Caught in a Fix
Housing inspectors caught derelict Capitol Hill landlord No Boundaries Ltd. breaking the law at their Eileen Court property last week. When inspectors dropped by the John Avenue apartments on Wednesday, April 26, they found workers renovating three apartments without the required permits. The inspectors immediately ordered the landlord to stop construction. Why is it a big deal that landlords are making improvements? Because No Boundaries used their construction plans to justify evicting residents. And because they kept the plans a secret from the Department of Design, Construction and Land Use (DCLU), they avoided paying for tenants to move. (Seattle law mandates that landlords pay tenants $1,000 before kicking them out to renovate.) Housing Ordinance Specialist Amy Drackert wouldn't say whether DCLU intends to force No Boundaries to pay for tenant relocation. However, she did say that inspectors will be watching No Boundaries to make sure they comply with the law. ALLIE HOLLY-GOTTLIEB
Quote of the Week
"Lastly, it should never be forgotten that ultimate responsibility for the chaos and property damage which occurred rests with those who came to Seattle to, by their own admission, 'shut down Seattle and the World Trade Organization by whatever means necessary.'" -- from the mayor's independent Preliminary Report on the WTO conference, prepared by R. M. McCarthy & Associates in conjunction with Robert J. Louden, Ph.D.
I Was a Teenage Task Force
On April 25, after 14 months of hoopla and hard work, Seattle's Music & Youth Task Force -- the group that pushed the city council to reconsider its silly and restrictive Teen Dance Ordinance -- issued its final report. The task force recommended a total repeal of the old ordinance, replacing it with a more sympathetic "All Ages Dance Ordinance," which abolishes age restrictions and provides reasonable licensing, security, and insurance requirements. With the recent renaissance of all-ages shows around town ["Out of Step," Allie Holly-Gottlieb, Feb 10, 2000] and solid support from council members Judy Nicastro, Heidi Wills, Nick Licata, Richard Conlin, and Peter Steinbrueck, is Seattle's teen scene finally free of legislative bullshit? Only if council support translates into votes. The vote on the task force recommendations is scheduled for the end of May. Show your support for the all-ages scene by writing/e-mailing each city council member. For example: margaret.pageler@ ci.seattle.wa.us. MIN LIAO
Can I Change My Vote?
City Council Member Jim Compton seems to be getting himself into trouble with supporters. At issue is a Mark Sidran law. Last week, Seattle Attorney Michael Keller -- who donated $100 to Compton's campaign, stuck a Compton sign in his South Seattle yard, and urged his friends to vote for the former newsman -- fired off an angry e-mail to the now sitting council member. The e-mail condemned Compton for supporting Seattle's car impound ordinance, because Keller thinks it unjustly targets poor people and minorities. "You seem to have jumped from being someone with a background of independent analysis to someone who seems wed to backing the status quo," he wrote.
Compton -- who opposes an amendment written by his colleagues Nick Licata and Richard McIver that would take away the city's authority to impound cars just because drivers don't pay fines -- told The Stranger he would vote to uphold the Sidran ordinance. ALLIE HOLLY-GOTTLIEB
With Friends Like These
City Council Member Heidi Wills sure has a strange way of being helpful. For example, take her recent anti-monorail resolution, which she claims was actually an attempt to support the monorail board. Hmmm. Among other things, Wills' rescue-mission resolution called the monorail (passed by voters in 1998's Initiative 41) "impractical and infeasible"; said that the Elevated Transit Commission (ETC) should "conclude its current phase of operations"; and absolved the city of any major funding responsibilities for the monorail system. Wills maintains that her resolution is the ETC's last best hope, because (hold onto your hat) it makes a place for the ETC at the Sound Transit table, maintains ETC's status as a public entity, and offers some city support (like providing meeting spaces). In an environment where the majority of her colleagues are itching to repeal the monorail initiative altogether, this modest backing is the best thing Wills could offer the ETC, she says.
Monorail proponents, however, don't want friends like Wills. "She says she's trying to save the monorail?" asks an incredulous Chris Beer, the local attorney who filed a lawsuit in King County Superior Court on May 2, demanding that the city provide funding for the system. "[Wills' resolution] says that regardless of what the voters said, the city council doesn't have to do it."
At issue in Wills' resolution and Beer's lawsuit is language from the original monorail initiative that reads, "the City Council of Seattle shall make funds available to the [ETC] either by issuing Councilmanic Revenue Bonds or raising the City's Business and Occupation Tax."
Wills, who acknowledges that in addition to "saving the monorail," her resolution was intended to provide cover from Beer's suit, told The Stranger that Initiative 41 didn't mandate city funding -- it simply gave the city the power to provide funding. Obviously, Beer disagrees, saying, "It's a matter of whether they believe 'shall' means 'shall.' Case law says it does." JOSH FEIT
It's springtime in Seattle! Do you know where your city officials are or how much they're costing you? Answers: Berlin; $24,000.
Indeed, your tax dollars are sending Mayor Schell, Deputy Mayor Maude Smith Daudon, and council members Nick Licata, Peter Steinbrueck, and Heidi Wills on a nine-day excursion to the city of cabarets. The world travelers are taking part in an annual program sponsored in part by the Trade Development Alliance of Greater Seattle, which sends local pols to far-flung boom cities like Hong Kong, London, and Singapore to glean lessons in economic planning. Hopefully, the wise Berliners will set our elected officials straight about wasting money on junkets. And shame on left-winger Licata, whose bad economic planning (he missed out on a group deal by booking his own ticket) boosted his airfare nearly $125 over that of his colleagues. NANCY DREW
One Year Ago in The Stranger [April 29, 1999]
An outright ban on strip bars in Seattle violates the First Amendment, so every year since 1988 the Seattle City Council has extended its "temporary" moratorium on new "adult cabarets," using the need for "further study" as the excuse. Under the moratorium, established strip bars like the Lusty Lady on First Avenue are allowed to remain, but new clubs are forbidden.
On April 20, at 9:30 a.m., the council did its yearly business to extend the moratorium. Martha Lester, the council staffer charged with studying laws in other cities and reporting back, presented a remarkably undetailed analysis of new regulations in Cincinnati. BEN JACKLET
This Year in The Stranger [May 4, 2000]
The city council's Land Use Committee met at 10:00 a.m. on May 2, and took less than a minute to extend the adult cabaret moratorium. Oddly, Stranger readers' recent pick for sexiest female politician, urban populist Judy Nicastro, headed up the prudish move to extend the ban. Martha Lester, the city staffer assigned to adult cabaret zoning, told The Stranger she doesn't know what issues the pivotal "further study" had uncovered in the past year, but said the council had some brand-new factors to consider: new adult zoning regulations passed by the King County Council and the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on pasties and G-strings. This year's moratorium on new strip clubs remains in effect until Saturday, June 30, 2001. JOSH FEIT
You Light Up My Life
Voyeuristic sex fiends aren't the only folks who have a fight to pick with Council Member Judy Nicastro. At a May 1 public hearing, ornery activists from neighborhoods like Meadowbrook and Westwood complained that Nicastro is railroading through an amendment to city code that would allow sports-field lights (currently hemmed in at 35 feet) to tower up to 100 feet. NIMBYs, battling against super-sized lights at the Nathan Hale-Jane Addams sports field, Denny-Sealth field, and Ingraham High School argue that a sweeping change to the code -- just for the immediate benefit of a few fields -- will prevent future communities from making the case against sky-scraping bright lights in their respective neighborhoods. Outspoken neighbors, like Meadowbrook's Renee Barton, say light height should be considered on a case-by-case basis. Current law, for example, allows for site-specific variances from the 35-foot limit.
A staffer (and field-light enthusiast) in Nicastro's office acknowledged that a full-fledged code change at the expense of site-specific variance requests will prevent critics of taller lights from raising concerns in the future, but says new and improved field lights are an obvious boon for neighborhoods like Meadowbrook. "E-mails, letters, and phone calls are coming in 10 to 1 for lighting up the fields," the staffer says. JOSH FEIT