This Week in the Budget; Alki Public Safety Survey Update; Sound Transit Letters; Neighborhood and Community Arts Grant

September 29th, 2017


This Week in the Budget

City Council’s Consideration of the 2018 City Budget

On Monday, Mayor Burgess presented his proposed 2018 City of Seattle Budget and 2018-2023 Capital Improvement Program.   With Burgess becoming Mayor last week, his position as Chair of the City Council Budget Committee became vacant; the Council voted to appoint me as Budget Committee Chair.

Though my role as vice chair of the Affordable Housing, Neighborhoods, and Finance committee did not automatically grant me the position of Chair of the Budget Committee, generally the Council entrusts committee vice-chairs to serve in the absence of the chair. In voting this week to do so in this case of the Budget chair, the Council held the goals of stability in mind to minimize disruption, in the interest of a smooth, rational transition grounded in this Council’s prior decisions.

This is the second year of the Council’s biennial budget process. Last year the Council approved a 2017 budget, and endorsed a 2018 budget. This year it will formally approve the 2018 budget. It’s important to note that based on updated revenue projection in April of this year, the proposed 2018 budget includes additional spending beyond the 2018 budget the Council endorsed last year.

In order to consider the changes that the Mayor has made in the proposed 2018 budget to the Council’s endorsed 2018 budget, the City Council has begun to meet as the Budget Committee.  We will be dedicating the following two months to considering, revising, and approving the City budget.  The proposed Budget and Capital Improvement Program are available here. Here’s a link to summary charts and tables, and an Executive Summary.

Earlier today, the Budget Committee received the April revenue update upon which the Mayor’s proposed budget is based, and an overview of the proposed budget, from the City Budget Office.

Here’s a brief summary of forthcoming Budget Committee meeting dates, and how the process works:

First Public Hearing on proposed budget: October 5, at 5:30 p.m., at City Hall, 600 4th Avenue; sign-in for the hearing begins at 4:30 p.m. Parking will be available for a discounted $5 rate for those attending the public hearing beginning at 4 p.m., until 11 p.m. at the SeaPark Garage between Cherry and James Streets and 5th and 6th Avenues. Child care will be available; please RSVP with Ashley.Harrison@seattle.gov. An Induction Loop assistive listening system with handheld amplified receivers and headsets are available upon request; please check in with the Committee Clerk upon arrival. Additional information about City Hall accessibility is available here; you can submit a request for accommodations here.

Issue Identification: October 12-17: Councilmembers, and Council Central Staff, can raise issues or potential proposals for consideration; at this stage, proposals don’t need to be detailed; one Councilmember can put an item forward for consideration (with an October 9 deadline at noon)

“Green Sheet” proposals: October 23-25: Specific proposals with dollar amounts to amend the Mayor’s proposed budget will be presented at these meetings; the support of at least three Councilmembers is needed to place an item on the agenda (with a 2 p.m. deadline on October 19)

Revenue update: October 30; Council will receive an updated revenue forecast from the City Budget Office

Proposed Initial Balancing Package: October 31; the Budget Committee Chair will propose a revised version of the budget, that must be balanced

Second Public Hearing: November 1, 5:30 p.m.

Discussion of Potential Changes to Initial Balancing Package: November 7-8; these will be specific changes to the “Initial Balancing Package”; the support of three Councilmembers is required by the 3 p.m. deadline on November 2

Preparation of Revised Balancing Package: November 9-10; Budget Committee Chair will create a second “balancing package,” which must be fully balanced

Committee Votes on Revised Balancing Package: November 14-15; votes will take place at this meeting. Any proposed amendments to the balancing package must be balanced, so any additional spending must be balanced by spending cuts.

The final Full Council vote is scheduled for November 20.

If you have questions about the schedule or process, you can contact my legislative aide, Newell Aldrich, at newell.aldrich2@seattle.gov.

Budget committee meeting agendas are available here. All meetings can be viewed live on Seattle Channel 21 and on the Seattle Channel live feed. The Seattle Channel meeting archive is here.

Here’s a link to the schedule.

 


Alki Public Safety Survey Update

I’d like to thank the 1,100 people who responded to the Alki Public Safety and Health Survey during the last month, as well as the residents and community leaders who helped to develop the survey. We will be compiling and analyzing the responses, and sharing them with the Seattle Police Department and the community, and include them in this newsletter.


Sound Transit Letters

Voters in the Sound Transit district approved the ST3 measure in November, 2015, which included light rail to West Seattle, planned for 2033. Planning for the West Seattle alignment will begin in earnest later this year, with the anticipated hiring of a consultant to manage the process.

The Council adopted a resolution in May, 2016 supporting accelerated delivery of projects. Sound Transit subsequently announced they would accelerate the West Seattle line by three years, to service in 2030 rather than 2033 as originally planned.

The resolution also included language I proposed to allow “for future consideration and evaluation of a potential tunnel alignment through West Seattle, if cost savings within the ST3 program or additional funding resources become available.” Similar language was included regarding the Ballard line.

The resulting timetable for the West Seattle Line could involve utility work as early as 2024, in anticipation of construction beginning in 2025, creating a potential intersection with the Fauntleroy Boulevard Project. An early rendering of a potential alignment for light rail showed it moving along Fauntleroy Boulevard in the same location.

Sound Transit released a draft System Expansion Implementation Plan earlier this year, that mentions their Strategic Initiatives, and plan to identify a preferred alternative early in the process.

In recognition of these challenges, I sent a letter to Sound Transit regarding these issues, and recently received a reply. I thank Sound Transit for their responsiveness. Discussions between the City and Sound Transit are ongoing.


Cultural Facilities Funding and Neighborhood & Community Arts Grant

The Council passed legislation to release $1.3 million in funds approved in the 2017 adopted budget. The legislation approves funding agreements for projects Town Hall, the Nordic Heritage Museum, the Burke Museum for $350,000 and Hugo House for $250,000. The legislation includes agreements for public benefits with each of those organizations.

  • Town Hall will provide its entire Arts and Culture series free of charge to those under age 22, and conduct outreach to make marginalized communities aware of the free tickets, and actively invite such communities to events, and will work with the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs on outreach
  • Nordic Heritage will implement a new low-cost membership category for low-income families, and work to spread the membership model
  • The Burke Museum: will provide all students participating in onsite school programs with an adult and youth admission pass
  • Hugo House will provide free or reduced field-trip admission to schools with a majority of low income students, and free weekly drop ins to writing circles, and rent classrooms for free to organizations serving low income communities and communities of color, and up to 150 free tickets to fee-based events.

The proposed 2018 budget includes $1.4 million for the Office of Arts & Culture’s  Cultural Facilities Fund; the webpage includes additional information about how to apply, and past recipients, including the Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association (for Youngstown Arts Center) in 2016, the Southwest Seattle Historical Society in 2015, and ArtsWest in 2014.

Speaking of arts, 2018 applications are open for Neighborhood & Community Arts Grants, which provides $1,200 per year to support direct project expenses, for 2 years, for neighborhood arts council or local community-based group.  Groups representing underserved communities including low-income, immigrant and refugee communities, and communities of color are encouraged to apply.

The deadline to apply is October 24.  Information about eligibility, evaluation criteria, and how to apply is available here. A workshop will be held at the Southwest branch library (9010 35th Ave SW) on Saturday, September 30, 11:00am-12:30pm

RSVP Here  and for more info, contact Project Manager Jenny Crooks at jenny.crooks@seattle.gov.

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Hate & Bias Crimes Report; Bus Service Changes; City Hall Updates; Marra Farm Fall Fest; Legal Clinic Celebration; Diaper Need Awareness

September 22nd, 2017


City Auditor Releases Hate and Bias Crimes Report

As chair of the Council committee with oversight of civil rights issues, I thank the City Auditor’s Office for their report released earlier this week, Review of Hate Crime Prevention, Response, and Reporting in Seattle.

Addressing hate and bias crimes is vitally important, especially given the national political environment. The Seattle Police Department (SPD) noted an increase in reported bias crimes and incidents in the first half of 2017 during last week’s briefing before the Gender Equity, Safe Communities and New Americans Committee.  An assault on a transgender woman last weekend shows the need for continued vigilance on hate crimes.

This Audit continues the work begun by the City Auditor at the request of former Councilmembers Clark, Licata and Rasmussen, who in 2008 requested an audit of Seattle’s Enforcement of Bias Crimes.

The audit found that changes in SPD reporting procedure would ensure hate crimes are more appropriately recorded and investigated; SPD patrol officers would benefit from regular formal training on hate crimes; more sophisticated use of data could inform prevention efforts; increased cooperation among City departments would improve prevention and response efforts, and regional coordinates of hate crime response efforts will improve response efforts. The report makes nine recommendations to implement these findings. The audit notes:

“We make 9 recommendations to improve the City’s efforts to prevent, respond, and report hate crimes. We recommend that SPD should create a hate crime training curriculum, create more guidance on how to recognize and respond to hate crimes, and address coding issues that may be preventing some hate crimes from being appropriately categorized. SPD should also pilot using hate crime data for prevention purposes, with the support of University of Washington researchers. We recommend that SOCR and SPU consider posting hate crime data online to provide Seattle residents with a more complete picture of hate crimes reported in the city. Finally, we recommend that City leaders support a regional or statewide coordination of hate crime efforts to further the City’s impact of addressing these crimes. SPD, SOCR, and SPU agree with all the recommendations.”

I thank the Seattle Police Department for their responsiveness to the report’s recommendations regarding bias category coding, their work to replace their records management system, and commitment to gathering data to support bias-crime investigations and analysis.

The report notes that in July SPD implemented two recommendations regarding bias category coding. The first is the use of “unknown” as a bias code, which may have resulted in undercounting during 2012-2016. The audit recommended eliminating this category, which SPD did. The second is to align SPD bias codes with the Seattle Municipal Code section for “Malicious Harassment” to include “age, parental status, marital status, and political ideology.” SPD implemented this recommendation in July as well.

I also thank SPD for its work with the Seattle Office for Civil Rights (SOCR); the report notes ongoing work between SPD and SOCR to establish a protocol for formally documenting how hate incidents and crimes are handled when they are reported to SOCR.

I look forward to the second phase of the audit, which will focus on how the City can improve its use of hate crime data.

Chief O’Toole issued a statement about SPD’s efforts regarding hate crimes, and her request for a review of  the findings; the audit includes an SPD response letter. The Seattle Police Department earlier this year introduced its Bias/Hate Crime Data dashboard, with data from 2012 on, that allows for searches by bias category, precinct, and neighborhood.

I requested this audit last year, in the wake of an attack on a local LGBTQ leader.

 


Bus Service Changes Next Week

King County Metro will be adding bus service beginning on September 23. Some of the changes will come from investments by the City of Seattle from the voter-approved Seattle Transportation Benefit District. Improvements in District 1 include:

  • Route 50 will operate every 30 minutes from 6 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week.
  • Route 60 will improve service frequency to every 15 minutes between 6 a.m. and 6:45 p.m. on weekdays.
  • Route 131 will increase frequency northbound to every 15 minutes between 6:15 and 9:30 a.m.
  • Late night/early morning “Night Owl” service will be added for Route 120 and the C Line.

Additional details for each route are listed at Metro’s Service Change website.

 


City Hall Updates

It’s been a tumultuous week or so–we’ve now had three mayors in a little over a week, after having 3 in just under 16 years.

Per the City Charter, Tim Burgess will serve as Mayor through the certification of the November election, likely November 28. This coming Monday, September 25, he will present a proposed budget to the Seattle City Council. The Council will then begin consideration of the proposed budget.

With Mayor Burgess departing the City Council, Council President Bruce Harrell has proposed a process for appointing an interim Councilmember for Council Position #8, linked here. The interim Councilmember will serve until November 28, when the election results are certified.

 


Marra Farm Fall Fest

This Saturday, September 23, Solid Ground is hosting a potluck for the 16th annual Marra Farm Fall Fest. There will be free food, live music, fresh apple cider, cooking demonstrations and children’s activities.

If you’re unfamiliar with Marra Farm, it’s an urban community farm that practices sustainable agriculture and provides education and food security. Located in South Park on 8.7 acers it is home to several gardening groups: the Giving Garden, Mien Community Gardens, P-Patch Garden and Large-Tract Plots, Children’s Garden and Seattle Urban Farm Project.

Hope to see you there:

  • Date: Saturday, September 23
  • Time: 12:00pm – 3:00pm
  • Location: Marra Farm, 9026 4th Ave S
  • Price: Free

 


Fair Work Center Legal Clinic 1-Year Celebration

The Fair Work Center empowers workers to achieve fair employment. As a hub for workers to understand and exercise their legal rights, and improve working conditions, the Fair Work Center also provides free legal clinics for workers seeking advice about potential workplace violations. This legal clinic is celebrating its first year of operation with assistance and support from the City of Seattle and the funding of the Office of Labor Standards.

If you want to support the Fair Work Center you can join them for their one-year legal clinic celebration and fall fundraiser on Wednesday, September 27th between 5:30pm and 7:30pm at Melrose Market Studios (1532 Minor Ave).

 


Diaper Need Awareness Week

On Monday September 25th, in honor of Diaper Need Awareness Week, September 25th through October 3rd, I will have the honor of presenting the Diaper Need Awareness Week Proclamation to Westside Baby.  “Diaper need” is the condition of not having a sufficient supply of clean, dry diapers to ensure that infants and toddlers are healthy, dry and clean.

It is estimated that over 21,000 children aged five and under in King County live below the federal poverty line.  National surveys report that 48% of families’ delay changing a diaper to extend their supply and one in three parents experience diaper need at some time while their children are under 3 years of age.  This proclamation recognizes that economic opportunity for individuals can lead to improved health for families and their communities.  A sufficient supply of diapers can cost families upwards of $100 a month and government assistance programs such as WIC do not cover the cost of diapers.

The lack of clean diapers can adversely affect the immediate and long term health of infants, toddlers and their families.  Seattle is the proud home to many organizations such as WestSide Baby that recognize the importance of diapers in combating social, economic, racial and health inequities and aim to support healthy families and communities.  To learn more about this issue or to support organizations in our region working to combat diaper need check out the National Diaper Bank Network and Seattle’s very own WestSide Baby.

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South Park Public Safety Task Force Report Released; SPU Strategic Plan – Final Update; Support for LGBTQ Seniors

September 15th, 2017


South Park Public Safety Task Force Report Released

On Tuesday, the report and recommendations of the  South Park Public Safety Taskforce were presented in the Gender Equity, Safe Communities and New Americans Committee chaired by Councilmember González. The task force was created during the Council’s budget process.

The report makes recommendations for both short-term and long-term approaches, in three priority areas: 1) Building a Strong and Resilient Community, 2) Physical Safety, and Investing in Children & Youth. Some of the recommendations involve budget issues; the City Council’s 2018 Budget process will begin later this month; the Mayor will announce a proposed budget on September 25th.

Recommendations are listed below with a brief description, and a note on steps the City is taking so far.

  1. Fund a Public Safety Coordinator
    This recommendation notes that a City position helped to carry out work related to the 2006 South Park Action Agenda. This recommendation is for a bilingual member of the community to take on this work, which would include working with the Seattle Police Department on ongoing and emerging public safety issues, and other issues, such as coordinating trainings. The report notes a recent police training addressing sex trafficking had over 80 parents in attendance, and was conducted in Spanish.The geographic isolation of the South Park community from the Southwest Precinct location in Delridge creates special public safety challenges.  A Public Safety Coordinator can act as an advocate for the community with SPD and the Southwest Precinct to increase the ability to deploy police resources to do more effective proactive and responsive policing.  In addition, I have heard from South Park residents that they don’t just need another person with whom they can log a complaint about a community problem, but they need someone who will identify strategies to help avoid problems as well as partner with the community as another set of eyes and ears to identify problems when they do arise.Funding for such a position may be addressed during the Council’s forthcoming budget process; the Executive response notes the Office of Planning and Development and Office of Sustainability and Environment are leading a team to develop long-term solutions for the Duwamish Valley, including South Park, with a report due before the end of the year.
  2. Improve Pedestrian Safety
    South Park has a higher percentage of families than the City overall, and children walk to school and the library; pathways, especially Cloverdale, are increasingly dangerous. The report recommends installing crosswalks at Dallas & 14th/16th, and 12th & Cloverdale, and signage to alert drivers about pedestrians at 10th & Cloverdale, and 8th & Cloverdale.The crosswalk at 12th and Cloverdale was selected for funding in 2018 through the Your Voice, Your Choice program. SDOT will review current signage on Cloverdale at 8th and 10th, and update signs that are missing or do not meet current guidelines, and collect data at Dallas & 14th/16th to see where this location prioritizes in their pedestrian master plan.

    crossroads at cloverdale st and 10th ave s

    Example: Intersection at S. Cloverdale St. & 10th Ave S. has no crosswalk, yet it is one of the main walkways for children walking to and from Concord Elementary.

  3. Improve Traffic Safety/Enforcement
    Large industrial vehicles frequently utilize South Park streets. After the new South Park Bridge was opened, a parking lane was removed on 14th Avenue South that brought vehicles closer to the buildings in the business district. The task force wants the City to research potential traffic calming options, particularly for vehicles turning from the bridge onto Cloverdale, and to reduce speeding on Cloverdale from 14th to the 8th Street entrance to Highway 99, with a speed tracker and enforcement.SDOT is reviewing truck turning at Cloverdale, and will collect speed data on Cloverdale to evaluate vehicle speeds and identify next steps.
  4. Light Dark Alleys and Crime Spots
    The task force notes numerous alleyways that are not lighted, and notes that dark alleyways can contribute to increased crime, drug use, fights, a general lack of safety and garbage dumping. Similar issues were identified with the skate park, which has high walls, and the 8th Avenue walking trail, nicknamed the “scary trail” by residents. The task force recommends lighting the 8th Avenue Walking Trail, lighting the two alleys that run between Cloverdale and Donovan from 8th to 14th, and installing lighting near the onramp to Highway 99 and the skate park.SDOT will work with City Light to review options for retrofitting existing lighting along the 8th Avenue walkway; will work with WSDOT and City Light to review lighting by the onramp; the presentation notes that requests for alley lighting begin with SPD, and expresses SDOT’s intent to work with City Light to review feasibility and plan for implementation.Some of this work could involve examining City policies regarding lighting and alleyways.
  5. Provide More Frequent Garbage Pickup
    The taskforce members feel South Park is a “dumping ground,” due to drug houses, blighted properties and unsanctioned homeless encampments, and people from outside the neighborhood coming in to engage in illegal dumping. They recommend working with the community on strategies to clean “hot spots” at least twice a week, including South 96th Street at 4th Avenue South and 8th Avenue South, and to work with the community to figure out enforcement mechanisms to ensure that local businesses are also cleaning up.Seattle Public Utilities says the use of the Find It Fix It app is the best way to report dumping on public property, and work with community and neighborhoods re: storm drains. They indicate they have a pilot program in South Park to increase proactive checks and cleaning of known dumping hot spots.

    trash

    Example: Piles of trash in the neighborhood. Task force members stated that not only is it a public safety issue, but it becomes a public health issue as well.

  6. Fund Opportunities for Children and Youth in the CommunityThe report notes that many youth live in poverty in South Park, and nearly 60% of families don’t speak English as their primary language. Task force members expressed the feeling that young people may turn to gangs and criminal activity as a way to feel connected; they need more options. The report recommends redirecting the priorities of staffing at the community center to meet the needs of young people, making the community center more accessible; having a police liaison work with youth to provide crime safety and prevention training, and full compensation for youth to work in the community.The Executive response notes community center programming grants, and a new parks property purchased next to the bridge; the design process will start in 2018, and notes the City Council sets rental rates for community center facility use.The report also notes additional community needs identified by the taskforce, including funding for translation and improving the business district.Here’s a link to the presentation from the committee meeting, which includes steps City departments are currently taking.The report ends by noting that South Park Action Agenda in 2006 resulted in some positive outcomes, but more work remains to be done.  As Director Kathy Nyland said at the August 30 community meeting, “we need less agenda and more action.”

    I have requested that the Executive provide a timeline for each of the following next steps:

    1. Implementation of the funded crosswalk at 12th and Cloverdale
    2. SDOT review of current signage on Cloverdale
    3. Collision data collection at Dallas & 14th/16th and 12th & Cloverdale
    4. SDOT review of truck turning radius at Cloverdale
    5. SDOT speed data collection on Cloverdale
    6. SDOT & City Light to review options for retrofitting existing lighting along the 8th Avenue walkway
    7. Seattle City Light and WSDOT and City Light review of lighting by the onramp
    8. Consider how requests for alley lighting might be supported by private business support

 


SPU Strategic Business Plan Final Update

Maybe you’ve been following my blog posts about Seattle Public Utilities’ (SPU) Strategic Business Plan?  If so, then you know we are nearing the final passage of the resolution. If not, you can read my previous updates herehere, here, and here. Below is also a brief history of the process.

In 2014 the Council endorsed the first Strategic Business Plan (SPB) for the utility.  In the ten years prior to its passage the average rate increase was almost 7% every year.  The 2014 six-year rate path set an average annual increase of 4.6% across all four lines of business (water, wastewater, drainage, and solid waste).

In June, the Executive presented a revised SBP that had an average annual rate increase of 5.5%.  This represented a proposed increase of 0.9% over the 4.6% established in the 2014 SBP. Prior to this, the Customer Review Panel (CRP) met with SPU twice a month, for three hours at a time, from last September through May to provide input on the 2018-2023 SBP. The Executive started with a proposal of a 6.8% average annual rate increase, but thanks to the CRP’s work they were able to reduce it to 5.5%.

A big reason for the proposed increases is that Seattle is under a consent decree with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Washington State Department of Ecology.  This means we are legally required to spend on new projects that will reduce the quantity of wastewater that enters city waterways. But another big driver of increased rates was written about in a recent Seattle Times article.  The Seattle Move Levy is necessitating $152 million in “must-do” utility work that voters didn’t know about when the Move Levy was on the ballot.

Over the last few months I have heard from many people who are concerned about the increase in rates and how utility rate hikes contribute to making Seattle less affordable. I’m concerned as well.  To reduce the average annual rate path as well as smooth the rate spikes we see in 2019 and 2020, I have worked with staff to introduce amendments to the SBP. I have also moved forward several amendments that don’t affect the rate directly, but will hopefully have a positive impact on rates in the future.

Over the course of four committee meetings and several discussions with SPU and Council staff, affordability was my primary concern. A nearly full percent increase over the previous average annual rate increase seemed far too high to me. In keeping with the suggestion from the CRP I submitted an amendment to implement not only full cost recovery for water connections, but to have growth pay for growth through new system development charges.

Further, in consultation with Councilmember Bagshaw and the utility, we crafted an amendment to direct SPU to prepare an affordability and accountability plan which will be focused on managing future rate increases. This plan will explore and evaluate policies in the following areas: 1. pricing and rate structures 2. customer assistance programs including low-income programs 3. process efficiencies and capital project cost savings 4. investment prioritization 5. comparative utility rate taxes and how raising utility rate taxes reduces affordability when utility tax rates are used to fund non-utility projects.

The CRP will continue to meet on an ongoing basis to help partner with SPU and the Council in these efforts.

Due to the combination of amendments the average annual rate increase under the final proposal is 5.2% with an expected additional 0.1% reduction in efficiencies that is pending an efficiency and productivity study expected next year. The reductions achieved in the final resolution amount to over $45 million in reduced spending by the utility over six years.

I want to thank those of you who wrote in to share your concerns, experiences, frustrations and suggestions as we worked toward a more workable plan for the utility.

The resolution adopting the final 2018 – 2023 SBP will be voted on at the September 25th Full Council meeting.

 


Support for LGBTQ Seniors

LGBTQ elders are more likely than their peers to live in poverty.  They also have less family support.  Because of this isolation, LGBTQ seniors may be forced back into the closest when living in traditional retirement communities.  Across every Census division in the U.S. Seattle has the least developed services for LGBTQ older adults and their families. Unlike most large cities, we are running behind on developing housing for LGBTQ seniors. Thanks to the work of the Capitol Hill Housing, and groups like Generations With Pride, Allyship, and Gay City that’s about to change.

The good news is that this week Capitol Hill Housing announced plans for an affordable senior housing to support LGBTQ seniors.  The project will be a mixed-use building in what is now the parking lot at the Helen V apartments (1321 E Union) on Capitol Hill.  This will be Seattle’s first affordable, LGBTQ elder affirming housing. There will be a meeting at Gay City, on September 21st from 5:30-7:30pm to learn more about the proposed project.

In April of 2016 the Council passed legislation that put the 2017 Housing Levy on the November 2016 ballot.  One of my many priorities in that 2016 legislation was included increased housing options for LGBTQ seniors.  The legislation passed by the Council required that the Office of Housing consider prioritizing specific subpopulations who are underserved or have limited access to culturally appropriate housing, such as LGBTQ seniors. Then in last year’s budget deliberations, with leadership from Councilmember Gonzalez and co-sponsorship from me, the City Council passed a 2017-2018 budget action supporting a housing needs study for low-income Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) seniors.

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Thanking Emergency Responders; Public Safety Meeting; Safety and Health Survey; Tragic Homicide; Street Vacation; Office Hours

September 8th, 2017


Thanking Seattle’s Emergency Responders

Seattle’s first responders have been active in responding to the Hurricane Harvey response efforts in Texas, and the wildfires in Washington State, and in preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Irma in Georgia and Florida.

Firefighters Chris Lombard, Jon Olson, Chuck Boehmer, Darrin Quaschnik, and Greg Sobole deployed as part of the FEMA Washington Task Force 1 Urban Search and Rescue team (there are 28 USAR teams across the nation).  This particular task force is one of the 12 USAR teams deployed to parts of flood ravaged Texas.

Firefighter Larry Doll deployed as a part of a Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMATs are part of the National Disaster Medical System and operate under the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and 55 DMATs are spread out across the country).  The 36 member team is comprised of medical professionals that are providing assistance to medical facilities impacted by flooding in Texas.

Firefighters Leroy Sisley, Cameron Chambers, Seth Baumgarten, Jonas Smith, Vance Anderson, Colen Richert, Erik Hotchkiss have been deployed to wildfires under the State Fire Services Resource Mobilization Plan which is the state-wide funded mechanism for fire service resources to respond to fires, disasters, or other events within the State of Washington.

Seattle Department of Transportation employee, Patti Quirk, has been deployed as a member of the Pacific Northwest National Incident Management Team #2. This is an incident management team whose purpose is to bring order to chaos in some of the larger incident where over 500 first responders are working.  This is one of two such teams in the Pacific Northwest and is made up of members from across the state of Washington and Idaho.

In addition, the Fire Department has deployed 25 personnel as a part of the 70-member Urban Search and Rescue Team (Washington Task Force 1) to a rally point in Georgia in advance of Hurricane Irma.

Also, Seattle IT Department is assisting the City of Orlando by receiving and holding back-up data tapes for some of their key systems during Hurricane Irma.

Seattle’s Mutual Aid programs are critical to offering assistance to other jurisdictions when they need it as well as receiving additional help to respond to emergencies when we need it.  I’d like to thank all of the public servants from each the Seattle Fire Department, Seattle Department of Transportation, and Seattle Information Technology.  Their dedicated service, and willingness to put themselves in harm’s way in order to respond to
emergencies both locally and to other parts of the country in need is to be commended.

 

South Park Public Safety Meeting

On Tuesday August 29th, the Department of Neighborhoods hosted a community meeting in South Park.  I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to attend on a late August meeting. The high attendance shows just how concerned South Park residents are with the ongoing public safety issues.

To note just one example, South Park had the 3rd highest number of gunshots reported in Seattle neighborhoods during 2016, and the highest increase over 2015, according to Seattle Police Department data.

It’s clear we need to do more.

The South Park Public Safety Task Force created during last year’s Council budget process will be reporting next week to the Gender Equity, Safe Communities and New Americans Committee chaired by Councilmember González.

 

Alki Public Safety and Health Survey

The Alki Public Safety and Health Survey will remain open through September 15. We’ve received over 900 responses so far.

You can take the survey here; background information is available here.

 

Tragic Homicide of a Youth in Westcrest Park

Derek Juarez Lopez Support Fund

You may have heard of the tragic homicide of Derek Juarez-Lopez in Westcrest Park on September 5th.

At times like this it’s so hard to find the right words. For a family, this is a tragic loss of a beloved child as well as a loss of a friend, student, and poet cherished by an entire community.

I am so saddened and angered that Derek’s life has been taken. The words from his call for help as reported by the Times are heartbreaking. “‘I just got jumped…they stabbed me, I’m bleeding. Can you please come get me?’”

Thank you to the woman near Sixth SW and SW Cambridge for calling 911.  I am monitoring the Seattle Police Department investigation and discussed it with Chief Kathy O’Toole today.

Please help out if you are able: https://www.gofundme.com/derekjuarezlopezfund.

 

Street Vacation by Harbor Avenue

The Council approved a petition for a street vacation from West Coast Self Storage and Nucor Steel for a portion of 29th Avenue Southwest and Southwest City View Street, just off Harbor Avenue SW, adjacent to the Port. The address of the properties is 3300 and 3252 Harbor Avenue SW, and the use is for a self-storage facility.  A “street vacation” is when the city vacates right-of-way for private use; public benefits are required.

Public benefits and conditions focus on the Alki Trail, including relocating power poles out of the trail, reconstructing and widening the trail, adding lighting, and delineating trail crossings with pavement change.

One of the proposed conditions is the project built on the site must be substantially in conformance with the proposal shown to the Sustainability and Transportation Committee.  The presentation to the Sustainability and Transportation committee included an outdated image of the relationship between the building and the Alki Trail which runs between Harbor Avenue and the proposed building. The petitioners have agreed to set back the building further from the Alki Trail than was shown in the materials presented in committee, and have agreed to undertake other measures to reduce conflicts between vehicles exiting their garage and bicyclists using the trail.

I co-sponsored, along with Councilmember O’Brien, chair of the Sustainability and Transportation Committee, a proposed substitute bill that formally requires the project to be adjusted to include these safety features.

This condition is in line with the recommendations of the Design Commission to “Consider different design options to improve sight lines for the vehicular exit in order to enhance safety within the public realm.” Central Staff and SDOT recommended this amendment for the record.

Many thanks to Don Brubeck of West Seattle Bike Connections for his work on this.

 

Annual Labor Ride and Poker Run Follow-Up

On Monday, Labor Day, I hosted my 3rd Annual Labor Ride and Poker Run. This is a fundraiser benefitting the Labor Archives of Washington at the University of Washington Libraries Special Collections.  The Labor Archives were founded in 2010 with initial funding coming from dozens of unions and many more individuals, you can view them here at the “Founders Circle.”

The Labor Archives include “more than 300 separate collections of labor and labor-related materials from individuals and organizations documenting the local, national, and international dimensions of the labor movement in the Pacific Northwest. Collections document the intersection between labor unions and social justice, civil rights, and political organizations that feature a labor relations or labor rights dimension as part of their focus.”

The Ride this year welcomed over 50 participants from the general public as well as locals from the Carpenters’ Union, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the International Longshoreman Workers’ Union, the Deep Sea Fisherman’s Union, the Inland Boatman’s Union, and the Machinists Union.  We raised $1,100 to support the Labor Archives. If you ride any kind of bike or scooter I hope to see you next year.

 

Improving in Worksite Behavior

The City is committed to ensuring that our construction worksites are free of harassment, bullying, and other inappropriate and harmful behavior. Though research shows that the City is not alone in being at risk for this type of behavior, the implementation of Seattle’s Priority Hire program has further increased the diversity of our construction workforce, while also increasing the City’s monitoring presence on and awareness of the sites.

The City’s Purchasing and Contracting Services takes immediate action when they learn of inappropriate behavior, including alerting the contractor and any related union to begin working on solutions. As of April 2017, all construction contracts include an Acceptable Worksite provision.

I am proud to share, as an example, a recent response to some unacceptable behavior with racist- and sexist-overtones on the Beacon Buried Reservoir construction site. The City’s monitors learned of offensive incidents and immediately contacted the prime contractor. With the prime contractor’s support, the City paused work to conduct an all-site meeting and training, called a “safety stand-down.”

Workers shared that the job climate was immediately improved, and they felt more empowered to raise these serious concerns. Subsequently, when another issue occurred, the prime contractor removed three offending workers, including one union worker and two of their own core employees. The union declined to move their worker’s complaint forward upon his termination. The courage and determination of everyone made this possible, including the contractor, the workers who came forward, the Carpenters, the Laborers and our City team.

 

In-District Office Hours

On September 22, I will be at the
South Park Community Center (8319 8th Ave S) from 2:00p.m. – 6:00p.m. Please be sure to arrive no later than 5:30 pm, the final meeting of the day will begin at 5:30 p.m.

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

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

Date Location Address
Friday, September 22, 2017 South Park Community Center 8319 8th Avenue S
Friday, October 27, 2017 Southwest Neighborhood Service Center 2801 SW Thistle St
Friday, December 15, 2017 South Park Community Center 8319 8th Avenue S
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Labor Day Recognition; Hurricane Harvey: How You Can Help; Apply for the Park District Oversight Committee

September 1st, 2017


Labor Day Recognition

Keeping with Labor Day tradition, there’s lots to do to honor the contributions made by the labor movement and the individual workers in that movement to the laws protecting workers as well as the strength and prosperity of our nation.  Here’s what I’m up to on Labor Day, Monday, September 4.  I hope to see you.

  1. The 3rd Annual Labor Ride and Poker Run – Come join me at the third annual Labor Ride and Poker Run.

Labor Ride and Poker Run

Proceeds will benefit the Labor Archives of Washington, University of Washington Libraries Special Collections. Union members, friends of labor and Labor Archives supporters are all welcome! Bring your sport bike, scooter, cruiser, or tiddler on a route that will stop at several local union halls.  It’s called a “poker run,” because riders with the best poker hand (you get a playing card at each stop on the route) can win prizes donated by local businesses and unions.   We’ll start at the West Seattle Chelan Café at 9 am (registration begins at 8 am) and end up at the Martin Luther King County Labor Council Labor Day Cookout!

  1. Martin Luther King County Labor Council Labor Day Cookout – Join us at the Tukwila Community Center (12424 42nd Ave S, Tukwila 98168) 11 am – 3 pm to have some fun. They’ll have Frisbees, a bouncy house, a nerf games, magnetic fishing, and a giant “tug-o-war” at this family friendly event. They have a bouncy house lined up; a nerf shooting gallery, and magnetic fishing for the kids (with prizes). The high point is a BBQ by award winning grill master and Executive Board Trustee, Officer Kevin Stuckey.
  2. Workers host Round-Table to Discuss the Future of Worker Organizations – from 10 am to 11 am at SEIU 775, 215 Columbia St, with elected officials to discuss their rights as workers to organize, the future of worker organizations, portable benefits, universal basic income and 21st century unions, addressing income inequality, and building wealth for working families.Workers from across various non-union service sectors, including an Amazon security officer, an Uber driver, a retail worker, a domestic worker and other non-union workers, will hold a round-table discussion with me representing the Seattle City Council, U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal, Speaker of the Washington State House Frank Chopp, King County Councilperson Claudia Balducci.

    SEIU 775 represents more than 45,000 long-term care workers providing quality in-home care, nursing home care and adult day health services in Washington State and Montana.

    Teamsters Local 117 is a union of 17,000 members that builds unity and power for working people across the Pacific Northwest to improve lives and lift up our communities.

    SEIU 925 is a union of 17,000 educators, child care providers and higher education workers at the University of Washington.

    SEIU6 Property Services NW represents over 6,500 members, including janitors, security officers and airport workers in Washington State.

    Working Washington is a workers’ organization that fights to raise wages, improve working conditions, and change the conversation about wealth, inequality, and the value of work.

 


Hurricane Harvey: How You Can Help

We have all seen the devastation in Houston and the surrounding area left in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Thousands have been displaced and many have lost their lives, some saving others.

To offer mutual aid, 17 personnel from the Puget Sound Region have been deployed, four of whom are Seattle Firefighters. This team has delivered five pick-up trucks and two trailers, including water rescue supplies such as Flat-bottom Jon Boats, inflatable boats, extra boat motors, and basic preparedness items.

If you have the means and would like to donate money, here are a few organizations that are accepting donations specifically for the purpose of Hurricane Harvey disaster recovery.

 


The Park District Oversight Committee Needs Applicants to Represent Council District 1

What does the Oversight Committee do?

  • Provide advice to the Mayor, City Council, and the Superintendent of Parks and Recreation related to the Seattle Park District’s projects and programs
  • Meet, at a minimum, quarterly to make recommendations on the allocation of the Major Projects Challenge Fund
  • Hold public meetings to consider updates to the Seattle Park District’s future spending plan
  • Provide reports on the progress of the expenditures and projects of the Seattle Park District

Interested and passionate parks advocates with a diversity of expertise and perspectives, including, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, parks management, public financing, urban horticulture, landscape architecture, contract management, the interests of low-income communities, and the interests of communities of color.  Interested applicants should send a cover letter and resume to: Susan Golub: susan.golub@seattle.gov. Committee meetings are on the third Tuesday of the month, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at 100 Dexter.

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Alki Public Safety & Health Survey; South Park Town Hall; SPU Water System Demand; Survey: New Park in the Junction; Lisa in the News

August 23rd, 2017


Alki Public Safety and Health Survey

As a beachside neighborhood and regional destination, the Alki neighborhood and nearby areas face unique public safety and health challenges, from Beach Drive to the West Seattle Bridge. Residents, community groups, and visitors from elsewhere have expressed concern about the public health and safety impacts of a growing number of motor vehicle-related issues and behaviors.

The summer may almost be over, but community members have asked me to ask you to help us prioritize for the remainder of the summer and plan for next year which vehicle and driver behaviors listed below are of greatest concern.  If you live, work, or play at Alki, please consider completing the Alki Public Safety and Health Survey. Your input will help influence community awareness, guide policy, and assist long-term planning and enforcement priorities. Results will be shared with the Seattle Police Department and Seattle Department of Transportation.

The survey includes links to the relevant City laws.

Issues I’ve heard about include speeding, cruising, noise, vehicle racing and others, including the following points:

  • Speeding: Research indicates slower vehicle speeds increase pedestrian safety. Pedestrian safety is very important in an area simultaneously serving as a place to live, shop, work, and recreate.
  • Cruising: cruising generates traffic congestion, air pollution, noise, and can hinder emergency vehicle responses
  • Vehicle noise: exhaust noise from vehicles with modified mufflers, compression brakes that are not effectively muffled (can be a sign of poor brake maintenance), screeching from rapid acceleration (does not include rapid braking to avoid imminent danger), and sound systems.
  • Non-visible front and rear license plates and vehicle window tinting hinder the ability of the public and officers to rapidly identify vehicles and individuals when needed
  • Vehicle idling: long-term idling can result in air pollution.

The survey allows you to note any additional issues you’d like to bring up.


South Park Public Safety Town Hall August 29

The Department of Neighborhoods has released a flyer for the August 29 South Park Public Safety meeting, that I wrote about last week, copied below:

South Park Public Safety Meeting

Many thanks to the Department of Neighborhoods for organize the meeting after my request to SPD last month.  I’m also looking forward to hearing an update about the work of a Task Force of South Park residents that Councilmember Gonzalez and I asked the Executive to convene last November.  Their recommendations regarding the public safety and vitality of South Park will help us in the upcoming September budget discussions.


SPU Water System Demand

With the record-setting dry spell, I reached out to Seattle Public Utilities to get a better understanding of our water supply conditions.  In summary, they explained that despite the lack of rain, reservoir storage is actually at the average amount for this time of year because water consumption in the last two decades is below where it used to be several decades ago, thanks to the ongoing water conservation program. The lower water demands help “stretch out” our water supply for many years to come.

SPU Water Demand

Below are their responses in full.

  1. Given the recent record-setting dry spell does SPU have any concerns regarding the reservoir levels?
    • Water supply conditions are in good shape. In fact, our reservoirs are still a bit above their long-term average levels for this time of year. That’s due to two factors:
      • The very wet and cold winter and spring, and
      • The way we’ve operated the water system to refill the reservoirs in the spring.
  1. Was there any proactive conservation or did consumption see an uptick as in past years?
    • At this point, we are not seeing the need for people to use water any differently than they normally do.
      • We have an ongoing water conservation program and always encourage customers to use water wisely.
      • Customers can go to our website, www.savingwater.org for ways to use water wisely.
      • The website has a “Lawn & Garden” tab that might be of particular interest right now since many customers use extra water in the summer to irrigate their lawns and gardens.
      • We did use some social media outreach due to media interest directed to SPU.
    • For the next few months, especially if it continues to be very hot and dry:
      • We always monitor, operate, and make short- and long-term plans for our water supply system every day.
      • If we see the need for customers to start using water any differently than they typically do, we will make sure to let everyone know as soon as we see the need.


Survey for New Park in the Junction

The Department of Parks and Recreation is designing a new park at the West Seattle Junction land banked site at 4723-4731 40th SW.

Here’s a survey they are asking community members to fill out.

Parks will be holding a public meeting and open house at the West Seattle Farmer’s Market on September 10, as follows:

Sunday, September 10, 2017
10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
West Seattle Farmers Market
44th Ave SW & SW Alaska St, 98116

Here’s a flyer for the meeting.


Herbold in the News

  • Here is a link regarding a news article this week about a letter I sent to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos regarding working conditions in the “gig economy” following this morning’s meeting of Whole Foods’ shareholders and subsequent vote to approve deal with Amazon.com asking that he convene a national conversation with other employers in the gig economy and labor advocates to address the issues that plague the unregulated “gig economy” to plan how employees can be treated as well as customers, engaging with employees not as data, but as people with real needs and real lives. Not as a metric. I wrote: “If the gig economy is indeed here to stay, you have a responsibility to participate in a conversation about fair work, schedules, and livable wages.”
  • Here’s a link to an article about my idea for a new disclosure requirement when real estate purchases or investments are made through limited-liability companies.  The issue of all-cash investments being made in real estate for purposes of tax evasion and money laundering is such a real issue in other cities that it may have a potential impact on housing supply and affordability.  The US Treasury credits this NYT multi-part series for new policies starting in 2015  requiring disclosure of all-cash real estate purchase in each LA, Manhattan, and Miami.    I favor an approach requiring disclosure in a manner that will not “foment racial bias or resentment” done “in a way that is facially neutral about the national origin” of the buyers.  The King County Assessors’ response said I requested his assistance in “identifying the national origin of investors.”  This was not at all my request.
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South Park Public Safety Meeting Aug 29; Lander Street Overpass Funding Update; Survey: OPA Director & Inspector General; Vacant Building Legislation

August 18th, 2017


South Park Public Safety Community Meeting August 29

The Department of Neighborhoods will be organizing a community meeting in South Park on Tuesday, August 29th from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the South Park Neighborhood Center @ 8201 10th Avenue South.

In response to community requests, especially after a number of nights with vandalism against businesses, I sent a letter to the Chief of Police requesting the Seattle Police Department hold a community meeting. The Department of Neighborhoods stepped in to organize the meeting, and bring in other City departments to address other ongoing issues in South Park.

We’ll also hear an update about the work of a Task Force of South Park residents that have been meeting to formulate and report to the Executive and Council future recommendations regarding the public safety and vitality of South Park, including strategies for a new model of neighborhood policing and strategies for a culturally and linguistically responsive data-driven approach to improving the City’s relations to and effectiveness with the South Park neighborhood.

Childcare, light refreshments, and interpretation (in Spanish, Vietnamese, and Amharic) will be provided.

South Park Community Meeting

Tuesday August 29th

7-8:30p.m. (doors open 6:30pm)

South Park Neighborhood Center

8201 10th Ave S

For more information please contact Christa Dumpys: christa.dumpys@seattle.gov, 206-684-4812.

 


Lander Street Overpass Funding Update

The Lander Street Overpass project has received $10 million in funding from the Port of Seattle, as part of a Memorandum of Understanding with the City announced by Senator Cantwell, Mayor Murray, the Port, and SODO business leaders.

The schedule calls for beginning construction in 2018, and finishing in early 2020.

The cost estimate is $123 million, reduced from the $142 million figure listed in the SDOT 2017 capital budget, due to design revisions by SDOT.

The project would take Lander over the railroad tracks, which currently result in an average of 4.5 hours of road closures daily due to train traffic. In addition to hindering east-west traffic, it is important to maintaining access to Downtown from West Seattle and South Park; daily closures result in hindering access for vehicles, transit, cyclists, and pedestrians.

 


Survey for Hiring Seattle’s OPA Director and Inspector General

The City is conducting a survey to inform the search for an Inspector General and Director of the Office of Professional Accountability (OPA). Filling these two positions will be a key element of moving forward with the police accountability legislation the Council passed in May.

The OPA is operationally independent of SPD, with authority to investigate allegations of police misconduct, and identify systematic problems in SPD and recommend changes.

The Inspector General is a new position created by Ordinance 125315, in May. The Inspector General will oversee the independent Office of the Inspector General and will review the quality of OPA investigations and audit the management, practices and policies of the Seattle Police Department and OPA to ensure the City maintains police reforms.

The survey asks about the top three qualifications you want for these two positions. You can take the survey here.

More about the selection process, and descriptions of the positions is available at the Civilian Oversight webpage.

The third key accountability body is the Community Police Commission.

 


Vacant Building Legislation

The Council Planning, Land Use, and Zoning committee, on Tuesday, passed legislation that will make it easier for the City to demolish vacant buildings.

The old standard required the City to conduct a valuation of structures in single family zones before ordering demolition to demonstrate that the repair value of the structure exceeds 50% of the value of the structure.  In my opinion, the existing valuation standard – could be, if coupled with a robust Vacant Building Monitoring Program – an important disincentive for the City to tear down housing that still has useful life.  I believe that the City has not been doing enough to make sure that abandoned buildings are maintained according to vacant building law.  See the picture below.  The condition of this property has degraded after only one year of being vacant.  If the City was doing a better job monitoring these properties, and fining neglectful owners, a vacant building would not get to this condition.

vacant buildings

The new standard will require the housing to be the subject of:

  1. an emergency order to close pursuant to Section 22.206.260
  2. two unauthorized entries in the preceding 12 months
  3. written notice from the Seattle Fire Department or the Seattle Police Department that the building presents a danger.

As part of yesterday’s vote, the committee also passed my amendment to require Seattle Department of Construction and Inspection to report back to Council with an enhanced Vacant Building Monitoring Program to ensure properties do not get to this condition:  Such a program should: (1) establish triggering events for enrollment; (2) strengthen minimum standards for vacant buildings; (3) include a penalty structure for failure to comply with standards; (4) minimize costs to owners when buildings are well maintained (5) allow owners of vacant buildings to have buildings occupied by caretakers.

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MHA DEIS Issues for District 1; Landslide Mitigation Funding; Fair Chance Housing Legislation; Code Interpretations No Longer Required; Southwest Precinct Community Picnic; Alki Seawall; Results: 2017 Your Voice, Your Choice Parks and Streets

August 11th, 2017


MHA DEIS Issues for District 1

Last week I encouraged you to get your comments on the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) Citywide Rezone Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) into the Office of Planning and Community Development before the Monday 8/8 deadline.  I hope that you did.  I also let you know that I was working with Councilmember Johnson on a formal comment from the entire City Council on the DEIS.  Instead the Planning Land Use and Zoning committee sent the letter.  You can read it here.  In the letter, I included District 1-specific concerns that I’ve heard from constituents in the West Seattle Junction, Westwood-Highland Park, South Park, and Morgan Junction.  I also used the letter to confirm the commitments OPCD had made to me previously to a. more detailed quantitative analysis of displacement impacts on people-of-color, b. a more qualitative analysis of cultural displacement, both disaggregated to the neighborhood level, and c. to share the draft Final EIS with Council prior to publication.

 


$1.37 Million in Landslide Mitigation Funding – Including 3 District 1 Projects – Approved by Council

The Council approved an additional $1.37 million for landslide mitigation as a result of a request I made to the City Budget Office and wrote about a few weeks ago. Three of those projects are in West Seattle, at SW Cambridge Street and California Avenue SW, the 10200 block of 47th Avenue SW, and Highland Park Way SW, south of SW Holden Street. The latter location, pictured below, was featured in a May Find-It-Fix-It community walk.

west seattle landslide

Background on the City’s landslide planning and pictures of affected locations are available here.

The Office of Sustainability & Environment just released a reporting on Preparing for Climate Change, which notes the increased potential for landslides resulting from climate change.

 


Fair Chance Housing Legislation

On Tuesday my committee – Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development, and Arts – recommended approval of the Fair Chance Housing ordinance by a 6-0 vote.  The legislation, sponsored by myself and Council President Harrell, prohibits landlords from screening applicants based on past arrests or criminal convictions. The bill was developed to address barriers people with criminal backgrounds face when attempting to secure rental housing. I’ve written about a few times before, you can read those here, and here.

Today, largely because of the new access to data that historically has been less accessible, landlords can reject tenants because they’ve been arrested in the past seven years – not convicted – arrested.  For a criminal justice system that disproportionately arrests people of color, punishing someone who hasn’t been found guilty is a true injustice.  For those who have been convicted, the way I see it, you’ve paid your debt to society if you’ve served your time.  Blocking formerly incarcerated people from accessing stable housing is an extrajudicial punishment not consistent with the rule of law.   It is also a recipe for recidivism and less safety for our communities.  Recidivism decreases when people are able to access housing.  I would expect anyone in favor of a safer Seattle to support this bill.   If you are interested in reviewing the studies that support the policy as developed in the Fair Chance Housing ordinance, you can find them here.

Further, we are in a homelessness state of emergency. If we do not do more to ensure housing providers provide housing for the 55% of unsheltered homeless people in Seattle who identify their criminal background as a barrier to accessing housing, then we are derelict in our duty to address the homelessness state of emergency – for which we have the authority and obligation to act with expedience.

The Fair Chance Housing ordinance would prevent 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.  In addition, the legislation will not go into effect for 150 days after signing in order to support a new Fair Housing Home Program in which the City will help landlords learn how they can implement practices that will affirmatively further fair housing by reducing racial and other biases in tenant selection.

Landlords will still be able to screen applicants based on employment, credit scores, income ratios, or other criteria to ensure people will be good tenants.  They’ll merely be unable to use criminal history when considering applicants, something no study has shown affects a person’s ability to successfully be a good neighbor or tenant.  I hope my colleagues will join me in supporting this legislation when it comes to Full Council this Monday.

The legislation recommended by committee today was developed collaboratively over the past year through a stakeholder process that included renters, landlords, advocates, the Office of Mayor Ed Murray, and the Seattle Office for Civil Rights. The bill was considered in my committee at over 4 meetings, including a stakeholder discussion and an evening forum highlighting feedback from formerly incarcerated people, tenant advocacy organizations, and the Rental Housing Association.

The voices of people with lived experiences have been very important to the development and passage of this legislation.  We all know that one in three people in Seattle have a criminal background.  But the reality is that, no matter how many facts and figures exist, what actually convinces elected officials to change the law are these lived experiences. They are worth more than all the studies combined.  It takes incredible courage to speak in public about one’s experiences with the criminal justice system and I want to acknowledge those who have, here is the testimony of one such person.

In addition, a District 1 West Seattle constituent and 25 year veteran, who works with incarcerated veterans, joined us to give testimony as well.  Until Tuesday morning, I had been considering abstaining on the amendment to remove the 2 year look back.  I was so moved by the testimony of this gentleman, I was convinced to support the amendment.  Here is an excerpt:

“For the past 7 years, I’ve been working with incarcerated veterans as they struggle to restart their lives. I’ve come to know senior leadership in both the Department of Corrections & the Washington State Department of Veteran Affairs. I offer my comments here today speaking for neither of those institutions nor any of the dedicated hardworking folks I’ve come to know there. Rather, I speak for myself, one who served 25 years defending the right of my fellow citizens to exist within a free open society. As a nation, we have institutionalized and legalized discrimination against felons.  Their punishment doesn’t stop with their release, it just goes on and on, often for years. It’s been reported we have, per capita, incarcerated more people in our country, than in any democracy in the world. The home of the free, land of the brave, perhaps we should now add & “the incarcerated.” We had heeded the voices of others within our society, who have and continued to wish to marginalize and beat down those who are at their most vulnerable, those in need of our greatest support, our greatest understanding and compassion, those who bear the mark of felon. Yes, felons have transgressed but now they have served their time, paid their dues to society. If they are free to walk our streets then the fact they had been a felon should cease to be public knowledge the minute they are released – not two years after the fact, not seven years after the fact but the moment they are released. Now treat them for who they are today, not who they have been. Folks change, lives change, reality changes. We need to be charitable and supportive, not mean and vindictive. We expect this for ourselves, I certainly do. I know you do as well, why do we insist on denying it to our fellow citizens? Have the political courage to stop listening to those meaner, vindictive, judgmental voices.”

Public Testimony

Full Council is scheduled to consider the legislation this Monday, August 14 at 2 p.m. in City Council Chambers.

 


Code Interpretations No Longer Required

On Monday, the Council unanimously passed a bill to remove the requirement that an administrative remedy called a “Land Use Code Interpretations” would be required prior to seeking to appeal to the Hearing Examiner or a court of law. A Land Use Code Interpretation is an onerous financial barrier to many people, at a minimum cost of at least $3,150 that accounts for 10 hours of review by Seattle Department of Construction and Inspection (SDCI).  There is an additional charge of $315 per hour for any additional review.

This issue was originally brought to my attention when several residents of District 1 appealed a decision regarding a Pondarosa Pine. Which you can read about here in a previous blog post from last year.

In speaking to our Law Department regarding this section of the code, I learned that Seattle is the only jurisdiction in the State that requires administrative remedies be exhausted prior to seeking an appeal. This furthered my resolve and I pushed forward in May with legislation to reverse this.

On July 18th at the Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee we had a Public Hearing about this issue, the testimony was overwhelmingly in support of the change. Thank you so those of you that came to testify and bring about this change.

 


Southwest Precinct Community Picnic

The Southwest Precinct Community Picnic will be on August 12, from 11am – 3pm at the Delridge Community Center at 4501 Delridge Way SW.  Precinct Picnics give neighbors an opportunity to come together and enjoy an afternoon with officers in their precinct. Photos from the Southwest Precinct Picnic in 2016 are here.

 


Council Passes Alki Coastal Erosion Project Agreement for New Seawall at Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook Park

The Council passed an agreement between the City’s Parks Department and the US Army Corps of Engineers to replace the seawall at Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook Park by Beach Drive. The seawall was originally built in 1927, and is nearing the end of its useful life; it has a 30% probability of failure during a storm event, and by 2025 will have a 60% probability of failure. It’s 500 feet long, and supports important infrastructure, including a sewer main, a PSE gas line, a storm sewer main, and a water main.

The estimated cost is $2.8 million; the agreement provides for 65% federal funding, and 35% from Parks (approximately $1 million).  After detailed design and permitting are completed, construction is anticipated for Autumn of 2018, with completion by Spring 2019.

I asked whether the design accounts for climate change and sea level rise; the Project Management Plan notes that the new seawall “will be two feet higher than the existing structure “to account for increased storm wave heights and future sea-level rise.”

Earlier this month, the Office of Sustainability & Environment released a Preparing for Climate Change report, which noted this seawall as being at risk from sea level rise.

The report notes that sea level rise increases the potential for overtopping of seawalls, and notes that “newer seawalls and other structures have been designed to accommodate projected sea level rise.”

Here’s a presentation and the Environmental Assessment.

Seattle Public Utilities has a map showing areas in Seattle most likely to be affected by sea-level rise.

West Seattle Seawall West Seattle Seawall Map

Thanks to Councilmember Juarez, Chair of the Parks, Seattle Center, Libraries and Waterfront Committee, for
shepherding the legislation through committee.

 


2017 Your Voice, Your Choice Parks and Streets Vote Results

The Department of Neighborhoods announced results for the 2017 voting results for the Your Voice, Your Choice: Parks and Streets. Here are the winning projects in District 1:

  • Delridge: Crossing Improvements at Delridge Way SW & SW Oregon St (Cost: $90,000, Total Votes: 477)
  • Westwood/Highland Park: Bus Stop Improvements at Delridge Way SW & SW Barton St (Cost: $90,000, Total Votes: 470)
  • High Point: Walkway Improvements on SW Orchard St between Delridge Way SW & Sylvan Way SW (Cost: $80,081, Total Votes: 425)
  • South Park: Crossing Improvements on S Cloverdale St (Cost: $85,700, Total Votes: 396) 

SDOT also noted it will be funding some of the additional projects considered but not funded through this process.  It gives us something to which to look forward:

“As a bonus, while Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) reviewed ideas submitted by Your Voice, Your Choice participants, it ran the projects through its program priorities and was able to fund additional traffic calming and pedestrian improvement projects in underserved neighborhoods throughout the City. SDOT will work with communities to announce, design, and implement these projects in the upcoming year.”

Information about the District 1 projects is linked here.

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Comp Plan Docketing Amendments; MHA Update; No Big Salary Bonus for 2016; In-District Office Hours Update

August 4th, 2017

Comp Plan Docketing Amendments

In the Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee this Tuesday we discussed and voted on the Comprehensive Plan docketing resolution. An important inclusion in the resolution for “docketing,” or study and consideration in the 2018 Annual Comprehensive Plan Update, is direction to city departments to analyze and propose amendments to our Comprehensive Plan establishing a new developer impact-fee program to fund transportation, parks, and school needs associated with new development. Here is a Seattle Times editorial I co-authored with Councilmembers O’Brien and Bagshaw on the topic.

In addition, I brought forward two amendments:

  1. A requirement for formal community planning engagement before changes to three Morgan Junction Neighborhood Plan policies.
  2. A policy related to monitoring growth in urban centers and villages. This proposal would reintroduce policies that were previously removed from the Comprehensive Plan that would require the City to make adjustments to investments and growth thresholds when growth exceeds or falls short of our projections.

The first amendment was held at committee and not voted on. Councilmember Johnson agreed to work with me to develop a compromise and to vote on at Full Council on Monday, August 7. The second amendment failed with both Councilmembers Johnson and Gonzalez voting against it. While I’m disappointed that this amendment failed, the Office of Planning and Community Development does still report, on a quarterly bases, the growth in our urban center/villages. However, should growth exceed or not meet the Council’s expectations there is no specific mechanism that requires the Council to act in either providing resources to the effected communities in the way of increased infrastructure or neighborhood planning.

Comp plan pic

 

MHA Update

If you have comments on the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) Citywide Rezone Draft Environmental Impact Statement, don’t forget to comment by Monday, August 7, by using OPCD’s online form, by email to MHA.EIS@seattle.gov, or by mail to:

Office of Planning and Community Development
Attn: MHA EIS
PO Box 34019
Seattle, WA 98124-4019

You may recall that I wrote last month about a letter that I sent to Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD) Director, Sam Assefa. My letter focused on the displacement risk analysis for Citywide Mandatory Housing Affordability Implementation and it also requested an additional extension of the comment period on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) from August 7 to August 28 and asks OPCD to do additional analysis. This letter addresses serious concerns that I raised in two previous blog posts, here and here. I received a response from Director Assefa and though he declined my request to further extend the comment period on the DEIS, he did agree to significant new analysis on the displacement risks associated with the proposed upzones. I am specifically seeking more detailed quantitative analysis of displacement impacts on people-of-color and a more qualitative analysis of cultural displacement, both disaggregated to the neighborhood level.  Director Assefa has also made an important commitment that the draft Final EIS will be shared with Council prior to publication. If the analysis for the FEIS is not sufficient to quantify disparate impacts, I may consider commissioning additional analyses either through a peer-review of the FEIS or other measure. I appreciate Director Assefa and his staff’s efforts to work with me.

In addition, I am currently working with Councilmember Johnson on a formal comment on the DEIS, including specific D1 concerns, as well as confirming these important commitments with Director Assefa.

For more information about the environmental review process watch OPCD’s What is an EIS? video. The Washington State Department of Ecology also has information about SEPA and the EIS process.

 

No Big Salary Bonus in 2017 for 2016

You may recall, from my email on July 20th, I shared with you a letter to Mayor Murray regarding the Seattle City Light CEO performance pay criteria and asking the Mayor to share those criteria with me. The performance pay criteria are important because of State Attorney General’s guidance in setting objective criteria which measures performance that exceeds the expectations of the job.

I had previously raised concerns about this pay during the appointment of Larry Weis, but ultimately voted to appoint Weis despite those concerns because the Council did not have the authority to prohibit the bonus without first repealing a law a previous Council approved back in 2003.

I’m pleased to report that on July 27, the Mayor replied to my letter, stating that though CEO Weis and he are still in conversations regarding the criteria for future performance pay, that due to expectations having not yet been codified, CEO Weis would not receive performance pay for 2016.

I don’t know if it was my asking whether there were established performance criteria that led to the Mayor ultimately deciding that performance pay was not merited. If so, it shows that when asked, good questions can save taxpayers money.

 

In-District Office Hours Update

Due to the Council’s late August Recess my next tentatively scheduled in-district office hours will be on Friday, September 22 at the South Park Community Center (8319 8th Ave S).

Here is a complete list of my tentatively scheduled office hours for the rest of 2017. These are subject to change.

Date Location Address
Friday, September 22, 2017 South Park Community Center 8319 8th Avenue S
Friday, October 27, 2017 Southwest Neighborhood Service Center 2801 SW Thistle St
Friday, December 15, 2017 South Park Community Center 8319 8th Avenue S

 

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South Park Vandalism; Night Out on Aug 1; Legal Aid Pilot; SPU Strategic Business Plan Update; City-Wide Emergency Hub Drill; Elimination of the Sub-Minimum Wage

July 27th, 2017

South Park Business District Vandalism

I am saddened and disturbed to hear of overnight vandalism against businesses in South Park It’s happened three times in the last week, and overnight on both Monday and Tuesday evenings.

On Wednesday morning, I sent the following e-mail to Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole:

Chief O’Toole,

I am writing you about a surge in vandalism in the South Park business district.

For the second night in a row, South Park businesses have had their windows smashed. This is now the third time this has happened in a week; last week, a business was also the target of an arson. This is resulting in a decreased sense of public safety in a fragile business community. I’ve heard from business owners and residents expressing grave concern about this—this clearly appears to be a deliberate pattern targeting businesses in the community.

Revitalization of the business district is a core priority of the South Park community. The South Park business district has suffered from vacant buildings for some time, and the community greatly values local business owners willing to invest in South Park to establish the kind of businesses already common in so many of Seattle’s neighborhood business districts. It’s important that current and potential business owners feel they can safety operate businesses in South Park.

I am requesting that you do whatever you can to put SPD resources into the South Park business district overnight, to seek to prevent additional vandalism.

I am also requesting the Seattle Police Department hold or attend a public meeting to let the community know what you are doing in response to this, as requested by several constituents. I am happy to attend.

I appreciate your response to my letter last year about public safety challenges in South Park, and your willingness to direct additional resources toward addressing them. I also appreciate Captain Davis’ recent response to residents and business owners, which notes:

“Looking forward, we will be investigating the latest incidents of property damage with hopes of a quick resolution.  Each of our three work shifts are on alert of this issue and will patrol the affected areas appropriately.  If any of you should have further concern, please feel free to contact me or any member of my command staff.  Lastly, please take the time to observe the South Park neighborhood’s crime statistics which can be viewed on the SPD website.  I believe you will find the information useful.  Again, thank you for taking the time to convey your concerns.”

Sincerely,

Lisa Herbold

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

In addition, I encourage everyone to support the businesses in South Park that have been damaged, including Burdick Brewery, which just re-opened, Left Bank Wine and La Toscanella.

To seek long-term solutions to public safety challenges in South Park, Councilmember González and I created a South Park Public Safety Task Force, that is currently meeting, and scheduled to make recommendations to the City Council in September, in advance of the City Council’s work on the 2018 budget.  Please let me know if you have thoughts or suggestions.

 

Night Out on August 1

Night Out is a national event promoted in Seattle by Seattle Police Department Crime Prevention. It is designed to heighten crime prevention awareness, increase neighborhood support in anti-crime efforts, and unite our communities. This year’s event is on Tuesday, August 1.

To participate in Night Out and to have your street closed for the event, you must officially register your Night Out event with the City of Seattle. You can close a street as long as you don’t close an intersection, or live on an arterial. There is no fee.

Registration is open until 5 p.m. on Monday, July 31, so there’s still time to get your event listed; you can register here.  A map of events is linked here, just select “Southwest Precinct” or your specific neighborhood; numerous events are scheduled throughout West Seattle and South Park.  Here’s a link to the information page, which includes advice on how to organize a Night Out event on your street, and materials in several languages.

I’ll do my best to get to as many District 1 events as I can!

 

Civil Legal Aid Pilot

On Monday this week attorneys got to work on City-sponsored pilot program that I championed in last year’s budget to prevent people from losing their housing or employment when they are in the midst of a legal defense for an offense unrelated to their housing.  This pilot will allow new civic legal aid attorneys to partner with Public Defenders to advocate for the accused to keep their housing and ability to work.

An arrest that doesn’t lead to conviction sometimes results in a tenant’s eviction or loss of a job, which, to me, feels like the opposite of justice. We’re dealing with an unprecedented homelessness crisis, and part of the solution is ensuring people stay in their homes and keep their jobs. That is why, I spearheaded an effort to include money in the City’s annual budget for three attorneys to provide these additional civl legal services on misdemeanor cases heard through the Seattle Municipal Court.

My office worked closely with King County Department of Public Defense on this pilot project because of the significant, negative consequences like the loss of housing or employment licenses that the process of criminal prosecution has on individuals. Anita Khandelwal, King County Department of Public Defense Policy Director said, “The Collateral Consequences attorneys funded by the City of Seattle will help DPD’s clients avoid some of those consequences and reduce the harmful impact of the conviction on the individual, which makes it impossible for them to move forward with their lives. Ultimately, Seattle’s investment will improve outcomes for DPD’s clients—which is good not just the clients, but also for our community.”

Until a recent change resulting from last year’s budget action, Public Defenders were prohibited from engaging on matters unrelated to their assigned criminal cases.  Seattle’s two year pilot program will operate similarly to existing civil legal aid models from the Public Defender Services for the District of Columbia and the Bronx Defenders in New York City. Council will hear initial findings about the pilot at the end of the year.

 

SPU Strategic Business Plan, Update 4:  Issue Identification

I’ve written a few times about the Strategic Business Plan (SBP). You can see those updates here, here, and here. In this weeks’ committee meeting Central Staff identified issues in the SPU plan that Councilmembers might want to change.  You can find the presentation and memo with specific options in amending the SBP, particularly with the idea of reducing the 5.5% average annual increase. You can watch the committee meeting here.

There are many possible ways to approach lowering the average annual increase, but I would like to highlight a few that I am particularly interested in:

  • Rate smoothing – while this won’t directly lower rates, it will prevent a large spike in rates that can have a more detrimental impact on rate payers than a more gradual increase.
  • Water tap fees – while SPU currently employs a tap fee for new development, it does not recover the full cost of the actual installation. This means that rate payers are subsidizing growth by paying part of the tap fee. If we raise the fees to recover the cost of service we would increase revenue by an estimated $900,000 annually.
  • System development charges – water tap fees are a subset of system development charges however, as I talked about in my last blog post, Seattle has the lowest water system development charges in the region.
  • Examining the SPU Capital Improvement Project (CIP) list to determine if there are projects that can be deferred.
  • Reducing the assumed CIP accomplishment rate from 100% to a rate more in line with historical norms.
  • Tie the utility tax rate to inflation (2.4%) instead of the overall rate increase of the current 5.5%.

If you haven’t done so already, I would encourage you to contact my office with your thoughts, concerns, and any suggestions you have for potential reduced spending so that I can share them with SPU and the Executive and incorporate them into the SBP.

 

City-Wide Emergency Hub Drill

This Saturday, July 29th, the Seattle Emergency Hubs will host a citywide drill. During this drill participants will practice for “the big one.” Specifically, this drill will be a continuation of the Cascadia Rising Subduction Zone earthquake, on day six after the initial quake.

Take a look at the map below and find the closest hub to you to participate.

Seattle hubs for citywide drill

 

Elimination of the Sub-Minimum Wage

On Wednesday 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. This last June the Commission for People with DisAbilities voted unanimously to end this exemption. The commission then met with the Council and Executive to discuss a path forward in ending subminimum wages for people with disabilities. Seeking the quickest route forward we decided to pursue a Director’s Rule process with the Office of Labor Standards (OLS), which will begin in August. This directors rule will be followed with legislation which the Council intends on voting on before the end of the year.

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