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 (alex.clardy@seattle.gov).

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.

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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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This Week’s Budget Update; Honoring the Seattle Symphony; Diversity Career Fair; Evictions in Seattle

September 28th, 2018


This Week’s Budget Update

On Monday, September 24th the Mayor presented her 2019-2020 Proposed Budget and 2019-2024 Proposed Capital Improvement Program.

You can access individual department budgets in the links above; here’s a link to a summary and high-level summary charts, and the budget homepage. Here’s the Mayor’s budget information page.

The Mayor identifies her priorities as:

The proposed budget will be reviewed by the Council, meeting as the Budget Committee, over the next two months.   The Council’s budget page is here.

On Wednesday and Thursday this week the Budget Committee heard budget overview presentations from the City Budget Office (CBO) and selected departments.

In Wednesday’s Budget Committee meeting, we discussed CBO’s Revenue Overview, and budget overview presentations from the Office of Civil Rights, the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, Seattle City Light, Seattle Public Utilities, and SDOT.  At Thursday’s Budget Committee meeting we heard presentations from the Office of Housing, Parks and Recreation, the Office of Labor Standards, the Human Services Department and the Seattle Police Department.

Check out the links above.  The departmental budget overview presentations each identify:

  1. Primary services and performance measurement for each selected department
  2. Strategic Priorities for 2019 for each selected department
  3. Annual Department Budget Comparisons (2016-2019) for each selected department
  4. Legislative and Policy Framework (recent law changes and how those changes impact how each selected department does its work)
  5. Major Proposed Changes (adds and cuts to each selected department)

During the Police Department briefing, I emphasized with Chief Best the support I’ve heard across District 1 for hiring additional police officers; I noted that residents of all 12 residential micro community policing plan areas in the SW Precinct listed Police Capacity as the #1 Top Public Safety Concern.

Next week the Budget Committee will meet on October 3rd for a Budget Work Session on focused on homelessness spending across all departments. On October 4th, the Budget Committee will hold a public hearing on the proposed budget and capital improvement program at 5:30 p.m.


Honoring the Seattle Symphony

The Seattle Symphony was recently named the Orchestra of the Year for 2018—a tremendous honor that recognizes artistic excellence. To salute this achievement, my office drafted a proclamation from the Council and Mayor, and named September 24, 2018 “Seattle Symphony Day”.

Here’s the proclamation, and a photo of Krishna Thiagarjan, President & CEO of the Symphony and others; Vice President of Artistic Planning & Creative Projects Elena Dubinets is holding the award.


Inaugural Public Sector Diversity Career Fair

This Saturday, September 29 between 10am and 2pm at the Renton Pavilion (233 Burnett Ave S, Renton), Seattle is partnering with 28 other local government entities in hosting a FREE career fair.

“At the City of Seattle, we’re stepping up our game and strengthening our community engagement,” says Deena Pierott, Equity Advisor and organizer of the event. “We recently released a report that shows we have some deficits based on our new City standard for measuring equity in our workforce and we’re going to change that narrative.”

There will be information sessions on how to apply for public sector jobs, assistance in navigating the NeoGov Application System used by most government agencies, and one-on-one evaluations of resumes and interview style.

The Career Fair will have free admission and parking and is easily accessible from a nearby transit center.


Seattle Women’s Commission Housing Justice Study on Evictions in Seattle

On Friday September 21st the Seattle Women’s Commission presented their report, Losing Home: The Human Cost of Eviction in Seattle, to my committee, the Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development and Arts Committee.  The Seattle Women’s Commission, in partnership with the Housing Justice Project (HJP), conducted research on the ways by which current policies and the practices of courts, landlords, attorneys and other private actors impact the mass eviction of low-income tenants in Seattle.  The research looked at factors such as:

  • as unpaid rent that triggers evictions
  • how much additional debt in the ways of late fees, court costs, and attorneys’ fees, tenants accumulate as a result of eviction rulings
  • how evictions affect tenant and family health
  • where people go after being evicted.

The researchers did a manual review of all 1,218 residential eviction actions filed in Seattle in 2017 and gathered support data through surveys and interviews of tenants conducted in 2018.  They also conducted interviews with homeless prevention providers, cross-referenced evictions with Medical Examiner’s records and examined the Department of Construction and Inspection records regarding code violations.

The researchers stress that the 1,218 evictions they reviewed do not comprise all of the evictions that occurred in Seattle in 2017, because many tenants leave before an eviction is filed.

A number of important findings came out of this research including:

  • The most common reason a tenant faced eviction was for nonpayment of rent; of all nonpayment of rent cases, 86.5% of evictions filings were for nonpayment of rent and of these more than half (52.3%) were for one month or less in rent
  • Women in single tenant households were more likely to be evicted over small amounts of money. Of the cases were a tenant owed $100 or less were 81% women.
  • In general, people of color were more likely to be evicted for smaller amounts of money. Black tenants faced the greatest disproportionality; they represent 31.2% of tenant with evictions filed against them, 4 times their demographic proportion of the population.
  • When tenants fall behind on rent due to an emergency they face very tight timelines to catch up before the eviction process begins. The majority of people (51.1%) received notices on or before the 9th day of the month, with only 3 days to pay after receiving a notice.
  • 87.5% of evicted respondents became homeless; with 37.5% ending up unsheltered, 25% living in a shelter or transitional housing, and 25% staying with friends or family.
  • When interviewed, tenants reported falling behind on rent because of loss of income (51.4%), a medical emergency (8.6%) and a death in the family (2.9%); 3% of respondents said that they could pay some, or all, of the rent owed.

The report also includes a number of recommendations.  These recommendations are divided into 3 categories; make it possible to pay rent, improve the Landlord-Tenant Relationship and Rebalance the Scales of Justice.  The recommendations include but are not limited to:

  • Require Landlords to Offer Payment Plans
  • Increase Time Period to Cure Nonpayment of Rent
  • Expand Cohabiting Rights to Help Address Affordability
  • Curb Abuses of Mutual Termination Agreements
  • Increase Coordinated Funds for Legal Defense and Tenant Outreach Funds
  • Provide Funding for an Eligible Guardian Ad Litem or Appointment of Counsel

You can read the sobering report in its entirety here.  You can watch the Women’s Commission presentation at the 9.21 CRUEDA meeting here and find additional presentation materials here.

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Budget Calendar/Key Deadlines; Richard Hugo House Re-Opens at New Building/Old Location on Saturday; Tree Legislation Update; Recycle Roundup; Diaper Need Awareness Week; Request to Sound Transit for Visualizations for Avalon station area

September 21st, 2018


Budget Calendar/Key Deadlines

On Monday, September 24th Mayor Jenny Durkan will submit her proposed 2019-2020 City Budget and 2019-2024 Capital Improvement Program. The Council will then begin meeting as the Budget Committee in a two-month process for consideration, amendment, and finally, approval of the City budget. Here’s a brief rundown the of the calendar, process, and key upcoming deadlines.

On September 26th and 27th, the Budget Committee will hear department overviews from the City Budget Office for individual city departments. On October 3rd, the committee will hold a Work Session.

On October 4th at 5:30 p.m., the Budget Committee will hold the first of two public hearings, at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers on the 2nd floor of City Hall.

On October 17-18 and 22-24, the committee will meet for the stage in the deliberation process that we refer to as “Issue Identification.” For these meetings, Central Staff provides highlights of the budget and issues for potential Council consideration. Councilmembers can also submit their own issues or proposals for consideration.  The deadline for submitting “Issue Identification” proposals is October 10th at 10 a.m. At this stage in the deliberations, proposals don’t need to be detailed.

The 2nd public hearing will be at 5:30 p.m. on October 23rd, in Council Chambers.

The next key deadline is on October 25th at 10 a.m.; that’s the deadline for “Green Sheet” proposals to amend the Mayor’s proposed budget. Those proposals will be heard in committee between October 30 and November 2nd. “Green Sheet” is the term we use for the document we use to amend the budget with either a reduction or addition of funding.  Green Sheets include specific dollar amounts, descriptions of purpose, and named departments to receive funding as well as revenue sources from where the funds originate.

On November 7th, the Budget Committee Chair, Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, will present a Balancing Package. Votes on the Balancing Package, and any Green Sheets (amendments to the Mayor’s Budget) proposed by Councilmembers, will be on November 13 and/or 14. A majority vote of Councilmembers is needed to place items on the agenda before the committee; proposals must be self-balancing (spending and revenues must match).

A Full Council vote to adopt the budget is scheduled for November 19.

Here’s a link to the calendar for Budget Committee meetings.

The meeting schedule may change, with some meetings 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 agendas in advance by e-mail here.

I’ll be providing weekly updates in this newsletter on meetings of the Budget Committee.

 


Richard Hugo House Re-Opens at New Building/Old Location on Saturday

For twenty years, Hugo House has been Seattle’s literary center.  In 1996, three Seattle writers Linda Breneman, Andrea Lewis, and Frances McCue, hatched the idea of creating a hub for writers and readers to meet.  Richard Hugo, the center’s namesake, was a nationally recognized and locally beloved poet, famous for saying, “humanity will always survive civilization.”

From October 1998 until May of 2016, Richard Hugo House was located in an old funeral home on Capitol Hill.  It relocated temporarily to First Hill after the demolition of its old home.

After a multi-year, $7.5 million capital campaign – including $1 million secured by Rep. Nicole Macri from the Washington State Building for the Arts program, $250,000 from the City of Seattle’s Cultural Facilities fund, and $250,000 from King County’s 4 Culture – this weekend, the Richard Hugo House is ready to open in its new home, at the same location where it first opened in 1998 and stayed until 2016.  It will have classrooms and a 150-seat auditorium.

This was made possible in part because the developer of a mixed-use six-story dedicated to Hugo House 9,527 square feet on the new building’s first floor.  Upstairs are 80 apartments, reportedly with 2-bedroom units renting for $4,425.

It’s an interesting outcome, juxtaposed against the current debate around the future of Showbox.  The building that once housed Hugo House, an old Victorian House, did not have the elements that made it eligible as a Historic Landmark, and did not receive landmark status when nominated.   In its application to the City Landmarks Board, Historic Seattle attests that the Showbox does have these attributes.

Recently, Hugo House became the first literary institution in Washington State to be designated a literary landmark by the Literary Landmarks Association, a division of the American Library Association that works to encourage the dedication of historic literary sites.

Time:  5pm – 9pm

Place:  1634 11th Ave

Host: Nancy Guppy

Special guests: Maria Semple, The Vis-à-Vis Society, and the Bushwick Book Club.

Readings by: Anastacia-Renee, Quenton Baker, Kristen Millares Young, and Amber Flame

Also, open mic and DJ Gabriel Teodros

See these links for some poignant stories from local youth about the ways in which Hugo House has helped them:

 


Tree Legislation Update

Many of you have to written me about the draft tree legislation that the Planning, Land Use, and Zoning (PLUZ) Committee has been considering over the last couple of months. While legislation has not been officially introduced to the Council nor referred to PLUZ, the committee has heard draft language a few different times and have been working to create a version, before it is introduced and formally referred to the PLUZ committee, that meets the expectations of the community.

At the last 2 PLUZ committee meetings, members of the public have lobbied us to not vote on the bill.  People are still writing to me now to ask that I not vote on the legislation. It is important to understand that bills *cannot be voted on until they are introduced & referred to a committee.* Again, this draft bill has neither been introduced or referred.  All introduced & referred bills are found here.

Last week the committee released a statement, you can read it in full here. As is said in the statement, we’ve heard from community members that we should take more time to consider the effects of the draft legislation and that new tree replacement requirements are not enough protection for exceptional trees. The committee has heard that the hazardous tree designation has been misused to remove exceptional trees that should be preserved.  Additionally, I will be advocating that there be 1. a maximum limit to the number of trees that can be removed from a property in a year (as opposed to using canopy percentage as the measurement), 2.  protections for groves of trees, and 3. better approaches to addressing enforcement challenges.

Council staff will continue to work on a new draft of this legislation while we are in the budget process, after which the committee will pick this legislation back up.

 


Recycle Roundup

1 Green Planet is recycling – for free – all sorts of hard to depose of items. Check out the list of what they are and are not accepting here.

The event is Sunday, September 23 between 9am and 3pm at the Fauntleroy Church (9140 California SW).

The Fauntleroy Church Green Committee puts these events on for free but appreciates donations because they help to continue the service.

 


Diaper Need Awareness Week

Monday September 24th kicks off the 2018 Diaper Need Awareness week.  We bring the observation of Diaper Need Awareness Week to you, thanks the WestSide Baby.

WestSide Baby is a nonprofit organization that collects new and used items for children and babies and distributes them free of charge to King County families in need.  Recipients include families who are homeless, living in transitional housing, or who may just need of a little help during a difficult transition.

Since opening in 2001, WestSide Baby has distributed over $19.5 million in clothing, diapers, safety equipment and other items to nearly 279,000 children.  In 2017 alone, they served 46,000 children!  I’m grateful to have such a robust community organization based in District 1.

On average, infants and toddlers need roughly 50 diaper changes per week.  Diaper need is the condition of not having enough clean diapers to ensure that infants and toddlers are clean, healthy, and dry.  We know that not having enough diapers can adversely affect the health and welfare of infants, toddlers, and their families.  National data reports that one in three mothers experience diaper need at some time while their children are less than three years old and 48% of families delay changing a diaper in order to stretch out their supply of diapers.   Unfortunately, there are no government assistance programs that help parents to purchase diapers.

There are many ways to help close the diaper need gap, you can find more information about WestSide Baby and where to donate locally here.

 


Request to Sound Transit for Visualizations for Avalon station area

As part of its “Level 2” evaluation of alternatives for light rail to West Seattle and Ballard, Sound Transit has provided visualizations of alternatives. Visualizations for West Seattle and the Duwamish crossing are on pages 3 through 14.

These are very helpful in helping in public understanding of the alternatives. Last week I thanked Sound Transit for providing these.

I believe additional visualizations, in particular of the Avalon station area, could further enhance public understanding, and help meet the goal of attaining a preferred alternative by April 2019. In that spirit I sent the following request to Sound Transit CEO Rogoff:

 

Dear CEO Rogoff, 

Thank you for your responsiveness to the community and elected officials’ request for visualizations of Level 2 Alternatives for the West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions. These visualizations of bridges, elevated guideways, and stations are helpful in enhancing public understanding of how stations and guideways fit into neighborhood context, and interact with existing streets and adjacent properties. I am hopeful this will assist us all in meeting the goal included in the joint Sound Transit/Seattle agreement of achieving a preferred alternative by April 2019.

The Seattle Design Commission, in order “to better understand the urban design implications of the various station and alignment alternatives under this phase of review,” has been engaging with the Seattle Planning Commission, Transit Advisory Board, Bicycle Advisory Board, Pedestrian Advisory Board, Renters Commission, Community Involvement Commission, and the LGBTQ Commission.  On September 7, the members of the Elected Leadership Group received a letter from the Seattle Design Commission.  The letter included a recommendation to “immediately provide visualization of stations, guideways, bridges, and portals in three dimension context before alternative analysis proceeds.  Visualizations need to be provided at different scales and orientations, from adjacent streets and street level, to understand how people interact with these facilities.”

While the visualizations provided to date are helpful for the neighborhood context of the Alaska Junction and Delridge station areas, visualizations of the elevated options for the Avalon station area and nearby elevated guideways would enhance public understanding, and contribute to the City and ST’s mutual goal of achieving a preferred alternative by April 2019. Could you please provide visualizations of the elevated options for the Avalon station area and nearby elevated guideways?

Also, please consider the additional recommendation of the Design Commission.

Sincerely,

Lisa Herbold

Seattle City Councilmember, District 1

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Releasing Xiyue Wang; Bus Access after Viaduct Closure; ST3 Light Rail Visualizations; Bail Reform; SPU Drainage and Wastewater Rates; Ferries Open House; Office Hours

September 14th, 2018


United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention Calls for the Release of Xiyue Wang

This week the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention ruled that Iran’s detention of Xiyue Wang, an United States citizen and University of Washington Alumni imprisoned in Iran since August of 2016, is illegal and arbitrary and that he must be released immediately.

In July of 2018 the City Council wrote a letter asking the Trump administration to submit a request to Iran and other appropriate international bodies calling for the release of Mr. Wang.

I share hope with many others that the U.S. will take up this ruling of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention when the U.N. holds its General Assembly meeting in New York next week.  You can read more about this case and the United Nations Working Group ruling here.

 


Letter to SDOT re: Bus Access to Downtown after Alaskan Way Viaduct Closes

During coming months WSDOT will permanently close the Alaskan Way Viaduct, and open the SR99 tunnel.  WSDOT has announced that they will provide about a month’s notice before the start of the closure. The tunnel will open around three weeks after the closure of Viaduct; WDOT has an information page about the planned three-week closure of SR99; their webpage includes suggestions for travel alternatives.

The closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct will impact bus routes from West Seattle that currently access Downtown on the Alaskan Way Viaduct, such as the C Line, the 120, and several other lines.Bail Reform

Eventually, permanent access to Downtown from West Seattle on SR99 will be through a an exit onto Alaskan Way. Buses will turn onto Columbia, then continue northbound on 3rd Avenue. During most of the interim period while the Viaduct is being removed—likely much or all of 2019—those buses will exit SR99 at Dearborn, then travel on 1st Avenue to Cherry, then continue on 3rd Avenue.

It’s important that we do what we can to ameliorate what will undoubtedly be a significant impact, and facilitate timely bus travel as much as possible. According to 2017 data, there were more than 29,000 daily boardings from West Seattle and adjacent communities on buses that access Downtown on the Alaskan Way Viaduct. It’s clear that West Seattle commuters will bear a heavy share of the burden for the closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

I’ve written to SDOT’s Interim Director highlighting the importance of Downtown access for West Seattle, and to ask if SDOT intends to reserve a dedicated lane for buses on 1st Avenue. A dedicated transit lane was planned for the Center City Streetcar project, currently on hold.  The letter is linked here.

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.

 


Sound Transit 3 Light Rail Visualizations Available, Online Open House

Sound Transit’s webpage for West Seattle and Ballard light rail now includes visualizations of alternatives being considered as part of the  Level 2  analysis that includes more detail than before, including “high”, “medium” and “low” evaluations for 50+ measurements. Here’s a link to the visualizations document.

An online open house is also in progress. At Sound Transit’s website you can comment on any of the project areas (West Seattle, Downtown, Chinatown-International District/SODO, Ballard-Interbay).

Here’s a link to the West Seattle alternatives. You can comment on West Seattle alternatives here, as well as review comments submitted by others.

 


Bail Reform Working Group Report Part I

During the 2018 budget deliberations I sponsored a Statement of Legislative Intent (SLI) requesting the Seattle Office of Civil Rights, the Seattle City Attorney’s Office, Seattle Municipal Court (SMC), and the King County Department of Public Defense to develop recommendations for how the City could reform its pretrial bail practices.

According to SLI 303-1-A-1, “A 2013 Arnold Foundation study funded by the City on pre-trial criminal justice practices showed that more than 60 percent of inmates across the country are being held in detention while their cases move through the court system. In Seattle, research from an SMC study showed that 31 percent of individuals in custody who were charged with misdemeanors in 2014 remained in jail while waiting for their next court date because they were unable to come up with cash for bail.”

The ACLU issued a 2016 position paper entitled “No Money, No Freedom”, detailing the two-tiered monetary based justice system created by cash bail. It stated that “[j]udges in Washington often impose bail at an amount much higher than many people can afford to pay, and without consideration of individual financial circumstances and resources…This two-tiered approach denies justice to individuals, undermines the fairness of the court system, and imposes unacceptably high costs on the accused, their families, and our communities.” Though the purpose of bail is a deposit that under law imposes “the least restrictive conditions reasonably necessary to assure appearance” to their court date, it has “become an excessive financial burden, one so great that it prevents the accused from getting out of jail while his or her case is pending.”

Part 1 of the report was completed in August of 2018 reviews the benefits and promise of new pretrial strategies such as:

  • Text message hearing reminders
  • Electronic monitoring
  • Day reporting
  • Community-based pretrial release strategies
  • Risk assessment tools
  • Unsecured appearance bonds

In addition to this survey of new pretrial release strategies, the report discusses best practices associated with these new strategies, and potential racial equity outcomes associated with each strategy.  A full copy of the report can be found here.  Part 2 of the report will

Report back on whether LAW and SMC plans to implement any of these alternative strategies or tools as part of bail reform as well as a timeline and community engagement process necessary for reforms.  Part 2 is expected later this year.

 


SPU Drainage and Wastewater Rates

On Tuesday my committee heard the first of two presentations regarding Seattle Public Utilities’ (SPU) Drainage and Wastewater rate proposal. The Drainage and Wastewater rate proposal stems from the SPU Strategic Business Plan which the Council passed last year and I wrote about here. The Strategic Business Plan is a six-year outlook and guiding document that the utility updates every three years to reflect the most accurate and up to date information about the utility rates needed to support projects and their costs. Included in the Strategic Business Plan is a projection for the rate path for all lines of business which includes: Water, Drainage and Wastewater, and Solid Waste. Rotating every year, each line of business presents Council with a three-year rate path, which is informed by the Strategic Business Plan. This year, we are considering the Drainage and Wastewater rate.

The Strategic Business Plan that the Council passed last year endorsed a six-year average annual rate increase of 5.2% across all lines of business. The Drainage and Wastewater package before us lowers that rate by 0.1%.

SPU can achieve this reduction by lower-than-expected wastewater treatment rates from King County, updated cost assumptions and reductions, favorable bond issuances in 2017, and lower spending and higher revenues than expected in 2017.

SPU is scheduled to return to my committee on September 21 at 9:30am to continue our discussion of these rates.

 


Washington State Ferries Long Range Plan Open House September 17th in Fauntleroy

WSDOT is currently updating the Washington State Ferries Long Range Plan, and will hold an open house on Monday, September 17th at Fauntleroy Church, 9140 California Avenue SW, from 5-7 p.m.

This is an opportunity to provide comment on the Draft 2040 Long Range Plan. You can also submit comments through October 25th at their Online Open House.

The timeline calls for delivering a final plan to the Governor and State Legislature in January 2019.

After that process is complete, WSDOT Ferries will begin public outreach on the Fauntleroy Ferry Dock. The dock is 60 years old, with old pilings, and needs to be brought up to current seismic standards, and raised due to sea level rise and climate change. Construction is estimated for six or seven years from now.

The Draft 2040 Long Range Plan also notes that during the 2018 session, the state Legislature appropriated funding to the UW Evans School of Public Policy to complete a study titled “Improving Loading, Ticketing, and Rider/Community Relations for the Washington State Ferries’ Triangle Route” (Fauntleroy, Vashon, Southworth). The study began in June, and is expected to be delivered to the Legislature in January.

 


In-District Office Hours

On September 21, I will be at the South Park Community Center (8319 8th Ave S) from 1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Please note the different time and be sure to arrive no later than 5:30 p.m., the final meeting of the day will begin at 5:30 p.m.

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

Additionally, here is a list of my tentatively scheduled office hours. These are subject to change.

Friday, October 26, 2018
Southwest Neighborhood Service Center, 2801 SW Thistle St

Friday, December 14, 2018
South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S

 

 

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Light Rail Open House on Sept 8 @ 9am; Vacant Building Programs; Streetcar Consultant Report; Constituent Emails; Showbox Public Hearing

September 7th, 2018

West Seattle Sound Transit Light Rail Open House 9 a.m. Saturday September 8

Sound Transit will hold a West Seattle neighborhood forum and open house on Saturday, September 8, from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Seattle Lutheran High School gym at 4100 SW Genesee Street.

This meeting is held as part of Sound Transit’s “Level 2” alternatives analysis for the ST3 West Seattle/Ballard light rail line approved by voters in 2016.

The Level 2 analysis includes more detail than before. It includes “high”, “medium” and “low” evaluations for 50+ measurements, which derive from 17 criteria that reflect the Purpose and Need statement.

There ratings include construction and operation cost estimates, ridership estimates for each station area, potential for southern expansion of the line, construction impacts, transfer potential with buses, potential resident and business displacement, and numerous other evaluation criteria.

Costs estimates are based on a “baseline” cost for the “ST3 Representative Project” elevated alignment included in the 2016 ballot measure. The cost estimates for West Seattle tunnel options range from an additional $500 million to $1.2 billion; a second elevated alignment has a similar cost as the representative alignment.

Sound Transit’s project website includes sections on the alternatives in each of the geographic areas; here’s a link for the West Seattle alternatives. You can click on each of the alternatives for additional information and comparisons, and offer comments. Separate sections are included for Ballard/Interbay, Downtown, SODO and Chinatown. These include alternatives that are also more expensive, and some that are less expensive than the baseline.

Here’s a link to the Level 2 Evaluation Results presentation. It’s a long document, and the West Seattle/Duwamish results begin on page 88, so here’s a link to just the West Seattle/Duwamish section. When the Sound Transit Board decides on a preferred alternative, it will be considering the line as a whole, so it’s useful to review this in the context of the entire line.

The next step for consideration of Level 2 alternatives will be the Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG) meeting on September 26th; after that the Elected Leadership Group will meet on October 5th to consider the recommendations of the SAG. Here’s the overall timeline for developing a preferred alternative, with a target of April, 2019.

Thanks to Sound Transit for their responsiveness in scheduling the neighborhood forum well before the SAG meeting on the 26th, to allow the SAG members to hear and consider community input.

Sound Transit will also hold open house neighborhood forums Downtown on September 11 at 5:30 p.m. and in Ballard on September 17th at 5:30 p.m.

Sound Transit has indicated they will be producing visualizations.

Vacant Building Monitoring Program Update

In the Planning, Land Use, and Zoning (PLUZ) Committee on Wednesday the committee received an update from the Department of Construction and Inspection (SDCI). The briefing was one year to the day after the Council passed legislation to make it easier for the City to demolish vacant buildings with a history of Seattle Police Department and Fire Department dispatches.  You can read my previous report about that legislation here.

Because it occurred to me last year that the City must do much more than it currently does to monitor vacant buildings in order to ensure owners maintain them in accordance with the code requirements for vacant buildings so that they do not fall into disrepair, requiring SPD & SFD to respond to unlawful entry and fires, I authored an amendment to that legislation requiring SDCI to report back to Council on how the Council might enact a new, enhanced Vacant Building monitoring program.  See below for an illustration after just one year of a vacant building not being monitored.

Last May I wrote another update after the Council received the SDCI report. That report was presented to the PLUZ Committee this Wednesday, you can see the departments presentation here, and watch the committee meeting here.

In addition to the department’s presentation I worked with my staff and a community volunteer, Lance, to create a District 1 specific presentation which highlights issues that many of you have written me about. As the presentation shows, D1 has many more vacant buildings than the other Council districts.  District 1 saw 95 complaint cases in 2017 alone, the highest of any District and only 2 of those properties are in SDCI’s existing, rather anemic, Vacant Building Monitoring Program. Further, the Police Department had to dispatch officers to 44 different addresses for a total of 284 times in 2017; and the Fire Department was dispatched to 15 different addresses for a total of 32 times. These are resources being spent by our public safety departments and not being recouped.

According to SDCI, the way properties get into the current SDCI Vacant Building Monitoring Program is as follows: …after a complaint an SDCI inspector visits the vacant building and when they find that “it does not meet the minimum maintenance standards, the inspector issues the property owner(s) a “notice of violation” (NOV), which requires the owner to correct the issue. If the problem is relatively minor and quickly corrected after the notice, the SDCI inspector usually will not place the property in the vacant building monitoring program. Other times, properties have more significant violations that are not corrected right away, or quickly return after being addressed. Such properties are typically enrolled in the program (emphasis added) and visited quarterly (and billed accordingly) until they are no longer vacant, or until all violations are corrected and they have not had any additional violations for three consecutive quarters.”

This description of triggering events for entry into the existing Vacant Building Monitoring Program is at odds with the information that we have about the 95 vacant building complaints in 2017.  At the end of 2017, a total of 31 of the 95 properties (32%) had multiple NOVs/Eos and 68 of the 95 properties (71%) had SDCI code complaints prior to 2017.  Nevertheless, again, only 2 of these properties are in the existing Vacant Building Monitoring Program.

I will be working with SDCI to implement a fee based program that helps keep our public safety resources where they belong and are needed while allowing SDCI to recover costs associated with more effectively monitoring a greater number of vacant buildings.

Streetcar Consultant Report Released

Mayor Durkan has released an Initial Summary of the independent Streetcar cost review for the Center City Streetcar she ordered earlier this year.

The review came after a Seattle Times article about disagreement between SDOT and King County Metro over operating costs included in a September, 2017 report required by the City Council, resulting from an amendment I sponsored.

The initial summary report says the current estimate for construction has increased to $252 million; it notes earlier cost estimates were $197 million in 2017, $177 million in 2016, and $143 million in 2015.

This project is a clear example of why we need enhanced reporting for major capital projects, with clear decision points early on, as used in the “stage-gating” process for approving capital projects.

The initial report also identifies the need for additional engineering analysis on the size of the streetcars, which are longer and heavier than the current streetcars. This could result in still more costs due to the potential need to reinforce streets to handle the weight, changes to the docks in the maintenance base, and how well the streetcars could pass one another while turning at intersections.

No funding has been proposed to cover these significant additional costs. My 2017 amendment referenced above required SDOT to provide contingency funding sources if operation or construction funding are inadequate; the September 2107 response was that “SDOT will identify alternative funding sources to complete the project on schedule.” That was when the cost estimate was significantly lower.  This was a “non-answer answer” at the time and remains an unfulfilled condition of the 2017 amendment.

Since that time, a new Mayor and new Interim SDOT Director have taken office; I wholeheartedly appreciate the transparency and increased candor from the Mayor and new SDOT leadership on this project.

The initial report also reviews SDOT’s ridership and operations cost estimates. While it finds them mostly reasonable, it notes that current operations depend on $1.9 million through an agreement with King County Metro that expires in 2019, and $5 million by Sound Transit in an agreement that expires in 2023. The report notes that SDOT and King County Metro still haven’t yet reconciled their diverging operations cost estimates, an important consideration given that KC Metro operates the streetcars. The report notes that an updated agreement in 2019 could include higher operating costs.

The report notes that ridership on the SLU line may be affected by competing sources of transit, such as the high-ridership C Line.

Streetcar supporters raise a fair point: other public transit such as light rail and buses receive public subsidies. However, that assumption has always been included in their operating budgets, from the start. That hasn’t been the case with streetcars; SDOT’s assumption has been that they would pay for their own operations. Further, in the case of the Streetcar, when ridership projections & firebox recovery don’t meet estimates and operating subsidies are needed, they usually come from sources of revenue that support other transportation priorities, like sidewalks or our well-used King County Metro service.

Unfortunately the assumption that streetcars would pay for their own operations hasn’t worked out. The SLU Streetcar, which has a cumulative operating deficit of $3.6 million, and requires “reconciliation” (i.e. additional operations costs) of $0.6 million with KC Metro for operating the line in 2016/2017. The First Hill line has an operating subsidy of $5 million from Sound Transit. Even so, $2.8 million is needing for 2016/2017 reconciliation with KC Metro, along with a $0.2 million operations deficit.

The report notes the construction cost liabilities for the two lines total $10.8 million.

The report also notes that the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has notified the City that the “FTA will conduct an additional review of the assumptions to continue the project once a decision is made to continue or terminate the project.” The review could take 12-18 months to complete. The FTA approved a $75 million grant in 2016, but funding is not secured until the City signs a full funding agreement.

The original purpose of both streetcars was to connect neighborhoods to light rail stations. The SLU Streetcar connects that neighborhood to the Westlake light rail station, and the First Hill line connects to the Capitol Hill and Chinatown/International District Stations.

The engineering review on the size of the streetcars may be available in November. The Mayor’s release about the initial summary report is here.

August 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 August, what I refer to above as “case management services.”  The shaded categories and numbers are emails answered in August related to policy or legislation that the Council is considering.

September 19 Public Hearing on Showbox Market Historic District Legislation

On September 19th at 6 p.m. the Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development and Arts Committee will host a public hearing on Council Bill 119330, which expanded the Pike Place Market Historical District to include the Showbox Theater for ten months.

The Ordinance was adopted to study whether to permanently expand the District to include the Showbox Theater. Under state law, a public hearing is required within 60 days; the Council adopted this legislation on August 13.

The hearing will be  on Wednesday, September 19 at 6:00 PM.

The hearing will be held in the City Council Chambers, on the 2nd floor of City Hall at 600 4th Avenue between Cherry and James.

Sign-up sheets will be available at 5:30 p.m.

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Domestic Worker Anti-Discrimination, Retaliation, and Harassment Legislation; Move Levy Resolution to Address Implementation Challenges; King County Hotel-Motel Tax Legislation Update; August Break

August 20th, 2018

Domestic Worker Anti-Discrimination, Retaliation, and Harassment Legislation

On Tuesday August 14th in my Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development and Arts (CRUEDA) Committee we heard a briefing on a necessary legislative fix to Chapter 14.04, the Fair Employment Practices section of the Seattle Municipal Code.  This change would protect domestic workers who are independent contractors from harassment and discrimination.

The Fair Employment Practices section (Chapter 14.04) of the municipal code currently only covers employees, not independent contractors.  This section of the municipal code is enforced by the Office of Civil Rights (SOCR).  You can watch the full briefing here. You can find a draft of the legislation as discussed in briefings here.

The reason this change is necessary is related to a bill recently passed by the Council, under the leadership of Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, the Domestic Worker’s Bill of Rights legislation. This historic legislation guarantees that domestic workers earn minimum wage, rest and meal breaks and protects workers from both wage theft and from having their documents withheld.

As a part of the stakeholder engagement and listening sessions led by Councilmember Mosqueda, many domestic workers shared their experiences of harassment and discrimination they are subject to while working.

In exploring how to address the issue of harassment, retaliation, and discrimination legislatively it was discovered that making a change to the Fair Employment Practices section (Chapter 14.04) of the municipal code, enforced by SOCR would be important. Since my committee has legislative jurisdiction over SOCR, Councilmember Mosqueda reached out to my office asking us to collaborate.

In order to ensure that all workers exercising the rights under the new Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights will not be discriminated against, harassed, or retaliated against, we will work to amend this section of the municipal code.  We will continue discussing the legislation with interested stakeholders.  A vote on the proposed legislation is scheduled for my committee on Tuesday September 11th.  To track this issue please sign up to receive CRUEDA meeting agendas.

Move Levy Resolution to Address Implementation Challenges

SDOT announced earlier this year that it was reevaluating implementation of the Move Seattle levy. In April, SDOT published a Work Plan Assessment Report. The report noted that of 31 program areas, 23 were on track, while 8 areas needed “further review and adjustment,” meaning potential reductions or downsizing of projects.

This appears to be due to rising construction costs, the reduced opportunity for federal funding under the Trump administration, and overestimation of how much outside funding was realistic. I appreciate the willingness of Interim Director Sparrman to initiate this work, and speak candidly about it.

SDOT plans to propose next steps on August 23 for public comment for the 8 program areas under review, and publish an updated workplan later this year.

SDOT presented an update in the Sustainabilty and Transportation committee August 7, with information about the timeline, process, and recommendations of the Levy Oversight Committee. Also linked on the agenda are reports the Council required re: bridge safety and major corridors.

On August 13 the Council adopted a resolution establishing principles for the revised work plan, to ensure transparency, accountability, and community outreach. The resolution calls for using value engineering to reduce costs, and clear documentation and explanation for any project changes.

As Chair of the committee overseeing Seattle Public Utilities, I believe it’s important to coordinate this work with SPU’s Strategic Business Plan; at times SDOT projects can require or intersect with utility work. The recent SPU Strategic Business Plan included significant rate increases for $201 million in SPU projects related to the Move Levy.  Changes in Move Levy projects could result in changes to the SPU projects related to the Move Levy, and potentially SPU rates as a consequence.  For this reason, I introduced an amendment requiring SDOT to coordinate this work with SPU, specifying and documenting any potential impact on SPU’s rate path, and report to the Sustainability and Transportation committee, and the Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development and Arts Committee, with an initial assessment due to December 1, and a final report by March 1, 2019.

King County Hotel-Motel Tax Legislation Update

In late June, I wrote about the deliberations at the King County Council regarding the amount of hotel-motel tax that should be devoted toward funding for affordable housing. The bill as introduced would dedicate the legally required minimum of 37.5% toward affordable housing, with $190 million going toward Safeco Field.

In late July, CM Jeanne Kohl-Welles instead proposed to increase the proposal’s investment in affordable housing by $184 million, and reduce the amount of funding directed toward Safeco field to $25 million.

Seattle City Councilmembers Mosqueda, Gonzalez, O’Brien, Harrell and myself recently sent this letter thanking King County Councilmember’s Jeanne Kohl-Welles, Dave Upthegrove, & Rod Dembowski for supporting more of these funds devoted to build affordable housing.

As the letter states, “The investment in affordable housing would mark a major step toward addressing the growing crisis in Seattle and King County and demonstrate the region’s real commitment to the issue.”

The next King County Council hearing on the proposal is scheduled for Wednesday August 29th at 9:30am in which there may be a vote.

August Break

The Council is on break through the day after Labor Day, so this newsletter will be taking a break for the next couple of weeks.

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Kaiser Permanente Overturns Harmful Transgender Healthcare Access Policy; Showbox Update; Delridge Day; SPF 30!!

August 10th, 2018


Kaiser Permanente Overturns Harmful Transgender Healthcare Access Policy

During the 2018 budget deliberations the Seattle LGBTQ Commission sent a letter to the City Council with requests that we support access to healthcare for transgender people including but not limited to:

  • Gender affirmation surgery and treatment
  •  Fertility and assisted reproduction needs
  •  Procedures that insurance may have previously designated as for a single gender, e.g. pap smears for trans men

In March of this year the LGBTQ Commission wrote to Mayor Durkan and the City Council with specific concerns about Kaiser Permanente, one of the healthcare providers for City of Seattle employees.  Their concerns included a policy of Kaiser’s to only cover breast augmentation when it was preceded by a mastectomy. The “Transgender Medical Coverage Rights” as outlined on the WA Office of the Insurance Commissioner states:

  • “Health insurers are required to cover procedures that are part of a gender transition process if they’re covered for other policyholders for different reasons. Examples include…Breast augmentation and reconstruction.”

In response to concerns from both the LGBTQ Commission and community advocates such as the Gender Justice League and Ingersoll Gender Center I had several combined meetings with these advocates and one with representatives from Kaiser. Due to the tireless efforts from these community advocates, last week Kaiser Permanente announced that they have reversed this inequitable practice.  In addition to changing this practice and under an agreement with the State, Kaiser will review all denials of these gender affirming surgeries since Jan. 2016.

I also want to acknowledge the work that CM Juarez has done on this issue and thank her for her advocacy on behalf of transgender communities in Seattle including her letter to Seattle area health care providers outlining the current protections for transgender people provided by the City of Seattle and the work of the State Insurance Commissioner to clarify the responsibilities of insurance carriers to serve ALL people in WA state.

All people should have access to affirming health care and coverage and I’m glad to see that Kaiser has taken this important step to help ensure that this is the case.


Showbox Update

Many of you may be following the efforts to preserve the Showbox.  On Monday the Council voted to introduce an ordinance relating to the Pike Place Market Historical District which would expand the boundaries for two years to allow for a study.  After two years, if the Council didn’t take action, the boundaries would revert.  Under that proposal the boundary expansion would include the Showbox and about a dozen other properties. Expanding the boundaries of the Pike Place Market Historical District is being considered because, in doing so, the Historic Commission would have the authority to review and approve the use of the structures within the District (not something the Landmarks Preservation Board can do). The Council voted Monday to refer this ordinance to the Finance and Neighborhoods Committee on Wednesday for continued discussion. You can watch the committee meeting here (start at 1:59:50).

At the Finance and Neighborhoods Committee on Wednesday six of the nine Councilmembers voted to pass an amended ordinance. The two changes made to the Sawant proposal were to limit the study area to just the Showbox and not other properties and to reduce the study period from two years to ten months.

With the ordinance passed out of committee, it will be headed back to Full Council on Monday. However, some new information from the Department of Construction and Inspection (DCI) may lead to the ordinance being held to a later date. DCI Director Torgelson joined the Council at the committee table on Wednesday and explained that, with the agreement of the developer, the department would delay conducting a pre-submittal conference with the developer until October 17.  This will delay the opportunity for the development to become vested. This agreement was made so that the Council would have more time to vote on the final bill, which the developer hopes to convince the Council not to pass.

I expect the Council on Monday to consider holding the legislation until sometime in September, this will allow for a public hearing as well as provide an opportunity for the developer to develop a plan that they hope will satisfy the Council’s concerns.  In the message from the developer’s legal counsel agreeing to delay vesting, the description of the effort was as follows:

“…we look forward to working with you on “win-win” solutions that could sustain the performance history (my emphasis added) of the Showbox into the future, while still also allowing the development of high-rise housing at this site.”

To learn more about the historical significance of the Showbox building, see the Landmarks Preservation application here.  The follow the preservation effort, led by Historic Seattle, see here.


Delridge Day

Delridge Day, which started in 2006, will be this Saturday between 11am and 3pm. The annual event hosts food venders, local musicians, games, and more. Additionally, the Southwest Police Precinct will be hosting a picnic at the same location.  Also, look for the City of Seattle table where there will be information about the North Delridge Action Plan.


SPF 30!!

Sub Pop is turning 30! Come out to Alki this Saturday where four stages will host live music from noon to 10pm. It’s all free, there’s no admission cost!

Sub Pop is also raising money to help support YouthCare. YouthCare works to end youth homelessness and empower them to achieve their goals.

Head to Sub Pop’s SPF 30 website here to check out the bands that are playing, the best transportation options, and more.

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Housing for Tenants with Disabilities; Delridge Multimodal Corridor; One Center City Bike Network; Bike Share Program & Fees; July Constituent Email Report

August 3rd, 2018


Amending the Open Housing Ordinance for Tenants with Disabilities

On Monday July 30, 2018 the Seattle City Council passed CB 119309 amending the Open Housing Ordinance in Chapter 14.08 of the Seattle Municipal Code to increase the types of entities with an obligation to provide reasonable accommodations to tenants with disabilities.

This issue was brought to my attention as an area needing new legislation after litigation and a decision from the Washington State Court where a Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) voucher recipient requested a change in her voucher from a studio apartment to one bedroom as a disability related accommodation.  SHA refused to grant her request.  As a result, she brought her complaint to the Seattle Office for Civil Rights (SOCR).  Here’s what happened next:

  1. SOCR issued a finding that SHA had unlawfully denied the voucher recipient a reasonable accommodation and the case was sent to the City Attorney’s office for prosecution.
  2. The complaint was filed in the Hearing Examiner’s (HE) office and the HE also issued a finding that SHA unlawfully denied the accommodation request. SHA was then ordered to issue the voucher recipient a one-bedroom section 8 voucher and to pay her $1,500.
  3. SHA filed a writ of review at the county level, and moved to dismiss. The judge denied this motion and ultimately affirmed the HE’s decision.
  4. SHA then appealed to the Washington State Court of Appeals who reversed the lower court’s decision. The Washington Appeals court decided that based on a plain reading of the language in the Seattle Municipal Code and the statutory context supporting legislative intent to cover only the landlord-tenant relationship and did not apply to SHA in its role as a voucher administrator in those cases that SHA isn’t also the landlord.

In its ruling. the Washington Appeals court noted that “if the City wishes to extend the unfair practice requirement of SMC 14.08.040.D to include a requirement that Section 8 program administrators like SHA make reasonable accommodation….it can amend the SMC accordingly.” This legislation is in direct response to this case and amends the SMC accordingly.

This bill makes several changes to the Seattle Municipal Code including:

  • Separating the obligation to provide reasonable accommodations from the obligation to provide reasonable modifications. These requirements were previously combined in the SMC and in separating the two it is intended to clarify the different responsibilities associated with each definition.
  • Revising the party for permitting reasonable modifications from “landlord” to “person” and including a Section 8 or other subsidy program administrator in the definition of “person.”
  • Defining “Section 8 or other subsidy program administrator” to explicitly ensure the SMC applies in the case of parties who are administrators but not landlords or a party such as SHA who is both landlord and administrator.
  • Adding the term “prospective tenant” to any references to “tenant” to clarify that those applying for units and trying to obtain reasonable modifications are also protected. The Office for Civil Rights currently enforces this law protecting prospective tenants, and this bill will make that protection explicit.


Transportation Actions

The City Council approved three actions on at Monday’s Full Council meeting. Below is a brief summary of each one; I sponsored amendments focused on accountability and oversight.


Delridge Multimodal Corridor

During the 2018 budget process, the Council adopted a restriction on spending on the Delridge Multimodal Project.  The proviso required Council approval for any SDOT spending beyond 10% design. I sponsored this spending restriction to begin use of the “stage-gating” process for large capital projects.   Stage-gating requires regular check-ins with the Council on project status, funding, and public engagement before proceeding.

The Delridge Multimodal Corridor includes improvement to Delridge Avenue SW designed to increase transit speed and access, in coordination with King County’s planned transition to convert Bus 120 into the RapidRide H line in 2021.

The Sustainability and Transportation Committee received a presentation on the 10% design, and on Monday the Council voted to authorize additional spending, with a an amendment I sponsored.

My amendment requires a report to the Sustainability and Transportation Committee on 30% design, and Council approval, before spending additional funds. After getting input from community stakeholders, I included language in the amendment expressing an expectation the Council will receive from SDOT “a clear definition of the sidewalk and bicycle infrastructure improvements in the project scope,” and anticipating that the 30% design package “will reflect continued community engagement and input in the project development.”

This is a good example of how the enhanced oversight and accountability of the “stage-gating” process for construction projects should work, requiring regular check ins on progress and budget status. This also has the benefit of allowing residents and advocates to get their questions answered, and ensure Council hears their concerns early on.

Work on revising  Capital Project Oversight began in 2016 with the North Precinct project cost increases.   It started by first getting several departments to adopt common project terminology and defining approval phases, and quarterly updates to the Council to identify problems early. The enhanced quarterly reports will begin in the 3rd quarter of 2018.


One Center City/ Center City Bike Network

In anticipation of the “period of maximum constraint” Downtown, SDOT has partnered with King County Metro, Sound Transit, and the Downtown Seattle Association in the One Center City group.  They have  been meeting since 2016 to develop a series of planned actions to move people safely and efficiently through the center city from later this year until 2021, when light rail will arrive at Northgate, though a variety of planned actions.

In 2017, only 25% of trips Downtown were in single-occupancy vehicles. The period of maximum constraint will further stress the system, requiring alternative access to Downtown.

Downtown faces a high volume of projects: removal of the Alaskan Way Viaduct, opening of the SR 99 tunnel, reconstruction of Alaskan Way, all buses vacating the Downtown tunnel for expansion of light rail and expansion of the Washington State Convention Center. The Center City Streetcar project is currently on hold as the study ordered by the Mayor on construction and operations costs is completed.

Last week Mayor Durkan announced some of the early actions to implement the One Center City program. Transit enhancements planned before March 2019, when buses will exit the tunnel, include adding bus stops, adding ORCA car readers to allow for pre-paying on all routes, adding real-time arrival signs at all stops, and adding additional bus-only hours on 3rd Avenue. Signal enhancements are planned by March 2019 on 2nd and 4th Avenues, and transit pathway enhancements on 5th and 6th.

In June the Council adopted a resolution directing SDOT to provide quarterly reporting on: a. implementation of the One Center City program, b. the performance of the transportation system with these projects, and c. SDOT’s intended actions to manage for the subsequent quarter. This came after the Council majority unfortunately voted against a motion to not allow buses to leave the tunnel, as necessary for the Convention Center expansion, until September 2019.  I supported not allowing buses to vacate the tunnel until September 2019 as one way to reduce the combined impacts of these projects on commuters.

The success of the One Center City program is especially important for West Seattle commuters.   The removal of the Alaskan Way Viaduct will require buses that access Downtown on the Viaduct to find another way into Downtown until Alaskan Way is re-built.  Eventually, buses will access Alaskan Way just before the entrance to the tunnel, then turn right onto Columbia onto 3rd Avenue. During the interim period, buses such as the C Line will access Downtown via 3rd Avenue at first, then later on 1st Avenue. More specifics will be available on this later when WSDOT announces their timeline for Viaduct removal.

I’ve also heard frustration from West Seattle bike commuters about the lack of access across Downtown. Without dedicated access through Downtown, reaching areas to the north of Downtown, such as employment centers in South Lake Union, is difficult, and often unsafe. The Downtown bike network is designed to help provide this kind of access to bike commuters.

One result of the One Center City program is that the implementation of the Center City Bike Network included in the Bicycle Master Plan has been delayed. SDOT announced that the 4th Avenue two-way protected bike lane, for example, has been delayed from 2018 until 2021. While noting this, the Council passed a resolution in support of a Center City bike network.

Among other amendments to this resolution, I proposed an amendment to this resolution to clarify the broader context of the One Center City program.  Bike network implementation must not compromise the One Center City goal of moving people safely and efficiently through the Center City.

With all the planning to date, we can’t fully know what will happen when tolling begins on the tunnel next year.  For this reason, some flexibility in implementation and scheduling of actions relate to the Downtown Bike Network may be necessary.


New Fees Passed to Support Free Floating Bike Share Program

After the demise of the ill-fated Pronto system that used fixed bicycle parking docks, Seattle became a focus for “free-floating” privately-funded bike share companies, since Seattle was one of only a few of the 50 biggest cities in the USA without a fixed dock system. Last year SDOT adopted a one-year pilot program under its existing street use authority, and charged the private-sector companies for use of city streets.

The use of these bikes has been much broader than the Pronto system, and the demographics of use have been reflective of the City’s population; a survey found that 36% of Latino and African-Americans have tried the system, along with 32% of Asian and White respondents.

The Council approved fees for use of public right of way for what SDOT terms “free-floating bike share” bicycles. The legislation sets a fee of $250,000 each for up to four companies to provide bike-share bicycles, a similar fee to that the City charges Car2Go and other car-share companies for use of city streets.

Given SDOT’s existing Street Use authority, the legislation by the Council is limited to setting fees. Some of the funds will be used to construct designated bike share parking.  Bike parking will be developed in areas where car parking is currently prohibited, such as the 30-foot zone from stop signs.  This is to ensure both that existing car parking isn’t removed and ensure that bike parking doesn’t block driver’s views.   Some of the funds will be used for enforcement of parking regulations

While the system is providing better citywide access than Pronto, and operates with no public subsidy, I do have concerns about “free floating” bikes blocking sidewalks, with impacts to pedestrians, especially to disabled and elderly persons.

In this spirit, I sponsored amendments to the legislation that:

1) limit the fee approval to bicycles and adaptive cycles to accommodate disabled riders, so that approval will not include other devices such as electric scooters (other devices would have been allowed in the original version);

2) request quarterly updates from SDOT about installation of designated bike parking associated with the free-floating bike share program;

3) request SDOT provide a written plan for sidewalk management and safety, addressing the increasing use of fast-moving electric-motor devices on sidewalks by December 31, 2018. Former WSDOT Director MacDonald has emphasized the need for a clear plan to address pedestrian safety on sidewalks with the rise in electric devices such as electric skateboards, hoverboards and uniwheels.

I strongly believe we need much greater clarity about sidewalk safety before considering approval for other electronic devices.


July 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 July, what I refer to above as “case management services.”  The shaded categories and numbers are emails answered in June related to policy or legislation the Council is considering.

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Seattle University Public Safety Survey and Micro-Community Policing Plans; New Library Restroom Policy; RainWise Program Info & Eligibility

July 27th, 2018


Seattle University Public Safety Survey and Micro-Community Policing Plans

Seattle University recently released their 2017 Seattle Public Safety Survey. The report includes analysis of community perceptions of public safety citywide, by police precinct, and by Micro-Community Policing Plan (MCPP) area.

There are 14 micro-communities for the Southwest Precinct: Alaska Junction, Alki, Commercial Duwamish, Commercial Harbor Island, Fauntleroy, High Point, Highland Park, Morgan Junction, North Admiral, North Delridge, Pigeon Point, South Delridge, South Park and Westwood/Roxhill/Arbor Heights.

Micro community policing plans were developed in conjunction with community residents according to the distinctive needs of each community, and are used in conjunction with crime data and community perceptions; implementation began to be used in January 2015.

You can find the MCPP area for where you live at the MCPP map website.  You can see the priorities for each residential MCPP here by selecting Precinct and MCPP Neighborhood.

The Seattle University survey includes listing of the top five responses to survey questions, and open-ended narrative answers about public safety. Additional survey questions include: knowledge of the MCPP; fear of crime by day and night; police legitimacy; and social organization. The survey also includes demographic information, and analysis of social cohesion within communities.

The section on the Southwest Precinct begins on page 53 (page 54 of the pdf). The top public safety concerns in the SW Precinct are lack of police capacity; car prowls; unsafe driving/speeding; residential burglary, and auto theft. Themes in narrative comments include police capacity; public order; property crime; traffic issues, and homelessness public safety/public health. Each of the 14 MCPPs have separate survey results. The top five public safety concerns and narrative comments are listed for each MCPP.

Regarding the top community concern, police capacity, I’ve voted to add over 100 officer patrol positions since 2016; I am also interested in hearing from the police chief appointee about her plans to increase deployment of patrol officers. A letter from the co-chairs of the search committee to the Mayor raised the issue of officer deployment, noting that ‘less than half of all sworn officers are assigned to patrol, a percentage that is inconsistent with a national practice of 60%.” I submitted a question about this as part of the Council’s review process.

In addition, the Council has approved funding to re-establish the Community Service Officer (CSO) program. CSOs are unsworn officers who can prioritize community services associated with law enforcement such as crime prevention and non-emergency tasks, and free up SDP officers for 911 response.


New Library Restroom Policy

Last week my office received a letter from the Seattle Public Library announcing that on June 27th the Seattle Public Library Board of Trustees unanimously approved a new library restroom policy. As you may remember there was an incident last year at the library where a transgender library patron was denied access to the Central Branch Library’s family and ADA accessible restroom in the children’s area.

According to the new policy, this family and ADA restroom, located in the Central Library’s children’s area, is now available to all library patrons.  The Seattle Public Library maintains its stance that patrons are welcome to use the restroom based on the gender they identify with but have heard feedback from patrons who do not feel comfortable or safe using the library’s multi-stalled, gendered restrooms.  In addition to the children’s area restroom the Central Library now has a single occupant public restroom located on the third floor.

As a reminder, in August of 2015 the the Seattle City Council passed Council Bill 118455 amending the Seattle Municipal Code to clarify the right of individuals to use gender-specific facilitates consistent with their gender identity and adding a new Chapter 14.07 to Seattle’s Municipal Code providing for all-gender restrooms in City-controlled buildings and places of public accommodation.  You can find more information about the City’s practices and policies related to all-gender restrooms at the Office for Civil Rights Gender Justice Project webpage. 


RainWise Program Info & Eligibility

In order to help prevent flooding, reduce pollution, protect property, and to help provide water for summer irrigation Seattle Public Utilities offers a rebate program called RainWise. In the program, eligible property owners manage stormwater by installing rain gardens and/or cisterns on their property. The rebate can cover the full cost of instillation, but you must live in an eligible area.

Click here to see if you are eligible for a rebate. Additionally, you can sign up here for a webinar to learn about the program and rebates. The Webinar is scheduled for Wednesday, August 1 from 7:00 p.m. to 7:45 p.m.

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