Small business operators from Ballard and Fremont came together last week at the Fremont Abbey Arts Center for a robust roundtable discussion with District 6 Seattle City Councilmember Mike O’Brien.
Over the course of the conversation, business owners raised concerns about deteriorating roads and sidewalks in their district, lack of parking and late night transit services for employees, and the cumulative and disruptive impact of legislation that has come out of City Hall in recent years. One example businesses cited was the scheduling ordinance passed last year. Participants also asked about the process for proposals such as a soda tax or a local paid family leave policy. Councilmember O’Brien noted that the latter two still need to go through the legislative process, and encouraged businesses to contact his office to share how they would be impacted by legislation.
On the matter of infrastructure—specifically potholes and illegal dumping —Councilmember O’Brien encouraged members to download and use the “Find It, Fix It” app on their smartphones to effectively flag the issues for the City. He noted the City has made a commitment to fill reported potholes in within three business day, and progress can be followed on the City’s pothole page. Councilmember O’Brien also pointed to the infrastructure improvements that will come to arterial roads as part of the Move Seattle Levy. In discussing parking challenges, members shared ideas on how the City could partner with private apartment complex garages and better leverage technology to provide more parking options.
Members also shared feelings of frustration and helplessness about the growing homelessness crisis. Councilmember O’Brien shared updates on the approach the City is taking, in coordination with King County to bring unsheltered residents into housing and connected with services. He noted that it will take time to make discernable progress, as this issue is complicated by issues that have been decades in the making, including the defunding of mental health services, an opioid addiction epidemic sweeping the nation, and diminishing affordability and housing in growing cities like Seattle. The City currently spends $55 million on programs to address homelessness each year, and $45 million on affordable housing.
This in-district roundtable—co-hosted with the Ballard Alliance and the Fremont Chamber of Commerce, and sponsored by Recology—was the latest in a series that the Seattle Metro Chamber started in 2016. For the past year, the Chamber has made connecting neighborhood business owners to their district councilmembers a priority of our outreach work.
In 2017, the Chamber will continue connecting Seattle City Councilmembers and other elected officials with business owners in neighborhoods across the city. Next week, the Chamber will convene a small business roundtable with Congresswoman Suzan DelBene to discuss federal tax reform measures, and later this spring, we will connect District 4 businesses with Councilmember Rob Johnson over lunch in the University District.
If you are interested in participating in a future roundtable in your neighborhood, please contact the Seattle Metro Chamber’s Policy and Outreach Manager, Kyla Shkerich, and include your Seattle City Council district information.