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Seattle's Showbox showdown encapsulates city's dysfunction

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Seattle Showbox saga shows city's sad situation. (photo: KOMO News)

Seattle's myriad and most fundamental problems all collide in a quiet legal decision made last week about The Showbox music venue across the street from Pike Place Market. The problems in Seattle involve activist city council members, housing affordability, drug addiction, crime and homelessness.

The Seattle City Attorney, Pete Holmes, decided to settle a lawsuit brought against the city by the real estate developer who wanted to upscale the building where The Showbox resides to create more market-rate housing and evict the concert hall that boasts a track record of hosting incredibly popular musical artists dating back to 1939.

Consider that the following things happened in the attempt to block the redevelopment of the building that housed The Showbox.

-- Seattle City Council plays political games including pursuit of an historic preservation status to prevent the building developer from knocking down The Showbox. The developer sues.

--the City Council's obstruction (led largely by Kshama Sawant) prevents more housing from coming to market. So you've got resistance to more housing supply by Team Sawant.

--less than a week ago, City Attorney Pete Holmes, complained he can't bring more criminal suspects to trial because his office doesn't have enough attorneys. He claims he'd need $2 million more to hire enough attorneys to handle all the criminal cases that Seattle Police send him.

--Now Holmes spends just under $1 million to settle this lawsuit that anybody with a modicum of common sense could see the city was going to lose to the property developer of the Showbox building.

This is the unlearned lesson of economics that continually befalls Seattle elected officials: opportunity cost. Street crime problems, more housing supply to moderate housing prices and an activist city council and city attorney all combine to waste over $900,000 of taxpayer dollars. This money could have been better spent to address crime and improve public safety by these Seattle elected officials but they failed on three different levels.

Phil Vandervort is a KVI morning show producer. This commentary does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of KVI management or ownership.


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