Chris Rufo: Microsoft’s $500 million investment should be a wake-up call for Seattle

Jan 24, 2019, 9:11 AM | Updated: 10:18 am

Microsoft is spending $500 million in the Puget Sound region to develop affordable housing and tackle homelessness. But it’s the nature of the deal itself that highlights the sometimes tumultuous relationship between the City of Seattle and local business.

Much of the $500 million is for below-market loans for low-income housing, and also market-rate middle-income housing. As part of the investment, mayors from several of the Eastside cities (that will benefit) signed a “Statement of Mayors,” which outlines a commitment to relaxing building and zoning codes, reducing taxes on developers, among other pro-growth reforms.

“The only mayor that didn’t sign the statement was Jenny Durkan,” former city council candidate Christopher Rufo told The Saul Spady Show. “All of the middle-income housing investments are going to the Eastside, and not a dollar is going to go within Seattle city limits.”

Rufo previously planned to challenge Mike O’Brien in 2019’s Seattle City Council election, but ended his campaign after he said he and his family received harassment and threats. For Rufo, this distinction in Seattle’s commitment is a sign of the widening gulf between Seattle and big tech, and is a major impediment to collectively solving issues like housing and homelessness.

RELATED: Why Microsoft is earmarking $500M to help solve homelessness, affordable housing

“We have competing models in King County. The Eastside cities like Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland, feature public leadership that views Microsoft and other companies as a partner, where in Seattle, we’re increasingly viewing our big tech companies as an adversary,” he said.

“This announcement really made me wonder: If the city could be a good partner, would other companies in Seattle step up for a similar investment? Or is the bridge so far burned that our biggest companies, like Amazon and others in Seattle, won’t even think about this kind of investment because they can’t trust the city, they can’t trust the leadership, and they don’t want to deal with someone who treats them like adversaries.”

RELATED: Christopher Rufo talks about threats that led him to drop out of council race

Upon examining Microsoft’s “Statement of Mayors,” Rufo found the reforms to be rational and economically literate, a measure which he believes will lead to tens of thousands of units.

“Yet had the head tax passed, it would have taken them 50 years to build just 10,000 units with that money,” he said.

“I hope this is a wake-up call for cities. We have tech companies that are sitting on large amounts of cash, and we should be figuring out how we can work together to address the challenges we’re facing, including housing, transportation, and homelessness,” Rufo said. “We’re not going to solve them without our city’s biggest businesses.”

“We need to figure out how we can do this collaboratively, not punitively and not coercively.”


Saul Spady

Marijuana, washington state, drug possession...
Saul Spady

Dear Mr. President: Legalize it

The best way for President Trump to guarantee his reelection in 2020: Legalize marijuana, and watch the flood of the support that follows.
3 years ago
coroanvirus fear, coronavirus, Trump...
Saul Spady Show

Haynes: Coronavirus concerns weigh on US health and economy

Concerns related to the spread of coronavirus are evident across the nation, as both Washington state and the White House look for answers.
3 years ago
Facebook political ads...
Saul Spady

Spady: Facebook gag on political ads is biggest enemy of rational opposition

Facebook's ban on advertising for political candidates in our state is a little more than response to an irrational lawsuit from our tort happy attorney general.
3 years ago
Daron Casey

Casey: Limbaugh’s announcement sparks disheartening response online

Rush Limbaugh is a human being, and a legend of his medium. Agree with him or not, he does his job masterfully, and that should be recognized.
3 years ago
Saul Spady Show

Haynes: Coronavirus spurring protests, unrest across China

Hospital workers, citizens, and more have spoken out against China's handling of the mysterious coronavirus spreading across the globe.
3 years ago
China, coronavirus...
Saul Spady Show

Haynes: China reels as world works to stem spread of mysterious coronavirus

As China works to learn more about the spread of a mysterious coronavirus, international concern begins to grow across the globe.
3 years ago

Sponsored Articles


Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
Chris Rufo: Microsoft’s $500 million investment should be a wake-up call for Seattle