As part of its five-month look at how well the City of Seattle makes public information available to the public, the City Council is reconsidering hearings supposed to take place before it embarks on public-private partnerships or large capital projects.
A 1999 settlement, the result of a lawsuit over city payments for the Pacific Place mall, determined that city capital projects costing more than $5 million would get their own public hearing before a City Council committee.
In eight years, said City Clerk Judith Pippen, 28 such meetings have been held for projects like the Woodland Park Zoo parking garage, the Mercer Corridor improvement project, the Alaskan Way Viaduct and the Municipal Jail. But such hearings have often had low, if any, attendance. That doesn't mean they're not important, says Conlin: "Just because people didn't show up to the hearing doesn't mean it wasn't an important step to take."