The news is out. Mayor Jenny Durkan is selling three acres of city land to a developer for $143.6 million. The result of this deal will be $1 billion development that will direct around $80 million to housing related issues. But the housing crisis in Seattle is not a multi-million dollar problem. It's one that demands billions. Nevertheless, Durkan promises that the sale and the development of the piece of land in South Lake Union will benefit the whole of Seattle. However, if the present condition (increasing inequality, growing homelessness, escalating displacement) is shaped by elements that took form in the past, we can safely conclude, as rational humans, that there is little to nothing in the city's recent historical record that can transport Durkan's promise from the realm of possibilities to that which matters, reality.
What Bloomberg has to say about the sale:
The property has been a point of contention in a city that’s struggling with soaring housing costs as a result of its booming tech scene. Activists called on the mayor last year to use the site primarily for affordable homes. Instead, she pushed forward with a plan to sell the land or enter into a long-term ground lease with a private developer, saying the city would benefit more.The news of this mega-deal was dropped at the same time the city woke up to the realization that it isn't going to the right so fast (look at last night's election results—"The 'Replace Shitty Council' Sticker Didn't Work"). Socialism isn't losing but gaining some legs in Seattle. Durkan also just announced a crackdown on Seattle's mobile slum (people living in RVs).
Durkan Legislation Would Fine Anyone Who “Allows” Another Person to Live in “Extensively Damaged” Vehicle https://t.co/R9KMpumJMO pic.twitter.com/8LkekRJvki
— Erica C. Barnett (@ericacbarnett) August 5, 2019
But the question we should ask ourselves is: What else can Durkan do but this sort of thing? The dodgy deal and the crackdown are consistent with the kind of politics that's only open to reproducing and intensifying the present conditions. She has no other choice than to block all other possibilities from flourishing in reality. The same must be the same with this Durkan. That's who she is. The possibility of public and affordable housing is in essence as virtual as the possibility of yet another billion-dollar luxury development. It has the same ontological status. And that one can fully exit the virtual and not the other is a matter not of natural laws but of parameters of values set by policymakers. The virtual of affordable housing at a realistic scale (and the deal will not make a dent on the housing crisis, but it will make millions more for those who already have millions) happens to be not consistent (or compossible) with the present, which is the mayor's sole job to reproduce.
The thing that would shock us is if she announced a multi-billion-dollar project for housing that corresponded with working- and middle-class incomes. Then we would be amazed. Some, indeed, so struck with wonder, might even consider the possibility that her soul was possessed by one that wasn't her own. Durkan doing something really big for the poor? The historical record has shown that that's a set of possibilities (or compossibles) her power as mayor obstructs. Durkan's possibles must be compatible with the ones that have already made Seattle the fifth-most expensive city in the US.
inflate 👏 those 👏 numbers 👏— baugenossenschaften für wenst (@sea_Baugruppe) August 7, 2019
the head tax would have funded things like this in perpetuity instead of once.
imagine if we had been able to build ample social housing at this location. central to so many parts of the city. now.
the lack of vision and leadership is 💩 https://t.co/WsXEuiOpYn