City Hall Playbook: Pneumatic Parking and Renter Protections

Coming this week at City Hall.

This afternoon, the full City Council will consider CB 118681, which would make SDOT distribute ORCA passes to low income tenants at a 50 percent discount, and also bring Science! to the art of urban parking. The bill proposes that the city contract with the University of Washington to “Develop a cost-effective system…to enable a market for shared parking in Capitol Hill Housing buildings.” What sort of technologies will be considered for use in this system? Oh, you know, the usual suspects: “pneumatic tube, light beam, and video image recognition sensors. The chosen technology will be combined with wireless charging and communication systems to enhance the effectiveness of the sensors in the garage setting.” Welcome to the future. It’s pneumatic parking.

Tuesday morning, Lisa Herbold’s CRUEDA committee will consider legislation sponsored by Mayor Ed Murray and based on recommendations from his HALA committee, which last year hashed out a “grand bargain” for addressing Seattle’s affordable housing crisis. The legislation would expand existing anti-discrimination protections for renters who use Section 8 vouchers to other forms of non-traditional income, like veteran benefits. In a letter to council, the mayor explained it like this:

Specifically, this proposed legislation would prohibit a landlord from any of the following practices if a tenant uses subsidies or alternative sources of income to pay rent:

-Deny an application for housing

-Evict a tenant

-Use advertisements that state preference

-Apply different terms and conditions

-Harass or retaliate against a tenant

Like many economic policies, this one has an implicit racial agenda which is explicated in an associated Racial Equity Analysis. That Analysis states that African Americans, Native Americans and Asian Pacific Islanders are twice as likely as your average Seattleite to use Section 8 rental vouchers, and more than a quarter of black Seattle renters pay more than half their income in rent. As is so often the case, mitigating racism means protecting the poor.