Aug 11 Hutch commented on Solutions to Seattle’s Growing Housing Crisis: Part Four.
I'm into most (nearly all, even!) of these proposed solutions. It's clear that our country's homeownership fetish and use of property as a wealth generation tool breeds a lot of anti-social behavior (NIMBYism, intergenerational wealth that breeds inequality, etc.). And as our society increasingly recognizes that urban, low-carbon living is going to be a necessity if we're at all interested in combating global climate change, it's vital that we find a way to grow our cities in a way that allows people of all income levels to stay there.

The problem with most of these solutions is that they're aspirational rather than practical. I'm absolutely in favor of turning Seattle into a European model, where the government provides housing for the middle class. Do I see that happening in my lifetime, given the political climate in this country right now? Not really.

What sort of local political action will Charles' series actually breed, while he sits around waiting for the proletariat to march on DC? Knee-jerk reactionary feel good legislation like Lisa Herbold's one-for-one affordable housing replacement measure (which would have the effect of making lots of new housing projects unbuildable unless height restrictions were suddenly removed across the city - which they won't be, based on how difficult it's been to add a single story to urban villages under HALA). Rent control that will help current residents enjoy Seattle while locking out future generations (see how that's working out for San Francisco?). And perhaps most insidiously - more ammunition for the (old, white, wealthy)n slow-growth, Lesser Seattle forces who can leverage the value of their own property investments by using the "Wall Street is Raping Our City" line to oppose efforts to build more housing.

It's striking to me that under proposed solutions, Charles and Cary fail to even tangentially mention Mandatory Housing Affordability, an actual, tangible policy that is on the table right now, which would create a permanent, lasting connection between market-rate housing and affordable housing. It's more modest than a lot of us would like, but it's got a better chance of creating actual affordable housing than this masturbatory intellectual naval-gazing and howling at the moon about the injustices of global capitalism. But I assume that Charles, like a lot of the Hard Seattle Left, is too morally opposed to the concept of people making money off real estate to see the forest for the trees.
Aug 10 Hutch commented on Why NIMBYs And Their Haters Can’t Offer a Deep Solution to the Seattle’s Growing Housing Crisis: Part Three.
@8 - Political will? We just doubled the Housing Levy, which is great. If we were serious about doing something like that we'd have had to increase it by how much? 10 times? 20 times? I'm hoping we get to that point by 2030, but it's not politically feasible right now.
Aug 10 Hutch commented on Why NIMBYs And Their Haters Can’t Offer a Deep Solution to the Seattle’s Growing Housing Crisis: Part Three.
@7 - The numbers will always vary on this depending on the neighborhood and circumstances, but here's the general status quo right now: when those 500K craftsmen homes reach the end of their useful life, they're replaced by $1 million+ single-family homes. If you're asking which outcome is better - $1 million SFH or 2-3 $700,000 townhomes - from both an affordability and carbon/climate change perspective, it's no contest.
Aug 10 Hutch commented on Why NIMBYs And Their Haters Can’t Offer a Deep Solution to the Seattle’s Growing Housing Crisis: Part Three.
Charles, I'd love to live in a European-style country that provides subsidized housing for the middle class. But I don't. I live in a neoliberal (Reagan may have made it worse, but it's always fundamentally been that way) supply-and-demand-based economy. Naval-gazing about the injustices of global capitalism and shaking our fists at the free reign of speculative capital may be intellectually pleasing, but how can we fight that through local housing policy? Vancouver's foreign buyer tax is arguably racist on its face, legally dubious in America and ineffectual (although I'm interested to see how it plays out in the coming months):…

There's a lot of people in this city whose opposition to development stems from the knee-jerk aversion to the idea that rich people are making money off real estate, as if this is some sort of new, unprecedented phenomena. Investors made a tidy profit off those 1950s apartment buildings that by virtue of being old are now magically "affordable" - am I supposed to be extra pissed off in the year 2016 because it's happening again? Now that you've stoked this anger with this series of pieces, I'm eager to see your conclusions and hope they're constructive rather than symbolically yelling into a well.
Aug 10 Hutch commented on "I Am Not Afraid of a Building"—Debora Juarez and Mike O'Brien Debate Privilege and Controversial New Police Station.
The "bunker" thing is goofy double-speak that distracts from the main issue - the preposterous price tag. It's no more or less secure than any other police station.
Aug 9 Hutch commented on Guest Editorial: Let's All Commit To Putting More Voices In The Conversation About District Councils.
@1 - And it only took a matter of minutes from this article being posted for an anonymous troll with the luxury of extra time on their hands to launch a baseless personal attack.
Aug 8 Hutch commented on Council Bans Special Move-In Deals, Housing Discrimination Based on Source of Income.
How is any of this enforced? How would any denied tenant know that they were the "first qualified candidate" unless they sued? And how many of the people that this law is aimed at protecting have the extra money or time to sue?

This is all well-intentioned law aimed at a persistent problem (racism is still rampant in real estate, renting and lending practices), but I do worry about how it would impact a first-time, independent landlord renting out, say, an Accessory Dwelling Unit. Could that landlord be penalized if they had three qualified candidates but then picked one over the others because they seemed like they'd make better neighbors to share a wall with?
Aug 8 Hutch commented on Hot Money and Seattle’s Growing Housing Crisis: Part One.
It's easy to chalk this all up to foreign boogeymen, but here in the United States we've got tons of example of good old red blooded Americans using property as an investment tool. It's in the DNA of the American dream. And we've set up all sorts of perverse incentives to encourage it - tax deductions for mortgages on second homes, up to $500,000 in profit from real estate transactions that goes completely untaxed. Don't blame foreigners for taking advantage of a system we rigged ourselves.

Charles' concerns aren't unwarranted, but the problem is that the narrative plays into a lot of fears and false dichotomies of the Seattle Left (Herbold), which then get co-opted and parroted by the Seattle Right (North Seattle, John Q Community Council). The idea that the laws of supply and demand aren't the fundamental framework underlying real estate markets. The idea that if we stop building luxury apartments the rich people will go away. The idea that rent control alone will save us. There's a lot of people that try to fight proxy wars against macro issues like global capitalism in the context of micro issues like local housing markets. I get where they're coming from, but their solutions only play right into the hands of the economic elite they loathe.
Aug 3 Hutch commented on Seattle's Neighborhood Councils Are Exclusionary, Self-Interested "Cartels," and the City Wants to Cut Ties with Them.
It's especially neat that the Seattle Times saw fit to run at least three guest Op/Eds and multiple Ed Board-signed pieces decrying this move and then "balanced" that with Rolf's piece, which was mean-spirited, inflammatory and not at all constructive.

I'm not really interested in defending Murray's timing or methods on this (it turns out that people are going to be really angry when you unilaterally end a long-used program without any tangible plan to replace it - shocking!), but in general the outrage around this is textbook white fragility. If these groups weren't central to maintaining inherited privilege in this city, then why are people frothing at the mouth like this.
Jul 15 Hutch commented on The Mayor Is Blowing Up the City's Old Neighborhood Council System—and That's Good News for Renters.
@14- "Just how are neighborhoods (no matter who you think comprises a neighborhood) to have any sayso with the City now that the Mayor has shot down District Councils AND the citywide council that funneled those DCs' comments to the Mayor and instead appointed (yes, appointed) a Commission to give him input?"

With a fucking ballot, the same way every other citizen in a democracy expresses their wishes. And any neighborhood folks who are aghast at this move should direct their anger towards the Queen Anne Community Council and other neighborhood groups that have acted as de facto anti-growth political action committees.