Taking Action on Sexual Harassment; California and Orchard Drainage Issue; In-District Office Hours

January 19th, 2018


Taking Action on Sexual Harassment

On Friday January 12th, I wrote to Mayor Jenny A. Durkan thanking her for her leadership on sexual harassment issues and asking her to work with me to look at the impact of sexual harassment on our city and to work together to ensure that every person is free to live and work in Seattle free from the impacts of gender-based violence.

In my letter to Mayor Durkan I outlined four actions moving forward.

  1. Statute of Limitations on Reporting Sexual Harassment

Recently a constituent contacted my office because she had tried to file a sexual harassment claim with the Seattle Office of Civil Rights (SOCR) only to find out that the harassment she experienced happened before the 180-day statute of limitations outlined in the Seattle Municipal Code. It often takes time for people to come forward because of shame, fear of reprisals, denial, history of prior sexual violence, and lack of information about what constitutes sexual harassment and how to report it.  As the chair of the Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development and Arts Committee, I’ll be working with SOCR to examine how the current statute of limitations impacts people experiencing sexual harassment.

In addition, we know that people with experiences of sexual harassment are more likely to come forward when we clearly define the associated behavior.  In working on legislation to address this issue it is also my hope to provide a clearer definition of sexual harassment than what is currently in the Seattle Municipal Code.

I’m consulting with the City Attorney’s Office and drafting legislation to address this issue.  This also involves working with the SOCR and subject matter experts to explore best practices and to help develop a stronger statute and to avoid any unintended consequences when making these changes.

Though my focus is on civil complaints against sexual harassment because this is the area where the city government has jurisdiction, it’s important to recognize that the State Legislature has proposed House Bill 1155 that would eliminate the statute of limitations for felony sex crimes.

  1. Employee Climate Survey

It’s important that in doing this work, we get our own house in order.  We live in a society with extremely high rates of gender-based violence. According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) 1 in 3 women and nearly 1 in 6 men have experienced sexual violence at some point in their lives.   The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reports receiving 12,000 allegations of sex-based harassment each year.  Eighty-three percent of the complainants come from female employees.  As with other forms of gender-based violence we know that many people experiencing such harassment never tell anyone, as such the 12,000 allegations are likely a vast underreporting in comparison to the true impact this issue has on our communities.

In working to create a safe and welcoming climate for all employees I have asked Mayor Durkan to work with me to create an Employee Climate Survey.  Many people who experience harassment know something is not right long before they have the words to describe their experiences or the tools to take action.   According to the EEOC Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace, “The least common response to harassment is to take some formal action-either to report the harassment internally or file a formal legal complaint.”

We know that City employees want to come forward to tell their stories.  Recently a group of City employees has formed called the Silence Breakers.  See the coverage of their efforts here at Crosscut.  It is my hope that by administering an employee climate survey we can learn more both about how City employees perceive their work cultures and their comfortability in reporting inappropriate or dangerous behavior.

  1. Human Resource Review and Division Director Survey

I have asked the Executive to complete a comprehensive review of each individual human resource division responsible for addressing sexual harassment related issues within each of the executive departments and to collaborate in designing a Human Resource Division Directors’ Survey.  In making this request of the Executive I am also seeking the Legislative Department’s participation as well.

As we address this issue it’s important to ensure that the City of Seattle, and all its departments, model the practices we are working to create.   In looking deeper into the issue of sexual harassment it is likely that new information will come forward.  This is not a sign of failure.  In a climate where gender-based violence is prevalent, where reporting statistics are so low and where we haven’t, as a city, taken a comprehensive look at our anti-harassment provisions in over 20 years, it’s likely that there are experiences we haven’t yet heard.  This exploration is an opportunity for us to ensure that moving forward, we are all working together to create a climate where sexual harassment is not tolerated and that when employees do experience harassment it is dealt with in a respectful, appropriate, and efficient manner.

  1. Explore HR innovations in sexual harassment trainings

There was a time that people received short anti-harassment trainings that amounted to telling women to brush it off and telling men how to adjust their behavior to mitigate liability; that is if they received any training at all. According to the EEOC, traditional sexual harassment trainings have a limited efficacy because they are too focused on avoiding liability, rather than addressing the root of the problem.

There have been important innovations in anti-harassment trainings.  Bystander training is one of the innovations. The hallmarks of bystander training include:

  • Raising awareness of helping behaviors
  • Increasing motivation to address harmful or unjust situations
  • Developing skills and confidence when responding to problems
  • Ensure the safety and well-being of self and others

At a time in our history when our nation’s leader promotes individualism at the expense of caring for one another, our learning how to safely stand up in solidarity when anybody in our community is targeted can help us become our best selves.  Here is an article from the Seattle Times on Sunday about bystander training done by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, “America’s largest Muslim civil rights group.”

 


California and Orchard Drainage Issue

picture of drainage issue on california and orchard

Last October several Gatewood neighborhood residents contacted me about the water collection located at California Ave SW and SW Orchard St.  They had already contacted Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) without resolution of the problem. The water that seeped onto the sidewalk and roadway would freeze in the winter. My staff and I reached out to SPU and the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) to ask if a solution could be found.

The new year brought good news, and I was notified two weeks ago that SPU was able to fix this problem. You may have already learned this since the work was actually completed shortly before the new year. Drainage and Wastewater operations staff at SPU discovered an abandoned storm water pipe.  This allowed SPU to correct the problem of the water seepage because that they have been able to use the abandoned storm water pipe as a connection to newly route the water away from the sidewalk and street surface.

I want to thank everyone for their continued advocacy in order to resolve this issue.  My efforts would not have been as effective without your voices demonstrating to SPU that the water accumulation was an issue of concern. The observations of residents in this area monitoring the occurrence of this accumulation of water was critical to the identification of a solution.

 


In-District Office Hours

On January 26, I will be at the Southwest Neighborhood Service Center (2801 SW Thistle St) from 2:00p.m. – 6:45p.m. Please be sure to arrive no later than 6:30 pm, the final meeting of the day will begin at 6:30 p.m.

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).

Additionally, I am working to put together a full list of in-district office hours available for 2018 by the end of this month. When those are available I will include them in my emails as well as post them on my website here.

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Progressive Revenue Task Force; Your Voice, Your Choice; Response to Marijuana Decision; Waste-Free Communities Grant Now Open

January 12th, 2018


Progressive Revenue Task Force

Thursday January 4, 2018 was the first meeting of the Progressive Revenue Task Force.  The task force was established by Resolution 31782, passed during the November Budget discussion soon after a narrow majority of Councilmembers voted against the progressive Employee Hours Tax (EHT) that would have funded $13 million in programs serving homeless people as well as creating a new on-going revenue stream that we could bond against – in order to invest nearly $50 million more each year (over and above the annual Housing Levy funds) to build 2000 additional new units of affordable housing.

Though they voted “no,” on that version of an Employee Hours Tax, at the same time a majority of Councilmembers sent a clear signal supporting future passage of a progressive EHT that would generate between $25 million and $75 million in revenue per year.  The resolution outlined a scope of work for the task force including:

  1. Explore potential new progressive revenue sources, including an Employee Hours Tax (EHT)
  2. Identify investments to be paid for using those progressive revenue sources that would assist people who are homeless or at high risk of becoming homeless in obtaining and retaining stable housing

There are four task force co-chairs; two City Council chairs and two community co-chairs.  Councilmember Gonzalez and I co-chair the task force with community co-chairs: Progress Alliance of Washington Program Director and former Councilmember Kirsten Harris-Talley and Homesight Executive Director Tony To.

The first meeting of the task force was an opportunity to meet the task force members, introduce the co-chairs and discuss and approve a work plan.  The task force will be meeting 4 more times.  The final meeting will be March 1, when the task force will review the draft report based on their recommendations and finalize it.  The next Progressive Revenue Task Force meeting will be Thursday January 18th.  The task force meetings are open to the public and future meetings will be recorded by the Seattle Channel.  You can find information about the time and location of task force meetings on the City Council’s website calendar page.


Your Voice, Your Choice Parks and Streets: Idea Collection

The Department of Neighborhoods (DON) is accepting proposals for the Your Voice, Your Choice Parks and Streets grant program, through February 2.

A project is eligible if it benefits the public, is a physical or capital improvement project in Seattle’s parks or streets, and does not exceed $90,000.

Eligible projects include:

  • Streets: curb bulbs, flashing beacons, low cost sidewalks, low cost curbing, median pedestrian crossings, speed humps, curb ramps, traffic circles, and asphalt paths;
  • Parks: accessible picnic tables, park benches, park entrances, trail improvements, equipment improvements, and minor structural improvements

Here’s a link to visual examples of eligible projects; you can submit ideas here.

The revised budget balancing package I proposed during the budget process added an additional $1 million in funding, proposed by former Councilmember Kirsten Harris-Talley, increasing the total 2018 funding available to $3 million.

Public voting will take place from June 16 to July 16.

Here’s a link to apply to serve on the Steering Committee; applications are due by January 19 at 6 p.m.

DON indicated that some projects submitted but not funded in 2017 will be carried over for consideration in 2018. The Citywide map of these projects is here. There are two links for District 1; here’s the southern D1 map, and the northern D1 map.

DON published a review of the 2017 process and plans for 2018, available here. You can contact program coordinator Kraig.Cook@seattle.gov at DON for any questions.


Statement in Response to Attorney General Sessions’ Marijuana Decision

Last week, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced his intent to change the federal government’s approach to legalized marijuana. As chair of the Council’s committee on issues related to economic development, I released the following statement:

“Seattle, with critical vision and leadership from the cannabis industry, has approached marijuana legalization diligently and responsibly, and developed thoughtful and reasonable City regulations for how marijuana establishments would operate in our communities.  We barred dispensaries from opening near schools, libraries, parks, child care centers, or playgrounds recognizing the federal government’s interest in maintaining public safety and distancing businesses from children.  Critical to this successful outcome has been the creation of cannabis trade organizations that, very early on, promoted good business practices with community safety and business responsibility as central to their mission.

“As a city where marijuana growers and retailers are good community partners, and contribute to economic development, the federal government’s new approach is both alarming and disappointing, especially when there are much more significant issues to address.

“Seattle currently hosts approximately 42 retail locations, and dozens of related businesses. Our City has been allocated $569,891 in 2018 tax proceeds due to marijuana sales. Statewide, marijuana revenues support substance abuse programs, community health centers, the state’s portion of Medicaid, dropout prevention programs, and many other priorities. Minimizing the bad, old underground cannabis market has made our communities safer.  I hope the Western Washington United States Attorney recognizes that ending or scaling back marijuana legalization in Washington would have far more reaching implications than one might think.”


Waste-Free Communities Grant Now Open

Seattle Public Utilities is accepting applications through February 23, for the new “Waste-Free Communities Matching Grant.” This grant focus is community based projects that prevent waste by using less, reusing items, and sharing or donating items. The total fund is $100,000 to be awarded in 2018-2019.

If you’re a non-profit, business, community group, or school interested in reducing waste you should consider applying. Grants can range from $2,000 to $15,000. The application deadline is February 23, and notices of decisions will be sent in April. If you’re interested, go here to apply, and send me an email about your application too!

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Schmitz Park Property Acquisition; New Parking Regulations Coming; Delridge H Line public meetings; Apply for the Stakeholder Advisory Group; Sign Up for Alert Seattle; MHA District 1 Open House and Public Comment Opportunities; University District Small Business Impact Study

January 5th, 2018

Schmitz Park Property Acquisition

On Monday, years of work finally came to fruition. It was December 2015, just a week after my election was certified, and before I took office when I toured Bruce Stotler’s property on the southeast edge of Schmitz Park. I was joined by the Southwest Historical Society and Forterra (a land conservation non-profit).  Forterra was interested in helping to preserve the property and potentially purchase it because, at the time, the Parks Department was not.

However, due to the persistence and hard work of many people, the Parks Department became convinced that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

The Parks Department will purchase the 5,000-square foot plot for $225,000, which is less than half of its assessed value of $473,000. The funds will come from the 2008 levy which are mainly used to support property acquisition, capital expansion, development, and renovation of Seattle Parks and Parks facilities. The purchase will also use an innovative policy called the “life-estate agreement” which will allow Bruce to remain in his home.

I want to thank Bruce first for his generosity which will positively impact Schmitz Park and the surrounding community for decades. I also want to thank everyone else who helped make Bruce’s dream come true; including former Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, Vicki Schmitz-Block, Nancy Sorensen, Forterra, the Southwest Historical Society, former Parks Superintendent Jesús Aguirre, Chip Nevins with the Parks Department, and my staff Alex Clardy.

 

New Parking Regulations Coming

Since passing legislation in 2012 the City has not required parking for residential development in urban villages, when the multifamily development is located within 1320 feet (about ¼ mile) from a stop with frequent transit service.  You can find maps of urban villages here.

In 2015, the Council passed Ordinance 124608, which specifically requested an analysis of the City’s vehicle and bicycle parking requirements for residential uses, here is the report.  I asked several follow up questions to which I received a response in late October, you can see the questions and answers here.

The City is now taking up new neighborhood parking legislation and, among other things, changing its definition of “Frequent Transit Service.”  In 2015, I expressed my concern with how the City was implementing the ordinance regarding parking exemptions in frequent transit areas.  I sent a letter to the Hearing Examiner supporting an appeal of a project in West Seattle.  My specific concern is that if the City averages headways across all routes that pick up at a particular bus stop in order to determine Frequent Transit Service that doesn’t mean that this stop is actually providing frequent transportation to where a person needs to go. The concept of Frequent Transit Service is linked to the idea that if a person has a bus near their home that comes often, and goes where they regularly need to go, then they may be less likely to have a car.  There are 2 principles to test here.  The first is testing the principle that being “more likely to take transit” also means that someone is less likely to have a car that they need to park.  The second issue is, will a person be more likely to take transit (and less likely to have a car if principle 1 is true) if one has access to many buses that, on average come every 15 minutes, but the bus that is needed for a daily commute comes less frequently?

At the meeting this week Council Central Staff reported that the accepted average for the cost of creating below-grade parking is $35,000 per space, plus $300 a month in operational costs.  I’m not convinced that reducing the cost to developers to provide these spaces will result in reduced costs for renters and have asked how rental costs differ between developments with and without on-site parking.  This kind of data is apparently not available in Seattle.

Additionally, the legislation would uncouple parking costs from rent.  This would allow renters the ability to opt out of paying a monthly fee for a parking space.  I certainly support finding ways for renters to reduce their living expenses, but I am concerned that the requirement of uncoupling parking costs from rent, without an obligation for a tenant to demonstrate that they do not own a vehicle, may incentivize more people to use limited on-street parking spaces instead of using the parking provided onsite.

More information on the proposed legislation is available here, and recommendations from the Mayor to the City Council are available here.

On Wednesday, in Councilmember Johnson’s Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee, we had the initial discussion about the legislation the Council will take up. A process was outlined in that committee which includes a Public Hearing that will likely be in February and a potential vote on final legislation in March. You can stay up-to-date by signing up for committee agenda’s here.

 

Delridge H Line public meetings

In January, King County Metro will be hosting public meetings about the RapidRide H Line, as part of its plans to convert Bus Route 120 to a Rapid Ride line in 2020. There will be three meetings for the route, which travels through Burien, White Center, Westwood Village, Delridge, then on to Downtown:

 

The meeting in West Seattle will be on Wednesday, January 17, at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center (4408 Delridge Way SW). The format will be an open house with Metro and SDOT from 5-6:30 p.m. Following that at 7 p.m. will be a meeting with the Delridge District Council beginning at 7 p.m., to review and provide input on design elements and implementation. All are welcome.

 

The two other meetings will be Wednesday, January 10, 5-8 p.m., Burien Community Center, Shorewood Room (147600 6th Avenue SW, Burien), and Thursday, January 11, 5-8 p.m., Mount View Elementary School (10811 12th Avenue SW in White Center).

Metro also has a H Line Online Open House and survey, available here.

The goals of Rapid Ride are:

  • Greater frequency and reliability for each commutes downtown and cross-town as well as travel within the neighborhood.
  • Additional service on nights and weekend.
  • Improvements for sidewalks, street crossings, and paths for getting to stops for pedestrians and bikes, and for those with limited mobility.

More information is available at Metro’s H Ride webpage.

 

Apply for the Stakeholder Advisory Group for West Seattle and Ballard Light Rail

Sound Transit is seeking community members to serve on the West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions Stakeholder Advisory Group.

The Stakeholder Advisory Group will provide a forum for community members to inform the development of alternatives for the West Seattle and Ballard light rail projects. Advisory group members will work through project issues and build consensus around key project decisions, highlight specific issues and trade-offs in the corridor, make recommendations to help identify alternatives to study during environmental review, and identify a preferred alternative.

You can apply here. The link includes information about and what they’d like in members (e.g. understanding public transportation; understanding one or more of the affected communities along the corridor; willingness to act as a community ambassador and share information with community members).

The deadline to apply is January 22 at 5 p.m. The Advisory Group will meet monthly beginning in February, through Spring 2019.

Sound Transit’s goal is for the Sound Transit Board to identify a Preferred Alternative in April 2019. Here’s a chart showing where the work of the Stakeholder Advisory Group fits in that timeline. As District 1 representative, I am serving on the Elected Leadership Group, which met for the first time yesterday; here’s a link to materials.  The Stakeholder Advisory Group will make recommendations to the Elected Leadership Group; the Elected Leadership Group will make recommendations to the Sound Transit Board of Directors.

 

Sign Up for Alert Seattle

Please help the Seattle Office of Emergency Management to increase the number of people signed up for Alert Seattle.  Their goal is signing up 10,000 more people.  You can sign up here.

What is Alert Seattle?  Alert Seattle is the official emergency notification system used by the City of Seattle to communicate with city customers and residents during emergencies. The system was launched in August of 2015 and currently there are over 28,000 people signed up to receive alerts via text, email, and phone. While 28,000 is a good start, it represents only about 4% of the total population of the city.

In 2017, Alert Seattle was used on multiple occasions to communicate emergency information to the public, including by the Seattle Fire Department to alert residents of a gas leak, and the Seattle Police Department to alert residents to stay out of an area downtown impacted by ongoing police operations and the pursuit of an armed individual. Each of these notifications reached approximately 25,000 individuals. Increasing the number of people signed up for the system, means more people will have access to this type of important emergency information. In addition to emergency alerts, people signing up can also choose from a menu of community notifications regarding traffic and utility disruptions, severe weather, and emergency preparedness. The system is not only intended for those who live in the city, but also those people from throughout the region that come here on a daily basis for work, school, shopping, entertainment, and other activities.

 

Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) District 1 Open House and Public Comment Opportunities

Last year the Full Council adopted MHA for each the University District,  Downtown & South Lake Union; 23rd and Union-Jackson Residential Urban Village, the Chinatown International District and Uptown. The Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) program requires all developers in urban villages to contribute to affordable housing by either building it onsite or paying into a City fund for affordable housing. The city plans to develop 6,000 affordable units with the implementation of the MHA program.

This year the City Council will form a Committee of the Whole to review the proposed Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) Legislation.  This legislation has been in development by the Executive for the last couple years and was finally proposed to the City Council in late 2017.  There will be two new opportunities in District 1 to learn more about and give public comment on MHA. First is an open house on Wednesday May 9, 2018 at Louisa Boren K-8 (5950 Delridge Way SW Seattle, WA 98106).  The open house will be an opportunity to review the proposed MHA zoning changes for the District 1 urban villages; Admiral, Morgan Junction, South Park, West Seattle Junction, Westwood-Highland Park.  Snacks and drinks will be provided and everyone is welcome to attend.

Additionally, the City Council will be hosting a public hearing on MHA in District 1 on Tuesday June 5, 2018 at Chief Sealth High School (2600 SW Thistle St, Seattle, WA 98126).  There will also be a citywide public comment session on June 25, 2018 at Seattle City Hall.

You can find the calendar of all Open Houses and Public Hearings here.

 

University District Small Business Impact Study

On Tuesday December 12, 2017, the Civil Rights, Economic Development and Arts Committee received a briefing on the University District Small Business Impact Study.  I was joined by former Councilmember Peter Steinbrueck, Rick McLaughlin of Big Time Brewery, Chris Peterson of Café Allegro and Pamela Jacob of Pam’s Kitchen, Michael Wells of the Office of Economic Development, and Aly Pennucci from Central Staff.  Last year, during the discussion of the University District Urban Design Framework  and the Mandatory Housing Affordability program in the University District and prior to passage of Ordinance 125267, the bill was amended to delay making any changes to the University District – or “The Ave” to allow more time for the small business owners on “The Ave” to complete this small business impact study and evaluate the impacts of these zoning changes on these businesses.

The study is prefaced with a quote from Jane Jacobs, in her famous book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, wrote: “The trust of a city street is formed over time from many, many little public sidewalk contacts. It grows out of people stopping by at the bar for a beer, getting advice from the grocer and giving advice to the newsstand man, comparing opinions with other customers at the bakery and nodding hello to the two boys drinking pop on the stoop…”

The study goes on to say how “Small, independent, owner-operated neighborhood businesses such as pubs and cafes, bakeries, pharmacies, galleries, retailers, makers, dance studios, professional services, and nonprofit organizations are what define neighborhood character and authenticity, and the foundation for vibrant, walkable, and sustainable communities.”

I was pleased that among recommendations related to displacement and gentrification, transportation, and zoning and development standards, and business services provided by the Office of Economic Development, the report included support for adopting “best practice anti-displacement measures to protect small businesses, such as San Francisco’s Legacy Business Program.”  A Seattle Legacy Business Program is an effort I have been pursuing for the last 2 years now.  You can read previous blog post about my work on legacy businesses here, here and here.

You can watch the full presentation and discussion here.  The full University District Small Business Vulnerability Study can be found here.

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Happy 2018! And a Look Back on 2017 Accomplishments

January 3rd, 2018

Happy New year from Lisa and Staff, and a look back on progress in 2017

Councilmember Lisa Herbold's Staff

Happy holidays and new year from Councilmember Herbold’s Office!

Contents

 

PART 1 // D1 TRANSPORTATION UPDATES


Sound Transit Light Rail

In May, Sound Transit announced a Draft System Expansion Implementation Plan for ST3, including a schedule for light rail to West Seattle, to implement the 2015 ballot measure.  The ST3 scope equals the first two Sound Transit measures (1996 and 2008) combined.

The starting point is the representative alignment in the ST3 plan approved by voters, including stations at Delridge, Avalon, and Alaska Junction, to “connect West Seattle to downtown Seattle via Alaska Street, Fauntleroy Way, Genesee Street, Delridge Avenue, Spokane Street, and the SODO Busway.”

Scheduled to be the first Seattle project completed in ST3, the timetable could involve utility work as early as 2024, in anticipation of construction beginning in 2025. This creates a potential conflict with the Fauntleroy Boulevard Project. In recognition of these challenges, I sent a letter to Sound Transit regarding these issues, and recently received a reply.

In December, the Council approved an agreement between the City of Seattle and Sound Transit to guide cooperation, with clarity to budget and schedule, and with specific points for City concurrence.

The agreement acknowledges “that suggestions to study additional alternatives are likely to emerge during the alternatives development process,” and “The target is to identify options to be investigated as soon as possible during alternatives development to support the goal of early and durable consensus on a preferred alternative.”  The agreement calls for the development of a preferred alternative, with city concurrence, during the 1st or 2nd quarter of 2019.

The Sound Transit Board approves the alignment.  An “Elected Leadership Group” will make recommendations to the Sound Transit Board regarding the alignment and other issues and will include other local elected officials.  As District 1 representative for West Seattle, I’ll be serving on this board.

 


Lander Street Overpass Funding

The Lander Street Overpass project over the railroad tracks in SODO has received $10 million in funding from the Port of Seattle. With this, the long-delayed project attained full funding.

In the City’s successful request for federal funding, I added language emphasizing that the daily closures result in “hindering access to Downtown from West Seattle and South Park.” The West Seattle Transportation Coalition cites a 45% reduction in north/south vehicle lanes over the last eight years through SODO. Closures due to rail traffic average 4.5 hours daily, affecting north/south traffic.

The schedule calls for construction in 2018, and completion in early 2020.  The cost estimate is $125 million, reduced from the $142 million figure listed in the SDOT 2017 capital budget, due to design revisions by SDOT.

 


Highland Park Roundabout

Highland Park Way SW is one of only a few east-west access points for the West Seattle peninsula.  Dating back to 1941, the community has advocated for pedestrian and motorist safety at this intersection, the cite of numerous recent accidents.

During last year’s Neighborhood Street Fund process the community proposed a traffic roundabout (as they had in 2013) at Highland Park Way SW and SW Holden Street.  It was the highest-rated project of the Delridge District Council, but, due to cost, wasn’t selected.

I supported funding for initial design work, and SDOT dedicated $200,000 of existing funds to advance design for a roundabout. Improving safety and alleviating congestion can also reduce the use of side streets, an increasing safety issue, especially during rush hour.

SDOT applied for funding through a state grant; including a letter of support signed by all nine Councilmembers.  Numerous other elected officials and West Seattle community groups showed their support as well. Unfortunately, the application wasn’t successful; we’ll be considering next steps early in 2018.

 


Mudslides

In February, after a mudslide closed Highland Park Way SW for a few days during heavy rains, I investigated SDOT plans for landslide mitigation, and found that work identified in a 2000 report was not being adequately funded.

I worked with the City Budget Office to increase funding in the 2nd quarter supplemental budget by $1.37 million; the 2018 budget also included an increase. The 2nd quarter funding went to projects at SW Cambridge and California Avenue SW, the 10200 block of 47th Avenue SW, and Highland Park Way SW.

 

PART 2 // PUBLIC SAFETY IN D1


South Park Public Safety Task Force

You may recall that during last year’s budget, Councilmember González and I partnered to create a South Park Public Safety Task Force. South Park had the 3rd highest number of gunshots reported in Seattle neighborhoods during 2016, according to Seattle Police Department data.

The purpose of the task force was to formulate and report to Council recommendations regarding the public safety and vitality of that neighborhood, including strategies that are culturally and linguistically responsive data-driven approaches.

This summer, in response to community requests after a number of nights of vandalism against businesses, I requested that the Chief of Police convene a community meeting. The Department of Neighborhoods stepped in and brought other City departments. High attendance showed just how concerned South Park residents are with the ongoing public safety issues.

In September, the report and recommendations of the  South Park Public Safety Taskforce were presented including funding for a Public Safety Coordinator; Improvements to Pedestrian Safety; Lighting Dark Alleys and Crime Spots; Providing More Frequent Garbage Pickup; and Funding Opportunities for Children and Youth.

The budget balancing package I proposed, with Councilmember Lorena González’ sponsorship, included funding a South Park Public Safety Coordinator and pedestrian and traffic safety improvements. My office is working with Seattle City Light and a local business owner to light the alley between Cloverdale and Donovan.

 


Alki Public Safety and Health Survey/Budget Action

Since taking office, I have heard concern from residents of Alki and adjacent neighborhoods regarding vehicle noise and other public safety concerns. As a beachside neighborhood and regional destination, there are unique public safety and health challenges from Beach Drive to the West Seattle Bridge. Earlier in 2017, I met with SPD about issues at Alki, and requested additional officers and use of the Mobile Precinct.

Later in the summer, I worked with community members to develop the Alki Public Safety and Health Survey. 1100 people responded. The results showed a high level of concern for vehicle noise; you can see the results here, including by neighborhood.

The survey results informed a budget action I developed with community members, which the Council adopted in November, requiring the Seattle Police Department to identify new enforcement policies and practices with respect to vehicle noise and cruising in the Alki neighborhood that could be used in other neighborhoods, such as Fauntleroy, adjacent to the ferry dock.

 

PART 3 // HOUSING HIGHLIGHTS


Housing Bond Update

You may recall that last year I worked to expand financing for more affordable housing through utilizing the City’s existing bond capacity.  Using the City’s bond capacity for housing was very controversial when the Council approved it in 2016.  In February of 2017, the Affordable Housing Neighborhood and Finance Committee approved two pieces of legislation that helped the city move closer to using the financing.

Then, in July of 2017 the Office of Housing (OH) announced that some of that new funding would be available through its annual competitive Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) process.  More than a dozen non-profit developers signaled their intent to bid.  Finally, in December of 2017, the City of Seattle announced $100 million in affordable housing investments.

OH Director Steve Walker said that the availability of $29 million in bonding authority in 2017 allowed the City to “make commitments to two large-scale transit-oriented affordable housing developments at the Roosevelt light rail station and Northgate transit center…In total, the $29 million in bonding authority supports the creation of 300 affordable apartments that otherwise would not have been created.”

In addition to $29 million in bond financing this allocation utilizes the first year of funding from the 2016 voter-passed Seattle Housing Levy, funding from incentive zoning payments, and proceeds from the sale of surplus properties.  Leveraging additional local and federal resources, this will support more than $260 million in investments.

 


Fair Chance Housing

Back in 2012, Councilmembers Licata and O’Brien asked that the Office of Housing (OH) begin to address the barriers created when criminal background screenings are used to select tenants.  The Fair Chance Housing Taskforce was a 2015 Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) taskforce recommendation to increase access to rental housing for people with criminal records.

In February 2016, after announcement of the task force, several Councilmembers joined me in writing to then Mayor Murray about the Fair Chance Housing taskforce, available here.

In May 2017, my Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development and Arts (CRUEDA) Committee hosted its first conversation with members of the Fair Chance Housing Taskforce.  Through the work of the Fair Chance Housing Taskforce and the Office of Civil Rights the Fair Chance Housing legislation was proposed. The final Fair Chance Housing legislation, co-sponsored by myself and Council President Harrell passed unanimously by Full Council on August 14, 2017. This ordinance prevents landlords from screening applicants based on criminal convictions; arrests that did not lead to a conviction; convictions that have been expunged, vacated or sealed; juvenile records; or status of a juvenile tenant on the sex offender registry. The bill also prohibits the use of advertising language that categorically excludes people with arrests or conviction records. The legislation does not apply to people registered as sex offenders who committed their crime as an adult.

The legislation goes into effect in early 2018, allowing the City to implement a new Fair Housing Home Program to help property owners adjust their practices and learn how to implement practices to affirmatively further fair housing by reducing biases in tenant selection.

 


Short-term Rental

In December, the Council took its final vote to complete what was two years of deliberations addressing how Seattle should regulate and tax short-term rentals (STR) out of concern that, with a projected loss of 1,000-1,500 additional long-term units in the next three years, continued growth of multi-listing hosts would undermine Seattle’s long-term housing stock at a time when the market is tighter than ever. My primary goal was to return and maintain as many long-term rental units on the market as possible.

The bills cover each the taxing structure, land-use code, and regulatory structure related to short-term rentals.  CB 119083, pertains to how the City taxes short-term rentals.  CB 119082 addresses how short-term rentals are addressed in the land-use code.  CB 119081 addresses the regulatory structure.  Council will receive an implementation status report in June. The short-term rental regulations will not become effective until January 1, 2019.

 

PART 4 // LAND USE LATEST


MHA rezones

The Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) program requires developers in urban villages to contribute to affordable housing by either building it onsite or paying into a City fund for Affordable Housing. The city plans to develop 6,000 affordable units with the implementation of the MHA program. This year the Full Council adopted MHA for each the University District,  Downtown & South Lake Union; 23rd and Union-Jackson Residential Urban Village, the Chinatown International District and Uptown.

You may recall that the broad principles of the MHA program were approved by the Council in the MHA framework legislation, in Fall 2016. This framework legislation laid out how all developers would newly be required to contribute to new affordable housing in all developments in exchange for additional zoning capacity.

I am concerned about the impact that displacement has on existing residents and neighborhoods. In February 2017 I sponsored, and the Council passed, Resolution 31733, to request an analysis of both physical and economic displacement as part of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) in order to evaluate whether the proposed city-wide upzones would: (1) increase or decrease direct displacement due to demolition; and (2) either introduce or accelerate a trend of changing socioeconomic conditions that may potentially displace vulnerable populations. This resolution put the Council on record declaring its “intent to consider strategies to mitigate any loss of subsidized affordable units and naturally occurring affordable units resulting from an increase in development capacity.”  It also made very clear the kind of analysis that the Council expected as part of the of the Displacement Risk Analysis being done for the DEIS.  Because the DEIS was not fully responsive to Resolution 31733, in July 7, I sent a letter to Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD), Director Sam Assefa requesting again that this analysis be completed.

The comment period on the DEIS was announced in June and was extended a couple weeks to respond to requests for additional time.  On November 9, 2017 the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) was released.   On November 27, 2017 an appeal of the FEIS was filed.  This appeal adds a layer of uncertainty to the timing of future legislative action.  You can follow this issue on the city’s HALA webpage as well as signing up for Planning, Land Use and Zoning committee meeting agendas here.

 


Vacant Building Program

In August of this year, the Council passed legislation to improve maintenance and demolition standards of vacant buildings. The City has experienced a significant increase of complaints about vacant building; between 2013 and 2016 we saw an increase of 58%.  District 1 has the second highest amount of complaints between 2013 and 2016. You can see those here.

I worked to amend this legislation to require development of a Vacant Building Monitoring Program. Vacant building monitoring programs require property owners to register vacant and foreclosed properties. This allows the City to ensure they are maintained and secure and not a nuisance to the public.

The Department of Construction and Inspection (SDCI) will report in March of 2018 with proposal for an enhanced Vacant Building Monitoring Program. Such a proposal should: (1) establish triggering events for enrollment; (2) strengthen minimum standards for vacant buildings; (3) include a penalty structure for failure to comply; (4) minimize costs to owners when buildings are well maintained (5) allow owners of vacant buildings to have buildings occupied by caretakers.

 

PART 5 // ACCOUNTABILITY IN GOVERNMENT


Police Accountability Legislation

I support strong police oversight, and co-sponsored police accountability legislation to create, among other things, a new Office of the Inspector General (OIG) and making the Community Police Commission (CPC) a permanent body.

The function of the CPC is intrinsic to the success of police accountability reform in Seattle. The 2012 Consent Decree process was begun in 2010 when 34 community groups called on the US Department of Justice to investigate excessive use of force.  It is critical that the community retain a seat at the table.

I worked with the CPC to propose amendments to require 25% of CPC members on the search committees for future Directors of the Office of Inspector General and the Office of Police Accountability (OPA). Another amendment expanded the size of the CPC, in order to increase their ability to carry out police accountability work, now enshrined in city law.

Finally, I proposed an amendment to ensure that the CPC retains the authority that the Office of Professional Accountability Review Board (OPARB), the OPA’s previous civilian review board, had to review closed case files. The OPARB emphasized the importance of this power in a 2014 letter. This kind of oversight power led to the discovery, for example, that SPD was doing criminal background checks on people making misconduct complaints (see 2003 annual report).

Thanks to SPD and Seattle’s police officers for their implementation of reform. The Seattle Police Officers Guild collaborated in the work of the CPC over the last several years, and helped inform their recommendations with practical experience. The Court-appointed federal monitor ruled in April that SPD had reached initial compliance with the use of force reforms.   The monitor will continue review the department for at least two years to ensure compliance.

 


Observer Bill of Rights

In May, the Council passed legislation I sponsored to establish an Observer Bill of Rights for people to observe and record police activity. The bill establishes that, by law, the public has the right to observe police activity. It states that officers may not use physical force to punish or retaliate against observers, and must seek to minimize harm to bystanders when using less lethal tools like pepper spray or tear gas. In addition, if a person brings a claim that the law was violated, the Office of Professional Accountability must be notified.

Observation has always been an important element of accountability.  Mothers for Police Accountability here in Seattle has, for decades, trained community observers to watch the actions of police in detaining suspects.  Most police interactions with the public are fair and professional, but the observation is one way to reduce the chances that people are treated unfairly in their interactions with police. And when people are not treated fairly, or force is used inappropriately, observation ensures there is a witness.

At a time when we have an increasing reliance on cameras that police officers wear or have in their cars, the police activity that the public observes is still important.  A Washington Post article from March noted that in a shooting in Albuquerque, the camera of the police officer who fired the shot wasn’t recording, three missed the crucial moment, and three were either blurred or contained no record.

 


Duwamish Greenbelt Tree Settlement

In April, City Attorney Holmes announced a settlement over the illegal 2016 tree cutting on City property in the Duwamish Head Greenbelt.

Two complaints were filed last fall, including for timber trespass, damage to land, negligence, environmentally critical areas violations, violations of the parks code, and violations of the city’s tree and vegetation management in public places code.

Two couples paid City $440,000 regarding one of the decimated areas. The City’s other suit regarding the other area is ongoing, and unaffected by this settlement.  The Parks and Recreation Department has used the settlement funds for remediation of the property.

Hopefully this settlement—60% higher per tree than the similar 2003 case in the Mount Baker neighborhood—will deter future rogue clearcutting. Those with financial means can’t count on small settlements to pave the way towards increased views and property values. Trees in our greenbelts are precious resources that maintain soil stability, lessen the risk of landslides, and maintain air quality by absorbing carbon. We must protect them.

 


Socially Responsible Banking Legislation/Fair Business Practices

In February, the Council voted to adopt Fair Business Practices for contracting, including banking.  To give local, in-state banks a better chance to compete for the City’s banking services, I sponsored an amendment increasing from 15% to 20% the amount used in scoring for socially responsible banking and fair business practices.

The City manages nearly $4 billion annually; during 2016 the average daily balance in the City’s account with Wells Fargo was approximately $56 million. Integrating social responsibility with the City’s banking needs, and relevant state law, is challenging. State law limits the use of credit unions to $250,000, which means the City can’t use them for general-purpose banking.

My staff researched which banks are eligible for the City’s banking services under state law. Of the 63 banks are registered with the state, it appears only between 8 and 11 banks are eligible, depending on whether the minimum threshold for managing City deposits is set at $450 million, or $300 million. Between 4 and 7 of those banks are in-state.

Bank of America and US Bank, as well as Wells Fargo, all received significant fines from the Department of Justice for mortgage fraud. This points to the challenges we face in selecting a City bank in alignment with the City’s values.

The City will re-bid its banking services. The contract proposals include smaller chunks, to increase the likelihood of smaller banks being able to apply.

PART 6 // ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND EQUITY FOR A BETTER SEATTLE


OLS Funding

The Office of Labor Standards (OLS) is responsible for administering and enforcing six local labor laws: $15 Minimum Wage, Paid Sick and Safe Time, Fair Chance Employment, Wage Theft, Secure Scheduling, and the Hotel Employees Health and Safety Imitative.

The work of the OLS is vital to employer and worker education. A University of Washington study from April 2016, found that 72 percent of workers, including 91 percent of immigrant workers, did not know about or had only a vague understanding of their rights to a minimum wage. Outreach to workers is crucial for employees and employers alike because when all employees know their rights, businesses who do not adhere to our laws do not have an unfair business advantage over those good employers that adhere to our labor standards.

Early this year the Council passed a bill that I co-sponsored to ensure that the OLS would have a dedicated fund to support the operations and activates of the office. This revenue supports enforcement activities, including the investigation of complaints and directed investigations, as well as the education and outreach to employers and employees.

 


Priority Hire

Two and a half years ago, the City adopted Priority Hire. The program works to maximize the City’s investment in public infrastructure by helping local residents secure employment opportunities on City funded public works project contracts totaling $5 million or more.

Specifically, Priority Hire requires a minimum percentage of works being local residents from economically disadvantaged zip codes, and sets a minimum requirement for apprenticeship utilization from pre-apprenticeship programs. These requirements improve opportunities for un/underemployed workers and gives them access to living-wage careers.

In July of this year, my Civil Rights, Economic Development, and Arts Committee took up recommendations from the City Department of Finance and Administrative Services (FAS), and another report from the Priority Hire Advisory Committee. The Council voted to approve legislation I sponsored to a. increase hiring through the Priority Hire hiring process and b. improve participation by open-shop and Women and Minority Business Enterprise (WMBE) contractors.

 


Legacy Business Program

You might remember that in the 2017 budget I sponsored a budget initiative to include funding for the Office of Economic Development (OED) to conduct a legacy business study.  In September of this year the Legacy Business Study was published and included several recommendations on how Seattle could further support this work, including:

  1. Refine or expand existing OED programs to better support legacy businesses.
  2. Create new business assistance specifically targeted towards legacy businesses.
  3. Work to create a comprehensive legacy program.

In continuing to move forward this important work, I made sure that the 2018 budget contains funding to develop and implement a new Legacy Business Designation Program and support for business entrepreneurs who are women and people of color.

 


UDP Expansion

In October 2016, a constituent let my office know that Medicare Part B premiums were being included as a source of income towards qualification to the Utility Discount Program (UDP).  The UDP is a City program for low-income customers and offers a 60% discount on your Seattle City Light (SCL) bill, and a 50% discount on your Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) bill for eligible customers.  The result of including Medicare Part B premiums as a source of income is that people who should have access to the UDP were being deemed ineligible.

Medicare Part B premiums are automatically withdrawn from Social Security and Social Security Disability income checks; residents never even see the funds.

I worked with both utilities and the Mayor’s Office to remove the requirement to count Medicare Part B premiums as income. Both utilities implemented the new rules on June 1, 2017.  SPU estimated that the change added an additional 1,1015 households to the UDP.

 


Eliminating the Subminimum Wage

In July, the City announced an intent to end the subminimum wage for people with disabilities. Seattle’s current law mirrors Washington State law which allows employers to pay less than minimum wage. The Commission for People with DisAbilities (PwD) voted unanimously, in June, to end this exemption.

After conducting a review of Seattle’s policy, the PwD held a public comment session to hear from the community and organizations. Additionally, they reached out to all the businesses that currently utilize the subminimum wage. The PwD Commission received no comment opposing the elimination of the subminimum wage certificates.

All subminimum wage certificates which the Director had previously signed will laps at the end of 2017. The Council will codify this decision in 2018.

 


Fixing Our Broken Tax Structure

Washington State has the most regressive tax structure in the nation. People earning $20,000 a year devote two months of pay to their yearly tax bill, while the 1% pay their entire annual tax bill in only 6 days. Economist Dick Conway reports that across five different measures – fairness, transparency, adequacy, stability, and economic vitality – Washington State’s tax structure is the worst of all the states in the nation.

Besides placing a greater burden on those least able to afford it, and straining the middle class, the dependence on property taxes makes it harder for fixed-income seniors to remain in their homes.   We need a fairer tax system. To address this, I co-sponsored legislation for a tax on high incomes.

The tax of 2.25% is on only the income of Seattle residents over $250,000 for single filers, or income above $500,000 for married couples filing jointly. For a single filer with income of $300,000, only the $50,000 over $250,000 would be taxed, for a total of $1125, or 0.038 percent of their total income.

The legislation was designed to minimize the cost of implementation and reporting. Residents with qualifying incomes will file their income as listed on line 22 on IRS form 1040; early estimates indicate it would raise approximately $140 million from about 11,000 tax payers.

An earlier resolution noted that legal viability would be the primary consideration in developing the tax structure.  The legislation is currently under legal challenge.

The tax revenue will be used to: (1) lower the property tax burden and the impact of other regressive taxes, including the business and occupation tax; (2) replace funding lost through federal cuts or respond to changes in federal policy; (3) provide services, including housing, education, and transit; (4) create green jobs and meeting carbon reduction goals; and (5) and implement the tax.

I proposed, and the Council passed, a follow-up budget measure requiring a report by the City Budget Office on use of potential revenues, including future consideration of reduction or elimination of property tax levies.

 

PART 7 // ARTS MATTERS


Why Art Matters

The 2018 federal budget released by Donald Trump earlier this year proposed elimination of federal support for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

In response, the Office of Arts and Culture, KUOW, and I co-hosted a forum in April, Why Does Art Matter, to bring awareness to this issue, and to call on federal representatives in Congress to not pursue this path.

The NEA supports numerous local arts groups, both large and small. One such group is the Creative Advantage arts education program in Seattle Public Schools, which has programs in District 1 schools such as Arbor Heights Elementary, Concord International Elementary, Highland Park Elementary, Roxhill Elementary, Sanislo Elementary, West Seattle Elementary, Louise Boren STEM K-8, Denny International Middle School, and Chief Sealth International High School.

The National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting are vital for our community’s well-being. The President’s proposed budget would have eliminated federal funding for these agencies, and brings up questions about how to continue this important work. Thankfully, Congress acted to not cut this funding.

 


Cultural Arts Spaces

Along with the crisis in affordability in housing, we have a crisis on maintaining arts and cultural spaces in Seattle. The Office of Arts and Culture released the CAP report: 30 ideas for the Creation, Activation & Preservation of Cultural Space.  When the report was released, I requested an implementation plan.

Through the budget process, I secured funding to incentivize cultural uses in older buildings, where three-quarters of cultural spaces in Seattle are located, and space tends to be less expensive.

Secondly, I secured funding for a half-time liaison between The Office of Arts and Culture and the Department of Construction and Inspections to support nonprofit cultural organizations in the permitting process.

Finally, a budget action requires a report on creating a cultural spaces public development authority, to lease, develop, and purchase real estate to maintain cultural uses.

 


Sound Transit Busker Program

Last year I asked Sound Transit to allow buskers to perform at stations, similar to the successful program at Sea-Tac Airport, and to work with the Seattle Music Commission to establish this program.

They established a six-month pilot program at the Capitol Hill and University of Washington stations, and a performance policy, and followed up with a survey of transit riders and street performers, and researched other cities such as New York, Vancouver and the Bay Area.

In September, Sound Transit expanded the program, adding Beacon Hill, Columbia City, Othello, Tukwila International Boulevard and Angle Lake.   Approved performance sites are designated by a silver star, to prevent performers and audiences from blocking station traffic. Performer guidelines and photos of silver star locations are linked here.

Prior to the program, Sound Transit didn’t allow street musicians to perform at light rail facilities; thanks to Sound Transit for supporting buskers!

 


Film in Seattle

During the budget process, I secured funding from admissions tax revenues for the Office of Economic Development’s Office of Film and Music (OFM) to support advancement of the film and media production sector during 2018. This is a core economic development funding of the office. However, due to management of the City’s Special Events program moving from Parks to this OFM, they have been able to carry out only a small amount of this work.

 

PART 8 // BUDGET WRAP UP – D1 SPOTLIGHT

In November, the Council adopted the 2018 City budget, and 2018-2023 Capital Improvement Plan.

As Chair of the Budget Committee, I assembled a final balancing package.  Together, my Council colleagues and I passed several important amendments to the city budget that will meaningfully impact the lives of everyday people in Seattle, all while maintaining current service levels.

In addition to items mentioned elsewhere, here are a few of the highlights; a longer description is here.

  • Hiring more police officers: the budget adds 35 additional police officers positions, to stay on track to hire 200 additional officers by early 2020
  • Funding to implement police accountability legislation; the Council added two and a half positions and contracting funding for the Community Police Commission, and two positions for the Office of Police Accountability.

District 1

  • Expand the Ready to Work project into District 1:  There are unique challenges facing immigrants and refugees living in SW Seattle. The Ready to Work model is designed to support English learners with an intensive centralized and neighborhood based support.  The Ready to Work expansion is slated to open in April of 2018.
  • Funding to plan and design a walkable, bikeable path uniting the Georgetown and South Park neighborhoods to enhance walkability between Georgetown and South Park’s historic “Main Streets” and connect the heart of the Duwamish Valley.
  • Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD): expansion of LEAD to North Precinct, and to begin taking referrals from the Southwest Precinct.
  • Addition of $1 million for participatory budgeting which, in 2017, funded projects in, Delridge, Westwood/Highland Park, High Point and South Park.
  • Vacant Building Monitoring Program Funding (written about above re: District 1 having the second highest number of complaints).

 

PART 9 // CONSTITUENT CONTACTS

This year I hosted in-district office hours on nine separate occasions. There are three locations that I rotate between to help make it easier for constituents to meet with me in their own neighborhood. These nine meetings constituted a total of 43 hours where I met with 111 constituents. Issues ranged from traffic and sidewalk issues, to zoning and housing issues. Multiple groups utilized this time to connect with me about specific issues their organization or neighborhoods were facing.

In-District Office hours will continue again in 2018; please keep an eye out for my emails and on the blog to know when I will be in your neighborhood.

This year we received thousands of emails from constituents all over the city. By our rough count, we received and responded to nearly 7,000 individual emails on topics ranging from transportation, land use, utility, parks, and public safety, and other issues.  Next year we will have a better ability to report on the number emails received according to topic, as well as the average time taken to respond.

This number does not include emails received and responded to where the Council was the subject of an organized email campaign.  When we receive hundreds of emails on the same topic, we note every issue raised in each piece of correspondence, and then craft a reply that was responsive to all issues raised.  While some folks express disappointment upon receiving an “auto-reply” to these, I hope to assure everyone that my staff and I read all of the correspondence I receive and I take the perspective and opinions expressed into account when a reply is carefully crafted.

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South Park Crime Data; Vote on Short-Term Rentals; Seattle Ranks #1 for Small Business Growth; South Park Community Center

December 15th, 2017


Southwest Precinct/South Park Crime Data

Recently I met with the Seattle Police Department about concerns regarding crime data for South Park. I’ve heard from South Park residents that crime statistics provided by SPD didn’t accurately reflect their experience.

Given the relatively small size of the neighborhood and number of residents, it seemed that crime statistics by neighborhood might not be the most accurate measurement; the population of neighborhoods in the SW Precinct have a wide range, from the 1150 residents in Pigeon Point, to 4134 in South Park, and 13,609 in the Alaska Junction.

Consequently, I asked SPD to develop per-capita measurements of crime.

The table below shows the results for the first 10 months of 2018 in the SW Precinct, and includes both person and property crime.  South Park’s per capita crime rate for that time period was 94 per 1,000 residents, significantly higher than other neighborhoods, except for South Delridge, another small neighborhood.

SPD also included a measurement for per capita crime by daytime residents.

SPD Crime Data

I also asked SPD to provide data for officer-generated calls for service in South Park. These calls are listed as “on-view” or “proactive” calls, that come from SPD officers on patrol. SPD has increased the amount of patrols in South Park since August, 2016. The number of calls for this 10-month period have increased from 521 in 2015, to 1,073 in 2016, to 1,997 in 2017.

Calls generated from the public have been 2,233 in 2015, 2,037 in 2016, and 2,046 in 2017.

Here’s a link to the SPD presentation, which includes person and property crime data for all SW Precinct neighborhoods  (West Seattle and South Park) from 2015-2017. Thanks to SPD for putting this together; they’ve made great strides the last few years in making crime data more accessible to the public.  SPD’s Crime Dashboard allows you to search crime data by neighborhood, precinct, from 2008 to the present.  Their SeaStat program provides updates every two weeks.

Priorities for each of the Micro Community Policing Plans are available on the SPD website here. Micro Community Policing Plans (MCPP) are designed to address the distinctive needs of each community. You can find your neighborhood MCPP on the map here. MCPP’s are informed by public safety surveys conducted independently by Seattle University. Their two-year evaluation of MCPPs, published in January 2017, is linked here.


City Council Votes on Short-Term Rentals

On Monday, December 11th the City Council took its final vote on a suite of bills addressing how Seattle will regulate and tax short-term rentals (STR).

In June of 2016 Puget Sound Sage released a report entitled Brief: Dramatic Growth of a Short-Term Rentals in Seattle Could Reduce Apartment Supply. This report revealed significant growth in STR activity from September 2015 through April 2016. Including:

  • Dramatic growth in listings at a rate of 50% per year, ending with 4,170 listings throughout the city.
  • Two-thirds of Airbnb listings units are “whole units” which are homes that could potentially be used as long-term rentals.
  • Only 12% of hosts list more than one unit, but this group hosted one-third of ALL Airbnb units and represented the most growth.
  • While most of the whole unit growth was located in Seattle’s urban core, whole unit listings in communities at high risk of displacement grew as fast as the city-wide average.
  • A projected loss of 1,000-1,500 additional long-term units in the next three years.

Underlying this issue is concern that continued growth of multi-listing hosts will undermine Seattle’s long-term housing stock at a time when the market is tighter than ever. My primary goal throughout this two-year process has been to return and maintain as many long-term rental units on the market as possible.

There are three short-term rental bills. The first, CB 119083, pertains to how the City taxes short-term rentals.  Councilmember O’Brien and I proposed an amendment that modified the proposed flat tax in order to apply a different per-night tax of $8/ night for a single room versus a $14/night for an entire unit/house.  This amendment also required that revenue generated from this tax would first be used to offset the cost of implementing and administering these STR regulations.  The next $5 million dollars would then be utilized by the Equitable Development Initiative and the final $2 million dollars would be used to invest in affordable housing. This amendment was included in the bill which was unanimously passed by full council on November 13th, 2017.

The second bill relates to how STRs are addressed in the land-use code. CB 119082 has two parts.  It first clarifies that short-term rentals are not necessarily an accessory use and are prohibited in caretaker’s quarters and second, ensures that Rental Registration & Inspection Ordinance (RRIO) requirements for short-term renters who are renting out their primary residence are consistent. This bill was passed by full council on December 4, 2017.

The third and final piece of the STR regulatory structure is Council Bill 119081. I heard many concerns from people who are renting out rooms in their homes or whose family has an additional home they are renting out.  These constituents have expressed fears that short-term rental regulations might impact their ability to earn the needed additional income they get from these types of rentals.   In an attempt to strike a balance between the potential negative impacts of short-term rentals on the city’s long-term housing stock and the STR income that some families rely on in order to afford to live in Seattle’s ever unaffordable housing market, I proposed several amendments to the regulatory portion of these bills.  Amendments to CB 119081 that I sponsored or co-sponsored included:

  • Ensuring that people operating rentals outside of the exempt areas and prior to September 30, 2017 could obtain a license to operate up to two units as short-term rentals AND
  • Allowing for some growth for some existing operators. After 1 year, existing operators could add their primary residence making the total number of units they can operate 3.  This would be any 2 units plus their primary residence.
  • All other operators who did not have short-term rentals prior to September 30, 2017 would be able to obtain a license to rent out space in their primary residence plus one additional unit. (see chart below)

short term rental legislation explained

In addition to this amendment, as passed out of the Planning, Land Use and Zoning Committee, Councilmember O’Brien and I co-sponsored an amendment that would:

  • Clarify that the director of Financial and Administrative Services (FAS) will review short-term rental license fees annually to ensure full cost recovery related to the implementation of short-term rental regulations.
  • Ask FAS to make recommendations on the fee structure for short-term rental platforms, as opposed to operators, including recommendations on both a per-night fee as well as a graduated annual fee with tiers based on the number of listings on a platform or other factors identified by the Department. FAS will produce a written status update to Council by June 1, 2018 for our consideration and any potential next steps.  Any potential fees would not go into place until after January 1, 2019.

All of these amendments passed and were included in the final bill passed by Full Council on December 11, 2017.

Council also passed an amendment sponsored by Councilmembers Sally Bagshaw and Mike O’Brien reducing the area that would be exempt from the proposed limits on dwelling units.  With this amendment the exempt areas is now only Downtown Urban Center, south of Olive Way and north of Cherry Street.

Council will be receiving an implementation status report from Financial and Administrative Services June 1, 2018. The short-term rental regulations become effective on January 1, 2019.


Seattle Ranks #1 for Small Business Growth

In November Paychex IHS Small Business Employment Watch released data announcing the Seattle metro area as number one in the county for small business growth. The Metropolitan Jobs Index indicated that small business growth in Seattle is up 1.29%.  While small business growth in Seattle ranks first in the nation, Seattle ranks 14th in hourly earning growth (up 2.49%) and 6th in weekly earning growth (up 3.65%).

metro performance

According to Paychex HIS “ Small businesses represent nearly 95 percent of all U.S. employers.”  Seattle’s Office for Economic Development (OED) works to maximize Seattle’s potential as a thriving hub for businesses and for economic growth for everyone in the city.  OED provides services to businesses through advocacy, retention, and expansion assistance and workforce development.  The Office of Economic Development supports Seattle area small businesses through its Only in Seattle Initiative, as well as small business consulting.

Only in Seattle is based on this set of core building blocks including business organization, business development, marketing and events, placemaking, safety and cleanliness.  The Initiative provides grant funding and staff support to foster inclusive neighborhood business districts that allow small businesses to thrive.  You can learn more about the Seattle Office of Economic Development and the Only in Seattle Initative here.


South Park Community Center Study and Draft Concept Design

As many of you in South Park already know, the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) has been conducting outreach to the community regarding the update to the playfield at the South Park Community Center. DPR has $700,000 dedicated for this update, including another $100,000 to move play features away from the highway, which was a recommendation of the King County Health Impact Assessment to limit noise and air pollution exposure from SR 99.

south park community center

DPR is conducting another survey and asking for your participation, you can fill out the survey here. They have released their latest option based on community feedback from previous outreach. You can share your thoughts at the survey link, or if you have questions you can reach out to Karimah Edwards.

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City-Sound Transit Partnership Agreement; Passage of KeyArena MOU; Rapid Ride H Survey; Duwamish Valley Action Team; Office Hours

December 8th, 2017


City-Sound Transit Partnership Agreement

On Monday the City Council will vote on legislation to enter into an agreement between the City of Seattle and Sound Transit. This agreement will formalize City-Sound Transit cooperation to implement the West Seattle and Ballard light rail projects, approved by voters in the November, 2015 ST3 ballot measure.

The agreement notes that the scope for ST3 is equal to the first two Sound Transit ballot measures (1996 and 2008) combined. To meet this challenge, the agreement notes Sound Transit is embracing new ways of working internally, and with project partners like the City of Seattle.

The goal of the agreement is for the City and Sound Transit to work together seamlessly, with clarity to budget and schedule, and with specific points for City concurrence. A number of provisions are designed to help move the timeline forward as much as possible.

The agreement calls for the development of a preferred alternative for a light rail alignment, with city concurrence, during the 1st or 2nd quarter of 2019. It is important to note that this involves setting a preferred alternative earlier in the process than during ST2. Construction is set to begin in 2025, with service to West Seattle beginning in 2030.

The starting point for consideration is the representative alignment included in the ST3 plan approved by voters. Here’s the link for West Seattle to Downtown Light Rail. It lists stations at Delridge, Avalon, and Alaska Junction, and notes, “this representative light rail project would connect West Seattle to downtown Seattle via Alaska Street, Fauntleroy Way, Genesee Street, Delridge Avenue, Spokane Street, and the SODO Busway.”

As a Sound Transit project, the Sound Transit Board approves the alignment for light rail.  The agreement includes an “Elected Leadership Group” to make recommendations regarding the alignment and other issues to the Sound Transit Board. The Elected Leadership Group will consist of Sound Transit Board members and other local elected officials in the corridor.  As District 1 representative for West Seattle, I’ll be serving on this board.

Regarding potential alternatives, the “Parties acknowledge that suggestions to study additional alternatives are likely to emerge during the alternatives development process. The Parties will collaborate on the evaluation of reasonable alternatives that could meet project objectives and fulfill the purpose and intent of the voter-approved ST3 Plan. The target is to identify options to be investigated as soon as possible during alternatives development to support the goal of early and durable consensus on a preferred alternative.”

The agreement also sets a goal of seeking ways to streamline permitting.  These could involve code changes, or discretionary department decisions. (for more, see Exhibit G, a letter from Sound Transit from April 25, 2016). Exhibit D notes the goal for a preliminary permitting plan is the 1st quarter of 2018.

The agreement further notes the City and Sound Transit will seek to resolve any potential conflicts between City, such as the Fauntleroy Way Project, and Sound Transit planned projects: “The Parties will share information on existing conditions and planned projects within the Project area with the intent to identify opportunities for coordination and resolve conflicts as early as possible during Project development, and to reduce risks to Project development and delivery.”

The legislation was approved in the Sustainability and Transportation Committee earlier this week; here’s a link to the presentation.

 


Council Passage of KeyArena Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)

HOW DID WE GET HERE?

Back in October 2012 the City called for a study of the KeyArena, this was contained in the ordinance that authorized then-Mayor Mike McGinn to enter into a MOU with King County and ArenaCo. (Chris Hansen). In part that MOU stated:

 “During the 12 months following approval of the MOU, the City will lead a planning process to evaluate options for the future of Key Arena or the Key Arena site… The goal of this process will be to identify an option(s) that is financially sustainable and that significantly contributes to the vitality of Seattle Center. As part of this process, the City will consider the interests of Key Arena’s current tenants and their role in ensuring the future success of Key Arena and the Key Arena site and the new Arena…”

In September 2014, the Council added two additional requirements for issues to study in the report authorized by the MOU. The report needed to include study of a possible scenario in which the SODO arena was not built. Under a scenario where the SODO arena was not built, the report needed to include costs and benefits first of maintaining KeyArena as it currently is; and second, cost and benefits of redeveloping KeyArena so that it could host an NHL or NBA team. This work product became known as the AECOM report.

On June 19, 2015, the AECOM report was issued. It concluded that the KeyArena could attract and host a sports franchise, but it would need to be modernized in order to do so. This report was never heard by the Council in committee and very few people new about its existence. In 2016 several parties approached the City and indicated an interest in redeveloping KeyArena. But remember, between 2012-2016, the City was focused on a potential SODO arena.

In 2016, the Council took up the Occidental Avenue street vacation. On May 4, I wrote about it on my blog. All street vacations require a public benefit commensurate to the value of the street vacated and to mitigate impacts resulting from the use of a vacated street.  I believed that the public benefit that the street vacation required needed to include an NBA team because of potential impacts from the project on the good industrial and maritime jobs, the traffic, and economic impacts of the SODO arena project made possible by vacationing Occidental Avenue. As I said then: “The hope of a team is not a public benefit. In short, I think it was only possible to meet the necessary public benefit threshold if we’d considered the legislation after attaining an NBA team.” The MOU with ArenaCo. ended on December 3, 2017, with no potential NBA team in sight.

HOW DID WE END UP WITH THE OAK VIEW GROUP AS A PARTNER?

In early January 2017, the Executive released a Request for Proposal (RFP) for “redeveloping and operating KeyArena at Seattle Center as a world-class civic arena presenting music, entertainment, and sports events, including the potential for NBA and NHL events.”

The result was two separate applications. However, ArenaCo. (Chris Hansen) was not one of the responders. In early September ArenaCo. released a proposal to redevelop the KeyArena; however, that proposal was not submitted within the City’s RFP process. Had it been, and if it met the requirements of the RFP, it might have been considered.

The Executive selected the Oak View Group (OVG) as the successful bidder to the RFP.

WHAT IS IN THE KeyArena MOU?

The MOU contains six main sections: Arena Overview, Financial Terms, Risk Mitigation and Maintenance, Transportation, Seattle Center Integration, and Community Benefits.

The Council worked in collaboration with the Executive and OVG to negotiate the MOU.  At the start of the negotiations, in June of 2017, the Council sent a letter that outlined its priorities for an MOU.  Because of my committee obligations, I also sent my own letter focusing on labor and arts issues.  The subtext of these letters was, paraphrasing: “Mayor & OVG: The Council has to vote on the MOU and we expect a final MOU to address these issues.”

IS THE CITY PAYING ANYTHING TO REBUILD THE KeyArena?

No, the total cost of the redevelopment will be borne by OVG.  There is no public money in the redevelopment, nor is there public debt financing.  The price tag of $600 million will be funded by a combination of debt OVG will assume ($187 million), private equity ($353 million), and historic tax credits ($60 million). If they are unable to secure the historical tax credit, OVG is obligated to absorb the additional $60 million as additional debt.  Our independent financial consultant has confirmed that OVG has the ability to do so, should this condition arise.

OVG will also pay the City $3.5 million in order to reimburse the City for the costs to negotiate the MOU.

WHAT WILL THE CITY GET IN REVENUE IF OVG NOW GETS TO OPERATE THE KeyArena?

The City will always get more than we are making now from revenue generated from KeyArena.  Specifically, the City will always receive at least a guaranteed baseline rent from OVG equal to the City’s recent historical revenues from operations at KeyArena plus and will be maintained at $304 million over the terms of the lease.  This includes incremental tax revenue share *above what we currently receive* on Sales Tax, City B&O Tax, Leasehold Excise Tax, City Parking Tax, Parking Revenues, and Campus Sponsorships.  The portion of increment above what we get today that the city will receive is 25% of the additional increment for the first 10 years, and 50% of the additional increment for the 29 years following the first 10 years.

The lease is 41 years, two years of construction and a 39-years of operation. Below you can see a chart that shows the different revenue possibilities based on tenants after the arena reopens: no tenant, NHL only, and NHL and NBA. With the City making a base rent of $304 million as well as incremental revenue mentioned above. This chart best illustrates the incentive that OVG has to bring back not only the NHL, but the NBA.  It also demonstrates how we will get no less revenue than we do today from the operation of the facility even if neither an NHL or NBA team is secured.

OVG will have a 39-year lease with two possible extensions of eight years each. Before OVG is eligible to receive the extensions, OVG will need to invest in the facility.  To receive the first eight year extension, OVG will have to invest at least $50 million on renovations between years 21 and 30 of the lease.  To receive a 2nd eight year lease extension, OVG must invest another $50 million on renovations between years 31 and 47 of the lease. OVG will have the option of investing $250 million or more beginning in year 21 to trigger both eight year extensions.

WHAT ARE OTHER OVG FINANCIAL OBLIGATIONS?

For the facility?

  • OVG must spend $1 million or more per year in the first ten years on capital expenditures.
  • OVG must spend at least $2 million a year from years 11-39 on capital expenditures.
  • OVG must incur the costs to preserve the historic roofline.
  • OVG must incur the costs to meet LEED Gold rating or equivalent standards in construction.

For Transportation Needs?

  • OVG will provide $40 million in transportation funding to the City.
  • OVG will pay up to $250,000 for a mobility and transportation study.

For other Citywide Needs?

  • OVG will provide $20 million in charitable contributions (a mix of cash and in-kind donations), $10 million of which will be dedicated to YouthCare.
  • OVG and the city commit to develop a Community Benefits Agreement to foster equity and social justice and provide supporting programs and services for youth, arts, sports, music, and culture.
  • OVG will provide 14 rent-free days at the arena reserved for community events.
  • OVG has committed funding for art commensurate to the obligations for city funded projects under our “1% for the Arts” program. For a $600 million project, that’s $6 million for art.
  • OVG will make a Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) payment for the increase in arena square footage to the KeyArena.

What about the current tenants at Seattle Center?

  • OVG will provide $1.5 million to relocate the Seattle Center Skate Park.
  • OVG will pay for temporary relocation costs of Pottery Northwest during construction.
  • OVG will also provide $500,000 for all other displaced tenants.

How will OVG support our work force?

  • OVG has agreed to include a Community Workforce Agreement which includes priority hire terms with all contractors and subcontractors. This means that they will be required to have a percentage of project hours performed by workers living in economically distressed areas; as well as have apprentice utilization requirements and women and people of color aspirational goals.
  • OVG has committed to a Labor Harmony Agreement which ensures they will bargain in good faith with their workforce.
  • OVG has committed to create an inclusion plan using the City’s Women and Minority Owned Businesses (WMBEs) for construction projects.
  • OVG will offer employment to current KeyArena workers with commensurate salary and benefits to what they make working for the City.

While I am mostly satisfied with the framework that the MOU creates, we have yet to complete the full transaction. The Council will continue to meet on this issue in 2018 and consider more detailed transaction documents. I will continue to be vigilant in protecting the City, its assets, and residents. Examples like this stadium in Georgia that was touted as being privately funded encourage what I feel is a healthy skepticism of arenas.  I will continue to insist that Seattle does not shoulder the cost of private enterprise or, as it’s said in the article: “socialize the costs [of building a stadium], [and] privatize the profits.”

 


Delridge Rapid Ride H Line/Bus 120 Online Survey

King County Metro is planning to convert bus route 120 into a Rapid Ride H Line in 2020.  A new Rapid Ride H Line will continue the current service from Downtown Seattle through Delridge, White Center, and Burien. The goals of Rapid Ride are:

  • Greater frequency and reliability for each commutes downtown and cross-town as well as travel within the neighborhood,
  • Additional service on nights and weekends
  • Improvements for sidewalks, street crossings, and paths for getting to stops for pedestrians and bikes, and for those with limited mobility.

As part of their outreach process, they are conducting a public survey to allow you to identify and prioritize transportation needs and opportunities around Route 120 and the future H Line. You can take the survey here.

SDOT is collaborating on capital improvements, and will bring an update to City Council once they complete 10% project design.

Metro KC will be scheduling outreach meetings in early 2019; I’ll let you know when dates are available.  I’m working with the Delridge Neighborhood District Council, Metro KC, and Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) on a community-led meeting for Metro-KC and SDOT to hear community suggestions and concerns about the proposed changes.

More information is available at Metro’s H Ride webpage.

 


Duwamish Valley Action Team Open House December 9

The City’s Duwamish Valley Action Team will hold a multilingual open house on Saturday, December 9 at Concord Elementary School, at 723 South Concord Street, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.:

WHAT: Multilingual Open House & Holiday Celebration; lunch, childcare, and simultaneous interpretation in Spanish, Vietnamese, and Somali will be provided

WHEN: Saturday, December 9th, 2017.

WHERE: Concord International Elementary School, 10 a.m. (open house from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.; lunch from 12 – 1 p.m.

The City’s Duwamish Valley Action Team (DAT) was created to advance the City’s environmental justice and equitable development goals in the Duwamish Valley, with an emphasis in the South Park and Georgetown neighborhoods.

The DAT has been reviewing and acting upon input received from more than 390 Duwamish Valley residents and small business owners earlier this year.

City staff from multiple departments will share details on how they plan to address many community-identified priorities, in seven topic areas:  1) Public safety; 2) Healthy environment; 3) Parks and open spaces; 4) Community capacity; 5) Mobility and transportation; 6) Economic opportunity and jobs; and 7) Affordable housing. City staff will rotate by language group (English, Spanish, Vietnamese, and Somali) until they cover each topic.

Here is some background on the effort from the project website:

For years, the communities in the Duwamish Valley have experienced documented inequities. To start addressing these inequities, Seattle City Council passed Resolution 31567, directing the creation of a City Interdepartmental Team to align and coordinate City programs and capital investments to address these issues. In April 2016, the City released the Equity & Environment Agenda and announced the creation of the Duwamish Valley Program as an immediate action to advance the environmental justice goals of the agenda. Since June 2016, OSE and OPCD have worked with sixteen other City departments (Duwamish Valley Action Team or DAT) to better align and coordinate efforts to advance environmental justice, address racial and neighborhood-level disparities, reduce health inequities, build community capacity, create stronger economic pathways and opportunity, and build trust in government.

For more information contact:  Alberto Rodriguez alberto.rodriguez@seattle.gov (206) 615-1739 or

David Goldberg davidw.goldberg@seattle.gov (206) 615-1447

 


In-District Office Hours

On Friday, December 15, I will be at the South Park Community Center (8319 8th Ave S) from 2:00p.m. – 7:00p.m. Please be sure to arrive no later than 6:30 pm, as the final meeting of the day will begin at 6:30 p.m.

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).

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Campbell Building Historic Landmark Legislation; Progressive Revenue Taskforce on Housing and Homelessness; Washington Climate Action Letter

December 1st, 2017


Campbell Building Historic Landmark Legislation

On Tuesday, November 28 the Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development and Arts Committee passed legislation to complete the landmarks designation process for the Campbell Building. The Full Council will vote on Monday, December 4th.

The Campbell Building was built in 1911, and is an iconic location in the Alaska Junction, at the corner of Alaska and California (Cupcake Royale is located there).

The Landmarks Preservation Board earlier approved designation as a historic landmark in April,  and found that it met four of the six standards for designation in the Seattle Municipal Code section 25.12.350:

  • It is associated in a significant way with the life of a person important in the history of the City, state, or nation; or
  • It is associated in a significant way with a significant aspect of the cultural, political, or economic heritage of the community, City, state or nation; or
  • It embodies the distinctive visible characteristics of an architectural style, or period, or of a method of construction; or
  • Because of its prominence of spatial location, contrasts of siting, age, or scale, it is an easily identifiable visual feature of its neighborhood or the City and contributes to the distinctive quality or identity of such neighborhood or the City.

Only one standard is necessary to be met for landmark status. The Council’s action imposes controls on the exterior of the building, the final step in the Landmarks process.

I requested that this legislation be heard in the committee I chair to ensure the Full Council could vote on it before the end of the year. The property owners have invested in the property at a level that allows for tax credits, provided the Council acts before the end of the year. So I wanted to bring it forward, even though landmarks usually go to another committee, to make sure it didn’t fall through the cracks before the final Full Council meeting of the year on December 11.

The origins of the nomination were unique, and came as a result of community efforts. The Southwest Seattle Historical Study Group, a collaborative effort by the SW Seattle Historical Society, SW District Council, West Seattle Junction Association, the Junction Neighborhood Association (JuNO), and ArtsWest, resulted in a report, “What Makes the West Seattle Junction Special”, which included a property-by-property analysis, and recommendations for landmark status. Thank you to the West Seattle Junction Historical Survey Team: Clay Eals, Chas Redmond, and Deb Barker and Susan Melrose for all their work, and to Jack Calvo of the building ownership group for participating in the committee discussion, which you can view here on the Seattle Channel archive.

In February, before the Board’s action, I wrote letter to the Board in support of landmark status for the Campbell Building, and for the Crescent-Hamm building across the street, the home of Easy Street; legislation for that building is expected soon.

Here’s a link to the power point presentation shown in committee; the Landmarks Preservation Board report has interesting historical background.

Campbell Building


Progressive Revenue Taskforce on Housing and Homelessness

On Monday, November 20, 2017, the City Council passed a resolution to create a Progressive Revenue Taskforce on Housing and Homelessness that will explore potential new progressive revenue sources, including an Employee Hours Tax (EHT) and identify investments to be paid for using those progressive revenue sources to assist people who are homeless or at high risk of becoming homeless in obtaining and retaining stable housing.

The taskforce will provide recommendations by February 26, 2018 on one or more dedicated progressive revenue sources and a proposal for investments.

Individuals with subject matter expertise on housing, health care, and homelessness; service providers; civic leaders; labor representatives; individuals who have experienced or are currently experiencing homelessness; business organizations; economic equity experts; community organizations; community coalitions; community leaders; and small and large business owners are encouraged to apply.

The deadline for submissions is Monday, December 4, 2017, and the taskforce membership will be finalized by December 11, 2017.

You can apply at the Boards & Commissions application website; please include your resume, and a one paragraph description of your interest, and any applicable subject matter expertise. In the “Which Boards would you like to apply for” field, select “Progressive Revenue Task Force on Housing and Homelessness.” You can also apply through the Progressive Revenue Taskforce on Housing and Homelessness site.


Washington Climate Action Letter

The Washington Environmental Council has posted a letter I co-signed to Governor Inslee in support of actions to reduce carbon pollution and promote a sustainable, broadly shared prosperity. 136 local elected officials in Washington State signed the letter, which was drafted in the wake of President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord.

The letter states commitment to the carbon pollution limits set by the Paris Accord:

We stand in solidarity with you and remain committed to the important carbon pollution limits set by the Paris Accord. We also stand with you to take bold state action that helps keep our communities safe and better positioned for economic prosperity in the emerging clean energy economy.

It further notes support for “the following principles to guide local and state action to fill the void left by the federal Administration. These principles will ensure we effectively reduce carbon emissions while supporting disproportionately impacted communities and businesses.

We support reducing carbon pollution and promoting just and sustainable, broadly shared prosperity by:

  • Supporting the development of homegrown clean energy businesses that create good jobs in rural and urban communities;
  • Prioritizing the protection of communities disproportionately harmed by carbon pollution and supporting fossil fuel workers and their communities in the transition to clean energy
  • Transitioning from coal power to clean energy sources;
  • Providing consumers with affordable, cleaner, and more efficient fuel and energy choices; and
  • Holding polluters responsible for the true price we all pay for carbon pollution in our economy.”

Earlier this year, shortly after the President announced withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, the Council passed a resolution affirming the City Of Seattle’s commitment to meet or exceed goals established in the Paris Agreement.

Earlier this month, the America’s Pledge project, led by former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg and California Governor Jerry Brown released a report on actions taken by state and local governments, tribal nations, businesses and institutions to reduce greenhouse gases in a manner consistent with the US climate targets set in Paris.


How Seattle is Harmonizing with Initiative 1433

In November of 2016, Washington State voters passed Initiative 1433, providing for an increased minimum wage and paid sick leave for all employees. Seattle had already passed a minimum wage law and its own Paid Sick and Safe Time legislation, consequently, the City must now adjust its laws in areas were the State is more generous.

Specifically, the City will update several sections in the Paid Sick and Safe Time ordinance, including a redefinition of family to include a child of any age, sibling, and grandchild; reducing the waiting period for use of the leave from 180 calendar days to 90 calendar days; and moving the reinstatement of sick and safe time to 12 months from 7 months if there is a break in employment for the same employer. These are the major changes.  You can see a full list here.

Additionally, the City of Seattle as an employer needed to make a few adjustments too. A couple examples of the changes includes removing work-study as an exemption from collecting sick and safe time, and adding a grandchild to the definition of family. You can view a comparison chart here.

The City is required to make these changes prior to the beginning of the 2018. The Office of Labor Standards is working to inform employers in the city through updated workplace posters, webinars, and other outreach.


In-District Office Hours

On December 15, I will be at the South Park Community Center (8319 8th Ave S) from 2:00p.m. – 7:00p.m. Please be sure to arrive no later than 6:30 pm, the final meeting of the day will begin at 6:30 p.m.

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).

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My Thanks; This Week in the Budget/Final Wrap-up; Employee Hours Tax Resolution; Response to ICE in South Park; Seattle Observes National Transgender Day of Remembrance

November 22nd, 2017


My Thanks

There is much to be thankful for as I write this on Thanksgiving Day eve.  There are individual people to be thankful for their contribution to making Seattle a better city.  There are groups that I am thankful for as well who, in raising their voices together and with my occasional helping hand, have insured City government is making decisions in the public interest.  Finally, there are legislative victories that I couldn’t have accomplished without others, for which to be thankful.  On the last, I’ll wait until my year end 2017 wrap up post, but indulge me in reflecting on my thanks for particular inspirational individuals and groups.  Anyone reading this, if you are working for your community I’m thankful for you, I’m just doing a shout out to a few people and groups on my mind today as I write this (don’t feel bad if you were left out).

Maybe you’ve heard of Tarra Simmons?  Last week, even though a Washington State Bar Association panel voted 6 to 3 against letting Simmons take her bar exam because of her criminal record, the Washington state Supreme Court ruled unanimously that she “has the requisite moral character and fitness to practice law” and “shall be allowed to sit for the Washington bar examination.”   I’ve been following her story for months and it’s an inspiration.

I’m thankful for Jim Guenther and Sandy Adams, a West Seattle couple many of you know honored by Southwest Youth and Family Services (SYFS) with the Weeks Award for their support of SYFS academic and enrichment programs and for donating funds for vans, technology, and scholarships.

I’m thankful for the civic commitment of folks like Cindy Barker, who was recognized this year by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), receiving one of 11 Community Preparedness Award in the nation because she has promoted Emergency Communication hubs and is the brainchild of the “Hub-in-a-Box” program (which the Council funded in this year’s budget).

I’m thankful for neighbors engaged in South Park who have worked successfully to get funding to implement their recommendations for public safety and to stand up to ICE and protect their neighbors (more below).

I’m thankful for the 1,110 people who participated in the Alki Public Safety Study to send a message to SPD about their priorities for law enforcement to do more to enforce the laws against bad driving behaviors (more below).   Survey results online here.

I’m thankful for my own neighbors in Highland Park who have secured City funds in the 2018 budget to construct the arterial roundabout they’ve been working on for years.   I’m thankful for the South Delridge and Westwood, Roxhill, and Arbor Heights Community Association and the Alki and Admiral neighbors for convincing the Seattle Department of Transportation to reverse course on two separate decisions, one regarding the much-needed plans to pave the walkway on 25th Ave SW between Trenton and Cloverdale & the other to remove a recently installed all way the stop and re-activate the pedestrian crosswalk signal at 59th and Admiral.

A lot for which to give thanks.

 


This Week in the Budget/Final Wrap-up

On Monday, November 20 the City Council adopted the 2018 City budget.

Over the course of the last seven weeks my fellow members of the Budget Committee and I have scrutinized and debated Seattle’s fiscal priorities. The Council’s vote to approve City spending reflects our collective attempt to balance the budget amidst a multitude of competing priorities. As Chair of the Council’s Budget Committee, I was responsible for assembling a final balancing package that addressed the values of our constituents, especially those with the most urgent needs.  Together, my Council colleagues and I managed to pass several important amendments to the city budget that will meaningfully impact the lives of everyday people in Seattle, all while maintaining current service levels.

Below are a few highlights of the 2018 budget actions adopted by the Council. A complete list of amendments to the budget made by the Council is available here. Additional highlights are included in the  press release.

District 1

  • Funding for public safety coordinator and pedestrian/lighting improvements identified by the South Park Public Safety Task Force
  • Statement of Legislative Intent report from SPD by March 16 about solutions to vehicle noise enforcement and cruising in Alki (which could also affect Fauntleroy and Belltown)
  • Expand the Ready to Work project into District 1.  There are unique challenges facing immigrants and refugees living in SW Seattle. The Ready to Work model is designed to support Seattle residents who are English learners and hinges on the intensive centralized and neighborhood based support available to these English learners.  The special features of this project include level 1-3 ESL classes, 12 hours a week of classes focused on supporting English learns to succeed in a professional environment, intensive case management and curriculum focused on digital and financial literacy.  The Ready to Work expansion is currently in its planning phase and is slated to open in April of 2018.
  • Funding to plan and design walkable, bikeable path uniting the Georgetown and South Park neighborhoods to enhance walkability between Georgetown and South Park’s historic “Main Streets” and connect the heart of the Duwamish Valley
  • Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD): expansion of LEAD to North Precinct, and to begin taking referrals from the SW and South Precincts, and a Statement of Legislative Intent to expand LEAD citywide in 2019
  • Addition of $1 million for participatory budgeting (done through the Neighborhood Parks and Streets Fund), which, in 2017, funded projects in, Delridge, Westwood/Highland Park, High Point and South Park
  • Vacant Building Monitoring Program: While working on legislation earlier this year to modify maintenance and demolition standards related to vacant buildings I worked to add an amendment that would require the department to present the Council with legislation by March 31, 2018. Requiring property owners to register vacant and foreclosed properties allows the City to register properties to ensure they are maintained and secure, and are not a nuisances to the public. The City has experienced a significant increase of complaints about vacant building, between 2013 and 2016 we saw an increase of 58%. Of those, District 1 has the second highest amount of complaints at 189 between 2013 and 2016.

Human Service and Homelessness

Public Safety

  • Hiring more police officers: the budget adds 35 additional police officers’ positions, to stay on track to hire 200 additional officers by early 2020
  • Funding to implement police accountability legislation earlier this year added two and a half positions and contracting funding for the Community Police Commission, and two positions for the Office of Police Accountability
  • Increased funding to support survivors of sexual assault
  • Adopted legislation to prohibit SPD participation in any federal program that transfers excess military equipment to civilian law enforcement agencies

Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development and Arts Committee

  • Civil Rights
    • Funding for a comprehensive community-based youth diversion program for youth 18 and under and developed by a consortium of dozens of community organizations as well as funding for the Zero Youth Detention project.
    • An Ordinance requiring the Seattle Women’s Commission, the Seattle Human Rights Commission, the LGBTQ Commission and the People with Disabilities Commission to advise on the Seattle Office of Civil Rights director appointment; adds a “firing for cause” protection to future SOCR director appointments and outlies a four year term limit for future directors .
    • Earlier at the Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development and Art Committee, I and the People with Disabilities Commission proposed closed-captioning for all public meetings covered by the Seattle Channel.  Closed captioning is an essential public accommodation and the expansion of closed captioning on the Seattle Channel is important to ensuring access to every aspect of the City of Seattle’s public process.  Accessibility is a core value of the city and as such it is important that we ensure that everyone who wants to engage in the public process is able.  The 2018 budget includes $160,000 to provide closed captioning services for live City Council and Committee videos.
  • Seattle Public Utilities
    • Enacted rate smoothing to prevent spikes that can have a detrimental effect on customers.
    • Instituted 100% cost recovery for developers to pay for new water taps and system development charges so existing customers aren’t subsidizing new development.
    • Increased funding for unauthorized homeless encampment garbage pilot cleanup.
    • Study the SPU employee to manager ratio to provide quarterly written reports next year to address recommendations from a 2009 State Auditor report that employee to manager ratio was 7.7, whereas the national standard for organizations of similar size was 10 to 15 employees per manager.
  • Economic Development
    • Funding to develop and implement of a new Legacy Business Designation Program and support for business entrepreneurs who are women and people of color.
    • Funding for the Office of Film and Music to support the film and media production sector, a core function of the office that hasn’t received adequate funding.
  • Arts
    • Funding to implement the Cultural Arts Spaces (CAP) report: reserving funding to incentivize cultural uses in older buildings; a liaison between Arts and SDCI; and a report on creation of a cultural spaces public development authority.

Fiscal responsibility

  • Judgment and Claims fund– Seeking recommendations for managing the fund, which was over budget
  • Income tax–requiring a report by the City Budget Office on use of potential revenues, including consideration of reduction or elimination of property tax levies
  • Performance pay for City Light CEO: removal of performance pay for this position, which is the only department head position in the city to receive an incentive pay program
  • Cut a $3 million proposal to automate and centralize bridge openings for a single bridge
  • Funding to study the feasibility of a public bank to allow City in future to save month on cost associated with relying on big banks to finance bonds for City infrastructure

I’d like to thank everyone who contacted me and Councilmembers for all your work to help identify these priorities. Together, you’ve helped us develop a better city budget.

 


Employee Hours Tax Resolution

Often, we talk about economic prosperity not lifting all boats, but the proposition we are faced with — and the reason the Employee Head Tax was proposed — is because economic prosperity has not only failed to help everybody, but this economic prosperity has hurt some people, as noted in the Mayor’s proposed budget. I believe that the beneficiaries of that economic prosperity must do more to address the impacts of prosperity that has not been shared by all.

In seeking a budget that had, at its core, a principle of fiscal responsibility and sustainability, I proposed a progressive, ongoing revenue source to support a surge in affordable housing production – to more than double the units built with Housing Levy funds – to meet the great need of people living without homes. Instead of passing that ongoing revenue source, the Council passed Resolution 31782.  This resolution requires the Council to assemble a task force to be appointed by December 11. This task force will develop recommendations for a dedicated progressive revenue source to support people experiencing or at high-risk for homelessness and to raise no less than $25 million a year. This task force will deliver recommendations by February 26, 2018, and the Council will take legislative action by March 26. 2018. This is a huge win for those who have been waiting for something big and bold to address the city’s civil emergency on homelessness.

 


Response to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in South Park

Last week regarding I.C.E. agents attempted to access a building in South Park without a judicial warrant. Here’s a link to a statement Councilmember González and I sent out in response.

The owner of this building rightly turned to a trusted advocate in the neighborhood for assistance about responding first.  As luck would have it, this advocate was meeting with a City of Seattle employee, and Seattle as a “welcoming city” took swift action.

The three individuals – with knowledge from a Know Your Rights training – checked for key things that make a warrant legal and actionable. The administrative warrant held by the I.C.E. agents did not meet the legal threshold that would allow them to legally enter the building.

Unequivocally verifying that an enforcement action is taking place before posting it on social media, is crucial to preventing the unnecessary spreading of fear or panic within our immigrant neighbors and communities.

If you believe you are seeing an enforcement action taking place, report it to the Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network hotline at 1-844-RAID-REP (1-844-724-3737). Resources, in multiple languages, to Know Your Rights can be found at: OneAmerica, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, or with civil rights organizations like the ACLU.

 


Seattle Observes National Transgender Day of Remembrance

Monday November 20th was the 18th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance.  Transgender day of Remembrance was founded in 1999 by a handful of community leaders, amount them Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a transgender woman, to memorialize and mourn the murder of transgender woman Rita Hester.  Since its inception, Transgender Day of Remembrance has evolved as a way to bring attention to the appalling rates of murder and violence death experience by transgender people, especially transgender women of color.   Here is the list of the 25 transgender people killed this year:

  • Candace Towns, 30
  • Stephanie Montez, 47
  • Ally Lee Steinfeld, 17
  • Derricka Banner, 26
  • Kashmire Redd, 28
  • Kiwi Herring, 30
  • Gwynevere River Song, 26
  • TeeTee Dangerfield, 32
  • Ebony Morgan, 28
  • Ava Le’Ray Barrin, 17
  • Josie Berrios (also known as Kendra Adams and Kimbella Rosé), 28
  • Kenne McFadden, 27
  • Sherrell Faulkner, 46
  • Brenda Bostick, 59
  • Chay Reed, 28
  • Alphonza Watson, 38
  • Jaquarrius Holland, 18
  • Ciara McElveen, 21
  • Chyna Gibson, 31
  • Keke Collier, 24
  • JoJo Striker, 23
  • Mesha Caldwell, 41
  • Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow, 28
  • Scout Schultz, 21
  • Sean Hake, 23

As we mourn their deaths, please take a moment and read more about the lives of these individuals.  As we seek justice for their deaths we also celebrate their accomplishments in life.   Many thanks to the LGBTQ Commission for their leadership on this issue and for recognizing Transgender Day of Remembrance.

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This Week in Budget; Lincoln Park Play Area Renovations; Reversal of Decision from SDOT on Sealth/Denny Trail

November 17th, 2017


This Week in Budget

I’ve been writing each week to bring you news of the City Council’s budget deliberations. This week, the Budget Committee met to consider and vote on a “revised” balancing package based upon the potential amendments Councilmembers proposed on Tuesday, November 7 to my “initial” October 31 proposed balancing package.

These balancing packages were the subject of much debate in recent weeks and for good reason. They included a complicated and highly politicized discussion on an Employee Hours Tax, or EHT, with the expressed intent to address the factors contributing to homelessness, which has for the third consecutive year been at the heart of Council’s budget discussions.

To adequately address the factors contributing to homelessness in our City we need ongoing, and dedicated resources – not unsustainable cuts to other services, one time revenue, or other gimmicks.  This tax proposal I proposed this week replaced the version proposed by Councilmember O’Brien.  Mine was crafted at a rate of 6.5 cents per hour to apply only to the approximately 1,100 business with gross receipts exceeding $10 million a year.  There are more than 70,000 business licenses in Seattle, and only about 22,000 business locations with gross receipts of over $100,000.  In other words, this tax would have applied to only 1.6% of all businesses with a Seattle business license, or 5% of all the businesses in Seattle with gross receipts of over $100,000.  For those small numbers of businesses, the EHT would have increased employment costs by one quarter of one percent.  In exchange, we would have secured an ongoing, sustainable source of funding to support our efforts to house the people of this city.

Some questioned whether there was a nexus between the proposed tax (economic prosperity of successful businesses) and the proposed use of the tax (homeless services).  As I’ve pointed to before, Mayor Burgess’ proposed budget recognizes the nexus and calls out that Seattle’s economic growth has actually contributed to homelessness. Page two of the 2018 Proposed Budget Executive Summary document reads:

“Despite the economic prosperity driving growth in the City’s revenues, and in part because of it, Seattle is facing a homelessness crisis of unprecedented proportions.”

Often, we talk about economic prosperity not lifting all boats, but the proposition we are faced with — and the reason the EHT was proposed — is because economic prosperity has not only failed to help everybody but this economic prosperity has hurt some people. I believe that the beneficiaries of that economic prosperity must do more to address the impacts of prosperity that has not been shared by all. Today the Seattle Times noted that US Census bureau data indicate inequality is increasing in Seattle—and now on a par with San Francisco.

In discussion among Councilmembers about the EHT, some argued that because it didn’t do enough it shouldn’t be approved now.  As I explained in my blog post last week, the EHT was not first and foremost about the 2018 funding for $13 million in programs serving homeless people, but it was about how – with an on-going revenue stream that we could bond against – we can also begin to invest nearly $50 million more each year and create 2000 additional new units of affordable housing over four years for both low-wage working families and formerly homeless individuals. We need both to truly address homelessness. Last year’s budget supporting the $29 million housing bond allowed the Office of Housing to nearly double available funding this year to build housing for very low income people.  An EHT would allow us to more than double what the Housing Levy funds each year, thus building off of Council’s successful budget vote for a Housing Bond last year (which each the Mayor, Budget Chair, and Budget Director opposed because we didn’t have a fund source to pay it off).

Office of Housing Director Steve Walker said: “The availability of $29 in bonding authority in 2017 provided the Office of Housing with critical resources to put to immediate use to create affordable homes in our community. The bonds allowed the Office of Housing make commitments to two large-scale transit-oriented affordable housing developments at the Roosevelt light rail station and Northgate transit center. At the same time, it freed up funds to be committed through OH’s annual competitive award, producing housing for people experiencing homelessness, low wage workers, and seniors throughout the City.  In total, the $29 million in bonding authority supports the creation of 300 affordable apartments that otherwise would not have been created.”

Some folks expressed concern that there hadn’t been time for the business community and other stakeholders to be involved in a discussion about the proposed tax and any possible alternatives.  I listened to those concerns and incorporated a Statement of Legislative intent calling for the Council and the Executive to work together to create an opportunity for exactly that kind of engagement. The EHT ordinance wouldn’t be collected until 2019.  If a better alternative was identified was a result of the discussion that follows, then we could change course.  But if no better alternative was found, then it will be of crucial importance that we have already begun to take the steps needed to impose the EHT – and of course to have authorized funding for these much-needed services.

Finally, I’ve heard some suggest that my October 31, initial proposed budget package was a “strategy,” that relied on “taking hostage,” funds for important programs.  I’d like to respond to that idea.  Here are some important dates:

  • October 20: The Council was informed of the revenue options.  Central Staff had identified about $4 million in revenue they’d recommended the Council focus on to fund their priorities.
  • October 23-25: Councilmembers make about $30 million in new budget proposals.
  • October 26: Council receives a 2017 revenue update, learning that that there was an addition $2 million in revenue, bringing to a total of $6 million to fund $30 million in Council priorities.
  • October 31: The Council learned that my initial balancing package included EHT as a revenue source.

The story that I hope these dates demonstrate is twofold.  First, the decision to include EHT as a revenue source was not a strategy, but it was a choice between three undesirable options.

  • Option 1 – fund only the necessary actions to avoid reductions in services for homeless people.
  • Option 2 – using funds that the Council analytical staff recommended against using, fund all $13 million of Councilmember’s top priorities in existing and new services for homelessness prevention, public health services for people who are homeless, and shelter, housing, and employment help for people who are homeless, including youth and domestic violence and sexual assault survivors.
  • Option 3 – develop new revenue with the EHT and fund all $13 million of Councilmember’s top priorities in existing and new services for homelessness prevention, public health programs for people who are homeless, and shelter, housing, and employment help for people who are homeless, including youth and domestic violence and sexual assault survivors.

None of these three alternatives were optimum; I chose the option that did the most to serve the greatest needs, in a way that was fiscally responsible.

Secondly, Councilmembers who planned to not support the EHT had time, when they knew my package included EHT as a revenue source on October 31, to pursue some other revenue options to fund their top priorities.

And, I’m pleased to say, Councilmembers did so.  Though I was disappointed on Tuesday that the Council voted down the legislation down that would have allowed us to provide dedicated, on-going funding for known priority areas including emergency services, permanent supportive, and transitional housing, nevertheless, on Wednesday, I proposed a third balancing package. It funded approximately $10 million of $13 million priority homelessness and housing services and programming, for about 14 of the 17 projects that were in the original EHT spending plan. Also, included in Wednesday’s balancing package were another nearly $8 million of funded priorities in categories ranging from parks, economic development, criminal justice diversion, tenants’ rights, domestic violence/sexual assault, funding for participatory budgeting, library hot spots, transportation.   On Wednesday, we voted on 161 items in all!

Yet, Wednesday’s balancing package included using some revenue that the Council’s analytical staff had recommended against and that I had not included my earlier two proposed balanced budgets.  Some Councilmembers, in proposing to fund their priority adds in my final balancing package relied heavily on making reductions to Mayor’s Office funds.  Other proposals relied on using year end “fund balances” in Department of Parks and Recreation, the Office of Housing, and the Department of Early Education and Learning.  In some cases, this creates problems for departments who have reimbursable expenses and are reliant on grants.  The use of too much fund balance can put those departments in a negative cash position, triggering the need for interfund loans and possibly posing ongoing cash flow challenges.  Other proposals relied on using bond authority (debt) to buy new $1.9 million in new parking pay stations, instead of cash.  Debt without a revenue source to pay the bills creates a future unfunded liability.  Still another Councilmember proposed taking out a larger loan on a future sale of a property that had no definite sale date to fund more homelessness programs.  I opposed that last effort and appreciate that majority of my colleagues agreed that it would be irresponsible to game against a prospective sale.

Despite the EHT narrowly not passing 5-4, I am pleased to have had the discussion about it.  In doing so, a majority of Councilmembers sent a clear signal supporting future passage of the EHT.  The Council will continue to advance the EHT in a resolution that Councilmembers Gonzalez and O’Brien will be bringing forth Monday for a vote.

The final budget actions to implement a balanced budget will occur at our last scheduled Budget Committee Meeting on Monday, November 20, at 10:00 a.m.  On that same day at 2:00 p.m., the Full Council will consider for adoption the Budget Committee’s Recommendations for Final Action.


Lincoln Park Play Area Renovations

Seattle Parks and Recreation is looking for your input on new play equipment and improving the accessibility of the South Play area in Lincoln Park. You can take the online survey here. Additionally, Parks and Recreation is hosting two public meetings about the project and to gather input from the Community.

  • Meeting 1:
    Wednesday, November 29, 2017
    6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
    The Kenney (7125 Fauntleroy Way SW)
  • Meeting 2:
    Wednesday, January 24, 2018
    6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
    The Kenney (7125 Fauntleroy Way SW)

If you have questions about the project or if you need an interpreter or other accommodations please contact Susanne Rockwell by email or phone: 206-684-7133.


Reversal of Decision from SDOT on Sealth/Denny Trail

As many of you know, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) announced in August that they would be abandoning the much-needed plans to pave the walkway on 25th Ave SW between Trenton and Cloverdale.  SDOT argued that a developer might be building on the east side of 25th Ave SW in the future, and, if that happened, the developer would be required to construct similar improvements at their own expense.  SDOT acknowledged that this development might not occur for several years, but still their position was that “the high likelihood of its occurring means that investing public funds at this location would not be prudent.”

I am happy to report that decision has been reversed and SDOT once again plans to pave the walkway and install lighting for safety. The change in course from SDOT is a result of the strong community advocacy of the South Delridge Community Group as well as the Westwood, Roxhill, Arbor Heights Community Coalition.

25th walkway

The removal of the walkway caught myself and community members who had sought funding for the project off guard.  This project is important to hundreds of students at Sealth High and Denny Middle Schools as well daily walkers, people going to and from the Westwood Village, and bus riders from the transportation hubs of 25th and Barton.  The project had been highly rated and funded through the Neighborhood Street Fund.  Several of you submitted questions and asked for the rationale behind the decision. While waiting for an adequate response from SDOT I received the welcome news that they were reversing course and would be pursuing the original plan which received public input back in March.

The walkway on 26th Ave SW will also be improved, as has been the case throughout design.  Seattle Department of transportation will be finalizing the design soon and expect construction to start in mid-2018. You can continue to follow developments on the project website here. Additionally, if you have comments you would like to send you can do so here.

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This Week in the Budget; Help Make a New Gatewood Playfield Possible; South Park Landfill Cleanup, Public Comment; SDOT Winter Weather Response

November 13th, 2017


This Week in the Budget

The Budget Committee met last week to consider potential Council amendments to the “initial” proposed balancing package I released the week before last as Chair of the Council’s Budget Committee.

The Budget Committee is scheduled to meet on November 14 and 15, to consider a “revised” balancing package. Per the Budget Committee process, I’m working with Council Central Staff to develop the revised balancing package. Amendments to the balancing package must be balanced at these meetings, where the first votes will take place, in advance of a scheduled Full Council vote on Monday, November 20.

Last week I noted the HOMES tax proposal, which would provide sustained, ongoing funding for addressing the homelessness emergency and related items, including preserving funding for existing programs like emergency shelter, transitional housing, permanent supportive housing, expanding the successful Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program, new funding permanent housing for youth who are homeless, as well as new 24/7 shelters, new support for survivors of sexual assault and domestic abuse, and new units of permanent supportive housing.

What is most exciting about this proposal is that because it is an ongoing revenue source, the City could bond against this new revenue in the future.  Remember how last year the Council approved a $29 million housing bond?  Last year’s budget supporting the $29 million housing bond allowed the Office of Housing to nearly double funding this year to build housing for very low income people.  If we pass the Employee Hours Tax, we will not only be able to fund the programs listed above, but starting in 2018 we can begin to invest nearly $50 million each year and create 2000 additional units of affordable housing over four years for both low-wage working families and formerly homeless individuals. This would more than double what the Housing Levy funds each year.

An alternative proposal for funding homelessness was put forward by Councilmember Johnson. While I appreciate his commitment to funding for addressing homelessness, I have concerns about several elements of the potential funding mechanisms. First of all, it would be for one year only, rather than a committed long-term solution.

Several potential elements would require legislative changes or exemptions to current city policy or law.

One would entail removing the restriction on the minimum general fund contribution to SDOT that comes from the Move Seattle levy legislation, the $930 transportation levy passed by voters in 2015. This provision was included due to concerns the City might use the levy funds to backfill general fund contributions, rather than add to already existing funding. To address this, the Council established a minimum general fund contribution to SDOT of $40 million (adjusted for inflation in future years), and requiring a 3/4 Council vote to go below that threshold.

I fear this approach could set a bad precedent, and jeopardize our ability to pass future levies. The City Auditor’s report on the City Financial Condition noted that most capital funding for SDOT comes through the Move Seattle Transportation Levy and partnerships with other agencies; examples of levy funding in the 2018-2023 SDOT capital budget include 100% of funding included for Greenways, Urban Trails and Bikeways; nearly all the funding for Bridge Seismic Work, and well over 90% of SDOT’s Arterial Asphalt and Concrete road paving budget.

The City Auditor found the City’s overall financial position to be good, and noted the Revenue Stabilization Account, which has regular, annual contributions, and “provides a cushion for the impact of sudden, unanticipated shortfalls in revenue due to economic downturns that could undermine the City’s ability to maintain services”. I’m very leery of dipping into these funds, though it’s always tempting for elected officials. The account has successfully helped the city to maintain services during economic downturns; it was used to balance the budget in 2002, and in 2008-2009 the City used $25.4 million from the account to prevent cuts in needed services. So the current $50 million balance isn’t as large as it might seem, especially in this era where federal funding is so uncertain.

Another option put forward would modify a City law the Council adopted last year to dedicate 20% of red light camera revenues to school safety traffic and pedestrian improvements. I proposed this last year to place our policies more in line with national best practices to more closely tie revenues from cameras from revenues to related uses.

Another potential provision would require an amendment to the Families and Education levy.

A number of specific identified potential cuts are concerning; the Pedestrian Master Plan Stairway Rehabilitation line item is $1.3 million in the 2018 CIP, so cutting $730,000 would be more than ½ the funding; on the Highland Park Find It Fix It walk with the community, this was an area the community prioritized and highlighted for city officials.  A potential cut to the bicycle master plan investments of $1.2 million would total nearly 10% of the $13.1 million budget; these are important safety projects. Cutting fire hydrant maintenance would potential be cut by $700,000 (however, this would not be legal due to the Okeson Case).  Multi-year space planning in the Seattle Municipal Tower has been laid out with the impacted unions.  Modification of the schedule will further exacerbate union concerns about impacts to staff resulting from the consolidation and lack of teams being collocated.

Another potential cut would also severely impact Seattle IT’s ability to implement the Surveillance Technology Transparency ordinance, which the ACLU called the strongest in nation.

A Full Council vote on the 2018 budget is planned for November 20.


Help Make a New Gatewood Playfield Possible

More than 400 Gatewood Elementary students, and another 100 students from the Cottage School’s preschool use the playfield daily. This doesn’t include the neighborhood kids who use the playfield during non-school hours. However, the field is in poor condition.

The Gatewood Elementary Playfield Project Committee has been awarded a $100,000 matching grant from the Department of Neighborhoods, but they still need to raise an additional $50,000 to complete the project.

The Committee hopes to break ground on the project this winter or early spring so that it can be completed before the school year ends. Once complete, the new playfield will feature an irrigated grass field, running track, natural play areas, shade trees and wheelchair-accessible spaces.

If you’re able to and would like to help you can donate securely online here.

If you have questions or need assistance in donating, please contact the Gatewood Elementary Playfield Project Committee.


South Park Landfill Cleanup, Public Comment

The Department of Ecology invites you to comment on several documents related to the investigation and cleanup of the South Park Landfill site. The former South Park Landfill is a 40-acre area located in the South Park neighborhood along the 8100 & 8200 blocks of 2nd Ave S. The landfill and its associated contamination (including methane) could pose risks to human health and the environment in surrounding areas.

Ecology is leading efforts to control sources of contamination from the land area surrounding the Lower Duwamish Waterway Superfund Site. Contaminates from the site can find their way into the river through storm water runoff and other pathways. Long-term, the goal is to restore water quality to the river.

Here are the documents that Ecology is seeking your input on:

Additionally, there will be a public meeting on November 28th at 6:30pm located at the South Park Neighborhood Center (8201 10th Ave S). Ecology will hold a formal Public Hearing (for transcription of verbal comments), if 10 or more people request it.

For more information click here.


SDOT Winter Weather Response

In preparation for the cold weather months, SDOT has updated its Winter Weather Response webpage. It includes a map showing roads SDOT will prioritize for ice and snow removal; “gold” roads have the highest priority, and “emerald” roads have second-highest priority.

Also included is an interactive map showing which roads have been de-iced in the last hour, three hours, and twelve hours. It also shows the location of traffic cameras for a live view of current conditions.  A brochure is available on the website in multiple languages.

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