Property Tax in Washington: Why You So Weird

The Washington State property tax is one of the most complicated in the nation

That quote is from an overview provided by MRSC which helps local governments in Washington with legal and policy guidance. I knew it was complicated. I’m digging through the data the King County Assessor’s office provides so I can answer questions like “what is the average property tax paid for single family parcels in Seattle year over year?” To do that, I’m having to dig into various things including looking up the levy rates by year. I tweeted a bunch about it, but that’s not terribly useful to many people so here’s a blog dumping some stuff about it. Total accuracy and coherence not likely. 🙂

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We ARE Shameless in Seattle on Housing

A friend of mine Jason Hahn who I’ve met in the last couple years “in politics” wrote a short little post called “Shameless in Seattle”. A short quote because a longer one would be the entire post:

Today I read in the Seattle Times that there are 4,280 school-age children living in homelessness in Seattle. This is 45% more than when our city leaders supposedly declared a homelessness emergency in 2015. I say supposedly not because they didn’t really declare it but because they didn’t really do anything about it.

If a natural disaster struck West Seattle and 3 years later we still had almost 5,000 children living without a stable roof over their heads would we be ok with that? No, of course not. But here we are 3 years and countless millions of dollars later and kids are still homeless.

Jason is writing specifically about all the homeless kids in our schools but it’s no less shameless how we’ve responded to the issue in general.

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Comment in favor of housing in Seattle!

Tonight (literally, as I type!) I’m at the public hearing for city council districts 3 and 7 on the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) upzone plan. I’ve written before about the zoning plan. Tonight folks are giving verbal testimony to five of our city council members, as well as writing up their comments on paper. You can also submit comments online by emailing the council! I gave some brief comment with a group of folks from Seattle Tech 4 Housing, but here’s the approximate longer version I hand-wrote (woah) to hand in:

My partner and I moved to where we live near I-90 and Rainier almost eight years ago. We picked our house partly because it was already close to frequent transit and in 2023 we’ll be just a couple minutes walk from the the future Judkins Park lightrail station. Now we have a four year old daughter and we want her to grow up to a world that is more sustainable and includes everyone. We’re not seeing that in our neighborhood now as people are being pushed out by increasing housing costs with double and triple the home prices we saw when we moved here.
While I support the current MHA plan, I don’t believe it goes far enough. Where we live, even five minutes walk from that future light rail station, many lots will be restricted to the most exclusionary and most expensive housing – single family homes. Even in properties like ours, which is already zoned for LR2 and stays that way under MHA but with slightly more height and floor area, it is likely to be built to 4 or 5 townhomes with a developer paying the fees to build affordable housing elsewhere. This marginal increase in new homes won’t make it possible for families who aren’t relatively well off to stay. The current plan seems to avoid increasing density near I-90 but that is where the light rail station is. To not allow many many more homes there is to preserve the benefits of frequent comfortable transit to the most wealthy of residents.
I support the MHA plan. But if we don’t do even more than this, then my daughter will grow up in a neighborhood surrounded only by families that can afford the single family homes and relatively expensive townhomes that the current plan prioritizes near our home, with only a few less expensive options in a narrow corridor. We won’t build an inclusive city that minimizes its impact on the environment without a lot more homes.
Submit your comment online or attend the next hearing for district 2 at Franklin High School on May 7, 2018.

Oversight is hard

Note: if you read my blog for more general policy related politics, then my apologies, but this is about insider stuff and specifically some stuff that has gone down with King County Democrats. I don’t like talking about insider stuff too much because what matters is helping people not party rules and games. But “insiders” are the ones getting things done. Good insiders try to be as transparent as possible and try to bring more people inside and explain the context of what they are doing and how it helps people. The backroom is only filled with smoke if we allow it to be.

While this post is public, it is especially addressed to my fellow members in local party leadership. We cannot all stay quiet and “let the process work” while our chair maligns dedicated people in private meetings who are not present, maligns them in public and misleads the press, all while re-victimizing a staff member who would have preferred to have moved on. Unfortunately, this is not only about the staff abuse that the media will highlight, but also our leadership and oversight.

At the beginning of 2017, I became a member of the “KCDCC” – the King County Democrats Central Committee. It’s an executive board made up of representatives from each of the party organizations in the many legislative districts in King County. My particular role is the “committeewoman” from the 37th LD Democrats. It’s elected: the PCOs (“precinct committee officers”) and members of the 37th LD organization voted on the various members of its executive board, including its representatives to the county central committee. I’ve certainly learned a lot. I’ve also done a lot of things I’d never done, including organizing political events for the party and candidates.

One thing I’ve been learning and re-learning, both about myself and others involved in the party organizations, is that we are all volunteers. Many of us are doing it for the first time. We have busy lives and other things going on. Many of us are committed to multiple political activities. We don’t actually all know how it should work or what makes for a functional organization. I showed up because I wanted to do something to make politics more inclusive. To get more people involved. To help candidates win who would enact important policies. You know idealistic things like maybe dealing with carbon pollution. Naive. I know.

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