Topic: Nick Licata
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February 28, 2013 at 10:29 AM
The City Council and Mayor Mike McGinn agree, Seattle needs to get more benefits when it creates wealth for property owners through upzones allowing taller buildings.
The questions now are “how much” and “when”?
The consensus for increased benefits emerged after a council consultant’s report said the city could seek more benefits, such as affordable housing, and developers would still make healthy profits from taller buildings — and more than they’d make if building heights remained at their current limits.
Council member Richard Conlin, who chairs the South Lake Union Committee, says the city should put off a decision on the appropriate level of public benefits and move ahead with a sweeping zoning proposal by McGinn and Vulcan, South Lake Union’s largest property owner. That proposal would allow buildings as tall as 400 feet, or 40 stories in parts of the neighborhood. Conlin has supported that proposal.
In an email to his colleagues, Conlin argues that there’s too much risk in changing the city’s so-called incentive system — which allows developers to pay for extra height — now. That’s especially so, he says, if the city’s changes are based on a single consultant’s report. Conlin says developers could sue the city, claiming increased incentive payments are unjustified and possibly “a taking” of property. Such a court challenge might invalidate the city’s incentive program, Conlin said.
A better course, Conlin said, would be a “transparent and thorough process” involving stakeholders and chaired by recently retired Seattle Housing Authority chief Tom Tierney. Conlin said the mayor’s office has agreed to such a process.
Council member Nick Licata, who chairs the Housing Committee, disagreed in an email response to Conlin Wednesday evening.
Licata says that Conlin’s delayed approach would amount to a lost opportunity as some developers would build under existing rules, costing the city incentive fees that could provide affordable housing in South Lake Union for restaurant workers, researchers and administrative staff in the area. The city has a goal of creating some 4,000 affordable apartments in South Lake Union in the next 20 years. The city’s current incentive fees would fund an estimated 450 affordable apartments in that time.
Lastly, Licata said “council conversations about whether we do this now or later should happen in public open session” not in private talks with the mayor.
Council member Tim Burgess, who is running for mayor, said “I’m leery of kicking the can down the road. I think the public benefit should be achieved at the same time the private benefit is granted.”
The council may carry on the debate at its Monday meeting.
The Seattle Times Corp. owns property that would likely benefit from the mayor’s proposal. The company has supported that proposal.
Jill Mackie, the Times’ vice president for public affairs, said she sent council members an email supporting Conlin’s approach. Mackie argues that incentive fees should be revised citywide so that South Lake Union developers aren’t put at a competitive disadvantage. “We understand the commitment to affordable housing and believe it merits a more thoughtful, less rushed conversation,” Mackie said.
February 13, 2013 at 10:56 AM
OLYMPIA — State Senate Republicans, who have already proposed repealing the state’s never-implemented family-leave requirement, are now targeting Seattle’s sick-leave law.
The law, which took effect in September, requires businesses with at least five employees operating in Seattle to provide paid sick leave to workers. Seattle is one of three major cities in the United States to have the law.
Senate Bill 5728 would take Seattle’s law off the books by declaring that the Legislature has the sole responsibility for sick-leave requirements. Senate Bill 5726 would scale back Seattle’s law by prohibiting cities from requiring sick leave for employers based outside the city.
Both bills were introduced Tuesday by Centralia Republican John Braun and are supported by Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom, D-Medina.
No Seattle senators have signed on.
Braun said his main problem with Seattle’s law is that it is affecting businesses that are based outside of Seattle, but do some business there. In addition, he said, “if this is a good idea, it’s a good idea on the state level, and this is a statewide program, and that’s the Legislature’s purview.”
“These are all nice ideas,” he added. “But we can’t afford every nice idea. We have to be realistic.”
The move would be similar to one made is Wisconsin in 2011, when Republicans repealed a Milwaukee sick-leave law.
Officials in Seattle and Olympia blasted Braun’s proposals.
Seattle City Councilmember Nick Licata, who sponsored the city law, called the proposed bills “a violation of trust in the democratic process.”
Democratic State Sen. Karen Keiser, ranking member of the Health Care Committee, went further, calling the proposals “an in-your-face kind of assault on workers’ rights.”
“I don’t know what’s going on here. I guess they just like to beat up on poor people,” she said, adding, “I’m surprised, I’m shocked, I’m upset, and I’ll fight it.”
A related proposal in the House, 1781 (which says a city can’t impose sick-leave requirements on businesses based elsewhere) will get a hearing next week, said Democratic Rep. Mike Sells, who chairs the House Labor & Workforce Development Committee. But Sells said his committee and the House in general is focused on expanding sick leave — not restricting it.
December 24, 2012 at 11:45 AM
Seattle City Councilmember Nick Licata was named to The Nation magazine’s 2012 Progressive Honor Roll this week, along with other luminaries of the left, including Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow.
The magazine has called out progressives for the past decade and this year named Licata “Best Local Politician.” The Nation cited Licata’s work in support of Seattle’s new mandatory paid sick leave ordinance for workers, as well as his long-standing opposition to public subsidies for sports stadiums. This year, he was also instrumental in organizing a network of progressive local elected officials called “Local Progress,” the magazine said.
Calling Licata a “bold advocate for progressive populist ideas,” it noted that the Council veteran took on tough battles with a sense of humor, including his co-chairing of the group “Citizens for More Important Things.” The organization sponsored the successful city Initiative 91 in 2006, which requires that any public investment in a sports facility return a profit to the city.
The measure was one reason the Seattle City Council worked to revise a deal in September between San Francisco investor Chris Hansen, the city and King County to build a new sports arena with $200 million in public bonds. The revised deal calls for some of the tax revenue from the arena to go towards a transportation fund to improve freight mobility in the industrial Sodo neighborhood where Hansen wants to build the new arena.
Even with the changes, Licata voted against the arena deal, citing his long-standing objection to public funding for private sports ventures.
Licata said he didn’t know about The Nation award until a friend emailed congratulations. He said he went searching on the Internet and found himself, along with Sanders, Maddow’s election night coverage, Stephen Colbert and Wisconsin Sen.-elect Tammy Baldwin, a champion for working families who won election to the Senate in November.
“I’m blown away,” Licata said.
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