Beth Mountsier

Q1. What are you hearing from voters as the most important issue facing Seattle?  In your view of that issue, what is working and what would you do differently?

I am hearing a lot about the lack of affordable housing and generalized fears about the future of Seattle (on a range of issues).  See answers on housing in #9.  In the meantime, Council could be more directed in streamlining housing delivery (including smaller projects) and better informing constituents regarding why.  Adding housing to stabilize housing prices is the bulwark against economic displacement more than concerns of physical displacement.

Q2. Please provide your perspective on how the current city council conducts its business with the public.  How would you conduct yourself as a council member?

I think the Council ‘conducts its business’ in an acceptable manner – although per the Seattle way – it sometimes seems to take forever to get to meaningful action.  I do think some members are better than others meeting and communicating with constituents, in addition to stakeholders.  I would plan to regularly meet with constituents and but also communicate via newsletters and social media.   

Q3. In your view is the current City Council mostly on the right track in addressing Seattle’s problems.? If yes, what do you like about the current Council’s approach? If no, what would you do differently?

I think Seattle and cities across this country are in an amazing transformational period driven by technological changes, climate change awareness and future generations who want a similar quality of life to the current generation – but recognize that may look different.  Elected officials are not doing enough to explain the transition, challenges and the how and why of their policy decisions.  I am also  not satisfied that the Council sticks to the highest priorities for action – and other times is not sufficiently rigorous in its analysis of the impacts and ripple effects of its policy making.

Q4. Please comment on the city’s approach to unsanctioned encampments.  Would you change anything about the current policy?

Unsanctioned camps, especially those in or near public areas frequented by families and children (eg schools and parks) should be closed.  But until it can be shown that there is enough housing or shelter space for all unhoused persons, sanctioned camps or alternatives to shelters (such as tiny house communities) should be allowed if not encouraged.  Sanctioned camps can build community, protect vulnerable residents, address public health concerns and provide regular contact with case managers who can better assist residents to treatment and housing.

Q5. A recent study found a that a group of offenders with dozens of arrests, who regularly cycle through the courts and back onto the streets account for a significant amount of the property and violent crime in downtown and the neighborhood business districts. How should city government respond to these findings?

Lisa Daugaard, PDA says the 100 repeat offenders all had substance abuse disorder, mental health issues or both; and there are probably another 1,500+ chronic offenders that meet the same profile.  Jail does nothing to treat the underlying issues.  A more holistic approach to the CJ system ensuring/requiring offenders get the treatment they need could break this cycle.  Seattle should expand the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program to more parts of the city and support the Legislature to revise civil commitment laws, and budget for more treatment beds/services.

Q6. Seattle is one of the fastest growing cities with small businesses as the backbone of our local economy. However, as the city grows the cost of doing business has also increased. As a council member what is something you would do to help businesses survive and prosper in Seattle?

Tax fairness/equity for small businesses should be weighed in all  policy development. I support using zoning/design reqs and/or developer agreements for individual projects to support existing and new small businesses.  Strategic ‘historic’ preservation can work (shopping districts with a mix of buildings and retail are more successful) – however city policies should not stifle investment and redevelopment. Car usage and parking demand is changing – use OED should help businesses adjust as city streets re-programmed for transit and alt transportation.

Q7. As the city has grown so has the cost of housing making Seattle unaffordable for many people in the workforce. What strategies do you support to increase the supply of affordable housing in Seattle?

We need more housing everywhere. Supporting the status quo will not meet current/future demand. I support legislative measures reducing the time/processes for ‘workforce’ housing development, zoning for more housing variety throughout the city, density at designated centers/transit corridors and potentially reducing developer fees, while offering the right combinations of zoning and incentives to get more below-market rate housing built in every new project (i.e. tweak MHA).  Fees matched to commercial development/jobs that bring housing demand should be studied for fee/tax fairness.   

Q8. Being on the City Council is a challenging job. Please describe your specific experience or skills that qualifies you to serve as the representative of your district.

I have 28 years of experience working for the Executive and KC Council and City of Redmond as a policy analyst, program and project manager in subject areas of affordable housing, land use, utilities and transportation/transit.  Prior to public service I worked for urban design and architecture firms on a variety of project types, but primarily multi-family housing.  In addition I have been a volunteer in Seattle and D4 on a range of housing and human services organizations, school funding efforts and, I’m currently co-chair of University Heights, a non-profit community center.