Monthly Archives: April 2008

More workforce and low-income housing

Housing costs have been on my mind lately. A Seattle P-I story today said Seattle house values at lowest since ’06 and the Seattle Times reports Home sales dive in King County, but prices don’t, showing that housing costs are still a stretch or completely out of reach for many people in our region.

I was pleased that on Monday the council adopted my expansion of the King County Credit Enhancement Program. We added $100 million in additional credit to create more workforce and low-income housing by leveraging King County’s credit rating to reduce financing costs for housing developments. In exchange for lower financing costs, developers or project owners agree to include affordable housing units in their project. This is the first major milestone of my Equity and Social Justice Initiative and I appreciate the council’s support.

Over the next five years, this will help develop or preserve about 500 to 800 affordable units in several different housing developments countywide. It helps, but I’m working with the county council and community housing partners to do more.

It may seem counter-intuitive with the grim economic news we read each day, but the low interest rates and high housing inventory actually make this a good time to buy a home for many people. Over the coming months, King County is going to be partnering with builders, realtors and others to educate people about the home buying process and its many benefits.

We want on-going efforts to make sure people at all income levels can afford to live in our beautiful region.

Highlights from the Earth Day Expo

It's easy being greenOn Earth Day, I had the pleasure of hanging out with Bert the Salmon, EcoConsumer Tom Watson, the Yard Talk Guys and hundreds of folks who stopped by the 5th annual King County Earth Day Expo in Seattle’s Westlake Park. Our DNRP staff set up the King County booth and shared ideas on easy ways to go green, volunteer for Earth-friendly activities, reduce your carbon footprint and make your home and garden more environmentally sound.

Events like that are so fun for me because I can talk to people about how this fits into their lives and what it means for their family. Taking the bus more often or carpooling, shutting off the water while you brush your teeth, using low-flow water fixtures and energy-efficient light bulbs, recycling and composting are things most people can do to help.

As part of “living green” at our house, we recycle, compost our food scraps to use in our garden, bike to work when the weather permits, and use a hybrid car when it doesn’t. Sure, they’re small steps. But they have a big impact when we all pitch in.

The best part of the Earth Day Expo for me was seeing all the kids in the Children’s activity corner learning how to promote environmental awareness and learn fun ecological facts. I want kids like my granddaughter to inherit a world that’s better off environmentally than it is now. We have a lot of work to do, but the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks has some tips on making easy environmental choices at the website It’s Easy Being Green. Peace to you.

Green baseball: throwing the first pitch

Ron Sims first pitchIt’s easy being green. Even at a baseball game. Actually, it took a lot of planning and effort by the Mariner’s to celebrate Earth Day 2008 with the first carbon neutral major league baseball game in history! I was honored to throw the ceremonial first pitch. The M’s not only won the game, 4-2 against the Orioles, the earth scored with less carbon emissions as the team owners purchased carbon offsets for all energy use at the stadium and all travel including jet travel by both teams and the umps. They promoted recycling among vendors and fans and pitched the idea to thousands of fans that by making small changes in the usual way they do things we get a healthier earth including the air and water we depend on. The county’s DNRP had a booth titled “It’s easy being green” and saw a surprising amount of interest from fans who stopped by. It was an Earth Day home run!