Starbucks employees nationwide are reporting reduced hours and a systematic speed-up of work, resulting in insecurity and exhaustion for workers, and declining service for customers. Meanwhile, sales and profits at the company are up.
Archives for July 2016
The Mayor impugns the District Councils as racist and ineffective, but a 2009 report by the City Auditor puts blame for the system’s shortcomings on the City. The report says:
Seattle’s district council system only partially fulfills the purposes established for it… The citizen-participants’ activities in the district councils and City Neighborhood Council generally fulfill the responsibilities assigned to them… However, we found…significant issues that Seattle City government (City) needs to address:
[T]he City is not performing several responsibilities assigned to it … including maintaining a mailing list of community organizations, assisting in the production of neighborhood newsletters, and maintaining an interdepartmental committee to optimize responsiveness to the concerns of neighborhood organizations. Furthermore, the City does not provide standardized services to district councils, leaving participants unclear about what to expect from the City. [emphasis added]
The Auditor further notes that the City has meddled in the governance structure of the District Councils, and has failed to follow State law that mandates the retention of District Council records.
Mayor Murray’s decision to cut the City’s ties with the District Councils is not about fixing a bureaucratic system that is insufficiently “inclusive,” as he claims. In fact, the Mayor is destroying an alternative seat of authority that could challenge his plans for zoning and land-use in the city. In the process, he is repudiating a 30-year commitment to citizen participation in government.
The original resolution establishing the District Councils asserts a vision of strong neighborhoods with real power and access. The resolution passed by the City Council in 1987 proclaims these five objectives:
- To create a partnership between the City and its neighborhood in order to provide the neighborhoods with tools and resources for planning and development which reflect their needs and values.
- To design City plans, regulations and programs to suit the diverse character and development patterns of the City’s neighborhood.
- To strengthen and coordinate City departments’ responses to neighborhood problems and requests for help.
- To foster cooperation and consensus among diverse interests within neighborhoods and to encourage the constructive settlement of disputes involving neighborhood groups, prospective developers, and the City.
- To facilitate communication between neighborhoods regarding common concerns.
These principles were the foundation for the robust neighborhood planning process that occurred during the 1990s (under the direction of the visionary Jim Diers), and it’s this concept of shared power that Mayor Murray wants to kill.
Councilmember Lisa Herbold will introduce a proposal to require the replacement of existing affordable units on a 1-for-1 basis when properties are redeveloped under a key HALA program. At the July 19 meeting of the Planning, Land Use & Zoning (PLUZ) committee, Herbold will introduce an amendment to the framework legislation implementing “Mandatory Housing Affordability – Residential” (MHA-R).
At a pre-hearing conference July 15, Hearing Examiner Sue Tanner delayed a decision about whether to dismiss the appeal related to Councilmember O’Brien’s backyard-cottages legislation. The Queen Anne Community Council will submit a clarification of the issues in the appeal, the City will respond, and Ms. Tanner will rule on the dismissal July 29. If the appeal continues, the hearing will be August 31.
The Queen Anne Community Council (QACC) is appealing the environmental Determination of Non-Significance (DNS) attached to Mr. O’Brien’s proposal to loosen regulation of “backyard cottages,” known as “Detached Accessory Dwelling Units” (DADUs).
Marty Kaplan, chair of the QACC Land Use Review Committee, has launched a web site in support of the appeal: QueenAnneAppeal.org. Mr. Kaplan published an Op-Ed in the Seattle Times on Sunday, July 17: Neighborhoods deserve a say on backyard cottages. (Read the comments! Click “Top Comments” to see what got the most “Likes.”)
(Full disclosure: I have provided technical and editorial assistance to Mr. Kaplan. –David B.)