Policy & Regulations

What Will Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan Decide on the “Save the Showbox” Ordinance?

Signing the bill passed unanimously by the City Council seems likely, but could a deal with Onni be in the works?

By Kevin Schofield August 23, 2018


This story originally ran on SCC Insight.

On Aug. 13, the City Council voted 8-0 to add the site of the Showbox Theater to the Pike Place Historical District, granting it protection from a a 440-unit apartment redevelopment project proposed by Onni Development. But Mayor Durkan has yet to take action on the bill, despite a fast-approaching deadline.

Once the City Council passes a bill, it is delivered to the Mayors Office for her signature or veto. If she doesnt take action within ten days, it automatically becomes law. In this case, the Save the Showbox bill was delivered to the Mayor on Aug. 15, so she has until the 25th Saturday to make up her mind.

A spokesperson for the Mayors Office said this morning that there is no official announcement yet on the Mayors intention, but shell take an action tomorrow during her regularly-scheduled legislative/bill-signing time.

The issue isnt really whether the bill will be passed into law; the Council passed it with enough votes to override a Mayoral veto. The only way that it could conceivably not become law is if the Mayors staff manages to negotiate a deal with Onni that would satisfy the people pushing to save the music venue, making the ordinance unnecessary. Doing that might be difficult though; any development on the site would likely require tearing down the existing building, but many of the activists arguing to Save the Showbox insist that the existing facility remain intact (and that it continue to be operated as a performance venue for music).

Council member Sally Bagshaw, whose committee oversees landmarks and historic districts and whose Council district includes Pike Place Market and the Showbox, said this afternoon that there is nothing new at all this week.

So it seems that a last-minute deal is unlikely and Mayor Durkan will need to make a difficult political choice tomorrow: whether to support a populist effort to save a beloved theater, or to take a stand for accelerating housing development even at the cost of a fixture of Seattles music culture.

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