Re-entry Workgroup Recommendations for Those Being Released From Incarceration; Showbox Update; Closed Captioning; November Constituent Email Report

December 7th, 2018

Re-entry Workgroup Recommendations for Those Being Released From Incarceration

Last November I shared with you the efforts of the Seattle Re-entry Workgroup.  Resolution 31637, passed in 2015, convened a workgroup to develop policies and strategies to strengthen the City of Seattle’s effort to assist with reentry after incarceration including reducing recidivism, and alleviating the negative impact of incarceration on individuals.

Workgroup members with lived experience of incarceration led much of this work and participated in two years of meetings and many hours exchanging stories of incarceration and the transition after release.   You can find the report here, below are the highlights:

Strategy 1 | Indigenous Healing

  1. Invest in specific strategies that center and support the reentering Indigenous community members.
  2. Elevate Indigenous voices in efforts focused on criminal legal system policy and reform Contract solely with jails that provide access to religious and spiritual services
  3. Ensure that all homeless prevention, anti-poverty, or reentry investments strategies include targeted supports for the Indigenous community

Strategy 2 | Reentry Healing & Navigation

  1. Fund community-rooted “Reentry Navigators” who can provide anti-racist support and navigation services for individuals currently incarcerated and those returning from incarceration
  2. Reconsider contracts that require elevated surveillance by agency staff
  3. Reconsider using recidivism as an outcome measurement

Strategy 3 | Economic Opportunities

  1. Explore ways to increase formerly incarcerated individuals’ opportunity with City Requests for Proposals and City Public Works Projects through Priority Hire
  2. Increase City TechHireOpportunities
  3. Increase City Employment and Recruitment
  4. Support Priority Hire Tracking and Accountability

Strategy 4 | Housing

  1. Match housing investments for those currently involved with the criminal justice system to the City’s current jail expenditure
  2. Dedicate a portion of the City’s investments to end homelessness to individuals living with criminal history
  3. Develop technical assistance programs to enable those living with criminal history to be mortgage-ready
  4. Whenever possible, redefine “homelessness” for non-HUD funded projects
  5. Create a mechanism to provide rent assistance to individuals currently being incarcerated by the City’s criminal legal system
  6. Work with public housing providers to ensure they comply with Fair Chance Housing

Strategy 5 | City’s Use of Jails

  1. Reduce the use of jail – What are the City’s defined outcomes for jail contracts? Do these investments help the City reach these outcomes?
  2. City criminal legal system partners should evaluate current sentencing framework to make a shared commitment in reducing the use of jail for misdemeanors
  3. Work to eliminate as many beds as feasible in the current contract
  4. Manage jail contracts to ensure access to care

Strategy 6 | Decriminalization

  1. Seattle City Council should repeal SMC 12A.20.050 – Drug-Traffic Loitering and repeal SMC 12A.10.010 – Prostitution Loitering
  2. City Attorney’s Office should exercise prosecutorial discretion, such as: do not request jail time for those charged with theft and decline to prosecute for drug traffic loitering and prostitution loitering crimes
  3. Seattle Police Department should limit arrests for nonviolent misdemeanor offenses and increase use of citations, summons, or forms of diversion; develop a more accurate way to develop race data

Strategy 7 |Reentry Workgroup’s Next Phase

  1. City should establish a criminal legal system advisory board that: Informs City policies that impact the criminal legal system and/or reentry support; Monitors the implementation of any recommendation from this report; Is led by those with lived experience and equipped with a strong analysis of systemic racism and the criminal legal system.
  2. Assessment of how the City’s imposition and collections of fines and fees for criminal violations and infractions and the impact of such on successful reentry.

In producing and delivering the report, many individuals and organizations provided support and expertise. Because I found these words moving and inspirational, I’d like to share the report authors’ acknowledgement here:

“We also recognize those who have been supporting folks returning from incarceration and organizing for institutional change for a very long time. We know that much of that work has been done without compensation or acknowledgment yet done with love and an unyielding commitment to family and community strength. We thank you for that work and hope these recommendations support you. We also acknowledge that the individuals most impacted by the recommendations in this report are unable to join us at the City’s tables, as they are still incarcerated. We did this work in your honor.”


Showbox Update

Here are some updates on efforts thus far to explore options for preserving the Showbox.  I believe the Council and Mayor have a shared recognition of the Showbox as a significant cultural resource and an historic performance venue that has launched the careers of local, national, and international musicians.

Pike Place Market Historical District Boundary Extension


If you remember, with passage the August of Ordinance 125660, the City extended the boundaries, on an interim basis, of the Pike Place Market Historical District to include the Showbox.  I wrote about that vote in August, you can read more here.

With the Showbox now within the boundaries of the Pike Place Market Historical District, the Pike Place Market Historical Commission has authority to receive development proposals for the site as well as authority for “the preservation, restoration and improvement of such buildings and uses in the Historical District, as in the opinion of the Commission shall be deemed to have architectural, cultural, economic and historical value.”


The 2019-2020 City of Seattle Budget included funding for a near term workplan to exploring whether the interim expansion enacted by Ordinance 125660 should be made permanent.  Here is what I understand to be the work of the Executive as relates to consideration of the interim expansion:

August 2018-April 2019 – The Department of Neighborhoods will: a. review the historic significance of the Showbox Theater, b. study the relationship between the Showbox Theater and the Pike Place Market, c. consider the development of amendments to the Pike Place Market Historical District Design Guidelines related to the Showbox Theater, d. potentially draft legislation, e. conduct outreach to stakeholders.  f. The Seattle Department of Construction and Inspection will conduct State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) review on permanent expansion of the Historical District, as appropriate.

March 2019: SDCI will publish SEPA threshold determination, if necessary.

May 2019: Mayor transmits legislation to Council, if permanent boundary expansion proposed.

June 2019: Council deliberations on proposed expansion of the Historical District, if proposed.

July 2019: If Council passes legislation, permanent district expansion effective.

I have asked the Mayor for confirmation of this schedule.

Landmark Preservation


The City’s Historic Resources Survey identifies multiple structures in the vicinity of the District that may be eligible as landmarks but are not currently designated as landmarks. In addition to the consideration of a permanent expansion of the Pike Market Historical District, Historic Seattle, Vanishing Seattle, and Friends of Historic Belltown have submitted a nomination to the Landmarks Preservation Board to designate the Showbox as an historic landmark.  Should the Landmarks Preservation Board do so, they then have the authority to approve controls and incentives and grant certificates of approval for any future modifications to the Showbox.


The staff for the Landmarks Preservation Board has indicated that they have been working to identify a meeting date for discussion of this application.  Today my office was told that they have given the owner two additional weeks to agree to the March 6 meeting date.  Owner consent is not required but as an operating practice the Landmarks Preservation Board seeks agreement.  As another operating practice, the Landmarks Preservation Board gives at least three weeks’ notice of meetings.  For high-profile nominations, they strive to provide additional notice.  The Bertha Knight Landes Room has been reserved for March 6.

Interdepartmental Team Work


Last August, the Mayor convened an Inter-departmental Team (IDT) with representation from the Department of Neighborhoods, the Department of Construction and Inspections, the Office of Arts and Culture, the Office of Film and Music, and the Office of Housing.


I don’t know if that IDT is continuing to meet.  Because of what I believe to be our shared objectives, I have requested the Mayor to include representation from the Council on the IDT as well as an update on whether there has been progress in their efforts.


The City has been a partner in the successful community efforts to preserve Washington Hall, the Fifth Avenue Theatre, as well as other cultural spaces, not to mention the important revival of cultural spaces like the Black and Tan Hall.  Nevertheless, we are all too aware that those contributing to Seattle’s cultural community are among those at risk of displacement.

As a City of Music, Seattle has many programs, developed by the Seattle Music Commission and produced in partnership with many local public, nonprofit, and independent organizations.  Though these programs provide critical support to the music industry and broader Seattle music community, they can only go so far.  We must leave no stone left unturned, so that this cherished performance venue can be valued by Seattle’s music community for generations to come.


Closed Captioning

If you regularly watch Council meetings you may have noticed something different this week. On Monday, Seattle Channel added closed captioning to the broadcast of Seattle City Council meetings. Until now, hard-of-hearing and deaf individuals were essentially shut out of the conversation because they could not hear the discussion as it was taking place, or even after the fact.

I have Council oversight of budget and policy issues related to disabilities.  The addition of closed captioning is part of the Seattle City Council’s objective to increase accessibility to Seattle government.  The Seattle Channel was able to add closed-captions to the broadcast of City Council meetings as a result of a budget proposal I made in last year’s budget that the Council adopted.

The Seattle City Clerk provides accommodations to Council meetings, including translation and interpretation services, and the Council Chamber is equipped with assisted listening devices and an induction loop system.

Here’s a link to my press release announcing the inclusion of closed captioning.

I want to take a moment to thank the Commission for People with DisAbilities and the Seattle Channel for their work, without which this would not have been possible.


November Constituent Email Report

Constituent correspondence is a very important task in my office.  My staff and I spend time every day helping you improve our community, whether that’s through getting you help from a city department with our constituent case management services or giving you information about legislation that the Council is considering.  The unshaded categories and numbers are problem-solving emails answered in November, what I refer to above as “case management services.”tm


TOMORROW- Have Tickets or Other Seattle Municipal Court Issues?  Come To  Delridge Community Center From 10am – 4pm; Semi-Annual Streetcar Report Shows Operations Deficits; Reminder: Re-Entry Lunch and Learn Thursday December 6, 2018; In-District Office Hours

November 29th, 2018

TOMORROW- Have Tickets or Other Seattle Municipal Court Issues?  Come To  Delridge Community Center From 10am – 4pm

Seattle Municipal Court will be at the Delridge Community Center tomorrow, Friday, November 30th, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. to help resolve warrants, share options for addressing unpaid tickets, provide relicensing assistance or a referral to a public defender.  They’ll also help people access supportive services through the Court Resource Center. No appointment is required.

A press release from the City Attorney notes that “warrant holders can set a future court date there and won’t face arrest. No prosecutors will be present at this Court-sponsored event.”

Having outstanding warrants make it harder to move forward in life. Attendees will learn their options to resolve SMC warrants in a welcoming, community-based location. Individuals with unpaid tickets will learn options to resolve their tickets through a payment plan or community service plan and how to regain their driver’s license. Court staff will answer questions about court processes, schedule hearings, and provide information on resources and support services available through the court.

Attendees will be able to access social services onsite including: DSHS benefits (food, cash, medical), referral for a vision exam and eye glass vouchers, Orca Lift reduced fare and other transportation passes, chemical dependency and mental health assistance, basic needs and referrals for other support services. Court partner organizations onsite for the event include: Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, Public Health – Seattle and King County, Navos and the YWCA.

Anyone who needs assistance is encouraged to attend Friday, November 30th, 2018, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the Delridge Community Center, 4501 Delridge Way SW, Seattle, WA 98106.

The event flyer is available in Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese and Khmer here:

This is a collaboration between the Seattle Municipal Court, King County Department of Public Defense, Seattle City Attorney’s Office, Seattle Police Department, Seattle Parks and Recreation, and the Seattle Human Services Department.

The City Attorney’s press release notes City officials filed a motion to dismiss over 200 outstanding warrants for low-level non-violent misdemeanors that occurred 5-22 years ago, to allow law enforcement to focus on more serious, violent offenses.


Semi-Annual Streetcar Report Shows Operations Deficits

SDOT has released its November 2018 Semi-Annual Streetcar Report for the South Lake Union and First Hill Streetcar Lines. This is the first report since the June 2017 Semi-Annual Report was developed under a previous Mayor and previous SDOT leadership.

Streetcar operations are funded by fares, federal grants, and advertising sponsorships. The SLU line also receives operating contributions of $1.55 million from King County Metro and $229,000 from Amazon; the First Hill line receives $5 million from Sound Transit.

The new report shows that revenues have been insufficient to operate the lines in recent years. While projections for future years appear more realistic, it appears operations will require ongoing subsidies that were not originally contemplated.

Three key reasons explain the deficit: ridership is lower than projected; and farebox recovery (fares collected divided by operating costs) has been lower, and operating costs have increased;

Ridership on the SLU line decreased by 17% in 2016. 2017 ridership was 17% below projections included in the June 2017 report, and 39% below original estimates. For First Hill, ridership in 2017 was 882,000; the original forecast was 1.3 million.

For SLU, farebox recovery was projected for 35% in 2017, but was only 23%. For First Hill, farebox recovery was 10%, well below the projection of 29% included in the June 2017.

The result of fewer riders and lower farebox recovery is less revenue: for the SLU line, fare collection revenue was 31% below projections in 2016, 30% in 2017, and estimated at 34% in 2018. For First Hill, fare collections were 39% below estimates in 2016, 36% in 2017, and projected at 54% in 2018.

Operations costs have increased as well. 2018 SLU operation costs are projected to be 8% above projections. For First Hill, the increase from the King County/City agreement has been 15% in 2016, to 21% in 2017, and projected at 30% for 2018.

Less revenue and higher operations costs have resulted in an operations funding gap for the two lines of $1.4 million in 2016, $1.8 million in 2017, and $3.3 million in 2019.

Looking ahead, the report projects 3% ridership increases in future years. Farebox recovery projections are more in line with current collections (22% for SLU, 10% for First Hill), though they increase slightly with time.

The operations funding gap is projected to continue in future years: the 2019 budget includes an additional $4 million for operations costs. The original forecast that streetcar operations would not require additional subsidies has proven inaccurate.

The June 2017 Semi-Annual Report showed no operations deficits—it’s clear this was inaccurate. For example, for 2016 it showed $3.2 million in revenues for the SLU line; the updated report shows $2.8 million in revenues. Fare collections were overstated by $271,000, and federal grant contributions by $123,000. The 2017 report said the figures listed for 2016 were “Actual amounts,” but this doesn’t appear to be the case.

I appreciate the commitment of SDOT’s new interim leadership to more realistic, accurate projections. However, the figures do raise the question of how operations of the current streetcars will be funded in the long run: it’s clear there is a structural funding gap.

No long-term funding source has been proposed to cover the funding gap. The deficits from 2016 through 2018, and projected for 2019, are currently funded with street use fees and the commercial parking tax. We’ll need more if King County’s $1.55 million operations subsidy of the SLU Line runs out in 2019; negotiations with King County are ongoing. Sound Transit’s $5 million subsidy for First Hill expires after 2023. These compounded gaps in funding could mean an annual deficit of more than $10 million after 2023.

During the just-concluded budget process, the Council adopted my proposal that any operations agreement for a Center City Streetcar must include performance measures and operations funding sources for the first six years, as well as identified funding sources for construction—currently $60 million short—and contingency strategies if federal funds are not received.

In August the Mayor released an Initial Summary consultant report about the operations and construction cost problems regarding the Center City Streetcar.


Reminder: Re-Entry Lunch and Learn Thursday December 6, 2018

Please join the Re-Entry workgroup and the Seattle City Council for a special meeting of the Civil Rights, Utilities,  Economic Development, and Arts (CRUEDA) committee.  On Thursday December 6, 2018 the CRUEDA committee will host a lunch and learn to hear Seattle’s Reentry Work Group’s final recommendations and update on their work to examine and address the barriers individuals face when living with a criminal history.

The Seattle Reentry Work Group was created by City Council Resolution 31637 and passed unanimously by City Council in 2015 to coordinate and strengthen the City’s efforts to assist reentry.

The Work Group is comprised of community and institutional stakeholders working on reentry issues.  Everyone is welcome to bring a bag lunch to Seattle City Hall Council Chambers and learn from this important work.

In-District Office Hours
On December 14, I will be at the South Park Community Center (8319 8th Ave S) from 2:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. The final meeting of the day will begin at 6:30 p.m.

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

These are my final office hours of 2018, I will release a tentative list of next year’s office hours at the beginning of January.


Giving Thanks; This week’s budget update: Council passes 2019-2020 City budget; Alaskan Way Viaduct Closure Information Meeting November 26 @ Delridge CC; No Garbage Collection on Thanksgiving Day

November 21st, 2018

Giving Thanks

On this Thanksgiving Day eve, I find that there is so much for which I have to give thanks.  There are people in District 1 and elsewhere who deserve recognition. In raising their voices, they help contribute every day to making Seattle a better city and they insure that City government is making decisions in the public interest.  This year, as in previous years, there also are legislative victories that I couldn’t have accomplished without others. I am thankful for those as well, but I’ll wait until my annual year end wrap up post, to give recognize those accomplishments and those who helped me get it done.

Please indulge me now reflecting on my thanks for particular inspirational individuals.  Anyone reading this, if you are working for your community I’m thankful for you, I’m just doing a shout out to a few people and groups on my mind today as I write this.  No hurt feelings I hope, for names not mentioned!

I am thankful for small business owners like Cote Soerns and John Bennett who work in District 1 to advocate for small businesses as well advocating for healthy, cohesive, and engaged community!

I am thankful to Ann Levinson, a District 1 resident who has done so much for Seattle.  She was the former Office of Professional Accountability Auditor, she was a Seattle Municipal Court Judge, and a Women’s National Basketball team, the Seattle Storm, Association team owner.  I’m thanking her here for not only her service to the City but for her support of my efforts working to advance police accountability.

I am thankful to Marianne McCord for the work she has done in the South Delridge Neighborhood; it is through her advocacy that I was able to secure passage of the new Vacant Building Monitoring Program.

I am thankful for Bruce Stotler’s recent life estate that will facilitate an eventual donation of his property to expand Schmitz Park Reserve, and want to recognize here how that donation may inspire others, like a possibility that may led to a donation to expand the Orchard St Ravine.

I am thankful to Matt Algieri and John Lang for the work that they do every year organizing their neighbors to do a cleanup under the Admiral Bridge – picking up more than 4,000 pounds of garbage in 2018.

I am thankful for Steve Daschle honored by Southwest Youth and Family Services (SYFS) with the Weeks Award for his 30 years of leadership at SYFS and growing SYFS from a small neighborhood organization to one of the area’s leading human services organizations.

Finally, I want to thank Tomasz Biernacki for his production of Trickle Down Town, a documentary film about the homeless crisis in Seattle including visits to Camp Second Chance here in West Seattle and the RVs along Avalon Way. Tomasz says about making the film:

 “I have discovered that most people have uneducated, knee-jerk reactions and false beliefs . . . about the homeless. They see the tents, the RVs, the addicted people who have untreated mental and physical health issues, and instead of doing something to help their neighbors, they degrade, cast away, and add insult to injury…”

Many thanks to Casey Flagg for sharing so much of her own personal struggle in the film.


This Week’s Budget Update: Council Passes 2019-2020 City Budget

On Monday the City Council adopted a 2019 City budget, and endorsed a 2020 City budget.

The City’s total budget is $5.9 billion, of which $2.6 billion is for City Light and Seattle Public Utilities, which are ratepayer-funded. The City’s General Fund totals $1.3 billion, of which 52% is dedicated to public safety.

Thanks to all everyone who contacted me during this budget process. My press statement about the budget is linked here, and copied below.

Councilmember Herbold Celebrates District 1 Wins in 2019-2020 Budget

Councilmember Lisa Herbold (District 1, West Seattle, South Park) released the following statement celebrating items secured in the budget that address District 1 needs:

“I regularly hold office hours in West Seattle and South Park to hear directly from District 1 constituents. Leading up to this year’s budget, I heard the needs of D1 related to addressing public safety, supporting vital community organizations and needed capital improvement projects,” said Councilmember Herbold.

“I fought hard to secure funding in this budget to increase public safety in D1, including funding to maintain a public safety coordinator for South Park, funding for RV Remediation, and enhancing and adding three inspectors to the Vacant Building Monitoring Program, so more vacant properties are monitored and don’t become public safety nuisances for the neighborhood. I heard from the community and secured $60,000 in funding for Concord Elementary’s Community Learning Center, Citizenship Program funding for Neighborhood House at High Point, funding to allow Colman Pool stay open for an additional 4 weekends a year.

“I want to thank D1 constituents for making their voices heard year round as well as during this budget process. I also want to thank my Council colleagues and Budget Chair Sally Bagshaw for a collaborative process and producing a budget that addresses our city’s most pressing needs.”



  • Adopted legislation to increase oversight for large capital projects, with enhanced reporting requirements, and use of the ‘stage-gate’ appropriation process for selected projects;
  • Legacy Business Program to designate and provide resources to one Legacy Business in each of the 7 Council Districts in 2019;
  • Civil legal aid to assist for indigent defendants in civil legal aid needs including, but not limited to, eviction prevention;
  • Utility Discount Program Statement of Legislative Intent to address enrollment barriers;
  • Adding an additional Animal Control Officer;
  • Move Levy spending plan stating Council’s intent to consider and approve SDOT’s revised spending plan before SDOT implements a new Move Levy Plan;
  • Funding to complete construction work at Town Hall;
  • A resolution to resolve the uncertainty created by the “Mutual Offsetting Benefit Leases” held by the Greenwood Senior Center, and Central Area Senior Centers, and Byrd Barr Place; and,
  • Transgender Economic Empowerment Program funding.

The Council also voted to create 40 additional police officer positions, and requested monthly updates on hiring progress.

A summary of Council’s individual budget actions can be found here.


Alaskan Way Viaduct Closure Information Meeting November 26 @ Delridge CC

On January 11th, WSDOT will permanently close the Alaskan Way Viaduct. For the following three weeks, WSDOT will realign SR 99 through Downtown to connect to the new tunnel. Afterwards SDOT will remove the Alaskan Way Viaduct and rebuild Alaskan Way.  It’s actually a whole lot more complicated than that, removing walls, realigning the road into the tunnel, demolishing detours, building new roads, and unburying ramps, and finishing a new northbound offramp!  Here is an instructional video:

SDOT and the Department of Neighborhoods will host an information session meeting about the forthcoming changes on Monday, November 26th at the Delridge Community Center at 4501 Delridge Way SW, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Buses from West Seattle, White Center and Burien that access Downtown on the Alaskan Way Viaduct such as the C Line and 120 will use interim pathways during 2019; here’s a link to the interim travel maps for the 21X, 37, 55, 56, 57, 113, 120, 121, 122, 123, 125 and C Line. SDOT engineers are examining my request for a dedicated bus lane on 1st Avenue, where buses will travel for much of 2019.

Once Alaskan Way is rebuilt, buses from West Seattle will access exit SR 99 right before the tunnel, and access Downtown via a transit lane on Alaskan Way, then turn right onto Columbia.

SDOT has a new website, Seattle Traffic, with information about the closure and forthcoming “Period of Maximum Constraint.”. WSDOT also has a new website,, with information about the tunnel.


No Garbage Collection on Thanksgiving Day

Just a quick reminder that due to the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday, November 22, there will be no garbage, recycling, or compost collection. Collections scheduled for Thursday will occur on Friday, and Friday collections will occur on Saturday. Customers should be sure to have their containers out by 7 a.m. to ensure collection.

If your garbage is not collected at the expected time, you can report missed collection by calling (206) 684-3000 or online here and click on “Report Missed Collection.”


This week in the budget; Reminder: Neighborhood Street Fund Applications Open through November 19; Funding to Reduce Flooding in D1; Salmon Returning; Status Report on Developer Impact Fees to Augment Transportation Funding; Seattle Police Officer’s Guild contract

November 16th, 2018

This week in the budget

This week the Budget Committee met on Wednesday to vote on the balancing package proposed by Chair Bagshaw.

The committee also voted on items brought forward by Councilmembers to amend the balancing package, with corresponding reductions to balance the budget.

New items I proposed that the Council approved included:

  • Concord Elementary: $60,000 in funding for the Community Learning Center
  • RV Remediation Funding
  • Citizenship Program funding for Neighborhood House at High Point
  • My resolution to resolve the uncertainty created by the “Mutual Offsetting Benefit Leases” held by the Greenwood and Central Area Senior Centers and Byrd Barr
  • Utility Discount Program Statement of Legislative Intent to address enrollment barriers
  • Funding to help address unforeseen construction costs at Town Hall

Below are my items that were included in the budget balancing package developed by Budget Committee Chair Bagshaw. These items were also approved as part of the “Consent Package.”

District 1 Specific Proposals:

Citywide proposals:


Reminder: Neighborhood Street Fund Applications Open through November 19

Applications for the 2019 Neighborhood Street Fund are open through November 19th.

The Neighborhood Street Fund provides funding every three years for community-driven transportation-related improvement in the city’s right-of-way with an anticipated cost between $100,000 and $1 million. Anyone can apply. Funding comes from the 2015 Move Seattle Levy; $8 million is available for this cycle.  Applications are open through Monday, November 19. I have asked SDOT for a two-week extension of the application period.

The application has been simplified, and takes about 15 minutes, and requires a specific location and proposed solution. Application forms and materials are also available in Chinese, Somali, Spanish, Vietnamese, Amharic, and Tigrinya. Thanks to SDOT for doing this.

In January and February there will be public meetings to rank proposed projects, and narrow the number of projects in each district. A public vote will take place after that.

Additional information is available at the Neighborhood Street Fund website, which includes applications in several languages. If you have questions, additional translated material, or need help with accessing the application, please contact or 206-733-9361.

Projects awarded in the 2016 cycle include safety improvements at Harbor Avenue SW and SW Spokane Street, and walkway, lighting and safety improvements on 25th and 26th Ave. SW, connecting Chief Sealth High School and Westwood Village.


Funding to Reduce Flooding in D1

One of my ancillary duties as a Councilmember is to represent Seattle on a several different regional committees – three specific committees that I sit on are the Regional Water Quality Committee (RWQC), the Flood Control District (FCD) Advisory Committee, and Watershed Resource Inventory Area (WRIA) 9. All three of the committees work on issues related to water quality, flooding, and salmon habitat restoration. Much like the City, these committees and the County are finalizing their budgets, and I wanted to share some great news with you.

I, with the help of Seattle Public Utilities (SPU), requested $14.9 million to be added to the 2019 FCD Capital Improvement Program budget for two high priority urban flood control projects in District 1. The two projects are: $13.1 million for the South Park Drainage Conveyance Improvement Project and $1.8 million for the Puget Way Culvert Replacement Project.

The South Park Drainage Conveyance Improvement Project will address a problem that has been of particular importance to constituents. This funding will allow SPU to construct a system of pipes to manage stormwater and will eventually connect to the South Park Pump Station (another project I’ve been working with SPU to get funded). In addition to providing a system to manage the stormwater this project will pave many of the streets, and specifically South Monroe will be paved which will help the businesses and residents of the area.

The Puget Way Culvert Replacement Project will reduce flooding impacts to West Marginal Way and Puget Way. Flooding caused by undersized culverts has damaged one of the warehouses along West Marginal Way and also caused lane closures to the street. Additionally, Puget Way is the only road access for 12 residents and if a culvert failure were to occur it would cut off access to these homes and prevent emergency services from rendering assistance.


Salmon Returning

Many of you may have already heard the great news, but for the first time in eight years SPU staff observed a pair of Chinook salmon spawning in Thornton Creek. SPU has been working on restoring much of this creek, and in 2014 completed the Thornton Creek Confluence project where SPU replaced 1,000 feet of streambed to keep in place high-quality gravel for spawning salmon.

In addition to this great news, I want to share with you the annual Salmon in the Schools report. A big thanks to Judy Pickens for her work with Salmon in the Schools. Here are a few highlights from this year:

  • Supported 54 salmon-release field trips – 23 in partnership with the Carkeek Watershed Community Action Project, 14 with the Fauntleroy Watershed Council, and 17 elsewhere in the city.
  • Helped 11 schools with transportation costs for release field trips.
  • 7 in-class salmon dissections at participating West Seattle schools and 29 more during field trips to Piper’s Creek.
  • More than 101 visits to schools and responded to 1,800 email requests about tank set-up and maintenance.


Status Report on Developer Impact Fees to Augment Transportation Funding

Impact fees are authorized fees by Washington State law to allow local jurisdictions to charge developers to address the needs for capacity improvements to transportation, parks, schools, and fire facilities. Local jurisdictions are only allowed to charge to address the impacts associated with growth. Impact fees cannot be used to pay for infrastructure needs that are backlogged.

In 2015, the City Council began to take steps towards developing an impact fee program. In 2015, the Council recommended a work program for: (1) development of an impact fee program for parks and transportation and (2) exploration with the Seattle School District of a program for public schools.

In 2017, through Resolution 31732, the Council docketed consideration of Comprehensive Plan amendments for impact fees. It is a long, arduous but necessary process. Myself and Councilmembers O’Brien and Bagshaw wrote about our commitment to this effort here.

This year the Council issued an Environmental Impact Statement on the proposed amendment to the Comprehensive Plan establishing a list of projects, for which capacity improvements are needed to accommodate growth.

From the Council Central Staff analysis: “Establishing the list in the Comprehensive Plan is a necessary, but not sufficient, step towards implementing an impact fee program. The Council and Mayor would need to approve future legislation establishing substantive and procedural requirements of an impact fee program.”

We’d planned to, in December 2018, consider 2018 Comprehensive Plan amendments for a transportation impact fee program.

After passage, then from December 2018 to February 2019 the City Council would continue analysis and development of a potential impact fee rate schedule, development of options for credits based on planning geography, and legislation drafting.

Finally, the Council had planned from March to April 2019 to consider legislation implementing a transportation impact fee program.

The Environmental Impact Statement required for a Comprehensive Plan Amendment resulted in a Determination of Environmental Insignificance (DEIS). This triggered a statutorily required appeal process. Thursday, November 15 was the deadline to appeal. On Wednesday, November 14, two appeals were filed to oppose the Transportation Impact Fee Comp Plan amendment, which actually is a purely procedural decision.

One appeal was from Roger Valdez representing Seattle For Growth and the other was from land use attorney Jack McCullough.

The appeal means that we are unable to act in December as planned, but let’s see what the Hearing Examiner has in store for us.

Yesterday the Seattle Planning Commission sent the Seattle City Council its recommendations. They said:

“The Commission supports adoption of the proposed amendment enabling the potential development of a transportation impact fee program. We recommend approval of the proposed transportation project list as an appropriate representation of investments needed to implement the current Capital Improvement Program, the adopted transportation modal plans, and projects identified through the Move Seattle levy planning process that are not funded by the current levy. The Planning Commission recommends adding replacement of the 4th Avenue S. viaduct to the transportation impact fees project list. We look forward to providing input on the policy implications, including the cumulative effects of a transportation impact fee program with Mandatory Housing Affordability requirements, and the particulars of any proposed impact fee program”

I think that the Seattle Planning Commission’s recommendations include a very good assessment of yet another balancing act that the City Council has to do.

Read more here:


Seattle Police Officer’s Guild contract

The collective bargaining agreement between the City of Seattle and the Police Officer’s Guild (SPOG) through 2020 covers wages, hours and working conditions. The City Council voted to approve the agreement by an 8-1. I voted in favor.

With this vote, Seattle police officers will see an accumulated 17% pay increase, and back pay for salary increases. The legislation appropriates $65 million for three years of accumulated officer increased back pay.  This means that the salary increases included in the contract will be given to the officers for the 3 years that they didn’t have a contract.  In addition to the back pay, total spending for salaries will increase by $40 million in 2019, and $50 million in 2020, as noted in the fiscal note.

In the interest of transparency, I moved to add a Clerk File to the legislative record that includes the Memoranda of Understanding and Memoranda of Agreement that are incorporated into the agreement, but were not provided in the legislation sent to the Council by the Mayor. They are now publicly available.

Negotiations on this contract began in 2014, and an agreement was reached in 2016. However, after the Guild membership voted “no” (a summary of the agreement was leaked), the two sides returned to the negotiating table. There were a number of factors that made this negotiation more complicated than most, principally due to the intersection of police accountability issues and working conditions.  It’s also important to understand that all labor contracts must be voted up or down. They cannot be amended by the Council, unlike other legislation.

First of all, the City of Seattle and the Department of Justice entered into a Consent Decree and MOU in 2012 after the DOJ found excessive use of force in 2011 in response to a 2010 request letter from a number of community groups. As part of this process, in 2017 the Council adopted the accountability ordinance. In addition, former Mayor Murray ordered the use of body-worn cameras. Then in June of this 2018, the Janus decision by the US Supreme Court overturned 40 years of precedent regarding union dues for public employees. In this new environment, public sector unions must show value to their members.

In addition, while the contact adopted by the Council in 2017 for the Seattle Police Management Association (which represents captains and lieutenants) included a provision that said “the City may implement the Accountability Ordinance,” the SPOG contract didn’t include a similar provision, so understanding the practical impact required a more detailed analysis of the 96-page agreement.

I have heard from numerous supporters and opponents of this agreement, and I’d like to say a few things to each of you.

To supporters, I want to be sure you know that opponents of this contract were very clear that they support the wage increases for officers included in the agreement. I didn’t hear a single person speak against the long overdue wage increases—in fact, many who spoke against the agreement explicitly advocated for approving salary increases. Their concerns were about implementation of the police accountability legislation.

To opponents, I’d like to you know SPOG could have challenged the inclusion of the accountability ordinance and body cameras in this agreement, because they were not included when bargaining began in 2014. Bargaining rules require that all issues have to be on the table at the beginning of bargaining.  SPOG voluntarily agreed to include these issues, which showed a willingness to collaborate on implementing reform.

While the lack of a contract may not have hindered new officer hires in 2016 and 2017—both years had a record number of hires— it appears to be now in 2018: this is a real issue. I’ve voted to add 112 new officer positions over my time as a Councilmember, and I will vote to add 40 more at Monday’s Full Council budget vote. This contract is a necessary step to filling those positions. I’ve asked SPD about providing incentives for hiring new officers, as other local cities have done.

Finally, officers have played an important role in implementing reform. The court-appointed Federal Monitor issued a Use of Force report in 2017 that credited officers for clear improvements regarding use of force, saying “credit for this major milestone goes first and foremost to the men and women of the Seattle Police Department.”

With the Council’s vote, the agreement is ripe for review by US Judge Robart, who is overseeing implementation of the Consent Decree. On November 5th, he stated he would review it only after a Council vote. In January, he noted that “The court has previously indicated that it will not grant final approval to the City’s new police accountability ordinance until after collective bargaining is complete.” The Council also adopted a resolution requesting review of three items related to police accountability.

I’ve included my remarks at the City Council vote here. It’s a bit long, so I wanted to provide a more concise summary, but also include this for anyone interested in reading it.


This Week in the Budget; Seattle University Public Safety Survey; Constituent Budget Emails

November 9th, 2018

This Week in the Budget

On Wednesday Councilmember Bagshaw, chair of the Budget Committee, released her proposed budget balancing package.

Next Wednesday, November 14th, the Budget Committee will vote on the proposed balancing package, and any amendments proposed by Councilmembers. Amendments to the balancing package must be balanced.

A number of items I proposed, as noted in last week’s budget update, are included the balancing package, including:

District 1 Specific Proposals (successfully included in Chair Bagshaw’s balancing package):

Citywide proposals (successfully included in Chair Bagshaw’s balancing package):

Some items I proposed were not included in the balancing package. At the Budget Committee meeting on the 14th, I will propose funding, and cuts elsewhere in the budget, for:

  • SPD/SPU RV remediation program
  • The Community Learning Center at Concord International Elementary School
  • Citizenship programs at High Point
  • Funding to complete Town Hall capital work

Confirmation of meetings and agenda items can be found at the Budget Committee meeting schedule. You can also sign up to receive the agendas in advance by e-mail here. Here’s a link to the Budget calendar and background on the budget process.


Seattle University Public Safety Survey

Seattle University is rolling out their 4th annual citywide Seattle Public Safety Survey. The purpose of the survey is to solicit feedback on public safety and security concerns from those who live and/or work in Seattle. A report on the survey results will be provided to the Seattle Police Department to assist them with micro community policing plans.

The survey is accessible at through November 30th and is available in Amharic, Arabic, Chinese, English, Korean, Oromo, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog, Tigrinya and Vietnamese.

If you would like to work with a Seattle University researcher to setup outreach and assist in the facilitation of the survey to your communities or organizations, or you would like more information about the survey, please contact Taylor Lowery at


Constituent Budget Emails

I wanted to let you all know what issues I am hearing from the public. Below is a tally of the emails I have received from the public about the budget items. The shaded rows are related to D1 specific proposals.


This Week’s Budget Update; Re-Entry Lunch and Learn Thursday December 6, 2018; October Constituent Email Report

November 2nd, 2018

This Week’s Budget Update

This week the Budget Committee met to consider specific budget proposals to amend the proposed budget, on October 30, October 31, and November 1.

Next week, Councilmember Bagshaw, as Chair of the Budget Committee, will present a proposed budget balancing package on November 7th. That balancing package will be considered for votes the following week.

Below are links to highlights of budget items I’ve introduced.

New Legislation to Create Enhanced Oversight of Capital Projects  City Capital projects such as the Seawall, NCIS utility customer service system, and the Center City Streetcar have had cost overruns. Too often the Council finds out about this at the end of the process, when it’s too late to scale back a project, decide not to proceed, or reprioritize funding for other projects if necessary.  This will be a new financial policy giving the Council more oversight of how the taxpayers’ dollars are spent on these large projects.  Here’s coverage from KING 5 and KIRO-7.

District 1 Budget Priorities

Adding three inspectors to the Vacant Building Monitoring Program Since 2013 complaints related to vacant buildings have increased by 64 percent. The proposal would provide resources in SDCI for the Code Compliance division to enhance the existing Vacant Building Monitoring Program. The enhanced program would add a. buildings in the development pipeline, b. buildings that SFD and/or SPD are monitoring, and c. buildings that have had three or more violations within a 36 day period to the monitoring list and those buildings will be monitored monthly by the three new inspectors.

Funding for Community Learning Center at Concord International Elementary School  This is to provide bridge funding for a before & after-school program for at risk students; to replace funding when the YMCA decided to end the program.

South Park Public Safety Coordinator This is to continue the community-driven work begun  during the 2016 budget, when Council created the South Park Task Force, which recommended a bilingual, community resident for position. Last year’s budget funded the position, which was not maintained in the Mayor’s proposed 2019/2020 budget.

Funding to allow Colman Pool stay open for an additional 4 weekends a year. The price has been reduced to $40,000 which will be offset by the revenue generated from fees paid to attend to pool.

Trail Access on SW Brandon Street The Parks Department has indicated they can do this work next year and will incorporate it into their current budget allocation. This will allow the Parks Department to begin the community planning and outreach process for trail access on SW Brandon Street.

Highland Park Way SW/SW Holden Street Roundabout project and CIP entry This would establish the project in the SDOT’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP). In coming months WSDOT is expected to announce awards for a grant SDOT has applied for.

35th Avenue SW and CIP addition  This would add road paving for 35th Avenue SW between Morgan and Roxbury to the SDOT CIP.

South Park Playfield, this will add a new CIP project to reserve already committed $1.8 million in funding in the Parks and Recreation CIP.

District 1 Planning report for Westwood/Highland Park, Avalon/Admiral, and Delridge neighborhoods in 2019 and 2020.

Adding and funding an additional Animal Control Officer, to be funded with pet licensing fees.

Move Levy spending plan   SDOT is presenting a revised spending plan because of the inability to move forward on the current plan because of too rosy estimates of costs to deliver proects and increased labor and construction costs.  This action would require Council’s to approve SDOT’s revised spending plan scheduled for presentation to the Council by December 1.  This approval will be necessary before SDOT can implement the new plan.

Citywide Budget Proposals

Center City Streetcar This report will insure that any proposal for operations include performance measures and identify funding sources for construction to close the $60 million funding gap, a funding gap that could increase based on ongoing engineering analysis.  This report is in line with a similar requirement Council included in the 2017 budget, when cost estimates were lower, that led to Mayor Durkan putting the project on hold.

Additional proposals, you can find more details at the link:

Funding for creating restorative pathways out of the criminal justice system for youth and young adults

Encampment monitoring reports

Eviction prevention

Transgender Economic Empowerment Program

SPU position reduction  in order to add funds to RV remediation program  this increase in funding for the RV Remediation Pilot will allow SPU and SPD to conduct one additional (seven total) cleanup a month.

Town Hall capital funding

Confirmation of meetings and agenda items can be found at the Budget Committee meeting schedule. You can also sign up to receive the agendas in advance by e-mail here. Here’s a link to the Budget calendar and background on the budget process.


Re-Entry Lunch and Learn Thursday December 6, 2018

Please join the Re-Entry workgroup and the Seattle City Council for a special meeting of the Civil Rights, Utilities and Economic Development (CRUEDA) committee.  On Thursday December 6, 2018 the CRUEDA committee will host a lunch and learn to hear Seattle’s Reentry Work Group’s final recommendations and update on their work to examine and address the barriers individuals face when living with a criminal history.

The Seattle Reentry Work Group was created by City Council Resolution 31637 and passed unanimously by City Council in 2015 to coordinate and strengthen the City’s efforts to assist reentry.  The Work Group is comprised of community and institutional stakeholders working on reentry issues.  Everyone is welcome to bring a bag lunch to Seattle City Hall Council Chambers and learn from this important work.


October Constituent Email Report

Constituent correspondence is a very important task in my office.  My staff and I spend time every day helping you improve our community, whether that’s through getting you help from a city department with our constituent case management services or giving you information about legislation that the Council is considering.  The unshaded categories and numbers are problem-solving emails answered in October, what I refer to above as “case management services.”  The shaded categories and numbers are emails answered in October related to policy or legislation the Council is considering.


This Week’s Budget Update; Capital Project Oversight; Neighborhood Street Fund Applications open through November 19; Rapid Ride H Line Online Open House/Survey; SPU Syringe Pickup Program; The Vera Project GOTV

October 29th, 2018

This Week’s Budget Update

Last week the City Council Budget Committee held a public hearing on Tuesday evening, and continued into the phase of budget negotiations referred to as, “Issue Identification,” when Council Central Staff presents highlights of department budgets and issues for potential changes that the Council might want to consider, as well as issues and proposals identified by Councilmembers themselves.

This week the Budget Committee is scheduled to meet beginning Tuesday to consider specific budget proposals. Confirmation of meetings and agenda items can be found at the Budget Committee meeting schedule. You can also sign up to receive the agendas in advance by e-mail here. Here’s a link to the Budget calendar and background on the budget process.

Below are links to Issue ID presentations, along with a few highlights:

Parks and Recreation (DPR) – I have proposed funding for two items in DPR:

Open Colman Pool for An Additional Month in Summertime – This proposal would add $60,000 in ongoing funding, with entrance fees as a revenue source, to support opening Colman Pool for one more month in the summer. Currently the pool is budgeted to operate for approximately 14 weeks (between late May and early September).

Enhance Trail Access Points on Southwest Brandon Street – This proposal would add $50,000 in one-time funding for a community planning process for enhancements to trail access points along Southwest Brandon Street in West Seattle, as recommended in the North Delridge Action Plan.


I proposed adding the Highland Park Way SW/SW Holden Street Roundabout project to the SDOT Capital Improvement Program (CIP), to show a city commitment to completing this project. SDOT submitted an application to WSDOT City Safety Grant to fully fund the $2.5 million cost, and is has allocated $200,000 to design, and is reserving $300,000 for a local match for the grant. If awarded the grant, construction is targeted for completion by September 2021.

I also raised the issue of SDOT’s paving plan, listed in the SDOT CIP as the “Arterial Asphalt and Concrete,” and geographic equity.

The original 2016-2024 paving plan included Avalon and 35th to Alaska; Roxbury from 16th to 35th in 2021; and 35th SW between Morgan and Roxbury in 2023.

SDOT is proposing to revise the paving plan, along with other programs included in the Move Seattle Levy. The revised version would remove both the 35th and Roxbury projects, and add Delridge Way SW from Sylvan Way to the West Seattle Bridge entrance. The revised proposal notes that of projects completed or underway, none are in District 1, and of the 18 planned through 2024, two are; two of the nine projects proposed for delay are in District 1.

I’ve heard more constituent comments about the condition of 35th Avenue SW than any other major arterial. SDOT will be completing an updated pavement condition report in the first quarter of 2019; the most recent report, from the 2015 SDOT Asset Management Report, is based on a 2013 review of pavement conditions, and confirmed what we all know, that portion of 35th in bad shape.

This week to address this, I’ll be proposing budget actions to add paving for 35th into the CIP for 2023. The CIP entry doesn’t currently list specific paving projects, so it is trickier to add a CIP entry for this project than other individual projects listed in the CIP.  Also, the Council can only condition spending for next year’s budget, not future budgets. I’ll also be proposing that the Council require that the new, revised Move Levy spending plan, due to be submitted by December 1, 2018, be approved by the Council before SDOT is authorized to implement the new plan.


Capital Project Oversight

I am proposing legislation to state the City’s intent to establish enhanced reporting requirements for the City’s Capital Improvement Program projects, and to use a “stage-gate” appropriation process for selected projects.  This resolution memorializes the work that the Council, Mayor and CBO have done over the last few years to increase capital project oversight.

The resolution outlines the use of two new key tools: 1) enhanced quarterly reports for projects on the “Watch List,”, which show project risk in green, yellow, or red, based on risk factors re: scope, schedule, budget, coordination, community impact, and political risks; and 2) Selecting projects for “stage-based” appropriations, where the Council establishes spending limits for certain phases or activities on a capital project (such as we’ve done for the Delridge Multimodal Corridor project).

The resolution notes the intent to add projects to the Watch List with unclear scopes, shifting estimated costs, uncertain capital funding plans, ill-defined operating costs, plans, or funding plans; or other perceived significant questions about scope, schedule, and budget. The Mayor will propose a Watch List early in the year, and the Council will adopt it; projects can also be added during the year.

Work on updating capital project oversight began with a resolution the Council adopted in 2016 to “institute new rigor in capital project oversight that will increase appropriate and timely oversight and provide more transparency to the public”; Councilmember Johnson and I called for additional capital project oversight in 2016 as well.

As the resolution notes, “City capital projects such as the Elliott Bay Seawall Project and the utilities’ New Customer Information System cost millions of dollars over their original proposed budget and enhanced, timely reporting could have improved Council’s oversight by communicating potential project risks before the risks were realized.” The Move Seattle levy oversight Committee sent a letter to the Mayor and Council recommending “regular reporting on progress and challenges as projects move through their development process, especially as the true cost to deliver these projects comes into greater focus”.

The first batch of the new quarterly reports arrived in September, for the 2nd quarter:

The resolution also requests the Executive work with the Council’s Central Staff to develop a method for enhanced reporting for selected ongoing programs, or components of ongoing programs, for potential inclusion in the Watch List. Efforts up until now have focused on discrete project reporting.

Additional presentations:


Neighborhood Street Fund Applications Open through November 19

Applications for the 2019 Neighborhood Street Fund are open through 2019.

The Neighborhood Street Fund provides funding every three years for community-driven transportation-related improvement in the city’s right-of-way with an anticipated cost between $100,000 and $1 million. Anyone can apply. Funding comes from the 2015 Move Seattle Levy; $8 million is available for this cycle.  Applications are open through November 19.

The application takes around 15 minutes, and requires a specific location and proposed solution.

In January and February there will be public meetings to rank proposed projects, and narrow the number of projects in each district. A public vote will take place after that.

Additional information is available at the Neighborhood Street Fund website, which includes applications in several languages. If you have questions, additional translated material, or need help with accessing the application, please contact us at or 206-733-9361.

Projects awarded in the 2016 cycle include safety improvements at Harbor Avenue SW and SW Spokane Street, and walkway, lighting and safety improvements on 25th and 26th Ave. SW, connecting Chief Sealth High School and Westwood Village.


Rapid Ride H Line Online Open House/Survey

King County Metro has an online open house about the Rapid Ride H Line. Bus 120, which runs from Burien, White Center, Delridge, and Downtown Seattle is planned to convert into a Rapid Ride line in 2021.

The open house for the overall project is available here; you can list your priorities for the Delridge/Westwood Village area here.

SDOT also has an online survey open through November 11.

The City’s Capital Improvement Program refers to this as the Delridge Multimodal Corridor project. The next update from SDOT on 30% design is expected in December, as required by an amendment I sponsored. SDOT and King County Metro are in negotiations about roles, responsibilities and cost sharing for the project.


SPU Syringe Pickup Program

Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) manages the City’s needle pilot program. This program, which began in 2016 when I sponsored, and the Council allocated $200,000 to address the accumulation of trash and the public health impacts of unsanctioned encampments. Then in the passage of the 2017 budget the Mayor and City Council added additional funding for this purpose.  These funds were used by SPU to develop and support three pilot programs: The Litter Pilot, The Needle Pilot, and The Unsanctioned Encampment Bag Pilot.

Specifically, the needle program operates in two ways to help remove sharps from public property. The first is responding to reports of needles. You can report a needle to SPU by calling (206) 684-7587, reporting it online here, or the Find it, Fix it smartphone app. SPU will collect sharps the public property within 24 hours.

Secondly, SPU manages 11 drop-off locations, you can see their locations on this map. In addition to these drop-off locations you can dispose of needles at the North or South Transfer Stations.

Since the pilot program has launched SPU has collected more than 111,760 syringes through reports and the disposal drop-boxes.

If you see a needle on private property, do not pick it up with bare hands. SPU has produced a video with instructions on how to pick up needles safety.


The Vera Project GOTV

The Vera Project is hosting a youth-led, community driven Get Out the Vote celebration on November 1st at 6:00PM. There will be live music featuring Sassyblack, Cumulus, and KEXP’s DJ Troy Nelson. There will also be appearances from community leaders and Seattle City Councilmembers, including myself.

You are encouraged to bring your ballot and questions. The event is free, but sign up to get tickets here as it’s likely to sell out.

You should have already received your ballot in the mail. If you haven’t please visit the King County Elections website to learn how to get a replacement ballot.


District 1’s Young’s Restaurant and RainWise; This Week’s Budget Update; Accessory Dwelling Unit Environmental Impact Statement and Racial Equity Toolkit; Promised Land Movie Showing at City Hall, Wednesday 10/24; Comment on Technologies Subject to the City’s Surveillance Ordinance; In-District Office Hours

October 19th, 2018

District 1’s Young’s Restaurant and RainWise

I was delighted to learn recently that a beloved District 1 business, Young’s Restaurant, became the first commercial site to complete the RainWise program!  If you’re unfamiliar with the RainWise program, it’s a Seattle Public Utility (SPU) lead effort to install rain gardens or cisterns to better manage rain. Rain that falls onto our roofs, driveways and roads most often runs into ditches and pipes. However, the runoff can carry harmful chemicals such as oil, metals, and lawn chemicals. Rain gardens on the other hand can hold and soak up this runoff and filter out the chemicals and cisterns can hold and better direct the water so that it doesn’t flow into and contaminate our waterways. The RainWise program offers a rebate where homeowners and businesses can apply for, and if they qualify, potentially pay for all the instillation costs. I hope other businesses will follow the example of Young’s Restaurant in being good environmental stewards by contacting SPU to see if installing a RainGarden is possible!

Last week NW Asian Weekly covered the story about Young’s Restaurant. If you’re interested in seeing if you’re eligible for the RainWise program, please go here.


This Week’s Budget Update

This week the Budget Committee met, beginning the stage of Council budget deliberations referred to as “Issue Identification,” where Council Central Staff presents highlights of department budgets and issues for potential changes that the Council might want to consider, as well as issues and proposals identified by Councilmembers themselves.

The highlights of Thursday’s Identification presentations can be found here:

Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) – you can see at the link that my top budget objective for SDCI is to enhance the Vacant Building Monitoring Program, which I’ve written about here and here because of the problems we have in District 1 with vacant, abandoned buildings.

Seattle Police Department (SPD) –  The budget proposes funding sufficient to hire 10 new patrol positions in 2019 and 30 in 2020.  In order to successfully meet that goal, the city will have to hire 104 new officers both years, to also fill the positions of officers that retire, get promoted to non-patrol positions, or make a lateral transfer.  For this reason, we spent a lot of time in this budget discussion talking about recruitment incentives.  We have generous lateral hire incentives, but we have no new hire financial incentives.

We also talked about the plan and funding necessary to reinstate the Community Service Officer program and the need to address the City Auditor’s 2017 Report on SPD special events staffing because SPD’s cost for staffing events exceed the fees we receive from promoters of special events.

Seattle Fire Department (SFD) – SFD reports that 40% of SFD’s medical responses serve “low acuity calls,” which can include alcohol- related issues and mental health issues, as well as less severe injuries for which the appropriate treatment is something other than a hospital emergency room.  We spent time during this presentation talking about an alternative response model to reduce non-emergency 9-1-1 calls by working directly with service agencies and individuals in high-use areas to better align needs with appropriate health or social service agencies.

Next week Issue Identification is planned to continue through Wednesday. The tentative schedule includes for Monday: Sweetened Beverage Tax Funds; Tuesday: Homeless Services, Human Services, and the proposed Office of Employee Ombud; Wednesday: Parks and Recreation, SDOT, and cross-cutting issues and other departments with fewer identified issues.

Confirmation of meetings and agenda items can be found at the Budget Committee meeting schedule. You can also sign up to receive the agendas in advance by e-mail here.

The second budget public hearing is planned for 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday the 23rd. It will be in the Council Chambers on the second floor of City Hall at 600 4th Avenue. A separate hearing will also be held on the proposed expansion of the Seattle Aquarium.

Information on accessing City Hall, accommodations, a discounted parking rate, and childcare is available on the public hearing notice.

Here’s a link to the Budget calendar and background on the budget process.


Accessory Dwelling Unit Environmental Impact Statement and Racial Equity Toolkit

The Final Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was released on October 4, 2018.  The ADU EIS evaluates the potential environmental impacts of proposed changes to the Land Use Code related to the creation of accessory dwelling units in single-family zones.

There are two kinds of accessory dwelling units, attached and detached ADUs (DADUs).  Attached ADUs are often referred to as an in-law unit or basement apartments and are contained within or attached to a single-family home.  A detached ADU is sometimes called a backyard cottage and is a separate structure contained in a single-family lot.  The final EIS contains a Preferred Alternative that contains elements of two alternatives evaluated in the draft EIS and is reflective of input received during the draft EIS comment period.

The key features of the Preferred Alternative include:

  • Allowing two ADUs on one lot
  • Removing the off-street parking requirement
  • Allowing DADUs on lots of at least 3,200 square feet
  • Removing the owner-occupancy requirement
  • Requiring one year of continuous ownership before establishing a second ADU
  • Allowing DADUs of up to 1,000 square feet, the same size currently allowed for ADUs
  • Increasing DADU height limits by 1-2 feet, to allow flexibility for green building strategies
  • Providing flexibility for one-story DADUs accessible to people with disabilities or limited mobility, with limitations on tree removal
  • Establishing a new floor area ratio (FAR) standard that limits the maximum size of new mega-size single-family homes

On Friday October 12, 2018 there was a special meeting of the Sustainability and Transportation Committee to discuss the ADU Racial Equity Toolkit (RET).  The Racial Equity Toolkit is a framework provided by the City’s Race and Social Justice Initiative.  It lays out a process to evaluate the racial justice impacts of city policies, initiatives, and programs.  As part of evaluating the impacts of potential ADU legislation Councilmember O’Brien’s office helped to conduct a Racial Equity Toolkit on this issue.

One of the key RET findings was that “the benefits associated with increasing the rental housing stock through the creation of ADUs will disproportionately be accrued by wealthy, primarily white, households.”  This is because, not only is this demographic more likely to own their home but also because “due to the high cost of construction, ADUs are still typically priced above what households with lower-incomes and households of color can afford.”

But removing some of the regulatory barriers in the Land Use Code could help increase the number and variety of housing choices in single family zones and could positively impact affordability and decrease displacement by decreasing the teardown of existing single-family homes.

The RET also highlighted the limits of land code changes to fully mitigate generations of redlining and unequitable planning and housing policies.  The RET explored several different strategies for reducing the cost and barriers to building ADUs including financing support, reducing construction costs and pre-approved Detached Accessory Dwelling Unit plans.  You can read the entire ADU RET report here and watch the committee discussion here.

Following the Council’s passage of the 2019-2020 Budget (late November), Councilmember O’Brien will lead the development of legislation which will be informed by additional public comment opportunities.

This week, the City Council got notice that an appeal to the Final EIS was filed with the Hearing Examiner.  This appeal adds a layer of uncertainty to the timing.  You can follow this issue on the City’s ADU webpage here or you can email the project team at


Promised Land Movie Showing at City Hall, Wednesday 10/24

On Wednesday, October 24th I’ll be co-hosting with the Office of Arts and Culture, the Faith Action Network, and Real Rent Duwamish a showing of the movie Promised Land in City Hall, in the Bertha Knight Landes Room on the main floor of City Hall. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., a welcome is at 5:45, and the movie showing at 6 p.m. Admission is free, and so is the popcorn!

Promised Land is an award-winning documentary about the fight for two tribes in the Pacific Northwest, the Duwamish and the Chinook, as they fight for the restoration of treaty rights they’ve long been denied. In following their story, the film examines a larger problem in the way that the government and society still looks at tribal sovereignty.

From the Promised Land website:

“Indigenous recognition is at the frontline of the battle for native sovereignty. These tribes—who signed treaties, helped settlers, and lost their land—are asking for their treaties to be honored. To redefine their recognition, to put blood quantum restrictions on who is and isn’t native enough, to redefine treaties over and over, continues a toxic cycle of colonialism where the government, and the corporations it partners with, continues to unlawfully profit off of the resources of indigenous lands at great peril to our increasingly climate-challenged world.”

We’ll be joined by filmmakers Sarah Salcedo and Vasant Salcedo, and Cecile Hansen, Chair of the Duwamish Tribe.

More information about the movie is available at the Promised Land website. More information is available at the Facebook event page.

Wednesday, October 24th

Door: 5:30 p.m.

Welcome: 5:45

Movie: 6 p.m.


Comment on Technologies Subject to the City’s Surveillance Ordinance

The City is holding a series of public meetings to ask the public for comment on the first six of 29 technologies that meet the City’s definition of surveillance as defined in this ordinance.

This recent article about GrayKey, a technology that, reportedly, the Seattle Police Department is in the process of acquiring, explains why privacy rights advocate believe that the Surveillance Ordinance is so important.

Please go here to learn more about which technologies are currently under review, and to get a one-page summary of each technology.

On Thursday, October 25th the City will be taking public comment at the American Legion Post 160 of West Seattle (3618 SW Alaska St).

You may provide comments in three ways:

  • attendance at any of the meetings listed below
  • mail comments to Attn: Surveillance & Privacy Program, Seattle IT, PO Box 94709, Seattle, WA 98124
  • submit a comment online at gov/privacy.

Public Meetings

Please contact if you require any language or other accommodations.


In-District Office Hours

On October 26, I will be at the Southwest Customer Service Centers (2801 SW Thistle St) from 2:00 p.m. – 6:45 p.m. The final meeting of the day will begin at 6:30 p.m.

These hours are walk-in friendly, however, appointments that have been made in advance will have priority. To schedule an appointment, please contact my scheduler Alex Clardy (

Additionally, my last tentatively scheduled office hours for this year are:  Friday, December 14, 2018 at the South Park Community Center (8319 8th Avenue S).


Update on Request for 1st Avenue Bus Lane & Access to Downtown after Viaduct Closure; Solid Waste Collection Delay; This Week’s Budget Update; SPD Launches 911 Data Dashboard; Elected Leadership Group Recommendations for Light Rail Options; Thank you to Pearl Jam for Helping to Address Homelessness; Seattle Art in Parks; In-District Office Hours

October 12th, 2018

Update on Request for 1st Avenue Bus Lane & Access to Downtown after Viaduct Closure

SDOT Interim Director Laird sent a reply to my letter asking SDOT about reserving a dedicated lane for buses on 1st Avenue while the Alaskan Way Viaduct is being removed. WSDOT plans to permanently close the viaduct on January 11, 2019.

Eventually, buses will access Downtown of SR 99 through an exit onto Alaskan Way. For 9-12 months before that, they’ll need to arrive by other paths.   In 2017, there were more than 29,000 daily boardings for buses from West Seattle and adjacent communities that access Downtown on the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

West Seattle commuters will bear a heavy share of the burden for the closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

Laird’s reply notes that SDOT engineers are examining the ability of the 1st Avenue road structure to handle buses; the curb lane could require strengthening in order to support curb bus loads. Without additional strengthening, buses and freight vehicles would need to be in the inside lane, which would not allow for an exclusive bus lane. SDOT studied this area in 2014; they are revisiting that study and conducting additional analysis in coming weeks to “refine specific actions needed to improve the corridor capacity and provide a dedicated transit lane along 1st Avenue.”

I thanked Laird for her response, and requested that she let me know when she has additional information from the SDOT Roadway Structures engineering team about providing a dedicated transit lane on 1st Avenue.

The reply also notes there will be two time periods for rerouting bus service after the viaduct closure on January 11.

For the first 4-5 weeks, buses from West Seattle that access Downtown on the viaduct will travel on temporary bus lanes on the Spokane Street Viaduct and 4th Avenue South. Some special afternoon peak routing will be available for trucks and buses connecting from Alaskan Way to E. Marginal Way S.

After the first 4-5 weeks, buses that access Downtown on the Alaskan Way Viaduct will use 1st Avenue between Dearborn and Cherry/Columbia (that’s the subject of my letter).

SDOT notes they will be taking measures to keep traffic flowing through Pioneer Square, including parking restrictions to create two travel lanes instead of one on 1st Avenue.

The letter also notes that SDOT is working with King County Metro to provide other options for West Seattle commuters during this 9-12 month period. The 2019 proposed budget includes “microtransit” shuttles to bring riders to the RapidRide C Line in the Alaska Junction, and to the water taxi in West Seattle, a new “First Mile/Last Mile” service to connect riders in West Seattle.  Service is planned to begin by the end of 2018. Service will be during weekday peak periods (e.g. 6-9 a.m. and 3-7 p.m.) The exact route is to be determined; SDOT expects to have additional information in coming weeks. Funding comes from the Seattle Transportation Benefit District, and is included in the Mayor’s proposed 2019 budget.

In addition, King County Metro’s SR 99 closure information page notes that the West Seattle Water Taxi will add a second vessel on the during the SR99 closure during weekday commute times to significantly increase capacity. Vessels will depart every 20 minutes during commute periods.

When the Alaskan Way Viaduct is closed, SR99 through Downtown will be closed for three weeks, to realign SR99 with the new tunnel. Some ramps will be closed for up to six weeks. WSDOT has a webpage about the closure, and recommends preparing in advance.

The plan to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a tunnel was approved by the state legislature in 2009; background WSDOT documents and planning reports from 2004 to 2011 are available at WSDOT’s project website.


Solid Waste Collection Delay

Many have you have probably read about the natural gas pipeline that ruptured just outside Prince George British Columbia. No one was injured in the explosion. However, this gas line supplies two thirds of Puget Sound Energy’s (PSE) natural gas supplies. This affected some garbage collection because many of our collection trucks now run on natural gas and are not able to operate on other fuel sources.

Waste Management released a statement saying garbage collection would be delayed for many of their customers, this included the Broadview, Bitter Lake, Beacon Hill, and Columbia City neighborhoods. These neighborhoods will now be collected today. The Greenlake, Wallingford, Hillman City, and Rainier Valley neighborhoods will now be collected on Saturday.

Seattle Public Utilities has communicated with their customers in a number of ways and have posted current service information at this link.

If you live in a Recology service area your collection schedule has not been affected.


This Week’s Budget Update

While the Budget Committee didn’t hold any meetings this week, there was a key deadline on Thursday to propose items for discussion during Issue Identification meetings. Issue Identification meetings are scheduled for October 17, 18, 22, 23 and 24, though it’s possible some sessions may be cancelled if additional time isn’t needed.

Confirmation of meetings can be found at the Budget Committee meeting schedule. You can also sign up to receive the meeting agendas in advance by e-mail.

During Issue ID meetings, Council Central Staff will present highlights of department budgets and issues for potential Council consideration, as well as issues and proposals identified by Councilmembers. At this stage budget deliberations, proposals don’t necessarily need to be detailed.

For reference here are a couple of example of Issue ID memos from last year’s budget process: Police Department and Parks and Recreation.

Here’s a link to the Budget calendar and background on the budget process.


SPD Launches 911 Data Dashboard

I get a lot of emails about 911 response time.  The Seattle Police Department has launched a new public data site with data about 911 calls. It’s called the “Calls for Service Dashboard.”

The Calls for Service data includes 911 calls from the public, as well as officer-initiated calls. They can be for criminal or non-criminal activity, handled in the field or over the phone, and do not always result in a report being taken.

You can search for Calls for Service by type of call, precinct and neighborhood from 2010 to 2018.

The site also includes a field for citywide Response Time by call priority and methodology, including how SPD lists calls by priority.  There is no nationally recognized standard for police response time. Public and officer safety, staffing, geography, call volume, and priority are unique in each event.

According to SPD, Calls for Service are most appropriately used in analyses of public disorder (e.g., suspicious, disturbance, noise, intoxication, etc.)  and officer activity (e.g., officer-initiated calls). Call groups and descriptions do not indicate a final disposition.

SPD previously made available its Crime Dashboard. The dashboard covers confirmed incidents documented in a report.

Thanks to the Seattle Police Department for making this information publicly available, and for increasing transparency.


Elected Leadership Group Recommendations for Light Rail Options

On October 5th the Elected Leadership Group (ELG) for Sound Transit’s West Seattle and Ballard light rail extensions, of which I’m a member, met to consider potential options for alignments.  In order to facilitate constructing light rail as quickly as possible, the goal is to select a preferred alternative by April 2019.

The starting point for the discussions was the recommendations of the Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG), which is advisory to the ELG. SAG members were selected from communities along the rail line.

The SAG recommended pursuing the Pigeon Ridge/West Seattle Tunnel (purple) option, and the Golf Course/Alaska Junction Tunnel (blue) option. Back at the May ELG meeting, my reaction to a recommendation to eliminate the Golf Course/Alaska Junction Tunnel (blue) option was to ask Sound Transit to instead convert that option into one that didn’t impact the golf course.  Sound Transit agreed and the ELG moved it forward for consideration.  I’m glad they did, otherwise we wouldn’t have had the Golf Course/Alaska Junction (blue) option for the SAG to support.

The SAG further recommended exploring a Junction station at 41st/42nd instead of Fauntleroy, like that in the Pigeon Ridge/West Seattle Tunnel (purple) option; and a crossing north of the current bridge. Here’s a link to the options that were considered in West Seattle.

The Pigeon Ridge option would cross the Duwamish south of Harbor Island, and go through Pigeon Ridge, come out with a station by Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, then proceed at a low height along Genesee, and enter a tunnel on Genesee with a station at Avalon, then continue underground to a station at 42nd and Alaska.

The Golf Course (blue) option would cross the Duwamish to the south of the West Seattle Bridge, then proceed on Delridge, then turn onto Genesee, then enter a tunnel in the hillside on Genesee, with stations at Avalon and on Fauntleroy in the Junction. The “Golf Course” name is an artifact of the earlier version mentioned above that went across the golf course with an elevated guideway.

The SAG recommended not moving forward with elevated and tunnel options that entered the Junction on Oregon Street, and have high elevated guideways on Genesee.

I spoke in support of the two options recommended by the SAG.

For the Pigeon Ridge option, I noted strong community support from both the Delridge and the Junction communities; Sound Transit’s Racial Equity analysis said it was the best options for transit connectivity with buses; the Seattle Design Commission’s strong support, for having fewer turns, and a low guideway that mostly avoided Delridge Way SW. The Seattle Planning Commission also supports this option. A letter from Transportation Choices Coalition, Futurewise, Feet First, the Cascade Bicycle Club, the Housing Development Consortium and the Transit Riders Union recommended moving the option forward “with reservation” due to concerns about costs. I wanted to move this forward and see if concerns about costs could be addressed.

For the Blue Golf Course/Tunnel option, I noted community support, including from people who had originally supported the Pigeon Ridge option. It was the 2nd choice for many in Delridge who preferred the purple option. The Planning Commission supported moving this option forward, and Sound Transit’s Racial Equity analysis noted the potential opportunity for transit-oriented development, and neighborhood amenities such as a grocery store (this theme also came up in the Delridge station charette Sound Transit held). This option also has a lower guideway. The Blue Golf Course/Tunnel option also minimizes impacts on the park and skate park, concerns that had been raised about the Pigeon Ridge option.

I also noted my support for considering a station location in the Junction on Alaska at 41st or 42nd as an important component of the Pigeon Ridge/West Seattle Tunnel (purple) option that should move forward.

I further noted I’d like to see the Delridge station, as represented in the Blue Golf Course/Tunnel option, to be moved be at least partly along Delridge Way, like the station alignment for the Pigeon Ridge/West Seattle Tunnel (purple) option.  Doing so would improve the transfer environment for bus transfers from neighborhoods to the south, such as South Delridge, Highland Park, and White Center; Sound Transit’s Racial Equity Toolkit noted these were communities with a majority of people of color, along with High Point.

During the discussion at the Elected Leadership Group, it was clear the Pigeon Ridge option didn’t have support, due to concerns about costs, so it didn’t move forward.

The Blue/Golf Course option did move forward in the ELG recommendations, including recommendations to consider a) a Junction station location at 41st or 42nd,  and b) a moved Delridge Station.  I’m glad that the ELG agreed with the SAG that these were both important components of the Pigeon Ridge/West Seattle Tunnel (purple) options that should move forward.

The ELG accepted the SAG recommendation to move forward exploration of a crossing to the north of the bridge, which could reduce the cost.

Finally, consideration of a station location at 44th was also included at the request of King County. 44th and Alaska is currently a KC Metro bus transit hub; a station at 44th had been included in the Oregon Street options that didn’t move forward.

Sound Transit has indicated it will be moving forward the “Representative Alignment” included in the ballot measure for comparative purposes; this is an elevated option that goes on Delridge, Genesee, Fauntleroy, then Alaska to 42nd.  The ELG accepted the SAG’s recommendation to move the Alaska Junction station east and oriented north/south, and move the Delridge station further south.

The ELG also made recommendations for other neighborhoods along the alignment (Ballard/Interbay, Chinatown/ID, SODO, and Downtown). The recommendations are available here.

Here’s background information about how Sound Transit is developing options, and the April, 2019 target for developing a preferred alternative. The Elected Leadership Group earlier narrowed the number of options under consideration in May.


Thank You to Pearl Jam for Helping to Address Homelessness

Last week the band Pearl Jam confirmed earlier estimates that their “Home Show” at SafeCo Field this summer raised about $11 million to help address our region’s homelessness crisis.  This money was raised by more than 170 businesses, foundations and restaurants and thousands of individuals.  Most of the partners designated regional organizations to receive, $7.8 million of the funds. An additional $1.3 million will be distributed to non-profits selected by Pearl Jam with guidance from a 19-member advisory group.   The last $1.7 million will be granted by Pearl Jam, the advisory group and Partners based on future needs.

I want to extend a special thank you to a home town band for their leadership and generosity in helping to address our region’s homeless crisis.


Seattle Art in Parks

On October 2nd Seattle Parks and Recreation released in an interactive map where you can take a virtual tour of public artwork in our parks.

As you know, there are many public art pieces around our parks which can be enjoyed free by the public. Now you can view them virtually as well, check out some of the great artwork in District 1!


In-District Office Hours

On October 26, I will be at the Southwest Customer Service Centers (2801 SW Thistle St) from 2:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. The final meeting of the day will begin at 6:30 p.m.

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

Additionally, my last tentatively scheduled office hours for this year are:  Friday, December 14, 2018 at the South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S.


Everyone Doing Their Part to Rescue Bernard the Cat; Seattle Rainbow Housing Report- Aging In Community: Addressing LGBTQ Inequities in Housing and Senior Services; This Week’s Budget Update; September Constituent Email Report

October 5th, 2018

Everyone Doing Their Part to Rescue Bernard the Cat

We’ve all heard the story before – a cat gets stuck up a tree and the local fire fighters come to the rescue to bring the cat down. In this case it was a utility pole and an adorable orange and white cat named Bernard, or as he’s affectionately known, Tubby. Unfortunately, the firefighters were unable to perform their rescue due to high-voltage wires atop the utility pole.

We’re not sure why, but Bernard’s Friday morning started out on top of this utility pole, 40 feet up, in the West Seattle Junction. Bernard’s owner, Abi, was concerned because he hadn’t come home the night before, so in the morning she went in search of him and found him meowing on the utility pole.

Abi reached out to the police and fire departments, as well as animal control, all unable to assist because of the high-voltage wires. City Light had sent a crew out, but they didn’t have the proper equipment to reach the top of the 40-foot pole.  Later quoted in the Seattle Times, Abi said “There was a lot of back and forth — no one was agreeing to do anything. It was sort of like everybody was pointing fingers at everybody else.” So, a political friend suggested contacting her local City Councilmember, me. I received an email shortly after 5:30pm on Friday, and Alex, my staff member who saw the email, promptly sent an email to our Council liaison at City Light.

I can’t say for sure that City Light jumped into action after the email, but about an hour later I received word that City Light had sent a truck out and was able to rescue Bernard. I do know one thing, harkening back to my days as a neighborhood organizer, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

I’m happy to say that Bernard is now safely home, and I want to extend my thanks to all the City staff involved in helping in the rescue as well as the neighbors, and especially Abi for your patience with the system. While it’s a little unusual for Councilmembers to get involved in situations like this, I was very happy to play a small part.


Seattle Rainbow Housing Report- Aging In Community: Addressing LGBTQ Inequities in Housing and Senior Services

On Tuesday September 25, 2018 I, along with Mayor Durkan, Councilmember González, and King County Councilmember Joe McDermott, spoke at the release event for the new report Aging in Community: Addressing Inequities in LGBTQ Housing and Senior Services.  This project was funded by the Seattle City Council under Councilmember Lorena González’ leadership and commissioned by the City of Seattle Office of Housing (OH) to examine the needs of LGBTQ older adults.

One of the reasons that the Council funded the study was to encourage OH to act on specific direction that the Council gave back in 2016, but still hasn’t been acted on.  In April of 2016, the Council passed legislation that put the 2017 Housing Levy on the November 2016 ballot.  The legislation required that the Office of Housing consider prioritizing specific subpopulations who are underserved or have limited access to culturally appropriate housing.

Because I had learned that a 2015 study showed that, unlike most large US cities, we have no housing for LGBTQ seniors, I worked to amend the legislation to specifically call out LGBTQ seniors as a priority population for levy housing production.  LGBTQ seniors were the only specific demographic that was named in the prioritization request, because the Council wanted to emphasize the importance of meeting the completely unmet need for this population.

Then, in 2017, the Council passed an Administration and Finance Plan to guide the use of Levy funds. Again, I worked to amend that legislation too to prioritize housing development for LGBTQ seniors.  l wrote about this in 2017.

So when we learned last year that Capitol Hill Housing was applying for Housing Levy funding for an affordable senior housing to support LGBTQ seniors, a mixed-use building on Capitol Hill, we were so encouraged.  We believed then that Seattle would finally be funding its first affordable, LGBTQ elder affirming housing. Imagine our disappointment when OH declined to fund the project, despite the 2015 study, the Council direction, and all of the community organizing towards this goal.

Undeterred, the community decided they needed a different kind of study than the 2015 study and consequently, in last year’s budget deliberations, with leadership from Councilmember González and co-sponsorship from me, the City Council passed a 2017-2018 budget action supporting a housing needs study for low-income LGBTQ seniors.

Over 500 surveys were completed that represented a diversity of respondents, including 30% age 70 and older, 32.5% who identify as people of color and 17.8% who are transgender and/or non-binary.

According to the results of the survey the challenges in supporting LGBTQ elders that emerged were:

  • Inadequate services prevent LGBTQ seniors from remaining in their homes and aging in community.
  • A lack of affordable, stable, safe, and accessible housing for LGBTQ seniors.
  • Limited cultural capacity of providers to ensure LGBTQ affirming housing environments.
  • High rates of discrimination and bias in housing, with most not obtaining legal recourse.
  • LGBTQ racial inequities in access to affordable housing and senior services.
  • Insufficient community engagement and advocacy for LGBTQ aging and senior housing.
  • Lack of information necessary to proactively guide and monitor decision-making to better support LGBTQ communities and eliminate inequities in the allocation of City and County resources.

The report found what we already knew, that Seattle is “falling behind other major metropolitan areas in providing services to LGBTQ seniors.  Other finding include:

  • Among the LGBTQ older adult participants, 2% lived alone with elevated risk of housing instability since they were less likely to have someone available to support them when needs arise.

  • More than six out of ten LGBTQ older adults wanted to stay in their current homes, yet many were vulnerable to losing their housing due to a number of risk factors including the impacts of rising rents and housing costs.
  • LGBTQ older adults had elevated disparities in disability and health.
  • LGBTQ older adults experienced high rates of discrimination, with trans older adults reporting nearly double the rates compared to their non-transgender peers. More than four out of five LGBTQ older adults did not report the discrimination they experienced.
  • Most LGBTQ older adults were not accessing needed senior or housing services because the services were felt to be non-LGBTQ affirming, too costly, and/or not accessible.
  • LGBTQ older adults of color reported higher levels of housing cost burden, lack of support, and lack of access to many housing and aging services.
  • LGBTQ older adults reported higher than average housing cost burden and living in unaffordable housing; most were living on fixed incomes. Twenty percent or respondents experienced homelessness in the past five years.

Recommendations Include:

  1. Promote aging in community via funding an LGBTQ Senior Center with LGBTQ affirming services and programs to support these resilient at-risk older adults.
  2. Fund and provide affordable, stable, safe, and accessible LGBTQ senior housing.
  3. Enhance cultural capacity and create LGBTQ affirming housing environments and services with attention to high-risk groups through trainings and resources.
  4. Ensure the reporting of discrimination and legal recourse.
  5. Promote LGBTQ community support, engagement and advocacy.
  6. Expand the collection and utilization of data to monitor LGBTQ housing and aging-related service needs, and to ensure equity in budgeting and the allocation of City and County resources.

I’m optimistic that the Council, Mayor Durkan, OH, and the community will find a way to work to address these recommendations.  The LGBTQ community has been saying for decades, “we won’t go away.”  They’re saying it now and I’m saying it with them too. As an ally on this issue, I’m not going away.

You can read the executive summary here and find the full report here.


This Week’s Budget Update

This week the Budget Committee met twice on issues related to the City budget.

The first meeting was a 10/3 Budget Work Session dedicated to funding across several departments to address homelessness included in the Mayor’s Proposed 2019-2020 budget, as well as spending and performance measures for 2017 and 2018. Here are links to the three presentations:

Homeless System Performance and Investments

Navigation Team Outreach

Clean-up Activities

Secondly, the Budget Committee held its first public hearing on the Mayor’s Proposed Budget. The second public hearing will be on Tuesday, October 23rd at 5:30 p.m. in City Hall.

Next week no meetings are scheduled, but there is a key deadline on Wednesday the 10th @ 10 a.m., for Councilmembers to propose items to be heard during Issue Identification, which will begin the following week.

Here’s a link to the Budget calendar. You can sign up here to receive future meeting agendas of the Budget Committee. Here’s background on the budget process.


Delridge RapidRide H Line Open House October 10

SDOT and King County Metro will hold an open house about the future Rapid Ride H Line planned for Delridge Way SW on Wednesday, October 10, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Mount View Elementary at 10811 12th Avenue SW, in White Center.

King County Metro’s role in the project is to convert Route 120 into the RapidRide H Line in 2021. SDOT’s role involves improvements to Delridge Avenue SW designed to increase transit speed and access. It’s listed in the City’s Capital Improvement Plan as the “Delridge Multimodal Corridor.”

During last year’s budget I sponsored a proviso requiring SDOT to return to the Council to authorize additional spending after completing 10% design. In July SDOT presented in the City Council’s Sustainability and Transportation Committee; here’s their 10% design concept and their presentation.

In the legislation approving spending beyond 10% design, I added an amendment requiring SDOT to return to the Council at 30% design, in line with the “stage-gating” approach for large capital projects.

Additional information is available at the project websites for SDOT and King County Metro. An online open house will begin at the King County Metro website on October 10.


September Constituent Email Report

Constituent correspondence is a very important task in my office.  My staff and I spend time every day helping you improve our community, whether that’s by getting you help from a city department with our constituent case management services or giving you information about legislation that the Council is considering.  The unshaded categories and numbers are problem-solving emails answered in September, what I refer to above as “case management services.”  The shaded categories and numbers are emails answered in September related to policy or legislation that the Council is considering.


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