Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat’s continued diatribe regarding the openness of the Housing Affordability and Livability Advisory (HALA) Committee meetings is both misdirected and misguided [“Mayor Murray should have let sun shine on housing meetings,” Local News, Aug. 1].
The decision to close the HALA meetings was not Mayor Ed Murray’s decision, but rather our decision, as co-chairs of the HALA Committee. We felt strongly about the need to create a safe place for frank, honest discussions about tough issues. We stand by our decision.
The HALA Committee was asked to deliver our best ideas for solving Seattle’s pressing housing crisis. We could only do that if the affordable housing advocates, labor, environmental, social justice and neighborhood groups, private developers and business interests at the table could find common ground, despite our enormous differences. And it worked.
Sorry, Westneat, that simply could not have happened if you were in the room. The HALA Committee is not foolish enough to think we were making law, or even policy. Rather, we delivered 65 recommendations to the mayor, the Seattle City Council and the citizens of Seattle. The City Council’s Select Committee on Housing Affordability has started to meet, which will provide many opportunities for public input. We are excited to watch the conversations move forward.
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David Wertheimer and Faith Li Pettis, co-chairs of the HALA Committee