Friends of the Market Newsletter
First, mark your calendars for Friends of the Market’s Annual Meeting, on November 9th, 2015, 5:30 PM, at the Pink Door, on Post Alley. Come and hear guest speaker, Knute Berger, Seattle's eminent journalist, historian, and longtime friend of the Market.
The excitement this summer over a proposed City of Seattle ordinance, which would radically alter the composition and integrity of the Market Historical Commission, has continued into fall, without resolution. Sally Bagshaw, Chair of the Seattle Public Utilities and Neighborhood Committee (SPUN), at the conclusion of her September 17th committee meeting when the proposed ordinance was discussed, asked Council Member Nick Licata, who proposed the ordinance, to convene a meeting of city and community members to discuss his ordinance. The meeting is now scheduled for Monday, October 26, 10:00 -11:00AM, in the Sam Smith Council Conference Room, 2nd Floor, City Hall.
After this upcoming meeting, if there is no resolution to FoM's and Market objections to the proposed ordinance, expect more member ALERTS to bring even larger numbers of Market and public voices to the SPUN committee and full City Council members.
Passages below summarizes what’s been happening.
Post Alley Passages
SAVE THE MARKET, AGAIN - Part II
Last August’s Passages lead was: “Something is happening at City Hall that is not good for the Pike Place Market.” That imminent “something’” is on hold - for now.
Here is a summary of the threat of the proposed amendment to the city code on the Pike Place Market Historical Commission: It reduces the number of commissioners from twelve to eleven, adds a non-Market “at large” commissioner, reduces commissioners representing Allied Arts and property owners from two to one, and changes Friends of the Market’s nominating power to a “suggestion.” In short, the ordinance would convert a Market-centric Historical Commission into a political group appointed by the Mayor and City Council.
The ordinance, initiated by Council Member (CM) Nick Licata, was shopped around City Hall and the Department of Neighborhoods before there was a briefing to the Historic Commission, in early July, by Karen Gordon, city Preservation Officer. The overall immediate response of the Commission was what has worked for the Market for 44 years, with no significant changes, probably appears not to be broken and doesn’t need fixing.
Friends of the Market (FoM) began alerting allied organizations of the danger the ordinance posed to the long-term future of the Market if the Commission was reconstructed. Word-of-mouth and handbills to members, in mid-August, urged letter writing and emails to all nine City Council members. The ordinance was to be reviewed and voted on in the Seattle Public Utilities and Neighborhoods (SPUN) Committee, chaired by CM Sally Bagshaw, on September 11th. It was hoped that calls and emails from Market people like Michael Yeager, and FoM, and Allied Arts (AA) would have an effect. Two FoM board members, Ernie Dornfeld and Christine Vaughan, met with CM Kshama Sawant, vice chair of the SPUN committee.
A week before the SPUN meeting, ordinance author CM Licata let FoM know that he would like to meet with them and AA to seek “common ground.” To show his good faith, he persuaded CM Bradshaw to pull the ordinance from her September 11th committee agenda. Those seeking to stop the ordinance were elated at the prospects of sitting down and discussing the flaws in the proposed ordinance with goodwill on both sides of the argument.
FoM issued a special newsletter bulletin: “Good News: Proposed Ordinance Pulled.” All opposition activity was stopped during that first week in September.
At the meeting to seek “common ground”, CM Licata was joined by four members of FoM, including Jerry Thonn, who is one of the four authors of the original 1971 Initiative, plus the President and Vice President of Allied Arts, and the President of Allied Arts Foundation. Also present were an assistant to the vacationing city Preservation Officer, Karen Gordon, and one staff person from Council Central staff.
After introductions, CM Licata began reciting his prepared talking points on eight elements of what appeared to be yet another new draft of the ordinance, which committee members had not seen. There were questions and challenges to some of his statements, but not all were discussed.
For example, when he went through a lengthy, tenuous, four-part explanation of why the definition of “Market Merchant” had to be changed, FoM explained there was no need to change the definition, and handed him a signed affidavit by two of the original authors of the initiative that stated the intent at the time was that “merchant” was the common dictionary definition: one who buys and sells for profit. Licata took the document, pushed it under his papers, and made no comment.
The rest of the meeting was a series of exchanges of positions, with no effort by Licata to find “common ground”. The effort to stop the ordinance had been sandbagged and a week of advocacy had been lost.
The real fight was the coming in the SPUN committee. A corrective alert was sent to the growing organizations’ newsletter email lists: “Help Again! Save the Market Historical Commission.” The handbills, phone calls, and direct contacts with affected groups, such as property owners and merchants, continued with focus on the September 17th meeting.
On the 17th, the City Council Chamber in City Hall was filled with two groups: green space and mountain bike community activists in response to the other topic taken up by the committee that day, and Market people. Because of the large number signed-up for public comment, the time allotted each speaker was cut from two minutes to one. For the full meeting proceedings, click here.
Public comment on the Historical Commission ordinance was led by FoM with a slate of speakers, which included Joan Singler, Paul Dunn, Jerry Thonn, Kate Krafft and Sara Patton, each with one of five points which together made a complete and coherent argument, all ending with the day’s slogan, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
Others speaking to oppose the ordinance were: Ernie Dornfeld, Joan Paulson, Valerie Bystrom, Sue Zuege, John Turnbull, Murad Habibi, and, for Allied Arts, Tom Graff.
There were no supporters of the proposed ordinance.
CM Licata joined the meeting when the Historical Commission ordinance was called by Sally Bagshaw, who ran a tight and fair meeting attended by CMs Bruce Harrell and Jean Godden.
Local journalist and author Knute Berger was present for the whole meeting and later wrote in Crosscut, an online newspaper, of “major flaws in Licata’s proposed ordinance". For his entire article, click here.
What is the motivation to change the law? What is Licata trying to fix? These were questions asked by Licata’s fellow council members. His reply was that he had been approached several times by people unhappy with the Historical Commission makeup - whom he twice refused to identify. He stated his main concern was whether the Historical Commission was representative of the broader city. Did it reflect institutional racism?
In further committee discussion, Licata’s understanding of the Market was shown to be lacking. He compared the Historical Commission to “other Seattle boards and advisory groups”, when in fact it stands as a unique semi-judicial organization with final power over use and design in the Market. He was not aware that the Market Constituency is an adjunct to the Pike Place Market Preservation and Development Authority and, therefore, not an independent source for commission membership. He was unconvincing and halting in arguing that the Commission’s past and current make-up did not reflect Seattle.
At the end, Bagshaw concluded the ordinance needed more work. None of the council members were convinced the Market preservation process was broken and needed fixing. More work and consultation will be scheduled.
Post Alley Passages written by Paul Dunn, firstname.lastname@example.org