Category: Housekeeping

Out of Office

I’m in sunny Berlin for a few days, so if you’re going to make some news, please do it when I get back. (I’m looking at you, Rob Joehnson!) I’ll be posting sporadically but mostly out of commission until mid-month.

I’ll be posting sporadically from here; in the meantime, please enjoy these photos of happy socialists in the former East Berlin. More about this mural here.

Morning Crank: Isn’t It Weird That…

Image: Low-Income Housing Institute

As I head off on a brief writing retreat (back next Monday—although there may be some surprise posts while I’m gone!), I thought it would be a good time to dust off an old classic from my (and Josh’s) PubliCola days: Isn’t It Weird That?…

So: Isn’t It Weird That…

The Freedom Foundation—a group best known for suing to allow public-sector workers to opt out of paying union dues—is suddenly getting involved in a local land-use debate in Seattle?

The Olympia-based group is asking a judge to prevent the Low-Income Housing Institute from opening a “tiny house” encampment on a city-owned piece of property in South Lake Union on the grounds that its construction permit is invalid. The lawsuit claims the city of Seattle failed to do an adequate environmental review, failed to do sufficient outreach to surrounding neighbors, and isn’t allowed to authorize more than three encampments at one time under city law.

In the lawsuit, the Freedom Foundation claims it has standing to sue the city on the grounds that it generally represents the interests of people in Washington State “in regard to governmental treatment of people at all levels.” (Somewhat) more specifically, the complaint charges that the encampment will harm the “quality of life in residing, working and owning property and businesses in the South Lake Union area… by encouraging loitering and substandard living conditions in this particular area.”

When I asked Freedom Foundation spokesman Maxford Nelsen why a group that’s ordinarily focused on state-level labor policy is getting involved in Seattle politics at the micro-micro level of a temporary encampment for a few dozen homeless Seattleites,  he directed me to the attorney on the case, Richard Stephens. Stephens did not return a call for comment last week.

But Sharon Lee, the director of LIHI, contends that the city has the authority to approve additional encampments under the homelessness state of emergency, declared in 2015. Lee says LIHI is still operating under the assumption that the tiny house village will open on August 15. “We’re optimistic. We want to get homeless men and women off the streets before the winter,” Lee says.

Speaking of LIHI,  Isn’t It Weird That…

Safe Seattle—a group of Seattle residents organized around the shared conviction that the city is a “shithole” overrun with “criminal vagrants” and carpeted with needles—is obsessed with Sharon Lee?  What’s weird isn’t that they oppose LIHI’s work to provide temporary shelter and permanent housing to homeless people, including those in active addiction—that’s right on brand for them. What’s weird is how often they complain, specifically, about her salary.

“I can’t believe she makes that much!” an SS member wrote recently. “That’s crazy $ for running a non-profit for the homeless. Is that part of what is referred to as the ‘homeless industrial complex’?”

Lee makes $195,237, plus $7,374 in other compensation. That’s a lot compared to what I make, and it may be more than what you make as well. But it’s not a lot compared to what the directors of other  Seattle nonprofit housing providers make. For example, here’s what four directors of roughly comparable groups take home in compensation, according to their 2016 IRS filings (available at

• Gordon McHenry, president and CEO, Solid Ground: $183,026, plus $19,726 in other compensation

• Michael Rooney, executive director, Mount Baker Housing Association: $162,250, plus $12,694 in other compensation

•Bill Rumpf, president, Mercy Housing Northwest $206,530, plus $13,300 in other compensation

• Paul Lambros, Plymouth Housing: $188,465, plus $22,480 in other compensation.

And yet only one of those local nonprofit housing directors has regularly been referred to on Safe Seattle as a “poverty pimp,” a “Grifter level = 7,” and a “scammer.”

You may have noticed that I didn’t mention any other women who run nonprofit housing organizations. That isn’t because there aren’t any. It’s because Lee is the only woman in her position locally* who makes a salary comparable to her male counterparts. (Even in the nonprofit world, women tend to get paid less than men for similar work). Weird that the one woman of color who makes a salary similar to men doing similar jobs is also the only one who’s routinely lambasted for making “too much.”


Isn’t It Weird That... In the same week, in two liberal West Coast cities with booming economies and  growing homelessness crises, local news media ran extremely similar stories predicting that their city’s convention business would implode if the city didn’t crack down on its homeless population?

Now, I’m not suggesting any kind of direct cooperation between stations like KIRO-7 in Seattle (which recently provided obsessive, near-daily updates on an unsightly encampment across the street from its office) and, say, FOX News. But their sky-is-falling stories about convention center traffic this week did feature a number of common elements:

1. A representative from the local tourism board predicting that convention traffic is about to dry up, with no data-based evidence supporting this claim (or in the face of data that suggests the opposite). In the case of San Francisco,  one representative from the local tourism board claims that an anonymous large medical group has “canceled” a convention because an advance group showed up and was horrified by rampant homelessness and crime. That  quote made it into every headline I saw about the story despite the fact that what the group actually said, according to the tourism official, is that it will convene in San Francisco in 2018 and 2023, but may decide not to do so in the future. (The fact that this anonymous convention planner is also quoted as saying they plan to take their business to Los Angeles, a city with its own extremely visible homelessness crisis, suggests a number of obvious followup questions, such as: Are you aware that the LA Times refers to the homelessness situation in that city as a “Dickensian dystopia“?) In Seattle, a spokesman for Visit Seattle tells KIRO that “business may not always be so great,” citing no specific revenue trend or metric other than a general sense that  “our city is out of control.”

2. No quotes from secondary sources who aren’t directly engaged in lobbying the city on the public policy they’re talking about. The San Francisco story, in fact, is based on a single source—the head of the convention bureau, who has an obvious interest in suggesting that the city needs to sweep the streets or pay the consequences in lost tourism dollars.

3. Lack of legwork. In San Francisco, newspapers and TV stations ran the story about the “canceled” convention under headlines like “SF’s Appalling Street Life Repels Residents—Now It’s Driven Away a Convention” without ascertaining which group had “canceled” (is it really that hard to figure out which “Chicago-based medical association” has 15,000 members and is holding conventions in the city in 2018 and 2023?) or looking at convention bookings to see if the loss of a single convention would make a substantial dent in tourism revenues. In Seattle, reporters failed to put tourism boosters’ claims in context, dutifully transcribing quotes about how the city’s “attractiveness… is being tarnished and diminished daily” without noting, for example, that the convention business has been so good that the convention center has been turning away “more business … than they have booked due to a lack of available dates,” according to representatives of the convention center itself. In fact, the primary constraint on the convention business has not been homeless people in alleys but sufficient space to meet demand—which is precisely why the convention center has insisted it needs a $1.6 billion expansion.

It’s easy for writers and columnists to cut-and-paste “scathing letters” warning of dire consequences if the city doesn’t clean homeless people off the streets and serve as stenographers for self-serving tourist bureaus. But it’s far more useful to the public when journalists ask tough questions, provide context, and sometimes even decline to run with alarmist stories if the reality doesn’t live up to, or even contradicts, the sky-is-falling hype.

* The only woman, that is, that I was able to find in my review of federal filings from more than a dozen local organizations that provide housing to formerly homeless and low-income people.

A Note to Readers About Patreon

Update: After an overwhelmingly negative response from creators and patrons, Patreon rescinded its decision to raise fees on Monday, saying they planned to look at different fee structures in the future. I’ll update this post with more information if and when that happens. In the meantime, the fee increase is off.

As you may have read over the last few days, Patreon—the billing system that I and many other artists and writers use to enable readers to support our work financially recently implemented some changes in how they do their billing. Under the new system, Patreon will charge patrons a 35-cent fee per transaction plus 2.9 percent of your monthly donation which means that if you’re a monthly donor, your annual transaction fee will now work out to $4.25 a year, plus 2.9 percent of whatever you contribute. Previously, the monthly fee was 5 percent. You can do the math, but the upshot is that donors who contribute on the higher end of the scale (say, $10 or $20 a month) will now pay lower annual transaction fees, and donors who contribute on the lower end of the scale (say, $1 or $2 a month) will pay higher annual transaction fees. I also pay a 5 percent fee on each transaction from Patreon.

Some of the backlash to this move has come from creators like me, who depend on monthly donations not to fund our entire lives, but to supplement a number of income sources that range from (in my case) freelance work and consulting to (in other people’s cases) part- and full-time jobs. It’s true that some people make a full-time living from Patreon and no other sources, but for most creative types (and scrappy journalists trying to make a living outside the sometimes limiting, and always precarious, world of full-time jobs at traditional media companies), it’s part of a portfolio of stuff we do to make ends meet.

Currently, after my own Patreon transaction fees are taken out, contributions from readers provide me with about $25,000 in income a year, which, because I’m self-employed, is taxed each year at a rate of about 30 percent. This is a significant source of income for me. When I say that The C Is for Crank would not exist without reader contributions, I mean that quite literally: I make my living as a freelance journalist and consultant (for example, I still do some communications work for NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, where I worked as an employee from 2015 to 2017.) I truly appreciate your contributions and I could not do this work without them.

That said, for those who no longer wish to contribute through Patreon, I wanted to highlight another option for monthly (or one-time) giving: The C Is for Crank has a Paypal account! To make a one-time contribution, just enter the amount you would like to give in the form provided; to make a recurring gift, just click the box beside the words “Make this a monthly contribution.”

There is no fee for you to contribute through Paypal; however, if your contribution is closer to the dollar-a-month end of the spectrum, know that I pay a 2.9 percent fee plus a flat 30 cent fee for each transaction (so if you give a dollar a month, I will only receive 67 cents of that amount after I pay the mandatory fees. If you give $5 a month, I will receive $4.55 of your $5 contribution and Paypal will get the rest.)

Basically, with Patreon, you’ll pay a bit more to contribute and I get to keep a higher percentage of your contribution, and with Paypal, you pay nothing to contribute but I get a smaller percentage (sometimes a significantly smaller percentage) of your contribution.

I wish there was a perfect billing system that let you contribute without paying fees and that let me keep 100% of your contributions, but there isn’t, so it’s your choice between two options that are flawed in different ways. Just know that however and whatever you choose to contribute, it really helps. Whether it’s a dollar or 20 dollars a month, your contributions are what make this blog possible, and I truly appreciate anything you can give.

Paypal here; Patreon here. Thanks!

Out of Office Notification

I’ll be out of the country—that’s right, the country—until November 7, doing my best to stay out of local politics for the final two weeks of the election while I visit friends on a long-planned trip.

Answers to your frequently asked questions below.

Has the election literally driven you out of the country? 

No, but who knows? It might have if I hadn’t planned this trip several months ago, when I found a ridiculously cheap ticket that just happened to take me far away right at the end of the campaign cycle, when everybody has made up their minds and yet all the campaigns are still yelling.

Does this mean we won’t benefit from your insights during the final weeks of the election cycle?

Yes and no! I won’t be posting here regularly, if at all, but you can always check out my campaign coverage by clicking on the Election 2017 tag. And if you still haven’t decided how to vote, check out my endorsements.

What are you doing? Why are you abandoning us? 

I’m visiting some dear friends that I haven’t seen in a long, long time. And possibly some castles!

But I want to yell at you! 

Yelling is for Twitter.

Who should I support for mayor? 

That’s easy: Cary Moon, Teresa Mosqueda, Lorena Gonzalez, and Pete Holmes. Find out why in  my endorsements!

When will we see you again? 

I’ll be back on Election Day. In the meantime, if you want to show your support for the work I do here—which, believe me, necessitates a vacation from time to time— you can always become a sustaining supporter on Patreon or give a one-time contribution through Paypal.

An Announcement

Updated: Happy April 1!

I have an exciting, if bittersweet, announcement for Crank readers: Starting Monday, I’ll be moving on to a new chapter in my career, as Mayor Ed Murray’s Neighborhood Outreach Coordinator.

As NOC, I’ll be the mayor’s eyes and ears on the ground in a neighborhood near you– from Queen Anne to Ballard, West Seattle to Wedgwood, and everywhere in between. Worried that your neighbors are harming our urban forest by cutting down private tree canopy in their backyards? Let me know and I’ll tell you all about how Seattle’s tree code works to preserve our urban forest! Irritated that homeless campers are treating your neighborhood park like their personal party fairgrounds? Happy to give you the scoop on why we can’t ship them out of the city! (Spoiler alert: The Constitution.) And if you’re curious why developers are being allowed to build townhouses on multifamily land even though it’s next to YOUR house, I’m putting together a pamphlet this weekend, “A to Zoning: A Homeowner’s Guide to Land Use,” that should clear up all your questions!

As a longtime reporter in Seattle (16 years!–Can you believe it?!), I’m familiar with neighborhood issues, well accustomed to taking a little bit of friendly abuse (no protests outside my house, though, please! :)), and eager to listen to and file away your concerns and comments.

As my first official act as the mayor’s NOC, I’m proud to announce that we’ll be rolling out a new social media site and Twitter feed this coming week. Check later in the week for an introduction to NextFloor (@nextfloor on Twitter and Insta), where renters can talk in confidence about issues with landlords, concerns about the housing shortage in Seattle, and ways to get more involved in their neighborhoods! Renters ONLY, please–we have strict privacy codes for the protection of our communities!

It’s an exciting time to work for an administration that shares my urbanist values, and I can’t wait to put my journalistic chops to work for you, my neighbors. As we say on the 7th floor: If you need anything–just NOC!

Here’s What You Get for Your Contributions

TL;DR? That’s okay—here’s how to give!

Since the beginning of this year, I’ve ramped up coverage here at the Crank.

I’ve brought you new features like Morning Crank, a regular early-morning roundup of exclusive news and gossip from City Hall and beyond.

I’ve published exclusive interviews like this week’s conversation with homelessness consultant Barb Poppe, whose eponymous report is the basis for the city’s homelessness plan, Pathways Home, and the mayor’s proposed $275 million levy for homeless services..

I’ve spent countless nights reporting from far-flung neighborhood meetings on neighborhood, city, and national issues, live-tweeting and providing stories and analysis on issues from homelessness in Greenwood to light rail opposition on Mercer Island to hate speech at the University of Washington.

I’ve done deep, analytical dives into complicated issues that few reporters explore at more than surface level, including the homelessness levy, which I’ve dissected in detail in recent posts and will continue to follow closely until the election in August.

And I’ve broken big stories, including the news this week that the city has reached a settlement in a dispute about the surface street on the waterfront, agreeing to narrow the 102-foot-wide surface highway to 79 feet by eliminating transit lanes once light rail opens in West Seattle in 2033.

In the coming months, I’ll be doing even more in this space. But I need your help to make that happen. This blog is run entirely on donations. What that means, in very practical terms, is that in addition to expenses like the Car2Go I use to get to last-minute meetings and the five bucks here and ten bucks there I spend on coffee interviews and public records, my paycheck—my ability to keep doing the work I do here at The C Is for Crank—depends on contributions from readers like you. So if you enjoy reading this website, and can afford to pay a little each month to keep it going, please become a sustaining supporter. Thanks for reading, and for your ongoing support.

Fan Mail, Public Disclosure, and Conspiracy Theories

Image result for mail bag

A few weeks back, two people filed  public disclosure requests seeking all the emails I’ve sent to city council members—in one case, going back many years, and in the other, going back forever. (I’ve redacted the names and contact information from the requests). One of the requesters seemed to be hoping to blow the lid off some conspiracy between me, the council, and homeless advocate Alison Eisinger related to homeless encampments; the other seemed obsessed with a story I wrote about misogyny directed at female city council members over the arena deal last summer, in which I mis-identified the date and context in which two talk radio hosts gave out council member Sally Bagshaw’s phone number, and also wanted copies of every email in which any council member or council staffer had ever mentioned my name or the name of this blog.

That, as I said on Facebook at the time, is unusual! I’m a private citizen, and it isn’t common for people to go on witch hunts for journalists’ emails, but it happens. (Pro tip, though: If you’re going to go hunting for conspiracy theories, narrow them down so it won’t take the city 15 years to produce all your documents!) Around the same time, another individual had taken it upon herself to call my employers, potential employers, past employers, and even other media outlets where I’d merely appeared as a guest, in an effort to make it hard for me to get work or do public appearances. (I’ve seen a lot of these emails and they typically describe me as irresponsible, not a real journalist, unethical, and motivated by some kind of vague, nefarious hostility—basically the email equivalent of the comments I was getting on Slog back in 2007.) The person was also upset about my views on homelessness, and lives in the same North End neighborhood as the two records requesters.

I’ve struggled for a long time with what to do about harassers. Contrary to what seems to be popular belief, I don’t like the attention, and I certainly don’t understand why people form negative obsessions about people they don’t know. I’ve blocked a few people on social media, including one person who created a dozen or more new Facebook profiles every day (you know, Facebook – the place where you can’t hide behind fake names?) to get around my blocks. I briefly blocked another person who sent me nearly 100 increasingly threatening private messages in a few hours one weekend afternoon. Typically, I unblock these people once they’ve simmered down, because I try to be an open book; only a few have concerned me enough to talk to a lawyer or law enforcement.

I’ve been living my life online for a long time, and I’ve been the subject of online abuse for just as long. But I have seen a shift recently, not in the level of anger, personal vitriol, and gendered name-calling (the very name of this blog is in part a response to people’s incredibly clever comments about knowing what my middle initial stands for) but in the prevalence of conspiracy theories, as if the city, journalists, and advocates (especially homeless advocates) were somehow colluding to destroy Seattle to make themselves rich at everybody else’s expense. You see this on Nextdoor, certainly. But you also see it in emails to council members—like the one below, which was sent to all nine council members by one of the women who filed records requests for my emails.

Which reminds me of another pro tip: Public disclosure law applies to everyone.


Sent: Tuesday, December 13, 2016 11:49 AM
To: Herbold, Lisa <>; Bagshaw, Sally <>; Sawant, Kshama <>; Harrell, Bruce <>; Juarez, Debora <>; Gonzalez, Lorena <>; O’Brien, Mike <>; Johnson, Rob <>;


Seattle City Council Members:  Dec 13,2016

It is my understanding the N Precinct has lost all funding for a new building. It is clear per your FB Ms Sawant that you truly don’t give a FUCK about law enforcement! And before the rest of the CMs take issue with my language this is your co council members words per a quote she referred to recently from an article about not giving 13 FUCKS as a grown women!

I find the lack of leadership within this council to be appalling and harmful!  You stand for nothing and cave to everything. You continually glorify in constantly appointing people to different committees or positions. Yet when it comes to THE SEATTLE POLICE DEPT policy decisions you are ineffective!

You are elected officials you were elected to form policy that serve and protect ALL PEOPLE of the city and you are failing!

Your lack of leadership regarding law and order in our city is in my opinion criminal!  The NORTH END is the LARGEST area to be covered yet has the least amount of officers working out of a building that NONE OF YOU would ever work out of. You sit in the glass palace of downtown doing what regarding public safety ? Evidently not much as crime is going up!  Tax paying citizens of this city deserve way better then what any of you are doing.

If your agenda is to make this city a living shithole then you are doing a great job just look around. It is a matter of time folks before the National Guard is called in and I am not joking!

I personally think the FBI needs to get involved and soon, as it appears a money making racket out of the homeless situation is occurring.

When you  have $100s of millions of dollars leaving this city into the hands of providers who are not held accountable. There is no transparency. And yet the homeless numbers are increasing!  A federal investigation is needed to weed thru this mess you all have created.

In addition if  you all had done a better job accounting for past spending maybe the Feds would have recognized the City of Seattle state of emergency regarding homelessness over a year ago! The way you spend money with no accountability its not surprise  the FEDS are looking the other way. You don’t spend wisely to begin with why give you more?!

In closing you should know that I do live in the North End and I can guarantee you that if I call 911 and do not receive a response in a timely manner   and it leads  to anyone in my family being harmed this city will see a lawsuit the likes they have never seen. THE OFFICER SHORTAGE, THE LACK OF PROPER TRAINING FACILITIES and having laws on the books that officers are told to not enforce  are what is  causing a  rapid decay in this city and you all policy makers are on the hook. Its called DUE PROCESS !


If you enjoy the work I do here at The C Is for Crank, please consider becoming a sustaining supporter of the site! For just $5, $10, or $20 a month (or whatever you can give), you can help keep this site going, and help me continue to dedicate the many hours it takes to bring you stories like this one every week. This site is funded entirely by contributions from readers, which pay for the substantial time I put into it as well as costs like transportation, equipment, travel costs, website maintenance, and other expenses associated with my reporting. Thank you for reading, and I’m truly grateful for your support.

Help The C Is for Crank Expand!

unnamedI’m going to be taking a short break from The C Is for Crank to visit with family over the Thanksgiving holiday and, in early December, to travel down to San Francisco to tour that city’s Navigation Center—a low-barrier shelter for the homeless that will serve as the model for Seattle’s own Navigation Center, to be built and run by the Downtown Emergency Service Center.

In the coming year, I’m going to be dedicating more of my time to The C Is for Crank and other writing projects, which means, among other things, that I’ll be going part-time at my regular day job to dedicate more time to reporting and writing here. To do that, though, I need your help. Your sustaining monthly contributions are the way I pay for this work—this site has no advertising, grant funding, or major investors, so your contributions are what pay for my time, travel costs when I take reporting trips to places like San Francisco and Vancouver, B.C., equipment (like a small digital camera and the Macbook I’m writing these words on now), and the many other expenses that go into producing stories on this site. Stories like these:

A Conservative and a Liberal Walk Into a Safe-Injection Site (and its followup companion, Safe Injection Opponent Miloscia: “My Opinion Didn’t Change At All” On Safe Consumption Sites), in which I visited a heroin clinic, a safe-injection site, and a no-eviction housing project in Vancouver, B.C. with the legislature’s most outspoken opponent of safe drug consumption sites.

Grand Bargain Preserved, with New Barriers to Development in “At Risk” Neighborhoods, a behind-the-scenes look at the sometimes-frantic efforts to save the mayor’s housing affordability plan and the compromise that puts development in areas where people want to live at risk.

With Transitional Housing Under Fire, Rapid Rehousing Remains Unproven, a deep dive into the potential pitfalls of Mayor Murray’s proposal to redirect spending on homelessness toward short-term vouchers for housing on the private market. In this piece, I talk to proponents and opponents of so-called “rapid rehousing,” and explore the ways in which transitional housing, which includes sober “recovery housing” and housing for domestic violence victims, is at risk.

Citing “Competitiveness,” City to Raise New SPU Director’s Pay—Even Though They’ve Already Hired Her, the first and only in-depth story about the city council’s decision to grant the new Seattle Public Utilities Director a raise of up to 67 percent over her predecessor, making her one of the highest-paid employees in the city.  The mayor’s office of Finance and Administrative Services claimed they needed to offer the huge pay hike to attract good candidates—even though they had already hired the new director, Mami Hara, at a much lower salary.

At a time when the mainstream media are producing carbon-copy stories filled with false neutrality, and when the alternative media veers too often into political propaganda uninformed by talking to “the other side,” this site strives to present stories with a point of view informed by context, serious reporting, and a deep understanding of the issues I cover. As someone who came up in the old alt-weekly tradition, I don’t hide my opinions on certain issues in subtext—it says “urbanism” right there at the top of the site—but I come to those views through a dedication to nuanced reporting and openness to many points of view, and it’s my opinion that we need more of that as our nation, and city, enter very uncertain times. If you agree, please consider contributing as generously as you’re able, and if you’re already a contributor, consider increasing your monthly contribution. Thank you so much for reading, and I’ll see you back here next week.

Holiday Hiatus

aa0ed322-6baa-4fda-9884-b90f81cb2763As you probably have noticed, things have been a little quiet around here in Crank City, and will continue to be so during the holidays as I finish moving (into Council District 3!), travel to the Deep South, and spend a little time grounding myself and making my New Year’s resolutions. Rest assured that I’m still working on plenty of new content for the New Year, though, including pieces on the public records requests that have brought city clerks across the state to their knees; the city’s commitment (or lack thereof) to gender equity; and some other stories involving election law, pot law, and much, much more.

One story I’m really excited to follow is what happens with the new council committees.  I’m optimistic that Lorena Gonzalez will do something about pay equity at the newly recharged gender equity committee, although without real money (so far, the city is spending next to nothing on gender equity), those efforts could prove toothless. I’m also looking forward to seeing what former Transportation Choices Coalition director Rob Johnson will do as head of the land use committee–although transportation is obviously Johnson’s forte, he has a background in planning and an understanding of the ways in which land use and transportation work together to promote sustainable, livable cities.

I’m somewhat less thrilled to see Mike O’Brien, who has consistently voted against urbanist policies in favor of rules that protect single-family landowners from change, in charge of transportation and sustainability, because I’m not convinced he gets the connection between the two. By moving sustainability out of land use and putting it under O’Brien’s purview, is the council signaling a shift away from smart land use and toward building a bunch of bike lanes and calling that good? We need bike lanes and transit priority and sidewalks and safer crossings for pedestrians, but we also need the land use and planning guidelines that make all those improvements (which O’Brien will certainly support) functional within a growing city where more people are going to live more closely together.

I’m hoping O’Brien will make the connection between density, transportation, and livability, but in order to do so, he’ll have to stop listening to the loudest NIMBY voices who claim rights that they don’t have, such as the “right” to free parking and a lawn that isn’t shadowed by the presence of lower-income apartment dwellers next door. 

And speaking of NIMBYs, I’ll leave you with a recent petition posted by some folks in O’Brien’s own district, who fashion themselves, rather grandly, as “The Citizens of Queen Anne, Magnolia, Fremont and Ballard.” (Magnolia, where citizens have hired a private police force in Humvees to patrol their quiet streets, figures prominently in the comments.)

The petition reads, in part:

It is apparent that these neighborhoods have experienced a significant and dramatic increase in criminal activity in recent months. Many of our neighbors and businesses report being victims of or witnessing crimes including home break-ins (some while occupied), stolen vehicles, stolen bicycles and other property, various property crimes, illegal narcotic distribution, known narcotic distribution sites, burglary, trespassing, and an overall concerning increase in suspicious activity.

Many residents in these neighborhoods are no longer feeling protected and safe, and are concerned for their children and their own safety. Slow or no response to citizens’ calls regarding criminal activity and a expressed de-prioritization of property and drug crimes by the Mayor’s office have appeared to increase criminal activity in these neighborhoods as “safe to commit crime zones” instead of “safe from crime zones” which the tax payers in these neighborhoods deserve.

“Known narcotic distribution sites”? Bring me to the fainting couch! As a resident of a neighborhood with actual crime issues beyond car prowls and the visible existence of people whose problems some homeowners find unsightly, I find it hard to see the argument for deprioritizing the city’s actual crime problems so that Magnolia residents don’t have to look at people shooting up.