News Blog for Seattle's Maple Leaf Neighborhood


City Council votes to expand staff; Debora Juarez chases NE 130th light rail station

April 28th, 2016 by Mike

Update: The Seattle Times has an editorial column on the gold-plated Seattle City Council.

Mentions The Pronto vote, too, in the fourth graph.


Eight of the nine Seattle City Council members voted this week to add an additional staffer per council member – potentially bringing their individual staffs to four each.

Only budget chair Tim Burgess, who said the cost will be an extra half-million dollars annually, voted “no.”

The rationale: Now that seven of the council members represent neighborhood districts, they actually have more work to do. Erica C. Barnett has a post: Council: Smaller Districts Require Larger Staffs.

From Seattle Council Insight’s piece here:

Council members Lisa Herbold and Debora Juarez, who hold district-based positions (unlike Burgess whose seat is city-wide), were the vocal proponents for the change this afternoon….

Juarez, (who represents the vast majority of Maple Leaf), took the point further, claiming that when voters passed the initiative switching the Council to seven districts, it was because “the voters wanted someone to advocate for them, while keeping in mind the greater good of the city of Seattle.” She rattled off a long list of issues she and her staff have needed to deal with in their first 100 days on the job, saying “you can’t expect three people to be expert in all that.”

Burgess disagreed. From The Seattle Times:

Council members in similarly sized U.S. cities with district council members have only one to three aides, according to a 2014 report by the City Auditor, Burgess noted, mentioning Austin, Boston, Denver, Jacksonville, Fla., Oakland and San Francisco.

The Times story is here (including the information that in addition to council-member aides, the council is supported by more than 20 shared “central staff” policy analysts).

Meanwhile, Juarez continues to prioritize pushing for another light rail station at Northeast 130th Street.

In two separate emails yesterday she issued a “130th Street Station Call to Action.”

If we are going to see some an amendment to the Draft ST3 Plan we need you to write in and tell the Sound Transit leadership that we need a commitment to build the 130th Street Station!

I am not sitting around hoping there will be a change, I am out here pushing every button and looking for all the possible ways to get North Seattle what it needs.

She’ll be at the Sound Transit board meeting this afternoon, 1:30 at 401 S Jackson St., and wants you to be there, too.

Here’s her full post, including a suggested letter to send Sound Transit.

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UPDATE: Seattle Council can’t count. Pronto bike program still muddles on – will the new City Council districts make a difference?

March 2nd, 2016 by Mike

Update March 10: Since folks are still commenting on this:

The Seattle Times’ Brier Dudley has a piece much discussed on talk radio: Pronto alternative: bike ownership.

And Publicola’s Josh Feit has a rebuttal: A Bike Policy for Adults.

Off-topic, but about biking, the Seattle Bike Blog has a post slamming sharrows, but also sort-of explaining them. (“The sharrow is the city’s most prolific graffiti tag.”)


Update Thursday afternoon: Two days after the fact, The Seattle Times has a new story saying the city claims Tuesday’s vote on Pronto was not in fact split 3-3 but actually favored bailing out Pronto 4-2 because:

1) Councilwoman Debora Juarez, who represents Maple Leaf and north Seattle, actually voted “aye.”

2) Committee chair Mike O’Brien, a Pronto backer, counted wrong.

The story is here: Seattle council panel’s Pronto vote wasn’t an even split, after all.

Though Juarez didn’t contest O’Brien’s take at the time, she actually voted “Aye,” which means the real result was 4-2 in favor of buying the struggling bike-sharing program for $1.4 million. That’s what the council’s official record now shows.

With a 3-3 tie, the plan to rescue Pronto would have gone to the full council March 14 with no recommendation from the committee. The 4-2 result means there will be a recommendation that the full council vote to prop up the program.

SeattleBikeBlog has posted here.


Pronto – Seattle’s bike renting program which will go broke at month’s end (and would already be insolvent if the city hadn’t spent nearly a third of a million dollars bailing it out at the turn of the year) – is still adrift.

On Tuesday the city’s transportation committee – now called the “Sustainability & Transportation Committee” – split  3-3 on whether Pronto should be saved for another $1.4 million.

(Editorial snark: The old public safety committee is now named the “Gender Equity, Safe Communities & New Americans Committee. We originally thought public safety might have become the new “Human Services & Public Health Committee,” but perhaps that’s the one saddled with The Jungle, another place to watch how the new council functions.)

Our interest in Pronto is not so much in whether it’s useful to Maple Leaf and the north end – it’s not, unless you take a bus or, soon, light rail, downtown – but in its politics.

How will Seattle City Council members, newly elected by district to represent specific neighborhoods, vote?

In this case, Debora Juarez, who represents the north end’s Council District 5, including most of Maple Leaf, voted on Tuesday against the buyout.

Councilman Rob Johnson, who represents Maple Leaf’s southern toe and points south in District 4, is an enthusiastic “yes,” and has posted such on the City’s web site: Why investing in bike-share matters.

For more about districts citywide, go here.

The Seattle Times has coverage of Tuesday’s meeting here: City Council can’t make up its mind over saving bike-share program.

Councilmember Mike O’Brien, who chairs the committee, voted for purchase, as did Rob Johnson and Kshama Sawant. Councilmembers Lisa Herbold, Tim Burgess and Debora Juarez voted against the plan.

O’Brien represents Northwest Seattle, Sawant represents the Central District.

Herbold represents West Seattle/South Park, Burgess’ district covers the entire city. [Read more →]

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Seattle Times asks: “What’s the most important election issue in your district?”

July 11th, 2015 by Mike

With voting in Seattle’s first city council elections by district starting next month, our news partner The Seattle Times is asking readers:

What’s the most important issue in your district?

Seattle City Council elections will be a bit different this year, with voters electing representatives by district for the first time.

The change has drawn a larger and more diverse pool of candidates than in years past, with nearly 50 candidates vying for seven district seats and two at-large positions. The tone of the campaigns is also different as many of the candidates work to appeal to voters on hyperlocal, neighborhood issues.

What is the most important issue in your district? What will you ask a candidate who rings your doorbell or appears at a public forum?

To participate, take the Times’ survey here. You will be asked for your name, email address, phone number and cross streets.

The Times is in the beginning stages of mapping the responses along the lines at right.

There are also questions about identifying specific issues, and what you’d like to see done about them.

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Absentee ballots arrive -but the council election is next fall

April 10th, 2015 by Mike

Absentee ballots for the April 28th special King County election — what? You didn’t know there was one? — started arriving this week.

But that election has only one issue for Seattle residents: Replacing police and fire radios that date back to the 1990s.

(The total is $246 million. Estimated cost is $2 monthly for the median homeowner. The levy lasts nine years. Today’s Seattle Times editorial in support is here. The only opponents appear to be rural folks worried about levy lids. Why it takes a special property tax levy to buy emergency radios is … complicated. But it’s worth noting the radio system spans 39 cities plus the county and lets their first responders talk to one another.)

The election of major interest comes this fall, when Seattle City Council members will be elected by districts. The filing deadline for that contest is May 15.

Since we last wrote about the Fifth Council District, which includes almost all of Maple Leaf, one additional candidate has filed – Debadutta Dash. The latest filings are here.

That election is generating mounting interest. Mian Rice (son of former mayor Norm Rice) stopped by Maple Leaf Life South recently while out doorbelling. A supporter of Sandy Brown (“transit investment and sidewalks”) showed up with fliers last week. And David Toledo commented on our previous post, introducing himself (sidewalks!).

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News from around the neighborhood and nearby

March 15th, 2015 by Mike

On this Ides of March:

* Chris emails that the Mug Bugs Coffee stand at 5th Avenue Northeast and Northeast 85th Street (at Rick’s Chevron) was robbed on Friday.

A Seattle Police report confirms that a “robbery business bodyforce” occurred at that location shortly after noon. The map also shows assorted burglaries and car crimes around Maple Leaf.

* More candidates emerge running for district seats in Seattle’s new City Council scheme. Nearly all of Maple Leaf is in District 5, where there are currently six candidates: Sandy Brown, Mercedes Elizalde,  Debora Juarez, Mian Rice, David Toledo and Halei Watkins.

In a roundup, our news partner The Seattle Times notes that Brown leads that pack in fundraising, at $35,753.

One campaign contribution of note: super-rich Seattle venture capitalist and big-time Democratic donor Nick Hanauer last November gave $700, the maximum amount allowed, to 5th District candidate Sandy Brown. Hanauer’s wife, Leslie, also gave $700…. The Hanauers live in the 5th District.

The southernmost toe of Maple Leaf is in District 4, candidates Jean Godden, Rob Johnson, Taso Lagos, Michael J. Maddux and Tony Provine. The fundraising leader is longtime council incumbent Godden at $47,678.

* Finally, it’s of neighborhood interest that the blighted properties down 15th Avenue Northeast near Roosevelt High School are back in the news, as Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and other officials float the idea of tearing down houses belonging to Hugh Sisley and developing a pocket park. The Times’ story is here.

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Sound Transit approves Northgate pedestrian improvements

June 28th, 2012 by master

Sound Transit followed the lead of the Seattle City Council today, approving the proposed pedestrian improvements that include a bicycle/pedestrian bridge from North Seattle Community College to Northgate Station, according to a news release from the Cascade Bicycle Club.

It states that the Northgate Station Access Strategy commits Sound Transit to:

  • Completing a Northgate access improvement study to identify potential additional pedestrian and bicycle access improvements to enhance access to the current Northgate Transit Center and future Northgate Station inter-modal transit facility as part of the Northgate Link Extension Project.
  • Contributing 25 percent (up to $5 million) of the cost of a bicycle/pedestrian bridge over I-5 to North Seattle Community College and Licton Springs, which the City of Seattle will match with an additional $5 million. The City will also seek other funding partners to secure full funding to complete design and construction of the bridge (total cost approximately $20 million). If a full funding agreement for the implementation of the I-5 pedestrian/bicycle bridge cannot be completed by July 2015, the Sound Transit Board will reallocate any unspent bridge funds to other priority pedestrian/bicycle projects identified through the connectivity and access study processes.
  • Matching up to $5 million in City investments in pedestrian/bicycle facilities in and around Northgate Station consistent with the improvements identified and recommended by the connectivity analysis and access study.

In other Northgate Station news, the Thornton Creek Alliance is inviting the public to a panel discussion tonight on the changes and challenges to Thornton Creek as the North Corridor Transit Project becomes further developed. There will be representatives from Sound Transit, Seattle Public Utilities, State Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the State Department of Ecology on the panel, which will be followed by the Alliance’s regular meeting.

The meeting is from 7-9 p.m. tonight at the Meadowbrook Community Center, 10517 35th Ave. N.E.

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City Council approves Northgate pedestrian bridge

June 25th, 2012 by master

The Seattle City Council today voted in favor of making Northgate more walkable by unanimously adopting a resolution dedicating up to $5 million for a pedestrian/bike bridge over Interstate 5, linking the future Northgate Station and North Seattle Community College.

The so-called Northgate Station Access Strategy also includes another $5 million as a match from Sound Transit for additional pedestrian/bicycle improvements in anticipation of the arrival of the North Link light rail in 2021.

The strategy, which was proposed earlier this month by Councilman Richard Conlin, also includes a request that Sound Transit develop of a 450-stall parking garage “that will support park-and-ride facilities, preferably shared use, with possible private funding used to provide additional parking garage stalls and potentially free existing surface parking for future development,” according to the text of Resolution 31389.

From Conlin’s news release:

“A coordinated access strategy is critical to making light rail work and to realizing the vision of the Northgate Urban Center and enhancing the neighborhoods around Northgate,” Conlin stated. “We can accomplish so much more by recognizing that all modes of access are necessary in order to prevent gridlock and ensure that transit and urban development work together.”

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All 10 Seattle City Council candidates show up at Maple Leaf election forum

October 19th, 2011 by Mike

Seattle City Council incumbent Jean Godden and challenger Bobby Forch answer questions from residents Wednesday night at the election forum.

All 10 candidates on the Nov. 8 election ballot for Seattle City Council were on hand tonight for the Maple Leaf Community Council’s Candidates and Issues Night.

So were about three dozen neighborhood residents. So the ratio between candidates (adding in staff) and audience was a hearty 1-3.

Most of the candidates’ positions can be found at the website of the Maple Leaf Community Council (which sponsored the forum) here.

Much of the discussion revolved around jobs, transportation, trust in police, the environment and sidewalks. Plus some issues the Seattle City Council has little control over, such as schools or bus service.

Later in the evening presentations on the Families and Education Levy, the Liquor Sales and Distribution Initiative and the road tolling (Initiative 1125) issues were set.

A highlight of the early evening came from Brad Meacham, who is challenging incumbent Councilman Bruce Harrell. Meacham was intensely critical of Seattle City Light, and in a Q&A said: “I’ve been told that the best way to get something done at Seattle City Light is to make a campaign contribution to Bruce Harrell.”

To which Harrell responded: “Thank you.”

Signs for incumbent City Council members outside Olympic View Elementary School Wednesday night.

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Don't forget tonight's candidate forum at Olympic View

October 19th, 2011 by Mike

All 10 candidates for Seattle City Council have confirmed they will attend tonight’s Candidates and Issues Night at Olympic View Elementary School.

Representatives from the various ballot measures have also been invited to the forum, which runs from 7-9 p.m. at the school, 504 N.E. 95th St.

The event is sponsored by the Maple Leaf Community Council, which notes:

You will be able to ask candidates questions after hearing them give a short (3 minute) presentation. Even if you already know who you are voting for, you can still attend and ask questions of all the candidates. There will be Q&A for the ballot measures, too!

Free child care is provided. To see a the council’s candidate questionnaire, click here. The election is Nov. 8.

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Don’t forget tonight’s candidate forum at Olympic View

October 19th, 2011 by Mike

All 10 candidates for Seattle City Council have confirmed they will attend tonight’s Candidates and Issues Night at Olympic View Elementary School.

Representatives from the various ballot measures have also been invited to the forum, which runs from 7-9 p.m. at the school, 504 N.E. 95th St.

The event is sponsored by the Maple Leaf Community Council, which notes:

You will be able to ask candidates questions after hearing them give a short (3 minute) presentation. Even if you already know who you are voting for, you can still attend and ask questions of all the candidates. There will be Q&A for the ballot measures, too!

Free child care is provided. To see a the council’s candidate questionnaire, click here. The election is Nov. 8.

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