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Seattle Displacement Coalition

"We will never compromise away the rights of low income people and the homeless"

  South Lake Union Concerns           Organizational Structure/Decision-Making for Coalition    Coalition Mission  

"working to prevent the continued loss of low income and affordable housing in our community"


 Click on for these special reports:


     Seattle Housing Authority's



- Our Comments on DEIS and our March 2012 comments on DPD's draft recommendations


- Yesler Terrace is Next!


- Yesler Minority Report


- Yesler responses



- See total housing losses due to HOPE VI locally


- for 2 photo montages of what's gone wrong with --also 


        click here



- Here's how you can join the fight to help us save Yesler Terrace



-  So you don't think the City Council retains authority over SHA think again and click here


- Read about the Sybil Bailey appointment & why community leaders objected


-  Read Outside City Hall Column on Bailey appointment & why City Council/Mayor continue to ignore the community





"The Cost of the Mayor's Agenda in South Lake Union"



- What won't appear on the Mayor's website



-  Click here for Coalition opinion piece on "Why Neighborhoods Must Be Concerned About the Mayor's plans for South Lake Union"



Is it "Sustainability" or "Greenwashing" in South Lake Union



      -  Paul Allen's Street Car Follies -  the costs and impacts



      -  See City Council staff memo showing Mayor's $300 Million Mercer Corridor Plan reduces congestion no more than a "do nothing alternative"



      - Most Seattle residents oppose Mayor's Mercer Plan - Click here to see results of Elway Poll - costs of project soar




    see current info on Mercer (Licata bulletin)



       The Mark Sidran Rap Sheet"

-  a detailed look at his record while he was Seattle's City Attorney



"The Downtown Boom"

Who Wins? Who Loses?

* Click here for extended analysis of why Seattle should not become another Manhattan and a look at alternative growth options for Seattle and the region




A Study of Downtown Housing Losses


Despite spending over $100 million in public funds in the last decade, the city saw a net loss of over 1500 low cost units in downtown since 1985!



 Issues Coalition Currently Addressing      




The Destruction of the Lillian Apartments

Read here how city officials cooperated with Paul Allen in the demolition of this historic low income apartment


Click here for a copy of our proposed right of first refusal law to control

the loss of low income housing


"City Council Should Adopt Anti-Displacement Resolution now"

- a first step towards preventing the loss of low income units to demolition, conversion, speculative sale, and increased rents



* Anti-homeless laws and

why they should be repealed


        To See Our "Outside City Hall" Columns from Displacement Coalition reprinted from Beacon Hill News and Capitol Hill Times click here


Search for:





City Hall News: 

click on headlines for full stories


SDC releases comprehensive report showing at least 1250 low income and affordable units threatened by proposed University District Upzone   click here for link to the full report

            click here for city document showing properties likely to be redeveloped in the event of highrise upzoning in the District 


Outside City Hall:  South Lake Union Streetcar needs third Bailout  (October 2014)   click here for our column

Click here for city memo highlighting the streetcar shortfall, a list of 2015-2020 City Light Capital Projects totalling $464 million and how your rates will be affected, and a full list of South Lake Union projects being funded by the city that totals a billion dollars


If Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) goes through with its recently announced plan euphemistically called “Stepping Forward”, the agency would instantly turn into the city’s biggest rent gouger


Seattle at record levels of growth and more than enough residential capacity yet many more upzones slated for our neighborhoods:  how many more existing low income housing units will be lost as a result of runaway growth?

click here for chart:


Jan - 2014: Outside City Hall: Our 2014 Wish List - Curb runaway growth, make developers pay their fair share

Now is not the time to politely request this or that of our elected officials to make city policy slightly less onerous; it’s time to insist upon the whole ball of wax. Here’s what should be our neighborhood mantra, demanded at all council hearings, forums, workshops and committee meetings click here to ink for full story (and take a look at our 3 parter on the density debate that follows)


The Density Debate: 3 part series reprinted from columns contained in Pacific Publishing Newspapers (March, May, August columns): click here for link to all three

Part 1: "Runaway growth threatens Seattle's livability but pro-growth lobby demands still more  -expososing the myth that Seattle isn't bearing its fair share of the region's growth" 

Part 2: Density does NOT produce affordable housing: Instead of "trickle down" it means displacement, gentrification, more homelessness, and an accelerated loss of our existing low income housing stock

Part 3:  Despite push for more density, Seattle workers are fleeing to the suburbs  -  Runaway growth in Seattle accentuates sprawl and auto dependency in the region when by contrast, a poly-centered or multi-activity centered approach to regional growth is the only environmentally sustainable option

These articles were written for Outside City Hall Column by Carolee Colter and John V. Fox



July 2013  Outside City Hall:  Voting for the neighborhoods' mayor
"a look at the top candidates for Mayor and who will best represent our communities"

Click here for a critique of the top Mayoral candidates and where they stand on neighborhood and economic justice issues


Millions in tax revenues lost due to Multi-Family Tax Exemption Program

June 2013:   Coalition files on June 19th a complaint with State Auditor calling for an investigation into Assessor Practices that may have led to the loss millions in city, county, and state tax revenues due to that office's failure to adjust tax rates to compensate for tens of millions in property tax exemptions given to developers under the State's Multi-Family Tax Exemption (MFTE) program as authorized under state law (RCW 84.14).   click here to read the complaint    

Or to read full story on the problem and how millions in state, county, and city tax revenues may have been lost for years due to "administrative error" click here

Also see June 7th City Office of Housing memo acknowledging problem here


Proposed "TIF" law would rob city's tax base for special interests!  

reprinted from June 2012 issue of City Living 

Tax Increment Financing.  Ever heard of it?  “TIF” as it has come to be called may be headed soon to your community, unless citizen groups organize to block it during the next session of the Washington State Legislature.  What’s the problem?  TIF threatens to drain millions from already shortchanged municipal budgets and, like many of the worst urban planning schemes we’ve seen of late, it’s being promoted under the banner of “Transit Oriented Development”.  for full story click here:


May 2012: Outside City Hall

Density does NOT produce affordable housing: instead in Seattle it means displacement and gentrification

For our most recent column however (reprinted below from the last issue of City Living Pacific Publishing neighborhood papers), we're focusing on another canard that pro-density forces have factored into the debate - the claim that by simply unleashing the market, adding unlimited densities, it will produce more affordable housing.  This isn't a new argument. It rears its head every decade or so, and then soon it's dismissed by all but the most zealous developers and freshman economics majors.  click here for full story


Press Release March 28th,

SHA wants over $100 million from the City to complete their Yesler Terrace Redevelopment Project

- including monies from our Parks Levy, Housing Levy, MFTE Tax Breaks, Bridging the Gap, and more!

To top it off the project will not guarantee replacement of all public housing to be removed on site

Also, Click here for chart to see why SHA can complete the project without use of any city funding!


March 2012 Outside City Hall Column:

"Homelessness has one cause: the loss of low income housing"  - Carolee Colter and John V. Fox

In spite of a “Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness,” a combined city-county outlay above $50 million annually, and over 50 programs (and easily 2000 staff) providing shelter, counseling, case management and services, the number of homeless continues its steady climb upward.

Why, despite such extraordinary effort and expenditure, does the problem continue to grow?



$66 million in MFTE Tax Breaks in last year: developer giveaways now exceed amount of 2009 housing levy

click here for chart



Seattle reaches 73% of 20-year 2024 Growth Target in under 7 years!  Our current zoning has more than twice the capacity needed to accommodate our 2024 target but pro-density developer interests say that's not enough and call for still more upzones and other "developer incentives"

Click here for updated growth report showing most city neighborhoods targeted for upzones already are facing high rates of growth 




Outside City Hall  Sept. 2011:

Job Growth in South Lake Union Greatly Exaggerated see costs

click here for full story:



Reprinted from the North Seattle Herald and other Pacific Publishing Newspapers  -  August  2011

Outside City Hall:  by Carolee Colter and John V. Fox

Call your Councilmembers Now!  Tell them you do not favor placing a 20-year $80 dollar increase in our car tab fees on the Fall ballot!

- Most of the dollars WILL NOT be used to cover our city's backlog of critical bridge and road repairs and likely will compete directly with the County's two year 20 dollar car tab increase on the November ballot which is needed to maintain area bus service and the Families and Education Levy!  Tell them NO to a 20-year $80 dollar increase - with few built-in controls on how that money will be spent

- Keep it off the ballot this year, replace the current advisory committee stacked with downtown and development interests, make sure most of the dollars go to critical bridge and road repairs, cut the amount and length of it in half, and match amounts this will raise with developer impact fees to so developers pay their fair share!

for full story click here:


Reprinted from the North Seattle Herald and other Pacific Publishing Newspapers  -  July 2011

Outside City Hall:

A look back at the best of the best:  City Councilmembers from our past who truly represented us

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest City Councilmember of all? For over 35 years, I’ve closely followed the City Council races and listened to hundreds of candidates’ speeches and pledges.  They all tell us they are going to do something for our transportation woes, make city hall more accessible, guarantee jobs and improve public safety. 

But among past councilmembers, there have been a few who’ve risen to the top and shown true leadership.  Rather than evaluating incumbents seeking re-election and their challengers, we thought now might be a good time to honor these past great ones in hopes that more of their qualities will rub off on the current crop.  click here for full story


OUTSIDE CITY HALL | Power grab on Roosevelt
Alliance of developers, 'greens' want to wipe out Roosevelt's neighborhood plan
By John V. Fox and Carolee Colter
Columnists   (June 15, 2011)

No matter how much density a neighborhood accepts, it will never be enough for some people.

Take the letter sent June 3 from a small group calling itself “Leadership for Great Neighborhoods” (LGN). It urges the mayor to overthrow the democratically developed Roosevelt neighborhood plan in favor of its own vision of “much higher densities” around a rail stop planned for that community.

The Roosevelt neighborhood plan, first adopted in 1999 and reworked over the last several months, is a product of hundreds of hours of community input, created through countless negotiations and compromises with city planners. Residents lobbied hard to relocate a rail station closer to their business district and recently agreed to a modest increase in allowed densities around the station.  for full story click here

link here to report




Outside City Hall:  Yesler Terrace far from being the touted 'sustainable' project
- reprinted from North Seattle Herald and other Pacific Publishing Newpapers  (June 2, 2011)
      by Carolee Colter and John V. Fox

Recently Seattle Housing Authority’s (SHA) board unanimously approved moving forward with redevelopment of Yesler Terrace.  The 561 units of public housing on the 28-acre site just north of Harborview will be wiped out and replaced with as many as 5000 units of mostly high-end apartments and condominiums.

SHA has committed to replacing only 490 of those public housing units.  That’s less than one in ten of the new units serving the poorest and neediest households in our city.  About a million square feet of office space and 80,000 square feet of retail also are planned.  click here for full story


                         May 2011: Reprinted from the May 4th edition of North Seattle Press and other Pacific Publishing Newspapers

Rewriting history of Pacific Place Parking Garage Scandal

The Pacific Place Parking Garage is in the news again.  Readers may recall the mid-90’s scandal surrounding this facility that cost the city $23 million in overpayments to developers, diverted Housing & Urban Development (HUD) funds.  Let's correct the history they're trying to rewrite about this.  Click here for full story



April 2011: Reprinted from April 5th Edition of North Seattle Press & Other Pacific Publishing Newspapers

"Calling all challengers - your recipe for a City Council bid"

Well, it looks like all five Seattle City Council incumbents - Bruce Harrell, Jean Godden, Sally Clark, Tom Rasmussen and Tim Burgess - will be seeking re-election this fall.  It’s a daunting task in Seattle to run against and defeat an incumbent. Our advice to challengers:

click here for full story


March 2011:

$38.6 Million!   That's how much eleven developers will receive getting in under the wire for MFTE tax subsidies under old rules   click here

After learning that the City Council was about to make a modest adjustment in the Multi-Family Tax Exemption (MFTE) Program, eleven developers lined up at the City's Office of Housing and obtained $38.6 million in tax breaks before the new rules were adopted.  These costs will be passed on directly to other taxpayers county-wide and city-wide.  Reportedly, another two developers followed suit but no city records are yet available nor how much this will add to the taxpayer's price tag. For the list of those ten obtaining these tax breaks and more on this story click here


Reprinted from Feb 1, 2011 Edition of North Seattle Herald and other Pacific Publishing Newspapers:

SHA Veering from its mission to help the poor

City would lose low income units, money with Yesler Terrace redevelopment

According to King County’s 2010 Housing Benchmarks report, in Seattle there are about 30,000 households with incomes at or below 30% of median ($23,150 for a 3-person household).  Yet, the report says, there are only 310 unsubsidized units in all of King County renting at levels affordable to this income group.

This stunning shortfall of affordable housing for poor people is a prime example of what economists call “market failure.”  And it demonstrates the crucial role of subsidized public housing.  click here for full story

34th, 26th, 37th, and 43rd District Democrats overwhelmingly endorse call for "No Net  loss On-Site" click here for groups and individuals to date supporting that call


Outside City Hall (January 2011)

Our Predictions for the Coming Year – Starting with the Deep Bore Tunnel
(A shorter version appears in this issue of Pacific Publishing newspapers)
     - John V. Fox and Carolee Colter

This is the time pundits and columnists write their predictions for the coming year.  Since everyone is doing it, here are some of our predictions for 2011 and beyond here in Seattle.  We’ll let you decide whether our prophecy is true or an exaggeration. for full story click here:


OUTSIDE CITY HALL | A neighborhood manifesto for change
- Carolee Colter and John V. Fox  (reprinted from Dec 1, 2010 edition of Pacific Publishing Co. Newspapers)

Looking ahead to the 2011 Seattle City Council election, it’s not too early to start thinking about how to make City Hall more responsive to our neighborhoods and the cause of social justice.

The five seats now occupied by councilmembers Tom Rasmussen, Jean Godden, Tim Burgess, Bruce Harrell and Sally Clark will be contested.

Early next year, housing and neighborhood activists expect to convene an ad hoc group to discuss whether to run our own candidates in any of these races or find other ways to make all our electeds more sympathetic to our needs. click here for full story


Attention: 580 Public Housing Units At Stake!

Update of SHA's Plans for Yesler Terrace

(reprinted from November 29th edition of the Seattle Post Globe)

November 2010: An Updated Report on SHA's plans for Yesler Terrace and surrounding community.  Will it turn into another HOPE VI-like debacle with hundreds of millions of limited housing dollars going to redevelop the last of our historic garden communities only to come out at the other end with a loss of hundreds of very low income units most needed in our city?

Two weeks ago, Seattle Housing Authority Director Tom Tierney briefed City Councilmembers on SHA’s plan to redevelop the 561-unit Yesler Terrace Public Housing Project. The discussion was timely because SHA is now taking public comment on the draft EIS outlining alternatives now under consideration for the Yesler Terrace site. Early next year, the City Council also will be taking up SHA’s request for a rezone, alley vacations, and other land use changes needed to accommodate their plan.   for more on this story click here:


Outside City Hall:  November 2010

Can We Achieve Social Equity While We Pursue "Smart Growth"On September 20th Nick Licata, head of City Council’s Housing Committee, hosted an overflow crowd of 200 at a forum entitled “Can We Achieve Social Equity Using Smart Growth?” 

Currently Seattle is in the process of upzoning many neighborhoods, especially around current or planned light rail stations for “transit-oriented development" in the name of "Smart Growth".  But what is the impact of those policies on longtime low income residents and people of color who live where this growth is being promoted?  For the complete story click here:


0/6/2010 12:49:00 PM
OUTSIDE CITY HALL | Mayor's budget gives way to special interests, not real needs

Last week, Mayor Mike McGinn presented his first budget to the Seattle City Council. These are tough economic times, and the mayor needed to make up for a $67 million drop in local tax revenues that normally would have supported programs covered by the general fund, plus significant shortfalls in non-general-fund sources such as user fees, utility rates, state and federal revenue sources.

The mayor addressed these challenges by proposing a general-fund budget $13 million less than last year. Only police and fire departments avoided deep cuts in city services and staffing. We’ll also face steep rate increases for water, solid waste, electricity and parking. (Hats off to the mayor, though, for minimizing cuts to human services)

But here are some things especially troubling to us. For starters, the parks department..... for full story, click here


OUTSIDE CITY HALL | SHA should recommit to low-income housing at Yesler Terrace   

By John V. Fox and Carolee Colter  Columnists

In a surprise decision, a narrow majority of Seattle’s Landmarks Preservation Board voted to nominate the community center building and steam plant at the 580-unit Yesler Terrace Public Housing Project for landmark designation.  If the Board affirms their vote on October 6th these two structures would gain protection under the state's Historic Landmark Laws.

However, another narrow majority of the Landmarks Board declined to protect the rest of the site saying it lacked historical value............ 

click here for full story


Mercer Corridor Groundbreaking Sept 8th: 

South Park Bridge was sacrificed for Paul Allen’s Mercer Plan - Sen. Murray shares responsibility along with our past and current Mayor and most of our City Council”

They still need $100 million for Mercer West Phase II – what other critical needs in our city will be sacrificed to cover that cost?
click here for details


Outside City Hall: Aug 2010:     "In Praise of the 'Ave' 

                                   by Carolee Colter and John V. Fox

We’re hearing it again, the hue and cry from the University District Chamber of Commerce that the “U-District” and its main thoroughfare, University Way or “the Ave,” have become another Sodom and Gomorrah.

I’ve kept a UW Daily from 1970 featuring the same stories we read today about the druggies hanging out on the Ave and fears about rising crime rates.  The Chamber is quoted railing about all the street kids running amok and driving away businesses and shoppers. They were hippies, not punkers or Goths back then but the moaning and groaning sound like today.

for more of this story, click here


Folke Nyberg Passes Away at Age 76: His contribution to our city's character should be remembered!
Last week Professor Emeritus, Architect, Planner, and longtime "Neighborhood Activist" Folke Nyberg passed away from prostrate cancer at the age of 76.  While he was not so visible in recent years on the political scene, for at least four decades Folke's writings as well as his actions had a profound, albeit more often behind-the-scenes, impact on Seattle's physical, social, and political landscape. He also was a force whose inquiries into these arenas had a great impact on the way I personally understand and respond to these things.  
olke was for a time ......    for full story click here


Outside City Hall July 2010:  A response to a recent Publicola column pushing still more highrise office development for Seattle's downtown by Carolee Colter and John V. Fox

"There's nothing environmentally sound about the effort to concentrate an even greater share of the region's jobs in Seattle's downtown core.  In fact it's just the opposite"
reprinted from July 7th edition of Pacific Publishing Newspapers including North Seattle Herald - please circulate)  click here to read the column


Outside City Hall:  June 2010 City Council increases Seattle's growth targets by 30% - Neighborhoods fight back 

You probably don't know this because no one down at City Hall thought to tell you, let alone ask for your opinion on the matter.  But quietly two weeks ago the full City Council unanimously voted to increase the City's twenty-year residential growth targets by over 30 percent.  On top of that, they committed the City to increasing its total share of the County's anticipated residential growth from 32 to about 37 percent during the period 2006 through 2031.  Without a doubt, this will set the stage for and provide the justification for still more upzones--at the expense of the livability and affordability of our city. click here for full story or headline


“Workforce housing” that workers can’t afford

On paper at least, special government programs aimed at stimulating development of housing for low and moderate income workers seem like a good idea. With most government programs designed to serve the very poor, unemployed, elderly, and disabled - those with little or no income, why not a few programs that help encourage housing affordable to the average Joe or Joanne? Dubbed “workforce housing” strategies, they include a variety of approaches designed to reward developers who agree to offer a percentage of new units in their projects at below market rates.  Too bad though it’s these developers and not workers who benefit from most of these programs    .Click here to see why



Outside City Hall May 2010 - Broad based Coalition Turns Back Burgess Anti-Panhandling Law - Big Victory over Downtown Special Interests

Something truly marvelous that happened this month — in fact, something that happens only rarely, like the sighting last summer of a mountain bluebird in the Montlake Fill. It left us feeling that exhilarated.

Broad-based opposition

A broad coalition cutting across class, race, and income lines — including groups as diverse as the Community Council Federation, NAACP, the Minority Executive Directors, ACLU, all Seattle Democratic Party Districts, church leaders, and housing and homeless advocates (such as ourselves) — came together and turned back Seattle City Councilmember Tim Burgess’ anti-panhandling (“aggressive solicitation”) law. For remainder of story click here

OUTSIDE CITY HALL | The Year of Urban Agriculture: Can it happen reprinted from March issue of Pacific Publishing Newspapers  - Carolee Colter and John V. Fox

Increasingly, what most Americans eat is grown or raised hundreds if not thousands of miles away. Every aspect of food production depends upon fossil fuels — in the form of natural gas for fertilizer, and oil for farm machinery and transportation of food to market. In April 2008, the Seattle City Council passed a resolution that outlined a series of actions toward goals for increased access for Seattle’s residents to healthy and local foods, integrating the food system into land use and transportation, and building capacity to feed the population for two to three months in an emergency.     For full story click here


Our unsung neighborhood heroes: March 2004 reprinted from Pacific Publishing Newspapers - Carolee Colter and John V. Fox

There’s a group of activists who likely will never have their names inscribed on a plaque.  Only occasionally do you hear about them when they’re quoted in the local media speaking out against freeway expansion or working to save a grove of “heritage” trees or historic building threatened by redevelopment in their neighborhood.

Without them, the physical and social character of our city would be irrevocably different—more view-blocking high-rises, fewer parks, and more concrete.  click here for the rest of the story


OUTSIDE CITY HALL | Seattle's struggle between economics, environment  Reprinted from the North Seattle Herald and other Pacific Publishing Newspapers (Feb '10)

can you be pro-growth and still be "green"?

For decades, government and industry leaders and many who call themselves environmentalists have claimed we can have economic growth and still protect the natural world from destruction and pollution. In fact, some have claimed that without growth, we can't provide that protection.

But with increased population and the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, it's becoming all too clear that economic growth and the finite capacity of our planet are on a collision course....

Outside City Hall - Jan 15 '09: Bagshaw and O’Brien on Monday cast their first significant Council vote - In favor of spot zone for Vulcan Inc. in South Lake Union Only Nick Licata votes ‘NO’  In case you didn't see or hear about it - there was little media coverage on it - by a 7 to 1 vote, last Monday, the City Council approved significant density and height allowances above normal zoning requirements for the final phase of Vulcan’s redevelopment project in South Lake Union. Taking the form of a text change to the zoning ......

Outside City Hall  (Jan 6th, 2010): Our Answers to Mayor McGinn's Magic Three Questions - by Carolee Colter and John V. Fox  (reprinted from today's issue of the North Seattle Press and contained in other Pacific Publishing Newspapers) 

Now that Michael McGinn has been elected mayor, he’s undertaken a unique exercise in community participation before even taking office.  He’s asked a small cadre of community leaders appointed to his advisory committee to reach out to the public and the constituencies they represent for answers to three questions.  click here for full column

OUTSIDE CITY HALL | Seattle Children's expansion may be more business than usual - Dec. 09 - they attempt to run roughshod over neighborhoods and the city's rules governing institutional expansion

By John V. Fox and Carolee Colter

Over the last few weeks Seattle Children's Hospital and its allies have unleashed a no-holds-barred media campaign demanding that the City Council approve Children's proposal to triple its development in the Laurelhurst neighborhood, located just east of the University of Washington.
What Children's does not broadcast is that it spent several years and thousands of dollars trying to block a competitor, Swedish Medical Center, from providing new pediatric beds on the Eastside - more convenient to sick kids from that area than Children's Laurelhurst location. Market share - yes, a business (not medical) term - is a key factor in Children's demand for tripling its development.  for full story click here

Anti-panhandling law not solution, but the problem itself

by Carolee Colter and John V. Fox

With his planned panhandling law, does Councilmember Burgess want to take us back 15 years to the era of Mark Sidran and Margaret Pageler. As former city attorney and City Council member respectively, Sidran and Pageler authored the notorious "no-sitting" and "parks exclusion" laws and other anti-homeless "civility" ordinances.

It was one of the most divisive times in Seattle's political history, pitting churches, civil liberties groups, social services and homeless advocates against the downtown establishment and chamber types. The contentiousness spilled out into street protests, sit-ins, marches, civil disobedience, numerous unruly public hearings, court challenges and even death threats.  for rest of story, click here

A look at the Mayor’s race from an economic justice perspective:   This week - McGinn’s candidacy (next week Mallahan)

Let’s face it, from an economic and racial justice perspective, there are problems with both Mike McGinn and Joe Mallahan.  I’m reserving final judgement on whom I’m voting for until we have our meeting later in the week with Mallahan.  McGinn readily met with us after the primary and here are my thoughts on his candidacy are informed by that meeting

From an economic and racial justice perspective, I think there are some differences between the Mayoral candidates that may be worth parsing out.  For example, McGinn has consistently given support to tent cities and the efforts of SHARE/WHEEL. Our conversations with him........ (for full story click here)

Outside City Hall October edition '09:

Press Coverage of our Current Local Elections and Questions Going Unanswered and Unasked

As we head into the final elections for City Council and Mayor, we’re surprised how little press coverage these races have received.  And how little of that focuses on where the candidates actually stand on key issues. 

We miss the P-I.  The Times has good reporters but their editors usually send them out to cover murder and mayhem, not local politics.  When mainstream TV does the occasional story on local races, we get....... (click here for full story)


Pricetag on 2-Way Mercer Plan Just Raised to $290 Million - While you weren't looking the Mayor increased project costs another $90 million

- The City was short $50 million when it was a $200 million dollar project


Outside City Hall:  The upcoming local elections - Our Thoughts for Mayor and the City Council Races (August 2009):

- by John V. Fox (one of our on-going columns - please feel free to circulate)

I just got through reading a host of candidate ratings, questionnaires, blogs, and endorsements from various group's around town.  It's enough to make George Orwell (and me) laugh and cry. 

You've got groups who make up "FUSE" a self proclaimed "progressive" coalition endorsing corporate candidates like Sally Bagshaw and Jesse Israel. Both candidates, especially Bagshaw are bankrolled by downtown, Paul Allen, and real estate interests. Given who they've ignored, FUSE has only demonstrated with their listing just how out of touch they are with the Seattle political scene. 

Outside City Hall Bulletin:                          July 2009

by Carolee Colter and John V. Fox

Myths about low income housing in Seattle: Where is it?  And so much for the Magnet Theory

Over the years we’ve heard some neighborhood activists claim that Southeast Seattle has “become the dumping ground” for the city’s social services and low-income housing.  They allege this has something to do with the greater incidence of poverty there than elsewhere in the city.  Crime, they say, is the inevitable result.  Stop giving us more than our share, they say.

We’ve also heard fears that because of these services and housing, Southeast Seattle has become a “magnet” attracting poor people from out of state to congregate in this community seeking all these great programs.  Some of this sentiment fueled opposition to Casa Latina’s ill-fated plan to relocate to North Rainier, as well as resistance to the Downtown Emergency Service Center’s successful homeless housing project in Columbia City. And we fear it may fuel opposition to the new housing levy on the fall ballot.

As neighborhood activists ourselves, we certainly understand such concerns.  But the facts show that Southeast Seattle has not been a recipient of an “unfair share” of low income housing nor would it be accurate to call such development a social burden....  (click on headline to read full story)


Outside City Hall:  July 2009    Seattle Reaches 60% of 20-Year Growth Target in 5 years

  • Despite downturn, over 6500 units built since Jan 08 in the city
    We've reached 60% of our GMA 20-year housing target in just 4 years and 3 months

  • All but one of the areas around light rail stations are meeting or exceeding targets

"Who says upzones are needed when the city continues to absorb far more than its share of the region's growth at the expense of the physical and social character (and affordability) of our city" ( click on headline to read full story)


Outside City Hall: June 2009 reprinted from regularly appearing column in the South Seattle Beacon and other Pacific Publishing Co. Newspapers

Mayor and City Council try again for Obama stimulus funds for the Mercer Corridor Project – over $50 million!

- If funded Mercer would receive ten times more stimulus funds than any other Seattle project and would be the only transportation project receiving such funding despite a half-billion dollar backlog of neighborhood bridge, street, and sidewalk repairs

- Biotech has tanked in South Lake Union.  Not because of the recent downturn, it is a long term trend only exacerbated by current conditions!

- To top it off, newly released city and county data shows that the number of jobs created in South Lake Union from 1995 to 2002 actually exceeded the number of jobs created there since 2002!  Fewer jobs have been created since the Mayor launched is vaunted biotech SLU agenda and started pouring our tax dollars into that small patch of Seattle land (don't believe us, then check our website out for more details)

read our full column here

and click here for links showing '0'  job growth in biotech sector

and for documentation on fall-off of jobs in South Lake Union in particular



previous articles and news

Update on council action on the housing levy for '09 Fall Ballot: Council moves to place new housing levy on the Fall ballot - Our thoughts on Monday’s vote (June '09 story)

  • Council gives go-head but only after amending Mayor's proposal so millions more are directed to the very poor with changes that dramatically limit amounts for units serving at 80% of median, we strongly urge voter approval 

  • - its a levy we can support and here is why.....


OUTSIDE CITY HALL | Leave well enough alone: Housing levy should help the poorest (May '09)

Changing the levy to provide housing at rents thousands of dollars above what the average family can afford in order to serve households with much higher incomes is not a formula for winning voter approval in a deep recession.


Outside City Hall April '09: King County Releases 2008 Housing Benchmarks Report                            
Housing shortfall has grown for people below 40% of county-wide median - report shows similar growing gap for Seattle's very low income households


March '09: Outside City Hall: Legislature Kill's Stimulus Funds for Mayor and Paul Allen's pet Mercer Project

What did Jan Drago (and the Mayor) know and when did they know it?
Rep. Clibborn says today that Drago knew last week that funding wasn't in the stimulus package and so did the Mayor - So why then didn't Jan Drago and/or the Mayor inform the Council of this fact before yesterdays 6-3 vote to release funding and break ground on the Mercer project? 


Transit Oriented Development (TOD's) Our comments, responses to our critics and our columns (Jan - March '09 Columns) expressing our opposition to the Transit Oriented Development Bill defeated in '09 Legislative Session and Why We Opposed that bill HB 1490


City's '09 Budget contains $129 million for Paul Allen's South Lake Union Plan; 5-Year CIP top $862 million (click here!)
(don't let them tell you they're ain't money out there to maintain funding for the homeless and human services)

"When you count monies already spent on SLU including the streetcar, city staffing & planning, use of Mercer land sale sale revenues in SLU, the costs easily top $900 million!  If they actually go ahead with 'phase II' Mercer Plans - costs would easily top $1.1 Billion!"

* Mercer Corridor's full costs continue to rise: $230 million total and that's only for "phase I". 


City Council Releases another $30 million for Mercer & violates it's own budget provisos and "best practices" Nov '08


Outside City Hall Vol XXXVII:Vote 'No' on Prop 1 Rail Package and here's why:

"Even without a roads component, the Prop 1 Transportation Package (really a rail package) is still a budget busting, sprawl inducing, global warming carbon-emitting lemon and here's why"
Last year, we urged readers to oppose Proposition 1, the regional transportation package that was placed on the November ’07 ballot.  That $18 billion measure, including $7 billion for roads and most of the rest for light rail, was soundly defeated.  But somehow the Sound Transit board interpreted that to mean they could come back again this November with another $18 billion ballot measure, only this time stripped of the roads component.   Repackaged under the banner “transit now”, Proposition 1 would pay for construction of 34 additional miles of light-rail track, additional Sounder train service to the south, a First Hill streetcar, and a handful of express buses. Even without roadway funding, it’s still a global-warming, carbon-emitting lemon of a proposal and here’s why:

Outside City Hall Vol XXXVI: Thirty Years of City Politics Then and Now:  (Oct. '08)  This is the thirty-first year of the Seattle Displacement Coalition’s existence. Funny, it hardly seems that long since 1977 when we were established, first as a task force to combat rising housing prices and removal of low-income housing on Capitol Hill

Coalition Bulletin: Most workers in Seatte/King County can't afford a "workforce housing" unit that is "set aside" under incentive zoning or the city's new multi-family tax break plan at a rent level affordable to those at 80% of area median income.   Washington Employment Securities Data shows that most workers earn at or below 52% of area median!  Click on headline for details:

Outside City Hall Vol. XXXV: A primer for the Mayor’s pro-development agenda – when they use these phrases or words, look out - by Carolee Colter and John V. Fox Seattle Displacement Coalition September 2008  (version of this is printed in the Capitol Hill Times and Beacon Hill News - click here to access it)

The Mayor and City Council are at it again.  As early as this September, they will be entertaining a proposal for “incentive zoning” which would allow nearly a doubling of densities in neighborhood business districts, mid-rise, and high-rise residential zones.  To prepare you for this onslaught, we have put together a citizen’s handbook of planner jargon – nice-sounding euphemisms they’ll be spoon feeding you to neutralize any concerns you might have about the changes coming to your neighborhood.  When you hear these phrases, watch out!

         Outside City Hall Vol. XXXIV (July 2008): Coalition responds to councilmembers defense of their vote to approve millions in developer tax breaks    - by Carolee Colter and John V. Fox

        Two months ago in this column we wrote about a pending City Council vote on the Mayor’s Multi-Family Tax Exemption (MFTE) plan.It’s not new to see Councilmembers ignore citizens and kowtow to the Mayor and his developer pals.  Nor is uncommon on controversial issues for Councilmembers to launch into a rhetorical flourish just before voting the wrong way when the public is so opposed to their action. It’s called damage control.  What was particularly telling, though, was the rationale Councilmembers used to justify their action. for full story click here


Outside City Hall Vol. XXXIII: The Attack of the Townhouses  by Carolee Colter and John V. Fox

Councilmember Clark seems genuinely interested in ensuring a more creative approach to townhouses. Unfortunately, as we have seen over and over again, when discussions around zoning changes begin at the community level with earnest dialogue, citizen workshops, and lofty promises about reflecting community concerns and good design and other highfalutin’ values in new zoning, once the final decisions are made, we get something quite different.

click here for full story


Outside City Hall: Vol. XXXII: City moves ahead with multi-family tax break giveaway plan - click here for full story

Click here for closer look at the Mayor's Multi-Family Tax Break (MFTE) Giveaway Plan - & comparison of price of units in new MFTE developments to what tenants can afford link to incentive zoning

-  also see how much our city nabe's are exceeding their GMA (Growth Management) 2024 Targets - so where's the public benefit link to income breakdown

- also compare current rents in hot nabe's to MFTE rent levels


Outside City Hall: Volume XXXI - Carolee Colter and John V. Fox

A NEW PARKS LEVY?  4/30/08

With this year’s expiration of the voter-approved Pro Parks Levy of 2000, Seattle faces the question of how to provide for its parks in the coming years.  During its eight-year lifespan, the $198 million Pro Parks levy funded acquisition of 42 acres of open space for parks, and 70 park development projects.  (click headline for full details)

Outside City Hall Vol. XXX March '08

It's a crime to be poor and homeless in Seattle

In recent months, the police have launched crackdowns on homeless encampments that have popped up with increasing frequency in our city's greenbelts. On the west side of Beacon Hill and more notably on Queen Anne Hill, police, aided by parks department personnel have raided make-shift little cities, summarily removing residents' belongings with not so much as a notice or attempt to assist affected individuals.

Outside City Hall XXIX: reprinted from Beacon Hill News: Zoned Out: Paying attention to where the real power to change things sites in Seattle

We're also going "green" and moving toward "zero waste." Our city council has passed a resolution against the Iraq War. Maybe it's because of these civic gestures toward these national and global liberal causes that a lot of people who consider themselves liberals, or even progressives, seem to give the city of Seattle a pass when it comes to confronting the more intractable problems of poverty, social inequality and corporate control of government


Other stories


"Condo conversions and Demolitions Ravage Seattle and Puget Sound Housing Markets - Thousands of low income rentals lost in last 3 years (click here for details)


& Seven Seattle City Councilmembers Urge Passage of HSB 2014 and language giving cities the right to place limits on the number of condo conversions occurring in their community each year! click here


Last month, voters soundly defeated Proposition One, the $18 billion roads-and-transit package, an outcome we applaud.We share the underlying goal: ending the expansion of roads, with a massive shift of our transportation dollars to mass transit. But we do not support a move to rail because that would only bankrupt this region of resources we need for real transit solutions that get more people out of their car. Here is our crack at a broad set of sane regional transportation solutions: 


Outside City Hall Vol XXVII:

The Seattle City Council's 2008 budget follies overly favor South Lake Union
- Carolee Colter and John V. Fox (Seattle Displacement Coalition)

Bad enough to lose public money on developers’ private gain.  But this year’s budget showers its largesse on just one company and darn near one man, Vulcan, Inc.’s Paul Allen.  Since 2001 over  $100 million in city funds has gone into the redevelopment of South Lake Union (SLU) but it’s just a fraction of what’s to come.  click here for full story


Outside City Hall column: Vol. XXVI:

The Transportation Package to Nowhere Prop 1

In recent weeks, we’ve heard that some fellow progressives may cast their vote, however reluctantly, in favor of Proposition 1, the transportation package slated for the November ballot.  Proposition 1 is the single most wallet-busting, wasteful, regressive, carbon-emitting, elite-driven, gridlock-ensuring, misguided funding request ever brought before the voters of this region.


Outside City Hall: Vol. XXV:

Mayor seeks to subsidize developers and kill affordable housing - by John V. Fox and Carolee Coulter
- city council seeks your input on multi-family tax break giveaway plan
- a windfall for developers with no public benefit
- plan will actually spur still more displacement and loss of physical character in our nabe's


Outside City Hall Vol. XXIV:

Seattle’s urban forest is falling victim to the relentless growth - John V Fox & Carolee Colter

Whether it’s several hundred trees removed at a time to redevelop Seattle Housing Authority’s properties at Rainier Vista, Holly Park, and High Point, or trees on single lots that got in the way of bigger structures, Seattle’s urban forest is falling victim to the relentless growth courted and rewarded by city government land-use policies. reprinted from Aug '07 Beacon Hill News


Outside City Hall Vol 23 Our look at the upcoming council races

 - click here for a look at the races and the candidates - so far the races for the contested seats are "bland bland bland" The voters are crying out for someone to speak out strongly on the issues they care about.   

- by Carolee Colter and John V. Fox

previous stories:

A father's death leaves a legacy of positive change behind

A week before Father's Day, my father John Noel Fox passed away in a congregate care facility in Bellingham, just one month shy of 90. I had the difficult but very real privilege of being there when he died, along with my sister and one of his nurses.

It is painful to lose a loved one - to sit back and helplessly watch him fade away. But I know that he lived a long and very good life.

My recollections of Charlie Chong and why he was so important for our city: (May 24, 2007)
          The City of Seattle lost a remarkable politician and community activist last week. Charlie Chong passed away at age 80 from complications following heart surgery.  Actually it may be incorrect to call Charlie a politician at all even though he ran for Mayor twice and served on the City Council for one year in the mid-90’s.  Call him the anti-politician, a more appropriate moniker given his deep rooted populist sentiments and his disdain for the groupthink so pervasive among most of our local politicians who once elected all too quickly forget those who helped elected them.  Charlie never did.  (shorter version appears in Beacon Hill News/Capitol Hill Times)

Reprinted from this issue of the Beacon Hill News 04/05/2007
Mayor's New Housing Agenda Downplays Low Income Needs In Favor of Higher Income Groups click here for full story
- future funding for low income housing programs would have to be sacrificed to fund higher-end development
- the Mayor's proposed tax breaks for new high end development passes added taxes onto existing lower priced rentals
- the Mayor's pro-density agenda threatens hundreds and hundreds of low income units in our city!
- and makes a mockery of Seattle's 10-year plan to end homelessness by emphasizing higher income over low income

Outside City Hall Vol XIX reprinted from front page of the Beacon Hill News  02/01/2007 : 

Shoveling sand against the rising tide of condo conversions - what can we do about stopping the continued loss of our city's low income housing stock to conversion, demolition, speculative sale and increased rent - John V. Fox and Carolee Colter

Condo Conversion Bills SSB 5031 and HB 2014 Under consideration: call or write them today - click here for details  &  click here to see joint letter calling on electeds to pass legislation giving back to cities the right to limit the number of conversions devastating their communities.

Outside City Hall vol XVIII: How deserved is Seattle's green reputation? reprinted from front page of the Beacon Hill News (12/29/06)

After years of the Bush administration with its "Clear Skies" and "Healthy Forests" Initiatives, we've learned to be skeptical. But when it comes to local government, it seems that the citizens of Seattle, especially those who consider themselves environmentalists, are all too ready to believe the fine words of our mayor and city council. Unfortunately it is "greenwashing" that too often passes for sound environmental policy in this city.  For example, let’s take a look at our “leaders” apparent preference for an expanded I-520 bridge.  There, you’ll find them responding to a different kind of green - that being the demands of cold hard cash and feeding Seattle’s downtown growth machine.  And then there’s the Mayor’s Urban Forest Management Plan that emphasizes planting new trees, but fails to address the loss of mature trees.  Here again, his plan to accommodate runaway density in Seattle fuels the loss of our existing tree canopy – much of which is on private “developable” land.  For full story click here:


Other outside city hall columns & key city stories - see below and click on

 Vol. XVII: Outside City Hall (reprinted from November 22nd 2006 edition of Beacon Hill News-click here)

I the spring of 2005, the Mayor's office released a 23-page "action agenda" containing several dozen recommendations for revitalization of Southeast Seattle.  Developed with the help of the Rainier Valley Chamber, Southeast Effective Development (SEED), Homesite, and prominent area banking institutions, the agenda included a seemingly innocuous recommendation for a “community renewal plan” for Southeast Seattle. Leaping ahead to the fall of 2006, a firestorm in Southeast Seattle has been ignited over the Mayor's attempt to implement that plan. It calls for the City Council to designate a special "community renewal area" or CRA with boundaries stretching from I-90 to the south city line and encompassing nearly every block between Martin Luther King Way and Rainier Avenue.



"Community Leaders sign letter opposing SHA/Mayor/City Council Appointment of Sybil Bailey to the SHA Board & decry council and Mayor's use of Karl Rove tactics" (Sept '06)

 - click here for full story and to read open letter from activists and residents to the City Council

click here for our column on the Bailey appointment: Outside City Hall Sept '06 (reprinted from the Beacon Hill News)


Outside City Hall Column August 2006:

SEATTLE’S “BIG DIG”: Why we say 'NO' to the Mayor's Tunnel Proposal  Ever since the 2001 Nisqually earthquake cracked and weakened the Alaskan Way Viaduct, we as a city have faced a serious problem which will take serious money to solve.  Serious as in billions of dollars.  Mayor Nickels knew what he wanted right away—tear down the viaduct, replace it with a tunnel.  Eventually given the $5 billion  price tag, the tunnel was shortened bringing the cost down to a mere $3.6 Billion.  That is, if you don’t think cost overruns will happen here, as they did in Boston’s “Big Dig” which mushroomed from $5 to $14 billion. Click here for full story


Outside City Hall Column: Trees Equal Good Health - We don't prevent sprawl by sacrificing Seattle's Trees and Greenery - Carolee Colter and John V. Fox  June 28, 2006 

When we're not busy uncovering the high jinks of our mayor and his wealthy backers, or striving to save low-income housing from destruction by developers, or urging the city council to hold Seattle Authority accountable for its use of public funds, we both have a pastime for relaxation and renewal - watching birds click here for rest of story.


A Fishy Legislative Stew is Cooking up at City Hall" OUTSIDE CITY HALL: A view of issues affecting Seattle's Neighborhoods by Carolee Colter and John V. Fox 2/23/06 Things are heating up down at city hall. Our column this time is an attempt to give readers a heads-up on key issues our city leaders will be addressing over the coming year. Call it our hit parade of what really matters to the neighborhoods, particularly communities often left out when city resources are distributed.

OUTSIDE CITY HALL   1/12/06: "Who Will Bell the SHA Cat"  reprinted from January 06  Beacon Hill News) by Carolee Colter and John V. Fox

Much is said about the need for accountability in government spending, but when it comes to action, we’re like the mice in Aesop’s fable asking, “Who will bell the cat?”  A provision in a bill from state representative Mark Miloscia might just put a bell on the cat’s collar when it comes to Seattle Housing Authority’s continued destruction of low-income housing and the use of state money to pay for it.


"Local Unsung Heroes Recognized for their Community Advocacy": OUTSIDE CITY HALL December 2005:  Since the holidays are a time of good cheer, the two of us thought we would shift the attention of this column away from our usual focus on our city leader’s hapless misadventures.   In the spirit of the season let’s turn from our city’s dismal lack of leadership at the top and the pessimism it engenders to look instead down into our communities where real leadership is always found.  There are many unsung heroes out there working away at the grassroots and for this column what we want to do is feature some of them who because of their tireless efforts actually give us hope for our city’s future.   


News flash: South Lake Union Streetcar Benefits Go to 17 Large Property Owners While Small Property Owners Get Socked!
Coalition's review of streetcar assessment roles for each property owner shows that Paul Allen, Clise Properties, Fred Hutch, Seattle Times and 13 other large propery owners will reap the lion's share of benefit - $36 million - but pay only $13 million of the streetcar's cost.  Allen makes $21.4 million but pays only $7.9.  Meanwhile 100 small property owners are socked with large payments while receiving nothing in the way of real benefit.  Click here for a breakdown and look at how much each property owner will pay and how much each will gain



Outside City Hall By Carolee Colter and John V. Fox: Aug 05: click on headline for full story and to see other columns by Colter and Fox

Comparing Seattle's Downtown to Vancouver: They combine density with more public control over in Seattle we just giveaway the farm

Seattle officials like to tell us we’re too provincial. When they want
us to swallow some grand scheme, they’ll point to Copenhagen, Singapore, Manhattan, even Portland and tell us we’ve got to emulate them and “grow up”. Now we’re being urged to look north to Vancouver.

For an interesting demographic comparison of Seattle and Vancouver click here:



Previous stories and headline news (click on story):


Seattle Housing Authority's Rainier Vista HOPE VI celebration Aug 11, hides major problems, possible cost overruns, and violations of court-enforced obligations to low income residents and the Displacement Coalition. click here for full story

"Strippergate Can't Hold a Corrupt Candle to Vulcangate"

Strippergate” is back in the news. While too much has been said about “Strippergate," little or nothing has been said or done about more important and far-reaching examples of how special interests shape city decision-making.   (July '05 Outside City hall by John Fox and Carolee Colter)


Analysis: How Each Councilmember Performed on Monday’s June 27th Street Car Vote (see below):

"Council Votes 7-2 to Go-Ahead with Paul Allen's Street Car"


Vulcan Attacks Licata's Attempt to Restrict Use of Future Bus Service for the South Lake Union Street Car! (See Vulcan form letter attached below)


* While the Council is likely to release funding for the South Lake Union Street Car on Monday, they may back away from a committing future neighborhood bus service for trolley operations.  Only your calls will make the difference Testimony before hearing from some of you also is needed.  (Click on headline for details)


For more information, also see current Outside City Hall Opinion Vol X JOHN V. FOX & CAROLEE COLTER: reprinted from the Capitol Hill Times entitled: "The travesty of the Lake Union Street Car" click on this paragraph


"Plan to end homelessness ignores root causes"
OUTSIDE CITY HALL Vol IX: JOHN V. FOX & CAROLEE COLTER - A view of issues affecting Seattle's neighborhoods reprinted from Beacon Hill News and Capitol Hill Times 05/25/2005

Every day in King County over 50 social service agencies provide shelter and/or counseling to 2,500-3,000 homeless people. City and county governments fund these programs to the tune of over $20 million a year. Nevertheless, the number of homeless on our streets has continued its relentless upward climb. A new effort has recently emerged boldly calling itself the committee to End Homelessness. Over two dozen social service agencies, church organizations, King County, the City of Seattle and United Way have combined forces and promised to guarantee "a roof over every bed" by 2014. But in spite of its goal to "end homelessness, not manage it," the plan is conspicuously lacking in programs and strategies that would attack the problem at its roots.


"Seattle's empty promise of preserving affordable housing and what can we do to change that"
04/28/2005 (Reprinted from the Beacon Hill News)

Every year we lose about 2,000-4,000 low-income units to demolition, speculative sale, abandonment, conversion and increased rents. For every one unit we build with limited public funds, we lose three to four times that amount to the forces of redevelopment and gentrification. As we write this column, the land use committee of the Seattle City Council is entertaining changes to the downtown land use plan and zoning changes elsewhere around town proposed by the mayor. This will translate directly into the loss of even more low-income housing in our city. 


May 12, 2005 Bulletin: Mayor Holds Glitzy Press Conference on top floor of federal building - releases his new plan to max out downtown
- PR event cannot disguise the fact that his plan is little more than a blueprint for more housing demolition, abandonment, increased rents, and more homelessness in our City!
- Mayor times his PR event to push Councilmember Steinbrueck and other councilmembers into acting precipitously and before his plan has even been vetted by the Law Department and before there is adequate opportunity for council review or public comment
- Mayor's plan wipes out last vestiges of Citizens CAP initiative and crams still more highrises and more density into downtown with all its attendant impacts on our neighborhoods


May 12 2005: Displacement Coalition Bulletin #45: (please circulate)   Special benefits study shows South Lake Union property owners will rake in 70-80 million in increased property values if streetcar gets go-ahead but they refuse to pay more than $25 million of the cost. - Limiting property owners contribution while passing much of the cost on to taxpayers apparently is OK with the Mayor and most Councilmembers. And guess who gets the lions share of that increased value? Yep - it's Paul Allen! Let the Mayor and Councilmembers know what you think about this one.


Outside City Hall Vol VII: Mar 2005 Issue: reprinted from Beacon Hill News           

The fight to locate Casa Latina in Rainier Valley - One wonders, whose neighborhood is this? (click here for full story)

The controversy around the plans for the old Chubby & Tubby site on Rainier Avenue reveals the outlines of a struggle for the soul of Rainier Valley.  Despite the fact that Casa Latina provides jobs, counseling and other services to a population of Latinos that make up a significant percentage of the Southeast Seattle population (about 8 percent), the scions of the business community were outraged that the city was willing to provide funds for CASA Latina at this location. Given that 40 percent of all Rainier Valley residents are foreign-born, one wonders why the Chamber would cast such a negative light on a program that serves immigrants (click headline above for full story).

Outside City Hall Vol VI: Feb 2005 Issue: reprinted from Beacon Hill News

“Help Wanted: A New Mayor for Seattle"Someone with name familiarity, lots of dollars or ability to raise them, and proven leadership experience, willing to take on Greg Nickels for Mayor in 2005.  A large coalition of community leaders seek strong leader who will give first priority to our neighborhoods and small businesses, with the goal of ensuring equity, jobs, and affordable housing  for low income people, communities of color, and others now marginalized by the policies of our current Mayor... click here or on headline for full story


Outside City Hall Vol V: November 2004 Issue: reprinted from Beacon Hill News

Hundreds of "Scattered Site" Public Housing Units Threatened by SHA's plan to sell off many of these very low income units:

A valuable housing resource for Seattle's low-income families is threatened by the Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) and our city council seems poised to let it happen without a peep. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, with a combination of federal and local housing levy dollars, the city of Seattle oversaw the construction and acquisition of over 700 units of "scattered site" public housing. Mayor Charles Royer had a lot to do with initiating this program and securing those federal dollars.

The Myth that the City has no authority over SHA actions is just that - a myth!  for more information and to see documents establishing SHA and the City's continuing authority over SHA actions, click here.

Other Stories: 

Outside "City Hall Column" Vol. VI reprinted from Dec 2004 edition of Beacon Hill News written by John V. Fox and Carolee Colter of the Coalition

Seattle's high density growth plans may be a neighborhood killer in disguise

"For over three decades neighborhood groups, low-income housing advocates, and environmental organizations have worked together. Their collective efforts led to passage of the Growth Management Act, Shorelines Act, and other environmental laws. They blocked the Bay Freeway, the I-90 and 520 expansions and a host of other bad auto-oriented projects. They worked together, locally, to secure support for growth limits on downtown high-rise expansion, controls on demolition of low-income housing and helped preserve the Pike Place Market.  Now it seems, in an attempt to advance an aggressive pro-density agenda, our mayor and a few other elected officials are trying to pull these natural allies apart."

For Full Story, click here or go to the Beacon Hill News Website at                      

Update on Mercer Decision - November 3, 2004

Council votes to fast-track and limit environmental assessment while SDOT also has revoked earlier decision to require an EIS! 

- There will be no comprehensive or complete environmental impact statement for this $200 million megaproject and mega waste of city funds

- Ordinance and Resolutions releasing the Mercer Corridor funds Re-Crafted to Guarantee there will be NO state or federal EIS review nor study of less costly options that might really do something to relieve traffic congestion in the area.

 - What is the City Council doing releasing $1.8 million in limited city funds for study and environmental review when we already know they're going to conclude No EIS is necessary?

November 1st 2004 Counncil Vote on Mercer Corridore                          

Mercer Corridor Update:  Review of Monday Nov. 1st 2:00PM Council Chambers Final Vote - See how each councilmember voted

 - City Council votes to release $1.8 million in city funds to fast track study of the Mayor's $200 million 2-Way Mercer "Non-Fix"  Another $600,000 in 2005 City General Funds may also be released!

   - Only Licata (and to a degree Conlin) spoke for neighborhoods/Licata will present motion Monday to redirect funds for critical bridge repairs and other real needs in our city

Most recent past headlines (click on for details):

Volume IV: Outside City Hall  reprinted from Beacon Hill News

"The City Budget - Good or bad for our neighborhoods and low income people?"

- A View of Issues Affecting Seattle’s Neighborhoods  (October 2004)

                        - John V. Fox, Carolee Colter, Seattle Displacement Coalition

 This year Mayor Nickels offered a kinder and gentler budget for Seattle residents spotlighting all he is going to do for neighborhoods but are his budget proposals all that neighborhood friendly... Well not really.  Click on headline to read our commentary)  This is the fourth in a series of monthly commentaries from the Seattle Displacement Coalition reprinted from the Beacon Hill News/South District Journal - October edition


October News Flash!!   What's in 2005 budget for Mayor's South Lake Union Agenda!  

Click here to see what the Mayor has inserted in the 2005 City Budget and the 2005-2010 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) to serve his South Lake Union/Paul Allen Agenda

Volume III of our commentaries reprinted from Beacon Hill News:

"Councilmembers allow Mayor to move ahead with planning for the South Lake Union Streetcar - opens door for huge hit on the City budget.  Mayor also angling to tap neighborhood bus service and still more of our tax dollars for other South Lake Union frills!"  - A View of Issues Affecting Seattle’s Neighborhoods  Vol. III  - John V. Fox, Carolee Colter Seattle Displacement Coalition (This column is the 3rd of a series of monthly commentaries from the Seattle Displacement Coalition reprinted from the Beacon Hill News/South District Journal - Sept 2004)

"Outside City Hall"  Vol. II (Aug 2004) - A View of Issues Affecting Seattle’s Neighborhoods   - Why the Mayor's plan to push more density into our neighborhoods does not guarantee affordability or prevent sprawl by Carolee Colter & John V. Fox, Seattle Displacement Coalition (This column is second of a series of monthly commentaries from the Seattle Displacement Coalition reprinted from the Beacon Hill News)

Outside City Hall  (July 2004) - A View of Issues Affecting Seattle’s Neighborhoods Vol. I- John V. Fox, Seattle Displacement Coalition (This is the first in a series of monthly commentaries featured in the Beacon Hill News from the Seattle Displacement Coalition)  Headline: click on it for details:

Against a backdrop of declining revenues and pressing neighborhood needs, what's the Mayor doing with his time? While neighborhood folks have trouble finding even one city planner and must compete for small grants that must be matched with their “sweat equity”, quite literally as much as 40 percent of all city staff time is now devoted to the redevelopment of South Lake Union.  Here’s a quick rundown on only some of the Mayor’s on-going plans in South Lake Union and what it will cost you in public dollars:

Coalition Bulletin: Update and Analysis of Council Committee Vote Yesterday on the SLU Streetcar:  

"New Council Members Dilute Conlin-Licata Proposals so some City Funds can still be used for South Lake Union Streetcar - New bus service to our neighborhoods also remains at risk"  - Some restrictions on use of city funds were imposed but loopholes mean millions in City funds are still at risk needed to meet neighborhood and human service needs in our city   (August 16th 2004)

Other recent stories from the last month (click on headline):

"Over 130 community leaders sign letter to City Council saying no city, state, or federal funds should be used for the South Lake Union Streetcar" (August 9, 2004)

(click here to see full text of letter from community leaders or on headline above)

- 9000 hours of city-wide bus service are threatened as Mayor seeks to cut deal with METRO to have them operate trolley

    There's a half billion dollar backlog of neighborhood transportation needs and this is what the Council is doing with it's time and our taxdollars - figuring out how to help Paul Allen build his trolley to nowhere! Expect more cuts to human services and to neighborhood programs next year to pay for it as well.  Bus Service may also be cut back in Seattle to cover operating expenses. 


"Paul Allen should pay for his own darn trolley!!"

Click here on on this headline for more on  Coalition position (July 14, 2004)


Bulletin 56: (June 16th 2004)
Displacement Coalition Begins Series of Monthly Columns in Beacon Hill News called "Outside City Hall - a view of issues affecting Seattle's neighborhoods" 1st column "why the Mayor's plans for South Lake Union affect Southeast Seattle" (June 16, 2004)

"Over 125 people including many residents turned out last week to tell SHA they will fight the loss of any of the 580 public housing units on site at Yesler Terrace"- a report on the June 10th Forum on the Future of Yesler Terrace (June 16, 2004)

Bulletin #55 Housing/Homeless Advocates Weigh-In on New Library & Volunteers Really Needed for U-District Shelter Programs (June 3, 2004)

Citizen's Transportation Advisory Committee Today Reveals $500 Million Backlog of Neighborhood Transportation Needs - Meanwhile the Mayor busies himself and two dozen of his staff with plans for a $50 million Street Car and $200 million in other transportation improvements for South Lake Union! (May 25, 2004)

"SHA Announces Plan to Sell-Off 200 Scattered Site Public Housing Units - Promises 100 percent replacement..... but will they?" (May 10, 2004)

 “Alcohol Impact Areas to be extended to U-District, Downtown, Lower Queen Anne, and Central Area - Hearing Tomorrow Tuesday, May 11th, 5:30PM in Council Chambers" - It's called appeasing the downtown and chamber crowd and pushing the poor around.  Meanwhile absolutely nothing substantive is done to stop the destruction of low income housing in our city and these areas, and they continue to cut funding for community-based alcohol, drug treatment, and mental healthcare. (May 10, 2004)

 "SHA has longterm plans to destroy Yesler Terrace's 580 Public Housing Units" - Broad Coalition forms to prevent loss of public housing - You are invited to a "Large Community Forum" called for June 10th 6:00 PM at Bailey Gatzhert School to collective voice our concerns and hear your concerns. (May 10, 2004)

 "Special Report on HOPE VI by John McLaren":  click here for the full report which provides a useful and important analysis of the status of this federal program and how it has been used here locally and nationally as a tool to dismantle our nation's and city's public housing stock.   

See below and click on headline for more stories from this year:

Community Leaders Call for Council Delay and Review of Pending Multi-Million Dollar South Lake Union Land Sale Involving City and Vulcan-Owned Properties  - And a call for hearings and re-establishment of the Public-Private Partnership Review Committee to review pending plans (April 28th)



What's So Sustainable About the Mayor and Vulcan's Plans in South Lake Union? A report on what happened last Wednesday at Councilmember Richard Conlin's Brown Bag Lunch "Achieving Sustainable Development in South Lake Union" (April 16th)

Update/analysis of vote on Car Impound Law,City Budget & "TIF" (Tax Increment Financing  & How some of your electeds performed)  (March 31st):

Mayor Returns Vulcan's Illegal Office Fund Contributions in Wake of Coalition's Complaint (March 24th, 2004)

"Press Release: Coalition Files Ethics Complaint Against Mayor & Vulcan for unlawful contributions to Mayor's Office Fund"  (Mar 24th, '04)

"Coalition Bulletin: Multi-Family Tax Breaks Approved Today in Full Council"  - See how each councilmember voted"  (March 15, 2004)

"Coalition's Response to Councilmember Tom Rasmussen's Position on the Proposed Multi-Family Tax Abatement Program" (Mar 11, '04)

"City Council poised to give away tax breaks to developers, passing on to you another $20-$30 million in added property taxes while homeowners and Seattle tenants will face higher rents! - Call your councilmembers today - oppose “multi-family tax abatement” giveaway!" (Mar 7, '04)

"Coalition calls for City Council resolution establishing a task force to study displacement in our neighborhoods. Six month study would end with passage of new laws put in place before the Mayor's upzones are implemented that will accelerate loss of low income housing in our city"    (Feb 18, 2004)

For archived city bulletins going back to 2003 click here

The Seattle Displacement Coalition's Mission:

                The Seattle Displacement Coalition is a 26 year-old region-wide low income housing organization, made up of low income residents, the homeless, and representatives of social service, church, civil rights, women's, and community-based organizations.  It is a volunteer community organization with a staff of 1-3 people depending on its current funding and current activities. The Coalition was created to provide a forum for affected people and their supporters to call for preservation and expansion of low income housing and other measures that ensure a fairer distribution of economic and political resources in the Seattle/King County area.  The Coalition has a long track record of building successful campaigns around winnable low income housing legislation and it has successfully represented and built leadership and participation among groups of low income tenants, and the homeless challenging developer/city actions that threaten those communities. 

The Seattle Displacement Coalition works with low income and homeless people - and people at risk of becoming homeless -  of all racial, age, and economic backgrounds.  Through direct action strategies, we organize affected people around real objectives that will make a difference in people's everyday lives while developing a capacity among these groups to move on to larger system-redefining objectives.  We also link the activity of affected groups to the activities of a broader area-wide coalition that includes church, civil rights, community, and labor organizations that supports not dominates a homeless and low income agenda. 


Issues the Coalition is currently addressing:  For more specific on-going 2004 activities  jump here

                1.  Housing Issues Campaign designed to prevent the continuing loss of low income housing in our city to demolition, abandonment, conversion, speculative sale and increased rents: This initiative is designed to focus the work of housing and homeless organizations, and homeless and low income people themselves, around winnable legislative objectives, by broadly publicizing the need for a renewed housing movement through publication of regular e-mail bulletins ,and then directing that energy and participation into a campaign to secure housing reforms in Seattle. 

                A Right of First Refusal Law  would give tenants in low income housing the right to form their own non-profit or link up with an existing non-profit and buy the apartments they are renting if that housing is slated for demolition or speculative sale.  These tenants also would be given access to  public funds needed to assist them in that purchase so their buildings could be converted into cooperatives, land trusts, or other forms of permanent low income housing.  Click here for a copy of our proposed right of first refusal law.

            City Council Resolution Creating a Task Force to Assess Displacement now occurring in our neighborhoods.  The 15 member task force appointed by the head of the Council's Housing Committee and staffed by the Office of Housing would have six months to assess the problem, compile data, and come up with a set of legislative recommendations for Council adoption before the Council moves forward with the Mayor's plans for significant upzones of several neighborhoods in the City.  We must have housing preservation mechanisms in place before any further changes in zoning occur that would only  accelerate the loss of low income housing in our city.  See above headline for more information or click here to jump to another web page for more information on our anti-displacement resolution. 

2.  “Homeless Civil Rights Organizing”:  a continuance of our campaign to build participation among homeless people of all ages around the goal of turning back laws and local government actions that threaten the civil rights of the homeless, and to link that participation with active support from civil rights, church, community, and labor groups.  .  We aim  to redirect public policy back towards provision of housing, jobs, and services rather than jails for the homeless.  Measures implemented during the Sidran/Pageler era at City Hall that must be overturned include the  "no-sitting law",  pedestrian interference law, car impound law, use of trespass admonishments, and parks exclusion law.   For information on why Mark Sidran should never be elected to public office again, let alone the position of State Attorney General, click on the box just below for a compilation of his dismal anti-homeless and anti-civil rights agenda.   For more information on the specifics of each of these anti-homeless laws, click here:  jump to anti-homeless laws discussion.

4. Holly Park, Rainier Vista, and Senior Housing - Holding SHA Accountable :  For several years the Seattle Displacement Coalition has been engaged in a concerted effort to hold our Seattle Housing Authority accountable to its underlying mission of providing units to our City's poorest residents.  In 1997, we worked to ensure 100 percent replacement of any units lost at Holly Park due to SHA's HOPE VI redevelopment of that site. Our efforts did not stop the destruction of over 400 low income public housing units but it did result in passage of a low income housing replacement plan in which SHA committed to contributing dollars towards off-site replacement of a portion of those units.   We helped bring together representatives of labor, housing, and community groups and launched a campaign to challenge SHA’s plans at Rainier Vista as well - another HOPE VI project that will result in the loss of 170 public housing units.  As a result of a lawsuit we filed against that project (joining Friends of Rainier Vista and tenants represented by Columbia Legal Services and the NW Justice Project), we were able to force SHA to solidify an off-site replacement plan and secured commitments from them to undertake efforts to avoid loss of low income public housing  at Yesler Terrace when they launch redevelopment plans at that 550 unit site.  We also won a commitment to rollback rent increases on the 1000 unit Senior Housing Bond Program(SSHP) and to look at alternatives to that policy.  The result was a permanent rollback of the rent increase for low income seniors the program coupled with more modest increases over time on higher income residents living in SSHP units.  We also organized residents of this program so that now in each building under this program, there are representives who participate in a resident based organization made up of program residents.  This group the SSHP Advocates have a board and are not effectively representing their own interests.

            We will continue to monitor SHA’s compliance with its housing replacement obligations at each of its HOPE VI projects (where over 1000 public housing units were torn down).  We will seek to redirect SHA projects like its current plans for the 550 unit Yesler Terrace Public Housing Project that would cause the loss of additional low income units, and instead promote alternatives that ensure "no net loss" of existing public housing.  Due to federal budget cuts and regulatory changes, housing authorities across the country are dismantling their low income housing  by converting it to market rate, selling it off for market rate development, or moving to mixed income strategies rather than serving those most in need. By maintaining a broad coalition of church leaders, community leaders, housing advocates, social service providers, and affected people themselves, we will seek to prevent further losses of public housing here in Seattle.  Five years ago, the Displacement Coalition working with a broader coalition of these groups  secured passage of a state measure that  restructured  the Seattle Housing Authority - expanding the board, forcing more frequent review of current board appointments, and requiring city council approval of all board appointments and extension of board appointments.  Also the law required that 2 of 7 members of the board now are public housing residents.  It also strengthened conflict of interest language.  The effect of this bill has been to  force more accountability out of this agency.

              4.  Homeless Youth Organizing and Housing Project :  In total for this project we raised over $40,000 which covered our 1996-1997 expenses. We also entered into a relationship with the Low Income Housing Institute and  secured a significant Stewart McKinney Grant  which paid for the purchase of a single-family home (under LIHI’s name) and that covered most operating expenses.  After helping launch this effort and ensuring that it would continue, this project was split from the Coalition.  It now is a   task force of the Church Council and to a large degree, it retains the unique characteristics of the project that distinguished it as one of the state’s only truly “independent living” projects for homeless youth.

               5.  Challenging development and policy decisions that cause displacement:  A key focus of ours is to challenge the misdirection of limited city resources - the city’s continued commitment to spending for downtown development and in South Lake Union at the expense resources we need for  low income housing and our neighborhoods.   In the past, we sued the City and filed a complaint with HUD charging misuse of federal Section 108 funds for development of a new Nordstrom store and a downtown parking garage.  These were federal monies had been intended to curb blight and address low income needs.   Our complaint forced changes in the Section 8 program and because of former Norm Rice's role in the deal, it cost him a cabinet position.

The Downtown Office Boom - Who Wins?  Who Loses

& Why Seattle Should Not Become Another Manhattan  

For more on the costs and impacts of our city's love affair with downtown development

** Click here for opinion piece with photos

** Click here for extended analysis of why Seattle should not

become another Manhattan and a look at alternative growth options for Seattle and the region


The Coalition "Bench Project"

Click on the photo for a picture of one of the Coalition's 30 benches built by volunteers and dispersed throughout the City.  It is an attempt to 1) provide a needed amenity in community business districts where cooperating merchants requested them, and 2) to make a statement against our City's "no-sitting" law approved in '92 sponsored by none other than Mark Sidran and Margaret Pageler with support of Mayor Rice.  This law is an explicitly anti-homeless (and anti-city) measure that only serves to drive a deeper wedge in our community between rich and poor and black and white.  The answer of course to people sitting on the sidewalk is BENCHES, not banning sitting and the more the merrier.  The benches were designed and constructed of heavy duty materials weighing about 80 pounds each.  Most were built 3-4 years ago and can be seen in areas like Ballard and Capitol Hill.  The Bench Project also was a great community builder for our supporters and is a classic example of "direct action".  For those interested in doing another bench project, give us a call or e-mail us.  

 Organizational Structure/Administration/Decision-Making:  Established by a formal board vote in 1977.  these practices have been functioning effectively since then.  They are affirmed regularly through board action and identified in all of our grant applications when such information is requested. 

                The Seattle Displacement Coalition is composed primarily of people directly affected by the low income and homeless issues we are addressing.  In addition, the Coalition draws support and volunteers from representatives of church, labor, civil liberties, community, women's, and social service organizations, and the larger residential communities.  More than 500 people have attended at least two Coalition initiated activities in the past year.  The active "core" of the organization is comprised of about 50-75 people who regularly participate in the on-going activities of the organization and includes people of color, people of diverse socioeconomic levels (at least 50 percent low income), and people of different ages.  For every issue we address, the work of the Coalition is heavily weighted towards securing increased levels of involvement and building leadership among people who are homeless, senior citizens, and low income. 

                The Board of the Coalition is a standing group that varies from 10-20 people who confer regularly to set directions, undertake fundraising, and identify key issues that the Coalition will work on in any given year or month (see attached list of participants and their socioeconomic backgrounds).  Decisions at these board meetings are made by a process of democratic consensus.  All must agree,  and if that is not possible we revert to “majority rule.”  In those rare cases where we revert to majority rule,  only those who have attended at least two previous board meetings may vote.  Policy direction and issue selection are set at these larger boardmeetings and the activities of the subcommittees are reviewed and approved at these boardmeetings.  Each subcommittee reports back to the Coalition board at meetings of the Board.  It is within these subcommittees where strategies and actions are determined for that issue.  Meeting times are set by participants within each subcommittee and all decisions are made by a process of democratic consensus.  These committees are made up primarily of people directly affected by that issue, with staff and interested boardmembers attending and assisting in particular subcommittee activities.  Staff and consultants for the Coalition function as organizers and trainers, identifying and encouraging leaders and promoting participation, sharing their skills and expertise on issues, providing the subcommittees with access to the Coalition's office space, and its copying, mailing, phone, and other office resources.  Staff and consultants also assist in fundraising, and in helping to coordinate volunteer activity.  Staff and Coalition boardmembers always function in a level as "co-equals".  Over our 26 year history, we have not given ourselves titles other  than boardmembers and participants and spokerspersons who operate within these committees, with the aim of bringing out the innate skills of all participants - especially the homeless and other low income people. 

                The subcommittees are given a high degree of autonomy, and as they progress with their work, if they deem it necessary, may even establish their own independent identity.  When appropriate, the Displacement Coalition has encouraged this because it creates a greater sense of ownership of that effort.  Over time in this way, the Coalition has generated efforts that have evolved into their own self-sustaining organizations.   It also is a way for the Coalition to make very effective use of our limited resources.

                The Coalition maintains one full-time "coordinator" experienced in organizing around low income housing issues in the Seattle/King County area.   John Fox has coordinated numerous successful campaigns for the Displacement Coalition - campaigns that have generated self-sustaining low income organizations and produced meaningful legislation and resources to the benefit of low income people.  The Coalition also has hired other employees and consultants to run aspects of its operation in the past

                The volunteers, homeless participants and advocates, and organizational representatives playing a direct role in carrying out these projects/  In total, those participating in this project at an active level, carry many years of combined organizing experience and work in the community.      

 To contact us and for volunteer opportunities:

Seattle Displacement Coalition 4554 12th NE * Seattle * Washington * 98105 * ph: 206-632-0668 *                                                 

Coordinator: John V. Fox

The Mark Sidran Rap Sheet