clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Has the Seattle City Council been sufficiently threatened yet?

New, comments

Anybody can sue, and anybody is suing, knowing they are using a law that can't ultimately be applied.

On Monday, people that are unaware that the city is buying the arena property that will benefit from the street vacation of Occidental Avenue gathered together to threaten the City Council some more. They seem to both imply that the arena proposal does not meet current law while simultaneously threatening to change the current law into an effective deterrent from completing a property permitting process.

"This street vacation is a flat-out subsidy,’’ [attorney Cleveland] Stockmeyer said. "They’re giving public land to a billionaire.’’

-Seattle Times, 4/4/2016

Well, no. It is the city that is getting this so called subsidy because it is the city that will own the arena property.

"I guarantee you, if you walk down the street to Bank of America or Chase Bank, they’re not going to give you a loan if they make zero profit,’’ Stockmeyer said. "A zero-profit loan from the city is a huge subsidy.’’

-Seattle Times, 4/4/2016

Again, it isn't "zero profit." The city will be receiving/buying through their participation in financing a fully developed downtown piece of property in the Stadium District, next to Safeco and CenturyLink Fields, with all of the principal and interest paid by activity at the arena, and cash to crush and remove the arena when it reaches the end of its useful life. The principal and interest are repaid and the city is left with real property zoned for almost any commercial use, situated downtown. There is zero cash going out from the city, they are providing bond capacity. That's it.

Stockmeyer said shoring up the bylaw is crucial because the city has the ability to alter it at any time. The new measure, if passed, would require a two-thirds super-majority vote by council to change aspects of the bylaw.

-Seattle Times, 4/4/2016

The current law that ushered the exit of the Sonics in 2008 isn't actually very useful. So, he might need another one.

It was discovered by City Council staff in 2012 that the current law, Ordinance 122357 (I-91), was so poorly written that it could not be applied. So, the City Council, along with city staff, invented a fair value equivalent so they could be in the "spirit" of the law. Chris Hansen's proposal passed that invented test, too, to the satisfaction of the majority of the City Council, as well as one of the original I-91 authors, Chris Van Dyk.

This situation apparently has made I-91 coauthor, Cleveland Stockmeyer, unhappy. And being unhappy is all that is required for any Seattle citizen under I-91 to sue the city over any arena or stadium plan the city is involved in. His problem , other than an inability to divide a number by zero, is that the I-91 is incapable of being applied to Hansen's arena proposal.

Undeterred, and only partially aware that I-91 can't be applied to the SoDo arena proposal, a group of SoDo arena opponents has threatened to replace the ineffectual law with whatever it takes to keep the city from participating in a partnership that it found to return a fair value to the city by, the City Council's own definition.

On Monday, Stockmeyer and International Longshore Workers’ Union lawyer Peter Goldman warned that new lawsuits could be forthcoming if the city gives Hansen the street.

Flanked by longshore workers’ union vice-president John Persak, United Transportation Union executive Herb Krohn and State Senator Pramila Jayapal, Goldman said it was "smoke and mirrors’’ to claim Hansen isn’t getting subsidies.

-Seattle Times, 4/4/2016

There is the threat, and the people threatening. Haven't the opponents sufficiently threatened the city council, yet?

I think Pramila Jaylapal is looking for an issue to differentiate herself from Jim McDermott in her bid to take her new obstructionist views to Washington D.C. as a U.S. Congress Representative. She is leaving Olympia and the protracted fight with Republicans over 2/3 supermajority voting so she can attempt to impose a 2/3 supermajority vote on the Seattle City Council. Voters might overlook all this later, I won't.

Anybody can sue, and anybody is suing, knowing they are using a law that can't ultimately be applied. That's what Pramila Jayapal hitched her political wago to.

So let's just call that threat what it is, obstructionism. A threat to anybody that proposes to partner with the city, for any reason, will be deterred from proposing mutually beneficial partnerships. If somebody does actually perform to the spirit or letter of any law, as Chris Hansen has here, then opponents will just invent another set of criteria that isn't meant to be met, but as a means of obstruction.

If opponents to the city ever entering into any public/private partnership like this for mutual benefit wish to completely put an end to such partnerships then the Mariners and Seahawks should start shopping for a new east side locations, now. And the Seattle Opera, Ballet, and Symphony should recognize the only thing preventing them from getting lumped in with sports entertainment businesses is their companies non-profit status (how long that would be enough for them is unknown).

Do I think I-91 needs to be rewritten? Yes, a law that can't be applied is of no value to me.

  • The law should be revised to define fair value similar to how the council did in 2012.
  • It also should protect taxpayers from poorly planned city partnerships with non-profit entertainment companies, and not just for-profit companies.
  • It should also have requirement that allows any citizen to sue the city for an independent review of the criteria used by the city council if one I was not provided to the council (like the economic analysis found in the arena EIS).

We have elected representatives and we voted in criteria for them to apply on our behalf. Let's give the City Council some credit here. The Council still performed an evaluation to achieve the spirit of the law. The law should be revised to incorporate the criteria the City Council found so favorable in 2012.

Endless second guessing through lawsuits because somebody is unable to be satisfied with any outcome that results in the city saying yes to something is obstructionism. We do not need such destructive policies in Seattle, or politicians in Washington D.C.

Please move the Occidental Avenue street vacation forward.