Prepaid Postage for Returned Ballots; In-District Office Hours and Special Guest CM González!; Office of Planning and Community Development Growth Monitoring Report- D1 Highlights; Duwamish Valley Affordable Housing Coalition Wins Economic Development Initiative Award; Motor vehicle exhaust noise law goes into effect July 22; SW Precinct offering free use of engraver; Wrong Streetcars Purchased for Center City Streetcar

July 20th, 2018


Prepaid Postage for Returned Ballots

As you may have heard, last May the King County Council approved the King County Elections request for prepaid postage for every voter in the County so that they could return their ballot through the mail without a stamp.

King County Elections conducted two prepaid postage pilots last year.  By eliminating the need for a stamp, it removes a barrier for voters, encourages higher return rates, and allows communities to become more engaged in elections.

Additionally, 21 ballot drop boxes will remain across the City of Seattle where you can return your ballot 24/7 and up until 8 p.m. on election day. Remember if you return your ballot via mail they need to be postmarked by election day. If you’re returning your ballot on election day the drop boxes are the best option to ensure that your vote is counted.

 


In-District Office Hours and Special Guest CM González!

On July 27, I will be at the Southwest Neighborhood Service Center (2801 SW Thistle St) from 2:00 p.m. – 6:45 p.m. Please be sure to arrive no later than 6:30 p.m., the final meeting of the day will begin at 6:30 p.m.

Councilmember González will be joining me between 2 p.m. and 3:30 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, September 21, 2018
South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S

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

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

 


Office of Planning and Community Development Growth Monitoring Report- D1 Highlights 

Last month the Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD) released the Comprehensive Plan Urban Village Indicators Monitoring Report.  Adopted in 2016, Seattle 2035 is Seattle’s current 20-year Compressive plan.  This report is the first in a series of monitoring reports tracking the growth of Seattle through 2035.  This monitoring is an important part of maintaining the transparency and effectiveness of the Comprehensive Plan. The report is broken into 3 sections; Housing and Employment Growth, Affordability and Livability.

Housing and Employment Growth

According to the report, “Seattle’s Growth Strategy directs 84 percent of housing growth to urban centers and urban villages.”  District 1 contains 5 urban villages; Admiral, West Seattle Junction, Morgan Junction, South Park and Westwoord-Highland Park.  The City’s Growth and Equity Analysis identifies urban villages where there is a high risk of displacement for current residents.   You can see the displacement risk chart below.

The report notes Seattle’s extremely fast paced housing growth noting that, if the 21,500 housing units permitted as of December 2017 are

built, the City will have reached 52% of its 20-year housing growth estimate in just a few short years.  These rates of development varied greatly among individual urban villages with high displacement.  Among a notable exception to the growth rate is South Park and the Westwood-Highland Park Urban Village which had housing growth of 1% or less between the beginning of 2016 and the end of 2017.

Below you can find the full chart of the 20 year Comprehensive Plan housing growth estimates, along with actual housing growth thus far in the monitoring period for each urban center, hub urban village, and residential urban village in the city:

Sixty-nine percent of the City’s employment growth between March 2015 and March 2016 occurred in urban centers.  Almost all urban centers have seen a growth in employment with one notable exception; the number of jobs in the Duwamish and Ballard-Interbay-Northend manufacturing/industrial centers declined during the same period.  The Greater Duwamish M/IC lost roughly 600 jobs during the monitoring period.

The first year of the monitoring, between March 2015 and March 2016 saw varies rate of growth in Seattle’s six urban hub villages.  Among the areas that grew more rapidly was the West Seattle Junction where employment grew by 9%.

Affordability

Seattle 2035’s goal is to achieve a supply of housing that is diverse and affordable.  The monitoring report acknowledges that “Seattle’s high housing costs are making it increasingly difficult for low-income household to live in our city.”  The Comp Plan found that meeting the plan’s 20-year growth estimate of 70,000 net new housing units would require roughly 27,500-36,500 new affordable units at or below 80% area medium income (AMI).  It should be noted these numbers did not account for existing unmet affordable housing needs and as such the need for new affordable housing units is likely much higher.

The affordability section of the report monitors two different indicators including affordability of market-rate rental housing and income-restricted affordable housing.  The data for these indicators shows several key factors for the city as a whole:

  • Market-rate apartment units in medium-to-large complexes, the most common form of rentals, are largely unaffordable to low income households
  • Small apartment complexes and multiplexes are more affordable but are decreasing as a share of rental housing in the city.
  • Average rents for newer properties are notably higher than those for older properties
  • The affordability of market-rate apartments varies greatly from one urban center to the next
  • As of March 31, 2018, the supply of income-restricted affordable housing in Seattle totaled approximately 29,370 units.
  • Of the rent- and income-restricted units existing in Seattle as of March 2018, roughly 82 percent are inside urban centers and villages.

Livability

The final section of the monitoring reporting addresses livability including access to transit, presence of sidewalks, and access to parks and open space.  Of these three livability indicators the report notes:

  • Within the urban villages 84% of housing units are within a half mile walk of transit running every 10 min or better and 99% are within a half-mile walk of transit running every 15 minutes or more. This includes the West Seattle Junction.
  • The report also notes that “Admiral is unique among urban villages in that none of the housing in this village is within a 10-minute walk of either 10-minute or 15-minute transit service. Corridors serving Admiral are identified in the Frequent Transit Network as priorities for upgrades to 15-minute service.”
  • There are several urban villages in south Seattle, including Westwood-Highland Park that have low rates of sidewalk completion as part of the Pedestrian Master Plan Priority Investment Network. See figure below for more details

 


Duwamish Valley Affordable Housing Coalition Wins Economic Development Initiative Award

Earlier this month it was announced by the Office of Planning and Community Development that the Duwamish Valley Affordable Housing Coalition was given an Economic Development Initative (EDI) award of $75,000 to build the capacity of the Coalition and the South Park community. The coalition intends to use the money to explore anti-displacement strategies that ultimately result in a community-serving project that includes affordable housing, childcare and community space.

While the DVAHC is still growing, the founding members include The Duwamish River CleanUp Coalition, Puentes Advocacy, Counseling & Education (Nuestro Barrio), South Park Information and Resource Center, and South Park Neighbors Association.  Congratulations to the Duwamish Valley Affordable Housing Coalition!

 


Motor Vehicle Exhaust Noise Law Goes into Effect July 22

The motor vehicle exhaust noise law adopted by the Council last month goes in to effect on July 22nd.

SPD has indicated they will begin with warnings before issuing citations.

 


SW Precinct Offering Free Use of Engraver

The Southwest Precinct is making a professional engraver  available for use, free of change.

The engraver allows you to mark your property with an identifying number. These markings assist the Seattle Police Department in getting recovered property back to victims, as well as aid with investigations.

If you are interested in renting an engraver- please stop by the SW Precinct (2300 SW Webster St.) and speak with the desk officer.

Thanks to SW Crime Prevention Coordinator Jennifer Danner for this information. SPD also encourages residents to use a household inventory sheet, to fill out and keep in a safe place. The SW Crime Prevention Coordinator also offers free residential and commercial safety/security assessments. You can contact her at jennifer.danner@seattle.gov.

 


Wrong Streetcars Purchased for Center City Streetcar

While we are awaiting the results of the independent review of the Center City Streetcar ordered by the Mayor a media report noted that the new streetcars as designed won’t fit in the existing maintenance barns, and that there may be an issue of whether they fit the gauge of rail.

Council Central Staff, on my request, has verified the accuracy of this report; it appears the error will require either a change order for the design of the streetcars or incur new costs for construction of new or retrofitted maintenance barns. I am requesting that the Mayor’s Streetcar Assessment include full transparency in the added costs for this unfortunate error.

It’s disappointing to hear this—these issues of accountability need to be dealt with much earlier, and they highlight the need for the increased Capital Project Oversight the Council has been working on.

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Small Business Survey; Results of Homeless Services; West Seattle Light Rail; SPU/SCL Call Center; Office Hours; Police Chief Confirmation

July 13th, 2018


Seattle Small Business Survey

In continuing its efforts to support Seattle small businesses the Office of Economic Development has designed a survey to ask small business owners across the city what the City can do to better support the success of Seattle small businesses.  This information will help OED to prioritize their programs and services, as well as to inform pilot projects, such as the Legacy Business Program.

The survey closes in a few days so if you would like to participate make sure you respond by Sunday July 15th.  Apologies for the short turnaround, my office just learned of this survey this week.

Survey link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/OEDsmallbusiness

 


City-Funded Homeless Services: First Quarter 2018 Results

On Tuesday June 26th the Human Services, Equitable Development and Renter Rights committee heard a summary of the Human Services Department (HSD) report on the 2018 Homelessness Services Investments.  This data reflects information provided to HSD by providers both through the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) as well as through their regular reporting requirements found in their service contracts and invoices.

In the first quarter of 2018, 3,030 households exited to housing (or maintained their permanent supportive housing) from the homeless services system.  This is an increase of 1,241 households when compared to the same timeframe during first quarter last year.  A total of 221 households were diverted from the homelessness emergency services system through the City’s homelessness prevention efforts.

Whenever possible, our homelessness services system tries to prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place.  The City of Seattle made an additional investment of over $3 million in our prevention services for 2018.  This was one area where rates of people maintaining housing was lower than it was for the same timeframe last year.  In their presentation, HSD shared that they anticipate these outcomes will improve in quarter two for two reasons.  First, $1.3 million of the new investments have been in 3 new programs.  These new programs have spent much of quarter one establishing and ramping up their services.  Additionally, prevention programs must keep client records open for 90 days. As such, outcomes for some program participants may not be available until the next quarter.  I will continue to monitor the quarter two prevention outcomes to track any changes.

The City of Seattle’s homelessness investments are broken into five categories; Emergency Shelter and Services, Housing, Prevention, and Access to Services and Operations.  When homelessness prevention is not possible there are two different options available.  The first is using diversion funds to move people directly into housing.  When this is not possible, people are directed into the emergency service system.

The City currently invests in two kinds of shelter; basic shelter and enhanced shelter.  In addition to providing low-barrier shelter, enhanced shelter provides services such as extended hours, increased flexibility, hygiene services, storage, meals and case management services.  Sixty-seven percent of the total shelter beds funded by the City in 2018 provide enhanced services, this is an increase of 23% over the same timeframe in 2017.  According to HSD, enhanced shelter moves people into permanent housing six times more quickly than basic shelter.  In the first quarter of 2018 2,800 households received enhanced shelter services.  Of those 2,800 households, 1457 exited enhanced shelter (to anywhere) and 299 households exited to permanent housing.  Another part of the emergency homelessness service system is transitional housing in which the City invests specifically to support youth and young adults. In the first quarter of 2018, City funded providers provided transitional housing to 672 households.  Of those households 175 exited (to anywhere) and 103 exited to permanent housing.

Diversion services offer one-time financial assistance or services to bypass shelters and move people facing homelessness directly into housing. The City invested an additional $1 million in diversion programs in 2018, doubling its investment to a total of $2 million.  The exit rate to permanent housing for diversion programs increased by 19% in 2018 (as compared to the same time last year) to a rate of 80.5%. Diversion can help people reunite with family, mediate with a landlord, or pay rent for a short time.

Rapid Rehousing assists individuals to quickly exit the homeless services system and move to permanent housing   The City measures the success of Rapid Rehousing when people live in their own housing without the on-going subsidy associated with Rapid Rehousing.  In quarter one of 2018 there was a slight increase in the number of households served from 605 in Q1 of 2017 to 629 in Q1 of 2018 and a 10% increase in the rate of exits to permanent housing, totaling 83%, in Q1 of 2018 as compared to Q1 of 2017.

Finally, Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) is considered successful when people remain housed in a PSH unit or move to other permanent housing.  In the first quarter of 2018 there have been 1850 households who have maintained their housing in PSH with a 99% rate of “exits to” (which are better defined as maintenance of) permanent housing.  This represents continued success of this intervention especially for people who are experiencing chronic homelessness. The success of this program is also why the spending plan for the repealed Employee Hours Tax dedicated most of the anticipated revenue to PSH.

There have been many questions about how the City is accountable for its homelessness investments. Last year I proposed, and the Council passed the HSD Results Based-Accountability bill.  This ordinance was crafted with community providers, HSD, community-based researchers and Councilmembers relating to how the Human Services Department should utilize a results-based framework (RBA) when designing its human services investments.  Questions have arisen as to how HSD’s “exits to permanent housing” outcome is measured when it comes to prevention and diversion programs, programs that, by definition, are helping to KEEP people in housing.   Permanent housing, according to HUD, is defined as community-based housing without a designated length of stay in which formerly homeless individuals and families live as independently as possible.  The following is the definition used for exits to permanent housing for HUD:

  • Emergency Services and Transitional Housing to permanent housing: An exit from an authorized encampment/ City-permitted village would be considered an exit to permanent housing from an unsheltered location, since HUD does not recognize encampments as emergency services.
  • Prevention:  An exit is maintaining existing housing or being diverted to other permanent housing instead of becoming homeless.
  • Diversion:  An exit is being diverted from homelessness to permanent housing (which in some cases means maintaining existing housing).
  • Rapid Rehousing:  An exit is maintaining existing housing after subsidy ends.
  • Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH):  An exit is remaining in PSH.  This is considered an exit because accepting and maintaining permanent supportive housing is theoretically the only way the target population for PSH, people who need an ongoing level of deeper support, will not be homeless.

As such when HSD uses the term “permanent housing” it may include all of the above definitions.  Whether it is maintaining housing for people at risk of homelessness or moving someone who is homeless into permanent housing, the goal is still the same, to make sure that as many people as possible have a stable, permanent and affordable place to live.

In closing, it’s important to recognize that HSD is making continuous improvements in working with service providers to improve outcomes and ensure that there is accountability for the public’s tax dollars.  Importantly as well, they have improved their transparency in helping to tell the story to the public of how those outcomes and accountability has improved.  The reason this is so important is that it helps to answer the question:  “why do we see an increase in homelessness?”  With data like this, we can demonstrate that our programs are accomplishing the outcomes that we intend but that the need for more services is increasing because even though the available resources have successfully moved people out of homelessness, increasing numbers of people need those services.

 


Update on West Seattle Options and Schedule for Light Rail

In May Sound Transit moved forward with alternatives for light rail to West Seattle, for analysis in Level 2, as part of their three-tiered development of a preferred alternative. The Elected Leadership Group recommended four options proceed, beyond the baseline “Representative Alignment” Sound Transit is using.

Level 2 analysis will include greater detail, including cost estimates. I’ve asked that Sound Transit develop visual renderings to allow for ease of public understanding.

At the most recent Stakeholder Advisory Group meeting on June 20, as part of their ongoing Level 2 evaluation, Sound Transit released modified level 2 alternatives for the West Seattle-Ballard line.  Here’s a link to the West Seattle portion of the line.

Some of the revised alternatives show the Avalon station straddling Fauntleroy, in order to provide easier access to residents to the north of Fauntleroy near the entrance to the West Seattle Bridge. The Oregon Street/Alaska Junction Tunnel alternative has a revised route from the Avalon station westward, no longer going under Fauntleroy to SW Oregon Street. The Golf Course/Alaska Junction Tunnel alternative no longer crosses Delridge Playfield, or the West Seattle Golf Course. A mix-and-match example shows how elements of different options could be combined.

Level 2 evaluation results are scheduled for completion in early September. The Stakeholder Advisory Group will be briefed on September 5th; Sound Transit will then hold neighborhood forums. The Stakeholder Advisory Group will then make their recommendations for options to carry forward to Level 3 on September 26th.

The Elected Leadership Group is then scheduled to meet in early October to select options for Level 3 on October 5th.

Thanks to Sound Transit for holding these Level 2 neighborhood forums before the Stakeholder Advisory Group makes its recommendation. I appreciate their responsiveness to the West Seattle community’s concerns about the timing of the Level 1 neighborhood meeting taking place after the Stakeholder Advisory Group’s had made their recommendations.

 


SPU/SCL Call Center Update

In March I wrote about the Seattle Public Utilities and Seattle City Light shared call center and the work that was being done to decrease the wait times and increase service levels. This week I had an opportunity to tour the call center and I received another update on call wait times and abandonment rates. Here are two charts that compare this year’s performance with that of last year.

As you can see, the average wait time (the amount of time someone is on hold) has dropped significantly; in turn that has helped to reduce the abandonment rate (when someone calls and hangs up before speaking with a representative). Anecdotally, I have also received less constituent correspondence about billing and call center issues.

The performance achieved is due in no small part to the hiring of 18 new temporary employees that SPU brought on to manage the workload. I also learned this week that staffing levels have not increased at the call center since 2001. Obviously, the city and service needs of the utilities has grown a lot since then, as such SPU will be requesting from the Mayor 24 new full-time positions by the end of 2020. In addition to the new employees, the call center is now operating an hour later on week days (until 7pm), as well as four hours on Saturdays (8:30am – 12:30pm).

You will notice, however from the graphs above, that the real test will come between July and the end of September. These months typically see a very large increase in calls due to seasonal moves, specifically for college students.

Again, I will continue to monitor this issue and if you have an issue with your utility bill, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or Alex Clardy (alex.clardy@seattle.gov) in my office.


In-District Office Hours

On July 27, I will be at the Southwest Neighborhood Service Center (2801 SW Thistle St) from 2:00 p.m. – 6:45 p.m. Please be sure to arrive no later than 6:30 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, here is a list of my tentatively scheduled office hours. These are subject to change.

Friday, September 21, 2018
South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S

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

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

 


Upcoming Police Chief Confirmation and Council Questions

The Mayor is considering three potential candidates to appoint as Seattle’s next Chief of Police. After the Mayor selects a nominee, the Council will consider and vote on the nominee.

I want a chief who can successfully manage the Police Department to uphold public safety; implement the reforms required by the Department of Justice; carefully manage budgets, and work productively to build trust with the community.

Overseeing executive departments and ensuring accountability are important functions of the City Council. As part of the confirmation process, the Council will submit questions to the Mayor’s nominee. I’d like to invite District 1 constituents to send me questions you’d like to ask the Mayor’s appointee to answer. I’ll be submitting questions to Councilmember González, who, as Chair of the committee that oversees SPD, will be compiling Council questions.

Please send any questions to me by next Wednesday the 18th.

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Bus Service for Delridge; Developer Impact Fees; Duwamish Valley Action Plan; Duwamish River Opportunity Fund Taking Applications; June Constituent Email Report;

July 6th, 2018


Transportation Benefit District Changes Allow for Additional Service for Delridge

Last week the City Council passed legislation amending the criteria for Seattle Transportation Benefit District (STBD) spending; under state law, these funds can only be used for transportation purposes.

One of the key changes is to amend the spending criteria to allow the STBD to fund additional service for Route 120 (planned for conversion to the RapidRide H Line). The current formula sharply limits STBD spending on this line, in contrast to the C Line, where STBD funds cover 1/3 of service hours, which has resulted in a 40% increase in ridership.

Route 120 is one of the priority routes for SDOT to improve frequency; SDOT is working with Metro to identify potential improvements that could be implemented in 2019.

In addition, the amendments allow for STBD spending on capital improvements for the Delridge Rapid Corridor project for the RapidRide H line.

Most of the STBD funds are dedicated to providing additional bus service in Seattle; here’s a link to the report about how the funds have been spent.

The original measure from 2014 allowed for $2 million for low-income transit riders; this legislation extends that for all Seattle Public School students. 2,680 cards were distributed for last year, which resulted in 444,000 trips, or 165 trips per card.

An Update on Developer Impact Fees for Water, Drainage, and Wastewater Infrastructure – as well as Transportation and School District Capital Projects

You may remember that during the Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) Strategic Business Plan update last year I heeded the recommendation from the Customer Review Panel to implement system development charges, and I wrote about it in my blog at the time. System Development Charges (SDCs) are one-time charges (similar to impact fees) on new customers to buy into or access the utility system. These charges are authorized by the State, but Seattle has been hesitant to implement these fees at all in some cases and in a full cost recovery capacity in other instances. However, most other jurisdictions utilize these charges in order to hold new development accountable for increased costs for the utility, rather than spreading the costs of this infrastructure to general ratepayers. Much like other types of impact fees (Parks, Transportation, and School impact fees authorized by the State), the graph below shows that Seattle just doesn’t take advantage of the opportunity to make sure developers pay their fair share in the same ways that other jurisdictions do.

Following the recommendations from the Customer Review Panel, I proposed an amendment to the Strategic Business Plan that requested SPU to “revise its water connection charge calculation methodology to include interest on existing assets, develop an implementation plan for sewer and drainage connection charges…” The purpose of this change is to ensure that growth is paying for growth and that SPU has an effective and efficient method to recover those costs.

In June SPU delivered their first report to Council which describes the work which needs to be completed in order to make a recommendation on legislative changes to the Council. The paper covers four main issue areas: SDCs Calculation (how to calculate the fees), Use of SDCs Revenue (where and how to spend the revenue), Latecomer Agreements (how to accommodate “first-in developments”), and Affordable Housing Development.

One important initial bit of progress that this report does not cover that SPU is moving forward with a customer engagement plan and Director’s Rule public review related to updating the water connection charge and water taps installation fee.  Unlike the SDCs covered in the report, these changes do not require a code change to implement.  SPU will also be updating other separate charges such as meter reads and meter testing fees.  These changes are scheduled to go into effect in October 2018.  Again, why should you care?  Well, the closer SPU gets to full cost recovery for the costs associated with new customers using the system, the less these costs will be shifted to the general rate payer.

I appreciate the work that SPU has put into this report, and I have a better understanding of the complexity and possible paths forward in implementing responsible System Development Charges. However, growth and development are happening now, and the longer we wait the less effective these policies will be in generating needed revenue for the utility which will offset rate increases.

I intend on having SPU share this report with my committee this month so that we can publicly discuss the issues highlighted in the report and ensure that the utility is proceeding in a timely manner with their recommendations.

In case you are interested in Transportation Impact Fees, you might want to review this presentation in Councilmember O’Brien’s committee in March, see here.  The Council’s next steps for implementing Transportation Impact Fees will be to update our Comprehensive Plan.  Last summer the Council passed a resolution that established the 2018 docket of proposed amendments to the city’s Comprehensive Plan (the document that guides how we grow). The resolution directs city departments to analyze and propose amendments to our Comprehensive Plan establishing an impact-fee program.  We had planned to vote on these Comprehensive Plan changes in the first quarter of 2018.  See here from last summer’s Seattle Times editorial authored by Councilmember O’Brien, Bagshaw, and myself.  Because there has been an appeal to the City’s Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) program and MHA implementation would require several Comprehensive Plan Amendments, the Comp Plan update originally planned for 1st Quarter 2018 has been delayed until after resolution of the MHA FEIS Appeal.

Finally, as it relates to School Impact Fees to help minimize the size of the future School Levy for Capital Facilities and the impact on property taxed, the city has to develop interlocal agreements in collaboration with Seattle Public Schools in order to enact impact fees for schools.  In February, the Seattle School District reported to the School District Board the goal of having a joint City/School District Memorandum of Understanding in place addressing, among other issues, the implementation of a School Impact Fees program by June.

Duwamish Valley Action Plan Released

Last week the City released the Duwamish Valley Action Plan.

Seattle’s Duwamish Valley Program  is a multi-departmental effort focused on the Duwamish Valley neighborhoods of South Park and Georgetown, designed to advance the City’s and communities’ environmental justice and equitable development goals as outlined in the Equity & Environment Agenda and Equitable Development Implementation Plan. The release of the action plan is the culmination of efforts to date.

The Plan identifies over 90 near, mid, and long-term actions the City will take to deliver measurable community health and well-being outcomes. Priority areas include Healthy Environment, Parks & Open Spaces, Community Capacity, Mobility & Transportation, Economic Opportunity & Jobs, Affordable Housing, and Public Safety.

Some of the short-term things mentioned in the report are already completed, thanks to the advocacy of South Park residents working with my office and the Executive, such as adding street lighting in the alley between Cloverdale and Donovan, and hiring a public safety coordinator, as proposed by the South Park Public Safety Task Force.

The report is also available in Spanish , Vietnamese, and Somali.

Background information available at the Duwamish Valley Program resources page.

Duwamish River Opportunity Fund Taking Applications

The City of Seattle’s Duwamish River Opportunity Fund is taking applications for $250,000 for community-based projects that increase the Sustainability of these neighborhoods.

Applicants are encouraged to attend a workshop before applying. These workshops will review the application process and discuss the requirements for a good proposal. The workshops will be held:

The Request for Proposals and Application Materials are available at the Duwamish River Opportunity Fund  webpage. Applications are due by July 30 @ 5 p.m.

June 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 June, 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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King County Hotel-Motel Tax Legislation; Fireworks

June 29th, 2018


King County Hotel-Motel Tax Legislation

The King County Executive last week announced a proposal “to bond against future hotel-motel tax revenues to generate an additional $100 million that could be made available to build housing units for people earning between 30 percent and 80 percent of Area Median Income, with a likely focus on 30-60 percent of AMI.”

This is a welcome step toward providing lower and moderate income affordable housing in King County, as is the Executive’s intent to incentivize fast delivery of units.

This spending is authorized by a 2011 change in state law that requires, beginning in 2021, at least 37.5% of lodging tax revenues collected by King County to be dedicated to “nonprofit organizations or public housing authorities for affordable workforce housing within one-half of a mile of a transit station,” or to services for homeless youth. The revenues may be used for bonding as well. That section of state law also requires at least 37.5% of lodging tax revenues to go to arts, culture and heritage museums, the arts and performing arts, and notes the remainder must be used for tourism promotion.

Legislation before the County Council, Motion 2018-0266, states that beginning in 2021, King County intends to allocate 37.5% to arts, culture and heritage museums, the arts and performing arts, and 37.5% to affordable housing and ongoing services to homeless youth and 25% to tourism promotion.

60% of the tourism promotion portion (or 15% of the total) would be dedicated for 23 years from 2021 to 2043 to amenities and upgrades for Safeco Field; the fiscal note estimates this portion would generate $177-191 million over 23 years, which gives a sense of the potential for this funding source.

However, it’s worth noting that spending for affordable housing does not need to be limited to 37.5%–that is the minimum required by state law. This is an invaluable opportunity to provide funding for the affordable housing we desperately need in our region, as others have noted.

Thanks to King County Councilmember Upthegrove for his efforts to convince his colleagues on the King County Council that we should increase the minimum contribution for low income housing production beyond the floor in State Law.

Though Seattle voters again, in 2016, approved a housing levy measure that will fund construction of 2,200 new units of affordable housing by 2023, the fact remains that without greater investment in affordable housing, our success moving people out of homelessness will continue to be limited by affordable housing shortages.

The most recent reporting measures for homeless spending in Seattle, released earlier this week, show improved success in rapid rehousing and diversion, and high performance in preventing homelessness. The rate for exits from shelter to permanent housing increased 4% to 20.5% in the first quarter of 2018; the key factor limiting further success is the availability of affordable housing.

The recent Count Us In survey of homelessness in King County found 12,112 people experiencing homelessness. The recent McKinsey report commissioned by the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce estimates we have a supply gap of 60,000 affordable homes in King County.


Fireworks

In Seattle, except for permitted fireworks displays, fireworks are illegal under the  Seattle Fire Code.

The Seattle Fire Department has noted that fireworks pose a fire hazard to property and present a safety risk as well. Seattle’s population is 18%  comprised of people who have immigrated to Seattle, some from war-torn countries, for whom fireworks may be frightening. Pets can be frightened as well.

For safety’s sake, the consideration of people who don’t like or are frightened by loud noises, and the comfort of our furry friends please enjoy a local, legal, permitted fireworks display, so we all can have a happy and safe 4th!

I’ve received numerous constituent contacts about fireworks over the last two summers. Last year I requested that SPD enforce the law prohibiting fireworks; they indicated there were too many complaints to respond to. After July 4th last year, I made a number of inquiries and compiled information about the number of complaints in the SW Precinct, as noted below.

This year I asked the Mayor and SPD to take a different approach to fireworks law enforcement this year, as follows:

“I am requesting that you ask that SPD take additional and different action this year, first with notice to the public in the upcoming weeks leading to July 4 about a change of approach and then with a plan that emphasizes warnings and confiscation of fireworks, in order to hopefully impact behavioral change.”

I’ve copied my request to the Mayor below.

Dear Mayor Durkan,

I am writing to you regarding the forthcoming July 4th holiday season in Seattle. According to a  2013 Pemco poll, about one-third of the state’s households set off their own fireworks.  I’ve received an increasing number of constituent complaints during the last two years about fireworks.  I myself have experienced what I believe to be an increased frequency of fireworks use.   Over the years, frequent fireworks noise complaints have made it more difficult for 911 operators, police, and fire officials to respond to life-threatening emergencies across the city.

Last year, my office asked questions about SPD’s policy and fireworks.  In response to those initial inquiries, I learned in January 2017 that SPD received 132 fireworks complaints from resident in the Southwest Precinct and responded to 16 of them and wrote only two reports.  I then asked follow up questions, intending to base my subsequent requests to SPD related to fireworks law enforcement upon the answers to those questions. I’d hoped these questions would give me a more complete understanding of SPD’s practices:

  1. How a dispatcher receiving a call determines whether there is a potential hazard.  This was intended to understand why there were on 16 SPD responses to 132 complaints.
  2. What actions an officer has available when sent to the scene, and how they decide they decide whether to take an action, or take no action
  3. Data on the final outcomes of the 18 instances in 2017 when officers were sent out to the scene.

However, despite repeated inquires to both SPD and your staff over the last six months, I have not received any reply to that follow up inquiry.  My most recent inquiry was:  June 18th; before that on each April 17, March 15, and February 1.

Based upon what I do know today, I believe that the 2017 SPD response rate points to a clear need for a different approach this year.  I fear that with ever-escalating fireworks use, the current laissez-faire approach, will result one day in someone getting hurt.  By the way of this message, I am requesting that you ask that SPD take additional and different action this year, first with notice to the public in the upcoming weeks leading to July 4 about a change of approach and then with a plan that emphasizes warnings and confiscation of fireworks, in order to hopefully impact behavioral change.

Best,

Lisa Herbold

District 1 Councilmember, Chair Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development, and Arts Committee

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Vehicle exhaust noise; Hate Crime Motivation Legislation; Your Voice, Your Choice voting; Plastic Straw & Utensils Ban; Free Summer Meals for Youths

June 22nd, 2018

Council adopts vehicle exhaust noise legislation

On Monday, the City Council adopted legislation that I sponsored to simplify enforcement of existing law prohibiting excessive vehicle exhaust noise.  Enforcement currently requires use of a sound meter, which police officers usually don’t carry, and meters require calibration.

SPD noted in the committee discussion last week that they plan to use education as a first step, before issuing citations. The new law will go into effect 30 days after the Mayor signs the bill.

Laws currently on the book for stereo noise and screeching tire noise are enforceable as written.

Many thanks to community members who, beginning last fall during budget deliberations, have come to testify about the impacts of modified mufflers.  Background on the community’s efforts that led to my proposing the legislation is available here.

Hate Crime Motivation Legislation

On June 19th the Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development and Arts Committee heard a first briefing on legislation to establish a hate crime-motivation in the Seattle Municipal Code. The legislation has been proposed by the City Attorney Office. I am the sponsor of the legislation.

If passed, the legislation would give the City Attorney’s Office (CAO) greater ability to prosecute hate crimes that aren’t being prosecuted under the state felony Malicious Harassment law.

The importance of this issue is highlighted by increasing reports of hate crimes in Seattle, in line with alarming national trends. Last year, upon my request, the City Auditor prepared a Review of Hate Crime Prevention, Response and Reporting in Seattle Phase 1 Report with findings that reports of hate crimes had increased 126% from 2012 to 2016. There was a further 64% increase from 2016 to 2017. 2018 figures show high rates as well.

Adding a hate crime motivation section to the Seattle Municipal Code would allow the CAO to add a hate crime motivation to charges for assault, harassment, or property destruction, and request a higher sentence.

A hate crime motivation in the Seattle Municipal Code would have two key effects. First of all, the CAO would be able to prosecute hate crimes against all protected classes at the City level. The City’s malicious harassment law allows only for prosecution of malicious harassment based upon age, parental status, political ideology, marital status, and homelessness. Adding a hate crime motivation provision would allow the CAO to prosecute malicious harassment based on race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or mental, physical, or sensory handicap.

Secondly, the CAO would no longer need to prove the element of malice; the new special allegation requires only that the person committed the act intentionally. This will allow the CAO to more broadly safeguard protected classes.

The hate crime motivation provision would replace the malicious harassment law, which is used only a few times per year. The state felony malicious harassment law could still be used for prosecution by the state or King County Prosecutor for felony cases.

The Committee will next consider the legislation on July 10.

Your Voice, Your Choice voting open through July 16

Voting has begun for the 2018 Your Voice, Your Choice Parks & Streets program.

A total of $285,000 is available in each of Seattle’s Council Districts. You can vote for your top three choices in the district where you live, work, go to school, or volunteer. Community members age 11 and up can vote online or at in-person polling stations through July 16. Paper ballots are available at all Seattle Public Library branches.

You can vote in District 1 here; here’s a link for the rest of the city.

Here’s the map of proposed projects, and project descriptions by SDOT and Parks.

Winning projects will be announced in August, and funded and implemented in 2019.

Background on the program and work done earlier this year is available here.

Plastic Straw and Utensils Ban

In 2008 the City Council passed an ordinance banning plastic service ware (including straws and utensils) with items to be banned having a multiyear planned phase-in as follows:

  • Banned January 2009 – expanded polystyrene food service food containers, plates, “clamshells,” hot and cold beverage cups, meat and vegetable trays, egg cartons used for selling or providing food for consumption on or off the premises. (exempted was raw meat and seafood expanded polystyrene food service food containers).
  • Banned July 2009 – raw meat and seafood expanded polystyrene food service food containers.
  • Banned July 2010 – Disposable plastic food service ware, or non-recyclable containers, plates, “clamshells,” serving trays, meat and vegetable trays, hot and cold beverage cups, and utensils that are made of plastic or plastic-coated paper and intended only for onetime use (including so-called biodegradable products where any portion is not compostable).

Since options were not widely available for straws and utensils in compostable or recyclable forms, the city decided to allow the market time to catch up before enforcing that part of the ban.  Seattle Public Utilities (SPU), did not plan to begin to enforce it until July 1, 2018, 10 years after it the 2008 Council approval.

Since 2014, via direct mail, their website, and through local media, and at several outreach events, SPU has been telling food service ware stakeholders that the annual exemption would be ending soon.  In March of 2017, SPU announced that the annual exemption would end July 1, 2018. 

Because of their small size and shape plastic straws and utensils cannot be processed through the machinery at recycling facilities. When people put straws in the recycling, because they are too small to separate, they contaminate recycling loads which are taken to a landfill.  When plastic straws end up as litter, they often end up in our waterways as a source of plastic marine debris. According to a 2017 report from the World Economic Forum and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, by 2050, it is said the oceans will contain more plastic than fish.  Plastic straws and utensils also contaminate our compost. When they end up mistakenly in the compost, they are very difficult and expensive for local compost facilities to remove from the compost. No one wants plastic in the compost they put on their gardens.  Clean Water Action reports the number of straws used in the US, in just one day, could circle the earth 2 ½ times.  Finally, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation reports that half of all plastics go to single-use disposable applications and 1/3 wind up in the environment. They project that by 2050 there will be a 400% increase in plastics production.

Free Summer Meal program for Youth

Between June 26 and August 24 free breakfasts, lunches, and snacks will be served at approximately 100 locations across the city to kids and teens ages 1 – 18 years. You can check out the website here to ask questions, or search for the nearest location.

Passing on the Denny International Middle School Press Release on Visiting the Dalai Lama

On a recent trip to Dharamshala, India, to meet with the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people at his residence in exile, Ms. Lori Markowitz, presented his Holiness with a Denny sweatshirt as a gift from the entire Denny International Middle School community!  He was pleased to see our logo includes the words, “We love all immigrant and refugee families” and was very supportive of our school motto, “We All Belong!”  He sent a message of encouragement back to all the Dolphins to develop increased hope, compassion, and love in our community and in our world.

Here at Denny, we are very proud of our Youth Ambassadors program, which inspires our scholars to make a positive difference in our community.  Ms. Markowitz has been an incredible supporter of our school by partnering with us to launch and continue Youth Ambassadors and by helping us to make powerful connections locally and around the world.  We are inspired by the words of hope, compassion, and love from the Dalai Lama—and very grateful to Ms. Markowitz for helping us to make this powerful connection!

In the spirit of compassion,

Jeff Clark, Principal, Denny International Middle School

Ms. Lori Markowitz gave the following insight into her historic trip:

“What a wonderful way to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Youth Ambassador program born during the seeds of Compassion conference April, 2008. Meeting his Holiness the Dalai Lama in India at his residence in exile was an honor and privilege I will certainly cherish for the rest of my life. To be able to travel with two of the very first Youth Ambassador students made the experience that much more memorable and powerful.

The messages his Holiness shared with us will remain close to our hearts. Habib and Olivia (remarkable Youth Ambassadors who I’ve had the privilege of working with for many years) will indeed continue to be ambassadors of hope, kindness and love.

The Dalai Lama believes compassion and love need to be emphasized daily and included in the school curriculum. The idea is, if children are intentionally taught to be generous and joyful and to nurture empathy and mutual understanding (not in a religious manner) they will have a happier, healthier life. We saw many Tibetan wind horse flags representing goodwill, inner strength and positivity, ” Others Before Self” — the kind and giving spirit was palpable. The Youth Ambassador program is dedicated to cultivating compassion, providing unique learning experiences, building strong school communities, and investing students in a broader movement for positive change.

Giving his Holiness the Denny International Middle School “we all belong” sweatshirt as a gift was truly an honor! Currently, the Youth Ambassador program is embedding a civics and compassion curriculum allowing students to become more engaged citizens involved in making their own neighborhoods better areas to live and thrive in, a vital component of a thriving democratic society.”

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Community Resident Preference Policies; Avalon/35th update and online project survey; Capital Projects Transparency and Accountability Update; Green Pathways Update; May Constituent Email Report

June 15th, 2018


Community Resident Preference Policies

During passage of the Mandatory Housing Affordability program for Chinatown/International District (C/ID) last year the Council passed a companion resolution in order to try to address the concerns that the community had about the impact of the zoning changes, in particular impacts that would accelerate displacement of longtime C/ID residents. One of the issues in the resolution related to the need for Seattle to develop community resident preference policies.

This week in my Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development, and Arts committee the Office of Civil Rights and Office of Housing gave a presentation about how Seattle could develop and utilize community resident preference polices to fight displacement.

Community preference polices are a different type of tool to fight displacement. The common approaches to implement community resident preferences include:

  • A portion of rental or ownership units in affordable development are set-aside
  • Preferred applicants may be local residents, workers, former residents, people who have been displaced
  • Lottery used to select affordable housing residents/buyers
  • Policy must affirmatively further fair housing- explicit analysis of racial impact.

Community resident preferences could address historic and current displacement by providing preference for community residents. If done correctly, these policies could provide affordable housing opportunities, support at-risk communities, and stop segregation. When written poorly on the other hand, community resident preferences can perpetuate segregation.  Examples of how community resident preferences affect the housing market in high-cost cities can be found in New York City, San Francisco, and Portland.

There has been a direct community preference policy in New York City since the 1980s. It applies to all city funded projects. 50% of units have a mandated neighborhood resident preference at lease-up.  Although the policy was originally intended to prevent displacement, in recent years it has maintained gentrification of the City. In Janell Winfield, et al. v. City of New York, Index No. 15-cv-05236, Dkt. No. 16 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 8, 2015), Winfield is challenging New York City’s policy regarding the allocation of affordable housing units in new housing developments located in relatively safe, affluent neighborhoods. They allege that the policy improperly favors individuals who already reside in these neighborhoods.  Winfield is arguing that due to the fact the current make-up of the neighborhood is traced in historical restrictions and intentional discrimination, the policy has a disproportionate effect on people of color.

In San Francisco, a neighborhood preference policy has been in place since 2016. The preference is given to people who either live in the district or live within a half mile of the district. 40% of units are subject to this neighborhood preference policy. All HUD- funded projects are exempt, but a compromise has been made between San Francisco and HUD in support of a separate preference policy to be used for projects funded by HUD.  If a project is funded by HUD, preference must be given for any resident of six high displacement neighborhoods.

In 2016 Portland created their community preference policy, which only applies to Northeast Portland, which is historically an African American neighborhood. Northeast Portland’s African American population has shrunk from 80% to 15% over time due to urban renewal, construction, and other displacement tactics. Portland’s policy takes generational displacement into consideration by applying the preference to prior residents, in addition to current residents. To increase the amount of affordable housing available in Northeast Portland, the City has also pledged $20 million in funding to go towards new housing projects, in which the community preference policy will utilized to pick the inhabitants. The preference policy also has a point system (0-6), the highest points are given to someone whose property was taken by eminent domain.

In looking towards the future, I believe we can use affirmative market and community preference policies to help communities in Seattle that have a high rate of displacement. However, the policies and marketing tools implemented in the City must be written carefuly to take into consideration Seattle’s history of racial covenants and redlining.

 

Avalon/35th Update and Online Project Survey

The SW Avalon Way & 35th Avenue SW project has reached 30% design.

The project, scheduled to begin in 2019, includes repaving Avalon, between SW Spokane Street at the bridge and 36th Avenue SW. It also includes paving 35th Avenue SW from SW Avalon to SW Alaska Street, and SW Alaska between 35th Avenue SW and 36th Avenue SW.

Better bus access to the West Seattle Bridge is included, with parking restrictions proposed from 6-10 a.m. Monday through Friday leading up to the bridge to allow for a transit-only access. This is for 23 spaces; they were formerly proposed for elimination. Avalon is a key bus corridor for exiting and accessing the peninsula. Some parking removal is proposed for the east side of the street near the bridge.

A protected bike lane is also included, as noted in the Bicycle Master Plan, and listed for 2019 implementation in the 2017-2021 Implementation Plan. The bike lane implementation is included with the paving project to minimize costs.

SDOT has a public survey available through June 17 about this project.

SDOT’s paving projects website notes that they “prioritize paving based on street pavement condition, traffic volume, geographic equity, cost, and opportunities for grants or coordination with other projects in the area.” Background on pavement management policies is here.

The next step for the project is to consider public feedback, and complete 60% design, then hold a public forum and consider additional constituent comments.

Maps for 30% design, including cross sections of what the street would look like, are available at the project website. You can sign up for e-mail updates here.

 


Capital Projects Transparency and Accountability Update

The Council has received a report on Capital Improvement Project Transparency from SDOT which it required through the budget process.

It represents a good step forward from a month ago, when the Council received an Update on Capital Project Oversight at a Council Briefings meeting. That briefing described a new enhanced monitoring risk-analysis oversight process for individual major capital projects that will allow elected officials and the City Budget Office to identify projects that are over (or under) budget on a quarterly basis, and take necessary action.

At the May 7th briefing I noted my concern that though this was progress for individual project monitoring, the City’s Capital Budget also includes some programmatic areas of spending which include numerous individual projects, such as street paving and bike lanes. Consequently, the quarterly reports for individual projects would miss important details—such as the 1/3 mile bike lane that cost $3.8 million, or $12 million per mile. I noted I want this quarterly monitoring to include programmatic areas as well.

SDOT’s report Capital Improvement Project Transparency notes that in the future quarterly oversight reports would include quarterly reports status updates on the ongoing programs included in department capital improvement program accomplishment rate. While details are still being worked out with the City Budget Office about how to incorporate this into reports, it’s a positive step forward for transparency and accountability.

 


Green Pathways Update

In October 2016 the Council passed the Green Pathways Resolution. I wrote about it at the time, but here’s a quick refresher about it.  It asked for 1. a green job definition that is consistent with community principles, 2) that the Interdepartmental Team (IDT) on employment pathways create an inventory of internships, apprenticeships, and entry-level jobs at the City of Seattle that meets the green jobs definition, 3) that an outreach and engagement strategy identify barriers to success for people of color, and 4) that the IDT identify ways to encourage employers in the private sector to advance in-demand careers, including green jobs for people of color and other underrepresented groups. Additionally, in the 2016 budget the Council allocated funds to support this work through a full-time position within Human Resources (HR).

On Tuesday we heard an update from the IDT as well as young leaders from Got Green. HR provided some high-level recommendations:

HR also provided some useful data comparing entry-level position/green positions/internships and others to that of all City employees and also to the general population of King County so that the Council could get an understanding of how the City is preforming in terms of diversity. One of the areas in which the City needs significant improvement is college intern conversion rate to permanent City jobs, which is only at 16%, while the national rate for college intern conversion is 38%. The City excels with internship demographics as shown in this slide:

Therefore, and especially because the City is making investments with interns, we must strive for a significantly better conversion rate of interns to full and part time employees.

However, it became clear at the committee meeting that community recommendations from Got Green had not yet been considered by the IDT for this report. I asked the Young Leaders of Got Green to also send those recommendations to Council so that we could be better informed and advocates on their behalf with the IDT to ensure that their concerns and recommendations were being addressed.

In moving forward, the IDT will continue to analyze the data and identify barriers to success for people of color and other underrepresented groups to set a baseline and make final recommendations to the Council by the end of this year.

 


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

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Vehicle Noise Legislation: Relief for Alki Coming SOON; Good News: Service Additions for Admiral Bus Service; MHA Program and District 1 Public Hearing; Map: D1 Constituent Accomplishments; Think Green Recycling & Reuse Event; In-District Office Hours

June 8th, 2018


Vehicle Noise Legislation: Relief for Alki Coming SOON

As a beachside neighborhood and a regional destination, the Alki neighborhood and nearby areas face unique public safety and health challenges, especially during the warm-weather months. Residents, community groups, and visitors from elsewhere have expressed concern about public safety, and the growing impact of motor vehicle-related noise issues.

During the last two warm weather seasons, I’ve asked SPD to add additional officers; SPD recently announced they’ll be doing enhanced patrols this summer as well. I thank them for doing this.

I’ve also been working with community members to address vehicle noise in the Alki neighborhood since last year, when together we developed the Alki Public Safety and Health Survey. The survey showed noise from modified vehicle exhaust systems as the #1 community concern.

On Monday I’ll be introducing legislation to address vehicle exhaust system noise in the Alki neighborhood.

The legislation, if passed, will simplify enforcement by allowing officers to issue citations for muffler and engine noise that “can be clearly heard by a person of normal hearing at a distance of 75 feet or more from the vehicle.” This is the standard used for the City’s  motor vehicle stereo noise law (SMC 25.08.515 (A)(2), in effect since 1989.

The current City law that covers motor vehicle exhaust noise requires use of sound meters, which are time-consuming and require calibration, and are thus very difficult to use for enforcement.  This was underscored as a problem by SPD in their report to Council re: enforcement of vehicle noise on Alki. While there are muffler laws on the books, they are specific to whether the muffler is modified, rather than the amount of noise being made, and since it is difficult to determine whether mufflers have been modified, are consequently also difficult for police officers to enforce.

The legislation will be heard at the June 13th meeting of the Gender Equity, Safe Communities, New Americans and Education Committee chaired by Councilmember González. This meeting starts at 9:30 a.m., with public comment at the beginning.

In addition to muffler noise, my office also closely examined City laws for motor vehicle stereo noise and screeching tire noise. Both rated high as community concerns in the survey.

Working with the City Attorney’s Office and SPD, we’ve been able to clarify that the current City motor vehicle noise laws for stereo noise and screeching tire noise can be enforced as written. My office also worked to clarify that noise meters are not needed to enforce these motor vehicle noise laws, and it is not required to have a complaint from someone separate from the officer.  Some sections of the noise code do require meters, and a constituent complaint.

This legislation will apply citywide, on city streets. Although the legislation mentions “highways,” in the Seattle Municipal Code section for noise enforcement, this just means any City road.

Also, the SW Precinct (2300 SW Webster St) will be hosting a community meeting the evening of June 12th at 6:30 p.m. to hear Southwest Precinct Captain Pierre Davis’ plans to address noise and speeding in Alki. SPD has committed to emphasis patrols (i.e. extra officers) in Alki during the warm weather months. I thank them for their commitment, and for reaching out to Alki residents early in the warm weather season.

 


Good News: Service Additions for Admiral Bus Service

I have, since taking office in 2016 heard concerns from dozens of constituents about the need for better bus service for Admiral and Alki.  I’d asked King County Metro over the years to consider restoring service lost in 2012.  The response I often received was that the area has a small walkshed with water on one side and a big hill on the other, minimalizing the likely ridership and usefulness of the investment of finite and scare resources.  Further, King County Metro pointed to the fact that historically, the greatest ridership on the 56 was during the peak.  King County Metro added the route 50 to address Alki’s needs with a bus that served more destinations.  Metro King County priority is generally to add services to lines that are overcrowded, rather than to add service to lines will minimal service.

Since Seattle voters had approved funding in 2014 for bus services, meaning Seattle had some say in how those resources are allocated, in February, I wrote a letter to SDOT requesting that SDOT assess funding additional non-peak hour service to Bus Route 56, which currently only operates on weekdays during rush hour. The letter noted that the among “Seattle’s 30 Urban Centers and Urban Villages, the Admiral Urban Village is one of only two not included the High Capacity Transit Network, and uniquely 1) is not served by the current Frequent Transit Network, and 2) has no off-peak bus service to Downtown. In addition, it saw a decrease in bus service to Downtown, with the 2012 elimination of off-peak service to Downtown on bus route 56. No buses leave for Downtown after 9 a.m., and return buses from Downtown operate only during evening rush hour.”

King County Metro has agreed to add an extra bus trip 30 minutes later in the morning, arriving Downtown around 10 a.m., and a new trip 30 minutes later in the evening, departing Downtown around 7:15 p.m.

SDOT noted in its reply that adding hourly service would likely require approval by the King County Council, and additional information.

SDOT also indicated their willingness to evaluate potential alternatives, including working with Metro to explore on-demand connections to the Water Taxi, and all-day circulator service around Alki and Admiral. I’ll continue working with them on this.

 


Mandatory Housing Affordability Program and District 1 Public Hearing

On Monday, June 4, in the Special Committee on Citywide Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA), the Office of Planning and Community Development briefed the City Council on the proposed zoning changes located in District 1 that would be necessary to put MHA in place and require developers to contribute to affordable housing.

The Executive included in their presentation a recap of the efforts they made over the previous two years to give the community a voice in how this proposal was shaped, including input on how to create more housing for people at all income levels and minimize the displacement of current lower-income  residents.  After in-person talks, town-halls, mailers, and focus groups, the Growth and Equity Analysis from the Seattle Comprehensive Plan was then utilized to determine where each urban village fell in terms of displacement risk and access to opportunity. (Figures 1 and 2)

(Figure 1)

(Figure 2)

The final analysis of the urban villages is below:

Admiral

Admiral is considered a community where there is high access to opportunity and low risk of displacement, meaning that larger scale rezones (M1 and M2) have been proposed. Existing single-family lots are proposed to be zoned for residential small lot development (i.e. cottages, duplexes, and triplexes) and some areas for lowrise development (i.e. townhouses and lowrise apartments).  Admiral is below the transit threshold to qualify for urban village expansion. Mixed-use development of the corridor on California Ave SW up to NC-75 will be encouraged.

 

 

 

West Seattle Junction

The West Seattle Junction is considered a community with high access to opportunity and low risk of displacement. Larger rezones (M1 and M2) will be used to support transit and other community principles. The plan is to expand the urban village to include a 10 minute walkshed (travel time) to frequent transit. Existing single-family lots are proposed to be zoned for residential small lot development (i.e. cottages, duplexes, and triplexes) and some for lowrise development. More intense mixed-use development of the corridor on California Ave SW with development allowed up to 75-feet in height will be encouraged. Mixed-use nodes and corridors up to 95-feet in height will be encouraged towards the center of the village.

 

 

Morgan Junction

Morgan Junction is considered a community with low access to opportunity with low risk of displacement, so smaller zone changes (M) are proposed. There are very limited M1 and M2 (larger rezones) proposed. Existing single-family lots are proposed to be zoned to allow residential small lot development(i.e. cottages, duplexes, and triplexes) and some lowrise development  to create transitions from higher density areas to lower density areas. There is no proposed urban village expansion, as Morgan Junction does not have 2 or more frequent transit nodes. Mixed -use development of nodes and corridors with heights up to 55-feet are proposed.  Zoning changes adjacent to critical areas, such as steep ravines, are limited.

 

 

South Park

South Park is considered a community with a high risk of displacement, and low access to opportunity so little to no zoning changes (M) are proposed, except near frequent transit. Existing single-family lots are proposed to be zoned for residential small lot development (i.e. cottages, duplexes, and triplexes), and there is no urban village expansion proposed. Commercial zones are proposed to remain commercial or neighborhood commercial. There will be continued support for the existing mixed-use node at Cloverdale.

 

 

 

 

Westwood-Highland Park

Westwood-Highland Park is considered a community with a high risk of displacement and low access to opportunity, so little to no zone changes (M) are proposed, except near frequent transit. Existing single-family lots will be zoned for residential small lot development (i.e. cottages, duplexes, and triplexes), and there is no proposed urban village expansion. Commercial zones are proposed to become neighborhood commercial. There will be continued support for the existing mixed-use node at Westwood Village (up to NC-75’) and along Delridge Way SW (up to NC-55’).

 

 

 

Outside Urban Villages

Outside the 5 urban villages, little to no zone changes (M) are proposed for exiting commercial zones along corridors.

For more information, read the MHA overview and a technical summary of how MHA works.

On Tuesday, The City Council sponsored an evening public hearing at Chief Sealth High School.    The support for MHA and concerns about MHA were pretty balanced.  Supporters pointed to concern about the current unaffordability of Seattle being driven by current development.  Under current zoning, development in most places  doesn’t require any contribution from developers towards affordable housing at all.  Similarly, there was support given because of a desire to build more housing to help address homelessness, and to make sure that our workforce can live near their work place.

The concerns about MHA were wide ranging:

  • A desire to accept density (and MHA) as a result of a neighborhood planning process, as opposed to the process to-date, that would inform where the density should be focused
  • A concern that units being built are not family-sized rental units, where houses that may be demolished in the future are family-sized rentals
  • Concern about added density in areas around the Fauntleroy Ferry
  • A concern for City supported concurrency for open space and transportation (the C-line is packed)
  • A desire to protect tree canopy, particularly in the Junction where it is only 15.8% (city goal is 30%)
  • Given the cost of homes, an interest in preserving opportunities for first-time home ownership
  • A concern that the numbers don’t add up – more affordable units demolished than units added
  • Concerns about Final Environmental Impact Statement insufficiencies related to sewer and drainage plans and Seattle Fire and Police Department response times

There was strong agreement, from many testifiers both strong supporters of MHA and those with concerns about MHA, that a. affordable housing is a community good with broad public support and b.  developers should build their affordable units on site and that if “in-lieu fees” are permitted, they should return to the community from where the fees derived.

 


Map: D1 Constituent Accomplishments

Some of you may have already seen that a couple months ago, I added a new section to my city website. It’s a map of issues that constituents like you have brought to my attention and we’ve worked with you and the City to get addressed. Some of these issues include addressing lighting concerns across District 1 to address public safety, added bus service, street repairs, as well as other public safety issues. I encourage you to take a look at the map to see some of the issues that, together, we’ve been able to solve for the District.    You may recognize a few that you brought to my attention.  If so, thank you!  I want to thank those of you that have contacted my office with these issues which, when addressed, help improve the quality of our life in our neighborhoods.  I will continue to update the map as we locate previous cases to add, as well as tackling new ones.

 


Think Green Recycling & Reuse Event

Have an old appliance, clothing, electronics or other hard to get rid of household goods? The annual West Seattle Think Green event is coming up on Jun 30 where you can recycle and reuse many difficult to dispose-of items. See the flier below for more information.

 


In-District Office Hours

On June 15, I will be at the South Park Community Center (8319 8th Ave S) from 2:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Please be sure to arrive no later than 6:30 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, here is a list of my tentatively scheduled office hours. These are subject to change.

Friday, July 27, 2018
Southwest Neighborhood Service Center, 2801 SW Thistle St

Friday, September 21, 2018
South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S

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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Homelessness Investments Outcomes; Public Comment Meeting re: SR 99 Tolls; Books for Teachers

June 1st, 2018


Homelessness Investments Outcomes

A couple weeks ago, I promised an update on how funds invested by the Human Services Department were spent on in homelessness in 2017 and what were the outcomes.

In 2017, HSD invested $54 million in prevention, emergency and housing services for people experiencing homelessness.  CBO identifies $61M in total spending for homelessness, and this includes items such as Domestic Violence and Sexual assault services and Healthcare for the Homeless through King County.  These city-supported projects helped 5,058 people in the homeless services system to either move to permanent housing or maintain their permanent housing.  This is a 30% improvement over 2016 outcomes and with increased investments in housing, prevention and enhanced emergency services in 2018, HSD expects that the city’s funded programs will have an improved rate of success in 2018.

For 2017, the results for the performance measures are as follows:

It’s important to note here that though HSD predicts continued improvement, the King County audit cautions that hope without significant investments in permanent housing is unsupported:

  “Local funders have increased investments in rapid rehousing (RRH), but past performance, market challenges, and limited information raise concerns about its potential limitations. RRH performance in King County has consistently fallen below national benchmarks and local standards, and fewer than half of enrollees got housing through a RRH program between January 1, 2015 and August 1, 2017.Those who do not get housing are less likely to exit to permanent housing and more likely to return to homelessness.  Competition for limited affordable housing makes it difficult to move rapid rehousing clients into units. In King County, there are on average 470 one-bedroom units and studios affordable to households making less than 30 percent of area median income at a time.  Since 2016, RRH providers have sougth these types of units for an average of between 235 and 386 households at a time (see Exhibit I). This means that providers would need to be able to place clients in half to over three quarters of these available units, with constrained conditions for larger households as well. Given that other households compete for these same market units, finding units that RRH enrollees can occupy is a challenge.”

I get a lot of questions from constituents about homelessness.  Here are some of my responses to the kinds of questions that I frequently get.

  1. Why isn’t homelessness being solved on the regional level?
  2. How long should it take to move a homeless person into a shelter?
  3. Isn’t addiction the real reason for homelessness?                           
  4. Can’t we solve homelessness through zoning changes?
  5. Why can’t we do what other successful cities have done to combat homelessness?
  6. Why can’t we draw on more non-profits, churches, synagogues and mosques to offer temporary housing?
  7. We need to have homeless people do their share. There must be some reciprocity – if we help them, then they need to (clean up garbage, agree to drug treatment etc.)?
  8. Why are we allocating more resources to the homeless and ignoring law-abiding citizens? RVs can park any time anywhere, but we get parking tickets.
  9. We spend more per capita on the homeless than most other cities to no effect.
  10. Camping on the street is still more affordable than the units being planned. The City doesn’t stop people from doing this so what motivation would they have to change?
  11. There isn’t enough funding put into mental health services or drug addiction – these issues impact homelessness too.
  12. It’s the City’s policies that have created the homeless problem. The City attracts the homeless because of our lax policies.
  13. Two years ago, a study was undertaken to develop a plan to deal with the homeless and evaluate the financial needs of doing so. The conclusion was that the city had enough money to handle the issue but were not allocating it appropriately.

 

  1. Why isn’t homelessness being solved on the regional level?

Homelessness is a regional problem and one that extends beyond our City limits. As our partners in combating a crisis, we look forward to the regional One Table’s recommendations and fully expect the County and others to engage in addressing this massively increasing, too.  It must be a regional effort if we are to be successful.

The city needs to keep maximizing the leveraging of additional new resources that is be forthcoming from the State, as well as the County, to increase the number of housing units serving homeless persons.  Here are some new regional resources that we expect to help Seattle in 2018:

  • $40 million in 2018 from the State for behavioral health, including crisis intervention, opioid treatment and overdose prevention, and detox facilities.
  • $5.7 million in 2018 from King County for the expansion of emergency shelter and safe alternatives for people living outdoors in two locations in Seattle.
  1. How long should it take to move a homeless person into a shelter? 

It depends on the type of intervention, but according to City performance metrics the maximum amount of time that it should take to move someone out of a sanctioned encampment is 90 days.  A recent audit conducted by King County showed that the average time a prioritized household waits between assessment and housing referral was twice as long as the federal standard.  The study said that the primary reason for this was that “Long waits are due in large part to a shortage of homeless housing. Given the current homeless housing stock and vacancy rate, even if no one else joined the community queue, it would take more than seven years for everyone to secure housing. In the entire county, only about 1,120 homeless housing units become vacant each year. Meanwhile, by the end of September 2017, there were 8,299 homeless individuals and households awaiting housing referral.”

It is important to note that this study only measured how the system fell short for prioritized populations according to a vulnerability assessment.  There are many people who are not prioritized that may never get on a list for permanent housing.

  1. Isn’t addiction the real reason for homelessness?                          

Addition can be one factor in homelessness, but not the only one. Significant increases in rent make it more difficult for low-income people to find housing. 25 years ago, Seattle was well-known as a center of heroin addiction, but there were significantly fewer homeless people, as rent was inexpensive.

Half of Count Us In survey respondents “reported at least one disabling condition, and among those individuals 33% reported living with two or more disabling conditions. Behavioral health conditions were the most frequently reported disabling conditions among Count Us In survey respondents, with 44% experiencing psychiatric or emotional conditions, 37% living with post-traumatic stress disorder, and 35% reporting drug or alcohol abuse.”

  1. Can’t we solve homelessness through zoning changes?

The City Council is considering the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) proposal, to increase allowing building in exchange for more affordable housing. It takes time to build, however, so this, or other zoning changes, won’t provide a short-term solution.   MHA will only contribute about 6,000 units of affordable housing over the next 10 years, far less that the recent McKinsey Report identifies as the housing gap:  “Even assuming, somewhat unrealistically, that all new affordable housing currently planned by the city of Seattle was made available without delay, we estimate there would be a supply gap of 60,000 homes.”

  1. Why can’t we do what other successful cities have done to combat homelessness?

Often when people ask why Seattle can’t mirror programs that have been successful in other cities, they are referring to programs such as Utah’s Housing First Model. The Housing First approach was actually designed in Seattle, specifically the Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC) with its project 1811 Eastlake.  Housing First is already a cornerstone of the King County All Home Plan, and the 10-year plan before that.   DESC’s 1811 Eastlake saved taxpayers more than $4 million dollars in the first year of operation.  But that was just the first recognized Housing First project in Seattle, since then, the jurisdictions and funders planning to end homelessness in King County  (including – among others – Bellevue, Renton, Redmond, Shoreline)– as a matter of policy – actually prioritize funding for projects that also use the Housing First model.

To end homelessness in Washington State using the Housing First model, we need a massive investment in Housing First.  The recent the McKinsey/Seattle Chamber of Commerce report demonstrates that despite the Chamber’s claims that we only needed to spend our money more efficiently, that in order to make a meaningful impact on the crisis, the region would need to increase regional annual spending by approximately $164 to $215 million annually, and spend 85% of that on building housing.   It’s not that we need to follow the example of states like Utah, rather we must have the political will to fund more of what we know works because of our own experience.

  1. Why can’t we draw on more non-profits, churches, synagogues and mosques to offer temporary housing?

About 11 religious facilities throughout the City offer shelter to approximately 350 people each night.  There is interest to try to expand the number of non-profits and religious organizations offering temporary housing. I, too, welcome more participation.  The Progressive Revenue Task Force recommendations agree we should encourage more, here is what they said:

Many faith communities throughout Seattle devote significant labor, space, money, and other resources to help their homeless neighbors and to address the homelessness crisis.  The City should recognize and leverage these contributions, and in general be more deliberate in its relationships with faith communities.  The City could provide small grants to assist their work and/or establish ways of better communicating and coordinating with faith communities that are doing this work.

  1. We need to have homeless people do their share. There must be some reciprocity – if we help them, then they need to (clean up garbage, agree to drug treatment etc.)?

The 2016 Comprehensive Homeless Needs Assessment done by Applied Survey Research interviewed 1,050 unsheltered individuals in November 2016. They surveyed people living on the streets, in encampments, and in public shelters to further understand their situations and needs, and to better inform the City’s responses with its partners. 41% of survey respondents experiencing homelessness reported they were employed.

There are also several Seattle-based organizations that work to provide the homeless with employment opportunities including:

  1. Why are we allotting more resources to the homeless and ignoring law-abiding citizens? RVs can park any time anywhere, but we get parking tickets.

The  2018 King County Count Us In Report found that an estimated 3,372 individuals living in vehicles. These individuals comprised 28% of the total count population and 53% of the unsheltered population.

Since RVs often violate parking laws, the Police Department is the lead agency for dealing with RVs.  A recent lawsuit is requiring law enforcement all over Washington State and California too, to reconsider how they enforce laws against parking in an area for more than 72 hours when it is apparent that the vehicle is someone’s home.  Nevertheless, in addition to addressing one-off situations, the Police Department and SPU are leading an interdepartmental team to clean up 4-6 problem RV sites each month.

There are three ways to file a complaint regarding trash, needles, unsanctioned encampments, safety or RV/Car campers violating the 72-hour parking law:

  1. We spend more per capita on the homeless than most other cities to no effect.

I have found an unsupported quote from an individual running for public office about per capita spending on homelessness in King County.  I have found no studies to support the claim that Seattle’s spending on homelessness ($86/per capita) exceeds other large, high cost cities.

For instance, New York City, where there is a right to shelter, roughly $530,000 per day, or $364 million a year, is spent on hotel rooms for the homeless.  NYC’s annual funding is $2.3 billion (about $315/per capita) for their shelter programs, their hygiene programs, or the homelessness prevention or diversion program.  Another example is Los Angeles, which spends $440 million a year to address homelessness (about $110/per capita), and San Francisco that spends $279 million a year on homelessness (about 323/per capita).

  1. Camping on the street is still more affordable than the units being planned. The City doesn’t stop people from doing this so what motivation would they have to change?

The city works to connect homeless people who are living unsheltered with resources that provide temporary or permanent housing. Part of this effort includes the creation of the Navigation Team who monitors and provides outreach services in unsanctioned encampments. The team conducts daily outreach to unsanctioned encampments throughout the city and determines which encampments should be scheduled for removal. The team also offers a variety of services in unsanctioned encampments including referrals to safe living alternatives, referrals to medical or service providers, help obtaining identification or benefits, accessing employment support, connections to legal resources, offering mental health support, safe storage and delivery of personal belongings, and even participation in a trash pick-up program to reduce the public health threats.

The City removes between 3-6 encampments each week.  More than 70 encampments removed since January of this year alone.  There are, at any given time more than 400 complaints about unique encampment locations at any given time.  The City has a process for:

  • Prioritizing encampments for removal.
  • Providing notice when an encampment is scheduled for cleanup.
  • Offering outreach and alternative shelter options.
  • Cleaning up an encampment site.
  • Collecting, cataloguing and storing personal belongings and how individuals can recover their property.
  • Immediately removing obstructions and immediate hazards.
  • Identifying and specifying emphasis areas that will be subject to daily inspection and immediate removal of any encampment-related materials.
  1. There wasn’t enough funding put into mental health services or drug addiction – these issues impact homelessness too.

The Navigation Team does provide mental health support to the homeless community when it conducts outreach, but Washington State and King County are ultimately responsible and have the authority for providing mental health and drug treatment services.

  1. It’s the City’s policies that have created the homeless problem. The City attracts the homeless because of our lax policies.

I don’t agree that Seattle’s homeless policies are attracting people to come and live on our streets homeless, without electricity or running water, no place to secure ones’ belongings, or wash, go to the bathroom, and dispose of their garbage all the while being vulnerable to crime.  The vast majority of people, 83.1%, who are homeless in King County had King County as their last address when housed, and of those people 31% were born/grew up in King County.

  1. Two years ago, a study was undertaken to develop a plan to deal with the homeless and evaluate the financial needs of doing so. The conclusion was that the city had enough money to handle the issue but were not allocating it appropriately.

Two years ago Barb Poppe, an homelessness consultant, wrote a  report on Seattle’s homelessness crisis, which became the basis for the set of recommendations known as Pathways Home.  Poppe 2016 study, in which she stated that no additional funds should be needed, relied on data from 2014. In 2017, Poppe admitted that the homeless population in Seattle had grown since 2014 and additional resources might be needed, and Seattle was mostly allocating its money in a way that aligned with her previous recommendations.


Washington State Transportation Commission Public Comment Meeting June 5 re: SR 99 Tolls

When the state legislature voted in 2009 to have WSDOT replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a tunnel along the Downtown Seattle waterfront, it required $400 million of the $2.4 billion in state funding to come from tolls. In 2012 the legislature reduced this to $200 million. The legislature also required funding to operate and maintain the tunnel to come from tolls, an additional $170 million.

On May 22nd, the Washington State Transportation Commission (WSTC), which under state law sets toll rates for state highways, released three options. All three options include tolls that vary by the time of day, from $1 on weekends and overnight, to $2.25 during evening rush hour.

The WSTC will be holding public comment meetings in early June. The West Seattle meeting will be on Tuesday, June 5th at High Point Community Center (6920 34th Avenue SW). An open house is planned from 5:30-6:30, with public input from 6:30 to 8 p.m. More information is available here, including about meetings Downtown on May 4th and in Phinney Ridge on May 6th.

Comments can also be e-mailed to transc@wstc.wa.gov, by phone at 360-705-7070, or by postal mail to Washington State Transportation Commission, PO Box 47308, Olympia, WA 98504.

Details about the toll rates for each of the options, by time of day, are on the WSTC’s SR 99 tolling fact sheet;  additional background is available at their SR 99 Tunnel Toll Rate Setting webpage.

The WSTC applied the following objectives in determining the options, as required by a state law that was passed by the state legislature in 2012:

  • Minimize diversion, particularly during initial years of tolling as downtown Seattle construction limits capacity of alternate routes;
  • Support facility performance and the customer experience;
  • Provide sustainable toll rates that meet all legally required financial obligation

The WSTC will gather public comment through early July, and is scheduled to advance an option for final public review at their July 17/18 meeting in Olympia. They plan to take final action to adopt toll rates during the fall of 2018.

WSDOT uses tolls for other major projects, including the SR 520 bridge, which has tolls that vary between $1.25 and $4.30 by time of day; the Tacoma Narrows Bridge has a toll of $5; tolls on I-405 vary by time of day, between 75 cents and $10, based on real time traffic conditions.

The tunnel could open as soon as this fall; at first, there will be no charge. The state hasn’t decided yet how soon tolls will begin.

Once Alaskan Way is rebuilt after the removal of the Alaskan Way Viaduct, a new exit just before the tunnel entrance will lead to Alaskan Way.

Below is brief background on the tunnel project and the state legislature’s requirement for tolling; earlier tolling studies were completed in 2010 and 2014, as noted below.

PROJECT HISTORY

In 2001, after the Nisqually earthquake, WSDOT began an evaluation of multiple options to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct, including 76 initial conceptual alternatives, and detailed analysis of five alternatives in 2004.

In 2009 the state legislature approved a funding plan for a tunnel to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct. The legislation found that the Alaskan Way Viaduct “is susceptible to damage, closure, or catastrophic failure from earthquakes and tsunamis” and that replacement was “a matter of urgency for the safety of Washington’s traveling public and the needs of the transportation system in central Puget Sound.”

The funding plan included $400 million from tolls (later reduced to $200 million), and required WSDOT to do a tolling study, including an examination of potential diversion of traffic onto city streets.

The tolling report required by the legislature was completed in 2010. It concluded that peak period tolls could range from $2.75 to $5 in 2015 dollars.

In 2011 the City Council created a “Alaskan Way Viaduct and Seawall Replacement Program Advisory Committee on Tolling & Traffic Management” to advise the City and State. They examined seven options in their 2014 report, and found that a rate lower than the 2010 report would be sufficient.

Subsequently WSDOT’s Toll Division began an investment-grade traffic and revenue study, which is needed to issue the bonds that tolls will finance. Subsequently, the WSTC released options on May 22nd.

Previous WSDOT environmental documents and reports for the Alaskan Way Viaduct and Seawall Replacement Project from 2004 to 2015 can be found here.


Books for Teachers

Are you a teacher at a Title 1 school?  Do you know one?  Friends of the Seattle Public Library, thanks to funding from the Renee B. Fisher Foundation, is able to grant teachers at Title 1 Seattle Public Schools up to 100 free books from the Friends of the Seattle Public Library’s stock of used children’s books.

Any teacher at a Title 1 school within the Seattle Public School system can apply for the program, and access is first come first serve. There are two events a year for teachers to come and select their free books. The next event is on Saturday, June 30.

All teachers at Seattle Title 1 Public Schools are invited to apply, just send an email to booksforteachers@friendsofspl.org and say you’re interested in participating in the Books for Teachers program.  Include your full name, the name of your school, and the grade level(s) you teach. For those that are not accommodated with 2018 grant funds, you will be put on a priority list to be invited in 2019.

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Ship Canal Water Quality Project Update; Committee Briefing on Navigation Team; UNESCO City of Literature

May 25th, 2018


Ship Canal Water Quality Project Update

Last Tuesday my Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development, and Arts (CRUEDA) committee received another update from Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) on the Ship Canal Water Quality Project (SCWQP).  You can watch their presentation here. The SCWQP is a joint project with King County (with a 65% City/35% County cost split) that will address a significant amount of the City’s combined sewer overflow (CSOs). This project is part of a larger effort for both the County and the City to reduce water contamination from CSOs under a Federal and State Consent Decree.

Last June, SPU reported to my committee on this issue and notified me they were beginning a cost reconciliation process in order to better understand the total cost of the project. In 2014, and during that briefing, SPU was still working with project cost estimates between $338 and $550 million; however, after a detailed cost estimate review and reconciliation process SPU reported that the project is now slated to cost $570 million, with a confidence rating of 65%. That means the project is 65% likely to cost $570 million or less (the City’s share is approximately $393 million).

The SCWQP is a tunnel that will run from Wallingford to Ballard and will address the City’s largest remaining CSOs which will remove 90 million gallons of untreated water entering our waterways.

There are many factors which have lead to the increased cost which you can see broken down here:

SPU does not believe that rate increases would be necessary to pay for the increased costs associated with this recent cost estimate.  They report that they will be able to address the cost increase through a combination of government grants, loans, and bond issue interest savings.

During the budget process last year, this was one of two capital projects that the Council applied provisos to. A proviso requires the department to return to Council at a certain stage in project development, in this case it’s at 100% design, to report on the status of the project and requires the Council to vote in favor of releasing the funds to proceed with the rest of project. The SCWQP is slated to come back to Council early next year for this approval.

 


Committee Briefing on Navigation Team

On Tuesday, May 22nd, the committee on Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development, and Arts (CRUEDA) was briefed on the impending transition of the Navigation Team from the Department of Finance and Administrative Services (FAS) to the Human Services Department (HSD).  This transition to HSD from FAS was required by the Council in the budget process last fall.   As some of you may recall, the Navigation Team was created to address the impacts of people living unsheltered in encampments. The Navigation Team visits people living in unsanctioned encampements, including offering a variety of services such as referrals to housing alternatives, help obtaining identification or benefits, facilitating and safe storage and delivery of personal belongings when encampments are removed because of their placement in a location that is a public safety or public health hazard, an obstruction, or in a park.

HSD can lend their expertise in serving vulnerable populations, and insight and recommendations about how to keep the focus on the vulnerability of the homeless community when deciding which encampments should be scheduled for removal. HSD has also suggested that the Navigation Team mandate racial equity goals to contract with outreach providers led by communities of color.

The transition will take place on July 1st, 2018. While the Navigation Team will then be organizationally staffed out of HSD, the team will still collaborate with FAS, the Seattle Police Department, Seattle Parks and Recreation, Seattle Department of Transportation, and Seattle Public Utilities. The Navigation Team will still be comprised of specially- trained police officers, City field coordinators, contracted outreach workers, and FAS staff, but several new positions will be implemented to compliment the team.

 


UNESCO City of Literature

Earlier this week a celebration was held at the Seattle Public Library for Seattle’s designation as a UNESCO City of Literature, as part of UNESCO Creative Cities Network, created in 2004. The effort has been led by Seattle City of Literature.

Seattle is now one of 28 cities worldwide with this designation.

UNESCO is the United Nations Education, Science, and Culture Organization. The UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) was created in 2004 to promote cooperation with and among cities that have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable urban development. The 180 cities which currently make up this network work together towards a common objective: placing creativity and cultural industries at the heart of their development plans at the local level and cooperating actively at the international level.

Thanks to the Seattle City of Literature for coordinating this effort!

Additional information is available at Seattle City of Literature’s website; the City Council endorsed an earlier Seattle bid in 2014.

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Vacant Buildings; Development at Madison Middle School; West Seattle Light Rail; Transportation for Seniors and People with Disabilities; Office Hours

May 18th, 2018


Vacant Building Monitoring Program Report

You may recall last August the Council passed legislation to make it easier for the City to demolish vacant buildings; I wrote about this legislation at the time. This legislation was one step towards addressing the significant increase in complaints about vacant buildings; between 2013 and 2016 the City saw an increase of 58%. Specifically, District 1 has the second highest number of complaints (189 between 2013 and 2016). Further, new information indicates that District 1 saw 95 complaint cases in 2017 alone, the highest of any District.

I proposed, and the Council passed, an amendment to the legislation that was passed in August.   This amendment required the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspection (SDCI) to report back to Council with recommendations on an enhanced Vacant Building Monitoring Program. Cities with more proactive monitoring programs, wholly funded with and supported by fees paid by owners of vacant buildings, are better able to monitor vacant properties more aggressively and, as a result, fewer buildings fall into such disrepair as we see many vacant buildings in Seattle. The below image demonstrates what can happen in a single year to a vacant property that is not well monitored for constant compliance with the city’s vacant building standards.

During budget, in order to ensure this work would be completed, my colleagues and I worked to fund a position at SDCI. And finally, following up after budget, I sent a letter early this year to SDCI to ensure someone had been hired, and to inform them again of my preference for what’s known as a “hybrid-model” for the Vacant Building Monitoring Program. This model requires that for non-foreclosure related building vacancies owners are required to register properties after a certain length of vacancy; and for foreclosure related vacancies, owners are required to register properties at the time a notice of default is issued or intent to foreclose is filed.

SDCI has now delivered their report and recommendations to Council. Here’s some additional background that’s important to understand.  Currently, although there are hundreds of vacant buildings in the city, again 95 complaints from District 1 alone – and there are likely many vacant buildings that are not in the complaint database, there are only 43 properties in the entire city enrolled in the existing Vacant Building Monitoring Program.

According to SDCI, the way properties get in the current SDCI Vacant Building Monitoring Program is 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 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. About half of the properties currently in the monitoring program have been in the program for several years due to ongoing lower-level violations, as owners are unable or unwilling to make the necessary repairs to bring them into compliance.”

From my perspective, this approach is clearly not working. In their report, SDCI recommends some limited changes to their existing program.  But rather than requiring all owners to register buildings when they become vacant, SDCI only proposes to make changes for owners of buildings that they already know about because they are in the redevelopment process and only if they are in violation of the minimum maintenance standards for vacant buildings.  However, I’m concerned that this is not enough of a change in SDCI Vacant Building Monitoring Program.  As mentioned above, District 1 in particular is seeing an increasing amount of vacant building complaints and a hybrid Vacant Building Monitoring Program would do more to address those issues than simply relying on enhanced current practices. I will continue working with SDCI and my colleagues in order to implement an enhanced Vacant Building Monitoring Program to ensure that the City is doing more to ensure that abandoned buildings are maintained in accordance with the vacant building law.


Public Meeting: Zoning Modification for Development at Madison Middle School

A public meeting has been scheduled to discuss a zoning modification for potential development at Madison Middle School.

  • When: Wednesday, May 30 at 6 p.m.
  • Where: Madison Middle School (3429 45th Ave SW)

The School District is requesting a modification known as a “departure” from a City zoning regulation for reduced on-site parking in order to provide portables. The District will present the modifications to the Madison Middle School Development Standards Departure Advisory Committee (a group of neighbors, and District and City representatives). After the presentation the public is encouraged to provide public comment.

If you cannot attend the meeting, written comments can be submitted by Tuesday, May 29 to:

  • Maureen Sheehan
  • E-mail: Maureen.Sheehan@seattle.gov
  • Mailing Address:  Seattle Department of Neighborhoods
  • P.O. Box 94649
  • Seattle, WA 98124-4649

For additional information or to request an interpreter (by May 28) for the meeting, contact Maureen Sheehan, Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, at 206-684-0302.

After public comment the Departure Advisory Committee will deliberate and consider the request.


Elected Leadership Group: West Seattle Light Rail Recommendations

Yesterday the Elected Leadership Group (ELG), of which I am a member, made recommendations for which light rail alternatives should move forward for more detailed study and development of cost estimates. These recommendations will be presented next week at a meeting of the Sound Transit governing board. The ELG moved forward options recommended by the Stakeholder Advisory Committee on April 24, which include tunnel and elevated options (the purple and yellow alternatives, with the yellow as both elevated and tunnel).

Key District 1 priorities I spoke to include:

  • The need for seamless bus transfers for stations and multimodal integration, as the stations will be used by people from all over West Seattle;
  • Designing stations to allow for future expansion of light rail;
  • Minimizing impacts on residences and businesses, and noting that options reducing the need for properties could help with the budget;
  • Mixing and matching potential options where appropriate, as recommended by the Seattle Planning Commission;
  • Examining the walksheds and ridership of stations; and
  • Speaking to the need for visualizations of elevated options: this is the first time elevated light rail has been proposed through the heart of a Urban Village; the Seattle Design Commission strongly supports this as well, and noted:

“Visualization of the alternative stations, guideways, and bridges is extremely important for all parties (the public, electeds, stakeholders, etc.) to understand the physical impacts and implications of Sound Transit’s (ST’s) proposals. While we understand the sensitivity in creating visual depictions at such an early stage, we believe results of the narrowing down process will not be robust without this information.”

I also requested further examination of the light blue option, to see if impacts can be addressed re: park property usage and federal law (e.g. via a tunnel). Sound Transit is including the baseline “representative” alignment throughout the process (it’s the red one).

Here’s a link to the West Seattle options Sound Transit analyzed in Round 1.  Here’s background information about how Sound Transit is developing options.


Forum on Transportation Alternatives for Seniors and People with Disabilities

On Saturday the West Seattle Transportation Coalition will host a public form on transportation alternatives for seniors and people with disabilities. Participants include former Mayor Nickels, Transportation Choices Coalition, and Sound Generations.

The forum is on Saturday, May 19th from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the Senior Center of West Seattle at 4217 SW Oregon Street.  Here’s a link to the flyer.


In-District Office Hours

On May 25, I will be at the Senior Center of West Seattle (4217 SW Oregon St) from 2:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Please be sure to arrive no later than 6:30 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, here is a list of my tentatively scheduled office hours. These are subject to change.

Friday, June 15, 2018
South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S

Friday, July 27, 2018
Southwest Neighborhood Service Center, 2801 SW Thistle St

Friday, August 17, 2018
Senior Center of West Seattle, 4217 SW Oregon St

Friday, September 21, 2018
South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S

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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