Community Support for Family of South Park Shooting Victim; Comm Shop; Your Voice Your Choice Project Development Meetings in D1 Starting Feb. 26; Small Business Advisory Council; Destination Delridge

February 23rd, 2018


Community Support for Family of South Park Shooting Victim

Sadly, Dallas Esparza, the teenager who was shot in South Park on February 7, has passed away.

Please consider donating to the gofundme page set up for Community Support for his family.

The page notes, “This boy, who grew up in SP along with his brothers, is described by a teacher as ‘… a very special student who will be remembered as a kind, respectful young person.’ His mother is a single parent, and struggling to stay strong and present for her remaining children. If you can, please donate here to help defray hospital and funeral costs.”

You can donate here.

Council Votes Unanimously to Award $1 Million in bridge funding for Hygiene and Emergency Shelter Services

On Wednesday January 17, Mayor Durkan announced her intention to sell an underutilized City property known as the Communications Shop. Mayor Durkan’s proposal included utilizing a portion of the sales to support the urgent need for affordable housing and services for people experiencing homelessness.

This issue was first discussed in the Finance and Neighborhood Committee on Friday February 9th and again on Wednesday February 14th . There were three separate bills and two resolutions brought to committee for discussion and a potential vote. After three hours of discussion CB’s 119195 and 119196 were voted out of committee. CB 119195 relates to the sale of the property and was voted out of committee unanimously. CB 119196, related to the use of funds, was voted out of committee with three votes in favor and 4 abstentions. In response to a number of concerns including the allocation of funds related to homelessness, Councilmember Mosqueda and I worked together to draft a substitute to CB 119196.

The substitute bill allocates an additional $1 million in bridge funding for emergency shelter and drop-in hygiene services ensuring that these essential services will remain funded through 2018. The substitute bill also added a number of recitals outlining potential public health concerns related to the lack of hygiene facilitates, and addressing the need for bridge funding for service providers who either received decreased funding or whose funding was not renewed via the Homeless Investments Request For Proposal (RFP).

Pathways Home is the City of Seattle’s plan to address the City’s homeless crisis. Last year the Human Services Department announced that they would run a competitive process to re-issue all of their homeless dollars. In November of 2017 the Human Services Department announced the awards. Bridge funding was awarded to some of the previously funded organizations who were not awarded ongoing funding through this RFP. Bridge funding offered to service providers not selected in the Homeless Investments RFP process was originally limited to only less than six months for most recipients. This was an insufficient amount of time for some agencies to work with people receiving their services to find new services. I believe efforts to transition people to other services should occur and those new services should be demonstrated as more successful in getting people into permanent housing than the services being cut before bridge funding is terminated.

Among these underfunded services are emergency shelter and drop-in hygiene facilities. Hygiene services are essential part of our region’s public health response. It’s important that we learn from the hepatitis A outbreaks in cities such as Los Angles, San Diego and Santa Cruz. A public health crisis like this in Seattle is preventable. Hepatitis A is spread through close personal contact and is exacerbated by limited access to hygiene services.
While there is funding in Pathways Home for increased hygiene services, the majority of the increased services do not allow “drop-in” hygiene services. Unfortunately HSD announced cuts last year for “drop in” hygiene services. This bill restores critical low-barrier services in downtown and the University District.

In addition to adding $1 million in bridge funding and preserving all $5.3 million for the Mayor’s proposed uses that will come in a future recommendation of the Innovative Housing Strategies subcabinet, the subcabinet will now contain representation from the City Council.
This substitute bill co-sponsored by Councilmember Mosqueda and I was unanimously passed by Full Council on Tuesday February 20th.

Inaugural meeting of the Small Business Advisory Committee

This week was the first meeting of the City’s Small Business Advisory Council (SBAC). The SBAC was established in November of 2017 in order to provide an opportunity for Seattle small businesses to talk directly with City representatives about the issues most urgently impacting Seattle small businesses. In addition to representation from the Mayor’s office, Councilmember Mosqueda and I, the SBAC has representatives from nearly 30 small businesses from around the city. The inaugural meeting was an opportunity for the advisory council members to introduce themselves and share their ideas for how the City can support Seattle’s small business community. The SBAC currently plants to meet quarterly, holding additional, ad hoc meetings as necessary.

Your Voice Your Choice Project Development meetings in District 1 starting February 26

The Your Voice Your Choice Parks and Streets grant program will be holding five Project Development meetings in District 1 between February 26 and March 26.

The Project Development meetings will narrow the proposals in each of Seattle’s 7 Council Districts down to 10 options for public voting; proposals are currently being reviewed for feasibility and being within the budget limit of $90,000.

According to the Department of Neighborhoods, more than 1,000 ideas were submitted citywide by the public.

Here’s the meeting schedule for District 1:

February 26, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m., South Seattle College, Chan Education Center, Rm 202 – 6000 16th Ave. SW
February 27, 6 – 8 p.m., South Park Community Center – 8319 8th Ave. S
March 12, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m., Southwest Youth and Family Services – 4555 Delridge Way SW
March 14, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m., West Seattle Branch Library – 2306 42nd Ave. SW
March 26, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m., Southwest Branch Library – 9010 35th Ave. SW

Anyone who lives, works or attends school in Seattle can participate.

You can view proposals on this map. Proposals are color-coded to correspond to one of the meetings, shown on the left-hand side of the map. The principal focus of each meeting will be on the projects listed in the same color. Project lists for each meeting will be uploaded at the Project Development page as they are available.

If you’re not able to attend the meeting focused on a project list, you can discuss it at another meeting.

The citywide schedule for all seven district is listed here. Information about eligible projects is here.


Destination Delridge

The Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association (DNDA) is a non-profit that brings together neighbors, organizations, and the business community with the local government to help build a more sustainable community. On March 2, they will be hosting their annual fundraiser:

“An exciting evening filled with fabulous food, drink, live entertainment, music, art and interactive games. Mingle and connect with 200+ attendees who share your passion for social justice and our community, as we gather to support DNDA’s Art, Nature, and Neighborhood programs.”

Join me at Destination Delridge!

When: Friday, March 2, 6-9 p.m.
Where: Metropolist in SoDo (2931 1st Ave. S)
Tickets: $100
Theme: “Oh The Places We’ll Grow”

In-District Office Hours

Today, February 23, I will be at the South Park Community Center (8319 8th Ave. S) from 2 p.m. – 7 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 full list of my tentatively scheduled office hours for the rest of 2018. These are subject to change.

Friday, March 30, 2018
Southwest Neighborhood Service Center, 2801 SW Thistle St

Friday, April 27, 2018
South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S

Friday, May 25, 2018
Senior Center of West Seattle, 4217 SW Oregon St

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

Share


Fauntleroy Watershed Council Annual Report; New Parking Legislation Proposal; Bus Service to Admiral and Alki; In-District Office Hours

February 16th, 2018

Fauntleroy Watershed Council Annual Report

In my Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development, and Arts committee meeting on Tuesday we heard from the Fauntleroy Watershed Council who presented their annual report. The Fauntleroy Watershed Council is a venue for volunteers interested supporting and maintaining the Fauntleroy Creek, Park, and other natural areas within the Fauntleroy watershed. The Council was founded in 2001 and their mission is “to further restoration, stewardship, and responsible public enjoyment of the park and creek.” Among the highlights in this year’s report, the Fauntleroy Watershed Council:

  • hosted 764 students releasing salmon in Fauntleroy Park.
  • funded and installed emergency erosion control in the lower creek.
  • enhanced educational experiences for Salmon in the Schools students.
  • celebrated EarthCorps’ eradication of knotweed from the Kilbourne ravine.
  • supported planning for replacement of Fauntleroy Creek culverts.

At the committee table we discussed some work that Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) is beginning to undertake regarding three culverts that are in need of repair and expansion to better facilitate the water flows and wildlife in the area.

Additionally, I learned that SPU has worked closely with the Fauntleroy Watershed Council in the past but, reportedly due to budget constraints, the partnership isn’t as strong as what it once was. I have already connected the Fauntleroy Watershed Council to SPU’s General Manager Mami Hara in order to discuss a renewed relationship to better facilitate the utility’s involvement in the Watershed Council’s work to restore and maintain Fauntleroy Park and Creek.

New Parking Legislation Proposal

In January I wrote about the pending new neighborhood parking legislation. I have been tracking this issue since 2015 when I shared my concerns with the Hearing Examiner regarding the implementation by Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI, previously DPD) of the definition in the Seattle Municipal Code of “Frequent Transit Service.” This definition is important because it determines the requirement for the provision of onsite parking in developments depending on whether they are or are not within Frequent Transit Service areas.

In previous committee discussions I have questioned whether or not relieving developers from the cost of creating parking ($35,000 per space, plus $300 a month in operational costs) will result in reduced costs for renters. I had asked how rental costs differ between developments with and without on-site parking.  Though this data is apparently not available in Seattle, we’ve got some regional data that suggests that housing without parking has lower rents. From the 2015 American Housing Survey, rent for tenants in the Seattle area who moved between 2010 and 2015 into multifamily rental buildings and compared rents for buildings with and without garages or carports. (Caution because sample size is small.)

Seattle Area Nationwide
Garage? Rent Count Rent Count
Yes $1,370 135 $1,299 1,877
No $1,069 441 $931 6,052

In the Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee last week Council and Executive staff introduced and discussed an alternative frequent transit service definition in the neighborhood parking proposal. This alternative is distinct from the definition that was proposed in late 2017 when Mayor Burgess proposed the legislation. The new proposal begins on page four of this memo. I still have to analyze the impacts of the proposed changes, but my fundamental concern is still that I question whether the case has been made to demonstrate a correlation between transit ridership and a reduction in car ownership, and therefore not needing a place to park a vehicle.

The new proposal came with a new map that shows the potential expansion of frequent transit service as well as an overlay (as I previously asked for) of the potential Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) overlay which shows that if an urban village is expanded, where that expansion would occur and how they proposed parking legislation would interact with that expansion. This gives the committee a better understanding of how both of these pieces of legislation would affect our neighborhoods.

I also asked for a map of multifamily housing with vehicle ownership rates; however, I was only able to get data on renters. This map shows quartiles of renters by census tracts and the numbers are the percentages of households that do not have a vehicle. Finally, this map overlays the two previous maps to give a clearer picture of where new frequent transit service will be in comparison to renters as well as car owners. The significance of these maps is to show that the oft reported statistic, that is being used as the policy basis for this legislation is misleading.   The SDCI Director’s report says that ““For the one-quarter of Seattle census tracts with the highest proportion of renter households, 40% of all renter households have no vehicle.”

In other words, these maps show that, regardless of a low rate of car ownership in these particular choice census tracts there is still a high rate of car ownership in the areas where allow developers to build without providing parking. For instance, District 1 has an 82% car ownership rate which has stayed mostly flat since 2009.                      

This legislation will continue to be heard in the Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee and there will be a public hearing held on Wednesday, February 21st at 9:30am located in the Council Chambers.

Bus Service to Admiral and Alki

As District 1 Councilmember, I regularly hear from residents of the Admiral and Alki neighborhoods about the lack of daytime and evening bus service to and from Downtown. Non-rush hour service on Bus Route 56, which connects Alki and Admiral to Downtown was eliminated in 2012.

As a result, Admiral is the only Urban Village in Seattle without off-peak transit service to Downtown. It is also the only Urban Village not served by the Frequent Transit Network included in the Seattle Transit Master Plan. Urban Villages were adopted by Seattle in the 1994 Comprehensive Plan to direct growth to areas with enhanced services, so the lack of service is noteworthy, and unique. The lack of off-peak service to Downtown for an urban village also does not seem consistent with our approach to managing growth.

I have written a letter to SDOT Director Goran Sparrman, requesting that SDOT assess the costs associated with improving off-peak transit service on Route 56, and inform me of the City’s funding capacity to meet this need with Seattle Transportation Benefit District funds passed by Seattle voters in Proposition 1 in late 2014, which directly funds bus service in Seattle. You can see the letter here. While King County Metro operates bus service, since 2015, with the passage by Seattle voters of Proposition 1, Seattle funds additional bus service.

Background information is included below about how the Admiral Urban Village fits into the city’s transportation and growth plans.

After the State Legislature passed the Growth Management Act in 1990, to stop regional sprawl and direct growth into designated areas. The City of Seattle adopted the Urban Village Strategy in its passage of the 1994 Comprehensive Plan. By 1999, the City had completed passage of neighborhood plans throughout Seattle, to implement the state Growth Management Act, and to direct growth into areas with enhanced services to match the growth.

Seattle has six Urban Centers, six Hub Urban Villages and eighteen Residential Urban Villages. Of those 30 areas targeted for growth in the 2035 Comprehensive Plan, only Admiral lacks off-peak transit service to Downtown.

Figures from the Seattle Transit Master Plan illustrate the unique status of the Admiral Urban Village. Figure 3-1 shows the City Capacity Transit Vision for High Capacity Transit Corridors. Figure 1-2 shows how these current and planned corridors align with the Urban Centers, Hub Urban Villages, and Residential Urban Villages adopted in Seattle’s Comprehensive Plan.

All of Seattle’s six Urban Centers and six Hub Urban Villages are included in a corridor—nearly all of which go to Downtown. In addition, 16 of Seattle’s 18 Residential Urban Villages are included in a corridor. The only ones that aren’t included in one of the transit corridors for RapidRide, Light Rail, Priority Bus Corridors, and the Streetcar are 1) Admiral and 2) South Park.

Figure 4-1 shows the status of the Frequent Transit Network as of March 2016; it notes a few areas on the map for “Priority Upgrade to Frequent”, including the Admiral Urban Village.

The Frequent Transit network included in the Transit Master Plan is designed to provide service every 15 minutes or better, 18-24 hours a day, seven days a week. This document shows bus routes that meet the frequent transit service level for land use purposes (SMC 23.84A.038), i.e. 15 minutes or less for at least 12 hours per day, 6 days a week, and transit headways of 30 minutes or less for at least 18 hours every day.

The current Frequent Transit Network using land use standards serves 29 of the 30 areas targeted for growth, but not Admiral.

Transportation Figure 5, from the Seattle 2035 Comprehensive Plan, shows the Planned Frequent Transit Network, which includes SW Admiral Way through the Urban Village.

It appears that 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.

Given the geographic distribution of jobs and work patterns, direct access to Downtown is important. Unless we are able to provide sufficient bus service to the Admiral Urban Village, it is less likely it will be able to accommodate its share of growth.

Metro Service prioritizes crowding, schedule reliability and service frequency. Proposition 1 noted that revenues would be used for these purposes, consistent with the Seattle Transit Master Plan and Metro’s Service Guidelines.

However, I believe we are missing an important element of equity in not considering how we can increase ridership in areas with low ridership and minimal options available to improve ridership. The lack of off-peak service to Downtown for an Urban Village also does not seem consistent with our approach to managing growth.

While King County Metro’s Service Guidelines target a minimum service level of at least every 60 minutes, even an exception for less frequent off-peak service would be an improvement.

In-District Office Hours

On February 23, I will be at the South Park Community Center (8319 8th Ave S) from 2:00p.m. – 7:00p.m. Please be sure to arrive no later than 6:30 pm, 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.

Date Location Address
Friday, January 26, 2018 Southwest Neighborhood Service Center 2801 SW Thistle St
Friday, February 23, 2018 South Park Community Center 8319 8TH Avenue S
Friday, March 30, 2018 Southwest Neighborhood Service Center 2801 SW Thistle St
Friday, April 27, 2018 South Park Community Center 8319 8TH Avenue S
Friday, May 25, 2018 Senior Center of West Seattle 4217 SW Oregon St
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

 

 

 

Share


South Park; Second West Seattle Tree Cutting Settlement; Amazon Meeting; How Will Sound Transit Develop a Preferred Alternative for West Seattle Light Rail?

February 9th, 2018


South Park

Like you, I was shocked, saddened, outraged, and worried for the safety of my neighbors when we learned about the shooting of one of our South Park children.

Wednesday evening, I was at the Denny/Sealth PTSA Safety meeting at Neighborhood House in High Point when the officers that were the presenting guests were called away to respond. Many of you were much closer to this event. Maybe you, like I, felt a sense of helplessness in the face of such a needless tragedy.

When a teenager or any child in our community is shot we all feel that pain in different ways. It is my greatest hope that the child involved can recover fully, and that family and community members are there to offer support every step of the way.

As a parent and grandparent this is the worst of our fears. But I need you to not feel helplessness. I need you to keep raising your voices to demand more from City Hall.

I know that South Park will not be defined by this incident, but instead by the strength and pride of this community who, every opportunity, rallies to the aid of others who are suffering.

While it’s too early to know specifically what could have been done to prevent this senseless shooting, what we do know is it is past time for City Hall to really rally its support for South Park. What I do is commit to you in my capacity as representative of our community to continue to keep the health, safety and welfare of my South Park constituents at the forefront. As a Councilmember, the formal scope of my powers doesn’t necessarily extend beyond legislation and budget decisions. But it does afford me a chance to secure resources and services for all of us, and to advocate for the community.

I’ve been able to advocate for the residents of South Park, only because of the efforts that many of you have made to engage with my office.  Over the last two years my staff and I have worked on South Park issues ranging from:

  • Securing a dedicated SPD bike beat
  • Securing a mobile precinct unit for South Park
  • Closing several residential and commercial nuisance property cases while continuing to work on others
  • Advocating for the clients of the South Park Information and Referral Center
  • Supporting efforts to do community-based planning for the South Park Neighborhood Center
  • Supporting superfund remediation efforts for the Duwamish
  • Pushing to break ground on the long-delayed SPU Pump Station project to improve the environment where you live
  • Working to improve the lighting on the streets, in alleys, and recreation areas
  • Helping the Duwamish Valley Affordable Housing Coalition, to support their capacity building to undertake anti-displacement work in the Duwamish Valley
  • Proposed and secured funding for the South Park Family Service Center
  • Helped ensure the future of Duwamish Waterway Park and the continued development into a park space
  • 36.5 hours of open office hours in South Park to hear from you
  • South Park Public Safety Task Force (see below)

Let’s continue our efforts to work with the precinct officers to maintain their presence, engaging the crime prevention coordinators to help SPD to be more proactive, fighting for greater support for youth engagement and violence prevention services, mental health funding, and other services that help the people that need it most, and implementing and funding the recommendations from the community-driven South Park Public Safety Task Force. The Council, in the budget process, secured $600,000 for implementation. The Executive has committed to reprioritizing funds to help implement some others.

Over the last couple of days, I’ve been in touch with the Mayor’s Office, Chief Carmen Best, and City departments. Below is an update on the City’s work to implement the recommendations of the South Park Public Safety Task Force. Please click here for an update on the City’s work to implement the recommendations of the South Park Public Safety Task Force. Thanks to the Mayor’s Office and the Department of Neighborhoods (DON) for their work in coordinating this update; DON is assigning a point person to make sure these items keep moving forward.

I’ll see you at the vigil tonight.


Second West Seattle Tree Cutting Settlement

On Monday, the City Attorney announced a settlement of $360,000 for a second tree cutting lawsuit stemming from the illegal cutting of 153 trees on public property in the East Admiral area in early 2016.  The first lawsuit was settled in 2017 for $440,000. Remediation work is underway, including saplings that were planted within the last week.

Saplings now adorn a hillside where the trees once stood, though it will be decades before our West Seattle greenbelt is truly restored.  Thank you to City Attorney Holmes and his team for securing this $360,000 settlement, in addition to the $440,000 settlement from last spring; I expect these clear consequences will make someone think twice before considering arboricide in the future.  I’m glad the funds will be going to restore this greenbelt, and other greenbelts in Seattle.

Here’s a link to the City Attorney’s announcement. Parks and Recreation Interim Superintendent Williams notes that over 620 trees have been planted, and over 5,500 native plants overall.

Trees in our greenbelts are precious natural resources that maintain soil stability, thus lessening the risk of landslides, and maintain air quality by absorbing carbon.

Earlier, the King County Prosecutor opted not to file felony criminal changes; the City Attorney has jurisdiction over lesser charges, i.e. misdemeanors.


Today’s Amazon Meeting

Later today some of my colleagues and I are attending what has been referred to as the “Amazon Reset Meeting,” along with a number of other policy makers and opinion leaders in Seattle. I think of it as an opportunity for King County Councilmembers, State Legislators, Governor’s staff, School Board members, Seattle College Presidents, and other attendees to set the terms for what we as a City believe is important for a good corporate partner that is employing a larger and larger portion of our workforce.

I’ve not been shy about calling for Amazon to pay more attention to its labor practices. I sent this letter last year and worked to get the famous “reset letter” to also include these same critical issues.

These are the topics on Amazon’s agenda today:

  • Providing Affordability and Opportunity in Seattle
  • Transportation and Mobility
  • Seattle Business Environment
  • Education and the Future of Work

It’s important for Amazon to understand the elected leaders in this region highly value workers’ rights, and that in seeking a better relationship with Amazon will not look the other way when workers are misclassified as contract employees and labor rights are denied.   I also want to ensure that union represented workers in markets that Amazon has and is acquiring are secure in their employment futures.

With that in mind I will continue to advocate for many of the issues important to Amazon workers:  not receiving minimum wage, overtime, rest breaks, paid sick leave, unemployment insurance, and other benefits.  Resolving these problems for the workers who keep Amazon running – and others struggling to make it in our City — is critical for the high cost of living in Seattle.

Finally, I want to ensure the understanding that preemption bills in the State Legislature that would limit Seattle’s ability to enact strong labor laws are not acceptable to many City of Seattle lawmakers.


How Will Sound Transit Develop a Preferred Alternative for West Seattle Light Rail?

Next Tuesday, February 13th Sound Transit will host the first open house for light rail to West Seattle. This is part of the “early scoping” period from February 2 to March 5, which starts the formal process to develop the route light rail will travel from Downtown to West Seattle.

It’s vital to get involved and put forward proposals for the light rail route as early as possible. Suggestions from the public will inform what gets considered through the three-tiered formal decision making process for developing the preferred alternative for the light rail route for the West Seattle and Ballard extensions.

The first layer is the Stakeholder Advisory Group, which began meeting on February 8; the full membership roster was announced earlier this week. They will make recommendations for alternatives to study, and for a preferred alternative. They are advisory to the Elected Leadership Group.

The Elected Leadership Group will recommend a preferred alternative for consideration by the Sound Transit Board of Directors based on input of the Stakeholder Advisory Group, the public, and the voter-approved project scope, schedule and budget. The first meeting was in January.

Members of the Stakeholder Advisory Group come from neighborhoods along the entire line, from West Seattle, SODO, Downtown, South Lake Union, Uptown (Lower Queen Anne), Interbay, and Ballard. Members of the Elected Leadership Group represent all those areas as well (I serve on it as the Councilmember representing West Seattle); Snohomish County Executive Somers, Chair of the Sound Transit Board, is also a member.

The Sound Transit Board will make the final decision to adopt a preferred alternative. This board consists of elected officials from throughout the Sound Transit district in Snohomish, King and Pierce Counties.

Proposals from the public will inform the decisions made by each of the three layers of decision making. Here’s Sound Transit’s Community Engagement Guide, which includes additional information about how to get involved. More information is available at the Sound Transit document archive and the project website.

Here’s a link to a document that shows the decision making process and the schedule flow; I’ve asked Sound Transit to update the document to clarify that the Neighborhood Forums listed in the schedule are tied to the recommendations schedule of the three formal groups.

Share


Fauntleroy Boulevard Update; Feb. 13 Open House – Light Rail to West Seattle; West Seattle Chamber Meeting; Extreme Rainstorms; Pedestrian Master Plan; Movie Screening: Harvest of Empire

February 2nd, 2018


Fauntleroy Boulevard Project Update

SDOT has announced that they are putting the Fauntleroy Boulevard Project on hold; their announcement says:

“Based on community input and continued coordination with Sound Transit, we are putting construction of the Fauntleroy Boulevard Project on hold. This decision responds to community concerns about prolonged construction and effective use of taxpayer dollars.

Sound Transit’s current proposed route for the voter-approved West Seattle Light Rail Extension includes an elevated rail line on Fauntleroy Way. If built after the Fauntleroy Boulevard Project, there is the possibility that Fauntleroy improvements would need to be removed and potentially rebuilt.”

I raised the issue of potential overlaps in a May letter to Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff. I appreciate SDOT and Sound Transit coordinating to resolve this obvious potential conflict and potential waste of public dollars. Moving forward I have questions about a. use of levy funds in West Seattle, b. whether there are smaller short-term improvements that can be made, and c. the fulfillment of north-south bicycle access across the peninsula.

Some have asked if the project is being delayed or if it has been cancelled.  Here’s where things stand.  We’re working to ensure that, if Sound Transit builds the representative alignment through Fauntleroy Way, then Sound Transit will be responsible, on their dime, for rebuilding to project-level standards if they dig up the same portion of the street.  Those standards, as currently defined by SDOT Director’s Rule, are very similar to the plans for the Fauntleroy Boulevard Project, minus the bike lanes.  If Sound Transit, on the other hand, chooses a different alignment, then SDOT can still move forward with the Fauntleroy Boulevard Project.  Under that scenario, if SDOT determines that there are increased costs as a result of cost escalation due to the delay, then we’ll work to see that Sound Transit picks up those extra costs.  Sound Transit won’t make final alignment decisions until April 2019, so in the meantime, we need to be working to prepare for a possible reallocation of levy dollars, based on what we have heard and will hear from the community about West Seattle’s transportation priorities.

 


Mark Your Calendars – Sound Transit Light Rail to West Seattle Open House February 13

As long as we’re on the topic of Sound Transit, it’s important to note that Sound Transit will hold its West Seattle light rail project kickoff open house on Tuesday, February 13, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Alki Masonic Center at 4736 40th Avenue SW.

This meeting is a first opportunity to help identify alternatives for potential routes and station locations. Sound Transit will make a brief presentation 15 minutes after the start of the meeting.

Sound Transit will also be holding open houses in Ballard on February 15, and Downtown on February 20.  They will be hosting an online open house from February 12 to March 5.

Why is starting and participating in the public process important now if we won’t even have a “preferred alternative” for light rail from West Seattle to Ballard until April, 2019?   In meeting this goal set in an agreement the Council passed in December we can build light rail faster than previous light rail lines. With the April 2019 target, it’s important to get involved and bring forward all proposals and options as early as possible. Only if we do so, can we complete environmental review by 2022, utility work in 2024, final design through 2025, with construction and testing through 2030.

Sound Transit’s starting point for light rail to West Seattle, and for Ballard, is the “representative alignment” included in the ST3 plan. The representative alignment included in the ballot measure includes a high-level bridge across the Duwamish, an elevated alignment, and three stations in West Seattle Delridge, Avalon, and Alaska Junction.  A Sound Transit presentation from January 4 shows an aerial view of the representative alignment.

The West Seattle line description notes “The elements included in this representative project will be refined during future phases of project development and are subject to change.” The project kickoff is your chance to weigh in early.

West Seattle Light Rail Extension


West Seattle Chamber Annual Meeting

Last week I attended the West Seattle Chamber Annual Meeting luncheon.  Though I can’t use public resources to promote the caterer, I can say unequivocally that the food was exceptional!  Pete Spaulding, former Vice-Chair and Government Advocacy Chair, is now leading the organization as West Seattle Chamber Board of Directors Chair.    Congratulations to Pete; I know that he will do a great job.

Lynn Dennis, the West Seattle Chamber CEO reviewed the accomplishments for the year which included (but are not limited to):

  • Increasing, to more than 200, the membership of the Chamber
  • Working with the West Seattle Junction Association, WorkSource, the Family Resource Center at Neighborhood House High Point, and the Seattle Housing Authority to organize a West Seattle Job Fair. People were hired on the spot!
  • Partnering with North Delridge business owners and the Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association on a survey of needs and priorities to develop a “shared Delridge economic development vision.”

The West Seattle Chamber of Commerce has been around since 1923.  It works to support economic growth based upon an understanding that “when our entire community thrives– when neighbors care about neighbors, people shop and eat local, and individuals participate in advocacy and service” that’s when business also thrives.


SPU Study Shows an Increase in Extreme Rainstorms

Seattle Public Utilities recently released a study showing that, since 2003, extreme rainstorms in Seattle have increased by 30%. The data was collected using SPU-owned rain gauges and combined with observations from the National Weather Service.

The City has a combined sewer system that handles both stormwater and wastewater. Therefore, large rain events can overflow the capacity of the system which causes combined sewer overflows (CSOs). This SPU study is helpful so that the Utility can accurately plan new stormwater infrastructure that will better control CSOs. Controlling our CSOs is important because, not only do we want to maintain clean waterways, but the Clean Water Act, passed by Congress in 1972, requires that government ensure that CSOs occur no more than once per outfall per year.

The increase observed by SPU in the newly released study is consistent with national research on climate change and provides additional evidence for the need for increased stormwater infrastructure as well as other innovations to combat climate change.


Pedestrian Master Plan 2018-2022 Implementation Plan and Progress Report

Last June the Council approved a resolution to adopt an updated Pedestrian Master Plan, the first update since 2009. A high priority of mine in the Council resolution was to require a 5-year implementation plan, which has been done for the Bicycle Master Plan for a number of years. Councilmember O’Brien’s resolution included this requirement.

In December SDOT published the Pedestrian Master Plan 2018-2022 Implementation Plan and Progress Report.  It lists projects completed in 2016/2017, projects planned annually from 2018 to 2022, project selection framework, scoring for project evaluations, and a priority investment network.

A presentation heard in the Transportation Committee has a high-level summary.

Seattle has a Pedestrian Advisory Board, charged with advising the Mayor and Council and departments on pedestrian matters; there’s a link to apply in case you’re interested.


Movie Screening: Harvest of Empire

harvest of empire, movie

This Saturday, February 3, Hate Free Delridge and West Seattle Meaningful Movies will be screening Harvest of Empire the Untold Story of Latinos in America, based on a book from Juan González which considers the real-life events and conditions of Latinx families who left their home to come to the US. The film examines the linkage between US intervention in Latin America and the immigration patterns that comprehensive immigration reform public policy efforts seek to address today.  It is recommended for high school ages and up due to some graphic violence.  The screening will be at High Point Neighborhood House (6400 Sylvan Way SW). Doors open at 6:30pm with show time at 7pm.  A facilitated discussion will occur after the film. There is no charge, but donations are welcome.

Share


Crescent-Hamm Building Historic Preservation; Stormwater Investments Coming for Longfellow Creek; MHA Committee Established

January 26th, 2018


Crescent-Hamm Building Historic Preservation

As Seattle grows, it’s critically important to maintain connections to our past. Seattle’s Historic Preservation program, in effect since 1973, has designated more than 450 sites as landmarks, helping us to preserve our heritage.

On Monday, the Full Council will vote to complete the landmark designation process for the Crescent-Hamm Building in the Alaska Junction. The Finance and Neighborhoods Committee voted to approve the legislation earlier this week.

The Crescent-Hamm Building was completed in 1926, and is located on the northwest corner of Alaska and California. It’s the location of Easy Street Records and other businesses.

The Landmarks Preservation Board earlier approved the designation as a historic landmark in February 2017 and found that it met three of the six criteria for landmark status (only one is needed for landmark status):

  • It is associated in a significant way with a significant aspect of the cultural, political, or economic heritage of the community, City, state or nation;
  • It embodies the distinctive visible characteristics of an architectural style, or period, or of a method of construction;
  • Because of its prominence of spatial location, contrasts of siting, age, or scale, it is an easily identifiable visual feature of its neighborhood or the City and contributes to the distinctive quality or identity of such neighborhood or the City.

The Council’s vote will impose controls on the exterior of the building, the final step in the landmarks process. Here’s a link to the report of the Landmarks Preservation Board.

The Council earlier voted to approve landmark status for the Campbell Building in December, across the street. Both nominations came thanks to the work of the Southwest Seattle Historical Study Group, a collaboration of the SW Seattle Historical Society, SW District Council, West Seattle Junction Association, the Junction  Association (JuNO), and ArtsWest.

Many thanks to all of them for their work to help preserve our heritage in West Seattle!


Green Stormwater Infrastructure Program Investments for Longfellow Creek Coming

Green stormwater infrastructure helps capture and clean polluted water runoff from roads, roofs, parking lots and other sources. When it rains, water picks up oil, greases, metal and other pollution as it makes its way back to our rivers, lakes and ultimately the Puget Sound. This pollution is toxic to the wildlife in our streams. As such, in 2013, the Council and Mayor directed departments to work together to manage a goal of 700 million gallons of stormwater runoff using green infrastructure, this is part of the Consent Decree we entered into with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the State Department of Ecology to reduce sewer overflows into Seattle’s water bodies. Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) had initially allocated $30 million to this end. However, during last year’s Strategic Business Plan update the Council approved an additional $35 million over the next six-years.Rain wise installations map

The Utility is tackling this issue in a number of ways. Many of you may have seen signs around your neighborhood for the RainWise program. This program, for eligible customers, provides a possible rebate of up to $5,000 for the installation of a rain garden or cistern. These solutions clean the water before it carries the pollutants to our waterways preventing the toxins from harming our wildlife. If you’re interested in the program and would like to see if you’re eligible, please go here.

In addition to the smaller scale RainWise program, SPU is partnering with sister agencies to lower costs and install “bioretention” along many of our street blocks within Seattle’s three major watersheds: Longfellow Creek, Thornton Creek, and Pipers Creek. Specifically, Longfellow Creek will begin the design phase of these bioretention areas this year and construction is set to begin in 2019.

Finally, SPU is working to leverage redevelopment to lower costs while updating green infrastructure. They are working with the Office of Planning and Community Development to prioritize urban villages based on equity, growth, and density to improve drainage, water quality and livability in the most rapidly growing areas. While I am supportive of this partnership and the outcomes, it is important to note that SPU recognizes that these types of improvements, by making these communities more livable and desirable to higher -income individuals, have the potential to exacerbate displacement of low-income individuals and communities of color. We need to ensure that we couple these investments with citywide anti-displacement strategies.

If you’d like to learn more, you can see SPU’s presentation here, and watch it here.


Select Full Council Committee on MHA Established

On January 22, 2018 Council President Bruce Harrell established the 2018 Select Committee on Citywide Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA).  The committee was formed to begin the next steps to consider implementation of the citywide MHA including changes to land use regulations, zoning designations, comprehensive plan language and maps, neighborhood plan policies and changes to Urban Village boundaries.

The committee will also be considering development standards for all multifamily and commercial areas throughout the city.  The Council, in its MHA framework legislation passed in 2016, also signaled its intent to, in July of this year, and before the Council votes on the Citywide MHA zoning legislation, revisit mandatory developer housing affordability obligations that are required for all developments in areas receiving additional building capacity under proposed rezones.

Historic districts and the areas already rezoned will be excluded from these discussions as the rezones in these areas have already been voted on by City Council.  The City has completed rezoning in the University District, Downtown, South Lake Union, Chinatown/International District, the 23rd-Union-Jackson Urban Village and the Uptown Urban Village.

The first meeting of the Select Committee on Citywide MHA will be Monday January 29, 2018 in council chambers.

In this initial meeting we will be reviewing a short history of MHA as well as the MHA principles and maps.  There will be up to 20 minutes of public comment at the end of the meeting. For more information about District 1 MHA engagement opportunities please see my January 5th post on the issue.

 

 

Share


Taking Action on Sexual Harassment; California and Orchard Drainage Issue; In-District Office Hours

January 19th, 2018


Taking Action on Sexual Harassment

On Friday January 12th, I wrote to Mayor Jenny A. Durkan thanking her for her leadership on sexual harassment issues and asking her to work with me to look at the impact of sexual harassment on our city and to work together to ensure that every person is free to live and work in Seattle free from the impacts of gender-based violence.

In my letter to Mayor Durkan I outlined four actions moving forward.

  1. Statute of Limitations on Reporting Sexual Harassment

Recently a constituent contacted my office because she had tried to file a sexual harassment claim with the Seattle Office of Civil Rights (SOCR) only to find out that the harassment she experienced happened before the 180-day statute of limitations outlined in the Seattle Municipal Code. It often takes time for people to come forward because of shame, fear of reprisals, denial, history of prior sexual violence, and lack of information about what constitutes sexual harassment and how to report it.  As the chair of the Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development and Arts Committee, I’ll be working with SOCR to examine how the current statute of limitations impacts people experiencing sexual harassment.

In addition, we know that people with experiences of sexual harassment are more likely to come forward when we clearly define the associated behavior.  In working on legislation to address this issue it is also my hope to provide a clearer definition of sexual harassment than what is currently in the Seattle Municipal Code.

I’m consulting with the City Attorney’s Office and drafting legislation to address this issue.  This also involves working with the SOCR and subject matter experts to explore best practices and to help develop a stronger statute and to avoid any unintended consequences when making these changes.

Though my focus is on civil complaints against sexual harassment because this is the area where the city government has jurisdiction, it’s important to recognize that the State Legislature has proposed House Bill 1155 that would eliminate the statute of limitations for felony sex crimes.

  1. Employee Climate Survey

It’s important that in doing this work, we get our own house in order.  We live in a society with extremely high rates of gender-based violence. According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) 1 in 3 women and nearly 1 in 6 men have experienced sexual violence at some point in their lives.   The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reports receiving 12,000 allegations of sex-based harassment each year.  Eighty-three percent of the complainants come from female employees.  As with other forms of gender-based violence we know that many people experiencing such harassment never tell anyone, as such the 12,000 allegations are likely a vast underreporting in comparison to the true impact this issue has on our communities.

In working to create a safe and welcoming climate for all employees I have asked Mayor Durkan to work with me to create an Employee Climate Survey.  Many people who experience harassment know something is not right long before they have the words to describe their experiences or the tools to take action.   According to the EEOC Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace, “The least common response to harassment is to take some formal action-either to report the harassment internally or file a formal legal complaint.”

We know that City employees want to come forward to tell their stories.  Recently a group of City employees has formed called the Silence Breakers.  See the coverage of their efforts here at Crosscut.  It is my hope that by administering an employee climate survey we can learn more both about how City employees perceive their work cultures and their comfortability in reporting inappropriate or dangerous behavior.

  1. Human Resource Review and Division Director Survey

I have asked the Executive to complete a comprehensive review of each individual human resource division responsible for addressing sexual harassment related issues within each of the executive departments and to collaborate in designing a Human Resource Division Directors’ Survey.  In making this request of the Executive I am also seeking the Legislative Department’s participation as well.

As we address this issue it’s important to ensure that the City of Seattle, and all its departments, model the practices we are working to create.   In looking deeper into the issue of sexual harassment it is likely that new information will come forward.  This is not a sign of failure.  In a climate where gender-based violence is prevalent, where reporting statistics are so low and where we haven’t, as a city, taken a comprehensive look at our anti-harassment provisions in over 20 years, it’s likely that there are experiences we haven’t yet heard.  This exploration is an opportunity for us to ensure that moving forward, we are all working together to create a climate where sexual harassment is not tolerated and that when employees do experience harassment it is dealt with in a respectful, appropriate, and efficient manner.

  1. Explore HR innovations in sexual harassment trainings

There was a time that people received short anti-harassment trainings that amounted to telling women to brush it off and telling men how to adjust their behavior to mitigate liability; that is if they received any training at all. According to the EEOC, traditional sexual harassment trainings have a limited efficacy because they are too focused on avoiding liability, rather than addressing the root of the problem.

There have been important innovations in anti-harassment trainings.  Bystander training is one of the innovations. The hallmarks of bystander training include:

  • Raising awareness of helping behaviors
  • Increasing motivation to address harmful or unjust situations
  • Developing skills and confidence when responding to problems
  • Ensure the safety and well-being of self and others

At a time in our history when our nation’s leader promotes individualism at the expense of caring for one another, our learning how to safely stand up in solidarity when anybody in our community is targeted can help us become our best selves.  Here is an article from the Seattle Times on Sunday about bystander training done by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, “America’s largest Muslim civil rights group.”

 


California and Orchard Drainage Issue

picture of drainage issue on california and orchard

Last October several Gatewood neighborhood residents contacted me about the water collection located at California Ave SW and SW Orchard St.  They had already contacted Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) without resolution of the problem. The water that seeped onto the sidewalk and roadway would freeze in the winter. My staff and I reached out to SPU and the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) to ask if a solution could be found.

The new year brought good news, and I was notified two weeks ago that SPU was able to fix this problem. You may have already learned this since the work was actually completed shortly before the new year. Drainage and Wastewater operations staff at SPU discovered an abandoned storm water pipe.  This allowed SPU to correct the problem of the water seepage because that they have been able to use the abandoned storm water pipe as a connection to newly route the water away from the sidewalk and street surface.

I want to thank everyone for their continued advocacy in order to resolve this issue.  My efforts would not have been as effective without your voices demonstrating to SPU that the water accumulation was an issue of concern. The observations of residents in this area monitoring the occurrence of this accumulation of water was critical to the identification of a solution.

 


In-District Office Hours

On January 26, I will be at the Southwest Neighborhood Service Center (2801 SW Thistle St) from 2:00p.m. – 6:45p.m. Please be sure to arrive no later than 6:30 pm, 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, I am working to put together a full list of in-district office hours available for 2018 by the end of this month. When those are available I will include them in my emails as well as post them on my website here.

Share


Progressive Revenue Task Force; Your Voice, Your Choice; Response to Marijuana Decision; Waste-Free Communities Grant Now Open

January 12th, 2018


Progressive Revenue Task Force

Thursday January 4, 2018 was the first meeting of the Progressive Revenue Task Force.  The task force was established by Resolution 31782, passed during the November Budget discussion soon after a narrow majority of Councilmembers voted against the progressive Employee Hours Tax (EHT) that would have funded $13 million in programs serving homeless people as well as creating a new on-going revenue stream that we could bond against – in order to invest nearly $50 million more each year (over and above the annual Housing Levy funds) to build 2000 additional new units of affordable housing.

Though they voted “no,” on that version of an Employee Hours Tax, at the same time a majority of Councilmembers sent a clear signal supporting future passage of a progressive EHT that would generate between $25 million and $75 million in revenue per year.  The resolution outlined a scope of work for the task force including:

  1. Explore potential new progressive revenue sources, including an Employee Hours Tax (EHT)
  2. Identify investments to be paid for using those progressive revenue sources that would assist people who are homeless or at high risk of becoming homeless in obtaining and retaining stable housing

There are four task force co-chairs; two City Council chairs and two community co-chairs.  Councilmember Gonzalez and I co-chair the task force with community co-chairs: Progress Alliance of Washington Program Director and former Councilmember Kirsten Harris-Talley and Homesight Executive Director Tony To.

The first meeting of the task force was an opportunity to meet the task force members, introduce the co-chairs and discuss and approve a work plan.  The task force will be meeting 4 more times.  The final meeting will be March 1, when the task force will review the draft report based on their recommendations and finalize it.  The next Progressive Revenue Task Force meeting will be Thursday January 18th.  The task force meetings are open to the public and future meetings will be recorded by the Seattle Channel.  You can find information about the time and location of task force meetings on the City Council’s website calendar page.


Your Voice, Your Choice Parks and Streets: Idea Collection

The Department of Neighborhoods (DON) is accepting proposals for the Your Voice, Your Choice Parks and Streets grant program, through February 2.

A project is eligible if it benefits the public, is a physical or capital improvement project in Seattle’s parks or streets, and does not exceed $90,000.

Eligible projects include:

  • Streets: curb bulbs, flashing beacons, low cost sidewalks, low cost curbing, median pedestrian crossings, speed humps, curb ramps, traffic circles, and asphalt paths;
  • Parks: accessible picnic tables, park benches, park entrances, trail improvements, equipment improvements, and minor structural improvements

Here’s a link to visual examples of eligible projects; you can submit ideas here.

The revised budget balancing package I proposed during the budget process added an additional $1 million in funding, proposed by former Councilmember Kirsten Harris-Talley, increasing the total 2018 funding available to $3 million.

Public voting will take place from June 16 to July 16.

Here’s a link to apply to serve on the Steering Committee; applications are due by January 19 at 6 p.m.

DON indicated that some projects submitted but not funded in 2017 will be carried over for consideration in 2018. The Citywide map of these projects is here. There are two links for District 1; here’s the southern D1 map, and the northern D1 map.

DON published a review of the 2017 process and plans for 2018, available here. You can contact program coordinator Kraig.Cook@seattle.gov at DON for any questions.


Statement in Response to Attorney General Sessions’ Marijuana Decision

Last week, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced his intent to change the federal government’s approach to legalized marijuana. As chair of the Council’s committee on issues related to economic development, I released the following statement:

“Seattle, with critical vision and leadership from the cannabis industry, has approached marijuana legalization diligently and responsibly, and developed thoughtful and reasonable City regulations for how marijuana establishments would operate in our communities.  We barred dispensaries from opening near schools, libraries, parks, child care centers, or playgrounds recognizing the federal government’s interest in maintaining public safety and distancing businesses from children.  Critical to this successful outcome has been the creation of cannabis trade organizations that, very early on, promoted good business practices with community safety and business responsibility as central to their mission.

“As a city where marijuana growers and retailers are good community partners, and contribute to economic development, the federal government’s new approach is both alarming and disappointing, especially when there are much more significant issues to address.

“Seattle currently hosts approximately 42 retail locations, and dozens of related businesses. Our City has been allocated $569,891 in 2018 tax proceeds due to marijuana sales. Statewide, marijuana revenues support substance abuse programs, community health centers, the state’s portion of Medicaid, dropout prevention programs, and many other priorities. Minimizing the bad, old underground cannabis market has made our communities safer.  I hope the Western Washington United States Attorney recognizes that ending or scaling back marijuana legalization in Washington would have far more reaching implications than one might think.”


Waste-Free Communities Grant Now Open

Seattle Public Utilities is accepting applications through February 23, for the new “Waste-Free Communities Matching Grant.” This grant focus is community based projects that prevent waste by using less, reusing items, and sharing or donating items. The total fund is $100,000 to be awarded in 2018-2019.

If you’re a non-profit, business, community group, or school interested in reducing waste you should consider applying. Grants can range from $2,000 to $15,000. The application deadline is February 23, and notices of decisions will be sent in April. If you’re interested, go here to apply, and send me an email about your application too!

Share


Schmitz Park Property Acquisition; New Parking Regulations Coming; Delridge H Line public meetings; Apply for the Stakeholder Advisory Group; Sign Up for Alert Seattle; MHA District 1 Open House and Public Comment Opportunities; University District Small Business Impact Study

January 5th, 2018

Schmitz Park Property Acquisition

On Monday, years of work finally came to fruition. It was December 2015, just a week after my election was certified, and before I took office when I toured Bruce Stotler’s property on the southeast edge of Schmitz Park. I was joined by the Southwest Historical Society and Forterra (a land conservation non-profit).  Forterra was interested in helping to preserve the property and potentially purchase it because, at the time, the Parks Department was not.

However, due to the persistence and hard work of many people, the Parks Department became convinced that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

The Parks Department will purchase the 5,000-square foot plot for $225,000, which is less than half of its assessed value of $473,000. The funds will come from the 2008 levy which are mainly used to support property acquisition, capital expansion, development, and renovation of Seattle Parks and Parks facilities. The purchase will also use an innovative policy called the “life-estate agreement” which will allow Bruce to remain in his home.

I want to thank Bruce first for his generosity which will positively impact Schmitz Park and the surrounding community for decades. I also want to thank everyone else who helped make Bruce’s dream come true; including former Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, Vicki Schmitz-Block, Nancy Sorensen, Forterra, the Southwest Historical Society, former Parks Superintendent Jesús Aguirre, Chip Nevins with the Parks Department, and my staff Alex Clardy.

 

New Parking Regulations Coming

Since passing legislation in 2012 the City has not required parking for residential development in urban villages, when the multifamily development is located within 1320 feet (about ¼ mile) from a stop with frequent transit service.  You can find maps of urban villages here.

In 2015, the Council passed Ordinance 124608, which specifically requested an analysis of the City’s vehicle and bicycle parking requirements for residential uses, here is the report.  I asked several follow up questions to which I received a response in late October, you can see the questions and answers here.

The City is now taking up new neighborhood parking legislation and, among other things, changing its definition of “Frequent Transit Service.”  In 2015, I expressed my concern with how the City was implementing the ordinance regarding parking exemptions in frequent transit areas.  I sent a letter to the Hearing Examiner supporting an appeal of a project in West Seattle.  My specific concern is that if the City averages headways across all routes that pick up at a particular bus stop in order to determine Frequent Transit Service that doesn’t mean that this stop is actually providing frequent transportation to where a person needs to go. The concept of Frequent Transit Service is linked to the idea that if a person has a bus near their home that comes often, and goes where they regularly need to go, then they may be less likely to have a car.  There are 2 principles to test here.  The first is testing the principle that being “more likely to take transit” also means that someone is less likely to have a car that they need to park.  The second issue is, will a person be more likely to take transit (and less likely to have a car if principle 1 is true) if one has access to many buses that, on average come every 15 minutes, but the bus that is needed for a daily commute comes less frequently?

At the meeting this week Council Central Staff reported that the accepted average for the cost of creating below-grade parking is $35,000 per space, plus $300 a month in operational costs.  I’m not convinced that reducing the cost to developers to provide these spaces will result in reduced costs for renters and have asked how rental costs differ between developments with and without on-site parking.  This kind of data is apparently not available in Seattle.

Additionally, the legislation would uncouple parking costs from rent.  This would allow renters the ability to opt out of paying a monthly fee for a parking space.  I certainly support finding ways for renters to reduce their living expenses, but I am concerned that the requirement of uncoupling parking costs from rent, without an obligation for a tenant to demonstrate that they do not own a vehicle, may incentivize more people to use limited on-street parking spaces instead of using the parking provided onsite.

More information on the proposed legislation is available here, and recommendations from the Mayor to the City Council are available here.

On Wednesday, in Councilmember Johnson’s Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee, we had the initial discussion about the legislation the Council will take up. A process was outlined in that committee which includes a Public Hearing that will likely be in February and a potential vote on final legislation in March. You can stay up-to-date by signing up for committee agenda’s here.

 

Delridge H Line public meetings

In January, King County Metro will be hosting public meetings about the RapidRide H Line, as part of its plans to convert Bus Route 120 to a Rapid Ride line in 2020. There will be three meetings for the route, which travels through Burien, White Center, Westwood Village, Delridge, then on to Downtown:

 

The meeting in West Seattle will be on Wednesday, January 17, at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center (4408 Delridge Way SW). The format will be an open house with Metro and SDOT from 5-6:30 p.m. Following that at 7 p.m. will be a meeting with the Delridge District Council beginning at 7 p.m., to review and provide input on design elements and implementation. All are welcome.

 

The two other meetings will be Wednesday, January 10, 5-8 p.m., Burien Community Center, Shorewood Room (147600 6th Avenue SW, Burien), and Thursday, January 11, 5-8 p.m., Mount View Elementary School (10811 12th Avenue SW in White Center).

Metro also has a H Line Online Open House and survey, available here.

The goals of Rapid Ride are:

  • Greater frequency and reliability for each commutes downtown and cross-town as well as travel within the neighborhood.
  • Additional service on nights and weekend.
  • Improvements for sidewalks, street crossings, and paths for getting to stops for pedestrians and bikes, and for those with limited mobility.

More information is available at Metro’s H Ride webpage.

 

Apply for the Stakeholder Advisory Group for West Seattle and Ballard Light Rail

Sound Transit is seeking community members to serve on the West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions Stakeholder Advisory Group.

The Stakeholder Advisory Group will provide a forum for community members to inform the development of alternatives for the West Seattle and Ballard light rail projects. Advisory group members will work through project issues and build consensus around key project decisions, highlight specific issues and trade-offs in the corridor, make recommendations to help identify alternatives to study during environmental review, and identify a preferred alternative.

You can apply here. The link includes information about and what they’d like in members (e.g. understanding public transportation; understanding one or more of the affected communities along the corridor; willingness to act as a community ambassador and share information with community members).

The deadline to apply is January 22 at 5 p.m. The Advisory Group will meet monthly beginning in February, through Spring 2019.

Sound Transit’s goal is for the Sound Transit Board to identify a Preferred Alternative in April 2019. Here’s a chart showing where the work of the Stakeholder Advisory Group fits in that timeline. As District 1 representative, I am serving on the Elected Leadership Group, which met for the first time yesterday; here’s a link to materials.  The Stakeholder Advisory Group will make recommendations to the Elected Leadership Group; the Elected Leadership Group will make recommendations to the Sound Transit Board of Directors.

 

Sign Up for Alert Seattle

Please help the Seattle Office of Emergency Management to increase the number of people signed up for Alert Seattle.  Their goal is signing up 10,000 more people.  You can sign up here.

What is Alert Seattle?  Alert Seattle is the official emergency notification system used by the City of Seattle to communicate with city customers and residents during emergencies. The system was launched in August of 2015 and currently there are over 28,000 people signed up to receive alerts via text, email, and phone. While 28,000 is a good start, it represents only about 4% of the total population of the city.

In 2017, Alert Seattle was used on multiple occasions to communicate emergency information to the public, including by the Seattle Fire Department to alert residents of a gas leak, and the Seattle Police Department to alert residents to stay out of an area downtown impacted by ongoing police operations and the pursuit of an armed individual. Each of these notifications reached approximately 25,000 individuals. Increasing the number of people signed up for the system, means more people will have access to this type of important emergency information. In addition to emergency alerts, people signing up can also choose from a menu of community notifications regarding traffic and utility disruptions, severe weather, and emergency preparedness. The system is not only intended for those who live in the city, but also those people from throughout the region that come here on a daily basis for work, school, shopping, entertainment, and other activities.

 

Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) District 1 Open House and Public Comment Opportunities

Last year the Full Council adopted MHA for each the University District,  Downtown & South Lake Union; 23rd and Union-Jackson Residential Urban Village, the Chinatown International District and Uptown. The Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) program requires all developers in urban villages to contribute to affordable housing by either building it onsite or paying into a City fund for affordable housing. The city plans to develop 6,000 affordable units with the implementation of the MHA program.

This year the City Council will form a Committee of the Whole to review the proposed Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) Legislation.  This legislation has been in development by the Executive for the last couple years and was finally proposed to the City Council in late 2017.  There will be two new opportunities in District 1 to learn more about and give public comment on MHA. First is an open house on Wednesday May 9, 2018 at Louisa Boren K-8 (5950 Delridge Way SW Seattle, WA 98106).  The open house will be an opportunity to review the proposed MHA zoning changes for the District 1 urban villages; Admiral, Morgan Junction, South Park, West Seattle Junction, Westwood-Highland Park.  Snacks and drinks will be provided and everyone is welcome to attend.

Additionally, the City Council will be hosting a public hearing on MHA in District 1 on Tuesday June 5, 2018 at Chief Sealth High School (2600 SW Thistle St, Seattle, WA 98126).  There will also be a citywide public comment session on June 25, 2018 at Seattle City Hall.

You can find the calendar of all Open Houses and Public Hearings here.

 

University District Small Business Impact Study

On Tuesday December 12, 2017, the Civil Rights, Economic Development and Arts Committee received a briefing on the University District Small Business Impact Study.  I was joined by former Councilmember Peter Steinbrueck, Rick McLaughlin of Big Time Brewery, Chris Peterson of Café Allegro and Pamela Jacob of Pam’s Kitchen, Michael Wells of the Office of Economic Development, and Aly Pennucci from Central Staff.  Last year, during the discussion of the University District Urban Design Framework  and the Mandatory Housing Affordability program in the University District and prior to passage of Ordinance 125267, the bill was amended to delay making any changes to the University District – or “The Ave” to allow more time for the small business owners on “The Ave” to complete this small business impact study and evaluate the impacts of these zoning changes on these businesses.

The study is prefaced with a quote from Jane Jacobs, in her famous book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, wrote: “The trust of a city street is formed over time from many, many little public sidewalk contacts. It grows out of people stopping by at the bar for a beer, getting advice from the grocer and giving advice to the newsstand man, comparing opinions with other customers at the bakery and nodding hello to the two boys drinking pop on the stoop…”

The study goes on to say how “Small, independent, owner-operated neighborhood businesses such as pubs and cafes, bakeries, pharmacies, galleries, retailers, makers, dance studios, professional services, and nonprofit organizations are what define neighborhood character and authenticity, and the foundation for vibrant, walkable, and sustainable communities.”

I was pleased that among recommendations related to displacement and gentrification, transportation, and zoning and development standards, and business services provided by the Office of Economic Development, the report included support for adopting “best practice anti-displacement measures to protect small businesses, such as San Francisco’s Legacy Business Program.”  A Seattle Legacy Business Program is an effort I have been pursuing for the last 2 years now.  You can read previous blog post about my work on legacy businesses here, here and here.

You can watch the full presentation and discussion here.  The full University District Small Business Vulnerability Study can be found here.

Share


Happy 2018! And a Look Back on 2017 Accomplishments

January 3rd, 2018

Happy New year from Lisa and Staff, and a look back on progress in 2017

Councilmember Lisa Herbold's Staff

Happy holidays and new year from Councilmember Herbold’s Office!

Contents

 

PART 1 // D1 TRANSPORTATION UPDATES


Sound Transit Light Rail

In May, Sound Transit announced a Draft System Expansion Implementation Plan for ST3, including a schedule for light rail to West Seattle, to implement the 2015 ballot measure.  The ST3 scope equals the first two Sound Transit measures (1996 and 2008) combined.

The starting point is the representative alignment in the ST3 plan approved by voters, including stations at Delridge, Avalon, and Alaska Junction, to “connect West Seattle to downtown Seattle via Alaska Street, Fauntleroy Way, Genesee Street, Delridge Avenue, Spokane Street, and the SODO Busway.”

Scheduled to be the first Seattle project completed in ST3, the timetable could involve utility work as early as 2024, in anticipation of construction beginning in 2025. This creates a potential conflict with the Fauntleroy Boulevard Project. In recognition of these challenges, I sent a letter to Sound Transit regarding these issues, and recently received a reply.

In December, the Council approved an agreement between the City of Seattle and Sound Transit to guide cooperation, with clarity to budget and schedule, and with specific points for City concurrence.

The agreement acknowledges “that suggestions to study additional alternatives are likely to emerge during the alternatives development process,” and “The target is to identify options to be investigated as soon as possible during alternatives development to support the goal of early and durable consensus on a preferred alternative.”  The agreement calls for the development of a preferred alternative, with city concurrence, during the 1st or 2nd quarter of 2019.

The Sound Transit Board approves the alignment.  An “Elected Leadership Group” will make recommendations to the Sound Transit Board regarding the alignment and other issues and will include other local elected officials.  As District 1 representative for West Seattle, I’ll be serving on this board.

 


Lander Street Overpass Funding

The Lander Street Overpass project over the railroad tracks in SODO has received $10 million in funding from the Port of Seattle. With this, the long-delayed project attained full funding.

In the City’s successful request for federal funding, I added language emphasizing that the daily closures result in “hindering access to Downtown from West Seattle and South Park.” The West Seattle Transportation Coalition cites a 45% reduction in north/south vehicle lanes over the last eight years through SODO. Closures due to rail traffic average 4.5 hours daily, affecting north/south traffic.

The schedule calls for construction in 2018, and completion in early 2020.  The cost estimate is $125 million, reduced from the $142 million figure listed in the SDOT 2017 capital budget, due to design revisions by SDOT.

 


Highland Park Roundabout

Highland Park Way SW is one of only a few east-west access points for the West Seattle peninsula.  Dating back to 1941, the community has advocated for pedestrian and motorist safety at this intersection, the cite of numerous recent accidents.

During last year’s Neighborhood Street Fund process the community proposed a traffic roundabout (as they had in 2013) at Highland Park Way SW and SW Holden Street.  It was the highest-rated project of the Delridge District Council, but, due to cost, wasn’t selected.

I supported funding for initial design work, and SDOT dedicated $200,000 of existing funds to advance design for a roundabout. Improving safety and alleviating congestion can also reduce the use of side streets, an increasing safety issue, especially during rush hour.

SDOT applied for funding through a state grant; including a letter of support signed by all nine Councilmembers.  Numerous other elected officials and West Seattle community groups showed their support as well. Unfortunately, the application wasn’t successful; we’ll be considering next steps early in 2018.

 


Mudslides

In February, after a mudslide closed Highland Park Way SW for a few days during heavy rains, I investigated SDOT plans for landslide mitigation, and found that work identified in a 2000 report was not being adequately funded.

I worked with the City Budget Office to increase funding in the 2nd quarter supplemental budget by $1.37 million; the 2018 budget also included an increase. The 2nd quarter funding went to projects at SW Cambridge and California Avenue SW, the 10200 block of 47th Avenue SW, and Highland Park Way SW.

 

PART 2 // PUBLIC SAFETY IN D1


South Park Public Safety Task Force

You may recall that during last year’s budget, Councilmember González and I partnered to create a South Park Public Safety Task Force. South Park had the 3rd highest number of gunshots reported in Seattle neighborhoods during 2016, according to Seattle Police Department data.

The purpose of the task force was to formulate and report to Council recommendations regarding the public safety and vitality of that neighborhood, including strategies that are culturally and linguistically responsive data-driven approaches.

This summer, in response to community requests after a number of nights of vandalism against businesses, I requested that the Chief of Police convene a community meeting. The Department of Neighborhoods stepped in and brought other City departments. High attendance showed just how concerned South Park residents are with the ongoing public safety issues.

In September, the report and recommendations of the  South Park Public Safety Taskforce were presented including funding for a Public Safety Coordinator; Improvements to Pedestrian Safety; Lighting Dark Alleys and Crime Spots; Providing More Frequent Garbage Pickup; and Funding Opportunities for Children and Youth.

The budget balancing package I proposed, with Councilmember Lorena González’ sponsorship, included funding a South Park Public Safety Coordinator and pedestrian and traffic safety improvements. My office is working with Seattle City Light and a local business owner to light the alley between Cloverdale and Donovan.

 


Alki Public Safety and Health Survey/Budget Action

Since taking office, I have heard concern from residents of Alki and adjacent neighborhoods regarding vehicle noise and other public safety concerns. As a beachside neighborhood and regional destination, there are unique public safety and health challenges from Beach Drive to the West Seattle Bridge. Earlier in 2017, I met with SPD about issues at Alki, and requested additional officers and use of the Mobile Precinct.

Later in the summer, I worked with community members to develop the Alki Public Safety and Health Survey. 1100 people responded. The results showed a high level of concern for vehicle noise; you can see the results here, including by neighborhood.

The survey results informed a budget action I developed with community members, which the Council adopted in November, requiring the Seattle Police Department to identify new enforcement policies and practices with respect to vehicle noise and cruising in the Alki neighborhood that could be used in other neighborhoods, such as Fauntleroy, adjacent to the ferry dock.

 

PART 3 // HOUSING HIGHLIGHTS


Housing Bond Update

You may recall that last year I worked to expand financing for more affordable housing through utilizing the City’s existing bond capacity.  Using the City’s bond capacity for housing was very controversial when the Council approved it in 2016.  In February of 2017, the Affordable Housing Neighborhood and Finance Committee approved two pieces of legislation that helped the city move closer to using the financing.

Then, in July of 2017 the Office of Housing (OH) announced that some of that new funding would be available through its annual competitive Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) process.  More than a dozen non-profit developers signaled their intent to bid.  Finally, in December of 2017, the City of Seattle announced $100 million in affordable housing investments.

OH Director Steve Walker said that the availability of $29 million in bonding authority in 2017 allowed the City to “make commitments to two large-scale transit-oriented affordable housing developments at the Roosevelt light rail station and Northgate transit center…In total, the $29 million in bonding authority supports the creation of 300 affordable apartments that otherwise would not have been created.”

In addition to $29 million in bond financing this allocation utilizes the first year of funding from the 2016 voter-passed Seattle Housing Levy, funding from incentive zoning payments, and proceeds from the sale of surplus properties.  Leveraging additional local and federal resources, this will support more than $260 million in investments.

 


Fair Chance Housing

Back in 2012, Councilmembers Licata and O’Brien asked that the Office of Housing (OH) begin to address the barriers created when criminal background screenings are used to select tenants.  The Fair Chance Housing Taskforce was a 2015 Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) taskforce recommendation to increase access to rental housing for people with criminal records.

In February 2016, after announcement of the task force, several Councilmembers joined me in writing to then Mayor Murray about the Fair Chance Housing taskforce, available here.

In May 2017, my Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development and Arts (CRUEDA) Committee hosted its first conversation with members of the Fair Chance Housing Taskforce.  Through the work of the Fair Chance Housing Taskforce and the Office of Civil Rights the Fair Chance Housing legislation was proposed. The final Fair Chance Housing legislation, co-sponsored by myself and Council President Harrell passed unanimously by Full Council on August 14, 2017. This ordinance prevents landlords from screening applicants based on criminal convictions; arrests that did not lead to a conviction; convictions that have been expunged, vacated or sealed; juvenile records; or status of a juvenile tenant on the sex offender registry. The bill also prohibits the use of advertising language that categorically excludes people with arrests or conviction records. The legislation does not apply to people registered as sex offenders who committed their crime as an adult.

The legislation goes into effect in early 2018, allowing the City to implement a new Fair Housing Home Program to help property owners adjust their practices and learn how to implement practices to affirmatively further fair housing by reducing biases in tenant selection.

 


Short-term Rental

In December, the Council took its final vote to complete what was two years of deliberations addressing how Seattle should regulate and tax short-term rentals (STR) out of concern that, with a projected loss of 1,000-1,500 additional long-term units in the next three years, continued growth of multi-listing hosts would undermine Seattle’s long-term housing stock at a time when the market is tighter than ever. My primary goal was to return and maintain as many long-term rental units on the market as possible.

The bills cover each the taxing structure, land-use code, and regulatory structure related to short-term rentals.  CB 119083, pertains to how the City taxes short-term rentals.  CB 119082 addresses how short-term rentals are addressed in the land-use code.  CB 119081 addresses the regulatory structure.  Council will receive an implementation status report in June. The short-term rental regulations will not become effective until January 1, 2019.

 

PART 4 // LAND USE LATEST


MHA rezones

The Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) program requires developers in urban villages to contribute to affordable housing by either building it onsite or paying into a City fund for Affordable Housing. The city plans to develop 6,000 affordable units with the implementation of the MHA program. This year the Full Council adopted MHA for each the University District,  Downtown & South Lake Union; 23rd and Union-Jackson Residential Urban Village, the Chinatown International District and Uptown.

You may recall that the broad principles of the MHA program were approved by the Council in the MHA framework legislation, in Fall 2016. This framework legislation laid out how all developers would newly be required to contribute to new affordable housing in all developments in exchange for additional zoning capacity.

I am concerned about the impact that displacement has on existing residents and neighborhoods. In February 2017 I sponsored, and the Council passed, Resolution 31733, to request an analysis of both physical and economic displacement as part of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) in order to evaluate whether the proposed city-wide upzones would: (1) increase or decrease direct displacement due to demolition; and (2) either introduce or accelerate a trend of changing socioeconomic conditions that may potentially displace vulnerable populations. This resolution put the Council on record declaring its “intent to consider strategies to mitigate any loss of subsidized affordable units and naturally occurring affordable units resulting from an increase in development capacity.”  It also made very clear the kind of analysis that the Council expected as part of the of the Displacement Risk Analysis being done for the DEIS.  Because the DEIS was not fully responsive to Resolution 31733, in July 7, I sent a letter to Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD), Director Sam Assefa requesting again that this analysis be completed.

The comment period on the DEIS was announced in June and was extended a couple weeks to respond to requests for additional time.  On November 9, 2017 the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) was released.   On November 27, 2017 an appeal of the FEIS was filed.  This appeal adds a layer of uncertainty to the timing of future legislative action.  You can follow this issue on the city’s HALA webpage as well as signing up for Planning, Land Use and Zoning committee meeting agendas here.

 


Vacant Building Program

In August of this year, the Council passed legislation to improve maintenance and demolition standards of vacant buildings. The City has experienced a significant increase of complaints about vacant building; between 2013 and 2016 we saw an increase of 58%.  District 1 has the second highest amount of complaints between 2013 and 2016. You can see those here.

I worked to amend this legislation to require development of a Vacant Building Monitoring Program. Vacant building monitoring programs require property owners to register vacant and foreclosed properties. This allows the City to ensure they are maintained and secure and not a nuisance to the public.

The Department of Construction and Inspection (SDCI) will report in March of 2018 with proposal for an enhanced Vacant Building Monitoring Program. Such a proposal should: (1) establish triggering events for enrollment; (2) strengthen minimum standards for vacant buildings; (3) include a penalty structure for failure to comply; (4) minimize costs to owners when buildings are well maintained (5) allow owners of vacant buildings to have buildings occupied by caretakers.

 

PART 5 // ACCOUNTABILITY IN GOVERNMENT


Police Accountability Legislation

I support strong police oversight, and co-sponsored police accountability legislation to create, among other things, a new Office of the Inspector General (OIG) and making the Community Police Commission (CPC) a permanent body.

The function of the CPC is intrinsic to the success of police accountability reform in Seattle. The 2012 Consent Decree process was begun in 2010 when 34 community groups called on the US Department of Justice to investigate excessive use of force.  It is critical that the community retain a seat at the table.

I worked with the CPC to propose amendments to require 25% of CPC members on the search committees for future Directors of the Office of Inspector General and the Office of Police Accountability (OPA). Another amendment expanded the size of the CPC, in order to increase their ability to carry out police accountability work, now enshrined in city law.

Finally, I proposed an amendment to ensure that the CPC retains the authority that the Office of Professional Accountability Review Board (OPARB), the OPA’s previous civilian review board, had to review closed case files. The OPARB emphasized the importance of this power in a 2014 letter. This kind of oversight power led to the discovery, for example, that SPD was doing criminal background checks on people making misconduct complaints (see 2003 annual report).

Thanks to SPD and Seattle’s police officers for their implementation of reform. The Seattle Police Officers Guild collaborated in the work of the CPC over the last several years, and helped inform their recommendations with practical experience. The Court-appointed federal monitor ruled in April that SPD had reached initial compliance with the use of force reforms.   The monitor will continue review the department for at least two years to ensure compliance.

 


Observer Bill of Rights

In May, the Council passed legislation I sponsored to establish an Observer Bill of Rights for people to observe and record police activity. The bill establishes that, by law, the public has the right to observe police activity. It states that officers may not use physical force to punish or retaliate against observers, and must seek to minimize harm to bystanders when using less lethal tools like pepper spray or tear gas. In addition, if a person brings a claim that the law was violated, the Office of Professional Accountability must be notified.

Observation has always been an important element of accountability.  Mothers for Police Accountability here in Seattle has, for decades, trained community observers to watch the actions of police in detaining suspects.  Most police interactions with the public are fair and professional, but the observation is one way to reduce the chances that people are treated unfairly in their interactions with police. And when people are not treated fairly, or force is used inappropriately, observation ensures there is a witness.

At a time when we have an increasing reliance on cameras that police officers wear or have in their cars, the police activity that the public observes is still important.  A Washington Post article from March noted that in a shooting in Albuquerque, the camera of the police officer who fired the shot wasn’t recording, three missed the crucial moment, and three were either blurred or contained no record.

 


Duwamish Greenbelt Tree Settlement

In April, City Attorney Holmes announced a settlement over the illegal 2016 tree cutting on City property in the Duwamish Head Greenbelt.

Two complaints were filed last fall, including for timber trespass, damage to land, negligence, environmentally critical areas violations, violations of the parks code, and violations of the city’s tree and vegetation management in public places code.

Two couples paid City $440,000 regarding one of the decimated areas. The City’s other suit regarding the other area is ongoing, and unaffected by this settlement.  The Parks and Recreation Department has used the settlement funds for remediation of the property.

Hopefully this settlement—60% higher per tree than the similar 2003 case in the Mount Baker neighborhood—will deter future rogue clearcutting. Those with financial means can’t count on small settlements to pave the way towards increased views and property values. Trees in our greenbelts are precious resources that maintain soil stability, lessen the risk of landslides, and maintain air quality by absorbing carbon. We must protect them.

 


Socially Responsible Banking Legislation/Fair Business Practices

In February, the Council voted to adopt Fair Business Practices for contracting, including banking.  To give local, in-state banks a better chance to compete for the City’s banking services, I sponsored an amendment increasing from 15% to 20% the amount used in scoring for socially responsible banking and fair business practices.

The City manages nearly $4 billion annually; during 2016 the average daily balance in the City’s account with Wells Fargo was approximately $56 million. Integrating social responsibility with the City’s banking needs, and relevant state law, is challenging. State law limits the use of credit unions to $250,000, which means the City can’t use them for general-purpose banking.

My staff researched which banks are eligible for the City’s banking services under state law. Of the 63 banks are registered with the state, it appears only between 8 and 11 banks are eligible, depending on whether the minimum threshold for managing City deposits is set at $450 million, or $300 million. Between 4 and 7 of those banks are in-state.

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

The City will re-bid its banking services. The contract proposals include smaller chunks, to increase the likelihood of smaller banks being able to apply.

PART 6 // ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND EQUITY FOR A BETTER SEATTLE


OLS Funding

The Office of Labor Standards (OLS) is responsible for administering and enforcing six local labor laws: $15 Minimum Wage, Paid Sick and Safe Time, Fair Chance Employment, Wage Theft, Secure Scheduling, and the Hotel Employees Health and Safety Imitative.

The work of the OLS is vital to employer and worker education. A University of Washington study from April 2016, found that 72 percent of workers, including 91 percent of immigrant workers, did not know about or had only a vague understanding of their rights to a minimum wage. Outreach to workers is crucial for employees and employers alike because when all employees know their rights, businesses who do not adhere to our laws do not have an unfair business advantage over those good employers that adhere to our labor standards.

Early this year the Council passed a bill that I co-sponsored to ensure that the OLS would have a dedicated fund to support the operations and activates of the office. This revenue supports enforcement activities, including the investigation of complaints and directed investigations, as well as the education and outreach to employers and employees.

 


Priority Hire

Two and a half years ago, the City adopted Priority Hire. The program works to maximize the City’s investment in public infrastructure by helping local residents secure employment opportunities on City funded public works project contracts totaling $5 million or more.

Specifically, Priority Hire requires a minimum percentage of works being local residents from economically disadvantaged zip codes, and sets a minimum requirement for apprenticeship utilization from pre-apprenticeship programs. These requirements improve opportunities for un/underemployed workers and gives them access to living-wage careers.

In July of this year, my Civil Rights, Economic Development, and Arts Committee took up recommendations from the City Department of Finance and Administrative Services (FAS), and another report from the Priority Hire Advisory Committee. The Council voted to approve legislation I sponsored to a. increase hiring through the Priority Hire hiring process and b. improve participation by open-shop and Women and Minority Business Enterprise (WMBE) contractors.

 


Legacy Business Program

You might remember that in the 2017 budget I sponsored a budget initiative to include funding for the Office of Economic Development (OED) to conduct a legacy business study.  In September of this year the Legacy Business Study was published and included several recommendations on how Seattle could further support this work, including:

  1. Refine or expand existing OED programs to better support legacy businesses.
  2. Create new business assistance specifically targeted towards legacy businesses.
  3. Work to create a comprehensive legacy program.

In continuing to move forward this important work, I made sure that the 2018 budget contains funding to develop and implement a new Legacy Business Designation Program and support for business entrepreneurs who are women and people of color.

 


UDP Expansion

In October 2016, a constituent let my office know that Medicare Part B premiums were being included as a source of income towards qualification to the Utility Discount Program (UDP).  The UDP is a City program for low-income customers and offers a 60% discount on your Seattle City Light (SCL) bill, and a 50% discount on your Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) bill for eligible customers.  The result of including Medicare Part B premiums as a source of income is that people who should have access to the UDP were being deemed ineligible.

Medicare Part B premiums are automatically withdrawn from Social Security and Social Security Disability income checks; residents never even see the funds.

I worked with both utilities and the Mayor’s Office to remove the requirement to count Medicare Part B premiums as income. Both utilities implemented the new rules on June 1, 2017.  SPU estimated that the change added an additional 1,1015 households to the UDP.

 


Eliminating the Subminimum Wage

In July, the City announced an intent to end the subminimum wage for people with disabilities. Seattle’s current law mirrors Washington State law which allows employers to pay less than minimum wage. The Commission for People with DisAbilities (PwD) voted unanimously, in June, to end this exemption.

After conducting a review of Seattle’s policy, the PwD held a public comment session to hear from the community and organizations. Additionally, they reached out to all the businesses that currently utilize the subminimum wage. The PwD Commission received no comment opposing the elimination of the subminimum wage certificates.

All subminimum wage certificates which the Director had previously signed will laps at the end of 2017. The Council will codify this decision in 2018.

 


Fixing Our Broken Tax Structure

Washington State has the most regressive tax structure in the nation. People earning $20,000 a year devote two months of pay to their yearly tax bill, while the 1% pay their entire annual tax bill in only 6 days. Economist Dick Conway reports that across five different measures – fairness, transparency, adequacy, stability, and economic vitality – Washington State’s tax structure is the worst of all the states in the nation.

Besides placing a greater burden on those least able to afford it, and straining the middle class, the dependence on property taxes makes it harder for fixed-income seniors to remain in their homes.   We need a fairer tax system. To address this, I co-sponsored legislation for a tax on high incomes.

The tax of 2.25% is on only the income of Seattle residents over $250,000 for single filers, or income above $500,000 for married couples filing jointly. For a single filer with income of $300,000, only the $50,000 over $250,000 would be taxed, for a total of $1125, or 0.038 percent of their total income.

The legislation was designed to minimize the cost of implementation and reporting. Residents with qualifying incomes will file their income as listed on line 22 on IRS form 1040; early estimates indicate it would raise approximately $140 million from about 11,000 tax payers.

An earlier resolution noted that legal viability would be the primary consideration in developing the tax structure.  The legislation is currently under legal challenge.

The tax revenue will be used to: (1) lower the property tax burden and the impact of other regressive taxes, including the business and occupation tax; (2) replace funding lost through federal cuts or respond to changes in federal policy; (3) provide services, including housing, education, and transit; (4) create green jobs and meeting carbon reduction goals; and (5) and implement the tax.

I proposed, and the Council passed, a follow-up budget measure requiring a report by the City Budget Office on use of potential revenues, including future consideration of reduction or elimination of property tax levies.

 

PART 7 // ARTS MATTERS


Why Art Matters

The 2018 federal budget released by Donald Trump earlier this year proposed elimination of federal support for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

In response, the Office of Arts and Culture, KUOW, and I co-hosted a forum in April, Why Does Art Matter, to bring awareness to this issue, and to call on federal representatives in Congress to not pursue this path.

The NEA supports numerous local arts groups, both large and small. One such group is the Creative Advantage arts education program in Seattle Public Schools, which has programs in District 1 schools such as Arbor Heights Elementary, Concord International Elementary, Highland Park Elementary, Roxhill Elementary, Sanislo Elementary, West Seattle Elementary, Louise Boren STEM K-8, Denny International Middle School, and Chief Sealth International High School.

The National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting are vital for our community’s well-being. The President’s proposed budget would have eliminated federal funding for these agencies, and brings up questions about how to continue this important work. Thankfully, Congress acted to not cut this funding.

 


Cultural Arts Spaces

Along with the crisis in affordability in housing, we have a crisis on maintaining arts and cultural spaces in Seattle. The Office of Arts and Culture released the CAP report: 30 ideas for the Creation, Activation & Preservation of Cultural Space.  When the report was released, I requested an implementation plan.

Through the budget process, I secured funding to incentivize cultural uses in older buildings, where three-quarters of cultural spaces in Seattle are located, and space tends to be less expensive.

Secondly, I secured funding for a half-time liaison between The Office of Arts and Culture and the Department of Construction and Inspections to support nonprofit cultural organizations in the permitting process.

Finally, a budget action requires a report on creating a cultural spaces public development authority, to lease, develop, and purchase real estate to maintain cultural uses.

 


Sound Transit Busker Program

Last year I asked Sound Transit to allow buskers to perform at stations, similar to the successful program at Sea-Tac Airport, and to work with the Seattle Music Commission to establish this program.

They established a six-month pilot program at the Capitol Hill and University of Washington stations, and a performance policy, and followed up with a survey of transit riders and street performers, and researched other cities such as New York, Vancouver and the Bay Area.

In September, Sound Transit expanded the program, adding Beacon Hill, Columbia City, Othello, Tukwila International Boulevard and Angle Lake.   Approved performance sites are designated by a silver star, to prevent performers and audiences from blocking station traffic. Performer guidelines and photos of silver star locations are linked here.

Prior to the program, Sound Transit didn’t allow street musicians to perform at light rail facilities; thanks to Sound Transit for supporting buskers!

 


Film in Seattle

During the budget process, I secured funding from admissions tax revenues for the Office of Economic Development’s Office of Film and Music (OFM) to support advancement of the film and media production sector during 2018. This is a core economic development funding of the office. However, due to management of the City’s Special Events program moving from Parks to this OFM, they have been able to carry out only a small amount of this work.

 

PART 8 // BUDGET WRAP UP – D1 SPOTLIGHT

In November, the Council adopted the 2018 City budget, and 2018-2023 Capital Improvement Plan.

As Chair of the Budget Committee, I assembled a final balancing package.  Together, my Council colleagues and I passed several important amendments to the city budget that will meaningfully impact the lives of everyday people in Seattle, all while maintaining current service levels.

In addition to items mentioned elsewhere, here are a few of the highlights; a longer description is here.

  • Hiring more police officers: the budget adds 35 additional police officers positions, to stay on track to hire 200 additional officers by early 2020
  • Funding to implement police accountability legislation; the Council added two and a half positions and contracting funding for the Community Police Commission, and two positions for the Office of Police Accountability.

District 1

  • Expand the Ready to Work project into District 1:  There are unique challenges facing immigrants and refugees living in SW Seattle. The Ready to Work model is designed to support English learners with an intensive centralized and neighborhood based support.  The Ready to Work expansion is slated to open in April of 2018.
  • Funding to plan and design a walkable, bikeable path uniting the Georgetown and South Park neighborhoods to enhance walkability between Georgetown and South Park’s historic “Main Streets” and connect the heart of the Duwamish Valley.
  • Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD): expansion of LEAD to North Precinct, and to begin taking referrals from the Southwest Precinct.
  • Addition of $1 million for participatory budgeting which, in 2017, funded projects in, Delridge, Westwood/Highland Park, High Point and South Park.
  • Vacant Building Monitoring Program Funding (written about above re: District 1 having the second highest number of complaints).

 

PART 9 // CONSTITUENT CONTACTS

This year I hosted in-district office hours on nine separate occasions. There are three locations that I rotate between to help make it easier for constituents to meet with me in their own neighborhood. These nine meetings constituted a total of 43 hours where I met with 111 constituents. Issues ranged from traffic and sidewalk issues, to zoning and housing issues. Multiple groups utilized this time to connect with me about specific issues their organization or neighborhoods were facing.

In-District Office hours will continue again in 2018; please keep an eye out for my emails and on the blog to know when I will be in your neighborhood.

This year we received thousands of emails from constituents all over the city. By our rough count, we received and responded to nearly 7,000 individual emails on topics ranging from transportation, land use, utility, parks, and public safety, and other issues.  Next year we will have a better ability to report on the number emails received according to topic, as well as the average time taken to respond.

This number does not include emails received and responded to where the Council was the subject of an organized email campaign.  When we receive hundreds of emails on the same topic, we note every issue raised in each piece of correspondence, and then craft a reply that was responsive to all issues raised.  While some folks express disappointment upon receiving an “auto-reply” to these, I hope to assure everyone that my staff and I read all of the correspondence I receive and I take the perspective and opinions expressed into account when a reply is carefully crafted.

Share


South Park Crime Data; Vote on Short-Term Rentals; Seattle Ranks #1 for Small Business Growth; South Park Community Center

December 15th, 2017


Southwest Precinct/South Park Crime Data

Recently I met with the Seattle Police Department about concerns regarding crime data for South Park. I’ve heard from South Park residents that crime statistics provided by SPD didn’t accurately reflect their experience.

Given the relatively small size of the neighborhood and number of residents, it seemed that crime statistics by neighborhood might not be the most accurate measurement; the population of neighborhoods in the SW Precinct have a wide range, from the 1150 residents in Pigeon Point, to 4134 in South Park, and 13,609 in the Alaska Junction.

Consequently, I asked SPD to develop per-capita measurements of crime.

The table below shows the results for the first 10 months of 2018 in the SW Precinct, and includes both person and property crime.  South Park’s per capita crime rate for that time period was 94 per 1,000 residents, significantly higher than other neighborhoods, except for South Delridge, another small neighborhood.

SPD also included a measurement for per capita crime by daytime residents.

SPD Crime Data

I also asked SPD to provide data for officer-generated calls for service in South Park. These calls are listed as “on-view” or “proactive” calls, that come from SPD officers on patrol. SPD has increased the amount of patrols in South Park since August, 2016. The number of calls for this 10-month period have increased from 521 in 2015, to 1,073 in 2016, to 1,997 in 2017.

Calls generated from the public have been 2,233 in 2015, 2,037 in 2016, and 2,046 in 2017.

Here’s a link to the SPD presentation, which includes person and property crime data for all SW Precinct neighborhoods  (West Seattle and South Park) from 2015-2017. Thanks to SPD for putting this together; they’ve made great strides the last few years in making crime data more accessible to the public.  SPD’s Crime Dashboard allows you to search crime data by neighborhood, precinct, from 2008 to the present.  Their SeaStat program provides updates every two weeks.

Priorities for each of the Micro Community Policing Plans are available on the SPD website here. Micro Community Policing Plans (MCPP) are designed to address the distinctive needs of each community. You can find your neighborhood MCPP on the map here. MCPP’s are informed by public safety surveys conducted independently by Seattle University. Their two-year evaluation of MCPPs, published in January 2017, is linked here.


City Council Votes on Short-Term Rentals

On Monday, December 11th the City Council took its final vote on a suite of bills addressing how Seattle will regulate and tax short-term rentals (STR).

In June of 2016 Puget Sound Sage released a report entitled Brief: Dramatic Growth of a Short-Term Rentals in Seattle Could Reduce Apartment Supply. This report revealed significant growth in STR activity from September 2015 through April 2016. Including:

  • Dramatic growth in listings at a rate of 50% per year, ending with 4,170 listings throughout the city.
  • Two-thirds of Airbnb listings units are “whole units” which are homes that could potentially be used as long-term rentals.
  • Only 12% of hosts list more than one unit, but this group hosted one-third of ALL Airbnb units and represented the most growth.
  • While most of the whole unit growth was located in Seattle’s urban core, whole unit listings in communities at high risk of displacement grew as fast as the city-wide average.
  • A projected loss of 1,000-1,500 additional long-term units in the next three years.

Underlying this issue is concern that continued growth of multi-listing hosts will undermine Seattle’s long-term housing stock at a time when the market is tighter than ever. My primary goal throughout this two-year process has been to return and maintain as many long-term rental units on the market as possible.

There are three short-term rental bills. The first, CB 119083, pertains to how the City taxes short-term rentals.  Councilmember O’Brien and I proposed an amendment that modified the proposed flat tax in order to apply a different per-night tax of $8/ night for a single room versus a $14/night for an entire unit/house.  This amendment also required that revenue generated from this tax would first be used to offset the cost of implementing and administering these STR regulations.  The next $5 million dollars would then be utilized by the Equitable Development Initiative and the final $2 million dollars would be used to invest in affordable housing. This amendment was included in the bill which was unanimously passed by full council on November 13th, 2017.

The second bill relates to how STRs are addressed in the land-use code. CB 119082 has two parts.  It first clarifies that short-term rentals are not necessarily an accessory use and are prohibited in caretaker’s quarters and second, ensures that Rental Registration & Inspection Ordinance (RRIO) requirements for short-term renters who are renting out their primary residence are consistent. This bill was passed by full council on December 4, 2017.

The third and final piece of the STR regulatory structure is Council Bill 119081. I heard many concerns from people who are renting out rooms in their homes or whose family has an additional home they are renting out.  These constituents have expressed fears that short-term rental regulations might impact their ability to earn the needed additional income they get from these types of rentals.   In an attempt to strike a balance between the potential negative impacts of short-term rentals on the city’s long-term housing stock and the STR income that some families rely on in order to afford to live in Seattle’s ever unaffordable housing market, I proposed several amendments to the regulatory portion of these bills.  Amendments to CB 119081 that I sponsored or co-sponsored included:

  • Ensuring that people operating rentals outside of the exempt areas and prior to September 30, 2017 could obtain a license to operate up to two units as short-term rentals AND
  • Allowing for some growth for some existing operators. After 1 year, existing operators could add their primary residence making the total number of units they can operate 3.  This would be any 2 units plus their primary residence.
  • All other operators who did not have short-term rentals prior to September 30, 2017 would be able to obtain a license to rent out space in their primary residence plus one additional unit. (see chart below)

short term rental legislation explained

In addition to this amendment, as passed out of the Planning, Land Use and Zoning Committee, Councilmember O’Brien and I co-sponsored an amendment that would:

  • Clarify that the director of Financial and Administrative Services (FAS) will review short-term rental license fees annually to ensure full cost recovery related to the implementation of short-term rental regulations.
  • Ask FAS to make recommendations on the fee structure for short-term rental platforms, as opposed to operators, including recommendations on both a per-night fee as well as a graduated annual fee with tiers based on the number of listings on a platform or other factors identified by the Department. FAS will produce a written status update to Council by June 1, 2018 for our consideration and any potential next steps.  Any potential fees would not go into place until after January 1, 2019.

All of these amendments passed and were included in the final bill passed by Full Council on December 11, 2017.

Council also passed an amendment sponsored by Councilmembers Sally Bagshaw and Mike O’Brien reducing the area that would be exempt from the proposed limits on dwelling units.  With this amendment the exempt areas is now only Downtown Urban Center, south of Olive Way and north of Cherry Street.

Council will be receiving an implementation status report from Financial and Administrative Services June 1, 2018. The short-term rental regulations become effective on January 1, 2019.


Seattle Ranks #1 for Small Business Growth

In November Paychex IHS Small Business Employment Watch released data announcing the Seattle metro area as number one in the county for small business growth. The Metropolitan Jobs Index indicated that small business growth in Seattle is up 1.29%.  While small business growth in Seattle ranks first in the nation, Seattle ranks 14th in hourly earning growth (up 2.49%) and 6th in weekly earning growth (up 3.65%).

metro performance

According to Paychex HIS “ Small businesses represent nearly 95 percent of all U.S. employers.”  Seattle’s Office for Economic Development (OED) works to maximize Seattle’s potential as a thriving hub for businesses and for economic growth for everyone in the city.  OED provides services to businesses through advocacy, retention, and expansion assistance and workforce development.  The Office of Economic Development supports Seattle area small businesses through its Only in Seattle Initiative, as well as small business consulting.

Only in Seattle is based on this set of core building blocks including business organization, business development, marketing and events, placemaking, safety and cleanliness.  The Initiative provides grant funding and staff support to foster inclusive neighborhood business districts that allow small businesses to thrive.  You can learn more about the Seattle Office of Economic Development and the Only in Seattle Initative here.


South Park Community Center Study and Draft Concept Design

As many of you in South Park already know, the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) has been conducting outreach to the community regarding the update to the playfield at the South Park Community Center. DPR has $700,000 dedicated for this update, including another $100,000 to move play features away from the highway, which was a recommendation of the King County Health Impact Assessment to limit noise and air pollution exposure from SR 99.

south park community center

DPR is conducting another survey and asking for your participation, you can fill out the survey here. They have released their latest option based on community feedback from previous outreach. You can share your thoughts at the survey link, or if you have questions you can reach out to Karimah Edwards.

Share


© 1995-2016 City of Seattle