The Seattle Globalist asked all the Seattle Mayoral Candidates six questions that are important to the city’s communities of color and immigrant communities. Get all the submitted answers here.
What would be the top three priorities of the Seattle Police Department during your administration?
A. Ramp up training in de-escalation techniques, strengthen the force’s commitment to avoid use of force by establishing stronger protocols and expectations, and expand and deepen training in racial equity and anti-bias training. Lasting change comes from changing how we think, how we perceive one another, what we do when we feel threatened, and the culture of the department.
B. Finalize the details, fully fund, and implement the vision for community oversight of police via the Community Police Commission. This process will provide a long-term venue for transparency, constructive dialog, trust building, and developing effective innovations like our LEAD program. It is essential for the cultural change we need.
C. Finalize the contract, and replace retiring officers with new hires with multi-lingual skills and broader cultural competencies. Establish adequate staffing levels for the future which allow more time to be spent on pro-active neighborhood patrols, community policing, training in alternatives to use of force, and anti-racist training. I would be proud to lead us toward becoming the most educated, most skillful, least bigoted police force with the lowest use of force in the nation.
What should Seattle’s strategy be in addressing housing affordability?
Seattle has become one of the most expensive cities in the country. Over half of renters pay more than they can reasonably afford. Our housing costs are spiraling out of reach, destabilizing our communities with people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ folks and other marginalized communities hit hardest and worst. Too many of us are living on the edge, just one unexpected bill away from not making rent and facing eviction. People who work in Seattle should be able to afford to live in Seattle. We have the tools to start fixing this problem; we just need the collective courage to stop favoring the interests of speculators and put people and families first.
My solutions are to:
• Increase tenants’ rights to provide more protections to renters.
• Pro-actively prevent evictions of families with children and safeguard transitional housing for victims of domestic violence.
• Implement targeted taxes to deter corporate and non-resident real estate speculation, commercial Airbnb operators, and vacant properties. Targeted taxes can dampen predatory price escalation while providing revenue for the affordable housing we need.
• Exponentially expand affordable housing from only 6% of Seattle’s housing market toward a goal of four times this share. To do this, let’s aggressively free up surplus public land for affordable housing, work with Olympia to increase the housing trust fund, organize philanthropy to increase funding to non-profit housing developers, and allocate new progressive taxes (see above) toward public/ non-profit housing.
• Pursue viable multifamily low-rise housing options for working people in the “missing middle” like duplexes, rowhouses, backyard cottages, congregate housing, community land trusts, co-ops and co-housing. We need to adjust both the Single Family zoning and the permitting/ SEPA/ design review processes so infill developers can pursue a broader range of solutions while working to maintain the cultural character of Seattle’s neighborhoods.
Is there a way for Seattle to balance upzoning and retaining affordability for existing residents and businesses, particularly in the University, Central and Chinatown/International districts? Please describe your approach.
To quickly note, the decision not to upzone University Way in the University District was the right one; we need to find a long term solution to protect the small businesses and their affordable rents before we rush to redevelop this street. For the long term, we should look at all the best practices of “equitable transit oriented development” as we identify target strategies to fit each of these neighborhoods at risk of gentrification and displacement. The Capitol Hill Link station was a good model that should be replicated, where the community and the city crafted an agreement and RFP process to build new development in line with neighborhood values and affordability goals as a condition of the development. The Liberty Bank building is another good model of a project where community participated during the planning process to define community goals and viable strategies for affordability, allocation of commercial and retail level uses for members of the community, and a long term plan for community based ownership.
The key change we need to implement is this: the city should play a strong role in guiding the housing market and using ALL the tools available to ensure we are prioritizing the well-being of our communities and protecting their rights to thrive in place.
We need an assertive housing policy. We need to develop and enforce community benefit agreements. We need to craft targeted upzones to balance adding enough new density without incentivizing the wholesale erasure of historic fabric. We need to secure the authority to create a rent stabilization policy, and use it. We need to expand the use of property tax relief for low income people. We need to do more technical assistance and increase access to capital for small local business in these neighborhoods to fund upgrades and seismic retrofits. We need to use the permitting process more proactively to guide development in the public/ community interest. There isn’t one silver bullet; it’s going to take a mix of approaches that are based in a commitment to community.
Discuss three specific strategies for increasing the participation of immigrant communities/communities of color in the planning of initiatives such as the proposed Navigation Center and large-scale marches that affect neighborhoods?
A. Establish and fund stronger communication channels between community groups and the city. The Department of Neighborhoods can play a much stronger role in establishing timely and transparent communications between the city and communities. I would ensure DON establishes direct relationships with leaders of the many community development organizations, advocacy groups, service providers, leaders in the Ethnic Business Coalition and local BIAs and chambers of commerce to understand priorities and build ongoing communication channels.
B. Reinvent and reestablish the neighborhood based community councils. The City of Seattle ended this program because of serious problems with imbalanced representation, and needs to put a suitable replacement program in place as soon as possible. These community based organizations can ensure excellent communications and community participation, if created with a strong commitment to equity, adequately funded, and strategic about using social media for expanding their reach.
C. I would ensure that communities of color are well represented in staffing in the mayor’s office, departmental leadership, and across boards, commissions, and all decision-making bodies in the City. Having a seat at the decision-making table is essential to ensure all the many diverse voices are heard AND listened to as plans are taking shape. Being at the table in the first place is the best way to prevent communities being ignored and excluded from planning and implementation.
How should Seattle address “gentrification?” How do you define that concept?
Gentrification is based the mistaken belief that whoever has the most money deserves to have the most power. And so that means that a community that is intact, that is mutually supportive and healthy, can be blown apart by anybody who wants to come in and claim that space. And in our city, it’s the biggest problem in neighborhoods that have been historically redlined and have been majority people of color and lower income. Their real estate prices were suppressed by government and society for decades, and then, when white people decided, “Hey, we’d like to live there,” we came in and started buying up real estate and housing and escalating home values to the degree that existing communities are being displaced. So, for me, getting ahead of gentrification means working directly with communities, looking at what has worked in other cities, and developing a toolkit that can be used as needed to fit the particular needs of each community. Somehow we have to grow, but we have to help communities stay in place and benefit from the growth.
The cultural life of historically oppressed communities is essential to honor and protect against thoughtless gentrification. We need to look carefully at how upzones and infill development can be pursued in neighborhoods with significant immigrant and POC communities to ensure we are identifying the right approaches to help communities thrive together, not be displaced by new development and its accompanying property tax escalation. I would establish a process for planners, advocacy groups, and neighbors to identify community priorities in advance of upzones and new developments, and develop community development agreements that establish priority access to new spaces and housing. The Liberty Bank project is a great model.
We’ve become one of the most expensive cities in the country. More than half of renters pay more than they can reasonably afford, and home-ownership is out of reach for more and more of us. Our healthiest communities have a diverse mix of folks at all ages, stages of their career, and incomes. If we don’t solve this problem with bold solutions now, in just a few years the majority of Seattle’s workforce and most of our communities of color will be forced to leave, chasing affordable housing outside the city, cut off from community and from services and transit.
What should the city of Seattle’s stance be — if any — on handling juvenile justice and the proposed replacement of the King County Juvenile Detention Center?
We need to rescale the “Family Justice Center” project and prioritize funding for restorative justice and alternatives to incarceration instead of building it as scoped, with such a large portion of the building devoted to a youth jail. As mayor I will vocally stand for rescoping this project, reorienting its priorities, and going back to the voters with a new proposal. The EPIC organization and Black Lives Matter movement has made clear that we can and must do better in how we help young offenders get their lives back on track. Kids are precious, and we need to invest in helping those who have been abused, traumatized, and left behind get back on their feet. Incarceration must be the last, and the rarest response.
The alternatives to incarceration for youth offenders — like peace-making sentencing circles, creative justice, mentoring programs, family intervention and restorative justice programs — are essential and must be adequately funded at scale. We need to increase investment in helping our young people who are at risk get back on track before getting pulled into the criminal justice system with youth violence prevention, restorative justice programs, and care-based mentoring programs. As mayor I would work with the Community Police Commission, the Public Defender Association, and community leaders to make sure we are investing resources in youth diversion programs.
Additionally, we need to follow through on community oversight of police and push for continued progress toward anti-racist policing and a fairer criminal justice system. And reform the money bail system that keeps too many poor people arrested for misdemeanor crimes of poverty, substance abuse, and behavioral issues incarcerated, cut off from services and family obligations and jobs.
More information: carymoonformayor.com
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