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Why there's room for Seattle rents to rise further: Today So Far

  • As the Seattle-area housing market cools, it's putting pressure on the rental market.
  • Western Washington is trying out safe lots, one more time, in an effort to address homelessness along the road.
  • Washington's new gun regulations kick in today. But there's some nuance involved.

This post originally appeared in KUOW's Today So Far newsletter for July 1, 2022.

Our region is once again trying out the idea of safe lots for people living in their vehicles to park, and live, without running afoul of parking rules. King and Pierce counties are looking into setting up a few lots where RVs and other vehicles can be parked, supervised.

If this sounds familiar, it's because it's already been tried locally, and it always ends up coming with a large price tag. You'd think that having people park in one spot wouldn't cost much. It's already happening on roadsides throughout the region. When Seattle tried a safe lot in 2016 in Ballard, it cost $25,000 to set up, and about $35,000 to operate each month. In 2018, there were three deaths in Seattle's SoDo safe lot (two were from long-term diseases).

The latest proposals out of Pierce and King counties aim to succeed this time, but they still come with steep costs. The Low Income Housing Institute is getting $1.9 million to develop a new RV safe lot program in Seattle. It wants an additional $5 million for sites in Pierce County. Such costs are going to be considered against the fact that Seattle is already spending multiple millions on clearing encampments and other homeless programs. Seattle has slated $173 million for homelessness in 2022.

"Soundside" has the full story here.

The real estate market in the Seattle area has cooled down. That is having effects elsewhere in the region's housing. Redfin says that high mortgage rates are causing buyers to shy away from the market. That means they're more likely to shift into the rental market, placing more demand there. And according to Redfin Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather, while the housing market goes into "hibernation," there is more room for rents to rise. Read the full story here.

A handful of new gun regulations go into effect today in Washington state. But there is some nuance to these new restrictions. It is now illegal to manufacture, assemble, purchase or sell an untraceable firearm, aka a "ghost gun." It is also illegal to sell or make a magazine that holds more than 10 rounds. Gun owners can still have such magazines that they already own, they just cannot buy them anymore in Washington state. There are a few more rules on the books. Read the full story here.

AS SEEN ON KUOW

caption: The sun sets at Mike's Chili Parlor, located in the same building its been in since 1939.
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The sun sets at Mike's Chili Parlor, located in the same building its been in since 1939.
Credit: Mike Semandiris

As Seattle's Ballard neighborhood continues to evolve with older buildings giving way to new condos, and boutique shops moving in, Mike's Chili Parlor continues on. It is celebrating its 100th year in operation. Four generations of the Semandiris family have kept it going the whole time. Read the full story here. (Courtesy of Mike Semandiris)

DID YOU KNOW?

Former Bremerton Football Coach Joseph Kennedy was not fired from his job for praying on the 50 yard line after games. Rather, Kennedy opted not to apply for the assistant coaching job in 2016, after he made headlines for his on-field actions.

The narrative that Coach Kennedy was fired is one that has been promoted by his supporters. It's made its way into media reports, and unfortunately this newsletter the other day. It's not quite accurate. So let's set the story straight now.

The Bremerton School District was concerned in 2015, because of Assistant Football Coach Kennedy's practice of praying at the 50 yard line after games, joined by students and others. He was also giving motivational speeches, using his religion. The fear was that it could cross the legal line between religion and government (read more about that here). The district offered remedies, such as making a statement that the coach's prayers did not reflect any position of the district. Efforts to seek a solution were turned down. The assistant coaching gig is a contract job. So when it came time for Kennedy to apply for the 2016 contract, he didn't. That is why he is no longer coaching in Bremerton. Not because he was fired. The only thing he did do was sue the district.

As NPR reported, the recent Supreme Court's decision was largely based on lower courts' rulings that the prayers could be mistakenly perceived as the district's endorsement of religion, violating the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. This decision doesn't really touch upon any narrative that Kennedy was fired for prayers. I could go further into how these were not private prayers, and what seems to be some serious gaps in the Supreme Court's understanding of the situation that we all watched up close in Washington. But I won't repeat what Seattle Times' Danny Westneat already laid out so well.

ALSO ON OUR MINDS

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Nonwhite Americans are eating less meat. Vegan activists of color explain why

Nonwhite Americans are roughly three times more likely than white Americans to identify as vegetarian.

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