Pioneer Square for 30 years and several declarations of emergencies on homelessness and camping on streets I guess I am just jaded. I don’t have a solution for Seattle. I don’t think upzoning is it. But I hope someone has a solution, because I get the idea right now King Co. and Seattle don’t.

    I think Durkan planned on returning to the “congregate shelter” approach after Covid-19, but she is not running in the fall. With Sawant’s recall election I think there are four council seats up for election, plus the mayor, so Seattleites will have the opportunity to choose the future for their city. I imagine homeless camping in parks and on streets will be an issue in the campaign, with a frank discussion about the cost, and what other programs will have to be cut to fund housing the homeless.

  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kent,_Washington#:~:text=Kent%20is%20located%20in%20southern%20King%20County%20and,16%20miles%20from%20downtown%20Seattle%20and%20downtown%20Bellevue.

    https://www.dcyf.wa.gov/node/536

    Kent is considered part of south and east King Co. It is more south than east, and has a different culture than some other eastside cities. We have this same discussion about Renton, but Kent is tied into King Co. services for the eastside, and is often tagged for social services like affordable housing, shelters, and animal shelters on the eastside. If you travel Highway 18 or just take Front Street to Ravensdale you will see east and south King Co. begin to merge. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington_State_Route_18 For example most would call Maple Valley eastside and it is basically as south as Kent, just more east.

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