Photo by Joe Mabel.

In response to pressure from the community around the Mandatory Affordable Housing Upzone plan and new private-sector developments, the City of Seattle has created a CID Advisory Committee. Since Seattle’s and the CID’s earliest days, the CID and its residents have experienced and endured racism, disinvestment and most notably economic and political disenfranchisement. This special advisory committee is meant to break this cycle of institutional racism and deafness to the issues of the CID.

The advisory committee is a result of the companion legislation passed in 2017 after anti-displacement campaigners denounced the controversial upzoning plan that passed, which would allow taller market-rate and private-sector developments to be built in exchange for affordable housing investments. By this summer, the CID Advisory Committee plans to develop an implementation plan, share it with the community and the City Council and provide a path forward on five key issue areas: Community development and stabilization; design review; Charles Street campus master plan; coordination on investments in the neighborhood’s economy, and community services and life in the CID.

City Hall reached out the members of the CID Coalition as well as InterIm CDA to populate this advisory team. Marlon Dylan Herrera, a member of the CID Coalition and the co-chair of the Community Stabilization Work Group within the Committee said, “The advisory committee is supposed to give a voice to the people in the CID…these are open public meetings, so anyone can come and participate if they’d like.” According to Herrera, the selection process for the committee was opened after the companion legislation was passed and city hall reached out to activists specifically in recognition of their work.

Despite past contention with city hall in the last couple of years, city councilmembers and former Mayor Murray made steps towards closing this input gap. In November, 2017, then-City Councilmember Kirsten Harris-Talley hosted the CID Community Displacement meeting, and in June, 2017, there was the rushed Navigation Center Community meeting. Missed meetings and cultural missteps aren’t the only example of this input-gap with city hall as the construction of Interstate Highway 5 through the CID, over South Jackson St. has always been criticized for having been built in a manner that ignored the disproportionate impact on the neighborhood’s health and livability.

Despite the legacy of disinvestment in the neighborhood, Hererra said, “I’m coming into this with an open mind and open heart, and [community members] will hopefully be able to voice concerns about displacement.” Displacement is a major area of concern for the CID. This issue connects to the five issue areas on which that the committee will make recommendations.

Pradeepta Upadhyay, executive director of InterIm CDA and Maiko Chin Winkler, executive director of SCIDpda will co-chair the committee. In 2016, InterIM CDA partnered with Swedish Hospital, Seattle and King County’s Department of Public Health and released the CID 2020 Healthy Community Action Plan. The community action plan shaped the work of the current commission. Public health is a major focal point of this report insofar as it identified major health disparities that residents face, including a life expectancy that’s decreased by several years and deaths from flu, stroke and heart disease are exceedingly common beyond the rate for King County as a whole.

While the CID Advisory Committee’s work isn’t specifically focused on public health, in ‘the public realm workgroup’ in their November 2017 meeting, they discussed public parks and access to public space. InterIm CDA identified in their 2020 Healthy Community Action Plan that “the community repeatedly mentioned the following as barriers to health: feeling threatened by violence and crime, homelessness, and poor environmental quality; experiencing social isolation; and having limited opportunities to be active and engaged in the neighborhood.” The availability of space was found to reinforce many of these challenges, according to the report the CID has “the least amount of open and green space per person compared to any other neighborhood….Garbage, litter, traffic and poor street and sidewalk infrastructure discourage [activity].”

On Wednesday, February 28th from 4:30pm – 6:30pm, the committee will host a community open house CID community center to discuss affordable housing, small business issues, public safety and health  and the city’s work with the community. In general, the CID Advisory Committee typically meets the fourth Wednesday of the month from 5:30pm to 7:30pm in the CID Community Center off of S. Dearborn St.

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