First, the Sierra Club and Real Change are considering a city initiative to stop the deep bore tunnel from being built unless certain conditions are met. Under the name Move Seattle Smarter, they are trying to craft an initiative that would protect Seattle taxpayers from any potential cost overruns before construction could begin. They would need to collect about 25,000 signatures to assure placing the initiative on the ballot in late summer or fall of next year, although it still could face a legal challenge for overreaching the intended authority granted to citizens through the initiative process.
This year the City's economy was still deep in recession and as a result we had to reduce this year's $900 million budget by $15 million before the year was over. In addition, we faced a $67 million budget shortfall for 2011. And just last week we received additional bad news: with the passage of State Initiative 1107 and the continued decline in property sales we had to take another $5.8 million dollar reduction from the Mayor's proposed 2011-2 budget.
A group convened by the Mayor in August has made recommendations to help the immediate needs of the Population of Unsheltered Seattle Homeless, a title that lends itself nicely to the acronym PUSH; consequently I've been calling the Mayor's Task Force, Project PUSH. The fact the Mayor's efforts are focused upon unsheltered homeless people is critical and historic. Through the 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness our efforts have focused on moving people out of shelter and into permanent housing. An important goal indeed, but given that the City funds 1,209 shelter beds, and still the 2010 One Night Count found 1,986 people sleeping outside in Seattle, it's time to support the recommendations of Project PUSH, and help those with emergency shelter needs.
Today, the Council arrived at a compromise on the City's agreement with The Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI) on its move to the Armory at South Lake Union. The compromise provides the City an additional $8.5 million next year to help soften the blow to human services and other budget areas in 2011 & 2012. Rather than a loan, the parties have agreeed to restructure the timing of money flowing from the State through the City to MOHAI.
Equitable development creates healthy communities of opportunity. Equitable outcomes come about when intentional strategies are put in place to ensure that low-income communities and communities of color participate in and benefit from decisions that shape their neighborhoods. With the economic recession and the Obama administration support for equitable development principles, communities are organizing to use recovery dollars to promote communities that empower those who have been hurt first and worst.
On Monday evening, Monday September 20, 2010, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., I will host an event called Can We Achieve Social Equity Using Smart Growth? It will be held in the Seattle City Council Chambers located on the Second floor of City Hall, 600 Fourth Avenue, in downtown Seattle.