At their 2 p.m. meeting this afternoon, the Seattle City Council is expected to vote on a non-binding resolution supporting Mayor Ed Murray’s proposed $149 million north Seattle police precinct. Based on what councilmembers have told us, it’s unlikely that the resolution will pass without further reductions in the budget, at least.
The project has been in planning since 1998, and there’s consensus in council that the current, three-decade-old north precinct is much too small for the number of officers it houses. But the price tag on the project—which recently doubled—is unprecedented, and amid the current affordable housing and homelessness crisis more and more Seattleites have objected to the massive expenditure. Public testimony, overwhelmingly against the precinct, lasted about an hour at the last council meeting on the subject.
Councilmembers Debora Juarez and Tim Burgess said Wednesday that they plan to vote in favor of González’s resolution. Kshama Sawant has been outspoken in her opposition to it, but is visiting family out of country and will miss the vote. Mike O’Brien says he’s unwilling to commit to a dollar amount until he can see a Racial Equity Toolkit analysis and a more precise cost breakdown, and Herbold has asked for those same changes. Rob Johnson and Bruce Harrell both say that $149 million is still too high, but didn’t give specifics on what an acceptable number would be. Sally Bagshaw’s vote is a big question mark; when asked how she’ll vote, she replied “Wait and see! :)”.
Bottom line: because González’s resolution is being introduced and voted on the same day, it needs a supermajority of six yes votes, according to a council spokesperson. Right now there are only three yes votes, plus one wild card and four councilmembers who say they support the project but the price is wrong.
It appears that to pass, González’s resolution will need to significantly reduce the price tag of the north precinct, or amend her resolution to avoid any specific dollar figure.
UPDATE: During morning briefing today, González revealed that she’s amended her resolution in some pretty big ways. The biggest: no specific dollar amount on the budget. Instead, council will hash out the precinct budget alongside all of the city’s other budgets in November. The resolution also requires a Racial Equity Toolkit analysis and a third party review of the cost projections presented by the city.
UPDATE: At the council’s 2 p.m. meeting today, chambers were overflowing with rowdy protesters agitating against the north precinct project. At one point, those protesters briefly shut down the meeting, but it started back up after several minutes of negotiation between council president Bruce Harrell and audience members. Despite the removal of any specific dollar figure for the noth precinct project from the resolution, protesters vociferously opposed it. Mike O’Brien moved to table the legislation temporarily in light of the controversy around it; Harrell seconded that motion, but abstained from the vote, and the rest of the council voted against it. When the vote on the resolution came up, O’Brien was the only no vote. The resolution passed. The crowd exploded in boos and “Shame!,” and the lights dimmed as councilmembers made their way to their private exit.