Seattle Mayor Proposes a More Inclusive Department of Neighborhoods

The leadership at the city of Seattle has noticed that the people representing neighborhoods on the city's district councils don't reflect the population of the city.

July 14, 2016, 10:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Seattle City Council

Mayor McGinn / Flickr

Seattle Department of Neighborhood Director Kathy Nyland "is the driving force behind a major policy shift that [Mayor Ed] Murray is set to announce today," according to an article by Josh Feit. That is, Mayor Murray will propose replacing the district council system with a proposed "Community Involvement Commission."

Testifying in front the city council last month where, presenting data that showed a discrepancy between who’s on the city’s 13 community councils (older, white, homeowners) versus who lives in the city (median age 36, majority renters, and a 34 percent nonwhite population), Nyland said the community councils represented a  “narrow, niche,” and concluded, “they don’t work for everyone [and] it’s unclear that the existing district council system is sufficiently flexible to meaningfully serve as a voice for all Seattle residents.”

According to Feit, the policy proposal would "retool the Department of Neighborhood’s approach to community outreach so that community input into city policy is driven by a more inclusive formula than the current model where district councils are the default voice on neighborhood policy." The article includes examples of how that would work—and a description of the potential political resistance the proposal could encounter.

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