2017 General Election Candidates Survey – Mayor of Seattle

The 2017 General Election is November 7th. Historic Seattle is conducting a candidates survey of those running for Mayor of Seattle and Seattle City Council. Responses to each question were limited to 200 words or less. We are posting responses as we receive them and will continue to do so through early November. Here are the responses for Mayor of Seattle.

Mayor of Seattle

Jenny Durkan and Cary Moon

 

Jenny Durkan

The following responses were submitted by Jenny Durkan on October 18, 2017:

What’s your favorite historic place in Seattle and why do you think it’s important?

Pioneer Square is a beloved place, and one favorite. Not only is it the historic heart of Seattle, but it is a confluence of cultural landmarks, small/local businesses, entertainment (art, music, dining and nearby sports), homes, and community services that truly characterize our city. All of which I would be proud to champion as mayor.

How can Seattle accommodate the growing numbers of residents and increase in density while keeping neighborhood character?

More people are coming to Seattle every day; this trend shows no signs of slowing down. While every area in the city must be engaged in this effort, not every neighborhood is the same, nor should every neighborhood necessarily add density the same way. There should not be a one-size-fits-all approach to rezoning/upzoning. Planning for this added density requires intensive, interactive discussions with neighborhood leaders, businesses, and residents to determine how and where neighborhoods can grow while allowing both residents and local businesses to flourish.

In particular, as density increases we need to have robust dialogues with communities on how to preserve existing historical or culturally significant spaces. We should construct new buildings or adaptively reuse existing buildings so appearance and footprint are compatible with the neighborhood and nearby buildings. As a hub of innovation, we can also be creative in leveraging public-private partnerships to make sure these districts can remain viable.

Creating and expanding historic districts will help preserve our city’s rich culture and fabric. Taking care of these neighborhoods should be a part of the discussion on how we grow and add density, to ensure Seattleites and those visiting our city can enjoy and learn about them. We have to be honest about when and where increased density is needed; but this is not diametrically opposed to our goals of preserving neighborhood character. Our plans for growth can and should respect the integrity and character of historic districts.

Do you believe historic buildings and places help create a more sustainable, affordable, and livable city? If so, how?

Absolutely. Our historic and character districts foster a sense of arrival and ownership. As a city, we have at our disposal a variety of tools to encourage affordable housing in every part of the city, and it must be woven together with all the other things that make community. This should include recognizing the importance of historic buildings and places. We as a society can ask developers to build to a certain standard, and to meet our neighborhood and community goals.

How would you strengthen the City’s historic preservation program to ensure continued protection of designated Seattle Landmarks and historic districts?

We must be continually mindful of that and conscious of the legacy we want to leave for future generations. If we don’t take control of our built environment, we won’t achieve our climate, livability, sustainability, and equity goals.

When I look at examples of success, I think of the model of historic districts like the Pike Place Market and the Chinatown/International District, both of which are managed by a preservation and development authority. These entities are charged with the stewardship of these neighborhoods; they focus on the livability and realizing a holistic vision of these neighborhoods. Pike Place Market, for example, includes workers, seniors (with low-income senior housing), artists and artist work space, a childcare center, and is a hub of local businesses and entrepreneurship.

Before we start to make significant changes, we must be aware of the historic buildings in the city, and the ones that should potentially be deemed historic but that aren’t currently given this status. We must ensure that as we are growing we don’t lose things before it is too late. As the city sells properties, it is imperative to evaluate whether or not some of those deserve protection. These can be preserved, and often can be wonderful centers of community that bring people together and become central gathering places of our vibrant neighborhoods.

How do we use existing and new tools to better engage communities to ensure equitable cultural heritage preservation?

We must include all voices in deciding the future of our city and we must e include all neighborhood stakeholders when deciding the future of neighborhoods. Planning can’t come from the top floor of City Hall. There is simply no substitute for going out and listening to people in their neighborhoods and seeing firsthand where the impacts are. That is why I have gone on more than 24 neighborhood tours throughout my campaign, to get out into communities and meet with real people. I will continue to go out into the community if elected mayor.

As development occurs, we can require developers to build public plazas, green space, trees, and canopies, and to help us meet our climate and livability goals. These benefits have to be spread equitably, throughout communities of color and neighborhoods in the south end.

We must begin with a vision of where we want to go with our city, with our neighborhoods, and with all our projects. We must then align the city bureaucracy behind that collective vision, and it is up to the mayor to hold them accountable to that alignment.

Cary Moon

The following responses were submitted by Cary Moon on October 17, 2017:

What’s your favorite historic place in Seattle and why do you think it’s important?

Pike Place Market. I’ve lived in this close-knit community for years and appreciate its ongoing evolution that shows a deep commitment to values of inclusion, affordability, healthy society, and historic preservation. The Preservation and Development Authority is one of the most thoughtful and effective institutions in our city. As founder & director of the People’s Waterfront Coalition, I worked with multiple partners to envision, plan, and build the public will for the new 22 acre civic space on the waterfront. The Market is the soul of our city, and I am proud of the MarketFront building that just opened to connect the beloved Market to the new waterfront.

How can Seattle accommodate the growing numbers of residents and increase in density while keeping neighborhood character?

I believe it is possible for us to accommodate growth while preserving our neighborhood main streets and historic character. For housing, in general, I support more flexible land use codes in all zones to increase density with infill development. We have more land allocated to Single Family zoning than in any point in our city’s history, and this limitation is problematic. We must make a broader range of low rise multifamily housing forms more viable and increase the range of housing types being built. The starting point is reframing the question constructively: how do we ensure our neighborhoods are welcoming to folks at all income levels and stages in life? What lower cost and multifamily housing types are a good fit with neighborhood character and culture? Invite people to be part of the solution, helping tackle the affordability crisis together, working toward a future city that is inclusive and diverse.

Do you believe historic buildings and places help create a more sustainable, affordable, and livable city? If so, how?

Yes, I believe in the importance of historic buildings and places in our city. They help preserve our history and culture, and seeing layers of history gives each neighborhood its unique character. Reusing existing buildings is the most effective, sustainable strategy and the humane livability of a well designed and well preserved historic building is worth protecting. The quality of our new buildings are in a downward spiral caused by multiple factors: for-profit developers building for a quick property sale and not a long term sustainable revenue stream; zoning and land use codes that are overly proscriptive, leading developers to build the same model over and over; neighborhood frustration and feeling left out of shaping their physical neighborhood form; a flawed SEPA / Design Review / entitlement process; a lack of innovation and hesitancy to allow new forms of green building techniques, like structural CLT; lack of flexibility in allowing new models that might be a better fit for multi-family low rise. As mayor I will expand the incentives for preservation, and work closely with Historic Seattle to figure out funding mechanisms to reinforce historic seismically unreinforced masonry buildings.

How would you strengthen the City’s historic preservation program to ensure continued protection of designated Seattle Landmarks and historic districts?

I would improve the process to landmark historic buildings, specifically to protect against developers destroying historic features such as terracotta facades in advance of landmarking protections, and to ensure it is easier to protect mid-century modern structures that contribute character. I would ensure adequate funding for the Historic Preservation program within Department of Neighborhoods. And I would work with Historic Seattle, Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, the city’s Historic Preservation program, and other partners to expand incentives for preservation, especially for “naturally” affordable housing.

How do we use existing and new tools to better engage communities to ensure equitable cultural heritage preservation?

Preserving our city’s cultural heritage in both the north and south ends of Seattle will be one of my administration’s priorities. The design review board process has become burdened with many layers of expectation, beyond simple architectural review. We need other processes, like neighborhood planning and restructured community councils, to offer more avenues for community participation. We need to identify viable strategies and a broader range of approaches for infill development in neighborhoods so we can add density while also maintaining history character and cultural facilities important to the community. For instance, making it easier to develop duplexes, mother in law apartments, backyard cottages, rowhouses and/or congregate housing that can make reusing existing structures more attractive than tearing them down. It is essential that community members are at the table helping shape their own destiny with the full backing of the City.

 

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