Pacific Place's developers are expected to meet the conditions of their contract with the city, and so this fall the city will be required to buy the project's controversial parking garage. Members of the City Council hoping to keep the $73 million purchase from consuming most of the city's councilmanic (non-voter-approved) bond capacity got bad news this Monday. Dwight Dively, director of the Executive Services Department, says the city won't be able to fund the garage with revenue bonds because of uncertain income in its first few years; revenue bonds also carry extra costs and higher interest rates.
Council member Richard McIver suggested setting aside a $5 million to $10 million cash reserve to guarantee the early revenue bond payments, thus saving councilmanic bond capacity. A solid concept, as long as you have $5 million or so lying around. Right now, the city doesn't, but perhaps the Key Tower sale profit would fit the bill. The potential of the garage-as-moneymaker is hampered, however, by a previously signed contract that forces the city to share merchant parking validation costs if any profit is realized from the garage—so a small parking profit and a large validation cost could make the garage a net money-losing operation.
Council members praised the garage itself. Jan Drago notes that other developers are already copying the lighting and signage at Pacific Place and declares, "It has set a new garage standard in this city."
The Market shuffle
The Pike Place Market Constituency voted late last month to recall two of its representatives on the Market Preservation and Development Authority council and replace them with attorney Eric Richter and former Seattle City Council member Charlie Chong. But as with all things Market-related, the process is just beginning.
By law, the City Council must approve the change by ordinance, and a public hearing must be held. It'll have to take its place in line, as the council's Culture, Arts and Parks Committee already has a controversial Market issue on its August 27 meeting agenda: proposed changes to the Market's daystall rental policies. Planning this first hearing has already been a hassle. When the council asked the Market for its mailing list to send out notifications of the daystall hearing, Market staffers refused to provide it, then charged the city $30 to make a copy.
The constituency, composed of farmers, merchants, and others concerned with Market issues ("To be a constituency member, you have to be over 16 and pay a buck," explains Haley Land, president of the Daystall Tenants Association), voted July 31 to recall PDA committee members Andrew Hanson-Krueger and Christine Vaughan. The vote to recall Hanson-Krueger was 56-16; for Vaughan, it was 42-27. Land, a constituency member, explains that Hanson-Krueger voted with the 7-4 majority to change the daystall rules; Vaughan didn't, but has since lobbied the City Council in support of the measure. Land notes that the constituency only has two ways to influence its representatives: It can pass a resolution asking them to vote its way (which it did) or it can attempt a recall.
Will the City Council vote to welcome back Chong? Maybe it should—the Market tangle might be enough of a brier patch to distract the Seattle Weekly's "Hellraiser of the Year" from re-exploring electoral politics.
Let the music do the talking
A task force reviewing a proposed process to license clubs presenting live music and dancing held its first meeting last week. Of the 17 members showing up, the vast majority were government employees, along with representatives of business groups, crime prevention organizations, and Seattle's Human Rights Commission and Office of Civil Rights. (On closer inspection, the representative from the Church of Scientology turned out actually to be representing the Denny Regrade Crime Prevention Council.) Outnumbered but ready to go are Tina Bueche, representing a coalition of club owners, and Angel Combs, executive director of the Joint Artists and Music Promoters Political Action Committee (JAMPAC). Combs reports that the group already has made plans to discuss the various sections of City Attorney Mark Sidran's proposed ordinance (Sidran is a member of the committee). "We all seemed to be on the same page," says Combs. "So far so good."
We love Seafair
Council member Peter Steinbrueck passing on complaints his office received over the Blue Angels' Seafair performance: "We had one caller complaining that plaster was falling from the ceiling as the planes were going by."
We love Slade, too
US Sen. Slade Gorton actually drew praise from city officials last week, when the federal government announced a $500,000 grant to help in the daylighting of Ravenna Creek. King County has already pledged $3 million of the estimated $7 million to restore the North End stream's former connection with Union Bay.
Temporary efforts to clear out a campsite for homeless persons on either side of the Yesler Way bridge at Fifth Avenue will soon give way to a permanent solution. Master-use permit boards have been posted on both sides of the overpass heralding the expected construction of two major multifamily buildings. Same use, higher rents.
Steinbrueck says he's taking a new look at the rules for constructing mother-in-law apartments ("accessory dwelling units" to the planning professionals) in hopes of streamlining the process. Steinbrueck explains that he examined the existing regulations with "an architect's eye, then a contractor's eye." Unfortunately, at this point, Steinbrueck realized he had only two eyes and had to stop—but we're anxiously awaiting his report just the same.