Today Seattle City Council Member Dan Strauss will announce his decision to defend his seat in District 6, which covers Ballard, Fremont, Green Lake, Phinney Ridge, and part of Magnolia.
The Stranger endorsed Strauss in 2019 for being a house-plant millennial who was a little to the left of Heidi Wills. True to form, during his first term he filled his district office with plants he said he propagated himself. And his politics have been ... yeah ... a little to the left of Heidi Wills!
He sided with the progressives on the passage of the JumpStart payroll tax on big business (woo!) and he's led the charge on preserving outdoor cafes, but he voted with the moderates on public safety issues and he refused to back a bill that would make landlords disclose rent-gouging (boo). And he's rarely if ever bucked the progressives when they've made bad choices, such as ending hazard pay or ignoring social housing in the budget.
Over the phone, he made his case for reelection by touting his work to make Seattle a more “livable space," ticking off a laundry list of legislation and budget items.
Green City Livin’
Highlights include a new law to make streeteries permanent, passing updates to improve energy efficiency in buildings, putting $250 million in the budget to plant a bunch of trees along streets in historically marginalized neighborhoods, completing the entire outer loop of Green Lake, funding the extension of a neighborhood greenway, and expanding the Green Lake Community Center.
He also wants to pass a long-anticipated tree ordinance, the next phase of council efforts to protect the city's tree canopy. The council last year passed a bill requiring tree service providers to register with the city. At the time, Strauss said the council would also consider several other proposals to limit the trees property owners can remove, increase penalties for illegal tree removals, and expand the definition of an "exceptional tree," which in many cases cannot be removed.
He reaffirmed his “unwavering” commitment to completing the “missing link” of the Burke-Gilman Trail, citing his experience of getting hit by a car for lack of a trail in the area. He’d also like to make the area’s brewery district easier to access for strollers and rollers.
And though outdoor dining is here to stay in Seattle, historic districts have the authority to permit or deny permits for programs such as the Ballard Ave street cafe pilot, which features wider pergolas and stuff to slow down car traffic on the street. To keep it alive, Strauss says he wants to help “bring the historic districts along” and “continue increasing the pedestrian space on that street."
Cutting Some Red Tape
On housing, he streamlined the stupid and largely unnecessary design review for affordable housing projects for a year, and he aims to make that fix permanent. He also called for an audit of the City’s permitting processes, and he led on a bill during the pandemic that basically gave tenants a little more time to pay back rent.
As negotiations over the City’s update to its housing growth plan continue apace, Strauss wants to champion more duplexes and triplexes in areas currently reserved only for detached houses. “You want to talk about where a quad goes as compared to duplex, fine, let’s pull out a map, but it’s all the same,” he said.
He added: “I look at West Woodland Elementary school, and there’s an apartment complex across the street, and that’s amazing because it creates places where people who work at the school can live. That apartment building is illegal to build there today, and that’s not okay.”
On homelessness, he called the encampment removals at Ballard Commons and Woodland Park “the most successful removals in Seattle until the King County Regional Homelessness Authority (KCRHA) fully came online,” as the City employed a longer outreach strategy to house or shelter many people living in the park.
He continues to maintain a personal list of the few people who still live outside there, and he says one person on that list just got inside this week. “There’s another guy still out there who isn’t ready to come inside. He’s got serious mental illness, but he keeps to himself. But he’s still outside, and I’m still paying attention to him,” he said.
Personal lists aside, he wants to “continue scaling our ability to address homelessness,” and to do that he’d advocate for the KCRHA to secure its own funding source.
When it comes to finding more revenue to keep the budget afloat, he’s not ready to talk about expanding or increasing the City’s progressive payroll tax on big business until—you guessed it—the “revenue stabilization work group” finishes its work.
As far as public safety goes, he wants to hire more of the “right” cops, though he notes that despite “staffing challenges” police response times are down to seven minutes for the highest-priority calls.
He argues that the City must “reform and fully fund our public safety responses, and that includes the police, and that includes other programs that cities who aren’t having these union issues have,” he said, referring to the Seattle Police Officers Guild’s resistance to reform.
The State of Play
Strauss represents the last of the council incumbents to hop in the race, making him one of three alongside Tammy Morales and Andrew Lewis. Kshama Sawant, Alex Petersen, Debora Juarez, Lisa Herbold, and Teresa Mosqueda want to move on. When asked what took him so long, he gave the politician’s answer: “I’ve been focusing on my work representing D6 and getting things done for the district.”
His primary opposition so far comes from Fremont Chamber of Commerce Executive Pete Hanning, who owned the Red Door and helped form restaurant and nightlife associations. He announced his candidacy earlier this morning.
Speaking of politicians, Strauss enters the race with endorsements from his colleague Teresa Mosqueda, State House Reps Julia Reed and Frank Chopp, state Sen. Noel Frame, Former State Reps Gael Tarleton and Jessyn Farrell, Former state Sen. David Frockt, King County Council Member Girmay Zahilay, his former boss and former Seattle City Council Member Sally Bagshaw, and Port Commissioners Sam Cho, Ryan Calkins, Fred Felleman, and Toshiko Hasegawa.