As a Seattle Transit Blog staff writer and adviser to STB’s editorial board, I participated in interviewing 18 of the 47 candidates running for Seattle City Council in the seven newly created council districts and two citywide seats before STB made it sendorsements last week. The board chose candidates who were most closely aligned with its core principles, which include support for thoughtful transit investment, spending on key bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, density and transit-oriented development, and concentration of resources into high-quality corridors. They also gave points to candidates who shared the board’s skepticism of taxes on development and policy that promotes auto-oriented lifestyles. They did not interview candidates who they knew did not share these values, or in their view didn’t have a genuine chance to win, because they didn’t want to waste anyone’s time.
Yesterday, STB posted the second in a two-part series of outtakes from our candidate interviews. I encourage you to check it out (Debora Juarez in District 5 has some thoughts about racial roots of zoning), and here’s an update since those outtakes were published. Yesterday morning, before the big news that Mayor Ed Murray was abandoning the most controversial part of the HALA plan, allowing small multifamily dwellings in Seattle’s single-family zones, District 5 candidate Mercedes Elizalde joined Position 8 candidate Jon Grant in supporting steep residential linkage fees and a push for rent control.
This contradicts what Elizalde told Seattle Transit Blog when we asked her what she thought of the HALA plan and whether she supports linkage fees. STB’s board voted to endorse Elizalde based largely on the strength of her interview. Elizalde told us:
I am all about inclusionary zoning. That was something I had started saying at the very beginning of my campaign–that inclusionary zoning was going to be better in the long term than linkage fees. I work for a nonprofit housing developer. There are places in the city that we can’t build. Inclusionary zoning just opens up so many parts of the city for more housing.
After I tweeted about her apparent flip-flop, Elizalde tweeted back, “I hold the linkage fee as second to MIZ [mandatory inclusionary zoning], which is currently floundering as the CMs run from upzoning,” adding, “if we can’t get the units through MIZ then we will need the revenue to build the units by other means.” Seems like jumping the gun to me, though, to embrace residential linkage fees–which developers have made very clear will lead to a costly and time-consuming legal battle–before seeing if the council is willing to adopt the proposal set forth in the HALA recommendations.