Week in Review: July 21st, 2023 - with Doug Trumm

Week in Review: July 21st, 2023 - with Doug Trumm

On this week-in-review, Crystal is joined by Publisher of The Urbanist, Doug Trumm!

The show kicks off with a rundown of The Urbanist’s primary election endorsements, followed by discussion of a Federal Way shooting that raises lots of questions, the Burien council majority’s continued failure on homelessness response, Ed Murray being spotted at political events, a court ruling that Seattle’s primary encampment sweeps tool is unconstitutional, and a Mayor Harrell change of heart on South Lake Union light rail stations.

About the Guest

Doug Trumm

Doug Trumm is Publisher of The Urbanist, where he has contributed as a writer and editor since 2015. He graduated from the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at UW in 2019 with a concentration in urban policy. As a car-free renter living in Seattle, his policy focuses include improving transit and street safety and tackling the housing affordability crisis. His cat Ole is a national treasure.

Find Doug Trumm on Twitter/X at @dmtrumm.


Carrie Barnes, Chair of the King County Democrats” from Hacks & Wonks

2023 Primary Election Endorsements” from The Urbanist

The Stranger’s Endorsements for the August 1, 2023, Primary Election” from The Stranger

Seattle Times editorial board endorsements: Aug. 1, 2023, primary” from The Seattle Times

Endorsements from PubliCola

Progressive Voters Guide from Fuse WA

2023 Policing and Public Safety Voter Guide - Seattle City Council from People Power Washington

Person killed during drive-by shooting in Federal Way, police say” by Lauren Girgis from The Seattle Times

Burien still can’t decide whether it’ll take homelessness offer” by Anna Patrick from The Seattle Times

After Refusing Shelter Offer from King County, Burien Proposes Camping Ban” by Erica Barnett from PubliCola

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announces his resignation on September 12, 2017.” by Nick Rousso from HistoryLink.org

City’s Primary Tool for Sweeping Encampments Without Notice Ruled Unconstitutional” by Erica Barnett from PubliCola

Harrell Advances New Denny Station Options That Could Delay Ballard Link” by Doug Trumm from The Urbanist

Transit Advocates Push to Save South Lake Union Light Rail Station” by Doug Trumm from The Urbanist

Ballard Link Extension: South Lake Union Stations Webinar #2 | Sound Transit

Find stories that Crystal is reading here


[00:00:00] Crystal Fincher: Welcome to Hacks & Wonks. I'm Crystal Fincher, and I'm a political consultant and your host. On this show, we talk with policy wonks and political hacks to gather insight into local politics and policy in Washington state through the lens of those doing the work with behind-the-scenes perspectives on what's happening, why it's happening, and what you can do about it. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast to get the full versions of our Tuesday topical show and our Friday week-in-review delivered to your podcast feed. If you like us, the most helpful thing you can do is leave a review wherever you listen to Hacks & Wonks. Full transcripts and resources referenced in the show are always available at officialhacksandwonks.com and in our episode notes.

If you missed our Tuesday topical show, I chatted with Carrie Barnes, Chair of the King County Democrats, about how the county party engages in local elections and politics to improve lives in our area. Today, we are continuing our Friday week-in-review shows where we review the news of the week with a co-host. Welcome back to the program, friend of the show and today's co-host: Publisher of The Urbanist, Doug Trumm. Hey.

[00:01:20] Doug Trumm: Hey, good to see you - thanks so much for having me.

[00:01:22] Crystal Fincher: Very, very happy and excited to have you. And as we sit here, people have ballots at their homes - you should have received your ballot - if you haven't, you should pursue getting another one or tracking down where that is. But primary election is in full swing. The primary election end date is Tuesday, August 1st. And wow, there have been a lot of endorsements, including endorsements from The Urbanist. Who did The Urbanist decide to support in several different races? And what was the approach The Urbanist took to making these endorsements?

[00:01:58] Doug Trumm: Yeah, we are excited to announce our slate. I'll, I guess, start with how we got there, which was a painstaking process - we've done it the same way, going back six, seven years. And that involves - first, the questionnaire to get people on the record about some issues important to urbanists and Safe Street advocates and housing advocates. And then after they've submitted their questionnaire, we invite them in for actual interviews that are now happening over Zoom - which has been convenient, I think, for everyone, since we're covering a wide area. We probably should have been doing this the whole time - save the candidates time and you get through more candidates. And it's about a 25-minute interview and you learn a little bit more - when you get a vague response in a questionnaire or some issue becomes relevant that maybe wasn't when you sent out the questionnaire. And then we debate what we felt about it. And luckily we didn't have any big fights this year, but obviously some disagreement.

And I guess I can start with the Seattle City Council. We also endorsed in Bellevue this year, but where we endorsed, there's not a primary - so not the big fireworks that rolled that one out, but there will be more in the general. But we'll start in order. District 1 in Seattle - Maren Costa, we liked. She's a climate activist and clearly had the best housing platform. A slam dunk as far as what urbanists are looking for, I think, as some of the other candidates were much more wishy-washy about how much housing are they going to allow and how many ways are they going to allow to block it. Costa was pretty clear - I want housing. And then in [District] 2, we liked the incumbent, Tammy Morales. She's been the most strident Safe Streets advocate in the council, so we need someone like that 'cause it's very hard to get Safe Streets projects done. And her district is also in most in need of it, and she's been very clear about that. So it just seems like we need a strong voice, especially in that district. D3, we went with Alex Hudson. We thought she had the most policy chops experience - a lot of progressives in that race, but we thought Alex had the most ability to get it done. In D4, we liked Ron Davis. Didn't really seem to be anyone else who wanted the progressive mantle in that race, and maybe that's a credit partially to Ron Davis being a strong candidate. And we think he is really clear about where he stands and not very politician-y in that way, which is refreshing - was very clear about he wanted a lot of housing in the Comp Plan update that's due next year. Just to underscore that it's a really consequential election because that Comp Plan update is happening next year and a lot of big stuff happening next year, so definitely don't sit out this election. And Ron seems like the person clearly who actually believes in urbanism, believes in 15-minute cities, and things that can make it easier to get around the city as well. Competition just isn't very good. Then in D5, we went with Nilu Jenks. And that is interesting, right - so maybe I get your take on that rather than keep grandstanding here with our endorsements - but we liked Nilu a lot, but then it turned out The Stranger went with ChrisTiana ObeySumner, who we didn't get a chance to interview, otherwise we might have been so inclined potentially - just couldn't get that scheduled. So we ended up going with Nilu, who is pretty strong on most of our issues - was clear she was for housing abundance. And we didn't love some of her police takes, but we thought she was the best candidate we interviewed. And then The Seattle Times went with Cathy Moore. D5 is a weird race because Cathy Moore is now the de facto business chamber candidate, but there aren't as clear of lines. Did you have anything on that or should I keep going?

[00:05:18] Crystal Fincher: I think you should keep going and I will chime in at the end. But I do agree that is a race with a number of very interesting candidates that I think are all worthy of looking into. And I think looking deeper into, particularly ChrisTiana ObeySumner and what they're doing is warranted.

[00:05:36] Doug Trumm: Yeah, we're gonna continue to try to get that interview scheduled, so there's always potential in the general - it can be different. Also, who knows who's gonna make it through that primary, so it could be a very interesting field - there's a lot of candidates who have a decent shot. Tye Reed also has the Transit Riders Union endorsement and some other progressive endorsements, and is running probably farthest to the left. We wrote in our write-up that we liked Tye as well, but we just thought Nilu had the stronger chance in the general and also a little bit more of a bridge builder. Then moving on to D6, we went with Dan Strauss. We weren't terribly excited about it. He's been someone who's definitely tacked to the center and to the right. And his district has too, so maybe that's just survivalism, but we don't think those votes are good - I'm thinking of his recent vote that gave Ann Davison the power to lock poor people and drug users on the street. It just seemed like a forced vote - there wasn't actually a treatment plan and a diversion plan offered, but on pinky swearing - I don't know how you would take that pinky swear from Ann Davison. So that was a culmination of a continuing slide to the right, especially on safety. And he's been all right as Land Use Chair, but also has moved fairly slowly. But compared to Pete Hanning, his main competition, Dan's still clearly better so we went with Dan. And then D7, we went with Andrew Lewis. We thought Andrew Lewis and Dan Strauss were very similar - they both reflected as progressives and there was always questions about how progressive they really are, but I think Andrew's done a better job than Dan at defining himself and taking some brave votes here and there - he's been more accessible in explaining his waffles, rather than waffle-and-hide - I think that waffling is indicative of his kind of process to get somewhere. I'm not sure, always, what Dan's thinking. So we went with Lewis. The people running against Lewis also are all running pretty far right. It wasn't like there was someone who was gunning for The Urbanist endorsement in that race. But I think Lewis, as Chair of the Homelessness Committee, has done some good stuff and been very clear about trying to set up a alternate response and really hammering on that, so he's definitely worthy of a second term.

We also endorsed in King County Council. One really hard race for us to endorse - because we had so many candidates we liked and we really went back and forth about how to do it - we ultimately decided not to do a dual. But in District 4 of the King County Council, which is Northwest Seattle, we went with Becka Johnson Poppe. And she works at King County now as a Budget and Policy Director, and that experience pushed her over the top for us. She's someone who already can hit the ground running. She knows this stuff inside-out and she has credibility - she is a progressive and has pushed on stuff. And one thing we're really watching on the King County Council is Metro Transit service - it's not where it was pre-pandemic, there's less frequency. And she's someone who's been clear about county-wide Transportation Benefit District, which could fund bus service and get us back to that pre-pandemic level eventually. Oddly, the King County Council's been dragging their feet on that and letting obstacles stand in the way rather than solve those obstacles, which is always frustrating to see. I think getting some new people in there, maybe they can take more of a problem-solving approach rather than - We can't get enough bus drivers, so I guess we're gonna accept mediocrity from our transit delivery.

[00:08:32] Crystal Fincher: If that would have been a dual endorsement, who would have been the other?

[00:08:36] Doug Trumm: Probably Jorge Barón. The vote didn't go that way, so I couldn't say for certain how it would have went. We liked all three candidates in that race, so I think it would probably have been Jorge - who got in late, but has an incredible record as far as leading [Northwest] Immigrant Rights Project. He's led that organization, has done incredible work. We certainly heard from him how he was going to apply that background to advocating for people of color communities in the county and understanding their issues better. And even though you're not gonna be determining that policy at the county level, you are doing a lot of policy that still affects people's livelihood. So liked Jorge Barón - he ended up getting The Seattle Times endorsement, he's pretty progressive for a Seattle Times endorsement. It might just be a reflection of three pretty progressive people in the race. Did The Stranger also go with Jorge?

[00:09:19] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, he nailed what many candidates don't usually nail, which is getting both The Times and The Stranger endorsement. That doesn't happen that often, but when it does, it is usually a very encouraging sign for that candidate. But you're right, this is a race where there are only good choices. And so it just depends on your personal preferences and who you think can best carry out the vision - three solid candidates, each with impressive resumes and impressive experience.

[00:09:49] Doug Trumm: Yeah, the third being Sarah Reyneveld, who got the Transit Riders Union endorsement, and I think a handful of labor endorsements. And has also been someone who's been active on transit issues - that countywide Transportation Benefit District, or other funding measures, to get the county back on track. Another open seat in the County Council in District 8, a more West Seattle-type area all the way to Burien and Tukwila. We went with Teresa Mosqueda, which was an easy choice for us, especially after her main competition - Burien Mayor Sofia Aragon - has been on this get-the-homeless-people-out-of-our-city-and-not-provide-services tangent now. So Teresa Mosqueda has been a great City Councilmember in Seattle, and obviously it'd be tough to see her go. She has a clear plan of how she's going to continue working on these issues at the county - transit, housing, healthcare, and childcare kind of being the pillars of her platform. And yeah, she's just someone who got a lot done, including JumpStart, which was the biggest step forward for progressive tax reform in Seattle in maybe ever. So I think that kind of resume is tough to beat.

[00:10:49] Crystal Fincher: And that makes sense. There are a number of races for people to choose from this year - definitely going to be reshaping what the Seattle City Council looks like, with so many vacancies and so many open seats and new candidates that are going to be coming aboard. I think it's a solid group of endorsements. There are arguments that can be made for some other candidates in some of those races. I think District 5 is one of those where there are a number of good choices. You talked about Tye Reed, who was instrumental in the passage of social housing in Seattle - making that happen, getting that passed, and has been an organizer for a while around a number of different issues in the city. No one can question Tye's dedication to these issues and real personal investment - and making sure it can get better. We talked about ChrisTiana ObeySumner and Nilu Jenks, so we'll see how that race turns out - that's going to be another interesting one to check out. So we'll leave that there. We'll probably include links to other endorsing entities - just as you try to make up your mind as a listener and a voter - just to give you resources there to assist with those.

Also want to talk about a number of other things, but we will go to this brief story about a drive-by shooting - evidently, sheriff deputies were on-site. There's not much that's been reported, and it really seems like the reporter dictated an initial statement from the police and didn't ask any questions. I'll read it to you, and then we can talk about it. Title - Person killed during drive-by shooting in Federal Way, police Say. A person was killed during a drive-by shooting while King County Sheriff's Office deputies were performing a wellness check early Saturday morning in Federal Way. Officers were attempting to check on the person seen behind a property in the 3900 block of South 320th Street shortly before 3 a.m. when two vehicles sped off and two shots rang out. Sheriff's spokesperson, Sergeant Eric White said the person was hit by gunfire and died at the scene. Deputies followed the two vehicles but they got away. No arrests had been made as of Saturday afternoon. Several businesses are located in the area of the shooting.

That's the whole story. That's quite an interesting tale. What is your initial reaction to this, Doug?

[00:13:16] Doug Trumm: Yeah, it's a head scratcher - have a story, we don't have a lot to go on. It tears down the mythology of what policing can do, especially with us rolling back our police chase limitations and letting police go hog wild in these chases again - at this past session at the State Legislature - because of pushback from the police lobbying forces. Theoretically, they were gonna do these chases and catch people exactly like this. They saw someone doing a drive-by shooting and they were in their cars, conceivably - this is the perfect time to do that chase. And yeah, it didn't work out, so it just underscores that using police chases is such a uncertain and certainly dangerous type of way to try to apprehend criminals when you can easily just ID the car and catch up with them later. And there's so many pedestrians and other bystanders that die in these chases - there really has to be a good chance of a good outcome, like some sort of win, to deal with that collateral damage. That's the first thing that popped into my mind. And the drive-by was apparently someone else. All these police press releases, reported with very little critical eye - when police are involved, they put it in passive voice and passive action. But because of that way they write the press releases, you wonder - Did the police open fire? Did they do anything? - we don't have that information yet. It was reported as a drive-by, so one would assume it wasn't just police opening fire during a wellness check. Were these people involved in the wellness check at all? - you end up with more questions than you have answers. In real-life situations, you realize there's so much that could go wrong.

[00:14:42] Crystal Fincher: So many questions I have - a person was killed during a drive-by. Okay, so King County Sheriff's Office deputies were performing a wellness check. First thing, Federal Way has its own police department - doesn't contract with King County for its deputies. So these deputies, for some reason, responded instead of the Federal Way Police Department. Was it in response to a call? Who called it in? But they decide to go by themselves. Why were they on scene? So they were attempting to check out a person behind a property, they say, when two vehicles sped off and two shots rang out. I notice it doesn't say those shots came from the vehicle - it's vaguely worded and isn't useful, especially when there's so much that can be consequential, based on their characterization of what happens. Then the Sheriff's spokesperson said the person was hit by gunfire and died at the scene - I'm wondering if this reporter did anything but dictate this statement - did they ask anything about this? This is just a very vaguely worded statement. Deputies followed the two vehicles, but they got away. Again, this is a situation where even with the police pursuit law, they would have been able to follow them, but they said they needed a rollback to be able to catch criminals like this, and evidently that's not the case. What happened here? So no arrests have been made, no information has been shared that we've seen. What was the make and model of the car? Any description of the people inside the car? What came of that whole thing? There's no information.

So if we take what they say at face value, what a spectacular failure in public safety. You have two officers on-site, and a person still gets murdered according to this account? All the excuses of they need more officers, they need more funding, we need to be able to have the officers nearby, on-site to protect people - there were two here, and they couldn't protect one person. How does that happen? Why does that happen? What was the situation? Was something missed? Did they not see people prowling in the area? What a failure. They assume that the shots came from this vehicle that killed this person. How do we not have a description of the car, a license plate, the people inside, any followup on that? Where does this case stand? None of that information provided. If police departments want to restore trust, if they want to have people work for them - those are the kind of answers that people want to see. Do people want to work for a department that can't stop a murder when two deputies are on scene, that can't apprehend a perpetrator when they have a zero-second response time and they can immediately respond? What is the purpose and utility here? And are they doing the work to figure out how to keep this from happening again, to figure out how to actually ensure safety? Unfortunately, too often that is not the case. And that's if you take everything just at face value here. It would be great to see some supporting information - some dash cam, body-worn camera video - just to see what happened, how this happened, and does the evidence match up with the narrative here? There is work that the Federal Way Police Department needs to do, that many departments need to do, and that the King County Sheriff's Office needs to do to rebuild trust within the community.

[00:17:54] Doug Trumm: Why even run the story if you have so little information? It plays right into the police narrative.

[00:17:59] Crystal Fincher: Yep, definitely a decision that The Seattle Times should dive into and ask themselves a lot of questions - about how this came to be published and what information they were relying on.

Also wanna talk about the City of Burien and their continuing shame, really. The council majority deciding that not only do they wanna refuse the offer of shelter - the million dollars, 30-some odd Pallet shelters on provision, 100-ish parking spaces to backfill some space that a dealership was using. They are turning all that down and moving towards just a blanket camping ban in the city, which we've seen fail in so many other cities, but they are determined to do it themselves. This again is happening on a 4-3 council vote. The council majority, unfortunately, is winning this. What do you see happening here? What's your reaction to this, Doug?

[00:18:57] Doug Trumm: Yeah, it's pretty sickening. I don't know that folks necessarily saw this coming. We saw some progressives elected onto the Burien City Council, so there was some hope that they were actually going to be looking towards making progress on this issue, doing things that actually work in the long term - rather than sweeping it under the rug and pushing it to other cities. But the four centrists on Burien City Council continue to hammer on this issue - they're not taking this offer of help that very few other cities in the region have, with so few strings attached, to a million dollars worth of housing for their homeless people. It's the type of thing that makes your head explode because - if you're mad about homeless people, having more roofs over the people's heads is the most direct way of dealing with that. And they had a million process complaints, like - Oh, what's gonna happen in five years or whatever? We're gonna be on the hook. It's just that type of thing that they wouldn't ask for any other offer of a million dollars from the county - suddenly they want a 20-year plan for this when they have no plan themselves. It's really, like you said, shameful.

They've lost the majority of their Burien Planning Commission, as you've talked about in this podcast before, because of this move when the mayor decided to remove the head of the Planning Commission and then some other Planning Commissioners quit in protest. We all covered all that, but the one thing that's gonna happen if that commission continues to be unfilled is it's gonna slow down the production of housing in Burien - large projects have to go to that commission. If that happens, you're exasperating your housing shortage - they're creating the problem that they're complaining about. It's maddening, it's not treating these folks as human beings - I think it was Stephanie Mora referring that they should poop in doggy bags like they're dogs - it's clearly dehumanizing language. I think should be disqualifying for holding this office, but hopefully they lose their seats. For now, they're the people making policy for a city of about 50,000 people - it's crazy.

[00:20:43] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, it absolutely is. And as you talked about, Mayor Sofia Aragon, Deputy Mayor Kevin Schilling, Councilmember Jimmy Matta have been part of making these decisions that are unconscionable. This is really a depiction of this soft, kind of progressive rhetoric with a wink and a nod. In previous statements, they had talked like - We definitely want to sweep, but we'll do it in a nice way, in a compassionate way, in the progressive way. But when it comes down to it, they really weren't interested in that at all. They just wanted to get people away and using very dehumanizing language. The real tell is - the place where they usually make an excuse and get away with it - We don't have the money. We don't have the resources. If we could, we would, but we just can't - we don't have anything, I'm sorry. So the only choice we have is to sweep because we just don't have the choice to do anything else. King County basically called that bluff and said - Okay, we've got a million dollars for you. We've got Pallet shelters ready to go. We've got a location that we can partner with. And hey, this dealership is gonna be impacted? We'll provide 100 parking spaces, which is larger than their inventory. - every objection, every excuse, every hurdle that they had was basically responded to by the county. And by the way, kudos to Dow Constantine and his office for taking a stance and for trying to constructively work with the City of Burien. There sometimes have been criticisms for Dow doing that in South County. He is doing it here.

And Burien and the Council majority - they turned all that down. They could have already housed the people there. This would make a meaningful, visible, substantial difference in their situation overnight - once this is implemented - and they just decided not to. They're just looking for a ban. Bans are wholly ineffective, as the prior sweeps were wholly ineffective. And they just moved people from one location to another and making, as you said, the problem they're allegedly trying to fix even worse. This is just a continuing shame and negligence from the council. These people are their constituents - whether someone has a home or not, these are Burien residents - and their job is to help them and to serve them. And they refuse to do so. And it's shameful. It's pathetic.

[00:22:59] Doug Trumm: Hopefully they come to their senses - this 4-3 split has been pretty durable.

[00:23:03] Crystal Fincher: We will see what the primary elections hold. Sofia Aragon is running currently for King County Council against Teresa Mosqueda. I don't think anyone really expects Sofia to win this race. But it is really important to make sure people don't just rest on their laurels and sit on the sidelines. And even in this primary, even when it seems like one person is clearly more qualified than the other, you actually need to vote and make your own choice.

[00:23:28] Doug Trumm: These are like conservative trial balloons - they're testing the waters - can Democrats get away with very conservative Trump-esque rhetoric, dehumanizing homeless people, pandering to cops in completely unaccountable ways? They want to see if that works. I don't know if Sofia is connecting these two - it seems like she would be when she declares for office for the King County Council race. But maybe her calculation is this makes her more popular. And I think it's really incumbent upon people who don't agree with that to actually turn out to an odd-year election, because it's validating that approach. And you're going to see more and more of it if people get rewarded for that.

[00:24:05] Crystal Fincher: That's blatantly the calculation that they're making. Kevin Schilling has an opponent - Patricia Hudson - running against him right now, who is the progressive choice who is endorsed by King County Democrats. I mean, they received a very unusual letter of rebuke from the King County Executive's office, also from the 33rd District Democrats, which encompasses part of Burien. And the other part of Burien is the 34th, who also submitted an open public letter of rebuke. Anyone who calls themself a Democrat on record, locally, is outwardly opposing it. And it hasn't stopped them. In fact, they seem to be using that as cred. So this is important. These are still the people in office. They do need to be held accountable, and people need to make their voices heard.

Another disillusioning development we've seen over the past couple of weeks is Ed Murray evidently popping up at political events around the region and definitely catching a number of people off guard. There seem to be some people who are okay with it. But just as a reminder - Ed Murray, former legislator, former mayor of Seattle, had to resign in disgrace as mayor of Seattle after credible allegations of molestation of underage people who were under his care and also potentially a family member. Also troubling was his response using someone's background against them - they were going through hard times as unhoused youth working with LGBTQ youth, who oftentimes very unfortunately are disowned by family, kicked out of the house, and left in very vulnerable positions - to then cite that vulnerable position as a reason why someone may not be believed was really victim blaming. The entire community, who has so many people who have been victimized - was a re-victimization to hear that. But he's been out of the public eye for a while and seems to be doing a soft launch to get back in. What's your reaction to this?

[00:26:04] Doug Trumm: With someone like that who's had such a long political career, they don't start going to political events just for fun. They're plotting getting back into politics. He's clearly testing the waters here, seeing if he can get back into politics. He's seeing if he can get acceptance enough to the point where he can run for something again or be a campaign manager. I don't think it should happen. And it's also not a pleasant experience for folks who did have a negative reaction to his handling of that situation - making it very hard for his accuser to come forward because he was using the whole weight of his office against that person. That's not how you handle it if you're a leader - you don't victim blame. Luckily, he finally resigned, but he was going to hold on to that office with everything he had.

[00:26:44] Crystal Fincher: I also think that's a low bar. It's wholly inappropriate for him to be in these. There's been no atonement. There's been no acknowledgment of what he's done. And while I don't believe in throwing people away forever, there has been nothing to indicate that he acknowledges what he's done, that he's attempted to make amends to his victims. In fact, that seems quite the opposite. He's just hoping to pick up where he left off. I think it is going to be really interesting to survey who is okay with him being at political events, and at their political events, and who is not - and what that says about different people as candidates. Who is finding this troubling and who is finding it just fine? I'm curious about where he does feel welcome and why, and what that says about those spaces. We will see how this continues to unfold throughout the city. And if you spot Ed Murray, shoot me a message.

Also, a pretty significant court ruling this week came in about encampment sweeps, particularly about the City of Seattle - Seattle has been sweeping too broadly and is unconstitutional in its application. When there's clearly a risk to public safety or they are blocking completely a sidewalk, there is cause for encampment sweeps. But they've been doing it too much and for reasons that are too broad - they need to effectively offer shelter and provide shelter if they're going to sweep people. Without that provision of shelter, there's nowhere else for someone to go. It is illegal to say you can't exist here - in essence, you're saying you can't exist anywhere. And this court ruling was powerful with some pretty clear statements calling the current policy dehumanizing, destabilizing, and counterproductive. How did you see this?

[00:28:31] Doug Trumm: The two individuals who brought it - their story was so tragic - they mentioned losing wedding rings, family heirlooms, because they've just been repeatedly swept while they're getting services or going to work or whatever. One person mentioned losing their work boots and then that jeopardized their employment and that sunk them deeper into the spiral of homelessness. They kept getting these last-second-notice sweeps because they were supposedly an obstruction. If the definitions are broad, they don't have anywhere to go. The ruling says the two main ways they were bending this rule is they were defining the blockages - 50% blockage, it becomes 100% blockage in their eyes, or even a 30% blockage - because some of these sidewalks in downtown are fairly wide. And unfortunately, some sidewalks in our city are pretty narrow. Often folks aren't trying to block the whole sidewalks. They're trying to go somewhere they can and not fear that their stuff's gonna get snatched up and taken away. They lost all these valuable possessions, including their wedding ring. What are we doing here? This cruel unusual punishment that rises to a constitutional violation and this judge issues this ruling.

Now the City's gonna have to rethink how they do this. The other main way they avoid the Boise ruling, Martin v. Boise, is they say that anything in the park is an obstruction - because someone wants to use that particular part of the park, even if it's some secluded, say in the forest, in a large park when 99% of the park is still accessible. Part of Mayor Harrell's campaign pledges to clear the parks. Some of the parks are clearer than they were when he took office, but others still have encampments and it goes to this whack-a-mole approach of you're constantly chasing people around the city at great expense and great suffering to some individuals, like the two that brought the suit, and we haven't made durable progress.

[00:30:11] Crystal Fincher: Another event this week with Sound Transit - Mayor Harrell is up for a Denny Station on West Lake Avenue again. How'd this happen?

[00:30:19] Doug Trumm: Hey, I gotta give credit to grassroots organizers there - there's a lot of people involved. Seattle Subway sent, I think, over 6,000 letters via online petition. Uptown Alliance got a lot of letters because they were also very dismayed to see that the station on the eastern edge of their neighborhood was suddenly gonna disappear - at a whim - six, seven years into this process. And what was happening here, if you didn't follow this story, is there's gonna be obviously this new Ballard Link Light Rail line that will go from Downtown to Ballard. And on the way, it's gonna pick up Denny Triangle, it's gonna pick up South Lake Union, it's gonna pick up Uptown. And these were gonna be really high-use stations, but there's one problem in that some of the corporations and real estate interests in Denny Triangle were not excited about the station location. Folks like Amazon, Vulcan, were lobbying against this location because they didn't like the closure of Westlake Avenue, they said, which South Transit at this point in this process was estimating a full closure of four years. They're putting the station right under Westlake so they do have to mine it, it's gonna be closed for that part. But they realized that they could put decking over the top - they didn't propose that initially 'cause it's more complicated and expensive. But they realized they could do that, obviously, if the alternative is putting some station two blocks to the west, which is what the proposal that came forward out of this last-minute wrangling - wasn't in the DEIS, the draft environmental impact statement. So that means it requires more planning and process. So there's two public meetings online that Sound Transit is hosting - I think one of them is today and the other one is a couple of days from now - we can link to that in the notes maybe.

But because this shifted-west alternative came forward late in the process, was proposed as a way to alleviate these concerns from corporations and real estate - they had to do this process. The mayor backed it at a meeting last month, I think it was, but then last week he walked that back. He said - You know what? We really need to keep the South Lake Union Station because what happens with shifting the station west is it gets super close to the other station on Aurora, which is a major bus artery. - so that's where a lot of people were going to transfer from bus to rail. And it would put you closer to Uptown too if you're headed to the eastern part of Uptown. So the shifted-west alternative consolidates the two stations into one. And that's what sort of set off all these alarm bells with Seattle Subway and Uptown Alliance and the urbanists and others that - Hey, why are we dropping a station? And they presented to Uptown Alliance - Sound Transit did two days ago, I think it was - and apparently the consolidating those two stations, they shared their ridership analysis, which was new information. It's gonna cost about 10,000 riders - someone who was at that presentation told me. And that's a pretty big deal - 10,000 daily riders.

So the mayor didn't have that information last week when he made his statement - he said he was still waiting for ridership to confirm his decision, but he said he's starting to lean Westlake and just wants a good mitigation plan, which I don't know why we couldn't start there from the first place - because we're seeing across, especially the Ballard Link Station, that there's lots of changes that are happening because people don't like the construction period and don't think the mitigation plan is very good. And there may be something to that. The mitigation plan should be really good, but rather than focus on the mitigation, we've been just tossing around all these different ideas and extending the - what that means is you have to do a whole new study and that delays the whole project. So maybe small progress there on the Denny Station decision - we can focus on how to do that right and get a good construction mitigation plan, rather than last-minute options that are un-vetted and are going to require another year or two of study.

[00:33:51] Crystal Fincher: And with that, we thank you for listening to Hacks & Wonks on this Friday, July 21st, 2023. The producer of Hacks & Wonks is Shannon Cheng. Our insightful cohost today is Publisher of The Urbanist, Doug Trumm. You can find Doug on Twitter @dmtrumm, that's two M's at the end. You can follow Hacks & Wonks on Twitter @HacksWonks. And you can find me on all platforms - Bluesky, SPILL, Twitter, all of them, Mastodon - @finchfrii, that's two I's at the end. You can catch Hacks & Wonks wherever you get your podcasts - just type "Hacks and Wonks" into the search bar. Be sure to subscribe to get the full versions of our Friday week-in-review shows and our Tuesday topical show delivered to your podcast feed. If you like us, leave a review wherever you listen. You can also get a full transcript of this episode and links to the resources referenced in the show at officialhacksandwonks.com and in the podcast episode notes.

Thanks for tuning in - talk to you next time.