Seattle vs drugs: Today So Far
- Seattle's mayor reveals new plans to tackle downtown's woes.
- Parking was compromise within Washington's recently passed middle housing bill.
- Seattle drops assault charges against a celebrity CEO.
This post originally appeared in KUOW's Today So Far newsletter for April 20, 2023.
Get ready for the next big push to solve downtown Seattle's woes. This week, Mayor Bruce Harrell announced his plans to get drugs off the streets, and people back into downtown.
The idea around all this is to make downtown more appealing to visitors, residents, and businesses. In short, make it thrive. Harrell's plan focuses on safety as a way to accomplish this. The city will do two primary things: Use law enforcement to address drug dealers; also, provide resources for addicts and counter overdoses.
A task force including the city attorney's office, state, and federal agencies will figure out how to handle the drug dealers. The Seattle Fire Department will expand upon a team dedicated to overdose calls. Case managers join the fire department for outreach, and follow up with services and treatment. Beyond this, Harrell wants to start a post-overdose diversion facility that will offer a place to recover from an overdose and provide avenues to treatment and other help. All of this will require funding, which hasn't been worked out yet. The mayor's office is figuring that out right now.
"This summer, right around the June timeframe, you're going to see a more comprehensive plan, and you're gonna see between now and leading up to June, a few announcements on components of it," Harrell said this week. "The reason we are going about it that way, first of all we have to know what we are capable (of), we have to look at our finance projections, we also have to work with stakeholders ... yes, we want short-term victories, but we also want sustainable change for the people who matter most in this city."
KUOW's Casey Martin has more on this here.
The city of Seattle has dropped its case against celebrity CEO Dan Price. Actually, he's not a CEO anymore. Price stepped down from leadership at his company, Gravity Payments, last year to face charges of reckless driving and assault. Price rose to celebrity status when he cut his own pay in 2015, and gave his employees a minimum wage of $70,000 (today, it's more like $80,000).
The charges stemmed from allegations last year that Price grabbed a woman by the throat, after she refused to kiss him in his car, to the point she could not breathe. Now, the city attorney's office has opted to drop the case due to lack of evidence. There is potential that the city could refile charges in the future, however. Read more here.
Remember the middle housing news that happened over last week? As our state moves forward, be prepared for parking to be a major issue.
As KUOW's Joshua McNichols reports, parking proved to be a controversial point among lawmakers seeking to compromise on the recently passed middle housing bill. The result is this rule: Only one parking stall is required for small lots (like duplexes), and two are required for large lots (more than 6,000 square feet). In other words, you could have a triplex, fourplex, fiveplex, sixplex, etc. and only have two parking spaces. Street parking or the bus is the answer for the other tenants.
Now, cities can tweak these requirements on their own, but they have to take the initiative. They can nix all parking, or require more spaces. If a city wants to require more parking stalls, it has to argue that the spaces are needed for safety. Also, there is no parking required if housing is built within a quarter mile of a bus rapid transit stop or a light rail station.
I don't want to toot my own horn ... but I'm still going to. I saw the parking issue coming and pointed this out earlier this week. Dyer prediction: The parking rule will either prompt a legislative tweak in the future, or there is going to be a lot of arguments around "safety" in the years ahead.
AS SEEN ON KUOW
When you hear the words “Northwest sound,” you probably think grunge. But long before the region made its mark through indie rock and hip hop, there was another golden era of music here in the Pacific Northwest. From the 1940s to the 1960s, cities like Seattle, Olympia, and Tacoma were developing a distinctly Pacific Northwest flavor of R&B and rock and roll. (University of Washington Press)
DID YOU KNOW?
Netflix still delivers DVDs. Well, at least, it will still mail DVDs until Sept. 29, 2023. That's when, NPR reports, the company will stop renting and mailing DVDs. Netflix is finally shutting down the part of its business that started its media empire 25 years ago.
Once upon a time, I was a proud video rental store employee, despite the ugly shirts they made us wear. I worked at an independent shop in Tumwater, Wash. And I worked at Hollywood Video in its hometown, Portland. Sometime around 2003ish, we all started noticing our friends opening red envelopes with DVDs inside. Netflix had begun to spread its video rental service — order a DVD online, get it in the mail, and return it in the mail. No more driving to and from the store. Now, I could argue the merits of actually going into the rental store. I still feel it was superior. But as with most forms of media, convenience won out in the end (just as streaming overtook physical media). Heck, even us rental store employees started using Netflix. All of us meager video clerks brought up this Netflix threat to management, but we were repeatedly told the same answer: "Just sell more popcorn and we'll be OK." Turns out, that was the wrong answer.
In other Netflix news, the company plans to crack down on password sharing this summer. It has already started doing so in other countries. As an alternative, Netflix offers sharing plans. Account owners can add a person for an extra fee. In Canada, it's $8. I have a feeling that HBO, Hulu, Disney, etc. are feeling pretty excited right now, since a lot of us are going to nix Netflix this summer.
ALSO ON OUR MINDS
A section of the Colorado River, which flows through Grand Canyon National Park, is the most endangered river in the country, according to American Rivers. The group creates its annual list of most endangered rivers after sifting through nominations from concerned groups and citizens. This year, the report lists 10 rivers.