District 1: Phil Tavel

Historic preservation survey responses by Seattle City Council District 1 candidate Phil Tavel.

Responses may be lightly edited for clarity and formatting. Please note that Historic Seattle does not endorse candidates for public office.

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

I love the Crescent-Hamm Building in the Alaska Junction. It reflects the history of District 1 and is at the heart of West Seattle. Recently, the buildings in the area have been replaced with multi-story buildings. Home to Easy Street Records, the Crescent-Hamm Building serves as a public space, a music venue, a restaurant, a place to hunt for your favorite albums, and – on the second floor – apartments.

2. How can Seattle accommodate its increase in density while preserving the unique character of its neighborhoods?

A neighborhood’s unique character is built on its people and places. We need to make sure we are building and retaining affordable housing. Any time you tear something down and build something new, it will be more expensive than before. While we have taken steps to give tenants first-right-to-purchase the buildings in which they live, tenants often have not had the bonds nor capital to use the systems in place. I would like to see a supplement to this concept similar to what passed in San Francisco; giving non-profits an opportunity to purchase property before their release on the open market. Expanding cooperative and non-profit housing are great tools for affordable housing retention and, as a result, combatting displacement.

We also must include space that allows for the recognition and celebration of our diversity through art and culture. When a neighborhood takes on density, it’s important that we plan for and include spaces that actively preserve the character of the community and represent their diverse identities and heritage. Spaces dedicated to arts and culture incorporate a more inclusive vision of Seattle into community space, which can be used as a venue for celebration and education.

3. The cultural spaces which many people feel define Seattle are increasingly at risk of redevelopment. Do you feel that it is important to preserve these places, and how can we accomplish this?

In addition to including cultural space in development plans, we can exclude culturally important spaces from upzoning and development. This was something the Council did with regard to the Ave in the University District and it is something we should use for places throughout the city. We can also create incentives programs for private developers who preserve cultural spaces to promote the retention and inclusion of these spaces throughout the city.

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

I will push for increased and more impactful use of the Racial Equity Toolkit to ensure spaces that are relevant to each culture here in Seattle have equitable opportunities for protection as landmarks and historic districts.

5. What role does historic preservation play in planning and land use beyond designating landmarks and historic districts?

Historic preservation can play a role in preserving green space, preserving affordable housing, combating displacement, and reducing environmental impacts.