On the Radio: So Far, Not So Good for Mayor Elect Durkan

I was on the Dave Ross show last week and KIRO has posted our full almost 20 minute interview. In our talk I cover a lot of our key messages and points about housing in Seattle. If you have the time it is worth a listen or you can read an article digest of the talk too.

The interview was done before Mayor Elect Durkan made her first appointments to her transition. The first three people she’s chosen to look at housing and transportation are Paul Lambros of Plymouth Housing, former County Executive Ron Sims, and Shefali Ranganthan from the Transportation Choices Coalition. I have no problem with Ranganthan, she and her organization have been long time champions of incentivizing options other than driving a single-occupancy vehicle everywhere.

Lambros is a huge red flag, and the choice indicates exactly what I was concerned about: Durkan has bought into the non-profit housing industrial complex. Lambros is a signer of the so called “Grand Bargain,” a deal between big downtown developers and non-profits like Lambros’ to shake down market rate developers to fund his projects, housing that is ringing in at as much as $500,000 per unit.

I had a horrible thought walking home last week: what if Durkan appoints Ron Sims head of the Office of Housing? This would be sort a make work project for a politician with not many places to go (Sims ran for Senate and Governor and lost) and could be rationalized because of Sims’ job at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Who knows, maybe Sims would break out of money cranking routine that housing bureaucracy usually engage in and actually support innovative housing policy in collaboration with the market. Maybe. But that would be going against this whole career as a Democratic politician.

So yes, we do have “hope for new era with Mayor Jenny Durkan,” but so far it doesn’t look all that good.

Photo from the Seattle TimesĀ 

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