Barrier Reduced for Utility Shut-off Late Payments; 2016 Seattle Public Safety Survey, The Ponderosa Pine, Next Week in the Budget, In-District Office Hours

October 26th, 2016

Barrier Reduced for Utility Shut-off for Late Payments

Whether because of a lay-off at work or an unexpected medical expense, Seattle City Light (SCL) and Seattle Public Utility (SPU) customers sometimes come up short when it’s time to pay their bill and face a shut-off of their utilities. When a customer receives a shut-off notice, SPU currently charges a minimum of 75% of the balance due to prevent the shut-off, and SCL up until a couple months ago charged only 50%.

In June I learned that SPU and SCL were intending to make their delinquency policies consistent.  I had no concerns with consistency, but I was concerned that the policy proposed was not for both utilities to require a 50% down payment, thus lowering the barrier for people with SPU shutoff notices, but that the utilities proposed instead to require that both SCL and SPU customers pay at least 75% of the outstanding balance in order to avoid shutoff.

SPU’s standard already represented a significant barrier to many customers attempting to establish a payment plan in order to avoid a utility shut-off. Shut-offs should be the City’s last resort. Councilmember Sawant (the Chair of the Council Committee with oversight of SCL) and I sent a letter to the Directors of both utilities asking that they align their policies at the SCL level of 50% of balance due in order to prevent a shut-off.

To demonstrate how the 75% down-payment standard acts as a barrier to preventing SPU shutoffs, the West Seattle Helpline provided, and I shared with the utilities, data demonstrating the number of people that they were able to assist avoiding utility shutoffs in 2015.

Shutoffs avoided with Helpline pledges in West Seattle: 44 shutoffs avoided 138 shutoffs avoids
Total amount paid To SPU: $13,282.00 To SCL: $28,540.55
Average overdue amount $600.48


Average pledge amount from the West Seattle Helpline $308.88 (49%), the remaining 26% is paid by the customer $208.33 (49%)
Estimated savings/cost if shutoff threshold had been 50%/75% –    $6,455.12 (meaning at a 50% threshold about West Seattle Helpline could have helped 10 more people)


+ $12,979.13 (meaning at a 75% threshold SCL would have been able to help 30 fewer people)

In response, the utilities agreed to examine the delinquency policies. Concerned about these impacts, I submitted a budget proposal to maintain the 50% down-payment standard to avoid shut-off for both utilities, instead of the 75%.

I learned yesterday that the General Manager of SCL and the CEO of SPU have agreed to utilize the 50% down-payment to prevent shut-off. This will be implemented through a Director’s rule, and will be in place by January 1.

I’m thankful for the utilities’ quick response and their decision that paying 50% of an outstanding balance is sufficient to avoid shut-off. I will continue looking for other opportunities to help residents keep their power on.


Public Safety Survey

Seattle University is administering the citywide 2016 Seattle Public Safety Survey. This survey is conducted independently by Seattle University researchers, and collects data at the neighborhood level about perceptions of crime and public safety, and police-community interactions.

The survey is accessible at from October 15th through November 30th and is available in Amharic, Chinese, English, Korean, Somali, Spanish and Vietnamese.

A report on the survey results will be provided to the Seattle Police Department to assist them in their work and evaluation of the department’s Micro Community Policing Plans, which are designed to address the distinctive needs of each community. You can find out which Micro Community Policing Plan area you live in at the Micro Community Policing Plan map website Crime data for each area can be found here.

Please tell your friends, family, co-workers and community members about the 2016 Seattle Public Safety Survey and feel free to post the survey link on your social media. Public safety and security are community concerns. Please make sure your voice is heard by completing the public safety survey today.

Background on the partnership with Seattle University is available here.

The 2015 survey results are available at the Seattle Police Department Public Safety Survey website, and shows results at the neighborhood level. Results are listed in District 1 for Alki, Fauntleroy SW, High Point/Alaska Junction/Morgan Junction, Highland Park, North Admiral, North Delridge, Pigeon Point, South Park, and Westwood/Roxhill/Arbor Heights.

In the Southwest precinct, when combined, car prowls and lack of police capacity/presence were listed as the top safety concerns—the same as the other four precincts citywide. However, drilling down to the neighborhood level reveals diverse concerns: in Alki, parking issues were listed as a top issue, in Fauntleroy it was car prowls, in Pigeon point residential burglary; in South Park littering/dumping.

The Ponderosa Pine

Over the last few months, many community members have asked me to help save the Ponderosa Pine at 3036 39th Ave SW in the Belvidere/Admiral neighborhood from being removed as a result of a proposed development on a small lot that required approval of Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI).  In response, I met with concerned neighbors and wrote to and met with SDCI Director Nathan Torgelson to seek: (1) clarity about the process SDCI uses to approve development on these small lots under 3,200 sq. feet; (2) information about the cost of a code interpretation letter; and (3) support for better land use policies that protect exceptional trees.

Here is some background on the law that allows developer to build on these small lots. Several years ago, community members discovered that developers were developing some very small lots in ways that were not intended by the drafters of the code. The Department engaged in a lengthy process, involving much public input, and proposed a series of recommendations. After much debate, and with amendments by several Councilmembers, the Council unanimously adopted Ordinance 124475 in 2014.

One of the things the neighbors sought was public notice of all developments on undersized lots. Typically notice is provided for Type II projects, but not for Type I projects. The Council decided in 2014 that these should be Type I projects, but with public notice when the development is on a site smaller than 3,200 sq. feet.  The City Council also decided that these small lot projects may be appealed, but that the appeal would be limited to whether special exception criteria are met.  The criteria relates to the depth of the structure on the lot, the width of the lot, and window placement on the building lot to take into consideration the interior privacy in abutting houses.

A code interpretation letter explains how SDCI interprets the code – in this case community members are seeking a code interpretation letter from SDCI of how they interpret the code that allows SDCI to permit some developments on these small lots.  There is a charge to requesters for these interpretations.  SDCI is a fee supported department, like many regulatory departments with a cost recovery funding model, and 85% of the Department’s services are supported with fees from the public to pay for these services.  The average time it takes SDCI to produce one of these letters is about 31hours and, of the letters reviewed, the least time was 9 and a half hours.

Director Torgelson has agreed to consider and review the following options for future changes, including:

  • Eliminating the base fee for interpretations and charging on an hourly basis, or collecting less than 10 hours of work as a base fee, especially concerning issues where a legal building site letter has been completed (thus initial staff analysis has already been completed);
  • Posting more information on-line about the process for legal building site letters; and
  • Reviewing the legal building site and interpretation process for lots under 3,200 square feet as they already have a notice and Type II appealable decision component.

In response to the community suggestion that we eliminate the base fee for interpretations and charge on an hourly basis. I submitted a proposed amendment to the SDCI fee ordinance legislation to address the 10 hour minimum requirement.  Further, I am proposing a Statement of Legislative Intent requiring, by March 31, SDCI review for improvements the process for requesting and issuing legal building site letters and code interpretations and update and post information on-line and in the Public Resource Center more clearly describing the process.

Finally, I have concerns about the fact that the 2014 ordinance did not consider additional criteria that SDCI should use to make a determination whether sites are buildable and have requested that SDCI consider additional changes to the Small Lot Exceptions Ordinance to include exceptional trees as a criteria that must be considered in its determination on whether the site is a buildable lot.

Next week in the budget

Two key events in the Council’s budget process are scheduled for next week. First of all, the Budget Committee Chair, Councilmember Burgess, will release his initial balancing package for the budget on Wednesday, November 2. There are $73 million in proposed Council additions to the budget, which were heard in the Budget Committee during the last week.  I wrote last week about my proposals. Budget Chair Burgess’ balanced budget package will not include all $73 million for these proposals—it will only include those that he decides to prioritize. You may wish to contact him at regarding items you support.

Secondly, Councilmembers wanting to propose amendments to the Chair’s balancing package can propose amendments for presentation at the Budget Committee two weeks from now. A total of three sponsors will be needed for items to appear on the agenda and each proposal will need 5 votes in support to ultimately be included in the budget.  The deadline for proposals is on Friday, November 4 at 5 p.m.

Agendas and links to materials are available at the Budget Committee meetings page; here are links to the budget process and schedule. You can sign up for e-mail agenda notices here.

Additional information, including an archive of budget documents from 2009 to the present, is available at the Council’s Budget website. Meetings can be viewed live on the Seattle Channel’s live feed; past meetings can be viewed at the Seattle Channel’s Budget Committee archive.

In-District Office Hours

I will not be having in-district office hours during the month of November due to Budget Committee meetings as well as the Holiday. Therefore my next office hours will be in December.

I will be at the South Park Community Center (8319 8th Avenue S) on Friday, December 16, from 12:00pm – 7:00pm. The final meeting of the day will begin at 6:30pm. These hours are walk-in friendly, but if you would like to let me know you’re coming in advance you can email my scheduler Alex Clardy (


Comprehensive Plan 2035 Community Involvement, Next week in the budget, Budget proposals

October 21st, 2016

Comprehensive Plan 2035 Community Involvement

On Monday the Council approved the 2035 Comprehensive Plan update. In committee, the Council approved amendments I sponsored relating to Seattle Public Utilities, Arts, Economic Development and Growth, and then this week in Full Council amendments I sponsored to the Community Involvement element were also approved.

I worked with neighborhood advocates to develop language to elevate the concept of community involvement by making it a new element in the Comprehensive Plan— a recognition of the need to regularly engage citizens in both planning and executing the city’s growth management strategy.

Additional language clarified the meaning of geographic-based planning; adds a policy that recognizes the need for sufficient resources to keep neighborhood plans current and relevant so they are a useful tool for growth management and citizen involvement; and adds consideration of whether neighborhood plans are outdated to the criteria for determining where the City should allocate resources for community planning.

Thanks to Councilmember Johnson for agreeing to an extra week to allow for public notice before the vote.

Next week in the budget

Next week the Council’s Budget Committee will hold the final meeting of the “Budget Deliberations” round on Monday the 24th. This meeting will cover departments and issues not covered this week on the 18th and 19th.

On Tuesday the 25th, the Council will hold its 2nd public hearing on the budget.

The hearing begins at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall; sign up begins @ 4:30. The hearing will advise the Budget Committee Chair (Councilmember Burgess) in the release of his Initial Balancing Package, scheduled for November 2, and any potential budget actions by other Councilmembers, due by the end of the day on November 4 (with a minimum of three sponsors).

Agendas and links to materials are available at the Budget Committee meetings page; here are links to the budget process and schedule. You can sign up for e-mail agenda notices here.

Additional information, including an archive of budget documents from 2009 to the present, is available at the Council’s Budget website. Meetings can be viewed live on the Seattle Channel’s live feed; past meetings can be viewed at the Seattle Channel’s Budget Committee archive.

My Budget Proposals

Below is a list of potential amendments to the Mayor’s proposed budget that I have proposed. I’ve organized them by issues relevant to a. District 1, b. to the committee I chair, the Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development and Arts (CRUEDA), and c. other issues, though there is some overlap.

District 1 Budget Proposals:

  1. Fauntleroy Boulevard Project

City Light has revised the description of the project to allocate $1.5 million for the street light improvements and utility pole relocations  recommended by community members as integral to the revised design

  1. Lander Street Project

This project is $27.5 million short of the $142.5 million needed for full funding; I’m exploring options for obtaining full funding during this budget cycle for this long-delayed project, which is important for travel between District 1 and Downtown as well as freight mobility.

  1. West Seattle Bridge studies

This would continue work begun by former Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, by adding $100,000 to complete the two studies called for in a budget action last year to carry out the evaluations called for in the West Seattle Bridge/Duwamish Corridor Whitepaper to improve safety, incident management, and traffic flow.

  1. Age Friendly Community Innovation Fund

This funding would support a grant program for groups in each of the seven City Council districts to apply for up to $25,000 for programs and services based on improving the lives of an aging population.

  1. South Park Family Service Center
This funding will support health and human services, a leadership program, and an education program in South Park.


CRUEDA Committee Budget Proposals:

  1. Civil Rights Issue – Hearing Loops for Boards and Commissions Room Fund to ensure local and state government facilities are accessible to those with hearing disabilities. The Boards and Commission Room hosts several citizen advisory groups including the People with disAbilities Commission.
  2. Civil Rights Issue – Employment and Housing Bias Testing will allow Seattle Office of Civil Rights to conduct approximately 210 employment and housing tests to proactively enforce the City’s anti-discrimination laws.
  3. Economic Development Issue – Seattle Legacy Business study funding to for a study to determine the scope and definition of a Seattle Legacy Business program to preserve businesses that contribute to the City’s unique culture and character and are at risk of being lost.
  4. Economic Development – King Street Station proposal would require OED report back to Council before funding is released to describe how funding will direct commercial affordability opportunities and resources to low-income entrepreneurs and support a model that serves as a business incubator for low-income immigrant and refugee entrepreneurs by providing education, training, resources, facilities and support.
  5. Labor Issues – funding evaluation on Secure Scheduling so academic researchers can complete an evaluation of the impacts of the regulations for the baseline, one-year and two-year periods following implementation.
  6. Labor Issues – Office of Labor Standards (OLS) Directed Investigations Program development – to allow for investigations initiated by the OLS Director rather than relying on a specific complaint from a worker.
  7. Labor Issues – Establish OLS as a Regulatory Fee-Supported Department – our labor laws should be enforced with a small annual regulatory fee on businesses, saving $6 million in general fund dollars in 2018.
  8. Utilities Issues – SPU and SCL Delinquent Payment Policy and Utility Discount Program (UDP) Policy changing the delinquency payment policies to allow for a 50% down payment of past due bills to avoid shut-off and change the income eligibility requirements to specifically exempt Medicare/Medicaid payments as personal income to increase participation in the UDP.
  9. Arts funding for Burke Museum, Town Hall, Nordic Heritage, Hugo House Increase funding for each organization’s capital campaign

Other Budget Proposals

Community Service Officers funding to develop a Community Service Officer program, allowing for the hiring of unsworn officers with distinctive uniforms to assist regular police officers by performing community services associated with law enforcement, conducting crime prevention activities, improving relations, and developing potential police officers.

District Council funding for meeting rental space, and amend proposed Council Bill to establish Community Involvement Commission to provide a formal role for District Councils in evaluating grant projects at a geographic level, as currently practiced

Pronto bike-share operations: redirect $600,000 proposed to operate the current Pronto system toward implementing the Bicycle Master Plan, Pedestrian Master Plan, and School Safety projects

Seattle Police Department hiring: 72 new officer positions are proposed to be created in 2017-2018, to bring the total of new officer positions to 181 during the last few years. My proposal would require new officers to be hired using preference points, as proposed by the Community Police Commission, and include in the City’s legislation proposed to a federal judge (as described in an earlier blog post)

Speed camera revenues (non-school zone) revenues dedicated to pedestrian users: Increase portion of non-school zone red light camera revenue dedicated to school safety to pedestrian uses; currently 10% of camera revenue goes to the school safety and pedestrian improvement fund. This would increase it to 20%, more in line with national best practices, and policy for school-zone cameras

Mobile Shower unit for people living in encampments including the start-up costs and ongoing provision.

Public Defense Services for tenants would fund a two-year pilot to contract with the King County Department of Public Defense for civil legal services related to housing evictions for indigent defendants.

SCDI funding for enforcement for the move-in fee legislation to answer landlords and tenants questions regarding the new requirements, investigate complaints and respond to appeals in a timely manner.

Restoration of SYVPI Recreation funding for organizations engaged in Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative programming.

Restore Transitional Housing funding in 2017 for 8 homeless programs that were eliminated from Seattle/King County’s HUD McKinney application in 2016.

Tenant Landlord Resource Center adopt a Statement of Legislative Intent (SLI) asking SDCI to develop a proposal for a public facing landlord tenant resource center, with resource needs identified and in coordination with multiple city departments.

City Auditor – Evaluation of Source of Income and Move in Fee bills the Office of City Auditor’s budget to complete a rental market study for both the Source of Income legislation and the Move-in Fee legislation.

Child Care Space Mitigation fund – to address the displacement of before- and after-school child care from Seattle Public Schools’. The funding would be available for use by the District and to child care providers to make arrangements to keep child care on-site at schools or assist in relocating where providers would otherwise be displaced.

Community Planning Process for Myers Way Properties, Statement of Legislative Intent (SLI): This proposal would request the executive to conduct a community planning process to determine the future uses of the Myers Way Properties. Such uses/purposes would include: green space that can serve to clean the air and water near an environmentally degraded area; protection of wetlands and Hamm Creek Watershed; hill stabilization; natural park space in an under-served area; preschool; expansion of the Joint Training Facility for firefighters to include training for police.

Green Pathways – funding to establish a position on the Workforce Entry and Employment Pathways interdepartmental team to identify how City internships, apprenticeships, youth employment, workplace investment and job training can lead to career paths. The green pathways work will be integrated with this citywide work, and this position will oversee and implement this work.

 Animal Control Officers – double our dedicated animal control officers by add two enforcement officers who will be dedicated to better enforce our scoop and leash laws, and ensure public safety in our park system.


Encampment Legislation, Next Week in the Budget, Police Accountability Legislation Submitted to Federal Judge, SOID Legislation Rulemaking Public Comment

October 13th, 2016

Encampment Legislation

Earlier today I sent the following e-mail to people who’ve written me about homeless encampments:

Thank you for writing to me about proposed Council Bill 118794.  Like you, I care deeply how the City manages public land for use of the general public as well as how our policies impact our ability to provide shelter and housing to people who are living outside.

Two substitute bills will be discussed on Friday, October 14, at 9:30 am in Councilmember Sally Bagshaw’s Human Services and Public Health Committee.  Please see here for meeting materials. The work we have been doing on this legislation has been ongoing with multiple business, neighborhood, and community stakeholders since the proposed bill was introduced on September 6.  Here is a good description of the two bill versions and our efforts to date.  There is still much more work to be done before this bill is ready for a vote.  Consequently, I will not support a vote in Friday’s 9:30 a.m. Human Services and Public Health Committee.

In previous correspondence, I explained the reasons why I decided to sponsor Council Bill 118794.  One of those reasons is that because this year alone, the City has removed people from more than 500 encampments across our city and at least 95% of the time, people return to those locations. This includes chronic public camping, usually in out-of-the-way undeveloped areas, in more than 80 city parks.  To me, this means we desperately needed to find a way to do things differently.   Cities all across the country are struggling with this issue as the number of families and individuals experiencing homelessness is increasing because cities are not getting the state and federal support they need to create affordable homes quickly or to stop more people from becoming homeless due to rising rents (that, under State Law, Seattle can’t regulate), health care crises, family violence, substance use disorders, and other causes.

Today I want to explain my goals for new policies to guide the City on how it addresses these issues.  Those goals are continue how to:

  1. Better manage public property and respond to the crisis of public homelessness with the objective of having fewer people living outside in our community
  2. Ensure that our current encampment removal practices are not barriers to people accessing housing and shelter resources.
  3. Address the legitimate and immediate public health and safety issues impacting both housed and unhoused residents in our communities.

From the day the bill was introduced I’ve been clear that significant amendments were necessary to secure my vote.

As I have said there is much still work that must be done.  I want to share with you my assessment of the current conditions in our city, and my analysis of how our current policies exacerbate the impacts of homelessness on public space and conflict with our urgent goal to help homeless people into housing and shelter.  I believe if we have a shared understanding of the current situation and how the City is addressing these issues, and if we analyze how the city’s current practices are ineffective and conflict with our shared goal to reduce the numbers of people who are homeless and unsheltered, we can work towards common sense solutions that reasonable people can agree on.  It would, in retrospect, have been valuable to engage in this conversation about current conditions and impediments to shared policy goals more robustly before this bill was proposed. However, the bill was introduced in the immediate aftermath of an important Seattle Times expose showing that the City’s current framework is generating “Chaos, Trash & Tears,” and that current practices do not even adhere to supposed City policy on encampment removal. There was and still is compelling evidence that the current system requires change.

Here is a little more detail about my 3 goals for new policy to guide management of public property as listed above.

GOAL 1:  Better manage public property with the objective of having fewer people living outside

There are 619 known encampments today, on city owned land, with only vague, ineffective written guidelines for how the city defines and prioritizes its work associated with cleaning areas, or removing people from specific locations.   The Multi-Departmental Administrative Rules (MDARS) developed in 2008, the written encampment protocols that the City uses today, treat all kinds of city-owned property alike and makes no clear distinction between locations that are especially unsafe, property that is in active use by the public, or property that is neither.   City staff have repeatedly said that they do not know how to prioritize their work, and the harm done by current practices is well-documented.

My goal – in identifying some types of property as unsafe and other types of property as unsuitable – is to provide a consistent and rational way for the City to prioritize work, in order to remove people from areas that are unsafe and unsuitable.  Prioritizing the City’s work this way, does not at all suggest that other property that is neither defined as unsafe or unsuitable is in fact suitable for public camping.  No public property is truly suitable for long-term living; but to be responsible, the City must first and foremost prioritize removing encampments from locations that we define as unsafe or unsuitable.

GOAL 2: Ensure that City practices managing public property are not barriers to people accessing housing and shelter resources.

We must create new policies to reduce the numbers of encampment locations by identifying and enforcing the rules against camping at unsafe and unsuitable locations and focusing outreach resources to a smaller number of encampment locations that are lower priority for removal because they are neither unsafe nor unsuitable.

Many of you who have written to me have said that permanent housing is the answer to homelessness and we should support the Mayor’s Pathways Home initiative. I certainly whole-heartedly agree that housing is the solution.  As context for our efforts, there are approximately 2,942 people sleeping outside in Seattle every night who are unable to access our community’s shelter and transitional housing system, where another approximately 3,000 people sleep each night.  Further, there are over 45,000 Seattle households at risk of homelessness because they are paying more than half their income for housing. There are 2,500 households on the waiting list for the Seattle Housing Authority’s 3-year long waiting list. The City, through the voter-approved Housing Levy, builds or preserves approximately 307 low-income housing units each year. We are doing good work through the generosity of the voting public, but the need is still greater than our current capacity to meet it.

The Mayor’s Pathways Home Initiative is a roadmap for implementing ambitious and optimistic recommendations that say that even with all of these other pressing and unmet housing needs we can get the 2,942 people who are unsheltered inside – and within a single year.

I believe firmly that the way that the City currently addresses encampments on public property is an impediment to meeting our very ambitious, optimistic, and important new goal to get everyone outside inside within a year.  If the City is every day moving people from one place to another, our outreach services are not able to connect with people and stay engaged with them for the period of time necessary to access appropriate housing resources.  We simply cannot successfully implement Pathways Home and provide housing resources to people who we are forcing to move back and forth.  In addition, by ensuring that people are not camping in areas that are unsafe and unsuitable, the sheer numbers of encampment locations will reduce and as a result we can focus outreach resources to a smaller number of encampment locations.

GOAL 3: Address the immediate public health and safety issues impacting both sheltered and unsheltered residents.

No one working on this legislation intends to create a “right to camp” much less a “right to camp anywhere.” The reality is that people are and will, for the near term, be living outdoors and that no one has a magic wand to change that reality overnight. I believe that for public land designated unsafe or unsuitable the City must be able to undertake swift action to remove people, camps, structures, or personal property.  And that the city has to ensure that people will not return to those areas by making sure that the individuals who have been camped there have somewhere else to go. There is more discussion with community stakeholders necessary to define the categories of unsafe and unsuitable locations in ways that are viable and workable, yet leave adequate space for people to go where they do not face immediate removal.

In addition to my belief that the City must enforce rules against camping at unsafe and unsuitable locations, the Seattle Police Department, Fire Department and other first responders must always, everywhere respond to emergency situations, such as fires or medical crisis, and cooperate with other public safety agencies.  People must still be prohibited from sitting and lying on sidewalks in commercial areas in accordance with SMC 15.48.040.  Lastly, I support the efforts of the Seattle Police Department to enforce laws against other criminal conduct everywhere.

Moving forward, I continue to believe – and resolve – that we must create new public policy that does a much better job managing the impacts of public camping on private land.  I propose a series of conversations after the Council passes the budget to better understand the current conditions of public property in all of our communities used by people living outside for their basic survival needs and to understand how the city’s current policies exacerbate those impacts. This way we can move forward to create new policies for how the city manages our public property in such a way that meets our shared goals for public safety, as well as our goals to house or shelter more of our unsheltered neighbors. Council inaction on this issue is irresponsible.  The status quo is untenable.  But we also must get this right.


Next week in the budget

 Next week the Council will meet as the Budget Committee for “Budget Deliberations.” Budget Deliberations meetings are scheduled to meet next Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday (17th-19th).

These meetings will address issues raised by Council Central Staff and Councilmembers by the October 11 deadline, in a variety of departments.

Agendas and links to materials are available at the Budget Committee meetings page; here are links to the budget process and schedule. You can sign up for e-mail agenda notices here.

Additional information, including an archive of budget documents from 2009 to the present, is available at the Council’s Budget website.

During the last week the Council heard and discussed presentations on the following departments: Human Services, Police, Transportation, Planning and Community Development, as well as a presentation about improving oversight of the City’s management of capital projects.

Police Accountability Legislation submitted to federal judge

On Friday, October 7, the City submitted police accountability legislation to the federal judge overseeing implementation of the 2012 Consent Decree with the US Department of Justice.

The judge has indicated he will complete review of the proposed legislation within 90 days, to “ensure that it does not conflict with the terms or purpose of the Consent Decree.” After his decision, it can be submitted to City Council for consideration.

One provision stands out as the Council considers the Mayor’s proposed 2017-2018 budget:

“SPD shall use preference points in hiring sworn employees who are multi-lingual and/or have work experience or educational background providing important skills needed in modern policing, such as experience working with diverse communities, and social work, mental health or domestic violence counseling, Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, or other similar work or community service backgrounds.”

I’d like to ensure this provision, or similar language, is used for hiring 72 new officer positions included in the Mayor’s proposed budget. Existing state law requires preference points for military veterans.

 Source of Income Discrimination (SOID) Legislation Rulemaking Public Comment

We invite you to join Seattle Office of Civil Rights (SOCR) for two public meetings.  These meetings will be to discuss the next step of implementing the SOID bill passed by the City Council in August.  To read more about that bill see my blog post and SOCR’s Frequently Asked Questions.

Public Meeting #1: Thursday, October 27th at 6pm at New Holly Gathering Hall, 7054 32nd Ave South, Seattle WA 98118. This meeting is an opportunity to learn about ordinance requirements, ask questions and raise areas that are unclear and that may require administrative rules.

Childcare and language interpretation will be provided at each meeting. To request an accommodation or language interpretation please call (206) 684-4514.

Space is limited.  Please let SOCR know if you plan to attend by registering for your preferred meeting date.  Registration is free. Please call (206) 684-451


Next Week in the Budget Process; Police Accountability Update; Green Pathways

October 6th, 2016

Next Week in the Budget Process

Here’s what’s coming up during the next week in the budget process. The Budget Committee will hold Department Overviews on October 7 and 10, covering the following departments:

Friday, October 7, 9:30 a.m.: Human Services: Homelessness Overview

Monday, October 10 9:30 a.m.: Seattle Police Department

Monday, October 10, 2 p.m.: Capital Projects, Seattle Department of Transportation, Office of Planning and Community Development

Agendas and materials will be available at least one day in advance of each meeting at the Budget Committee meetings page.

In addition, October 11 is the deadline for Councilmembers to submit proposals for inclusion in the first round of Budget Deliberations that begin the week of October 17.

Yesterday, the Council held its first public hearing on the budget; a second hearing will be on October 25th.

Here are links about the budget process and schedule. Additional information, including an archive of budget documents from 2009 to the present, is available at the Council’s Budget website.

Police Accountability Update

On October 7, the City is planning to submit draft police accountability legislation to the federal judge overseeing the 2012 Consent Decree with the US Department of Justice. The Community Police Commission, created as part of the Consent Decree, recently issued its recommendations.

The federal judge issued an order authorizing the City to draft legislation regarding police accountability, and saying that he will have 90 days to review the proposed legislation to “ensure that it does not conflict with the terms or purpose of the Consent Decree.” After that, the legislation can be submitted to City Council.

The Seattle Police Monitor appointed by the federal judge to oversee full compliance with the terms of the Consent Decree published a status report on September, 26. The report indicates the Monitor’s intent to issue a number of important reports during coming weeks. Reports need to first be submitted to the judge; pending approval by the Court, they could be released on the dates listed below.

Below are the four major assessments that remain, and a brief summary of the issues to be addressed from the Consent Decree:

  1. Use of Force: October 15; this will cover use of force principles such as de-escalation, as well as the annual review of trends, and identifying and correcting deficiencies revealed by the analysis. This will entail a “qualitative, in-depth review of a statistically significant sample of force incidents.”
  1. Early Intervention System: October 30; this will cover SPD compliance regarding the Early Intervention System, this is a system that identifies personnel issues that if left unaddressed may lead to disciplinary concerns. This report will also address provisions stating that SPD policies will ensure that early intervention is implemented in a timely manner; data regarding this is tracked, and if necessary, a supervisor will track progress.
  1. Officer supervision: October 30, this will cover for example, supervision of officers of policies such as, but not limited to use of force
  1. Constitutionality of police-community contacts: November 30 (the Monitor will ask the Court for a delay, so it may be another date, before December 21; This will involve analyzing data on SPD’s stops of Seattle residents, “to determine if officers are sufficiently articulating a legal justification for stops, and to determine if supervisors and SPD chain of command are meaningfully reviewing officer stop activity.” This report will cover compliance with sections in the Consent Decree dealing with Stops and Detentions, Bias-Free Policing, and training in these areas.

In 2014, the Court approved policies in Bias-Free Policing, Stops and Detentions; here’s the Monitor’s memo to the Court about training re: Stops and Bias-Free Policing Training, and a memo to the Court recommending approval of these policies, which the Court approved.

More details about the Monitor’s work and reports are available on the resources section of the Monitor’s webpage.

Green Pathways

The Full Council voted unanimously in favor of the Green Pathways Resolution on Monday.  It calls for a green jobs strategy as part of the workforce equity strategy by creating a body of work for an Interdepartmental Team (IDT).

Specifically, the Resolution calls for the IDT to create a “green job” definition that is consistent with community principles outlined in the Resolution:

“A green job is one that preserves or enhances environmental health as well as the economic and social well-being of people and communities, centers communities most negatively impacted by climate change, and pays a living wage while providing career pathways.”

The Resolution also requests the IDT to create an inventory of internships, apprenticeships, and entry-level jobs offered by the City of Seattle that meet this definition.

Additionally, the Resolution asks for examples of opportunities to create more local green jobs from our existing environmental investments, and an outreach and engagement strategy to advance green jobs as a part of the ongoing work to advance careers in the private sector.

The University of Michigan’s Green 2.0 report identifies a “green ceiling” in the environmental field where, nationally, people of color hold no more than 16% of positions in the studied environmental organizations, agencies, and foundations, additionally stating: “Once hired in environmental organizations, ethnic minorities are concentrated in the lower ranks, with less than 12% of the leadership positions,” and “Environmental Organizations do not use the internship pipeline effectively to find ethnic minority workers.”

Furthermore, in Seattle, youth unemployment still tops 13 percent, which disproportionately impacts young people of color and those from low-income communities.

Since the City is already pursuing a workforce equity strategy that is being spearheaded by an already existing Interdepartmental Team on Workforce Entry and Employment Pathways the work to address the Green Pathways work will be integrated there. In order to achieve the outcomes in the resolution the City Council intends to allocate funding to support the IDT in meeting these goals.



Highlights from the Mayor’s Proposed Budget, Fauntleroy Way SW Boulevard Project, Next Week in the Budget Process, Comp Plan 2035, Bag Ban Update

September 29th, 2016

Comp Plan 2035

The 2035 Comprehensive Plan is the 20-year framework for most of Seattle’s big-picture decisions on how to grow while preserving and improving our neighborhoods. The Plan guides City decisions on where to build new jobs and houses, how to improve our transportation system, and where to make capital investments such as utilities, sidewalks, and libraries. My amendments are focused on issues impacting District 1 and the Committees that I serve on: Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development (including labor standards), and Arts; Affordable Housing, Neighborhood and Finance; and Planning, Land Use and Zoning.

Seattle Public Utilities

One of the things I recognized in the Seattle Public Utilities element was the need to create a new policy under the environmental section to work to identify and reduce flooding through improvements to drainage and wastewater systems particularly in traditionally underserved areas.  I also proposed language to uplift the use of race and social justice lens to guide investments throughout the section as well as serving traditionally underserved areas. Additionally, I proposed updates to reflect our need for increased composting.

Economic Development

My economic development amendments are in alignment with my 2016 work plan and focus on: ensuring the City will continue to pursue strategies for community development that help; protect local neighborhood and cultural identity by preserving locally owned business at risk of displacement due to increasing costs; meet the needs of marginalized populations in multicultural business districts; and ensure that the city supports innovative small business that could form new industry clusters. My amendments also included policy language that commits the city to identify opportunities and job placement for older workers and others who may have unique challenges finding employment; to train and hire local residents so the existing workforce can participate in the city’s shared prosperity; and to coordinate community development activities in places of low access to opportunity and high displacement risk.

Arts, Culture and Music
I worked with the Music Commission and the Arts Commission to incorporate amendments they supported. Changes include emphasizing arts and culture as part of economic development strategy; the importance of live music and entertainment venues to the vibrancy of the city’s culture; making City funding programs more accessible to small, independent artists, musicians and arts organizations, particularly from underrepresented communities; recognizing and regularly assessing the economic impact of Seattle’s music and nightlife sector, and highlighting the importance of arts and music education.  Further amendments include encouraging access to affordable workspaces for musicians, encouraging partnerships for the use of public spaces, and assisting communities in creating a toolkit for assisting communities in developing art.

I also worked with Historic Seattle to rename the “Cultural Resources” element of the Comp Plan “Historic Preservation and Cultural Resources” and to require that we update surveys of historic and cultural resources when developing or updating a new community plan, and noting that preserving historic buildings can help incubate small, locally-owned businesses, and encouraging reinvestment of a share of tourism revenue to sustain historic preservation, given the importance to tourism.

Community Engagement

I worked with community advocates on a new “Community Involvement” element. Some of the changes include retitling the “Community Involvement” element to be “Community and Neighborhood Planning,” element; collaboration with the community in implementing plans, that those directly affected by proposals should be involved; enhancing the ability of community members, including from marginalized communities, to develop the knowledge and skills to effectively participate in planning and decision-making processes, and adding “neighborhood” in a number of places.

Growth Strategy and Land Use

If the city truly plans to grow sustainably and equitably, we must address displacement. I worked with constituents and community partners as well as Councilmembers O’Brien and Johnson to uplift the need to address displacement risks. Our amendments are about ensuring those who live here can continue to live here and to provide opportunity for communities of color and low income residents to be included in the planning process to ensure that the city is developing and implementing practices to involve historically represented communities in decision making; and ensuring the city will work with communities where growth is slower than anticipated to identify barriers to growth and strategies to overcome those barriers.

I supported numerous amendments identified by constituents concerned about the impacts of the city’s urban village growth strategy to require the city to monitor various aspects of growth over time and respond to with adjusted approaches if growth significantly exceeds the estimates; to add numerical growth estimates to the growth strategy and adding housing and jobs development capacity figures for each urban center and village.

In furtherance, I supported my economic development policy amendments by amending the land use element to permit the city to use zoning and other planning tools in urban centers and urban villages to address displacement of small locally-owned businesses that reinforce local neighborhood and cultural identity and provide culturally relevant goods and services to Seattle’s diverse population.


I together with Councilmembers O’Brien and Johnson championed significant policy recommendations in the 2016 Housing Levy and Mandatory Housing Affordability-Residential Framework legislation to mitigate displacement through preservation. Thus, my housing element amendments included: identifying affordable housing at risk of displacement and applying measures to mitigate that displacement ahead of planned upzones; monitoring the supply of housing and encouraging the replacement of housing that is demolished or converted to nonresidential or higher-cost residential use; supporting the development and preservation of affordable housing in areas with a high risk of displacement through tools and actions such as land banking, public or non-profit acquisition of affordable buildings and mixed income development; and mitigating the potential demolition of housing units that are affordable to low income household without subsidies. Lastly, in effort to address the perennial issues of housing discrimination  our efforts resulted in amendments to the housing element to utilize affirmative marketing and fair housing education and enforcement.


Bag Ban Updated Bill

In 2011 the Seattle City Council passed an ordinance banning single-use plastic and biodegradable bags. Additionally, a minimum charge of 5 cent per paper bag was instituted. This was done to incentivize customers to use reusable bags, and to help store owners recoup the cost for the bags. However, this requirement for customers to pay the 5 cent fee was set to sunset on December 31st of this year.

At my September 23 CRUEDA Committee we discussed and voted on a bill that removes the sunset date for the 5 cent charge for paper bags. Retailers continue to support maintaining the charge to offset their costs and the Committee members agreed that the fee was still important to encourage customers to use reusable bags. However, we learned that this charge does not sufficiently compensate independent and smaller retailers for their bag costs because they do not purchase as many bags and therefore pay a higher price per bag. This may also be why Seattle Public Utilities has found a lower rate of compliance with the Bag Ban in smaller stores. I will continue monitoring this issue to ensure that this fee is adequate to improve compliance rates among smaller retailers.

The new ordinance also added new requirements to address contamination from plastic bags in our composting stream. There are several confusing terms, look-alike bags, and “greenwashing” practices which have led to contamination of our composted materials. To combat this we’ve added a new definition of compostable which meets the standard specifications for the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).compostable-plastic-chart

Additionally, the new ordinance bans bags provided to customers that are labeled biodegradable, degradable, decomposable, or similar terms. This is because not all degradable plastics are compostable. Degradable only means that it can break down into smaller bits of plastic. Biodegradable means that it can be broken down by microorganisms, but the term doesn’t describe how long it takes or under what conditions.


Finally, the new ordinance stipulates that compostable bags provided to customers must be tinted green or brown and labeled compostable. Any non-compostable bags shall not be tinted green or brown.


Mayor’s Proposed Budget: Highlights

On Monday the 26th, the Mayor released his proposed 2017-2018 City Budget and 2017-2022 Capital Improvement Plan.

Here are a few highlights:

Fauntleroy Way Southwest Boulevard

The Fauntleroy Way Southwest Boulevard Project between 35th Avenue SW and SW Alaska is included in the Mayor’s proposed budget for construction in 2018, with design completed next year.

Improvements to Fauntleroy have long been a priority for the community, and were first prioritized in the 1999 West Seattle Junction Hub Neighborhood Plan, and later in the West Seattle Triangle planning process; the streetscape plan was formally adopted by SDOT in 2012. Fauntleroy is included in the Bicycle Master Plan, adopted in 2014.

The project is designed to provide a gateway entrance to West Seattle coming in from the West Seattle Bridge, and to move away from the suburban, commercial-style arterial criticized in the 1999 plan toward a more pedestrian, transit, and bicycle-friendly urban boulevard, in an area with increasing residential density and transit use. It was funded in the Move Seattle Levy passed by voters in 2016.

I thank the Mayor for including this project in his proposed budget in the SDOT Capital Improvement Plan, with design to be completed in 2017 and to begin in construction in 2018.

Shortly after taking office at the start of this year, after the levy passed, I became aware of community interest that had surfaced the previous year about exploring the undergrounding of existing utility wires in order to reduce the amount of visual clutter. To address this interest, I organized meetings between community advocates and SDOT and City Light to explore undergrounding.

During these discussions it became clear the undergrounding would increase costs by several million dollars. This project was funded in the Move Seattle levy, but did not include funding for undergrounding.

At my request, City Light and SDOT worked to provide cost estimates for undergrounding, which showed a funding gap of $4-5 million; a subsequent meeting revealed additional potential costs for a total gap of $5-7 million.

Community advocates proposed a compromise solution involving design modifications for beautification, consolidation, and standardization of utility poles, to provide a better overall appearance and facilitate placemaking, in keeping with the aim to create a gateway entrance.

I’d like to thank the Mayor, SDOT and City Light for their work, as well as community advocates, and former Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, who also played a key role at the Council last year in moving this project forward, for their work in developing this solution that allows the project to move forward.

I look forward to the City continuing to work with the community on the details as design for the project moves forward during 2017.


Some of the other notable proposals in the Mayor’s budget include:

Lander Street Overpass: construction is scheduled to begin in 2018; the project is $27.5 million short of the $142 million needed for full funding

Center City Streetcar: proposed for construction in 2018, with a budget of $151 million, with a proposal to use$45 million in commercial parking tax revenues

Police officers: 72 new officers are proposed to be hired, 35 in 2017, and 37 in 2018, as part of the 2014-2019 plan to add 200 officers; approximately 100 of those positions have previously been created and funded

Community Police Commission: funding continues in 2017 and 2018

South Park Drainage Partnership: funding listed from 2018 to 2020 to install a pump station to control flooding in South Park, install a drainage system, and repair deteriorated roads; the South Park Pump Station is included in the SPU CIP, will meet the levels of service adopted in the 2004 Comprehensive Drainage Plan; additional funding is listed in the SDOT CIP

The Council will be reviewing these proposals during the coming weeks.

I think we should explore whether commercial parking tax funds might be better spent on fully funding the long-delayed Lander Street Overpass project—and ensuring it begins on schedule—and funding the Center City Streetcar through a Local Improvement District, the way the South Lake Union Streetcar was partially funded.

A 2006 Council Resolution on funding priorities for the “Bridging the Gap” levy/commercial parking tax proposal reserved $80 million in funding for Lander, Mercer, and the Spokane Viaduct. In 2008, Lander was eliminated, and funding re-directed to the other projects. One-third of that 2006 major-project funding, $27 million, roughly equals the amount needed to fully fund the project.

We’ll also need clarity about how operations costs of this streetcar would be funded. So far, we’ve used sharply contrasting models: the SLU Streetcar is funded using Metro service hours; the First Hill Streetcar’s operations are funded through the ST2 ballot measure.

The Mayor’s speech and issue summaries are available at his website.


Next Week in the Budget Process

During the budget process for the next two months I’ll provide a brief update on what’s coming up in the Budget Committee over the next week, and opportunities to get involved. Here’s what’s coming up the week of October 3:

  • October 5: public hearing at 5:30 p.m. in City Council Chambers
  • October 6, 7: Department Overviews

Earlier today, the City Budget Office presented a high-level overview of the Mayor’s proposed budget, and an update on revenues. You can access the presentation at the committee agenda page.

You can click here for more on the budget process and schedule.







2017-2018 Budget Process, West Seattle Tree Cutting Update, In-District Office Hours, Hate-Free Delridge, Landmark Status Application for Two Buildings in the West Seattle Junction

September 23rd, 2016


On Monday, September 26 Mayor Murray will release his proposed 2017-2018 city budget, marking the beginning of the Council’s budget process. Budget Committee Chair Burgess has announced a revised process and schedule, which will provide for enhanced public consideration of the Chair’s proposed balancing package during November. Some of the work preceding that will be frontloaded: deadlines for Councilmembers to first submit proposals for publication are earlier; on the other hand, any individual Councilmember can put forward a formal proposal. Previously, three sponsors were needed. Here are key dates an opportunities to get involved:

  • September 26: Mayor Murray releases his proposed budget
  • September 29: Budget Overview
  • October 5: first public hearing, 5:30 p.m.: this is an opportunity to request that Councilmembers sponsor changes (or not make changes) to the Mayor’s proposed budget
  • October 6-10: Department Overviews: this is an opportunity to ask budget-related questions of featured departments; feel free to send me potential questions (Councilmembers can also submit written budget-related questions as well)
  • October 11: deadline for Councilmembers to develop proposals for inclusion in the “Budget Deliberations” written materials: work will need to begin earlier, especially for items that require additional information
  • October 17: deadline for Council proposals to be considered in Chair’s Initial Balancing package to be released on November 2
  • October 17-24: Budget Deliberations: this an opportunity for Councilmembers to propose specific changes to the Mayor’s proposed budget, and request that Council Central Staff raise
  • October 25: second public hearing; this will be an opportunity to speak to Councilmember proposals announced during Budget Deliberations and influence the Chair’s Initial Balancing Package
  • November 2: Chair’s initial balancing package
  • November 4 @ 5 p.m.: deadline for Councilmembers to propose changes to Chair’s initial balancing package (so if you want any changes to Chair’s initial proposal, the 2nd to the 4th will be busy days); three Council sponsors are needed for formal proposals
  • November 9-10: Discussion of Proposed Changes to Chair’s Initial Balancing package
  • November 15-16: Committee Votes on Chair’s Revised Balancing Package; Councilmember amendments must be self-balancing, and require majority vote for consideration
  • November 21: Final Committee Votes; Full Council Vote

Please send me questions or budget suggestions you may have. An earlier blog post has additional information.

West Seattle Tree Cutting Update

On Tuesday the City Attorney filed two civil lawsuits over the unauthorized cutting of 150 trees on public land in West Seattle. You can see the City Attorney’s announcement and read the complaints here.

The statement I issued is copied below.

Councilmember Herbold Statement on City Attorney’s Filing of West Seattle Tree-Cutting Lawsuits

SEATTLE – Councilmember Lisa Herbold (District 1, West Seattle & South Park) issued the following statement in response to the City Attorney’s filing of the West Seattle Tree-Cutting Lawsuits:

“I thank the City Attorney’s Office for filing two civil lawsuits this morning to address the illegal cutting of 150 trees in West Seattle earlier this year. I appreciate the use of a full range of the legal remedies available for civil suits, including timber trespass, which allows for 3x damages.

“The $1.6 million total in damages and fines sought by the City speaks to the seriousness of the claims. The damages and penalties must be significant enough to deter this kind of activity in the future, so that those with financial means don’t see unauthorized tree cutting as a cost-effective way to increase their views and property values.

“These trees played an important role in maintaining soil stability in an environmentally critical area, and lessened the risk of landslides onto a major arterial, SW Admiral Way. They also helped maintain air quality by absorbing carbon—an important issue in West Seattle, which sits adjacent to SODO and the Duwamish industrial area.

“I understand the Seattle Police Department’s criminal investigation is ongoing. My hope is that the Department will eventually be able to establish probable cause for pursuing criminal charges. However, I appreciate the difficulty they face, given that persons believed to be involved are declining to cooperate with investigators, and the legal standard needed to establish probable cause for criminal charges and to prove those charges beyond a reasonable doubt.”

In-District Office Hours

I will be at the Southwest Customer Service Center (2801 SW Thistle St.) September 30, from 2:00pm – 7:00pm (Sorry these are a little reduced from normal hours, but there’s an immoveable event I am attending). The final meeting of the day will be at 6:30pm. These hours are walk-in friendly, but if you would like to let me know you’re coming in advance you can email my scheduler Alex Clardy (

Hate Free Delridge

Come join in this fantastic event!

As seen on the WS Blog: Dubbed a “party with a purpose,” the Hate-Free Delridge Community Gathering will be held September 24th in the Thelma Dewitty Theater at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center. Doors will open at 4 pm, with free dinner at 5 pm. Bring a dessert to share, if you wish! All Delridge-area residents are invited, as well as the broader West Seattle community.

Hate-Free Delridge wants people to have fun, too. So, there will be music provided by local musicians, and open-microphone time for attendees to share their thoughts or, if so inclined, perform a song or two. A PA system, mixer, speakers, and microphones will all be provided. Activities for kids are planned as well.

An after-party is planned at The Skylark across the street (3803 Delridge Way SW) for anyone who wishes to continue the conversation and have a cool one.









I caught up with the event organizer Susan Lebow to learn a little more about the group:

“It was a grass roots push from the neighborhood that developed into the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center – the community wading pool and all the amenities at the Delridge Community Center – a library – some restaurants – the community pea patches – edible forest – all the lovely neighborhood things that makes us feel like Delridge is great. So again we have to come together to find ways to make us feel safer from the hate that has shown its face here in Delridge. Again it is a grass roots effort – the roots that grow a mighty tree – so we want to know your ideas – and if you would join the Hate Free Delridge volunteer group to begin to plan for the next renaissance here in Delridge. So please enjoy a meal together – The menu is by Miriam Cervantes. And enjoy the music from the amazing talent right here in Delridge.”


The Campbell Building (Cupcake Royale) and the Hamm Building (Easy Street Records) in the West Seattle Junction have been nominated for Landmark Status by the Southwest Seattle Historical Society. The nominations are listed on their website.

In March the West Seattle Junction Historical Survey Group presented their report, What makes the West Seattle Junction special? in the Council committee I Chair. The report concluded both buildings met the criteria for landmark designation.

The West Seattle Blog has additional information and the announcement.


Secure Scheduling Update, Appointment of New SPU Director, SDOT report on Parking Benefit Districts, Beach Drive SW Speed Bumps, North Precinct

September 16th, 2016

Secure Scheduling Update

As you may recall, the deliberations about this policy started last March. Professor Susan Lambert of the University of Chicago presented on problematic scheduling practices, including an increase in the use of part-time employees, just-in-time scheduling (real time schedule adjustments), and an increase in pressure to “stay within hours” due to tight labor budgets. All of this leads to scheduling unpredictability and volatility, a higher headcount of part-time workers, and fewer hours on average worked for each employee.

Since March the Mayor’s Office has had 17 stakeholder meetings which were each followed by a report out to my committee. We’ve met with numerous individuals, including business owners, workers, and worker advocates.

On September 7 we discussed and passed nine amendments which were mostly technical, you can see those here. On September 13 we heard several additional amendments, which did not substantively change the ordinance, and voted 5 to 0 to send the bill to Full Council as amended. You can watch that September 13 committee meeting here.

I would encourage you to check out this website which details the ordinance: what the problem is, the solution, who it effects, and how it works. Here are the main policy points in the legislation:

  • Businesses are only covered if they have 500+ employees (and 40 locations for full-service restaurants)
  • 14 days advance notice for schedules
  • Written good faith estimate of hours at time of hire
  • 10 hours right to rest between closing and opening shifts (similarly to overtime, this can be voluntarily waved for time and a half wages for the time less than 10 hours)
  • Predictability pay of one hour of wages only for non-employee requested schedule additions
  • Half time pay for involuntary reduction in scheduled work hours and on-call shifts
  • Access to additional hours for existing employees before outside recruitment and hiring
    • Exceptions for diversity and seasonal hiring

The bill will have a final vote before the Full Council this coming Monday at 2pm. You can watch Full Council live at this link.

Finally, if you’d like to read more, see this op-ed that I co-authored with Councilmembers Gonzalez and Juarez near the beginning of this process.

Appointment of New SPU Director

Today in my committee meeting we heard from the Mayor’s nomination for the Seattle Public Utility Director, Mami Hara, and voted unanimously to support her appointment, sending it to Full Council on September 26 for a final vote. Prior to this meeting we sent Ms. Hara several questions, you can review those and her answers here.

This confirmation process began in late July. Shortly after Director Ray Hoffman announced his retirement, the Mayor announced his nominee for the Director of SPU, Mami Hara. Ms. Hara previously worked as Chief of Staff at Philadelphia Water, a 2,000 person utility serving more than 2 million customers, with a $700 million annual operating budget and a $6 billion Capital Improvement Program.

Green City, Clean Waters (Philadelphia’s plan to reduce storm water pollution) is one of the nation’s most ambitious green infrastructure program and its successes are helping to design national practice. Seattle has long been a leader in this field and her experience will help us to continue defining best practice.

SDOT Report on Parking Benefit Districts

Next Tuesday the Transportation Committee will discuss a 2015 Council Statement of Legislative Intent (SLI) requesting analysis about creating a parking district in Capitol Hill. A parking district would allocate a percentage of the parking revenue to stay in that area.

paid-parking-by-council-districtSDOT recommends in their SLI response to not create a parking district in Capitol Hill or anywhere else, because some parts of Seattle, like West Seattle (District 1) and North Seattle (District 5), don’t have paid parking, so parking districts, by their nature, would create an inequity issue, because realistically most of the funding would go to Downtown and Belltown. $23 million of the City’s $37 million in 2015 parking revenue comes from District 7, primarily Downtown and Belltown (see table on right).

In addition, SDOT says it would be “contrary to Council’s 2010 establishment of Performance-Based Parking Program.” The Council passed these policies in 2010, and incorporated them in SMC 11.16.121, which governs parking rates on city streets. SDOT completed a “Performance Based Parking” study in 2011.

Paid parking, by policy is added to those areas identified as lacking in parking capacity. Specifically, SDOT policy is designed to ensure availability of 1-2 open spaces per blockface (i.e. one side of a block). SDOT updates rates based on annual review of the areas with paid parking; they also conduct parking studies of other neighborhoods. SDOT studied parking in the West Seattle Junction in 2009 and didn’t recommend any paid parking.

Additional materials are linked to the meeting agenda.

Beach Drive SW Speed Bumps

burnout-marksI’ve been working to assist residents on Beach Drive SW to address the high incidence of drag racing (see video) and driving that is dangerous to public safety. The racing has been happening in the portion of Beach Drive SW that extends south from the lighthouse. The neighbors have requested the installation of speed bumps.

Earlier this year community members began the process of applying for funds through the Neighborhood Parks and Street Fund.  I wrote a letter to SDOT  requesting that they consider traffic calming measures to address the drag racing.

SDOT has agreed to install three speed bumps. Installation could take place later this year, but will depend on dry, warm weather.

North Precinct

Yesterday the Mayor and three Councilmembers announced the City would not proceed with the Seattle Police Department North Precinct project in the 2017 budget, and would not propose a bond sale to finance the construction in the 2017 budget. I think this is a good step.

It will allow the Council to consider legislation to reform police accountability in advance of any consideration of the North Precinct, and place consideration of the North Precinct where it belongs, in a broader context, with a clearer understanding of what facilities will be required.

The Council passed a resolution on the North Precinct in August. At the request of community members, I proposed a Racial Equity Toolkit analysis be included in the resolution. I further proposed removing the $149 million dollar figure from an earlier version of the resolution; I feared that committing to a specific dollar figure might draw a line in the sand that would make it difficult to step back, especially if it received majority backing from the Council. Both changes were made; I wouldn’t have been able to support the $149 figure.

This issue had the potential to destabilize the City’s 2017 budget process, since ¾ Council approval—7 of 9 votes—is needed to adopt the budget. This could have proven a stark challenge.

Councilmember Johnson and I have called for a special Council committee to oversee City-funded capital projects. I look forward to continuing this work during the Council’s budget process, which begins with the Mayor’s budget proposal on September 26.

As part of my review of the proposal, I requested information from the Executive about the City’s other four police precincts, and their projected life span, and and future potential costs associated with long-term maintenance. The Department of Finance and Administrative Services cautioned that the information they provided should not be used for budgeting purposes, and is designed to provide a general sense of building conditions, but it is useful. Here’s what I received for the Southwest, South, East, and West precincts.


NCIS Update, Busking in Sound Transit Stations, Be There Rally Wednesday Morning

September 6th, 2016

NCIS Update

Over the weekend Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) and Seattle City Light (SCL) worked overtime to roll out the New Customer Information System (NCIS). I have written previously about this program which has been plagued by delays and cost overruns. I also held a joint special committee with Councilmember Sawant, who chairs the Energy and Environment Committee, you can see a summary of that meeting here.

You may have seen some of the reports this weekend on the privacy issues revealed as part of that roll out. In response, I want to give you a quick recap of what happened. Early Monday morning, via email, the utilities sent out their first batch of new bills. Many of these customers received many copies of the same email. I’m sure this was confusing for many people. However a more serious issue unfolded with those emails, if you logged into your utility account you could see PDF versions of bills belonging to other customers. While payment and banking information was not compromised, this is a serious issue because names, addresses, account numbers, and data on usage was viewable.

The utilities were made aware of the issue and quickly took the system offline by 10:30 am. They are currently investigating the error. During the lead up to the rollout the utilities performed “day in the life testing” which did not reveal this issue.

Below you can see an update from the utilities detailing the “cutover” to the NCIS as well as impacts to customers.

Cutover to NCIS

On Monday, August 29, the New Customer Information System (NCIS) Executive Steering Committee, approved the launch of conversion from our existing customer information and billing system (CCSS) to NCIS.  The following steps are underway:

On Wednesday, August 31 after close of business:

  • Meter reads will be uploaded
  • Bills will be generated out of CCSS for the last time
  • Month-end and quarter-end reporting will be done
  • Verification and final balancing will be performed, and
  • Numerous legacy systems will be disabled
  • All data will be backed up and exported for conversion into the new formats
  • CCSS and all other retiring applications will be placed in “read-only” mode
  • Interim business processes will be placed in motion

Cutover – executing all steps to implement the new applications – will then commence.  A complex plan of 1,035 steps will be executed and tracked.  These tasks, which range in duration from one minute to many hours, must be completed successfully in a specific order.  The project team has practiced each step during five dress rehearsals simulating the actual cutover weekend.

Data will be converted into new formats, by both automated and manual processes.  Data conversion and application functionality will be verified.  Financial and non-financial balancing will be certified.  Once this verification has occurred, coordination of conversions and implementations will be performed by our 40 interfaces.  User’s desktops will be set up to access the new system.

Six go/no-go checkpoints will occur between Thursday morning and Sunday evening, each with a specific standard that must be met in order to move to the next set of steps. Questions that must be answered include:

  1. Has the final CCSS batch processing completed successfully?
  2. Are CCSS and NCIS financial items in balance? Are data corrections necessary to reconcile any differences?
  3. Did all non-financial items such as meters convert properly? Are data corrections necessary to reconcile any differences?
  4. Has data conversion completed successfully?
  5. Is the new system operating? Is critical manual data entry complete?  Are conversion files ready to distribute to our interface partners?  Do the utilities’ Finance Divisions agree that financial items are in balance?
  6. Is the system ready to go-live? Is the business ready to go live?  Are our interface partners ready to go-live?  For any partners not ready, can the business handle the impact?  And finally, are we ready to go-live?

Customer Impacts

The most visible impact to customers is that account number(s) will change. Account numbers will be automatically generated by the new billing system and identified on all billing statements that get sent out beginning September 6. There is no need for customers to do anything until they receive their first bill.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) have been developed, and will be available to answer many of the questions our customers will have after go-live.  The FAQs are available at  This web address will be communicated to customers on our website landing pages, social media channels, as well as in printed materials.

Bill inserts (both paper and electronic) will explain the impact of this account number change as follows:

To ensure proper credit to your account, if you:

  • Pay by check or in person, include the payment stub with your new account number.
  • Pay by autopay e-billing, you don’t have to do anything. Your new account number will be automatically reflected.
  • Pay through one-time payment at our website or use our pay-by-phone option, please enter your new account number.
  • Pay through your bank or a third-party payment service, please update this information with your new account number.

We are encouraging customers who pay through their bank or third-party payment service to update their information within 130 days (two full billing cycles for residential customers).  We will monitor those who have not done so and proactively contact them to avoid payment processing delays.

As staff become familiar with the new system, the potential exists for longer than normal wait times when customers call our Contact Center following launch.  In order to mitigate this risk, the Contact Center is staffed up to handle a 40 percent increase in call volumes, as well as an increase in time per call of several minutes.  In addition, contingency plans are in place to modify the Contact Center hours if necessary, and pull in additional office staff, including an overflow mini-Contact Center in the Central Building that could house an additional 16 representatives.

Busking at Sound Transit Stations

In January, the Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development and Arts Committee had a discussion about the Economic Impact of the Music Industry in Seattle and Working Conditions of Club Musicians.

One issue that came up was a busker who had been asked to leave the Beacon Hill light rail station. This caught my attention, as the City of Music program at Sea-Tac Airport, spearheaded by the Office of Film and Music and the Seattle Music Commission, has been very successful.

I drafted a letter signed by the committee members (myself and Councilmembers Sawant and O’Brien) asking the Office of Film and Music (OFM) requesting that OFM and/or the Music Commission contact Sound Transit to explore the potential for music performances at Sound Transit Light Rail stations; OFM has been in touch with Sound Transit about this.

Separately, Councilmember Rob Johnson contacted Sound Transit about busking policies, and requested the Music Commission provide feedback.

ST busking starSound Transit recently announced Public Performance Policy for busking, along with a 6-month pilot program at the University of Washington and Capitol Hill light rail stations. Performance sites are designated with a silver star. I’d like to thank Sound Transit for taking this step.

The Music Commission has said they’d like to provide assistance to Sound Transit by reviewing and providing feedback on their policy so that both SDOT and Sound Transit busking policies are streamlined, consistent, easily implementable cross-organizational, city-wide busking policy.

Be There Rally

Sponsored by the West Seattle and Fauntleroy YMCA and West Seattle Elementary the Be There Rally is a great opportunity to support our young people as they kick off the new school year tomorrow.

When: September 7 from 7:00am to 8:00am

Where: 6760 34th Ave SW

The Be There Rally draws inspiration from an event held in Hartford, Connecticut where over 100 Black men in suits got together to greet and encourage children on the first day of school. They did it because they wanted to show children of color positive images of Black people in their community instead of the negative and damaging images commonly portrayed in the media. That event sparked a couple of Seattle Public Schools to keep that momentum going.

Research shows that children whose fathers take an active role in their educational lives earn better grades, score higher on tests, enjoy school more and are more likely to graduate from high school and attend college. The call tomorrow is for 100 men and 100 women to support those who may not have role model by attending the Be There Rally.  Members of the High Point community reminded organizers that it is imperative that girls also have the opportunity to see successful women who they can identify with.

The West Seattle & Fauntleroy YMCA is sponsoring the rally in partnership with West Seattle Elementary and all people regardless of ethnic identification are encouraged to come.


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

August 19th, 2016

Observers’ Bill of Rights

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

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

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

California, Colorado, and Oregon have passed similar laws.

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

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

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

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

“…codification of an SPD policy has several benefits:

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

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

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

1) It addresses a nationwide issue of constitutional significance;

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

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

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


Council Capital Project Oversight Committee proposal

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

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

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

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

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

North Precinct

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

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


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

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

Southwest Precinct 100,000 28,000 Sq ft

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

Proposed North Precinct 221,200 Sq ft

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

August 12th, 2016

Council Passes Source of Income Legislation

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

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

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

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

  1. Protecting Tenants with Alternate Sources of Income

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

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

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

  1. First in Time Screening Process

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Community Pledges and Short term vouchers

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

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

  1. Preferred employer programs

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

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

Delridge Day 2016Delridge Day

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

Hope to see you there!

35th Avenue SW follow-up

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

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

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

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

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

SW Spokane Street re-paving

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

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

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


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