Observers’ Bill of Rights, Council Capital Project Oversight Committee proposal, North Precinct

August 19th, 2016

Observers’ Bill of Rights

Across the country, recordings of police activity by the public have increased the public’s ability to witness police behavior and hold police accountable. However, the act of recording, observing, or verbally criticizing police has also at times led to arrests and legal challenges to those arrests on First Amendment grounds.

Our City Council can and should make clear the rights of Seattle citizens to peacefully observe and record public police activity.

The right to observe and record is a constitutional right. In codifying the statutory right to observe and record Seattle’s police officers, our City Council can be on the forefront of promoting citizen participation in ensuring police accountability. While the policies should be designed so as to not impede necessary law enforcement, Seattle’s citizens should feel confident in their ability to watch and record police activities in a non-obstructive way.

California, Colorado, and Oregon have passed similar laws.

A first briefing was held on August 17 in the Gender Equity, Safe Communities and New Americans (GESCNA) Committee, Chaired by Councilmember González. I thank her for scheduling a special meeting to hear the legislation. In committee we presented a revised version of the legislation.

When I ran for City Council last year, I proposed an Observer’s Bill of Rights; the West Seattle Herald posted my statement in July, after the shootings of Philando Castile in Minnesota and Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

The legislation would codify the right of the public to observe and record police activity and to express themselves lawfully without interference from the police. It would further add a civil liability on the City of up to $5,000 damages, modeled on the Colorado legislation.

SPD policy 5.160, instituted in response to concerns about some past instances of “obstruction-only” arrests, addresses the right to record. The staff memo notes:

“…codification of an SPD policy has several benefits:

  • It ensures more permanent protection of public observer rights, as the municipal code is less easy to change than a departmental policy;
  • Its greater permanency makes it easier for the public to rely on it, as opposed to a policy where the public in any given year might not know whether the policy has been updated;
  • It carries greater weight than a departmental policy, particularly when coupled with penalty provisions, which can increase the likelihood that all parties will want to adhere to the terms;
  • Members of the public are more likely to expect their rights to be found in City code than in a departmental policy, so they would be more likely to be aware of their rights and to avail themselves of its protections.”

Harriett Walden, Director of Mothers for Police Accountability, spoke at the GESCNA committee meeting about the historical importance of observing as part of police accountability, wisely linking it to accountability for all parts of government; Nancy Talner of the ACLU spoke to the legal environment, and the courts’ recognition of transparency and the right to film, going back to before the era of cell phones. OPA Director Pierce Murphy spoke oversight as a community function, of which OPA is a part; Brian Maxey of SPD spoke to current practices.

One might also argue that codification of SPD policy sets a precedent for future codification of other policies which could lead to a patchwork of partly codified policies and the erosion of management control over operations. This proposed policy codification, however, can be distinguished from other SPD policies on several grounds:

1) It addresses a nationwide issue of constitutional significance;

2) It codifies policy provisions that directly speak to the rights of the public, not just departmental procedures; and

3) As a practical matter, codification is necessary in order to create the proposed cause of action.

You can watch the discussion here on the Seattle Channel archive, or below.

 

Council Capital Project Oversight Committee proposal

Earlier this week Councilmember Johnson and I called for a special Council committee to oversee City-funded capital projects.

It’s been frustrating when large projects go millions over budget, or are years behind schedule – such as Fire Station #32 in the West Seattle Junction.  In creating this committee, Councilmembers can more closely monitor large projects, so we’re not faced with no-win options when presented with updates late in the process.

The City has seen a number of construction projects with significant cost increases, such as the North Precinct police station, the new utility billing system, and the seawall.

The Council Capital Projects Oversight Committee would share characteristics with capital oversight best practices, such as the Sound Transit Capital Committee oversight process, which creates a series of systematic check-ins as projects progress, both through planning and construction. The Council committee’s oversight work would establish a baseline level of transparency to help ensure City capital projects remain on budget and the public remains informed along the way.

The Council receives annual reports on all City capital investments, but they can be of limited utility because of the volume of information provided (last year’s was over 800 pages). A Council Capital Projects Oversight Committee would likely identify characteristics of projects they wanted to review, including large projects or projects that for example are at least 10% over initial budgets.

North Precinct

Contrary to what you may have heard, the City Council did not vote to approve a $149 million North Precinct on Monday.

On the contrary, the Council, at my request, specifically declined to endorse a $149 million price tag and directed the department of Finance and Administrative Services (FAS) to take steps to insure project costs are accurate and reasonable, in order to inform the Council’s decision on the appropriate project costs.

BACKGROUND

There are 5 police precincts in the City: North, South, Southwest, West, and East.  Each one has a precinct building.  The most recent are the West Precinct, built in 1999, and the Southwest, built in 2002.  Eighteen years ago, a 1998 Long-Range Facilities Plan noted that the North Precinct was overcrowded by 30%, and site conditions such as wetlands made expansion difficult.

A comparison between the proposed North Precinct and the one built most recently reveals significant differences, not in cost per square foot, but in size.  Here is a comparison with the most recently built Precinct building, in the District I represent, the Southwest Precinct in West Seattle:

Southwest Precinct 100,000 28,000 Sq ft

Total Project Budget: $15.8m/2017 Dollars: $24m; Cost per Sqft (2017 Dollars): $851

Proposed North Precinct 221,200 Sq ft

Total Project Budget:  $160m ($14m Land Acquisition); Cost per Square Foot: $723

All 33 Fire Stations have recently been, or are in the process of, being replaced or renovated.

MONDAY’S RESOLUTION AND WHAT LED TO IT

I have very serious concerns about the proposed price of this precinct building.   I first saw a draft resolution regarding the North Precinct on July 27; the project costs when had been revealed to be $160 million.  Because of requests I’d received from community members to subject this project to a Racial Equity Toolkit (RET) analysis, I requested the RET be included in the resolution.  The Racial Equity Toolkit lays out a process and a set of questions to guide the development, implementation and evaluation of policies, initiatives, programs, and budget issues to address the impacts on racial equity.

At last week’s meeting of the Gender Equity, Safe Communities, and New Americans (GESCNA) committee, it was revealed that FAS was proposing a new, reduced, project budget of $149 million.  GESCNA committee chair Gonzalez announced that Councilmembers Burgess and Juarez were sponsors of a resolution that we’d be voting on in just days and told us that Councilmembers Bagshaw and Harrell were also supporters.  In other words, it appeared the proposed North Precinct resolution had the support of the majority of the Council and, without changes, Monday’s vote would make a firm commitment to a $149 million price tag that I opposed.

I believed the RET analysis was needed to inform the Council’s decision to endorse a project cost.   Councilmember Johnson supported a third party technical review of the project.

Even with the RET analysis included, as the resolution had been proposed last week, I wouldn’t have been able to support it, because it 1) set a firm price of $149 million, and 2) didn’t allow time for the additional analysis that could inform the Council’s decision on setting a price.

So I proposed changes to 1) eliminate the commitment to a $149 million budget, and 2) require the RET to inform the Council’s decision, and 3) set a deadline for reporting back that allowed enough time for the RET analysis. In addition, I requested the RET include the design of the facility, not just its operations.

The budget that the Council voted last year included a North Precinct budget of $160 million. However, it was located in the “Finance and Administrative Services” section of the 887-page Capital Improvement budget, and thus escaped much notice. In November the Council will again vote on a budget, and the budget that the Mayor will propose in September will include a proposed budget for the North Precinct.

So, we very clearly have a lot work to do.  In using the RET, FAS will have to work with communities of color disproportionately impacted by policing to help inform the Council’s decision in November on the appropriate project cost.

FUNDING

I asked for the proposed funding plan, and received figures for the original $160 million proposal. The proposed funding combines a. debt financing, b. general fund dollars, and c. Real Estate Excise Taxes (REET).  The general fund dollars are proposed to come from $15 million of proceeds from the pending sale of the Pacific Place Garage. I have already suggested that some of these proceeds would be better spent to fund $5 million in funding allocated for 2016 Homelessness State of Emergency services.

The proposed funding plan also called for a total of $102 million of bonds to be issued, $67 million in 2017 and $35 million in 2018.  $21 million had already been funded in previous years’ budgets.

Finally, $22 million of Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) funds are proposed to pay for the debt service for the bonds, in 2017 and 2018. The interest rate assumption used for these issuances is 5.0%, which would result in financing costs of approximately $100 million, over 30 years, or $6.8 million a year in REET to finance bonds.

Only the general fund dollars from the Pacific Garage sale proceeds and some portion of the REET funds are available to be used, should the project costs be reduced, for other non-North Precinct purposes.

NEXT STEPS

It’s clear to all that we are at a point of crisis in policing in this country – well past that point in fact.

I hope those of you who are active on this issue will remain active as the Council considers legislation to reform the Seattle Police Department accountability system as well as the decision-making around the cost of the North Precinct.

As it relates to police accountability, earlier this week a federal judge overseeing the 2012 Consent Decree authorized the City to proceed with legislation to adopt reforms for accountable policing in Seattle. The City Attorney indicated the City would submit legislation to the judge by Labor Day, for a mandatory 90-day review by the judge, to ensure it complies with the terms of the Consent Decree. The City and Department of Justice had requested authority to proceed without judicial review, but the judge didn’t approve that request.  The Federal Monitor charged with oversight of the reform process has published updates here.

The Community Police Commission, created by the Consent Decree, issued their recommendations on August 10. They call for an independent Office of Police Accountability, a new position of Inspector General, continuation of the Community Police Commission, and integration of accountability into hiring practices.

As it relates to influencing the decision-making around the North Precinct, I ask you to participate in the RET analysis.  FAS has begun discussing next steps and are developing a plan with SPD, SOCR and other departments.  They have informed me that they appreciate the referrals of constituents interested in the process so that they can keep them and Council informed as things progress.  I will provide them with your contact information so that they can do so.

While participating in the RET, for those who think of this prosed building as a “bunker,” I ask you also to tell the City what is it about this building that, to you, makes it a “bunker?”  Some have said it’s a “bunker” because it is bomb proof and bullet proof.  To my knowledge there is nothing that makes this building more bomb proof or bullet proof than any other “essential community facility” and consequently is proposed to be built to the safety standard of an “essential community facility.”

Others have pointed to the proposed building’s size – which is nearly two times larger than – for instance – the Southwest Precinct – that makes this facility a bunker.  In considering the size of this facility, I think it’s important to recognize that the training center in the proposed facility will fulfill an obligation identified by the Department of Justice – the consent decree requires police officers to receive 5 times the amount of training than in the past, specifically in use of force, de-escalation, bias-free policing, and stops and detentions—a critical issue, as we’ve seen all too often recently in the news, from Philando Castile and Sandra Bland. The training facility in this building will be used for training for all SPD officers throughout the city, not only North Precinct Officers.

Still others point to the project’s proposed costs and the other urgent needs of our City as evidence that it’s a “bunker.”

The RET analysis is designed to help us all work through these issues and others.  I hope that together we can find a way to turn what some in the community tell is symbol of the police oppression (and others call a “boondoggle”) into a symbol of greater police accountability.   In finding additional savings in the project I hope we can be better stewards of finite city financial resources and fund more urgent needs.

 

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Council Passes Source of Income Legislation; Delridge Day; 35th Avenue SW follow-up; SW Spokane Street re-paving

August 12th, 2016

Council Passes Source of Income Legislation

On Monday the Full Council unanimously voted in support of an important new comprehensive tenants’ rights bill.

The legislation proposed by the Mayor was a Source of Income Discrimination protection bill enacting recommendations from the Mayor’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda task force.  The legislation that was passed Monday was a new piece of legislation that, not only created a new protected class for people with alternative sources of income, but also the following:

  • Created a new “first in time” requirement in order to make the housing application process more objective as a tool to mitigate unconscious bias and by facilitating greater access to housing for people in need also ensure that city investments in addressing our affordable housing crisis and homeless crisis are more effective;
  • Required that community pledges for rent assistance are accepted and honored even after a three day pay or vacate notice has been issued, as long as the funds are available in full and within 5 days of issuance of the pledge; and
  • Banned “preferred employer” programs, or the sweet-heart deals for renters who are employed by certain employers.

The Council will be monitoring the impact of this legislation and will evaluate its success in 18 months. Below is my effort to answer some of the questions I have received on the 4 components of the bill.

  1. Protecting Tenants with Alternate Sources of Income

WHY?  Seattle already prohibits discrimination against people who have a Section 8 voucher.  Some have asked me why the City is creating a new protected class for people with alternative sources of income.

According to the Seattle’s Renting Crisis Report from the Washington Community Action Network, “48% of individuals who pay for rent with Social Security Disability Insurance or Social Security retirement income said that discrimination prevents them from having successful rental applications.”

WHO WILL IT HELP?  We’ve expanded discrimination protection to help renters who include social security, disability, unemployment insurance, child support, or other assistance as part of their income.  These people may have a good rental history despite their low income.   They should have an opportunity to secure a rental unit.

  1. First in Time Screening Process

WHY? The purpose of the first in time screening amendment is to prevent housing providers from not fairly considering applicants who are qualified applicants under the screening requirements, but are also members of a protected class. The Rental Housing Association and the Washington Multifamily Housing Association both say that First in Time screening practices are a best practice screening process. It is a best practice because it protects rental housing providers from a discrimination complaint by establishing an objective process for landlords to use when reviewing rental applications.  In doing so, rental property owners are less likely to use explicit and implicit (unintentional) bias against applicants who are members of a protected class.

HOW DOES IT WORK?  Prior to obtaining any information about a prospective tenant, Washington State law requires that the prospective landlord “first notify the prospective tenant in writing, or by posting, of the following: (i) What types of information will be accessed to conduct the tenant screening; (ii) What criteria may result in denial of the application; (iii) If a consumer report is used, the name and address of the consumer reporting agency and the prospective tenant’s rights to obtain a free copy of the consumer report in the event of a denial or other adverse action, and to dispute the accuracy of information appearing in the consumer report; and (iv) Whether or not the landlord will accept a comprehensive reusable tenant screening report made available to the landlord by a consumer reporting agency.”  Then, under this new City law, they will add a date and time of receipt on all completed applications at the time each application was actually received.  After reviewing all applications, the landlord is required to offer the unit to the person that meets the screening criteria and was first to submit their application materials based on the date and time stamp.

AREN’T OUR ANTI-DISCRIMINATION LAWS SUPPOSED TO FIX THIS PROBLEM?

The research shows that even within jurisdictions with strong anti-discrimination laws, it is very important to find ways to address the role of implicit biases in order to reduce discrimination.  In Seattle, despite our strong anti-discrimination in housing laws:

  • In Section 8 voucher discrimination testing, the Seattle Office of Civil Rights (SOCR) found discrimination in 63% of the cases.
  • In race-based discrimination testing, SOCR reported disparate treatment in 64% of cases.
  • In national origin-based discrimination testing, SOCR reported disparate treatment in 67% of cases.
  • In sexual orientation-based discrimination testing, SOCR reported disparate treatment in 63% of cases.
  • In gender identity-based discrimination testing, SOCR reported disparate treatment in 67% of cases

That’s a lot of discrimination in Seattle.  Many times, people don’t know that the decisions they are making are based in biases and thus discriminatory.  What is exciting and potentially transformational about this work is:

  1. When we slow down our biases and act based on an assessment of the situation we end up making individual decisions that more accurately reflect our values.
  2. Over time, through practice, we can gradually unlearn the implicit associations that we have.

WHAT IF I WANT TO RENT TO A QUALIFIED PERSON WHO IS NOT THE FIRST QUALIFIED SCREENED APPLICANT?  If one of the applicants is a member of a protected class the landlord may still offer the unit to that person, even if they were not the first qualified.

WHAT IF I RENT A UNIT IN THE HOME I LIVE IN? In that case, you are exempt from the new First in Time screening law just like you are exempt from the law banning discrimination in housing protecting protected classes in Seattle.

WHEN DOES THIS GO INTO EFFECT?  This piece of the legislation will not take effect until January 1, 2017.  The Seattle Office for Civil Rights will be developing the director’s rule and focusing efforts on education before any enforcement.

  1. Community Pledges and Short term vouchers

WHEN?  This piece of the legislation will take effect 30 days following the Mayor’s signature.

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?  The City invests just over $1.9 million annually via 10 contracts with 9 agencies for services that provide short- and medium-term rental assistance and case management support to individuals and families at-risk of homelessness. Renters must be able to use these resources in order to successfully avert eviction and formerly homeless people must be able to use them in order to achieve stable housing.

  1. Preferred employer programs

WHEN DOES THIS GO INTO EFFECT? This piece of the legislation will take effect 30 days following the Mayor’s signature.

WHY?  Preferred employer programs are no substitute for non-discriminatory move-in incentives. The Seattle of Office of Civil Rights recently concluded that some preferred employer programs that provide discounts or other terms and conditions in rental housing to certain groups over others may constitute discrimination under Seattle’s Open Housing Ordinance (SMC 14.08).

Delridge Day 2016Delridge Day

Join the community this Saturday, August 13 from 11am – 3pm at the Delridge Playfield. There are a lot of activities for the whole family at the annual Delridge Day Festival, from cultural events and live music, to a 12 and under skate competition (no entry fee) and field games.

Hope to see you there!

35th Avenue SW follow-up

Here’s some follow-up information about the August 4 meeting SDOT held re: 35th Avenue SW.

SDOT has posted a link to the materials available at the meeting. They’ve also indicated that all comments received at the meeting or otherwise will be posted on their 35th Avenue SW website (with names removed); over 100 comments were received at the meeting.

After following up with SDOT after the meeting, they let us know they would be doing the following work on the “Phase 1” Roxbury to Holly portion of the project completed last year:

  • August/September 2016
    • New crosswalk at 35th Ave SW and SW Kenyon Street
  • October 2016
    • Phase 1 before and after report, including public comments
  • Fall 2016
    • Signal timing adjustments
      • 35th and Roxbury (weekday operations)
      • 35th and Holden (weekday operations)
      • Weekend signal timing adjustments for the entire 1.75 mile Phase 1 project area
    • Evaluate 35th and Barton for left turn signals

My office also requested a history of previous SDOT projects to convert 4-lane streets into 2 lanes; here’s a link that shows the 40 projects carried out between 1972-2015.

SW Spokane Street re-paving

SDOT has begun work on repaving lower SW Spokane Street between East Marginal Way and SW Klickitat.

Work will take place between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. for what SDOT estimates will be three months.

Work planned for next week, as well as project details, are listed on the project information page, and shown on this map.

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Mandatory Housing Affordability/Residential (MHA/R) Program, Hiring More Police Officers, Secure Scheduling Update and Timeline

August 5th, 2016

Mandatory Housing Affordability/Residential (MHA/R) Program

The Council’s Planning, Land Use & Zoning (PLUZ) Committee unanimously (5-0) approved framework legislation Tuesday for the Mandatory Housing Affordability/Residential (MHA/R) Program requiring residential developers to provide for affordable housing by including it in their development or paying into an affordable housing fund. The requirement will apply after Council adopts future zoning changes, scheduled for Council consideration next year.

In the bill, Councilmember O’Brien and I proposed, and the Committee agreed, to require a displacement risk analysis to approximate the number of existing affordable housing units demolished as a result of future upzones. The mandatory affordability requirement the developers make will be adjusted higher over the entire area being up-zoned commensurate with the number of units likely to be demolished. While this doesn’t require any mitigation of increased rents from other market forces, it is a modest but necessary amendment.

AF MAP MHA and IZFor the last 30 years, housing advocates have been trying to get the need for housing displacement mitigation recognized.  Yes, we focus the spending of affordable housing funds to build more housing in areas experiencing displacement (see map on right), but it’s critically important that in addition to where we build affordable housing, that we also have a regulatory tool to mitigate affordable displacement.

Councilmembers O’Brien and Licata were the first to encourage the city in 2014 to study how development left unregulated without some level of mitigation can impact vulnerable communities.  Before that displacement was largely unrecognized by City planning documents.

The May 2015 preliminary Growth and Equity report stated “If unmitigated, new market-rate development in high-displacement risk areas is likely to lead to displacement of marginalized populations. The analysis described in this report assumes that the higher the growth in high-risk areas the greater the likelihood of displacing marginalized populations. Displacement is a concern under any alternative. All of the alternatives are likely to cause displacement, which would have disproportionate impacts on marginalized populations. The urban centers and villages with the highest displacement risk are 52 percent nonwhite, compared to 31 percent nonwhite citywide.”

Between 2005 and 2015 the city permitted the demolition of almost 6,000 units of housing. We don’t for sure know how many of these units were affordable rentals and to be clear, no legislation can stop housing demolition entirely.  In 1987, the State Supreme Court struck down a provision in the city’s Housing Preservation Ordinance that required developers to replace low-income housing they demolish to make room for high rise office or apartment complexes. The City Council imposed an emergency moratorium on the demolition of low-income housing in downtown Seattle.  After 3 extensions, it too was struck down.

My decision to try & be a City Councilmember – of all the good reasons – the very highest on my list was to insure that the study requested in 2014 resulted in some new level of regulatory attention. That makes Tuesday’s Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee vote a very important day for me and I believe important for many others who have weighed in along the way.

I don’t want to over-promise the impact of this modest amendment.  I thank all of the people throughout Seattle who are skeptical of the impacts of future up zones necessary to implement MHA for their support of this amendment.  You are not nimbys; you worry that development will remove affordable single family homes to renter families with children and group renter households, not to mention the small apartment buildings in your low rise zones that are also likely sites for redevelopment.

This amendment will not likely result in mitigation for much of that redevelopment, but I thank you for your support of my amendment in spite of your skepticism about MHA/R).  You are demonstrating to those that might otherwise characterize you as anti-density that you are supporters of maintaining affordability in our city.

To those who say that this very slight amendment is in conflict with the “grand bargain”, my response is that HALA expressed a desire to address displacement and this amendment is very much in keeping with those objectives.  A pre-HALA public meeting in SE Seattle where participants were given the opportunity to rate their affordable housing concerns overwhelming voted on displacement as being their biggest concern.

I want to thank committee chair Rob Johnson for working with me to word-smith this amendment, Councilmember O’Brien for the same – as well as his leadership in years past – and the Executive for their support as well.

A racially inclusive and more affordable city will mean taking steps to not lose what affordable housing we already have. This is a modest, incremental, and important compact with communities faced with the development pressures of our city.

Hiring More Police Officers

In late July the City Council voted to approve increases in the city’s business and occupation tax and the business-license fee, in order to fund the hiring of additional police officers. The plan was proposed by Mayor Murray earlier this year to finance completing the hiring of 200 additional new police officers.

The Affordable Housing, Neighborhoods and Finance Committee (on which I serve as vice-chair) considered and discussed the Mayor’s funding proposal. We approved an alternative fee structure for the business license tax certificate fee that created a new and higher tier for businesses with $5 million in revenue from a $110/year fee paid today to $1,000/year beginning in 2017 and $2,000 in 2019.  The new structure raises additional funds so that hiring additional officers will be less dependent on the general fund.  Creating such a tier for large business as a way to hold harmless the smallest 85% of Seattle business – those with $500,000 or less a year in revenue – was a priority of mine.  I thank Chair Burgess for his collaborative approach in proposing this, along with Councilmember Johnson. The Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce posted a statement supporting passage of the legislation.

The next step in hiring additional officers is the creation of position authority, and approving funding. The 2nd Quarter Supplemental budget amendment, currently before the Affordable Housing, Neighborhoods and Finance Committee, would add position authority for 42 additional officers and approve funding, by releasing $2.8 million reserved by the Council for this purpose, and adding $2 million in new funding.

I support hiring additional officers: we need additional officers to address 911 response times, to enhance patrol operations, and for proactive policing, all of which are important to a comprehensive public safety approach.

Secure Scheduling Update and Timeline

This coming Tuesday, August 9, we will hear the policy direction proposed for the Secure Scheduling legislation as well as a draft bill. As we move through the final stages of this process I will keep you updated; however if you are interested in participating and voicing your opinion on this legislation please know there will be a public hearing on August 16 at 6:00pm, a special CRUEDA Committee meeting on September 7 where amendments will be discussed, and a final vote in Committee on September 13. There will an opportunity for public comment at all of these meetings and I encourage your participation.

If you haven’t done so already, please sign up to receive my committee agenda to receive materials related to this legislation, and other legislation, when it comes before the committee.

As background; this process began in my Committee on March 8, where professor Susan Lambert of the University of Chicago presented on problematic scheduling practices, including an increase in the use of part-time employees, just-in-time scheduling (real time schedule adjustments), and an increase in pressure to “stay within hours” due to tight labor budgets. All of this leads to scheduling unpredictability and volatility, a higher headcount of part-time workers, and fewer hours on average worked for each employee.

Since that March meeting, stakeholders convened by the Mayor’s Office, have regularly met to discuss individual aspects of the legislation and have reported out to my Committee after each of their meetings. In the 10 committee meetings since, we have discussed: employer coverage, advance notice of schedules, predictability pay, right to request, right to rest, and access to hours.

I would encourage you, if you haven’t done so already, to watch the committee discussions which can be found here. I have also written several blog updates on the topic as well:

In early April, stakeholders from the business community requested more local data. The City Council and the Mayor then commissioned a study by Jacob Vigdor. Jacob Vigdor is currently a professor at the University of Washington Evans School of Public Policy and Governance; he is also the principal in Vigdor Measurement & Evaluation, LLC a company specializing in statistical and economic consulting. The study was presented to the Committee on July 26. Some of the main takeaways are:

  • 30% of workers said their schedules created serious hardship for their family, budget or other priorities.
  • 30% of workers said that they would prefer to work more hours
  • African-American and Latino workers were disproportionately likely to receive their schedules with less than a week’s notice, required to be on-call, to be sent home during slow shifts, or to work “clopenings.” According to the report these disparities are even greater in Seattle than nationally.
  • Nearly half of the workers said they would sacrifice 20% of their pay in order to receive one week’s advance notice of their schedule.

The full report is available here.

 

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In-District Office Hours, August 4 SDOT meeting on 35th Avenue SW/West Seattle Greenway, Myers Way

July 28th, 2016

In-District Office Hours

I will be at the Southwest Customer Service Center (2801 SW Thistle St.) tomorrow, July 29th from 12:00pm – 7:00pm. The final meeting of the day will be at 6:30pm. These hours are walk-in friendly, but if you would like to let me know you’re coming in advance you can email my scheduler Alex Clardy (alex.clardy@seattle.gov).

 

August 4 SDOT meeting on 35th Avenue SW/West Seattle GreenwayAugust 4 meeting invite

On August 4th SDOT will host a meeting about 35th Avenue Southwest, at Neighborhood House at 6400 Sylvan Way SW, Room 207. Here’s a link to the flyer SDOT mailed to nearby residents.

Phase 1, completed in October 2015, went from SW Roxbury to SW Holly. The proposed Phase 2 would go north to SW Edmunds Street. SDOT will share preliminary data from Phase 1 and draft plans for Phase 2 at the meeting.

The project was formally announced in February, 2014, and converted that section of the road from four lanes to three including a center turn lane. The stated goal was to improve safety.

SDOT has indicated they will be doing a 1-year review of the project later this year (scheduled for October), similar to this one done for a rechannelization street project in North Seattle on NE 75th.

I have heard a variety of concerns about the impacts of the project, including from people who live on side streets near signals who have struggled to merge onto 35th during rush hour, or even get out of their driveway onto the street, and rush hour travel times.

I’ve asked SDOT to expand the parameters of what they study in the 1-year review. The NE 75th study mostly looked at speed, collisions, and traffic volumes. SDOT indicated they could ask for feedback to inform the study as they do outreach for Phase 2; I’d like any decision about whether to revisit the project, or alter plans moving forward, be informed by community suggestions about what to include in this study, to ensure it assesses the full range of impacts.  So, what additional impacts do you think SDOT should study?

Funding for the project was approved by the Move Seattle Levy passed last year; more information and background is available at SDOT’s project website.

The flyer also indicates SDOT will host a walking tour on August 9, and notes that information will be available here.

It further notes that SDOT will discuss the West Seattle Greenway at the August 9 meeting. This calls for prioritizing walking and biking on a street parallel to 35th. The Bicycle Master Plan, last updated in March 2015, calls for neighborhood greenways primarily on 34th, and parts of 36th and 37th.

I’m told the August 4th meeting will be an “open style” meeting where they will have information boards and representatives present to answer questions and take comments; additionally, written comments will be accepted. Data from phase 1 of the 35th Avenue Southwest project will be shared at the meeting as well. If you’re unable to attend the meeting, you can submit comments or questions directly to the project managers:

 

Myers Way

If you recall from an earlier post, on July 13, Mayor Murray announced that the Myers Way property will be retained and designated for open space and/or recreation purposes. This is one of the largest pieces of undeveloped City-owned land and is adjacent to the White Center border. Seattle Parks and Recreation does not currently have resources needed to immediately repurpose the site, but the Department will retain the property as one of its “land banked” sites. A land banked site means the land will be held in its current undeveloped condition until resources are identified to commence a community planning effort to design the park. Holding such properties ensures that valuable open space is not lost, even if resources for repurposing the property are not immediately available.

Over the last week, I have received numerous emails from constituents concerned about the people living in an unauthorized encampment on this property. I also visited Arrowhead Village last week, near the Myers Way property and learned that they would like the City to provide garbage services to the site.  On any given night in Seattle, 2,813 are living unsheltered in our community.  Since the beginning of the State of Emergency, approximately 522 sites have been identified through the city’s Customer Service Bureau.
Last year, the Council passed legislation to authorize 3 sanctioned encampments. These are the only city-sanctioned encampments.  The locations are: The Ballard Encampment at 2826 NW Market Street with 21 residents; The Interbay Encampment at 3234 17th Avenue W., with 63 residents; and Othello Village* at 7544 Martin Luther King Jr. Way S., with 47 residents. The sanctioned encampments have served 178 individuals. According to the Low Income Housing Institute’s, Authorized Encampments Moving Residents into Housing and Jobs – From October 1, 2015 to June 28, 2016:

  • 57 encampment residents moved to housing
  • 30 encampment residents moved into other shelter
  • 40 encampment residents found employment
  • 3 encampment residents were reunited with relatives

Other encampments we may see throughout the City are unsanctioned by the City.  Under current administrative protocols, before the City takes action to remove an unauthorized encampment, the City must provide 72 hours’ notice and outreach to the campers to connect them with needed services and shelter. Outreach providers seek to establish relationships with the people living in unsanctioned encampments and referrals for services such as housing, case management, substance abuse, and mental health assistance, plus provide immediate basic needs such as food, water, clothes. They have some access to flexible funds to provide one time financial assistance such as rent assistance, travel assistance to unite with a support system outside Seattle, and hotel/motel vouchers. Between Feb – June 2016, 679 outreach visits were made resulting in 1,881 and 277 offers of shelter.

Over the months that I have been on the City Council there has been much discussion of how the City should work with people living in encampments. We are a City with very long lines for shelter and years’ long waiting lists for affordable housing and rent assistance.  Whether caused by a lack of access to housing or a reluctance to accept help when available, sometime it takes time for outreach workers to help campers.  As part of these discussions I have urged the Executive not only to have its work guided by established public health and safety prioritization criteria, but I’ve asked whether outreach workers have the ability to ask for more time if – in their estimation – more time would help get campers access to services.   I have been assured that the Executive’s administrative protocols do allow for a “go slow” approach in these instances.  As it relates specifically to the Myers Way properties, I have told the Executive that:

  1. I understand that complaints have been made about the encampment and that this obligates the City to accept those complaints;
  2. As it relates to acting on these complaints, I believe health and safety prioritization criteria should be used in determining when to schedule action on this encampment;
  3. I want a report on the outreach and services being provided to the campers with assurances that should outreach workers find that more time will result in better outcomes for the campers that more time will be given; and
  4. I’d like the City, in the interim, to provide garbage services for the campers, consistent with the encampment garbage removal project I proposed in March.

The current City process to complain about encampments that are unsanctioned begins with filing a complaint by calling 206-684-2489 or (TTY) 7-1-1 or via the Customer Service Bureau (CSB) Web Form at www.seattle.gov/customerservice/.  CSB researches property ownership and determines which department is responsible for the property.

When property ownership is determined, CSB sends a report to the Seattle Police Department, the responsible department, and the Human Services Department for review and inspection. HSD administration then notifies the appropriate representative of the responsible department to clean-up.

Once the complaint is made, it is current city policy to prioritize removal of encampments according to the following criteria:

  1. Physical hazards to those at the site or in the community (e.g. on dangerous freeway overhangs, blocking sidewalks);
  2. Areas with significant public safety issues (e.g. reported crimes); and
  3. Areas with significant public health concerns (e.g. large accumulations of debris and biohazards).

These three factors are then balanced with the availability of resources; encampments that do not meet these criteria are not prioritized for removal.

 

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Source of Income Discrimination, Secure Scheduling, Honoring City Archivist Scott Cline, In-District Office Hours, West Seattle Grand Parade

July 21st, 2016

Source of Income DiscriminationIMG_6820

On July 22, 2016, the CRUEDA committee will vote on the Source of Income Discrimination legislation that proposes to add protected class to existing ordinances that already make it illegal to discriminate against a prospective renter whose primary source of income is a section 8 voucher, to include a pension, Social Security, unemployment, child support or any other governmental or non-profit subsidy.  The bill was discussed in Committee on May 24 and June 14. According to WA CAN’s 2016 Report Seattle’s Renting Crisis, “48 percent of individuals who pay for rent with Social Security Disability Insurance or Social Security retirement income said that discrimination prevents them from having successful rental applications. During this time, a few new issues came to light and three amendments have been identified that would reduce discrimination regarding source of income.”

Since May, my office has continued to work with stakeholders including but not limited to, Solid Ground, Washington CAN, Wellspring Family Services, YWCA, RHAWA, Low Income Housing Institute, Tenants Union, Washington Multifamily Housing Association, Columbia Legal Services, Housing Justice Project, and Interim Community Development Association (CDA), and YWCA Seattle.

The three additional policy amendments that we are considering tomorrow are:

1. First in Time

The First in Time amendment would replicate the best practices of many rental housing providers and prevent landlords from giving the applications of people with alternative sources of income a lower priority. If passed it will require landlords to review applications one at a time, on a first come first served basis. Under this proposal, landlords would be required to review each rental application it received. This amendment will advance the goals SOCR set out in its initial memo regarding new and increased source of income protections: Increase racial equity in housing and promote fair access to housing. It also creates a more objective process for landlords to use when reviewing rental applications to remove both explicit and implicit bias based on source of income status as well as other protected classes including race and gender.

2. Community Pledges

The Community Pledges amendment will ensure that tenants can fully utilize community resources to prevent eviction. The City provides rental assistance funding to community based organizations that then release those funds to individual households to help people seeking housing with move in costs and help people from being evicted.  But tenants can’t access the funds because of landlords who refuse the pledges because of paperwork requirements (i.e. w-9 form, or rent ledger) and/ or concessions to prevent eviction.

3. Preferred Employer

In 2015, both media and community members reported that property offering discounts on deposits and other move-in fees to rental applicants who worked for particular employers, but not offered to other applicants. The preferred employer amendment proposed to ban these practices and eliminate the discriminatory effect of these programs. SOCR recently concluded that in some instances, preferred employer programs that provide discounts or other terms and conditions in rental housing to certain groups over others may constitute discrimination under Seattle’s Open Housing Ordinance (SMC 14.08). Data has shown workforce gaps exist in the tech sector, for example, based on gender and race, which negatively impact groups who are currently underrepresented in the tech workforce. Given Seattle’s high rents and increasing unaffordability, incentives and opportunities for certain groups over others may perpetuate existing racial, gender and other social inequities.

 

Secure Scheduling

This Tuesday I released, with Councilmember Gonzalez and the Executive, the report on secure scheduling requested by the business community and commissioned by the City in May of this year. The report, developed by Vigdor Measurement and Evaluation, is based on a series of interviews, focus groups, and two large-scale surveys of workers and managers. The survey was designed in English and translated into Amharic, Chinese, Somali, Spanish, Tigrinya, and Vietnamese. More than 1,000 retail and food industry employees and 500 managers participated in the survey across the city.

The report summarizes hundreds of responses from workers and business managers from a number of industries, but focused on the retail and food service industries. The report covers a wide range of scheduling issues, including on-call scheduling, rest periods, and advance notice of shifts.

The key findings of the report are:

  • While many Seattle workers report high levels of satisfaction with their work schedule, nearly half of survey respondents would sacrifice a fifth of their pay in order to secure substantive advanced notice.
  • Unpredictable work schedules create serious financial and family hardship for some Seattle workers, with workers of color disproportionately experiencing shorter on-call notice and more frequent changes to their work schedules.
  • 70 percent of workers have on-call responsibilities, with the majority of employees receiving less than 6 hours’ notice before they start work.
  • Nearly a quarter of African-American and Latino employees reported that workplace scheduling has impacted their parenting or childcare responsibilities.

The Report will be presented to my committee this coming Tuesday, July 26th at 9:30am. If you haven’t done so already please sign up to receive my committee updates here.

 

Honoring City Archivist Scott Cline

The longtime City Archivist, Scott Cline, will soon be retiring.

Scott has been an invaluable resource for constituents, researchers and Council staff since founding the Seattle Municipal Archives 31 years ago.

His retirement event will be on Monday, July 25 in the Bertha Knight Landes Room on the main floor of City Hall, at 600 4th Avenue. The event runs from 11:30am to 1:30pm, with the program beginning at noon.

His farewell message is included in the most recent edition of the Archives Gazette; the Seattle Times recently did a feature on him.

 

In-District Office Hours

I will be at the Southwest Customer Service Center (2801 SW Thistle St.) on Friday July 29th from 12:00pm – 7:00pm. The final meeting will be at 6:30pm. These hours are walk-in friendly, but if you would like to let me know you’re coming please email my scheduler Alex Clardy (alex.clardy@seattle.gov).

 

Join me for the West Seattle Grand Parade

This Saturday, July 23rd, join me for the West Seattle Grand Parade. We’ll be meeting at 44th and Lander at 11:00am

 

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Myers Way Open Space Saved, Short Term Rental Regulations, Bag Ban Update, Recycling Rate Report, and the West Seattle Grand Parade

July 15th, 2016

Myers Way Open Space Saved

If you didn’t see the fantastic news of the Mayor’s decision to withdraw his proposal to sell the open space at Myers Way, you can read about it here.

On behalf of the residents of District 1, thank you Mayor Murray!

Myers Way property

 

Short Term Rental Regulations

On June 15, the Affordable Housing, Neighborhood and Finance Committee was briefed on the proposed regulations of short term rentals. While short term rentals are a popular lodging choice for many visiting Seattle, the market is rapidly expanding and impacting the availability of existing long term affordable housing options. According to the Brief: Dramatic Growth of Short-Term Rentals in Seattle Could Reduce Apartment Supply, “Seattle has a higher ratio of listings per 1,000 residents than much bigger cities and the need to know where these units are coming from is important. By 2019, under the same aggressive growth rates we’ve seen, we could lose up to 1,652 long-term units in Seattle to the short-term rental market. In a slower growth scenario, we could lose up to 943 units.” This is in addition to the 759, non-primary whole units we estimate that have already been taken off of the rental housing market.

In response to the impact this new market is having now and may continue, without regulation, to have on the City’s housing supply, the City is seeking to use its regulatory powers to balance the economic opportunity created by short-term rentals with the need to maintain supply of long-term rental housing stock at all price ranges. The regulations are also aimed at ensuring a level playing field for individuals and companies in the short-term rental market; and protecting the rights and safety of owners, guests and neighbors of these units.

As proposed last month, this short-term rental proposal would:

  • Define short-term rentals as a commercial lodging use, distinguishing short-term rental from residential long-term rentals.
  • Add development standards for short-term rentals and align the requirements for bed and breakfast uses with short-term rental requirements;
  • Create a new regulatory license for short-term rental operators;
  • Limit the number of nights a dwelling unit can be provided as a short-term rental if it is not the operator’s primary residence to 90 nights in a 12 month period; and
  • Create a new regulatory license for short-term rental platforms (e.g., Airbnb or VRBO) and require that the platforms provide quarterly reports to the City on all

This proposal has raised additional policy questions for the Council to consider. The concern I raised in the June 15 committee meeting is: if there are limits or prohibitions placed on short-term rental use outside of a person’s primary residence, should existing operators be exempt from those limitations? Under the proposal made on June 15, after 90 days of short-term rental, owners would have to either let the unit sit empty or would have to offer as a full time rental.  I felt neither is a good public policy requirement; in particular I was concerned that forcing people to become landlords – in those cases that they don’t want to – would not be conducive to a healthy landlord-tenant relationship.

I am working with Councilmember Burgess to provide limited amnesty for some existing operators. My proposal would allow existing operators of short term rentals to own one dwelling unit apart from their primary residence if: (1) they had a business license before proposed legislation is adopted; (2) they have paid applicable taxes for that unit; and (3) They have proof that the unit was not used as a long-term rental within the last 12 months; this would ensure that existing landlords are not ending a lease with longtime tenants so they can convert the unit to a short-term rental while at the same time not forcing existing short-term rental operators who have not been a long-term landlord in the last 12 month into becoming one.

The issues will be discussed at the Affordable Housing, Neighborhood and Finance Committee next Wednesday, July 20, 2016, at 9:30am.

 

Bag Ban Update

In 2011 the Council passed ordinance 123775 banning the distribution of single-use plastic and biodegradable carryout bags. The ordinance also applied a five cent bag fee for paper bags to incentivize shoppers to bring reusable bags as well as help stores recoup their costs for the more expensive paper bags. Finally, the ordinance also required Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) to provide a report to the Council by July 1, 2016. This report was heard in my Committee this week. If you’re interested, check the video out here.

Seattle implemented the bag ban in 2012, and since then an additional 12 cities in Washington have passed similar ordinances and we have been joined by other large cities such as Austin, Chicago, New York City, Minneapolis, Honolulu, and Boston. Additionally, Tacoma’s City Council also just voted  Tuesday to ban plastic bags.

We learned from this report that from 2010 to 2014, the amount of plastic bags in residential garbage declined from 262 tons to 136 tons, a nearly 50% decrease over a four year period. This decrease also came during a period of 10% growth in the City’s population. However, we also saw from a small random sampling that there is still non-compliance, specifically at smaller grocery stores and convenience stores. The ordinance already allows for a $250 fine, though SPU has not utilized this yet – I believe that four years into this rule we can increase our compliance and further decrease the use of plastic bags by incentivizing non-compliant businesses with enforcement.

In the 2011 ordinance, the five cents per paper bag charge had a sunset clause for end of this year. I will be introducing an ordinance to remove that clause; we have heard from many establishments that they support the five cents in order to recoup the cost of the more expensive paper bags. Additionally, at the recommendation of SPU, I plan on restricting the green tinting in plastic bags to biodegradable bags only. The green tinting on non-biodegradable plastic bags has led to confusion about which bags are compostable and which are not, leading to an increased contamination rate.

Keep an eye out for this legislation by signing up to receive my committee agenda here if you haven’t already.

 

Recycling Rate Report

The other report that we heard in committee from SPU was the Recycling Rate Report. In 2007 the Council passed Resolution 30990 which asked SPU: “[to] report to Council by July 1 of each year on the previous year’s progress toward recycling goals, as well as further steps to be taken to meet goals in the current and upcoming years.”

Additionally, the resolution set a goal of 60% recycling by the year 2012 – this was revised in February of 2013 to a goal of 60% by 2015 and 70% by 2022. This recycling percentage includes compostable waste as well. In 2015 we increased the recycling rate from 57.1% to 58%, which is the twelfth year in a row of continuous recycling rate growth. Seattle leads the nation in participation in recycling programs.

There are five main recycling streams, single family, multi family, self-haul, commercial, and construction & demolition debris. In 2015, single family recycling increased by 3.2% reaching a new high point of 74.3%. Multi-family recycling continued its trend by rising 2.2% for a total of 36.8%. SPU will be focusing new efforts on owners of apartment buildings to improve participation in recycling in rental housing. Owners of multi-family housing are required by law to provide a location and receptacles for recycling. SPU reports that tenant participation in recycling often is a result of inconvenient locations for the receptacles. Contact my office if you are a renter and you either 1. Don’t have access to a recycling container in your building, or 2. Have an idea for how your recycling containers can be more conveniently located. SPU will work with your building owner address these issues.

The self-haul sector fell slightly by 0.2% compared to 2014, which continues a downward trend since 2007. SPU does not expect an increase in self-haul recycling participation until the new North Transfer Station facility opens, which is expected in 2019.

Commercial sector recycling increased by a nominal amount of 0.1% for a total of 62.3% for 2015. Finally, the construction and demolition (C&D) debris sector reported a decrease in recycling participation, particularly for concrete which has a large impact on C&D recycling.  The recycling of C&D commodities other than concrete such as wood waste increased and the amount of C&D disposed through the private solid waste transfer stations and processing facilities decreased.  Overall, however, C&D recycling fell from 64% to 57% and the amount of wood recovered for beneficial use increased from 7.4% to 9.9%.  The preliminary C&D diversion rate from landfill disposal is estimated at this time to be 67.2%.

On the whole, Seattle once again sets an all-time high recycling rate. There are certainly areas of improvement, and I will work with SPU in order to seek out those improvements to ensure our recycling participation improves across all sectors. If you would like to see the whole report you can check it out here.

 

Join me for the West Seattle Grand Parade

Next Saturday, July 23rd, join me for the West Seattle Grand Parade. We’ll be meeting at 44th and Lander at 11:00am.

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Myers Way Property Update; Lunch and Learn on Equitable Development; 2017-2018 City Council Budget Process

July 7th, 2016

Myers Way Property Update

On Thursday, June 30, Financial Administrative Services (FAS) hosted a public meeting to discuss the Draft Preliminary Recommendation Report on the proposed sale of the Myers Way Property. This issue is important to many residents residing in Top Hat, Highland Park, South Park, Arbor Heights, as well as citywide environmental groups such as Seattle Green Spaces Coalition and TreePAC.

Myers Way propertyThose in attendance asked for assurances from the City that the decision about selling this property will occur only after the entire community, specifically low income renters, people of color and non-English speaking residents are meaningfully engaged. Residents are asking that FAS apply the Racial and Social Justice Toolkit and follow the Equity and Environment Action Agenda before deciding what to do with this land. Read the rest of this entry »

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We Must Do More to Respond To the Rise in Hate Crime

June 28th, 2016

On June 1st our City proclaimed June LGBTQ Pride Month. The Council and Mayor recognized that the fight for equality is not over and we must continue to lead the nation in establishing policies to prevent discrimination. We raised the LGBTQ flag and promised to continue to speak out against injustice and stand with those who are fighting for equality.  In the final days of Pride Month, in the wake of the recent horrible Orlando tragedy, and upon learning about the attack of one of our own local LGBTQ leaders, we must ensure that we keep our promise. As Chair of the committee that provides policy oversight for issues related to civil rights, I am committed to identifying meaningful efforts to reduce incidents of hate crimes.

Seattle’s hate crime laws are codified under, SMC 12A.06.115 After a 2008 audit on the City’s enforcement of Bias Crimes, the Seattle Police Department has made strides to improve and/or increase the City of Seattle’s: 1) response to bias attacks; 2) awareness and education about bias attacks; and 3) inter-department and inter agency responsiveness to victims and communities affect by bias attacks. According to the Status Report on Implementation of Office of City Auditor Recommendations, October 2012, most of the 17 recommendations have been implemented.

Recent efforts like the Seattle Police Department’s (SPD) Safe Places initiative are helpful in enhancing the relationship between SPD; the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ) community; and local businesses.  They provide organizations ‘SPD SAFE PLACE’ decals and signage and encourage those entities to clearly post them as a symbol of safety for the victims of LGBTQ crime and a warning to those who commit those crimes.

Despite these efforts, hate crimes appear to be on the rise.  According to a recent Seattle Times article, “in 2015, 72 hate crimes and incidents against LGBTQ people were reported to the Seattle Police Department (SPD) — double the number from the previous year.  The number of such crimes against blacks — 67 — more than doubled. There were a total of 208 hate crimes and incidents reported in 2015, up from 126 in 2014.”

Some question whether patterns of gentrification are related to this increase in hate crimes.  “Though Seattle saw a 52 percent increase in same-sex couples from 2010 to 2012 – the traditional neighborhood for this demographic, Capitol Hill, saw a 23 percent decline of LGBT people living there during the same period.”  Similarly, “the Central District was more than 70 percent black in the early 1970’s. Today, African American’s represent less than a fifth of the neighborhoods population. That neighborhood’s once-small white population, by contrast, has ballooned to around 60 percent.”

I intend to ask the Auditor to investigate further and determine how the City is using the data from reported hate crimes, whether or not we analyze bias crimes reporting data for trends that eventually influence resource allocation, and whether crimes are investigated and prosecuted as bias crimes. In addition, I’m seeking additional assistance and resources to determine how we can utilize recognized best practices to reduce incidents of hate crimes in our City.

 

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Resolution on HUD Guidance Regarding Criminal Records, Public Hearings on North Highline Annexation, Update on West Seattle Tree cutting investigation

June 17th, 2016

Resolution on HUD Guidance Regarding Criminal Records

On Monday, 6/13/16, the Full Council unanimously voted to pass Resolution 31669. This Resolution will inform landlords of their legal obligations under the Fair Housing Act to consider as tenants people with arrests or criminal records, who have been cleared of a crime or served their time. Access to housing is critical for folks to get back on their feet. As Efrem McGaughey, a formerly incarcerated individual and member of the Tenants Union of Washington State, said, “By affording formerly incarcerated people who are working to change their lives a chance to find housing without facing prejudice, we are strengthening our community as a whole. The long term results will increase contributing members to our society, more filled apartments for property owners, and more stability for people who have faced oppression and homelessness.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Seattle Legacy Business Survey is LAUNCHED; Alki, Beach Drive, Harbor Avenue; Transportation Tour of District 1 with SDOT; June 10th Office Hours; South Park LGBTQ Pride Picnic

June 9th, 2016

Seattle Legacy Business Survey is LAUNCHED!

Please take this survey so we can learn from you what businesses in your neighborhood you’ve loved and lost or fear may be in peril.

You may have heard that, upon the City Council’s request in a 2015 Budget Statement of Legislative Intent, the Mayor convened the Commercial Affordability Taskforce.  The Task Force is formed to make recommendations on how to address the rising cost of commercial space for small businesses, develop opportunities to activate public spaces for entrepreneurs, and identify strategies to expand economic development throughout Seattle. Finding ways to help Seattle’s small businesses survive this period of rapid economic growth is important to address the threats that can lead to the displacement of small businesses.  Here is a related recent Seattle Times story: http://www.seattletimes.com/life/lifestyle/seattles-dive-bars-are-becoming-an-endangered-species/ Read the rest of this entry »

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