Priority Hire, West Point Treatment Plant, High Point Community Center Play area renovation project meeting on Saturday, African-American History Month, Destination Delridge, Volunteer Opportunity: Victim Support Team, Update on In-District Office Hours

February 24th, 2017

Priority Hire

This year we celebrate two years since the Priority Hire legislation was adopted. This program maximizes the City’s investment in public infrastructure to help residents secure apprenticeship and journey level employment opportunities on city funded public works projects

What is Priority Hire?  Prior to the 2015 passage of the Priority Hire legislation the percentage of Seattle residents working on taxpayer funded public works projects was only 5%, which means  95% of workers on these projects were non-Seattle residents. The program requires that public works construction project contracts totaling $5 million or more are covered by a master community workforce agreement that: (1) requires a minimum percentage of workers being local residents from economically disadvantaged zip codes; and (2) minimum requirements for utilization of apprentices that come from pre-apprenticeship programs.  This 2nd requirement improves the opportunities of un/underemployed workers receiving entry-level training to eventually be placed on public works projects as apprentices and gives them access to living wage careers.

On Tuesday, February 28, 2017, at 9:30a.m., the 2016 Priority Hire Annual Report and the Priority Hire Advisory Committee Report will be discussed during the Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development and Arts Committee (CRUEDA).  A few highlights that will be discussed next week include:

  • Seattle residents doubled their percentage of hours on projects compared to past projects.
  • Workers in economically distressed zip codes in Seattle perform more than three times the hours as compared to past projects.
  • Women work more than two times the hours, compared to previous years.

The Mayor recently proposed an Executive Order to make some immediate changes to the program and, in addition, the Mayor has proposed new legislation that will be discussed in the CRUEDA committee in March and April 2017.  If you are interested, please sign up for agendas to track this issue.

 

West Point Treatment Plant

As many of you are aware, King County’s West Point Treatment Plant experienced an equipment malfunction and flooding during intense rains and maximum flow to the treatment plant on Thursday February 9th. To protect the plant from further damage the facility operated in emergency bypass mode on the 9th and again on February 16th.

During the initial overflow, an estimated 250 million gallons of storm water and sewage was discharged into the Sound over a 19-hour period. As much as 90% of overflow was storm water, which can include contaminates such as dust from brake pads, engine oil, and yard chemicals. Additionally, sewage contains bacteria and pathogens that can make people sick. To protect public health, King County posted signage and closed beaches in impacted areas and sent out press releases and social media alerts. Discovery Park, Golden Gardens Park, and Carkeek Park beaches were closed. With approval from Public Health-Seattle & King County, all beaches were opened on February 21st after favorable water quality tests over multiple days.

Major effort by King County employees and contractors is underway to restore the West Point Treatment Plant. As of February 22nd, about 95% of the treatment plant was cleaned and sanitized. Workers continue assessing and restoring damaged electrical and mechanical equipment.  Electrical demolition and assessment is at 55 percent complete plant-wide. Additional cleaning and sanitizing is needed in the lowest below-grade levels of the treatment plant, which are currently used for mechanical parts storage.

Upon learning of this situation, I asked a couple of questions of SPU:

  • Does this situation create non-compliance with the Federal Consent Decree?
    • SPU’s answer: No, our Consent Decree has no provisions related to the operation of King County’s system other than that we coordinate with King County on system operations.
  • When a facility malfunctions to this extent, do our system operations change?
    • SPU’s answer: Not significantly, however we do coordinate on system operations on an ongoing basis to ensure that impacts to public health and the environment are mitigated to the greatest extent possible.

SPU also notified me that they are working on a report summarizing the impacts of the situation on the City’s sewer system, I will update you when I have that in hand.

As King County continues to make progress, you can stay up-to-date by visiting this page from King County and following King County’s social media channels. Additionally, King County developed a FAQ which you can find here to learn more about the incident.

Finally, I wanted to make sure you knew about another incident at a King County sewer regulator in South Park. A gate malfunction resulted in sewer backups into homes and caused customers in South Park to experience sewer backups into their homes. King County, again taking the lead, relocated 27 customers with 11 total properties impacted, three customers have returned home. The cause of the problem was a failure of a controller that operates the overflow gate in backup mode to allow overflows to the Duwamish.  The equipment has been repaired, and King County continues to work on residential cleanup and repair so that people can return home.

 

High Point Community Center Play area renovation project meeting on Saturday

Seattle Parks and Recreation is replacing playground equipment at the High Point Community Center Play area, and  will be holding a meeting for community input on Saturday, February 25th from 1-3 p.m. at the High Point Community Center, at 4920 34th Avenue SW.

This project will replace the play equipment, provide access improvements, and improve safety and other features at the park. Funding comes from the Seattle Parks District approved by voters in 2014.

You can also take an online survey about the project.

Information posters are available in English,  Amharic, Oromo, Somali, Spanish, and Tigrigna and are also available at the renovation project webpage.

 

African-American History Month – Breaking Through the Wall of Slavery

During the month of February I am featuring upcoming events in my emails to help promote the dozens of events that are happening in honor of Black History Month. Here is one such event:

The Seattle Public Library will be hosting a presentation on African-American genealogy by Janice Lovelace, Ph.D.:

“Want to trace your ancestors but keep getting stuck? Many African American researchers struggle to break through the brick wall of slavery… [Janice Lovelace, Ph.D.] will demonstrate techniques to identify emancipated slaves and their prior slave-owners through the use of land, probate, census and court records.  Janice Lovelace, Ph.D., has 20 years of experience in family history research as well as academic work in the area (Genealogy and Family History certificate at University of Washington in 2012, certificate program in genealogy at Boston University in 2013, ProGen 18). A member of Seattle Genealogical Society for a number of years, she joined the SGS Board as Vice-President in 2014. She is a member of Association of Professional Genealogists and National Genealogical Society. In her work life, she is a licensed clinical psychologist with a specialization in child and family therapy and has been a private practice therapist and a faculty member teaching psychology.”

When: This Saturday, February 25th between 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm

Where: Seattle Public Library, central branch, 1000 4th Ave

Cost: Free

For more information visit the event page here.

 

Destination Delridge

Tonight the Delridge Neighborhood Development Association (DNDA) will be hosting their annual fundraiser. This year’s theme is “Art | Nature | Neighborhood” and among many great achievements they are celebrating the addition of Nature Consortium to their suite of programs.

For more information about the event site linked here. And if you would like to purchase a ticket or donate, you can do that here.

Event details:

When: Friday, February 24th, 6pm mingle, 7pm dinner

Where: Metropolist, 2931 1st Ave S

 

Volunteer Opportunity: Victim Support Team

The Victim Support Team is a mobile crisis responsible team that assists people impacted by domestic violence by offering on-scene and over-the-phone support. Every weekend, volunteers work in teams of 2 and provide resource referral, safety planning and emergency supplies.

Information about qualifications and applications are available at the support team website. Applicants must have a valid Washington driver’s license, and pass a background check.

Spring Academy is 8:00am-4:30pm, Mondays and Tuesdays for 3 weeks in May, in the Seattle Municipal Tower.  The deadline to apply is March 1

For additional information or questions, please contact the VST Volunteer Supervisor, Kaylee.dimaggio@seattle.gov or call (206) 615-0892.

 

Update on In-District Office Hours

I will be at the South Park Community Center (8319 8th Avenue S) today, Friday February 24th, from 12:00pm – 5:30pm.  The final meeting of the day will begin at 5:00pm. The slight change is to accommodate the Destination Delridge event which starts at 6:00pm.

These hours are walk-in friendly, but if you would like to let me know you’re coming in advance you can email my scheduler Alex Clardy (alex.clardy@seattle.gov).

Additionally, here is a list of my tentatively scheduled office hours. These are subject to change, but I wanted to make sure you had a rough idea of when I would be available and where.

 

Date Location Address
Friday, February 24, 2017 South Park Community Center 8319 8TH Avenue S
Friday, March 24, 2017 Senior Center of West Seattle 4217 SW Oregon St
Friday, April 28, 2017 Southwest Neighborhood Service Center 2801 SW Thistle St
Friday, May 26, 2017 Senior Center of West Seattle 4217 SW Oregon St
Friday, June 23, 2017 South Park Community Center 8319 8TH Avenue S
Friday, July 28, 2017 Southwest Neighborhood Service Center 2801 SW Thistle St
Friday, August 18, 2017 Senior Center of West Seattle 4217 SW Oregon St
Friday, September 22, 2017 South Park Community Center 8319 8TH Avenue S
Friday, October 27, 2017 Southwest Neighborhood Service Center 2801 SW Thistle St
Friday, December 15, 2017 South Park Community Center 8319 8TH Avenue S

 

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Court Victory, Highland Park Mudslide, Landmarks Preservation Board, Update on $29 Million Housing Bond, Delridge Action Plan Tour Follow Up, Guaranteed OLS Funding, African-American History Month, In-District Office Hours

February 23rd, 2017

Court Victory

With pronouncements, unconstitutional Executive Orders, alarming nominations, and immigration raids coming from Trump administration, many of our neighbors, family, and loved ones are rightly feeling vulnerable.  In light of these daily events, today’s news was a huge victory for the values of nondiscrimination, in particular beneficial to members of the LGBTQ community. Today’s ruling in State of Washington v. Arlene’s Flowers, the court found that a Richland florist, Barronelle Stutzman, violated anti-discrimination law when she refused to serve a gay couple in their order for flowers for their wedding. I am proud and relieved to learn that the Washington State Supreme Court unanimously upheld the Washington statute that guarantees people the “full enjoyment” of public accommodations and prohibits “all discriminatory acts,” including those that “directly or indirectly” result in “any distinction, restriction, or discrimination” based on sexual orientation.

  

Highland Park Mudslide

You’ve likely heard that there was a significant mudslide on Highland Park Way in the early hours of Wednesday morning that not only knocked out power but also closed Highland Park Way.  Though the power was restored the road is still closed.  As I am writing this blog post, City Light is on site removing the line from the leaning pole and working to clear debris from the road.  They will then remove the pole to allow cleanup to continue.  The Seattle Department of Transportation reported Wednesday that “the landslide area seems to be stable and there were no new slides overnight.”  Once the pole is removed, it is the assessment of SDOT’s geo tech, that SDOT can then begin to clean up the street.  SDOT says they made significant progress on Thursday, and resumed cleanup operations this morning at 7 a.m. I understand that residents can access SW Othello via SW Austin and 7th Ave SW.

I’ve asked SDOT what kind of assessment they’ll be doing about the long-term safety of this area from future slides, and what improvements we can expect after the cleanup.

I thank King County Metro for their quick rerouting of Route 131 to accommodate bus riders in the area (myself included).  The incident highlights for me – once again – the need for an emphasis upon improvements on Highland Park Way. So many people (from all over West Seattle) use this corridor to get off the peninsula.  What might have once been a little-known egress is not any longer.

The Highland Park Action Committee has long been an advocate for improvements to the Holden and Highland Park intersection to slow down and make traffic flow more efficient.  The focus of those efforts has been on the design and development of an arterial roundabout.  SDOT agrees that improvements to this corridor are warranted.  It is not funded at this time.  I have inquired with SDOT about the funding estimate for the design portion alone to see if I can help identify some funding to give the project some momentum.

Though the focus of the community has been on the roundabout, I am inquiring with SDOT whether they’ve considered lane separation as an improvement.  Many people I know who are familiar with this road drive in the outermost lanes and avoid the opposite direction inner lanes because of the driving practices of people less familiar with the route, or practices of those who are familiar but speed hazardously nonetheless.

 

Landmarks Preservation Board designates Crescent-Hamm Building, nominates Campbell Building

Yesterday the Landmarks Preservation Board voted to designate the Crescent-Hamm Building as an historic landmark; this is the building where Easy Street Records is located, on the northwest corner of California Avenue SW and SW Alaska Street in the West Seattle Junction.

I attended the meeting and testified in support during public comment.

The Board also voted in favor of nominating the Campbell Building as an historic landmark.  Nomination is the first step prior to formal historical designation.  They will consider the designation of the Campbell Building at the April 15 meeting. The Campbell Building is across the street, on the northeast corner of California and Alaska, where Cupcake Royale is located.

Earlier this month I sent a letter to the Landmarks Preservation in support of designating the Crescent-Hamm Building as an historic landmark, and in support of the nomination of the Campbell Building.

To be designated, a building must be at least 25 years old and meet at least one of the categories listed under SMC 25.12.350. The first step the Board takes is to approve the nomination; the next step is to approve its designation.

Once designated by the Board, a Controls and Incentives agreement is negotiated with the property owner; once signed, it is forwarded to the Board for approval at a public meeting, then sent to the City Council for approval.

Hearty congratulations are due to the Southwest Seattle Historical Society who proposed the nominations.  Historic preservation is critically important in the areas where we are seeing change and new development.  With preservation of precious historic assets, we are able to maintain a bridge to our history, our culture, and what makes the Junction special.

 

Update on $29 Million Housing Bond

On Wednesday, 2/15/17, the Affordable Housing Neighborhood and Finance Committee approved two pieces of legislation that get us closer to using the $29 Million allocated during the Budget process to expand financing for affordable housing in 2017.  The Full Council will vote on 2/21/2017.

The first, CB 118196, essentially creates a line of credit to spend all or some of the $29 million in 2017 because we cannot issue the bonds until 2018.  The second, CB 118917 allows the City to create a new fund account – or simply – a place to put the funds.

in December, after passage of the $29 Million Housing Bond in the November budget, my office worked against the clock with the Office of Housing (OH) and the City Budget Office (CBO) to identify projects in time for a 2017 bond issuance. Unfortunately, we were not able to determine the specific eligible projects by the January deadline for the 2017 bond issuance that occurs only once a year in April.  The actions described above will give us more time while allowing the City to use some or all of the $29M for affordable housing projects in 2017.

OH plans to issue more than one “Notice of Funding Availability” (NOFA) opportunity in 2017.  This will either allow eligible projects to be vetted through the OH’s existing Housing Levy competitive funding process or the OH can issue a special Request for Proposal if a housing project that we want to fund is outside of the scope of the Housing Levy.

 

Delridge Action Plan Tour Follow Up

On Tuesday I toured Delridge to explore some items in the Delridge Action Plan. The Action Plan establishes five priorities including: “a community where all people can live their lives to the fullest potential; parks and natural environment that support a healthy neighborhood; great neighborhood destinations; a complete transportation network where walking biking and taking transit are easy choices; and access to affordable, healthy food. Each priority includes a vision discussion, associated goals, policies and implementation strategies.”

We started at the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center where we met up with a few members of the Advisory Board and department staff. We received a briefing from staff and talked about the multimodal transportation project in the Delridge Corridor, the plan to improve the natural drainage systems for Longfellow Creek, the wetlands & stewardship project, the proposed Delridge Grocery Co-op – the recent recipient of a $100,000 grant from the King County Conservation District funding – at Cottage Grove Apartments, and finally a Delridge business survey to catalogue businesses and their needs in the area.

Later we all loaded into a van and visited the newly dubbed “Brandon Junction” where more investments are needed to add sidewalks to create pedestrian connections with High Point.  The community has successfully applied for and received funding for piecemeal sidewalk installation, but more is needed to make the well-used travel route safe for walkers. We also visited Longfellow Creek, and the wetlands just off the Brandon Junction where community members are interested in opening visual sightlines from the street to the golf course, currently obstructed by foliage. Coincidently, while we were visiting the wetlands the Energy and Environment Committee voted unanimously to transfer the former Delridge Substation property from Seattle City Light to the Parks and Recreation Department. With the financial backing from the Delridge Neighborhood Development Association (DNDA) the City will acquire the property for open space and a natural wetland.  The wetland will detain storm water runoff, alleviating flooding of neighborhood yards and driveways, and will provide biofiltration of storm water runoff before it enters Longfellow Creek.  The DNDA will partner with Seattle Tilth, the Nature Consortium, and staff and students from Louisa Boren STEM K-8 school, to develop and manage part of the property as a permaculture food forest. This land management system combines aspects of the native habitat with edible forest gardening. A children’s garden will link classroom and field experience to educate local youth in environmental science and stewardship.

This is an exciting opportunity for the neighborhood, and I am thankful that DNDA was able to support this project. Preservation of green space maintains livability in a growing city.

 

Guaranteed OLS Funding

This week in the Affordable Housing, Neighborhoods and Finance Committee we heard bill that would identify a guaranteed revenue source for the Office of Labor Standards (OLS), and create a new dedicated fund for that revenue to be used for the costs of the operations and activities of the OLS. This revenue would support enforcement activities, including the investigation of complaints and directed investigations, as well as the education and outreach to employers and employees. Additionally, this legislation would require the Director of the OLS to certify by September 1, of each year, the level of funding required to maintain the office’s enforcement activities to ensure the necessary funding is reflected in the Mayor’s proposed budget.

The revenue source for the OLS’ enforcement activities is the existing City’s business license tax, commonly known as the business & occupation tax.

The OLS is responsible for administering and enforcing six local labor laws. The threat loss of Federal funding has never been more real, and this proposal will provide a stable funding source for the OLS to ensure that the $15 minimum wage and our other labor laws will be enforced.

A University of Washington study last April found that 72 percent of workers, including 91 percent of immigrant workers, did not know about or had just a vague understanding about their rights under the minimum wage. Outreach to workers is crucial because when all employees know their rights, this ensures for employers that businesses who do not adhere to our laws do not have an unfair business advantage over those good employers that adhere to our labor standards law.

 

African-American History Month – Black Heritage Society of Washington State 40th Anniversary Tribute

During the month of February I am featuring upcoming events in my emails to help promote the dozens of events that are happening in honor of Black History Month. Here is one such event:

The Black Heritage Society of Washington State will be celebrating its 40th Anniversary with a program that pays tribute to Northwest Black Pioneers. They will honor the community collaboration for the 1987 award-winning exhibit, Northwest Black Pioneers, A Tribute that traveled to more than 100 cities and towns throughout the Pacific Northwest and Alaska.

The Tribute will include a presentation titled: Upwardly Mobile: The African American Experience by Pamela Phillips, Faculty at Olympic College. Additionally, there will be a performance by Carlynn Newhouse, Ana Walker, and Umeme Dinish.

When: February 19th, between 2:00pm and 4:00pm

Where: Northwest African American Museum, 2300 S Massachusetts St

Cost: Free

For more information visit the event page here.
In-District Office Hours

I will be at the South Park Community Center (8319 8TH Avenue S) on Friday, February 24th 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 (alex.clardy@seattle.gov).

Additionally, here is a list of my tentatively scheduled office hours. These are subject to change, but I wanted to make sure you had a rough idea of when I would be available and where.

Date Location Address
Friday, February 24, 2017 South Park Community Center 8319 8TH Avenue S
Friday, March 24, 2017 Senior Center of West Seattle 4217 SW Oregon St
Friday, April 28, 2017 Southwest Neighborhood Service Center 2801 SW Thistle St
Friday, May 26, 2017 Senior Center of West Seattle 4217 SW Oregon St
Friday, June 23, 2017 South Park Community Center 8319 8TH Avenue S
Friday, July 28, 2017 Southwest Neighborhood Service Center 2801 SW Thistle St
Friday, August 18, 2017 Senior Center of West Seattle 4217 SW Oregon St
Friday, September 22, 2017 South Park Community Center 8319 8TH Avenue S
Friday, October 27, 2017 Southwest Neighborhood Service Center 2801 SW Thistle St
Friday, December 15, 2017 South Park Community Center 8319 8TH Avenue S

 

 

 

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U-District Rezone & Amendments, Police Accountability Legislation, Mandatory Housing Affordability Meetings, African-American History Month, and In-District Office Hours

February 10th, 2017


University District Rezone and Upcoming Vote on Important Amendments Coming Up

On Tuesday, 2/7/2017, the Planning, Land Use and Zoning (PLUZ) Committee voted on amendments to the proposed legislation to change the zoning in the University District and require all developers to contribute to affordable housing. This is the first area-wide rezone that, if passed by the Council, will implement the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) program, passed by the Council last year.  The Mayor submitted legislation (Council Bill 118862) to the Seattle City Council on the 25th of October 2016 to the PLUZ Committee, which held three Committee meetings on 11/16/2016, 11/29/2016, 12/6/16, and 1/19/2017, as well as an evening public hearing, to discuss the rezone proposal. I have heard both concerns and support from small businesses, housing and neighborhood advocates, and human service providers.  I have tried to focus my efforts on mitigating possible negative impacts to small businesses and renters and creating greater accountability.  I, joined by Councilmembers Johnson and O’Brien, proposed several amendments last week.  Many passed by the committee, attended by seven of nine members of the City Council.  Four of them are described here:

  • No changes along the Ave.  This amendment removed the proposed rezone on University Ave NE between NE 41st Street and NE 50th Street  to allow business owners to complete a study of potential impacts on small businesses.
  • Clarify open space will be publicly accessible. This amendment requires privately owned open space required by certain City incentive programs to be publicly accessible.
  • Amend reporting requirements. This amendment makes the reporting requirements annual in frequency instead of every two years as proposed and newly requires reporting on all waivers granted to developers that lets them avoid the required contributions to affordable housing.
  • Affordable housing funds should be spent near developments that generated payments. This amendment added a recital highlighting that the City will seek to use affordable funds generated from the MHA program to build affordable housing “near developments that generate cash contributions.”

There are still important additional amendments that the Council has not yet voted on but will be voted on at the Full Council meeting on February 21, 2017 at 2pm. These amendments address potential displacement risks, seek to increase affordable housing requirements of developers, and signal Council intent to revoke zoning decisions under certain circumstances.

  1.  Increasing Developers’ Requirements for MHA – When the MHA framework legislation came to the Council in Summer 2016 I worked closely with Councilmember O’Brien to make sure language was included in the bill saying that “Council would consider higher performance and payment amounts in areas where the increment of increased development capacity is greater.” The Mayor’s proposal for the highrise area of 240-320 feet requires only 9% of units in the structure be affordable or $20 per square foot be paid in fees for affordable housing.   These are the same amounts as for the smaller upzones of 65-85 feet in the University District.  Some Councilmembers have argued that increasing the requirements from 9% to 10% or $20 to $22.25 per square foot would negatively impact the feasibility of highrise development. But land costs, higher/rising labor and materials, and market demand are really what most drives feasibility.  There is good analysis that shows that these requirements will not increase development costs but instead will be borne by the sellers of property with reduced land costs for developers.
  2. Remove the rezone to midrise between NE 50th Street and NE 52nd Street, maintain low rise zoning. The Mayor’s proposal did not recommend changing the zoning in this area. I support this because: (a) This location is very dense with buildings that are affordable to renters, (b) there are not many underutilized or vacant lots in the area, meaning that increasing the development capacity may make redevelopment of existing apartments in this area more likely, which could result in the displacement of low income renters and loss of affordable units.  This amendment failed 3-4 in Committee.  Because it may impact 175 units of existing rental housing, I am considering bringing it back for a Full Council vote. 
  3. Clawback amendment. In response to community concerns that the mandatory affordability requirements could be invalidated by a future lawsuit, I am offering an amendment that if that did happen then we’d request the courts to also invalidate the upzones.

In addition, Council will vote on the following resolutions:

  1.  Resolution 31733 The Displacement Risk Analysis for the proposed University District Rezone was insufficient to allow the Council to consider new strategies to mitigate displacement.  If passed, this resolution will lead to a more thorough evaluation of residential displacement from increases in development capacity.  It also declares the Council’s intent to consider strategies to mitigate future loss of affordable units resulting from an increase in development capacity.
  2. Resolution 31732  Among other items such as requiring an implementation plan for business district support and infrastructure improvements such as a festival street and new open space developments, additions to the resolution that I have sponsored will lead to the City working to explore how to create a childcare voucher fund for employees in the U District. The resolution also will lead to completion of an assessment of the feasibility of enacting school impact fees to help pay for increased needs for schools resulting from growth.


Police Accountability Legislation

Earlier this week the Council had a first briefing on police accountability legislation, which would expand and institutionalize oversight by making the Community Police Commission permanent, creating a new Office of the Inspector General, and allowing for additional civilianization of the Office of Professional Accountability. The legislation is being considered in the Gender Equity, Safe Communities and New Americans committee, chaired by Councilmember González; here’s a link to the schedule, which includes public hearings on March 23, and May 3. A Central Staff Memo includes information on how we got here, and the origins of the 2012 Consent Decree with the US Department of Justice. I am one of eight Councilmembers co-sponsoring the legislation.  I joined the Mayor last week for the announcement of the legislation last week; here’s my quote from the announcement:
“This legislation would never have happened if it wasn’t for the work of the 34 community groups who called on the US Department of Justice in 2010 to ‘investigate whether the Seattle Police Department has engaged in a pattern or practice of violations of civil rights by using unnecessary and excessive force against the residents of Seattle in violation of federal law,” said Councilmember Lisa Herbold. “I’d like to thank them, and especially Reverend Harriet Walden, for her tireless advocacy for police accountability.” Additional information is available at the announcement release, and see here for Councilmember González’ infographic, and the materials linked to the legislation.

Upcoming Mandatory Housing Affordability ((MHA) Meetings in District 1 Neighborhoods:

You can also email Spencer.Williams@Seattle.Gov or call (206) 384-2709 to register for meetings.

African-American History Month – The Kijiji Festival

During the month of February I will be featuring an upcoming event in my emails to help promote the dozens of events that are happening in honor of Black History Month. Here is one such event:
One Vibe Africa and Seattle Art Museum proudly present Kijiji Festival, which means “village” in Swahili. This exciting evening will feature traditional music performances, an African market, and a special screening of Madaraka The Documentary.

When: Saturday February 11, between 6:30pm and 8:30pm

Where: Seattle Art Museum – Brotman forum

You can RSVP for free at this link.

Artwork of One Vibe Africa’s Piga Picha Project will also be on view in SAM’s Community Gallery. Piga Picha, on view Wednesday, February 1 through Sunday, February 26, features paintings and photographs created by students from the port city Kisumu, Kenya, with photographer Meg Stacker.

In-District Office Hours

I will be at the South Park Community Center (8319 8TH Avenue S) on Friday, February 24th 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 (alex.clardy@seattle.gov). Additionally, here is a list of my tentatively scheduled office hours. These are subject to change, but I wanted to make sure you had a rough idea of when I would be available and where.

Date Location Address
Friday, February 24, 2017 South Park Community Center 8319 8TH Avenue S
Friday, March 24, 2017 Senior Center of West Seattle 4217 SW Oregon St
Friday, April 28, 2017 Southwest Neighborhood Service Center 2801 SW Thistle St
Friday, May 26, 2017 Senior Center of West Seattle 4217 SW Oregon St
Friday, June 23, 2017 South Park Community Center 8319 8TH Avenue S
Friday, July 28, 2017 Southwest Neighborhood Service Center 2801 SW Thistle St
Friday, August 18, 2017 Senior Center of West Seattle 4217 SW Oregon St
Friday, September 22, 2017 South Park Community Center 8319 8TH Avenue S
Friday, October 27, 2017 Southwest Neighborhood Service Center 2801 SW Thistle St
Friday, December 15, 2017 South Park Community Center 8319 8TH Avenue S

 

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Housing Affordability Update // Crescent-Hamm Landmark // Youth and Family Justice Center // Responding to the President’s Executive Order

February 3rd, 2017


Update on the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) Timeline

I wanted to make sure that you heard from me first that the office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD) is amending the schedule for release of the draft EIS for the proposed citywide MHA zoning changes and now it is anticipated to come out in May. This will give the community an additional two months to provide feedback before the draft EIS is published. The Department of Neighborhoods (DON) plans to door knock all of the single family homes that are part of the potential upzones. Also, DON and OPCD will conduct another series of meetings in May and June.  In addition, depending on how well the Draft EIS identifies and addresses the issues raised in public comment, which the Council has been compiling, I will consider whether there is a need for additional time for public comment on the Draft EIS.

Upcoming meetings in District 1 neighborhoods:

You can also email Spencer.Williams@Seattle.Gov or call (206) 384-2709 to register for meetings.

More links:

 


Crescent-Hamm Building Landmark Nominations

On February 15, the Landmarks Preservation Board will consider the designation of the Crescent-Hamm Building (Easy Street, 4559 California Avenue SW) as an historical landmark. They earlier approved its nomination.

The Board also announced they will consider the nomination of the Campbell Building at 4554 California Avenue SW (Cupcake Royale) at the meeting on February 15 at 3:30 p.m.  The Board will meet on February 15 at 3:30 p.m. in Room L280 in City Hall.

I’ve sent a letter to the Landmarks Preservation in support of designating the Crescent-Hamm Building as an historic landmark, and in support of the nomination of the Campbell Building. The nominations were proposed by the Southwest Seattle Historical Society.

To be designated, a building must be at least 25 years old and meet at least one of the categories listed under SMC 25.12.350. The first step the Board takes is to approve the nomination; the next step is to approve its designation.

If designated by the Board, a Controls and Incentives agreement is negotiated with the property owner; once signed, it is forwarded to the Board for approval at a public meeting, then sent to the City Council for approval.

 


City Grant Program Changes

The Department of Neighborhoods (DON) recently announced changes to the two city grant programs.

First of all, DON announced changes to the Neighborhood Matching Fund, which provides $3 million in awards in 2017. The changes increase the limit for the “small sparks” fund, available year-round, from $1,000 to $5,000. The “Community Partnership” fund will be for projects between $5,001 and $100,000. Applications will now be available three times a year. DON has also expanded eligibility, to allow community-based groups and District Council organization to apply. Recurring community events will be eligible for funding every other year, instead of only once.

DON will host a workshop about the Neighborhood Matching Fund on Tuesday, February 7 at Neighborhood House at 6400 Sylvan Way SW, Room 207B, for anyone interested in the program. Registration details are here.

Secondly, DON announced that the Neighborhood Parks and Street Fund will be using the Participatory Budgeting process in 2017 to award $2 million in grants for small-scale parks and streets projects of up to $90,000. $285,000 will be available for each of Seattle’s seven Council Districts.

Eligible projects include:

  • Street projects such as traffic calming (traffic circles, median islands, speed feedback signs, etc.) or short segments of sidewalk construction (less than 100 feet, or one third of a block)
  • Parks projects such as include accessibility improvements, trail/path maintenance and upgrades, park benches or tables, natural area renovations, minor playground improvements

DON is calling this use of participatory budgeting Your Voice, Your Choice. The Your Voice Your Choice program has four steps: idea collection, project development, public voting, and implementation.

Last year it was used citywide for youth aged 11-25 to vote; they voted to approve seven projects in voting in May of last year.

Idea collection is taking place during February, and is designed to be low-barrier. You can submit project ideas online here. Public meetings for in-person idea collection are listed here; the South Park Neighborhood Association is listed for February 14. If you’d like to have DON attend a meeting, contact Jenny Frankl at jenny.frankl@seattle.gov.

If you’d like to be part of the project development team (all 7 districts will have them), you can sign up here. These teams will select around 8 to 10 projects for voting in June. Voting will take place within each of Seattle’s 7 Council Districts.

If you’d like to facilitate a discussion, here are resources from DON:

Examples of projects funded through the 2016 Neighborhood Parks and street fund are here.

 


Letters re: Juvenile Detention Portion of the Proposed Youth and Family Justice Center

Earlier this week Mayor Murray sent a letter to King County requesting the County take a second look at the design of the proposed new juvenile detention center.  Both the City of Seattle and King County have stated that zero detention of youth is a policy goal.  Though we have made strides in reducing the numbers of youth incarcerated, the racial disparity of those in detention has increased.

I sent two letters regarding this project last year. The first was to the Director of the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections, and requested that he carefully consider issues raised regarding the permit application and request for a waiver for building standards.  This permit is currently under appeal.

The second letter last summer was sent to King County, requesting, given the reduction in youth detention and the promise of new detention reduction programs to reap additional reductions, that they “consider a third-party needs analysis of the proposed juvenile detention portion for the Youth and Family Justice Center,” along the lines of a 2011 study by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency regarding Baltimore’s youth detention facility.

King County Executive Constantine also released a statement regarding the project, which notes King County Superior Court’s use of youth restorative justice.

 


In Memoriam: Cass Turnbull, Peter Sherwin

We recently lost two Seattle activists who have contributed greatly to our city’s wellbeing.

Cass Turnbull passed away last weekend. She was a tireless advocate on behalf of natural areas and trees. She founded PlantAmnesty, and served on the board of TreePAC.

Cass played a big role in helping to save the Myers Way parcels for future open space use. The effort to save these parcels depended on community activism from Top Hat, Highland Park, South Park and Westwood/Roxhill/Arbor Heights. Its success also depended on support from citywide groups such as the Green Spaces Coalition and TreePAC. Cass helped build citywide support on short notice, organizing presentations for people across Seattle.

In response to the City’s decision to preserve the Myers parcels, Cass wrote me saying, “One of the three brightest days of my life was when I heard Myers Parcels was to be saved. Let’s do more.”

She will be missed.

Peter Sherwin also passed away earlier last month. He was one of the most honest and straightforward people I’ve ever met.   He was fun, he had a big heart, and an incisive sense of humor. He understood change efforts had to capture the imagination.  This was most evident for me in his slogan for his labor of love, Rise Above it All, the monorail expansion effort.

He was involved in countless civic endeavors and campaigns over decades, and was always willing to share his creative ideas, suggestions, and research, most recently information he’d found about Pronto.  Thanks to Peter, I’ll always remember to consider all the facts – even the sometimes politically inconvenient ones.

He too will be missed.

 


My Comments in Response to the President’s Executive Order

Last Wednesday, I participated in a press conference in City Hall Plaza, in response to the President’s order on immigration. You can see my comments at the Seattle Channel, in my capacity as chair of the Council’s committee that oversees Civil Rights issues regarding the removal of the words “civil rights” from the White House website, Spanish translation, and information for people with disabilities.

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Socially Responsible Banking Legislation / Seattle Public Utilities Strategic Business Plan Meeting Announcements / Onyx Arts Exhibit at King Street Station / Myers Way Homeless Encampment Community Meeting  /

January 27th, 2017


Socially Responsible Banking Legislation
I’ve received around 1400 e-mails, and hundreds of phone calls, regarding socially responsible banking legislation before a City Council committee next week. Here’s the reply I’ve been sending out:

Thank you for writing to me about Council Bill 118833, strengthening Seattle’s socially responsible banking laws, and encouraging the Mayor and Director of Finance and Administrative Services (FAS) to end the City’s banking relationship with Wells Fargo. I support this bill, especially considering that senior management at Wells Fargo directed employees to engage in fraud, for which Wells Fargo was fined $185 million by federal and local regulatory bodies.

Councilmember Burgess, Chair of the Affordable Housing, Neighborhoods and Finance Committee, announced this week that the bill, as well as a possible alternative that he would propose, would be heard at the February 1 meeting.

The Director of the Department of Finance and Administrative Services (FAS) has the power to “select qualified public depositories for the deposit of City moneys as contemplated by RCW Chapter 39.58” through an open bidding process. Council Bill 118833 would amend the City’s socially responsible banking practices (SMC 20.65.010A) to require banks seeking to do business with the City to disclose whether they’ve engaged in dishonest or unethical business practices within the last five years. Under the City’s existing socially responsible banking laws, the Director of FAS has the power and duty to require banks provide the City with data on socially responsible banking practices when they are bidding to be selected as the City’s bank.  The data provided by the banks on their socially responsible practices is then used to rate the bank in the City’s selection process.

I plan to propose an amendment to amend the section of the socially responsible banking law (SMC 20.65.010B) that defines “socially responsible bid criteria” to explicitly include “engaging in fair business practices.” This provision is not explicitly included in the proposed bill.  Its inclusion will ensure that FAS specifically consider this criterion in selecting the City’s bank.

In addition, the legislation also encourages the Mayor and FAS Director to include socially responsible banking as a factor worth at least 20% (it is currently worth 15% in the Socially Responsible Banking ordinance passed by the Council in 2013, sponsored by former Councilmember Licata).

Finally, the legislation encourages the Mayor and Director of FAS to provide Wells Fargo with notice of intent to not renew the current contract for a 5-year extension; to undertake a new competitive bidding process to establish a new, qualified financial institution for banking services by no later than December 31, 2018.  The City’s current contract with Wells Fargo goes through the end of 2018.

Integrating social responsibility with the City’s banking needs, and relevant state law, is challenging. State law limits the use of credit unions to $250,000, which means we can’t use them for general-purpose banking.

My office asked FAS about relevant regulations, and they sent me the following information:

Regulatory Restrictions

“State law strictly limits which banking firms the City can hire. State code (RCW Chapter 39.58) requires banks serving the City to have collateral equal to the City’s total deposits. This collateral amount, however, must be free and clear from most any other collateral requirements the bank has under state or federal law. In addition, state law limits a bank’s total deposits from its local government customers to no more than the bank’s total net worth in the state of Washington and no more than 150 percent of its net worth worldwide.

There are additional technical requirements the City places on its bank vendor, including the capacity to process up to $450 million in deposits, robust overdraft protection and an adequate number of branches to serve the City’s 80 payment centers. Currently, these and other restrictions limit the banks that can provide banking services to the City to a handful of the nation’s largest banks.”

Sixty three banks are authorized by the state Public Deposit Protection Commission to accept public deposits in Washington State, though they face limits on how much in deposits they can accept.

During the City’s previous open bidding process during 2012, only four banks submitted proposals and met mandatory qualifications and minimum requirements: Wells Fargo, Bank of America, US Bank, and Union Bank. Two of these banks have significant direct investments in the Dakota Access Pipeline; two have significant investments in companies involved in the pipeline (Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi is the parent company of Union Bank).

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

My office has asked FAS which of the 63 banks would be eligible for Seattle’s banking contract, and other questions, in order to gain a more complete picture of Seattle’s overall banking situation, and which banks might be eligible for Seattle’s depository services.

Regardless of the limits we may face, strengthening socially responsible banking principles is a good step.

 

 

Seattle Public Utilities Strategic Business Plan Meeting Announcements
Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) is in the process of updating its Strategic Business Plan (SBP), the roadmap that guides their investments and service levels. Additionally, this document, which is updated every three years, is the guide for the utility’s rate path. The first SBP, passed in 2014 and linked here, outlined a 4.6% average annual increase which is reflected in the core services provided by SPU: drinking water, drainage, sewer, and garbage and recycling.

During the development of the original SBP, customers had an opportunity to provide feedback at focus groups, public meetings, and via online surveys. They are now asking for your help to update the existing plan, which will affect your rates and your SPU bill. Please consider attending a community meeting and sharing your thoughts and experiences with SPU.

 

 

Onyx Arts Exhibit at King Street Station
In the Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development and Arts Committee that I chair, each month we have a “Cultural Spotlight” feature, where Office of Arts and Culture selects a local arts organization to present at the beginning of the committee meeting.

Earlier this week, Onyx Fine Arts presented. They are an all-volunteer groups of artists and supporters committed to seeking out and promoting visual artwork of Pacific Northwest artists, both known and unknown, principally from the Pacific Northwest.

Their “Truth B Told” exhibit is currently featured at King Street Station exhibition space on the 3rd floor, at 303 South Jackson, through February 4. Admission is free. It is open 3-8 p.m. on Fridays, noon-6 on Saturdays, and during the Pioneer Square First Thursday Art Walk next week. A Seattle Times article reviewed the exhibit last week.

You can view their committee power point presentation here, which features some of the artwork. You can also view the presentation at the Seattle Channel archive.

 

 

Myers Way Homeless Encampment Community Meeting 
On Wednesday, February 1, 2017, at 7pm,  the Director of Homelessness, George Scarola, will facilitate a community meeting with the Highland Park Neighborhood at the Joint Training Facility about the Myers Way Encampment. This is an opportunity to ask questions and learn more about how the Mayor’s Office intends to implement the City Council requirements for the creation of a community advisory committee, an encampment operations plan, and resources that will be available to meet both the encampment residents and the neighborhood needs.  The Emergency Order allow this encampment to operate for 12 months with an option to renew for an additional 12 months.

As discussed in last week’s blog post, the Council approved the Executive Order to stand up three new encampments.  The new encampments make up one component of the Mayor’s Bridging the Gap to Pathways Home Initiative, which is the action plan to better address the immediate needs of people living unsheltered.

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Womxn’s March Tomorrow, Pronto/Bike Share Ending in Seattle; Reminder: Alaska Junction MHA/HALA meeting January 26; In the Cold Poetry Reading January 26; Annexation Briefing; Mayor’s Executive Order on Encampments; In-District Office Hours January 27

January 20th, 2017

Womxn’s March Tomorrow

Please join me at the Womxn’s March on Seattle tomorrow, January 21st. All people are invited to join in solidarity with the march taking place in Washington D.C. as well as in 200 events planned in 46 states and 30 countries.

Are you wondering about the “x” in the title “Womxn’s March?”  Seattle organizers adopted the name ‘Womxn’s March on Seattle” to recognize intersectionality.  The organizers say: “different forms of discrimination intersect, overlap, and reinforce each other, and take into account the impact of discrimination based not only on gender but also race, sexual orientation, gender identity, nationality, faith, class, disability, and other backgrounds.”

The day will start with a rally at 10am in Judkins Park (2150 S Norman St) and the march will begin at 11am. There are over 80 organizations participating and an expected turnout of more than 50,000 people.

The march will follow a route through downtown and disperse at the Seattle Center. Along the route, community advocates and social justice leaders will speak about issues threatened by the incoming Presidential administration, such as the safety and wellbeing of undocumented people, reproductive and LGBTQ rights, combating climate change, and more.

I believe our collective efforts to intentionally support one another in new ways will be more important than ever before in the days and years to come. If you can’t join the march tomorrow morning, please consider other avenues to show your support for community members who will be impacted by future efforts to reverse the gains of our nation in keeping immigrant and refugee families safe, protecting a woman’s access to birth control and her right to choose, maintaining drug policy reform, supporting the rights of everyone to love whom they choose, and defending a workers’ right to unionize.

Pronto/Bike Share in Seattle Ending

On Friday January 13 Mayor Murray announced the city would not pursue a new $4.7 million bike-share program in Seattle to replace the Pronto system, and instead direct funding to pedestrian and bicycle safety, and the Safe Routes to Schools program.

Here’s my statement on the Mayor’s announcement that the City will not pursue a new bike share system following Pronto’s decommissioning later this winter:

“This was absolutely the right call. With limited public dollars, these resources are better used to develop safe routes to schools for our students.  Now is not the time for public investment in a bike share system.

 “I’m glad to see these funds are proposed toward implementing the City’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plans, and School Safety projects, in line with my proposal last year to re-direct $4 million in funding away from expansion of the Pronto system toward these existing needs. I regularly hear from constituents about school crossing safety, most recently regarding Genesee Hill Elementary.

 “During last year’s budget cycle, I sponsored a budget action the Council adopted to remove $900,000 in funding for operation of the Pronto system in 2017 and 2018, to preserve funding for these existing needs.”

Last year I voted “no” on legislation for the City to purchase the Pronto system for $1.4 million; it passed 7-2.

The cut adopted by the Council during the budget process allows the Pronto system to operate no longer than March 31.

Reminder: Alaska Junction MHA/HALA meeting January 26

Here’s a reminder about the Alaska Junction public meeting on the proposed Mandatory Housing Affordability and the Executive’s initial proposal for zoning changes:

  Alaska Junction. Thursday, January 26th, 6-9pm, West Seattle Senior Center, 4217 SW Oregon St, RSVP for the Alaska Junction Workshop by clicking here.

To RSVP, click the link above, email Spencer.Williams@Seattle.Gov or call (206) 384-2709.

The meeting originally scheduled for Morgan Junction on the 23rd has been delayed, and is being re-scheduled.

In the Cold Poetry Reading January 26

Seattle Civic Poet Claudia Luna Castro has organized In the Cold, a poetry reading on the eve of the annual survey to document homelessness in Seattle and King County.

It will feature Castro Luna, Seattle’s Youth Poet Laureate Angel Gardner, and writers from the Recovery Café and Mary’s Place for a Count Us In poetry reading and showing of Michelle de la Vega’s film US THEM WE.

It will take place on January 26 in City Hall Plaza at 600 4th Avenue, at 7 p.m.

It is Co-sponsored by Open Books, the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture, and myself.

Annexation Briefing

On Wednesday I attended the Education, Equity, and Governance Committee briefing on the potential annexation of both the North Highline area and the Duwamish area (or Sliver by the River). You can see a map of both proposed annexation areas here, a memo describing the process and timeline here, and a document outlining the impacts to service providers such as school districts, utilities, fire, police and other emergency services here.

The proposed timeline for the Duwamish area annexation includes May Council deliberations on a resolution approving an election date, proposed at this time to be August 2017, though this might change.  If approved by the voters then, the effective date would be January 1, 2018. Because annexation would result in the transfer of King County-owned assets to the City and an assumption of the costs of services, the Executive is currently negotiating an Interlocal Agreement (ILA) with King County as a prerequisite to moving forward.

The proposed timeline for the North Highline annexation includes an election in August or November of 2018 and, if approved by the voters, an effective date of January 1, 2020. You may recall I previously wrote about the public hearings for the North Highline annexation held by the County Boundary Review Board where they voted 8-1 to approve the annexation and directed staff to prepare the written findings and decision. Negotiations of an ILA for the North Highline Annexation Area are required but have not started.  Similar to the Sliver by the River Annexation, the City Council will first need to approve placing the question on the ballot and establish an election date.

We learned in the briefing that the financial analysis to determine City costs to provide services to the proposed annexation area, and determine revenues generated within the area to support those costs, is out of date.  I requested that the Executive prepare a new analysis prior to the Council deliberations on each of the two annexations.

If you have specific questions or a group that would like to receive a presentation from the City, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

Mayor’s Executive Order re: three new encampments

This Tuesday the Mayor’s office filed three emergency orders with the City Clerk, as allowed by the state of emergency declared by the Mayor in late 2015. The emergency orders created encampments at three locations, each able to serve between 60 and 70 persons experiencing homelessness. One of those locations is the current Myers Way encampment. I have heard from many constituents about this encampment, specifically about the illegal dumping near the site and the surrounding greenbelt as well as the lack of available services at the current location.

The Executive Orders, as originally proposed, did not provide for the important standards and procedures applicable to already-existing sanctioned encampments authorized by the Seattle Municipal Code. The Highland Park Action Committee is seeking additional accountability structures, and in an effort to support their request, I proposed a modification to the orders requiring that these encampments also conform to standards applicable to the existing sanctioned encampments authorized by Seattle Municipal Code 23.42.056. Specifically:

  • Establishment of a Community Advisory Committee to facilitate resolution of complaints;
  • Development of an encampment operations plan; and
  • Access to bathrooms and water and removal of garbage no-less frequently than weekly.

These modifications to the Emergency Orders were approved.  I will follow the implementation of these requirements at Myers Way.  In addition, I’m working with Seattle Public Utilities to support community requests for monitoring of water quality at nearby Hamm Creek as well as the wetlands, both of which are impacted by unauthorized camping in other sections of the Greenbelt.

In-District Office Hours

I will be at the Southwest Neighborhood Center (2801 SW Thistle St) on Friday, January 27th from 2:00pm – 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 (alex.clardy@seattle.gov).

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Federal Judge OKs Moving Forward on Police Accountability Legislation; Tenants’ Rights Workshop in District 1; Community Benefit Agreements (CBAs)

January 12th, 2017

Federal judge OKs moving forward on police accountability legislation

Late last week a federal judge ruled that Seattle can proceed with police accountability legislation.  This legislation has been developed to comply with the requirements of the 2012 Consent Decree with the US Department of Justice to reform policing in Seattle.   Federal Judge James Robart is responsible for overseeing the implementation of these Consent Decree requirements.

Judge Robart had earlier ruled that he would first need to review the proposed accountability legislation in advance of the Council’s consideration to ensure that it did not conflict with the terms or purpose of the Consent Decree. His ruling notes “The purposes of the Consent Decree are…(1) constitutional policing, (2) effective policing, and (3) policing in which the community can have confidence.

Judge Robart’s ruling approves the draft legislation moving forward, and clarifies issues on terminating officers, the composition of the Community Police Commission, and the role of the Community Police Commissions with respect to a new proposed Office of the Inspector General.

To ensure the judge reviewed and approved alternative legislative possibilities, the reviewed draft legislation included multiple options for some issue areas.  The legislation will now be revised into standard legislative format, and undergo final legal review, and come to the City Council for consideration, and public comment.

The bill should reach the Council in the coming months.

Tenants’ Rights Workshop in District 1

Monday, January 23rd from 6:30-8pm at the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center at 4408 Delridge Way SW, Seattle, WA 98106

In FREE workshop for current and future renters and tenant advocates, Solid Ground Tenant Counselors will cover information to help consumers…

  • Know and assert their rights as tenants
  • Navigate the housing search and landlord screening process
  • Protect themselves from eviction and housing loss
  • Learn how to get deposits back and repairs made

Please note that while Solid Ground’s Tenant Counselors are not attorneys and cannot provide legal advice, they are recognized leaders in tenant education and advocacy.

QUESTIONS? Contact our Tenant Services Workshops & Advocacy Line at 206.694.6748 or
tenantwa@solid-ground.org

https://www.facebook.com/events/581281532071094/

https://www.solid-ground.org/events/rent-smart-tenant-rights-workshop-2/

Community Benefit Agreements (CBAs)

On Wednesday, I attended a Council Lunch and Learn on Community Benefits: Tools of the Trade, hosted by Councilmember O’Brien’s Sustainability and Transportation Committee. Councilmembers, city staff and community members heard presentations from Coalitions, Campaigns and Community BenefitsStrategic Actions for  a Just Economy, and East Bay Alliance for Sustainable Economy about how communities across the country are using CBAs to address exploding property values and displacement.

Engagement with and the community organizing of impacted residents and workers can ensure that CBAs are a tool that maximizes the public benefits received from investments made by the city, employers, and developers. These agreements may require developers to build more affordable housing, improve access to transit, expand affordable childcare options, and/ or increase livable wage employment opportunities. Under the Priority Hire Ordinance the City of Seattle uses a community workforce agreement on all of its public works projects.  Having a citywide requirement enacted by ordinance for these specific kinds of projects means that community members do not have organize and pressure the City on each individual city funded public works project.

People who live and work in the University District have requested the City Council’s help in encouraging large employers and developers to negotiate a CBA in anticipation of future development in the University District resulting from proposed University District Mandatory Housing Affordability Zoning legislation.  I look forward to thinking more about how the City can support the use of CBAs as another tool to further our shared goals to create more affordable housing, decrease displacement of businesses and residents, and improve the overall livability for all Seattle residents.

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MHA Citywide Proposal and Future Legislative Process; Arts and Music Commissions presentation on arts space affordability; Sound Transit Busker pilot program survey; Democracy Vouchers; Seattle United for Immigrant and Refugee Families

January 6th, 2017


MHA – Citywide Proposal and Future Legislative Process

The broad public conversation of the Executive’s initial (my emphasis added) proposal to implement the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) program approved by the Council in last year’s MHA framework legislation  began in Fall 2016. Last year’s framework legislation laid out how all developers would have to contribute to new affordable housing in all developments in exchange for additional zoning capacity.  The steps that began this fall include how much developers must contribute and how much as well as where additional zoning capacity is added.

Prior to the development of the Mayor’s initial zoning proposal, the Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD) and Department of Neighborhoods (DON) selected 160 community members (from a pool of 250+ applicants) to participate in a nine-month facilitated focus group process to develop principles and recommendations for zoning change proposals to enact MHA. A summary of the focus group process may be found here. An additional summary may be found here.

The map of the proposed MHA zoning changes, by urban village, were made available online mid-October 2016, the City issued draft proposed zoning maps for neighborhoods across the city. An interactive website  allows for input to the draft maps.

The City Council allocated $300,000, in 2017, to facilitate its own community charrettes to help answer the question of where additional zoning capacity should be added.

The Executive’s initial proposal for these zoning changes includes where the boundary for urban villages should be drawn and what mix of zones best support the context and conditions of local areas.  These workshops are meant to be an interchange of ideas and opinions on whether these proposals hit the mark for communities or whether – while still adding sufficient addition zoning capacity necessary to require developers to contribute to affordable housing – boundaries should be shifted or a different mix of zoning changes considered.

You can provide input on the proposed draft urban village boundaries, draft zoning changes, and building types here www.seattle.gov/hala/focus-groups.  Additional opportunities for District 1 neighborhoods will be as follows:

To RSVP, click the link above, email Spencer.Williams@Seattle.Gov or call (206) 384-2709.

I’ve heard concerns that the City is moving too fast. We are early in the process.  The City has begun to develop an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to measure benefits and impacts of the MHA citywide zoning proposal.  Here are the opportunities to influence the final Executive proposal, prior to beginning Council deliberations:

  • Residents will have had at least four months (mid-October until mid-February) to review the maps prior to the tentative mid-March release of the Draft EIS.
  • Once the Draft EIS is released, people will have at least 45 days to provide additional public comment.  Depending the sufficiency of the Draft EIS in identifying the issues raised public comment (which the Council has been compiling) I will consider whether there is a need for additional time for public comment on the Draft EIS. 
  • A Final EIS that further incorporates public comment is tentatively scheduled to be released in Summer 2017 with a final legislative proposal for the MHA citywide zoning changes and developer obligations to contribute to affordable housing.
  • The public will then have an additional approximately 6-month opportunity to comment before the City Council begins to consider the MHA citywide zoning legislation in early 2018.

Additional Helpful links:


Arts and Music Commissions presentation on arts space affordability

On December 2nd a tragic fire resulted in the death of 36 people at the Ghost Ship artists’ collective in Oakland. Two weeks later, the Seattle Arts Commission, Music Commission, and leadership of the Central Area Arts & Cultural District and Capitol Hill Arts District sent a letter to the Mayor regarding the future of arts spaces in Seattle, including recommendations.

The letter states concern about displacement, evictions, and disproportionate impact on people of color, mirroring problems facing housing and commercial affordability in Seattle.

Since these commissions relate to the committee I chair, wanted to give them the opportunity to present their recommendations. The recommendations include applying the City’s Race and Social Justice tooklit to enforcement, a grading system for safety, expanding eligibility for arts funding, and an “Arts Events License” similar to one recently adopted in Vancouver, BC.

The Office of Arts & Culture’s 2013 Cultural Space Inventory showed that Native American and African American organizations showed lower stability, and noted that “…an organization’s target audience’s race provides the most dramatic difference in a feeling of stability and security.”

The presentation will take place at the January 10 meeting of the Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development and Arts Committee. The meeting will begin at 9:30 a.m.; the meeting agenda will be available soon. You can view the presentation live on the Seattle Channel.


Sound Transit Busker pilot program survey

Sound Transit is taking a survey regarding their Busking (street performer) pilot program at the University of Washington and Capitol Hill light rail stations.

Here’s a link to the survey; the performance policy is here.


Democracy Vouchers

The Seattle Office of Ethics and Elections Commissions (SEEC) is beginning implementation of the Democracy Voucher program, a form of partial public financing of elections. The program results from the passage of citizen-initiated “Honest Elections Seattle” Initiative 122 in 2015, and allows Seattle residents to use the vouchers to support candidate(s) in 2017 City of Seattle elections.

In 2017 Seattle voters can contribute the vouchers to qualifying candidates for the two citywide City Council elections, and the City Attorney’s election. The program will apply to the Mayor’s race in 2021.

SEEC began mailing the vouchers to registered voters earlier this week. Seattle residents 18 years of age and older can apply to receive vouchers if they are a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or lawful permanent resident.

Background on the program is available here. A multi-lingual webpage has materials here.

Seattle had partial public financing of elections in 1979 and 1981, and 1987-1991. State law prohibited public financing in 1992; in 2008 the state legislature allowed for public financing, if approved by a public vote, and funding comes from local sources only. Initiative 122 amended other sections of the elections code as well, including lowering the maximum contributions, limiting contributions from city contractor or those who have paid lobbyists $5,000 or more in the prior twelve months to lobby the City.


Seattle United for Immigrant and Refugee Families

On Friday, January 20, 2017 at McCaw Hall at Seattle Center obtain FREE legal services and information.

Volunteer registration is now open!
Click here to sign up to help us make this event successful.

Questions about volunteering? Please email citizenship@seattle.gov.

Do you need help applying for citizenship?

Check-in from 12:00 PM to 3:00 PM

Do you need to plan for your family’s safety?

Three Identical Know Your Rights Training Sessions: 3:00 PM, 5:00 PM, and 7:00 PM

  • Learn about what to do if Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents stop you or come to your door.
  • Take steps to protect your children and family.
  • Learn about your rights as an immigrant, regardless of your status.

Do you need legal help?

Check-in from 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM

  • Talk to Immigration attorneys about your options.
  • Fill out forms needed to protect your family: power of attorney, temporary guardianship, and other forms.
  • Get your Mexican citizenship, passport, and birth certificate through Mexican Consulate document services.
  • Bring any immigration documents and court documents if you have them.

City of Seattle representatives will also be available to talk about services:

  • ORCA Lift (discounted public transportation card)
  • Utility Discount Program
  • Information on wage theft and unfair employment practices
  • And more…

To qualify for these City of Seattle programs, you will need a photo ID and proof of income:

  • Paycheck stubs/ Employer statement showing GROSS earnings
  • DSHS award letters (TANF, GAU/GAX)
  • Child support document
  • Social Security/SSI award letter/Survivor benefits
  • Pensions/Annuity/IRA, Interest & Dividends
  • Labor and Industry (L&I) statement
  • Student financial aid and tuition statement
  • Rental/investment property income (Provide a copy of lease/rental agreement.)
  • Self-employed (Most recent full tax return & 3 months’ profit & loss statements)

For more information please go to https://www.seattle.gov/iandraffairs/programs/new-citizen-campaign.

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Happy 2017! And a Look Back on Progress in 2016

December 30th, 2016

happy-new-year-2017-look-back-on-2016

Housing Issues

Source of Income Discrimination (SOID) Law

SOID is important new comprehensive tenants’ rights legislation, enacting one of the Mayor’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) recommendations.  The final bill created a new protected class for people with alternative sources of income, created a new “first in time” requirement to make the housing application process more objective, require that rent assistance be accepted to cure eviction actions, and banned “preferred employer” programs, the sweetheart deals for renters employed by certain employers.

The Council will monitor this legislation and evaluate its impacts. The Seattle Office for Civil Rights (SOCR)  is responsible for enforcing this legislation. SOCR worked with stakeholders including Rental Housing Association of Washington, Washington Multi-Family Housing Association, Urban League, Solid Ground, Tenants Union of Washington and facilitated two community public meetings to draft the Administrative Rules.

HUD guidance for housing

Resolution 31669 provides landlords with information about their obligations under the Fair Housing Act to consider as tenants, people with arrests or criminal records, who have been cleared of a crime or served their time. The resolution clarifies HUD’s guidance to property owners helps people seeking housing, and protects landlords from fair housing complaints and lawsuits. Categorical bans on all people with criminal records actually increase recidivism and make communities less safe.

As Efrem McGaughey, a formerly incarcerated individual and member of the Tenants Union of Washington State, said, “By affording formerly incarcerated people who are working to change their lives a chance to find housing without facing prejudice, we are strengthening our community as a whole. The long-term results will increase contributing members to our society, more filled apartments for property owners, and more stability for people who have faced oppression and homelessness.”

This is an important first step in establishing clear screening rules for Seattle landlords. It’s important that all housing providers understand HUD’s advice.

MHA-R Legislation

The Mandatory Housing Affordability/Residential (MHA/R) Program requires all residential developers to contribute affordable housing by including it in their development or paying into an affordable housing fund. The requirements will apply only after Council adopts future zoning changes, scheduled for Council consideration in 2017 and 2018.

In the legislation, there is a requirement that a displacement risk analysis approximate the number of existing affordable housing units demolished as a result of future upzones. This lays the groundwork to ensure that the mandatory affordability requirement for developers will be adjusted higher over the entire area being up-zoned commensurate with the number of units likely to be demolished.

For the last 30 years, housing advocates have been trying to get the need for housing displacement mitigation recognized. Councilmembers O’Brien and Licata were the first to encourage the city in 2014 to study how development left unregulated without some level of mitigation can impact vulnerable communities.

Between 2005 and 2015 the city permitted the demolition of almost 6,000 units of housing. We don’t for sure know how many of these units were affordable rentals and to be clear, no legislation can stop housing demolition entirely. The May 2015 preliminary Growth and Equity report stated, “If unmitigated, new market-rate development in high-displacement risk areas is likely to lead to displacement of marginalized populations.”

Housing Levy

Since 1986 affordable housing levies in Seattle have helped many households access and maintain their affordable housing. The voters supported the recommendationsof theHousing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) Committee, the Mayor, and the Council in voting to pass the renewal of the housing levy, in the amount of $290 million over the next 7 years. The levy directs spending for: Rental Production and Preservation of 2,150 affordable apartments; Operating and maintenance of 350 affordable apartments; Homelessness prevention for 4,500 families; and Homeownership funds to assist 380 low-income homeowners.

Affordability is a major issue for many District 1 residents as well as residents throughout the City. The average price for a 1 bedroom ranges between $1500 and $1700 per month making it difficult for a household earning less $53,000 per year to find an affordable dwelling unit. I believe a truly comprehensive affordable housing strategy must include new programs to preserve existing affordable housing.

The Council voted to pass my amendments to the Housing Levy ordinance including:

  1. Supporting a new housing preservation program aimed at acquiring multi-family rental buildings at risk of sale and redevelopment to preserve these buildings for long-term affordable rental housing or converted to permanently affordable homeownership units,
  2. Increasing support for land trust models to increase affordability in condominiums, and single family dwellings, as well as tenant ownership models for rental property,
  3. Increasing housing options for LGBTQ seniors. Across every Census division in the U.S. Seattle has the least developed services for LGBTQ older adults and their families. Unlike most large cities, we are also running behind on developing housing for LGBTQ seniors.

 

Budget Issues

2017-2018 City Budget

In November the City Council adopted the 2017 City of Seattle budget and 2017-2022 Capital Improvement Plan, and “endorsed” a 2018 budget that will serve as the base for next year’s budget process. Below are a few of the items I worked on.

The Council adopted my District 1 budget proposals as follows:

    • West Seattle Bridge studies – This will continue work begun by former Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, adding $100,000 to carry out the evaluations called for in the West Seattle Bridge/Duwamish Corridor Whitepaper to improve safety, incident management, and traffic flow on the West Seattle Bridge.
    • South Park Family Service Center – This funding will support health and human services, a leadership program, and an education program in South Park.
    • T-5 Quiet Zone – A statement of Legislative Intent for SDOT supporting work with the Port of Seattle, the Federal Railway Administration, and the railway companies doing business at Terminal 5, to extend the quiet zone from Terminal 5 to the Delridge Way/W Marginal Way intersection.
    • A task force on South Park Public Safety – Supporting recommendations regarding the public safety and vitality of that neighborhood; I co-sponsored this with Councilmember González, who chairs the committee for public safety issues.
    • Fauntleroy Boulevard Project (described in its own section of this newsletter)

$29 million Housing Bond

The Budget Committee approved my proposal to create a $29 million housing bond intended to expand financing for affordable housing in Seattle for 2017.  With a vote in favor of this proposal, the Council signaled our desire to prioritize housing in the budget process, and without pitting Seattle’s housing needs against other citywide priorities. We are in a homelessness state of emergency.  We need to build today to meet the need.  Building today is less expensive than building at future costs, and these funds will continue to benefit the community for the entire period of the bond payment under their 50+ year requirement to be maintained as affordable.

I also sponsored the creation of a Child Care Mitigation Fund, to address the displacement of before-and-after school child care from Seattle School District buildings. The funding would be available for use by the District and child care providers to make arrangements to keep child care on-site at schools or assist in relocating where providers would otherwise be displaced.

Another item I sponsored is an Economic Development Issue – Seattle Legacy Business study funding, 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.

Additional budget information is in the Police and Pronto sections.

A summary of my other budget actions is linked here; here’s a link to the summary of all the changes the Council made; the lead sponsor is listed at the end, though many of the proposals had additional co-sponsors. There are many others for which I was listed as a supporting sponsor.

 

Business Issues

Seattle Legacy Business Project

Seattle is known for its unique neighborhoods, each home to a thriving landscape of locally-owned businesses that occupy an essential role in the stories and rituals that define the city. In my first week as a Councilmember, a District 1 resident brought me the idea of a Seattle Legacy Business Program, modeled after a successful San Francisco effort.  Since I chair the committee with oversight of economic development issues, I was inspired by the effort.

I worked with the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, Historic Seattle, and 4 Culture to survey community members to identify our most important business establishments; identify elements that contribute to the culture, character, and history of Seattle; and establish tools to protect them. The Mayor’s Commercial Affordability Committeerecommendations supported the conclusion that more work was necessary to determine how a Seattle legacy business might function. During the 2017-18 City budget process, I secured funding to determine the scope and definition of a new Seattle Legacy Business Project.

 

Accountability Issues

East Admiral Tree Cutting

In March we found out over 150 trees had been illegally removed from Parks and SDOT property in the East Admiral neighborhood, west of SW Admiral Way up the hill from the West Seattle Bridge, on a steep slope in a potential landslide zone. This is a public safety threat: SW Admiral Way is a major arterial with 25,000 trips per day.  The City Attorney’s Office and the Seattle Police Department began an investigation. I noted that the sanctions must be significant enough to deter this kind of activity in the future. Penalties need to be strong enough so that those with financial means don’t see illegal tree cutting as a cost-effective way to increase their views and property values.

Trees play a significant role in maintaining soil stability in an environmentally critical area by absorbing water, thus lessening the risk of landslides onto a major arterial. Further, trees maintain air quality by absorbing carbon —an important issue in West Seattle and South Park, which sit adjacent to SODO and the Duwamish industrial area.

In September the City Attorney filed two civil lawsuits for $1.6 million in total damages and fines over the unauthorized cutting of 150 trees on public land in West Seattle. I thanked the City Attorney’s Office for filing two civil lawsuits, and their considerations of the use of a full range of the legal remedies available for civil suits, including timber trespass, which allows for triple damages.

The legal case is ongoing, as is the Seattle Police Department’s criminal investigation.

New Customer Information System (NCIS)

The New Customer Information System (NCIS) is a joint Seattle City Light (SCL) and Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) project which replaced the existing SCL and SPU billing system. The old system supported billing and customer processes for both utilities, but failed to meet current business practices.

In March we learned that the NCIS project was over-budget and off-schedule.  The Council learned that the project budget had increased to $108 million and, whereas the original delivery date was October 2015, the project wasn’t estimated to go-live until the fall of 2016.

Over Labor Day weekend SPU and SCL worked overtime to roll out the new billing system. You may have seen some of the reports regarding privacy issues that were revealed as part of that roll out. However, those were quickly handled by SPU and SCL who took the system offline to ensure customer privacy was maintained. The early wrinkles seem to have been ironed out and the system is working as intended now.

 

Community Safety Issues

Bias Crimes/Hate Crimes Audit

On June 1st Seattle proclaimed June LGBTQ Pride Month. The Council and Mayor recognized that the fight for equality is not over and we must continue to lead the nation in establishing policies to prevent discrimination.

In June, LGBTQ Pride Month in Seattle, the horrible Orlando tragedy took place, as well as a brutal attack on a local LGBTQ leader. The Seattle Times noted, “in 2015, 72 hate crimes and incidents against LGBTQ people were reported to the Seattle Police Department (SPD) — double the number from the previous year.  The number of such crimes against blacks — 67 — more than doubled. There were a total of 208 hate crimes and incidents reported in 2015, up from 126 in 2014.”

Some question whether patterns of gentrification are related to this increase in hate crimes, given the decline in the LGBT population in Capitol Hill, and the reduction in the number of African-Americans in the Central District.

I have worked with the City Auditor to investigate the reporting of hate and bias crimes in Seattle, to determine whether we analyze bias crimes reporting data for trends that eventually influence resource allocation, and whether crimes are investigated and prosecuted as bias crimes. The City Auditor will be carrying out this work in 2017. Given the current national political environment, where we have seen a surge of hate crimes in the wake of the 2016 elections, this work is even more important.

In December I sponsored a resolution noting, “The City Council and Mayor resolve to implement measures to make it easier for people to report incidents of bias-motivated threats, harassment, and violence, such as dedicated hotlines, greater publicity for the Seattle Police Department’s Malicious Harassment/Bias Crimes website, and support to community-based organizations that support the safety of marginalized communities.”

Beach Drive Speed Bumps

I worked 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 had been happening in the portion of Beach Drive SW that extends south from the lighthouse. The neighbors had requested the installation of speed bumps in 2015. Earlier this year community members began the process of applying for funds through the Neighborhood Parks and Street Fund. I requested that SDOT consider traffic calming measures to address the drag racing.

SDOT agreed to install three speed bumps, and they were installed in September.

Police Officer Hiring, 911 response times, CSOs

During 2016, the Council voted to add 114 new police officer positions. As representative of District 1 since the start of 2016, I have heard consistent, strong support for hiring additional police officers from both businesses and residents.

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

During the City’s 2017-2018 budget, I voted to approve the addition of 72 new officer positions. Earlier this year, in August, I voted to add 42 officers, and fund them through additional use of the City’s General Fund. The first 100 new officer positions were funded without any new tax resources.

In addition, I co-sponsored the re-establishment of a Community Service Officer program with SPD. Community Service officers (CSOs) are unsworn officers who are able to prioritize community services associated with law enforcement, such as crime prevention; CSOs can also help free up SPD officers for 911 response.

I requested data from SPD regarding 911 beat response times in District 1 from 2011-2015; they are listed here. I noted “It’s very concerning to me that the 911 response time to Alki is 12 and a half minutes, a clear outlier from our standards in other SPD beats.”

The 2017-8 budget also increases the number of staff to take 911 calls, which have increased by 13% since 2010, and over 40% for Priority 1 life/safety 911 calls. This will help prevent wait times for people who call 911.

Early in 2017 the City Council will be considering comprehensive police accountability legislation as part of the 2012 Consent Decree with the US Department of Justice to reform policing in Seattle. A federal judge is overseeing this reform process.

 

Transportation Issues

Pronto

In 2015, before I took office, a previous Council set aside $5 million to expand the Pronto bike sharing system, but required that SDOT provide an implementation plan and financial analysis and bring both back to the Council.

Early in 2016 the Council received a proposal to: purchase the Pronto bike-share program for $1.4 million, pay off Pronto’s $1.275 million loan from KeyBank, and plan to expand bike sharing in 2017, which could result in an expansion of Pronto, or an entirely different bike share system.

I didn’t support this purchase, and voted “no.” I favored allowing for a private-sector funded system along the lines of the Car2Go car-sharing business.  Car2Go provides a service many use (myself included), at no public cost.

The legislation passed 7-2. I proposed amendments to redirect the $5 million toward fulfilling the existing Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plans, and allow for a private bike share system, without public costs, as in New York. The amendment failed.

The City purchased Pronto, but ridership is low. The Mayor’s proposed 2017-2018 budget included funding to continue operating the Pronto system. I proposed a passing amendment to remove that funding.

The City received no bids to expand the Pronto system, not even from the company that operated it. The bids for a new system are for electric-assist bikes. A proposal from SDOT is expected in early 2017.  While a new system may not include an operating subsidy, I remain concerned about the cost of replacing equipment with a rapidly evolving technology.

Fauntleroy Boulevard Project

Shortly after taking office this year, community advocates expressed interest in making changes to the Fauntleroy Boulevard Project, to support it as a visual gateway to West Seattle. In response, I organized meetings between community advocates and SDOT and City Light.

At our request, City Light and SDOT provided cost estimates for undergrounding utility wires, which showed a funding gap of $4-5 million; a subsequent meeting revealed additional potential costs for a total gap of at least $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, in keeping with the aim to create a gateway entrance. The departments agreed.

Upon my request to Mayor Murray, during the budget process City Light revised the project to specifically include $1.5 million for the street light improvements and utility pole relocations that were recommended by community members.

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.

SDOT is now working on final design, with construction targeted for late 2017. You can sign up for the project email list for updates here, and contact the SDOT project team at fauntleroyblvd@seattle.gov.

 

Land Use Issues

SODO Arena Street Vacation

Earlier this year the Council considered a “street vacation” to remove a city street for a potential arena in the SODO neighborhood. Under city policy, street vacations are judged by whether they 1) protect the functions of the street right-of way; 2) have any adverse land use impacts, and 3) whether there will be public benefits sufficient to offset the loss of the street.

I heard some support from constituents in District 1, but heard widespread concern from a significantly greater number of West Seattle and South Park residents about access to Downtown. Many in West Seattle feel they already shoulder the greatest share of our City’s burden for professional sports facilities. District 1 is separated from Downtown by SODO, and the stadiums; as the West Seattle Transportation Coalition noted, there’s been a 45% reduction in north/south vehicle lanes over the last 7 years through SODO.

In the end, it seemed the one possible public benefit to meet the requirements of city policy for street vacations was an NBA team. I offered an amendment to require the ArenaCo group obtain ownership rights to an NBA team before the street vacation was granted; it didn’t pass.

My “no” vote was also decided in favor of protecting industrial and maritime jobs that we have now so that we can maintain the diversified economy that has kept our region strong in good economic times as well as the downturns.  Further, the legitimate traffic concerns of commuters and small business owners in West Seattle and South Park played prominently in my decision.

A recent Puget Sound Business Journal article revealed that the operator of Terminal 46 signed a 2012 lease extension only on the condition that they could walk away if business was disrupted by a SODO arena—so the potential loss of jobs appears real.

Since the vote, Mayor Murray has indicated he will issue a request for proposals to re-develop KeyArena at Seattle Center. SODO arena proponents have announced they will re-submit an application for a street vacation.

 

Equity Issues

Secure Scheduling

There are many workers who aren’t on a set schedule – they work in retail, restaurants, and service industry jobs. They often don’t get their schedule until a day or two before they start work for that week – other times they’re on-call and cannot predict when they will be required by their employer to pick up a shift. In a city where affordability is such a challenge that many people need to work two jobs, others juggle childcare responsibilities, or are attending school in order to get a better job, not having advance notice of a schedule can mean forgoing other income earning opportunities.

This isn’t just a workers’ rights issue, it’s a gender and racial equity issue. Check out the op-ed that Councilmembers Gonzalez, Juarez, and I wrote in February.

In March we began a process with the Mayor’s Office of convening stakeholders, they regularly met to discuss individual aspects of the legislation and reported out to my Committee after each of their meetings. In total we had 10 committee meetings and discussed: employer coverage, advance notice of schedules, predictability pay, right to request, right to rest, and access to hours.

On September 19 the Secure Scheduling bill unanimously passed the Full Council and will go into effect on July 1, 2017.

You can read more about the ordinance herehere and in the graphic below.

Secure Scheduling Infographic

Green Pathways

In March I hosted a Lunch & Learn with Got Green. Got Green’s Young Leaders in the Green Movement stepped up and spoke out to call on the City Council to support the creation of internships:

    • that are good for the environment and our communities.
    • that have a racial equity lens in their outreach and ways to retain participants.
    • and that have systems in place to help young adults move into career pathways.

The result of the Lunch & Learn was the Green Pathways Resolution that I worked with and developed in consultation with Got Green and Councilmember O’Brien. It calls for a green jobs strategy. “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 a green job inventory of internships, apprenticeships, and entry-level jobs offered by the City of Seattle and an outreach and engagement strategy to advance green jobs as a part of the ongoing work to advance careers in the private sector. In Seattle, youth unemployment still tops 13 percent, which disproportionately impacts young people of color and those from low-income communities.

Following on the heels of passing the resolution, we secured funding during budget to identify how City internships, apprenticeships, youth employment, workplace investment, and job training can lead to career paths.

SPU and SCL Delinquent Payment Policy and UDP

Whether because of a layoff 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 charges a minimum of 75% of the balance due to prevent the shut-off, and SCL – up until a couple months ago – charged 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.

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.

In response, the utilities agreed to examine the delinquency policies and have since 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.

Furthermore, a few constituents brought to my attention that Medicare or Medicaid premiums were being counted towards income for consideration for the Utility Discount Program (UDP). Since this income cannot be spent on anything other than medical costs I sought to remove it as a source income for the UDP. Again, I worked with the CEO and General Managers of SPU and SCL and they’ve agreed to remove this provision in the source of income. This will allow customers who otherwise would not have qualified for the UDP due to their Medicare or Medicaid premiums to now apply and qualify for the program.

 

Environmental Issues

Terminal 5

Tucked behind the Chelan Café, Terminal 5 (T5) has sat empty since late 2014 when the Port Commission authorized $4.7 million for modernization of the terminal. A draft environmental impact study (DEIS) which came out last May presented three options with varying costs and improvements that could be made to the terminal.

While attending a Delridge District Council meeting I presented the Port representative in attendance a letteroutlining the concerns that I heard from constituents about the T5 project. Foremost among them is the need to provide shore power. Shore power provides electrical power to a ship when docked so that it does not have to run its diesel engines while at port; this is significantly more environmentally friendly as well as reduces noise. In addition, the letter underscored the need to implement a quiet zone for trains and utilize broadband back-up alarms to help with noise reduction.

The Port chose to proceed with alternative two which represents necessary physical improvements and increased cargo throughput to make efficient and effective use of T5. While these improvements include a commitment to shore power, broadband back-up alarms, and a quiet zone, it will take continued efforts to ensure they are implemented adequately. To that end I submitted a Statement of Legislative Intent (SLI) during the budget process which requires SDOT to report quarterly on the progress of implementing a quiet zone from T5 to the Delridge Way/ W Marginal Way intersection.

Plastic Bag Ban

Seattle implemented the plastic bag ban in 2012, and since then an additional 13 cities in Washington have passed similar ordinances. We have been joined by other large cities such as Austin, Chicago, New York City, Minneapolis, Honolulu, and Boston.

From 2010 to 2014, the amount of plastic bags in residential garbage declined from 262 tons to 136 tons, a nearly 50% decrease. However, there is still non-compliance, specifically at smaller grocery stores and convenience stores. The ordinance allows for a $250 fine, though SPU has not utilized it.

The five cents per paper bag charge had a 2016 sunset clause. I introduced an ordinance to remove that clause; we have heard from many grocers and other businesses that they support the five cent charge because it allows them to recoup the cost of the more expensive paper bags.

Additionally, at the recommendation of SPU, the ordinance restricts the use of green tinting in plastic bags to biodegradable bags only. The green tinting on non-biodegradable plastic bags has led to confusion about which bags are compostable and which are not, leading to an increased contamination rate.

Myers Way

In May, I organized a tour of the Myers Way properties with community stakeholders and City Staff. Community members had sought assurances the decision about selling this property will occur only after the entire community, specifically low income renters, people of color and non-English speaking residents are meaningfully engaged and that FAS apply the Racial and Social Justice Toolkitand follow the Equity and Environment Action Agenda before deciding what to do with this land.

I was pleased to learn that the Executive did not move forward with the plan to sell the Myers Way parcels. This issue is important to many residents residing in Top Hat, Highland Park, South Park, Arbor Heights, as well as citywide environmental groups such as Seattle Green Spaces Coalitionand TreePAC. This is a significant and important victory for the community who has worked so hard to bring the value of these properties to the attention of City decision-makers.

While the property currently remains with FAS, the executive intends to “land-bank” the site.

Regarding a different issue though still located at the Myers Way property, some constituents contacted me concerned about the people living in an unauthorized encampment on Myers Way. I also visited Arrowhead Gardens near the property and learned that they would like the City to provide garbage services to the site. SPU is now providing weekly garbage pick-ups for the site.

In the beginning of December the Mayor announced that Camp Second Chance – the encampment located at Myers Way – would be converted to a sanctioned encampment and would allow for up to 50 tents with 60-70 people. The Mayor’s Office has promised to work closely with the surrounding communities to make the Myers Way site a safe location for encampment occupants and a good neighbor to the surrounding communities.

 

Meeting with Constituents

In-District Office Hours Year End Review

With the implementation of districts this year it was important to me to be present and easily accessible for my constituents. I started my in-district office hours in March and since then have held 9 meetings, totaling 57 hours spent in office hours with constituents. During this time I spoke with 143 constituents about a variety of issues, ranging from HALA and small businesses, to the need for additional park space and better transit.

I have held my office hours at three locations around the district including the Junction, the Southwest Neighborhood Center, and the South Park Community Center. This has helped with meeting constituents with limited mobility or those who simply do not have enough time to drive all the way down to City Hall.

I will continue District 1 Office Hours in 2017; please keep an eye out for my emails and on the blogto know when I will be in your neighborhood.

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Landmarks Board to consider Crescent-Hamm building nomination; Renters’ Move-in Fee Cap; Joint Committee for South Seattle College; In-District Office House; SDOT Accessibility Map and Route Planner; Winter Break

December 16th, 2016

Landmarks Board to consider nomination of Crescent-Hamm Building

The Department of Neighborhoods announced that on January 4, the Landmark Preservation Board will consider the nomination of the Crescent-Hamm Building. The Southwest Seattle Historical Society put forward the nomination, based on their earlier report released in March.

The Crescent-Hamm Building is located on the corner of California Avenue SW and SW Alaska Street in the West Seattle Junction, and is the location of Easy Street Records and other tenants.

You can view the nomination here. A paper copy is available for review at the West Seattle Branch Library at 2306 43nd Avenue SW.

The Landmarks Preservation Board meeting will be on Wednesday, January 4 at 3:30 p.m. in Seattle City Hall, in the Boards and Commission Room, L280. To get there, take the elevator to floor L2 and walk down the hall; the room is on your right. Public comment will be taken at the meeting.

Written comments can be sent to:

Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board

Seattle Department of Neighborhoods

PO Box 94649

Seattle, WA 98124-4649

Renters’ Move-in Fee Cap

On Monday, the Seattle City Council voted unanimously to pass the Renters’ move-in fee cap legislation. This legislation will require property owners who rent to work with tenants needing an installment plan to help renters better afford the high upfront costs required to rent. Earlier this year, the Federal Reserve announced that 46% of adults could not cover an emergency expense costing $400 without selling something or borrowing money. Seattle’s high housing costs make it increasingly difficult to live in Seattle. Even middle income households, especially families with children, struggle to meet the high prices of housing in most areas of the city.

I also understand property owners need to collect move-in fees to mitigate the risks arising from tenant damage to units and moving out without proper advanced notice. Some suggested an exemption from this legislation for property-owners who rent 4 or fewer units.  In lieu of exempting small landlords, the Council did the following: (1) Exempted move-in fees that total 25% or less than one month’s full rent; (2) Exempted owner occupied units; (3) Adopted language that allows the tenant and property owner to negotiate a different payment plan then the one required by legislation; and (4) Requires that reservation fees, also known as holding fees, be subtracted from the total move in costs, thus reducing the total subject to an installment plan.

This legislation will be evaluated over the next 18 months and I have asked that the evaluation of this legislation include an analysis of how small and large landlords are impacted by the legislation.

The Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) is charged with implementing the move-in fee legislation. If you have any questions, please contact Geoff Tallent by email at Geoff.Tallent@seattle.gov or by phone at 206-684-8452.

Joint Committee for South Seattle College

Do you want to advise the City on the development plans of South Seattle College? Seattle Department of Neighborhoods is seeking interested community members from surrounding neighborhoods to serve on the South Seattle College Standing Advisory Committee (SAC) and provide feedback on projects planned and under development by the college to ensure it complies with its Master Plan. The Master Plan describes zoning rules, long range planning of the property, and transportation planning.

Community members who have experience in neighborhood issues, land use and zoning, architecture or landscape architecture, economic development, building development, educational services, or just have an interest in their neighborhood’s future are encouraged to apply.

The committee meets at South Seattle College one to four times a year. Committee members serve a two-year renewable term. If interested, send a letter of interest by either e-mail or regular mail to:

Maureen Sheehan

E-mail: Maureen.Sheehan@seattle.gov

Mailing Address:  Seattle Department of Neighborhoods

P.O. Box 94649

Seattle, WA 98124-4649

In-District Office Hours

I will be at the South Park Community Center (8319 8th Avenue S) today, Friday December 16, from 3:30 pm – 7:00pm. The reason for the truncated hours is that there is a Special Full Council meeting scheduled for 2pm.

The final meeting of the day will begin at 6:30pm. These hours are walk-in friendly.

Winter break

The City Council will be on winter recess the next two weeks, with no Full Council meetings on December 19 and 26, and no committee meetings. The next Full Council meeting will be on Tuesday, January 3.

SDOT Accessibility Map and Route Planner

SDOT has released a new City of Seattle Curb Ramp Map and Accessible Route Planner website. It provides information helpful for people using sidewalks, curb ramps and street crossings—information particularly helpful to those living with disabilities.

It shows the condition of curb ramps and sidewalks, the slope of the street, marked crosswalks, transit and bus stops, where sidewalks are closed due to construction, and schools, libraries, and community centers.

SDOT’s notice provides information about using the map, which can be customized.

The map is based on current information; SDOT says the map will be updated daily, and encourages users to help improves the accuracy by letting them know of any inaccuracies by e-mailing DOTAssets@seattle.gov, along with photos. Request for map features can also be sent to this address.

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