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.


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.


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.


This Week in the Budget; Re-entry Lunch and Learn; D1 Events This Saturday; Free Extra Yard Waste Pickup in November

November 3rd, 2017

This Week in the Budget

It’s been a busy week in the City budget. On Wednesday, the Council met as the Budget Committee to hold its second public hearing on the 2018 budget.

On Tuesday, as Chair of the Council’s Budget Committee, I released an initial proposed balancing package for the City budget from among the proposals introduced by Councilmembers. A total of 143 options to amend the Mayor’s proposed 2018 budget were discussed during Budget Committee during last week’s Budget Committee meetings. Proposed additions totaled $30 million, with only roughly $4 million in General Fund available.  For this reason, my proposed balancing package left many important priorities unfunded.

In order to fund more of the Council’s priority investments during this homelessness state of emergency, I have included in my initial proposed balancing package the proposed HOMES tax.  The HOMES tax would use a tax on businesses with gross receipts above $5 million a year.  The City administered a similar tax based upon employee hours worked from 2006 until 2009 to fund transportation investments.  This new revenue source strives to address the most immediate needs of our City, especially for the many people in our City who not only are not benefiting from Seattle’s economic growth, but are experiencing harm as a result of that growth.  Mayor Burgess’ proposed budget recognizes that Seattle’s economic growth has 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.”

This is, for me, the foundation of the HOMES tax — a recognition that while some benefit from growth and prosperity, others not only do not benefit, but they suffer.  With this in mind, I think restoration of the employee hours tax on some segment of businesses is fair.  I’ve not settled on a) the tax eligibility threshold ($5 million, $8 million, and $10 million are all ideas) nor b) the size of tax to ensure a fair and truly progressive tax.

If the HOMES tax is not approved by the Council, here are some of the investments that may not receive funding in 2018:

  1. $3,300,000 for emergency shelter services
  2. $2,750,000 for permanent supportive housing services
  3. $1,000,000 for expansion of the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program
  4. $588,000 for transitional housing for homeless foster youth
  5. $550,000 to support a safe consumptions site
  6. $500,000 for the Homeless Youth Opportunity Center and Housing Project
  7. $400,000 for homeless child care programs
  8. $400,000 for flexible and mobile advocates to assist domestic violence and sexual assault (DVSA) survivors
  9. $400,000 for DVSA survivor advocacy
  10. $200,000 for emergency domestic violence (DV) shelter
  11. Funding for a prescriber at a Public Health facility
  12. Funding for a nurse position to provide services for encampments
  13. Funding for trash removal at homeless encampments.

By law, the budget must be balanced.

Next week Councilmembers can present additional or revised proposals to amend the budget at meetings scheduled for November 7 and 8.  After that, as Chair I will develop a second, “revised” balancing package, for consideration at Budget Committee meetings scheduled for November 14/15, with a Full Council vote scheduled for November 20.

Re-entry Lunch and Learn

Individuals returning from incarceration and living with criminal history face significant barriers to accessing housing, employment, education, healthcare, and reconnecting to their communities. The earlier incarcerated individuals can start planning their reentry back into their community, the more successful they can be in regaining stability.

In 2015, the City Council passed Resolution 31637 to establish a Reentry Workgroup in order to strengthen the City’s efforts to assist reentry, reduce recidivism, and alleviate the negative impact of incarceration on individuals.  The scope of work as defined by the resolution included an inventory of the City’s current work to help individuals with criminal history transition into stable housing and employment Identify where the City’s efforts would be strengthened by more effective coordination with other criminal justice agencies; the development of policies, ordinances, strategies, or programs the City can implement to facilitate reentry and remove unnecessary barriers to employment, housing, and other benefits; and an inventory and assessment of the City’s imposition and collections of fines and fees for criminal violations and infractions

  • Every year about 1500 individuals are released to King County from DOC
  • Every day about 100 individuals are released from jails throughout King County
  • According to the Count US In Report, 50% of the outdoor homeless population in Seattle has criminal justice involvement, which is likely an undercount
  • The population is racially disproportionate: Black individuals only comprise of 7% of the King County population, but account for 36% of the King County Jail population. Native Americans only comprise of 1% of the King County population, but account for 2.5% of the King County Jail population
  • In Washington, 58% of the jail population have mental health treatment needs
  • In Washington, 61% of those in jail have substance use needs
  • Nationally, 40% of individuals of those in jail have a disability
  • Once released from incarceration individuals face significant barriers to reentry. Data shows approximately 30-50% of individuals released from incarceration will recidivate within three years without appropriate supports.

One of the issues raised at the forum was the management of the jail contract.  The City pays King County for the use of their jail, these costs are managed by the City Budget Office.  The workgroup raised concerns that an office whose responsibilities primarily center around fiscal policy, financial planning, and budget-related functions, can give the appearance that the City is prioritizing financial efficiencies over ensuring that individuals that the City incarcerates are given sufficient support. Jails and prisons house vulnerable populations.

Another issue raised was how the City could better assist formerly incarcerated individuals to successfully re-enter society by increasing opportunities to join the workforce, specifically:

  • Explore how City departments can work with the Department of Corrections (DOC) and community-led organizations to support active recruitment of individuals exiting DOC and jails to the City; and
  • Consider how the City can incentivize the private sector to hire formerly incarcerated individuals; and
  • Examine granting contracts to formerly incarcerated individuals through all relevant City Request for Proposal processes.

Still another important issue raised at the forum was the need for “Reentry Navigators,” individuals providing assistance to those both currently incarcerated and preparing for release and individuals already released from incarceration. Navigation is most successful when the navigators share similar backgrounds with the individuals they are supporting and are system-engaged.

Finally, the Native American population in prisons and jails is growing increasingly disproportionate to their presence in the general population. Native Americans are incarcerated at a rate 38% higher than the national average rate of incarceration. In Seattle, Native Americans/Alaska Natives are seven times more likely to experience homelessness, more than any other racial group.  We heard at the Lunch and Learn that in many conversations regarding race and the criminal justice, Native Americans are often left out.  Next steps include development of strategies to ensure that that City investments in reentry programs will be culturally appropriate and effective for the Native American populations; and identification of organizations or government programs that are rooted in the Native American community that are providing or qualified to provide reentry services to the Native American population.

D1 Events This Saturday

Check Out the South Park Resource Fair:

Sixteen City Departments will be in the Community Center Gym to share program information, let folks know about upcoming funding opportunities, and get the word out about city supported utility discount programs.

The Mobile Customer Service Center will be parked out front and there will be trainings offered all day about: Personal Safety, 911, and Tenants Rights.

Come for an hour or stay the whole time!  Be one of the first in the door to receive a free tote bag.

When: 10:00 – 2:00p.m.

Where: South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Ave S

Childcare, light refreshments, and interpretation provided in Spanish and Vietnamese. Here’s a link to a Facebook post in English, Spanish and Vietnamese; additional details are below:

Trainings, Community Center Multi-Purpose Room:

10:30-11:00 am:  Personal Safety:  Learn about how to stay safe through awareness, avoidance and trusting your instincts.

11:15-11:45 am:  What is the best way to call 911?:  Tips for calling 911 and reporting crime.

12:30-1:00 pm:  Fair Housing Rights: Learn about your rights in housing, new laws to protect renters, and how to report discrimination.

1:15-1:45 pm:  Renting in Seattle:  Learn about rental protection programs and how to report rental issues.

Green Seattle Day:

Join hundreds of volunteers planting thousands of plants in parks throughout the City. Green Seattle Day is one of the biggest tree planting events of the year.

When: 9:00am – 12:00pm

Where: All across D1

Free Extra Yard Waste Pickup in November

In an effort to help prevent flooding, SPU is encouraging customers to help keep storm drains clear of fallen leaves. Customers can set out extra leaves on their collection day for pick up during November. Extra yard waste must be in paper bags or in an extra container that contains only yard waste. You can read more here.


This Week in the Budget; City Auditor Report on City Finances; Disability Rights Fairness Hearing; Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October 27th, 2017

This Week in the Budget

The City Council’s Budget Committee will hold a second public hearing on the 2018 budget on November 1 at City Hall. In addition, there will be hearings on the Seattle Asian Art Museum Renovation, and the Department of Parks and Recreation’s Central Waterfront Piers Rehabilitation Projects, as required by law.

The hearings begin at 5:30 p.m.; sign-up begins at 4:30 p.m. More information about the hearings, and accessibility at City Hall, is available here.

The Council met as the Budget Committee this week to consider 143 different proposals developed by Councilmembers to amend the Mayor’s Proposed 2018 budget. Here are links to the meeting agendas for Tuesday and Wednesday, which include links to a total of 143 individual proposals.

The other Budget Committee meeting next week will be on October 31, for the presentation of the Chair’s Initial Balancing Package; as Chair of the Budget Committee that’s my responsibility. The proposal must be balanced.

Councilmembers can then propose changes the following week, at meetings scheduled for November 7 and 8. More information about the budget process is described here.

Here’s a link to the Budget Committee schedule, and a summary of the Council’s budget process. The Mayor’s Proposed 2018 Budget and 2018-2023 Capital Improvements Program can be accessed at the City Budget Office webpage. The Council’s budget website includes a searchable Budget Document Database for Council budget documents dating back to 2009.  The database includes both issue papers and specific Councilmember proposals.

You can find Budget Committee agendas here; you can sign up to receive e-mails with meeting agendas here.


City Auditor Report on City Finances, 2012-2016

The Seattle City Auditor released a report on the City’s budget and finances over the last four years, titled City of Seattle Financial Condition 2012-2016.

It’s a comprehensive analysis of the City’s finances, based on the eight financial and economic indicators: 1) revenues and expenses; 2) debt; 3) pension liabilities; 4) capital assets; 5) financial and operating position; 6) city budget trends; 7) city wide employment, and 8) economic and demographic information.

The report has several informative charts, including a comparison of the per capita impact—a useful measurement, given that Seattle’s population increased by 11% from 2012 to 2016, from 616,000 to 686,000.

The audit was mandated by Council legislation passed in 2016, along with a follow up report scheduled for September, 2018, and every two years after that. These requirements are enshrined in the Seattle Municipal Code, section 3.40.060

The report notes,

“A city in good financial condition can meet its financial obligations on a continuing basis. It can maintain existing service levels, withstand economic disruptions, and respond to growth, decline, and change. A financially healthy government collects sufficient revenues to pay short-term bills, finance major capital expenditures, and meet long- term obligations without transferring disproportionate costs to future periods.”

“Overall, the City of Seattle financial and economic indicators we present in this report are positive.”

Below are some of the key points in the eight report areas. Figures below are adjusted for inflation, unless indicated otherwise.

Revenues: revenues were up 20% since 2012, or only 8% per capita (just barely above the rate of inflation) over the entire 5-year period; part of this reflects the increase in the size of voter-approved levies. This is a good illustration of the statement that revenues do not keep up with inflation or the increased costs of providing city services.  The City’s limited revenue sources include property taxes, sales tax, business taxes and various charges. Public safety is the largest general expense, at $577 million. The City receives 29% of the total property tax levy; the rest goes to other state and local governments.

Debt: The City’s general purpose debt has decreased since 2012, with debt service covered by the City’s general fund down 20% (not adjusted for inflation). The amount of voted debt increased, due to the $290 million seawall bond. The City’s debt polices adopted in 2014 set a goal of retaining the highest practical credit rating; the City has consistently maintained high bond ratings. Revenue bonds are paid for with specific revenues (e.g. City Light and Seattle Public Utilities rates), and cannot be used for general purposes. The City does not have any lines of credit for short-term debt.

Pension liabilities: The City’s pension fund has had a deficit; in 2013, the Council set a 30-year amortization plan to reach full funding. During the four years since 2013, the funding ratio has increased by 4.6% to a total of 68%. The audit notes many experts recommend at least 80%. The City also created a second track for pension plan designed to help close this gap over time.

Capital assets: Eight city departments manage most of the City’s capital assets. The highest are City Light and SDOT, with assets with a replacement value of $20 billion, with an overall total estimate of $46 billion. Over the last 14 years, Seattle voters have approved seven levies to support the City’s capital assets. How departments fund capital assets vary. For SDOT, funding is mostly through levies and grants. Parks relies on the Seattle Parks District. The report notes the Real Estate Excise Tax is used for various departments including SDOT and Parks.

Financial and operating position: the report notes the City has fully funded reserve accounts. The “Rainy Day Fund” had $47 million (it now has $54 million), designed to cover activities in the event of revenue shortfalls; the Emergency Subfund, for unplanned expenses, has $60 million. Both of these funds are near or at their maximum allowed funding levels.  Liquidity, or the ability to pay short-term bills, is measured by the ratio of current assets to currents liabilities. A low ratio, below $1 of assets for $1 of liabilities, can indicate a cash flow problem or the need for short-term borrowing. The City’s liquidity ratio has been healthy during this period, at $2.37 in 2016.

City budget trends: The total value of the City’s Capital Improvement program increased 41% between 2008 and 2017, with SDOT having the largest increase (largely due to work on major projects such as the Mercer Corridor, and Spokane Street Viaduct). For operations, some departments, such as the Seattle Police Department, are funded entirely from the General Fund. Other departments have their own revenue sources (the Human Services Department receives significant grants, Parks has some concessions revenue). This section has interesting tables showing the operating budgets from 2008 to 2017 for the 10 largest City departments. Adjusted for inflation, SPD’s budget has increased 27%.

Citywide employment: City employment grew 9% from the end of 2007 to the end of 2016. SDP’s number of positions went up 14%.

Economic and demographic information: As noted earlier, Seattle’s population increased 11% from 2012 to 2016. 54% of jobs in Seattle were in the service sector. The total value of all assessed property in Seattle increased 59% from $117 billion in 2011 to $186 billion in 2016.


Disability Rights Fairness Hearing for Lawsuit, November 1, 10 a.m.

Earlier this year the City reached a settlement in a class action lawsuit filed by Disability Rights Washington, committing to installing thousands of curb ramps throughout Seattle, to improve access for disabled persons. A proposed consent decree sets out commitments.

The final step in the process is a fairness hearing, scheduled for November 1, 10 a.m. in Courtroom 16106 of US District Court at 700 Stewart Street. At this hearing members of the affected class, disabled persons, can speak to the settlement agreement’s fairness and adequacy.

You can contact if you’d like to comment.

Here’s the SDOT ADA webpage where you can make a request for a curb ramp, or report bad or missing ramps.


The Seattle Women’s Commission Recognizes Domestic Violence Awareness Month

DV awareness month

October is domestic violence awareness month.  According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, domestic violence affects more than 12 million people in the United States each year. Domestic Violence Awareness Month is an opportunity for us to learn more about an issue that touches so many people’s lives.  I want to recognize the local leadership of the Seattle Women’s Commission in highlighting the importance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month and lifting up the on-going partnership and leadership of the following organizations:

  • Abused Deaf Women’s Advocacy Services
  • API Chaya
  • Asian Counseling and Referral Services
  • Aurora Commons
  • Coalition Ending Gender-Based Violence
  • Consejo Counseling and Referral Service
  • Eastside Legal Assistance Program
  • Harborview Center for Sexual Assault and Traumatic Stress
  • InterIm CDA
  • Jewish Family Services
  • King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office
  • King County Sexual Assault Resource Center
  • New Beginnings
  • Northwest Immigrant Rights Project
  • Northwest Justice Project
  • Northwest Network of Bi, Trans, Lesbian and Gay Survivors of Abuse
  • Organization for Prostitution Survivors
  • Powerful Voices
  • Refugee Women’s Alliance
  • Salvation Army
  • Seattle City Attorney’s Office
  • Seattle Indian Health Board
  • Seattle Municipal Court
  • Seattle Police Department
  • Wellspring
  • YouthCare
  • YWCA

This Week in the Budget; Duwamish Alive; Duwamish Waterway Park; No Office Hours; Constituent Budget Emails

October 21st, 2017

This Week in the Budget

On Monday and Tuesday this week and Friday last week the Council met as the Budget Committee for the “Issue Identification” phase of the Council’s budget deliberations. Below are links to Council Central staff papers for relevant departments, which include issues identified by Staff, as well as proposals from individual Councilmembers.

On Monday, we heard issues related to SDOT, Seattle Public Utilities, and the Department of Finance and Administrative Services. On Tuesday, we heard issues relating to Human Services and Homelessness, use of sweetened beverage tax funds, the Seattle Police Department, police accountability, and issues that affect more than one department, or departments with few issues brought forward.

Last Friday, we heard budget issues related to the Office of Planning and Community Development, the Department of Construction and Inspections, Seattle Center, the Department of Neighborhoods and the Neighborhood Matching Fund, and Parks and Recreation.

Next week the Budget Committee is scheduled to meet on Tuesday, October 24 and Wednesday, October 25 to consider specific budget actions proposed by Councilmembers (called “Green Sheets”, because they used to be printed on green paper in the pre-digital age).  We will also hear Statements of Legislative Intent (SLIs), that may not have a budget impact, but indicate a policy direction that Councilmembers want to explore.  Where, up to this point, an individual Councilmember could propose a budget proposal, in the new stage of the process that begins next week, my Council colleagues will need a total of three sponsors to move a budget proposal forward.

Here’s a link to the Budget Committee schedule, and a summary of the Council’s budget process. The Mayor’s Proposed 2018 Budget and 2018-2023 Capital Improvements Program can be accessed at the City Budget Office webpage. The Council’s budget website includes a searchable Budget Document Database for Council budget documents dating back to 2009.  The database includes both issue papers and specific Councilmember proposals.

You can find Budget Committee agendas here; you can sign up to receive e-mails with meeting agendas here.


Duwamish Alive!

This Saturday I spoke at the Duwamish Alive! fall event. Duwamish Alive is a collaboration of communities, municipalities, non-profits, and businesses within the Duwamish River Watershed to preserve and enhance for people and wildlife.

A ceremony was held Saturday morning at 10am located at T107 Park. These events are held twice a year and hundreds of volunteers join together to remove debris, plant trees and more. Click here for a list of locations and partner organizations.


Duwamish Waterway Park

Speaking of the Duwamish River, I’ve heard from many of you recently about the Duwamish Waterway Park.  There was recent concern that it may not remain a park and that King County might have been considering removing a portion of the greenspace in order to “mitigate culpability in the EPA Superfund site.”

On October 12th Seattle Parks and Recreation with King County released a joint statement that cements their commitment to retaining and continued development of Duwamish Waterway Park into park space for the South Park Community.

I appreciate those of you that leapt to action and contacted my office about this issue – the swift response from King County and Seattle Parks and Recreation shows that your organizing matters and that local government can be responsive to community concerns.


Reminder, No October District Office Hours

As newly elected Chair of the Budget Committee it is my responsibility to assemble and propose the Balancing Package that, if adopted would amend the Mayor’s proposed budget. This requires me to balance the proposals from the community and my colleagues while ensuring that the budget is passed in a timely manner.

Due to this responsibility and time commitment I am unable to host my usual office hours in October. I apologize for this inconvenience, and hope to see you at my next office hours TBD.

If you have a more immediate issue, please email me to let me know and I or one of my staff will be happy to work on getting it resolved.


Constituent Budget Emails

I wanted to let you all know what issues I am hearing from the public. Below is a tally of the emails I have received from the public about the budget.

constituent emails re: the budget


West Seattle Junction Parking Study; SDOT Center City Streetcar Report; Neighborhood Recycling & Reuse Event; No October District Office Hours

October 13th, 2017

This Week in the Budget

The Council began meeting today as the Budget Committee to consider identification of particular budget issues relevant to individual City Departments. Here is the schedule through Tuesday, October 17.

Today we discussed Councilmember ideas and budget proposals for each the Office of Planning and Community Development, Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections, Seattle Center, Department of Neighborhoods and Department of Parks and Recreation.  The big issues we heard today include neighborhood planning, a new vacant building monitoring program, community center funding, p-patch funding, impact fees, leaf blowers, the potential budgetary impacts of Key Arena redevelopment on the Seattle Center budget, Historic District staffing, and performance measures for various departments.

This step in the budget process has two parts. First of all, Council Central Staff raise issues they have identified. Secondly, Councilmembers can raise issues for discussion. At this point, potential budget items don’t need to be well-defined.

Proposals for the next set of meetings, from October 23 to 25, will need to be have specific funding amounts; they will also need three Council sponsors, by a 2 p.m. deadline on October 19.

Here’s a link to the Budget Committee schedule, and a summary of the Council’s budget process.

West Seattle Junction/Triangle Parking Study

SDOT has begun a “West Seattle Area Access Study,” in the West Seattle Junction/Triangle area. They will be conducting a commercial area parking study, and a Residential Parking Zone study.

The study area includes the West Seattle Junction and Triangle areas and is bounded by 36th Avenue Southwest to the east, southwest Dakota street to the north, 46th Avenue Southwest to the west and Southwest Dawson Street to the south.

This is being done as part of a City-wide study of parking.  Typically, the addition of paid parking in an area is designed to increase parking capacity on streets that don’t have much available parking.  The idea is that when people pay for parking they don’t stay as long which in turn frees up more curb space for more people needing to park.  When SDOT presented the proposed study at the Sustainability and Transportation Committee several months ago, I requested that SDOT be sensitive to the unique nature of the Alaska Junction, and specifically include consideration of the extra capacity that the off-street parking contributes to the area in their study. They agreed, and they will be including the presence of the free off-street parking in their study.

You can take the survey here through October 31; here’s the project fact sheet.

If SDOT identifies any potential changes, they will be available for public comment in early 2018.

In 2010, the City Council adopted the “Performance-Based Parking Program,” incorporated into SMC 11.16.121. SDOT completed a performance based parking study in 2011. SDOT policy is designed to ensure availability of 1-2 open spaces per blockface (i.e. one side of a block).  This can involve setting time limits for parking, or adding paid parking.  SDOT updates parking rates based on annual review of the areas with paid parking, lowering or increasing rates toward the goal of 1-2 open spaces; they also conduct parking studies of other neighborhoods.

Of Seattle’s 7 Council Districts, District 1 and District 5 (North Seattle) are the only districts in Seattle without any on-street paid parking zones.

SDOT last studied parking in the West Seattle Junction in 2009 and didn’t recommend any paid parking; an earlier citywide parking study in 2002 also mentioned the West Seattle Junction.

If you have questions or comments about the West Seattle Area Comprehensive Parking Study, please contact Jonathan Williams of SDOT at 206-733-9026 or

SDOT Center City Streetcar Report

The Center City Streetcar project would connect the current South Lake Union and First Hill streetcar lines across Downtown, at an estimated cost of $158 million.

On September 30, SDOT released a report in response to an amendment the Council adopted. The amendment said:  “The Executive will provide a report to Council detailing the financial operating plan for the Center City Streetcar and the projected performance measures (including ridership, fare box recovery ratio, productivity, fare evasion, and reliability) for the first 6 years of Center City Streetcar operations,” and provide contingency funding sources if operation or construction funding are inadequate.

The reason I proposed this amendment was out of concern regarding the adequacy of the construction and operations budgets for the Center City Streetcar, and the long-term impact of directing scarce Commercial Parking Tax resources to this project to finance bonds over 20 years.

We are currently $70 million short of funding for construction. The capital plan lists this as coming from the final $25 million of a $75 million federal grant. Given the chaos in Washington, DC, this may not come to pass. SDOT’s reply to the request in the Council’s amendment that SDOT provide contingency funding sources if operation or construction funding are inadequate was: “If the full $75 million is not appropriated by Congress, SDOT will identify alternative funding sources to complete the project on schedule.”

That’s a non-answer answer. Unfortunately, the only realistic funding sources would be to cut other spending, such as roads, sidewalks, bike lanes, proactive landslide prevention, and transit.

The other $45 million is listed as “Transportation Bond Funds,” or 2018 Bond Proceeds. The $45 million in bonds would be financed by Commercial Parking Tax (CPT) revenues, for over 20 years. Starting in 2020, when the full amount kicks in, that would be $3.5 million in CPT revenue per year, for a total of $70 million or so over 20 years. In 2018 we’re projected to receive $44.5 million in CPT, so this would commit to the Central City Streetcar 7.4% of the 2020 total citywide Commercial Parking Tax revenues.

That’s just to build it; we also have to operate it. Operations funding depends on a variety of sources, but the most important is how much is collected in fare revenues. This depends on 1) how many people ride, and 2) the % of fare recovery (e.g. how many people pay full fare vs. riding with an Orca Card).

Last year the South Lake Union streetcar line has a ridership of 518,000 riders, and the First Hill line had 840,000 riders, for a total of 1.35 million riders. Fare recovery for SLU was in the 27-33% range. For First Hill fare recovery was 16%. By comparison, for Sound Transit fare recovery was 37%, and for KC Metro, 31%.

The SDOT report projects 8.3 million riders in 2021, and 9.4 million in 2025, with 56% fare recovery.  This strikes me as overly optimistic.

In fairness, SDOT did provide a lower ridership and fare recovery option, but even that projects 6.3 million annual riders at 36% fare recovery, still far more than the SLU and First Hill lines.  This more realistic – but not entirely realistic scenario would result in an annual operations deficit of $2.3 million, with an extra $5 million deficit after 2023, when Sound Transit’s $5 million annual operations subsidy will end.

The bottom line is that even if ridership triples, we’ll be lucky to be only $3 million in the hole for operations costs in 2021, and $8 million in the hole beginning in 2024. That’s in addition to the $3.5 million per year needed to cover the bonds.

Previous streetcar lines had less of this kind of impact on the general SDOT budget–First Hill construction was paid for with Sound Transit ballot measure, and South Lake Union partly through a Local Improvement District by adjacent property owners. We aren’t using Commercial Parking tax to pay bonds for those projects.

The irony is that $4 million in Commercial Parking Tax revenues that go toward financing bonds for the Mercer Project will be freed up beginning in 2019. Should those funds go to a project of dubious transportation value for the next 20 years? When the commercial parking tax was adopted, the suggestion was made that those taxes could go to more general needs, once things like the Mercer Project were paid off.

The commercial Parking tax and the General Fund provide around $85 million to SDOT annually; those are among the most flexible revenue sources we have. We could end up dedicating a significant portion of that to building and operating the Center City Streetcar. That means less money for other things.

In West Seattle, I hear many complaints about the condition of 35th Avenue SW during the winter months.  I’d like to prioritize fixing that, over building a Center City Streetcar.

Neighborhood Recycling and Reuse Event

If you’ve been waiting for an opportunity to recycle any appliances, furniture, batteries, or other household good such as books and dishware, now’s your chance.

This Saturday, between 9am and 1pm you can stop by the Junction Parking lot located on the corner of SW Oregon and 42nd Ave. See the flyer below for additional details about what is and is not accepted.

No October District Office Hours

As some of you may know, I was recently elected budget Chair. As Chair of the Budget Committee it is my responsibility to assemble and propose the Balancing Package that, if adopted would amend the Mayor’s proposed budget. This requires me to balance the proposals from the community and my colleagues while ensuring that the budget is passed in a timely manner.

Due to this responsibility and time commitment I am unable to host my usual office hours in October. I apologize for this inconvenience, and hope to see you at my office hours coming up in December.

If you have a more immediate issue, please email me to let me know and I or one of my staff will be happy to work on getting it resolved.


This Week in the Budget; Alki Public Safety and Health Survey Results; Final Design Review Update; Feedback on ADUs

October 6th, 2017

This week in the budget

The City Council’s Budget Committee held the first of two public hearings on the 2018 budget last night. The second hearing will be on November 1.

Next week the City Council’s Budget Committee will begin the Issue Identification portion of its review of the Mayor’s proposed 2018 budget, with meetings scheduled from October 12 to October 17. In these meetings, Council Central staff will raise issues for select departments regarding the proposed budget; Councilmembers can also raise issues (what has been called “Issue ID” during previous years).

A single Councilmember can raise an issue for discussion in staff memos and presentation before the Budget Committee. This is a new step introduced last year by Mayor Burgess during his time a chair of the Council’s Budget Committee; the deadline for Councilmembers to submit issues is noon on Monday, October 9.

Here’s a link to the Budget Committee schedule.

Alki Public Safety and Health Survey Results

1100 people answered the Alki Public Safety and Health Survey. Thanks to all of you who responded.

620 replies were from Alki, and 197 from Admiral. In both neighborhoods, the biggest concern was Noise from Modified Vehicle Exhaust Systems.

Problems could be rated from 1-5, with 5 indicating the highest level of concern. Here’s the overall results:

  • 4.32 – Noise from Modified Vehicle Exhaust Systems
  • 4.29 – Distracted Driving
  • 4.13 – Speeding
  • 4.04 – Noise from Vehicle Sound Systems
  • 3.65 – Unmuffled Compression Braking Noise
  • 3.65 – Cruising
  • 3.46 – Vehicle Tire Noise
  • 3.33 – Vehicle Idling
  • 2.97 – Non-Visible Front and Rear License Plates
  • 2.94 – Vehicle Window Tinting

We’ve put the survey results online here. You can click on neighborhoods for the specific breakdown for each of the categories in each neighborhood, along with a bar graph showing the distribution of results for each item.

We’ve shared with the Seattle Police Department, and look forward to discussing these results and next steps with the community.

Final Design Review Update

On Monday the Council voted unanimously for changes to the Design Review Program. Previously it was heard in the Planning, Land Use, and Zoning committee on each 8/1, 8/15, and 9/19 and there was a public hearing on 9/11.

Here is an update on the amendments that were made in committee that I sponsored that, taken together with our amendments sponsored by other Councilmembers, significantly changed the Executive’s proposal that I heard concerns about from many of you:

Here is a description of the changes I that I promoted by sponsoring amendments that successfully passed:

Change 1:

  1. The Mayor’s proposal:  A new 10,000-square foot threshold for design review project eligibility.  That threshold would have removed a significant number of projects that the community should have input on.  Under the Mayor’s proposal 29% of projects currently subject to Design Review would have no longer received any design review at all.My amendment:  10A in the table below reflects the changes to the proposed thresholds.  Under this new proposal just 19% of projects that currently receive design review will no longer be subject to design review and 45% of all projects that currently receive design review will still receive Full Design Review.  Many other projects will continue to receive Streamlined or Administrative Design Review.

Change 2:

  1. The Mayor’s proposal included both a Hybrid Design Review process and a Hybrid Pilot Project.  No one seemed to like it, neither community members nor developers.My amendment:  Removed the Hybrid Design Review Process and the Hybrid Pilot Project.

Design review threshold options

Change 3:

  1. This amendment, derived by a suggestion from District 1 resident and Morgan Community Association President Deb Barker, was especially designed for projects in areas that are rezoned from single-family to LR1 and LR2.  I want to ensure that neighborhoods that are rezoned for greater density in the future will also have a greater say in how the new development occurs in their community. Areas that are rezoned from single-family to Low Rise 1 and Low Rise 2 and are between 5,000 and 8,000 square feet will go through Streamlined Design Review.  Areas that are rezoned from single-family to Low Rise 3 and are between 5,000 and 8,000 square feet will go through Administrative Design Review.A description of the terms Streamlined Design Review, and Administrative Design Review can be found here.

I appreciate all of the people who took the time to write to me and share their concerns about Design Review, I believe the process and your advocacy has led to a good compromise and a better proposal than what we saw from the Executive.


Public Comment Now Open for the Accessory Dwelling Unit Environmental Review Process

The city has begun the environmental review process to explore the potential impacts of removing barriers to building accessory dwelling units (ADUs). ADUs are small, secondary dwelling units inside, attached to, or in the yard of a single-family house.  ADU’s include both attached and detached dwellings such as backyard cottages and separate but attached in-law apartments.  The current proposal involves removing barriers to ADUs by eliminating the existing off-street parking and owner-occupancy requirements, and changing some development standards that regulate the size and location of backyard cottages.

The City of Seattle is seeking public comment on the initial phase of the environmental review process.  Public Comment will be accepted until 5:00pm on Wednesday November 1, 2017.   There are several ways that you can give input:


This Week in the Budget; Alki Public Safety Survey Update; Sound Transit Letters; Neighborhood and Community Arts Grant

September 29th, 2017

This Week in the Budget

City Council’s Consideration of the 2018 City Budget

On Monday, Mayor Burgess presented his proposed 2018 City of Seattle Budget and 2018-2023 Capital Improvement Program.   With Burgess becoming Mayor last week, his position as Chair of the City Council Budget Committee became vacant; the Council voted to appoint me as Budget Committee Chair.

Though my role as vice chair of the Affordable Housing, Neighborhoods, and Finance committee did not automatically grant me the position of Chair of the Budget Committee, generally the Council entrusts committee vice-chairs to serve in the absence of the chair. In voting this week to do so in this case of the Budget chair, the Council held the goals of stability in mind to minimize disruption, in the interest of a smooth, rational transition grounded in this Council’s prior decisions.

This is the second year of the Council’s biennial budget process. Last year the Council approved a 2017 budget, and endorsed a 2018 budget. This year it will formally approve the 2018 budget. It’s important to note that based on updated revenue projection in April of this year, the proposed 2018 budget includes additional spending beyond the 2018 budget the Council endorsed last year.

In order to consider the changes that the Mayor has made in the proposed 2018 budget to the Council’s endorsed 2018 budget, the City Council has begun to meet as the Budget Committee.  We will be dedicating the following two months to considering, revising, and approving the City budget.  The proposed Budget and Capital Improvement Program are available here. Here’s a link to summary charts and tables, and an Executive Summary.

Earlier today, the Budget Committee received the April revenue update upon which the Mayor’s proposed budget is based, and an overview of the proposed budget, from the City Budget Office.

Here’s a brief summary of forthcoming Budget Committee meeting dates, and how the process works:

First Public Hearing on proposed budget: October 5, at 5:30 p.m., at City Hall, 600 4th Avenue; sign-in for the hearing begins at 4:30 p.m. Parking will be available for a discounted $5 rate for those attending the public hearing beginning at 4 p.m., until 11 p.m. at the SeaPark Garage between Cherry and James Streets and 5th and 6th Avenues. Child care will be available; please RSVP with An Induction Loop assistive listening system with handheld amplified receivers and headsets are available upon request; please check in with the Committee Clerk upon arrival. Additional information about City Hall accessibility is available here; you can submit a request for accommodations here.

Issue Identification: October 12-17: Councilmembers, and Council Central Staff, can raise issues or potential proposals for consideration; at this stage, proposals don’t need to be detailed; one Councilmember can put an item forward for consideration (with an October 9 deadline at noon)

“Green Sheet” proposals: October 23-25: Specific proposals with dollar amounts to amend the Mayor’s proposed budget will be presented at these meetings; the support of at least three Councilmembers is needed to place an item on the agenda (with a 2 p.m. deadline on October 19)

Revenue update: October 30; Council will receive an updated revenue forecast from the City Budget Office

Proposed Initial Balancing Package: October 31; the Budget Committee Chair will propose a revised version of the budget, that must be balanced

Second Public Hearing: November 1, 5:30 p.m.

Discussion of Potential Changes to Initial Balancing Package: November 7-8; these will be specific changes to the “Initial Balancing Package”; the support of three Councilmembers is required by the 3 p.m. deadline on November 2

Preparation of Revised Balancing Package: November 9-10; Budget Committee Chair will create a second “balancing package,” which must be fully balanced

Committee Votes on Revised Balancing Package: November 14-15; votes will take place at this meeting. Any proposed amendments to the balancing package must be balanced, so any additional spending must be balanced by spending cuts.

The final Full Council vote is scheduled for November 20.

If you have questions about the schedule or process, you can contact my legislative aide, Newell Aldrich, at

Budget committee meeting agendas are available here. All meetings can be viewed live on Seattle Channel 21 and on the Seattle Channel live feed. The Seattle Channel meeting archive is here.

Here’s a link to the schedule.


Alki Public Safety Survey Update

I’d like to thank the 1,100 people who responded to the Alki Public Safety and Health Survey during the last month, as well as the residents and community leaders who helped to develop the survey. We will be compiling and analyzing the responses, and sharing them with the Seattle Police Department and the community, and include them in this newsletter.

Sound Transit Letters

Voters in the Sound Transit district approved the ST3 measure in November, 2015, which included light rail to West Seattle, planned for 2033. Planning for the West Seattle alignment will begin in earnest later this year, with the anticipated hiring of a consultant to manage the process.

The Council adopted a resolution in May, 2016 supporting accelerated delivery of projects. Sound Transit subsequently announced they would accelerate the West Seattle line by three years, to service in 2030 rather than 2033 as originally planned.

The resolution also included language I proposed to allow “for future consideration and evaluation of a potential tunnel alignment through West Seattle, if cost savings within the ST3 program or additional funding resources become available.” Similar language was included regarding the Ballard line.

The resulting timetable for the West Seattle Line could involve utility work as early as 2024, in anticipation of construction beginning in 2025, creating a potential intersection with the Fauntleroy Boulevard Project. An early rendering of a potential alignment for light rail showed it moving along Fauntleroy Boulevard in the same location.

Sound Transit released a draft System Expansion Implementation Plan earlier this year, that mentions their Strategic Initiatives, and plan to identify a preferred alternative early in the process.

In recognition of these challenges, I sent a letter to Sound Transit regarding these issues, and recently received a reply. I thank Sound Transit for their responsiveness. Discussions between the City and Sound Transit are ongoing.

Cultural Facilities Funding and Neighborhood & Community Arts Grant

The Council passed legislation to release $1.3 million in funds approved in the 2017 adopted budget. The legislation approves funding agreements for projects Town Hall, the Nordic Heritage Museum, the Burke Museum for $350,000 and Hugo House for $250,000. The legislation includes agreements for public benefits with each of those organizations.

  • Town Hall will provide its entire Arts and Culture series free of charge to those under age 22, and conduct outreach to make marginalized communities aware of the free tickets, and actively invite such communities to events, and will work with the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs on outreach
  • Nordic Heritage will implement a new low-cost membership category for low-income families, and work to spread the membership model
  • The Burke Museum: will provide all students participating in onsite school programs with an adult and youth admission pass
  • Hugo House will provide free or reduced field-trip admission to schools with a majority of low income students, and free weekly drop ins to writing circles, and rent classrooms for free to organizations serving low income communities and communities of color, and up to 150 free tickets to fee-based events.

The proposed 2018 budget includes $1.4 million for the Office of Arts & Culture’s  Cultural Facilities Fund; the webpage includes additional information about how to apply, and past recipients, including the Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association (for Youngstown Arts Center) in 2016, the Southwest Seattle Historical Society in 2015, and ArtsWest in 2014.

Speaking of arts, 2018 applications are open for Neighborhood & Community Arts Grants, which provides $1,200 per year to support direct project expenses, for 2 years, for neighborhood arts council or local community-based group.  Groups representing underserved communities including low-income, immigrant and refugee communities, and communities of color are encouraged to apply.

The deadline to apply is October 24.  Information about eligibility, evaluation criteria, and how to apply is available here. A workshop will be held at the Southwest branch library (9010 35th Ave SW) on Saturday, September 30, 11:00am-12:30pm

RSVP Here  and for more info, contact Project Manager Jenny Crooks at


Hate & Bias Crimes Report; Bus Service Changes; City Hall Updates; Marra Farm Fall Fest; Legal Clinic Celebration; Diaper Need Awareness

September 22nd, 2017

City Auditor Releases Hate and Bias Crimes Report

As chair of the Council committee with oversight of civil rights issues, I thank the City Auditor’s Office for their report released earlier this week, Review of Hate Crime Prevention, Response, and Reporting in Seattle.

Addressing hate and bias crimes is vitally important, especially given the national political environment. The Seattle Police Department (SPD) noted an increase in reported bias crimes and incidents in the first half of 2017 during last week’s briefing before the Gender Equity, Safe Communities and New Americans Committee.  An assault on a transgender woman last weekend shows the need for continued vigilance on hate crimes.

This Audit continues the work begun by the City Auditor at the request of former Councilmembers Clark, Licata and Rasmussen, who in 2008 requested an audit of Seattle’s Enforcement of Bias Crimes.

The audit found that changes in SPD reporting procedure would ensure hate crimes are more appropriately recorded and investigated; SPD patrol officers would benefit from regular formal training on hate crimes; more sophisticated use of data could inform prevention efforts; increased cooperation among City departments would improve prevention and response efforts, and regional coordinates of hate crime response efforts will improve response efforts. The report makes nine recommendations to implement these findings. The audit notes:

“We make 9 recommendations to improve the City’s efforts to prevent, respond, and report hate crimes. We recommend that SPD should create a hate crime training curriculum, create more guidance on how to recognize and respond to hate crimes, and address coding issues that may be preventing some hate crimes from being appropriately categorized. SPD should also pilot using hate crime data for prevention purposes, with the support of University of Washington researchers. We recommend that SOCR and SPU consider posting hate crime data online to provide Seattle residents with a more complete picture of hate crimes reported in the city. Finally, we recommend that City leaders support a regional or statewide coordination of hate crime efforts to further the City’s impact of addressing these crimes. SPD, SOCR, and SPU agree with all the recommendations.”

I thank the Seattle Police Department for their responsiveness to the report’s recommendations regarding bias category coding, their work to replace their records management system, and commitment to gathering data to support bias-crime investigations and analysis.

The report notes that in July SPD implemented two recommendations regarding bias category coding. The first is the use of “unknown” as a bias code, which may have resulted in undercounting during 2012-2016. The audit recommended eliminating this category, which SPD did. The second is to align SPD bias codes with the Seattle Municipal Code section for “Malicious Harassment” to include “age, parental status, marital status, and political ideology.” SPD implemented this recommendation in July as well.

I also thank SPD for its work with the Seattle Office for Civil Rights (SOCR); the report notes ongoing work between SPD and SOCR to establish a protocol for formally documenting how hate incidents and crimes are handled when they are reported to SOCR.

I look forward to the second phase of the audit, which will focus on how the City can improve its use of hate crime data.

Chief O’Toole issued a statement about SPD’s efforts regarding hate crimes, and her request for a review of  the findings; the audit includes an SPD response letter. The Seattle Police Department earlier this year introduced its Bias/Hate Crime Data dashboard, with data from 2012 on, that allows for searches by bias category, precinct, and neighborhood.

I requested this audit last year, in the wake of an attack on a local LGBTQ leader.


Bus Service Changes Next Week

King County Metro will be adding bus service beginning on September 23. Some of the changes will come from investments by the City of Seattle from the voter-approved Seattle Transportation Benefit District. Improvements in District 1 include:

  • Route 50 will operate every 30 minutes from 6 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week.
  • Route 60 will improve service frequency to every 15 minutes between 6 a.m. and 6:45 p.m. on weekdays.
  • Route 131 will increase frequency northbound to every 15 minutes between 6:15 and 9:30 a.m.
  • Late night/early morning “Night Owl” service will be added for Route 120 and the C Line.

Additional details for each route are listed at Metro’s Service Change website.


City Hall Updates

It’s been a tumultuous week or so–we’ve now had three mayors in a little over a week, after having 3 in just under 16 years.

Per the City Charter, Tim Burgess will serve as Mayor through the certification of the November election, likely November 28. This coming Monday, September 25, he will present a proposed budget to the Seattle City Council. The Council will then begin consideration of the proposed budget.

With Mayor Burgess departing the City Council, Council President Bruce Harrell has proposed a process for appointing an interim Councilmember for Council Position #8, linked here. The interim Councilmember will serve until November 28, when the election results are certified.


Marra Farm Fall Fest

This Saturday, September 23, Solid Ground is hosting a potluck for the 16th annual Marra Farm Fall Fest. There will be free food, live music, fresh apple cider, cooking demonstrations and children’s activities.

If you’re unfamiliar with Marra Farm, it’s an urban community farm that practices sustainable agriculture and provides education and food security. Located in South Park on 8.7 acers it is home to several gardening groups: the Giving Garden, Mien Community Gardens, P-Patch Garden and Large-Tract Plots, Children’s Garden and Seattle Urban Farm Project.

Hope to see you there:

  • Date: Saturday, September 23
  • Time: 12:00pm – 3:00pm
  • Location: Marra Farm, 9026 4th Ave S
  • Price: Free


Fair Work Center Legal Clinic 1-Year Celebration

The Fair Work Center empowers workers to achieve fair employment. As a hub for workers to understand and exercise their legal rights, and improve working conditions, the Fair Work Center also provides free legal clinics for workers seeking advice about potential workplace violations. This legal clinic is celebrating its first year of operation with assistance and support from the City of Seattle and the funding of the Office of Labor Standards.

If you want to support the Fair Work Center you can join them for their one-year legal clinic celebration and fall fundraiser on Wednesday, September 27th between 5:30pm and 7:30pm at Melrose Market Studios (1532 Minor Ave).


Diaper Need Awareness Week

On Monday September 25th, in honor of Diaper Need Awareness Week, September 25th through October 3rd, I will have the honor of presenting the Diaper Need Awareness Week Proclamation to Westside Baby.  “Diaper need” is the condition of not having a sufficient supply of clean, dry diapers to ensure that infants and toddlers are healthy, dry and clean.

It is estimated that over 21,000 children aged five and under in King County live below the federal poverty line.  National surveys report that 48% of families’ delay changing a diaper to extend their supply and one in three parents experience diaper need at some time while their children are under 3 years of age.  This proclamation recognizes that economic opportunity for individuals can lead to improved health for families and their communities.  A sufficient supply of diapers can cost families upwards of $100 a month and government assistance programs such as WIC do not cover the cost of diapers.

The lack of clean diapers can adversely affect the immediate and long term health of infants, toddlers and their families.  Seattle is the proud home to many organizations such as WestSide Baby that recognize the importance of diapers in combating social, economic, racial and health inequities and aim to support healthy families and communities.  To learn more about this issue or to support organizations in our region working to combat diaper need check out the National Diaper Bank Network and Seattle’s very own WestSide Baby.


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