Letter to City Council Candidates, Answers From Candidate Pat Murakami

Responses from candidate Pat Murakami:

With police reform and equitable justice being such timely issues and the homelessness, addiction and mental health crises playing out so publicly) how can city council help re-establish civic norms of public safety and individual responsibility (not just individual rights)?  How can we make up for lost time in rebuilding a right-sized police force with officers who are connected to the communities they serve?  Better protect our parks and public spaces from mis-use?

We need to get the homeless into proper shelters immediately, providing necessary wrap-around services, with the goal of getting all homeless into permanent housing as soon as possible.  If individuals have been offered alternatives to living in tents and RVs  and are still living in the streets, they should be offered 3 alternatives:  go into the shelter we provide, enter a treatment program, or leave Seattle.  Those that refuse to take one of these options should be investigated for possible criminal activity, such as running a Meth lab in their RV.  There are many nuances that would take too long to provide here. For example, giving non-compliant sex offenders an opportunity to get off the streets and become compliant again.

To rebuild our police force, we must recruit from other agencies across the country, give credit to former military members to advance through the academy faster, and request the State increase capacity at the State Law Enforcement Academy (which is a bottleneck in our attempt to fully staff the Police Department).

To improve behaviors in our parks and open spaces, we must record all interactions with individuals, i.e. not just give a verbal warning, but document that warning, so the next time an officer has contact with a person for inappropriate behavior, that officer can take stronger corrective action.

City Council is passing an unprecedented level of experimental legislation at the same time that our city budget and bureaucracy is very bloated, with little direct accountability for outcomes.  How can you bring pragmatism and follow-through on impacts to communities affected? (e.g. small landlords, small businesses, neighborhoods).

I want to create Citizen Oversight Commissions with actual power to propose corrective legislation, including a Budget Review Commission.  We need to bring small landlords and tenants to the same meeting, and help negotiate a balance which protects tenant rights while not creating overly onerous legislation for small landlords.  The concerns of small businesses, particularly legacy businesses, must be taken into account by City leadership.  Neighborhoods should have a voice in development to ensure development serves the needs of the community, rather than the community serving the profitability of the developers.  The City Council must invite impacted parties to the table for genuine input BEFORE legislation is passed.

The opioid epidemic is playing out painfully in our neighborhoods (like Ballard).  No one on city council seems to recognize the impacts to business costs, home safety, devastation to parks and green spaces and urban disorder.  How can we make better progress helping individuals in need and also mitigating the wide abuses to communities (not NIMBY, not hysterical)?

We all have a responsibility to be contributing members of society to the best of our abilities.  Drug addicts must be offered detox, rehabilitation and/or legal alternatives to illicit drugs (such as Suboxone).  Most people will accept services in lieu of jail time if they are confronted by law enforcement when they have committed a crime.

What are your thoughts on the issue of AirBnB/HomeAway rentals and reduction in long term rental apartments?  Where are the appropriate? How can city manage?

Short-term rental units should be registered with the City.  There should be oversight to ensure units aren’t clustered in single areas.  AirBnB/HomeAway landlords should be required to pay the same taxes as hotels, which make substantial investments to boost tourism in Seattle.

Would you hire your staff based the first qualified applicant. No need for interview, Obviously not, so what is your position on requiring landlords to rent to the first in line?

I disagree with this policy.  Landlords have a right to protect their property, and particularly to choose who might live in the same home with them.  There are better ways to help people with a criminal record to obtain proper, permanent housing.

I no longer feel safe in Magnolia on the bus to my downtown office or walking around the city – day or night because of the homeless issues.  How do you plan to address these?  How much do you think this homeless problem stems from drug abuse?

I want to create a campus with wrap-around services on-site for the homeless, thereby getting everyone off the streets and into proper shelter.  I think a large portion of the homeless population has a drug abuse problem, so the wrap-around services must include drug intervention services.

There have been advocates to rezone single family housing zones to multi-family and to relax the rules for parking and requiring a property owner to  live on the property.  Do you support these initiatives?  Why?  There are serious issues with too much garbage and noise and not enough parking.

I do not support any of these initiatives, because all of them negatively impact livability.

I can no longer afford to live in my own city.  Seattle rents have experienced the highest increase of any major city in the country.  What is your specific plan to create affordable housing?

We have let developers do as they please.  It is time to demand an adequate percentage of affordable units, across the affordability spectrum, in all new developments.  The City also needs to monitor the affordable units to ensure affordable rents are being charged – right now we have an honor system.  We may have to enact rent controls on large landlords.

What do you plan to do to address the traffic situation in the city? There are some easy ways to address these without just spending more money –

We need to increase buses on over-crowded routes.  I also propose a gondola system, taking advantage of our natural geography.  It would be far less expensive to build than fixed-rail, could be built faster, and would be an excellent option to reduce gridlock and get people out of their cars.

Seattle is experiencing unprecedented traffic gridlock.  What specifically will you do to was traffic congestion?

See answer to question above.  Also, we must stop allowing developers to block our streets during rush hour (a.m. and p.m.).


Question for City Council candidates received via email [Shortened version]:

Currently, under the “green house” regulations, there is a minimum number of trees that need to be put on a construction site.  Unfortunately, there are no regulations about the appropriateness of the species of trees that  are planted on each lot where the construction of the “green house” is.  There is no protection for the neighbors, as large trees are planted close the houses possibly undermining foundations or allowing rodent access to roofs.  The people at DPD were very clear that the situation is very bad.  The bottom line is that the responsibility for the current rules regarding the “green houses” belongs to City Council. Are you willing to address this issue?

Yes. Some of these problems would be addressed if we required more open space and adequate setbacks from lot lines. With enough open space, trees could be planted properly.