1. Dozens of “ecology blocks” have popped up around the Ballard production facility for Fremont Brewing, the craft-beer company owned by City Council Position 9 candidate Sara Nelson, blocking vehicles from parking in designated public parking areas along NW 47th and 48th Streets and on 9th Avenue Northwest. Although city law forbids blocking the public right-of-way, industrial businesses throughout the city have chosen to defy the law, using the blocks to prevent RVs from parking near their facilities in industrial areas from Ballard to Georgetown.
Fremont Brewing, however, is the only large industrial business owned by a candidate for city council.
The production facility, which is located in Ballard’s burgeoning brewery district, is adjacent to a small encampment that, on a recent visit, included several vans and RVs. The blocks, which are spaced too closely for a car to park between them, surround the block-long building on three sides, with several of the blocks set up in on-street parking directly behind signs indicating parking rules in the area. Using ecology blocks to prevent people from parking in the street, as Nelson’s brewery appears to have done, is illegal, but the Seattle Department of Transportation has declined so far to enforce the law, noting that the blocks are heavy and hard to move.
Nelson’s campaign didn’t return an email seeking confirmation that Fremont Brewing had placed the blocks around the production facility, and Nelson didn’t respond to an email sent to her business email address.
The proliferation of RVs and other large vehicles in industrial areas is a product not just of Seattle’s homelessness crisis, but of parking rules that prohibit them everywhere else in the city. During the pandemic, when the city decided not to enforce a law that requires vehicles to move every 72 hours, many RVs stayed put, sparking a backlash among business owners who have turned to everything from boulders to fake “no parking” signs to prevent RVs from parking near their businesses.
2. A new online poll testing messages on homelessness suggests that the supporters of the “Compassion Seattle” ballot measure will have another outlet for their money—an independent expenditure campaign supporting mayoral candidate Bruce Harrell and other “candidates in local elections.”
The poll focuses on homelessness and policing, and tests three possible campaign names: Recover Seattle, Restore Seattle, and Take Back Seattle.
The questions ask voters to choose between statements that purport to represent the two mayoral candidates’ views, although the framing of all the questions is generally pro-Harrell. For example, a question on business describes two possible perspectives: “City leaders should make sure that local companies pay their fair share in taxes so that we have the resources we need to address Seattle’s challenges,” and “City leaders should partner with our local business community to encourage new businesses, keep taxes under control, and create more jobs with livable wages.”
Similarly, a question about homelessness contrasts “We have programs that will get the homeless off the street, but we don’t have enough revenue. The best way to solve homelessness is to properly fund existing programs by making sure corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share in taxes” with “We have the money to address homelessness in Seattle, but we need to make better decisions about what works and where new ideas are needed. An important first step is to make sure our parks and streets are safe for all people.”
Charter Amendment 29 would have required the city to fund thousands of new shelter beds without providing any additional funds while assuring that public spaces “remain open and clear of encampments.” Harrell has said he will implement every major provision of the amendment if elected.
3. A second poll that also circulated yesterday appears to be from the Harrell campaign itself. This poll tests out positive and negative messages about Harrell and asks respondents to say how convincing they find each statement.
The nine positive messages present Harrell as a civic crusader who has “spent his career taking on the evils of racism” by, for example, securing part of the city’s cannabis tax revenues to pay economic reparations to people who were arrested for marijuana-related crimes during the war on drugs. The poll also touts Harrell’s “ambitious plan to urgently and compassionately get people out of parks and streets and into stable housing with the on-site services they need.”
The three negative messages play up Harrell’s support from “dark money groups funded by big developers and even Donald Trump’s biggest Washington state donor” (Goodman Real Estate CEO George Petrie) and “the corrupt police unions who oppose commonsense reforms.”