City of Seattle Authorized to Provide Coronavirus Vaccinations; West Seattle Bridge Update; ST3; OEM Director Appointment Process; Cash Assistance for Hospitality Workers; COVID-19 Business Impact Survey

January 15th, 2021

City of Seattle Authorized to Provide Coronavirus Vaccinations

This week I joined Mayor Durkan and Seattle Fire Department Chief Scoggins to announce that the City of Seattle will soon begin vaccinating nearly 1,000 residents and staff at adult family homes via two new mobile vaccination teams.  On January 9, 2021, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) approved the City to serve as a vaccine distributor, meaning the City is eligible to receive weekly shipments of vaccine from DOH and can administer vaccine to Seattle residents and workers. Seattle Fire Department has already acted creatively and heroically to provide more than 560,000 free COVID tests for Seattle residents, and now will speed efforts to vaccinate vulnerable Seattle residents.

Based on vaccine supply, the City of Seattle can broaden its mobile vaccination efforts during the interim period between the first and second vaccination doses. The City’s expanded effort will likely focus on partnerships with community-based organizations and providers who serve older adults who may be unable to receive a vaccine through traditional health care systems. As vaccines become more widely available to the City of Seattle or other providers in Seattle, the City is prepared to partner and launch mass vaccination hubs, similar to the existing mass testing sites.

Vaccine Phases: The Washington State Department of Health, based in part on national best practices,  determines who is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, and when they are eligible. Currently, Washington is in phases A1 and A2.  The below timeline is estimated.  Locally, Public Health – Seattle & King County wants to ensure people with the very highest risk of serious illness and death from COVID-19 have the opportunity to get vaccinated first before we start to vaccinate those who fall into phase 1B. King County has the largest population of healthcare workers and people in long-term care facilities in the state, so it may take longer to vaccinate phase 1A here than in other counties with smaller populations.

Additional vaccine information:

It is crucial that we step up efforts to rapidly vaccinate vulnerable Seattle residents. The City of Seattle has shown true leadership in the fight against coronavirus from the start, in the absence of federal coordination.  This new effort to speed vaccination will save lives and help us not replicate the unacceptable disparities we have seen in infection rates in BIPOC communities.

West Seattle Bridge Update

Funding update

The City of Seattle is pursuing $15 million in funding from the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) for the West Seattle Bridge project. This week the PSRC Transportation Policy Board advanced the request to the Executive Board. A big thank you to PSRC Transportation Policy Board members Council President Lorena González and Councilmember Debora Juarez for their work on this board to move the proposal forward!

The PSRC Executive Board will consider this for final action on January 28.

On Wednesday, the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force met and heard a number of updates from SDOT.

West Seattle Bridge repair update

Many of you wrote last week asking for a status report on the bridge repair.  Stabilization work on the West Seattle Bridge was completed in December, and the work platforms were removed. SDOT continues to monitor the health of the bridge:

SDOT plans to reach 30% design on the West Seattle Bridge next month. This will set the stage for issuing a Request for Qualifications to select a contractor for repair work for both the high and low bridge. I asked SDOT about this, and they indicated the work involved is similar, and specialized. Consequently, it’s possible this could result in time or money savings.   The goal is to select the contractor by May.

Here’s the schedule shown at the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force meeting on Wednesday:

Here’s additional information, including a note that a number of approvals are needed from external parties, and that the contractor will be involved in the design, which can assist with schedule. Estimated costs and schedule will be updated at 30% design, in February. 30% design is what SDOT uses as a “baseline” for costs and schedule.

Lower Bridge Update

Rehabilitation work is also planned for the lower bridge, including control system upgrades and maintenance of the hydraulic drive system, and structural rehabilitation.

Lower Bridge Access Committee Update

SDOT has been working with a variety of representatives from the West Seattle business community, maritime users, labor, and healthcare providers on access to the lower bridge. They have met 11 times, to work on an access policy as camera enforcement began on January 11, and permitted users transitioned from placards to license plates.

SDOT will be monitoring usage with camera enforcement. Camera enforcement of restrictions may allow for loosening of restrictions on use in the future; SDOT will consider adjusting permitted uses monthly. Here are current permitted users:

Although Employer shuttles are authorized; SDOT indicates there aren’t any employer shuttle choosing to operate currently.  Below are the criteria for business, maritime, labor and government. SDOT notes that if you believe you meet the criteria, please contact SDOT at westseattlebridge@seattle.gov.

Here are some of the conditions affecting capacity during 2021, including Terminal 5:

Based on usage, SDOT has determined the low bridge can accommodate 450 additional daily trips, beyond current permitted users:

The subcommittee is examining healthcare use, and potential criteria. Healthcare workers have long expressed interest in accessing the lower bridge during the COVID pandemic, and I have requested SDOT consider this. SDOT is working with subcommittee members to develop criteria for potential use; factors under consideration include:

  1. Is capacity available?
  2. What types of health care workers need access. How many trips, and when?

Use of the bridge by time of day has changed, as demonstrated in the August and December traffic volumes shown below:

Here’s SDOT’s evaluation of capacity, and usage by time of day. It in informed by, for example, the frequency of bridge openings, which take place less frequently earlier in the morning, so there are fewer times when traffic needs to “reset” after a bridge opening:

King County Metro has a promotion for its vanpool program; vanpools with 2 or more users can use the lower bridge.

Traffic data, 2021 projects

SDOT has made traffic data available online re: West Seattle Bridge closure impacts on, for example the Spokane Street (lower) bridge, the South Park Bridge, 1st Avenue South Bridge and other metrics. The vertical lines note when SPD enforcement began; status of COVID restrictions;  holidays, and when the low bridge was opened to general traffic overnight:

During 2021, SDOT plans to implement 33 Reconnect West Seattle projects, including Home Zone projects in Highland Park and South Park. Here’s a map showing the projects. SDOT is continuing to collect community input for project ideas for construction in 2022.

SDOT is planning outreach on West Marginal Way over the next month, including a Virtual Open House in mid-February. At Wednesday’s Community Task Force meeting, I asked SDOT if they had decided whether to propose the elimination of a traffic lane for a protected bike lane. SDOT indicated they were engaged in the outreach process described below, and didn’t indicate they had reached a conclusion about what decision they will make under the SDOT director’s authority over use of city streets.


ST3 Light Rail to West Seattle Cost Estimate Increases

Sound Transit committees have received two recent briefings about cost increases for the West Seattle/Ballard light rail project.

January 7 Executive Committee

Last week the Sound Transit Board Executive Committee received estimated cost increases for the West Seattle/Ballard light rail project. Other projects included in the 2016 ballot measure have increases as well.  The Sound Transit Board is engaging in a realignment process, scheduled to run through a decision point on program realignment in July, 2021. The page notes,

“Sound Transit is facing an unprecedented and extremely challenging financial environment caused by two major, simultaneous factors: (1) a pandemic-driven recession that has severely reduced consumer spending and government agency tax revenues; and (2) unrelenting pressures in the real estate and construction sectors of the economy that are continuing to drive costs to levels significantly beyond those foreseen in our plans.”

The agency has commissioned an independent review of its cost assumptions and underlying methodologies.  The estimated cost increase for the West Seattle/Ballard light rail project is as follows:

Other projects under development from the 2016 ballot measure also have projected costs increases:

Here’s Sound Transit’s estimates for cost increases for light rail projects by categories, across projects:

Here’s the realignment schedule listed in the Realignment webpage:

Realignment Process

The Board has set the process for capital program realignment, culminating in summer 2021 after gaining input from the public and partner organizations. This will provide time for the financial impacts of the recession to become clearer while we pursue additional funding opportunities. The Board has laid out a month-by-month process: 

January: review project evaluation

  • Board workshop provides common grounding for the 2021 realignment requirements, processes, and decisions. Review project evaluation results, clarify tools available to the Board, clarify project and program elements subject to realignment. Update federal revenue prospects. Provide direction to staff on realignment approaches to develop.

February: discuss realignment approaches

  • Board reviews financial update, previews work on approaches emerging from the Board workshop.

March: define realignment approaches for public feedback

  • Board reviews financial update; discusses public engagement plans.

April: engage with the public and key stakeholders

  • Board asks what is important for them to consider before they make final realignment decisions.

May: discuss realignment options

  • Board hears public engagement results and identifies priorities for a draft realignment plan.

June: develop draft realignment plan

  • Board leadership outlines what they have heard as priorities and requirements for realigned plans. They present and discuss proposals for a realigned plan; identify potential refinements; and direct staff to prepare final plan/action for Board consideration in July.

July: take realignment action

A Sound Transit blog post notes, regarding options to address the funding gap:

The first emphasis in working to close that gap is securing additional financial capacity by seeking increased federal and state funding and employing every creative means that can be identified. 

The Board’s options for addressing whatever gap remains include delaying the delivery of projects to provide longer periods for revenue collection; delivering projects in phases; and reducing project scopes.

The Board also retains the most extreme option, which it has not yet discussed, of suspending or deleting projects if deemed necessary to best realize the region’s critical transit needs within the parameters provided by voter-approved plans.

Additional information is available at the  Sound Transit realignment web page, which  includes presentations from last year, beginning in June. Here’s a link to the presentation heard at the Executive Committee, and  a staff memo.

January 14 System Expansion Committee

This week the System Expansion Committee received an update on cost estimates for construction projects currently in development. The presentation includes additional  information on the West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions section,  beginning on slide 26.

Here are cost estimate increases for segments of the project:

The presentation includes information about right of way acquisition, property costs, and construction.

Other items germane to the West Seattle segment include:

  • Larger, deeper foundations due to ground conditions in Duwamish and Interbay.
  • Straddle bents/long spans along Spokane St and in Duwamish and Delridge.
  • Drainage detention vaults throughout the corridor.
  • Ecosystems mitigation due to potential impacts in the Duwamish River and Salmon Bay.
  • Archaeological and historic mitigation in Duwamish, CID, Downtown and Ballard.

Tunnel alternatives that go to the Junction are estimated to be closer to the cost of an elevated option than previously:

The presentation provides the following timetable for the independent review of Sound Transit’s cost methodologies:

Here are Sound Transit’s next steps:


OEM Director Appointment Process

Early last year the director of the Office for Emergency Management (OEM) retired. Since then interim director Laurel Nelson has led the department and has done a great job helping the City navigate through the pandemic. On December 4 the Mayor announced a permanent director, Curry Mayer.

On Tuesday, my committee – which has oversight authority for OEM – heard from Senior Deputy Mayor Fong and Director Mayer. Just as with other City departments, the head of the OEM will need to be confirmed by the Seattle City Council. Senior Deputy Mayor Fong introduced Director Curry to the committee and she shared with us some of her background and interest in the position.

I am working with my colleagues on questions for Director Curry for when she returns to my committee meeting on January 26, where we will review and discuss her responses and consider a vote to  appoint her.  If you have questions to submit, please send them to: Alex.clardy@seattle.gov

Cash Assistance for Hospitality Workers

Applications are now open for one-time cash assistance from the City’s new Hospitality Worker Emergency Relief Fund.  The Fund will serve low-income, hospitality workers who live and work in Seattle and have lost their jobs or experienced a pay reduction due to employment changes and business closures during the COVID-19 pandemic. To meet income qualifications, households must make 60% or less of area median income (AMI).

Council authorized the Fund in December as part of a $5 million relief package  for small businesses impacted by the pandemic and economic recession and the workers and their families whose livelihoods depend upon them.

Applications are due Monday February 1st, 2021 at 11:59 PM.  Learn more and apply here

Covid-19 Business Impact Survey

Business owners and nonprofit leaders: please take the Covid-19 Business Impact Survey and help regional partners plan for economic recovery.  King County, the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, Greater Seattle Partners, and the City of Seattle are coordinating a regional effort to assess the economic impacts related to COVID-19. This is the third round of a regional survey, which will help partners understand trends in impacts faced by businesses. Information collected in this survey will help develop economic recovery strategies and quantify emergency relief programs for small businesses, non-profits and independent workers throughout the region.

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West Seattle Bridge Update; Find Emergency Food Resources; New COVID Testing Location in West Seattle; Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery; Subpoena Legislation Adopted by City Council; Statement on Coup Attempt and National Capitol’s Violent Occupation; 2021 Office Hours

January 8th, 2021

West Seattle Bridge Update

SDOT announced that camera enforcement will begin on the lower (Spokane Street) bridge beginning on Monday, January 11.  Here’s a reminder of permitted uses; all personal vehicles can use the bridge from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.:

SDOT will be collecting data on bridge usage and traffic patterns after camera enforcement begins, and can update uses on a monthly basis if traffic allows. SDOT has convened a lower bridge stakeholder advisory committee to advise SDOT about allowed uses.  Healthcare workers have long expressed interest in accessing the lower bridge during the COVID pandemic, and I have requested SDOT consider this.   Access for health care workers was the focus of the Low Bridge Access Subcommittee meeting early this week.  Factors under consideration include:

  1. Is capacity available?
  2. What types of health care workers need access. How many trips, and when?

SDOT will continue its work with healthcare representatives and the committee on potential criteria for allowing usage, as they start to monitor volumes during automated enforcement to determine whether traffic data confirms that there is room for additional users.  SDOT expects to know more by the end of the month.

Here’s an update SDOT from December regarding the completion of stabilization work on the West Seattle Bridge.

The most recent traffic data shows high volumes on West Marginal and Highland Park Way, in line with previous trends:

Here is the most recent travel time data:


Find Emergency Food Resources

The City of Seattle keeps an updated, online map of emergency food resources here.  A number of District 1 locations are included.  You can also type in your address and find food resources located near you here.  Please share this important resource far and wide.


New COVID Testing Location in West Seattle

The UW Mobile Medical Van is now providing COVID tests at the Holy Family Church in White Center/West Seattle on Tuesdays and Fridays from 9 am to 3 pm at 9641 20th Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98106.

UW Mobile Medical Van at Holy Family Church, 9641 20th Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98106
Phone: (206) 520-2285
Available: Tuesdays and Fridays, 9am to 3pm
Languages: Phone interpretation available

The City of Seattle has added several new, free testing sites, including new self-testing kiosks; in addition to a number of existing test sites.  Local sites to District 1 are listed below.  If you feel sick or believe you were in proximity to someone with coronavirus, please get tested.  Make an appointment and find additional sites here.

West Seattle Walk-up, 2801 SW Thistle St., Seattle, WA 98126
Make reservations online
Available: Mon-Sat, 8:45am-5:30pm
Languages: Interpretation available including ASL and tactile interpretation

Sea Mar Community Health Centers at White Center, 9650 15th Ave SW #100, Seattle, WA 98106
Phone: (206) 965-1000
Languages: Spanish, Interpretation available

Neighborcare Health at High Point, 6020 35th Ave SE, Seattle, WA 98126
Available: Monday-Friday, 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Call for appointment: (206) 461-6950
Languages: Amharic, Amharic, Arabic, Cambodian, Oromo, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Ukrainian available onsite; interpretation available

Sea Mar Community Health Centers at South Park, 8720 14th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98108
Phone: (206) 762-3730
Languages: Spanish, Interpretation available

Consider using WA Notify, an app that notifies you if you come in contact with someone with coronavirus, using randomized codes to protect privacy.  More than 1.6 million Washingtonians are using it.  Learn more at WAnotify.org.


Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery

On January 5th, 2021, Governor Jay Inslee announced a new regional approach to re-opening the state called Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery.  The regions are mostly based on Emergency Medical Services (EMS) regions used for evaluating healthcare services, using metrics such as hospitalizations, case data and disease mobility.  Seattle and King County are in the Puget Sound Region, along with Pierce and Snohomish counties.  Beginning on January 11, every region – including Seattle’s – will begin in Phase 1.

Basic information about allowable activities in Phases 1 and 2 is contained in the graphic below.  More detailed information can be found here.  Again, beginning on January 11th, Seattle will be in Phase 1.

Moving Between Phases: A region’s phase will be determined by the Department of Health (DOH) in response to four metric requirements. The final metrics for regions will be calculated on Friday, January 8 and will be effective January 11.

To move forward from Phase 1 to Phase 2, regions must meet all four metrics:

  • Decreasing trend in two-week rate of COVID-19 cases per 100K population (decrease >10%)
  • Decreasing trend in two-week rate new COVID-19 hospital admission rates per 100K population (decrease >10%)
  • ICU occupancy (total — COVID-19 and non-COVID-19) of less than 90%
  • COVID-19 test positivity rate of <10%

To remain in Phase 2, regions must meet at least 3 metrics:

  • Decreasing or flat trend in two-week rate of COVID-19 cases per 100K population
  • Decreasing or flat trend in two-week rate new COVID-19 hospital admission rates per 100K population
  • ICU occupancy (total — COVID-19 and non-COVID-19) of less than 90%
  • COVID-19 test positivity rate of <10%.

Regions that fail to meet two or more of the above metrics will be moved back to Phase 1.

The metrics for each region will be updated on the Risk Assessment Dashboard every Friday. Dependent on a region’s metrics, DOH will move into a new phase — forward or backward — the following Monday.  DOH and local health departments reserve the right to move a region outside of this timing, and additional phases may be added as the state’s COVID-19 situation changes with continued vaccine distribution and other changes in public health response.

Of course, information changes rapidly.  The best resource for up-to-date information in Seattle is Public Health – King County & Seattle’s website on Covid-19 and reopening.

Subpoena Legislation Adopted by City Council

The City Council adopted legislation this week that I sponsored to strengthen the Office of Police Accountability (OPA) and Office of the Inspector General’s (OIG) power to subpoena those who have been involved in or witnessed incidents of potential officer misconduct.

For our civilian-led police accountability system to work, investigators must have access to key information in pursuing misconduct complaints.

This ordinance codifies and affirms the City’s stance that the OPA and OIG can seek subpoenas of those who may have witnessed or been involved in potential misconduct incidents. In addition, it creates a process for OPA and OIG to directly issue the subpoena and enforce them by seeking a Court order should the subject of the subpoena fail to comply. The ordinance also requires that individuals and third party-record holders served with a subpoena are provided a written notice of their right to due process. This protection was not codified previously, and this addition is intended to increase civilian participation in OPA investigations and OIG audits and reviews.

The City will negotiate aspects of this legislation in the next police union contract to keep us on the path toward realizing true accountability and transparency.

Statement on Coup Attempt and National Capitol’s Violent Occupation

On Wednesday, when our democracy was assaulted in Washington, D.C., as  supporters of Donald Trump staged an insurrection in the Capitol,  I released the following statement:

Councilmember Lisa Herbold (District 1 – West Seattle), Chair of the Public Safety and Human Rights committee, issued the following statement in reaction to the pro-Trump mob storming the nation’s capitol:

“This is an attempted coup.  This cannot stand in the United States of America we love.  Occupying the Capitol or threatening the lives of policy makers or people who do not support Donald Trump will not change the outcome of the presidential election.  Neither Donald Trump’s veiled threats nor his supporters’ force will be tolerated – especially when Democracy and the future of our great nation hangs in the balance. 

“This is not patriotism, this is tyranny.  Neither violence nor the threat to personal safety will be accepted as the norm. The work of those involved in a hostile takeover doesn’t represent the majority of American people.  And this terrorist coup attempt will not stand. 

“I appeal to Seattleites to stay calm and vigilant.  I anxiously wait for news of the safety of all of those involved.  I hope that all who serve our nation in Washington D.C. are safe and secure.

“I call on decision-makers at the highest levels of our country’s leadership to bring the certification of state presidential electoral votes to a swift and safe resolution.  Those who can must bring the illegal and terrifying occupation of our nation’s Capitol by these angry mobs to an immediate end and I hope that all are safe and protected in doing so.

“A peaceful transition is a core element of our democracy, and what’s best for our country, even if Donald Trump does not support it. The situation before us is horrible and dangerous, volatile and completely unnecessary.  Trump must stop lying about the outcome of this election; there was no fraud.  To tell people to go home while doubling down on these lies is a disingenuous effort to bring this breach to a close. 

“Multiple people have been harmed inside the Capitol building today.  Blood spilled today is blood on Donald Trump’s hands. This violent occupation of our Capitol – and attack on our American Democracy and values – must be ended immediately.” 

I echo President-elect Joe Biden’s comments made yesterday.  “You can’t tell me that if it had been a group of Black Lives Matter protesters yesterday they wouldn’t have been treated very differently than the mob of thugs that stormed the Capitol. We all know that is true. And it is totally unacceptable. Totally unacceptable. The American people saw it in plain view.”

2021 Office Hours

On Friday January 29, I will be hosting virtual office hours between 2pm and 6pm, with the last meeting of the day beginning at 5:30pm.

Due to the nature of virtual office hours, you will need to contact my scheduler Alex Clardy (alex.clardy@seattle.gov) in order to receive the call-in information and schedule a time.

Additionally, here is a list of my tentatively scheduled office hours which will continue as virtual office hours until indicated otherwise. These are subject to change.

  • Friday, January 29, 2021
  • Friday, February 26, 2021
  • Friday, March 26, 2021
  • Friday, April 30, 2021
  • Friday, May 28, 2021
  • Friday, June 25, 2021
  • Friday, July 30, 2021
  • Friday, August 20, 2021
  • Friday, September 24, 2021
  • Friday, October 29, 2021
  • Friday, December 17, 2021
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West Seattle Bridge Update December 18;

January 4th, 2021

West Seattle Bridge Update December 18

In January SDOT will begin automated photo enforcement on the (Spokane Street) lower bridge. With the start of camera enforcement, SDOT will conduct an ongoing evaluation of capacity on the bridge, and consider adjusting access on a monthly basis. SDOT has convened a lower bridge subcommittee to advise SDOT regarding bridge uses, and SDOT reports that they are “working with the health care community to define authorized essential workers and total trips that could be allowed (emphasis added).”

Personal vehicles are allowed to use the bridge between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. daily.

Here’s a summary of allowed bridge use:

I asked SDOT recently about use of the bridge between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m., something constituents have contacted me about. They indicated the bridge is at capacity for the corridor from 5-6 a.m. Here’s the traffic volumes from December 10: 

SDOT notes the trend is consistent over time; below are traffic volumes from September 28 through October 1.  

Here’s information about King County Metro’s vanpool program for West Seattle commuters to access the lower bridge, and eligibility for a promotion to start a new Vanpool or Vanshare and receive up to the first two months free. You can send any questions to vanpool@kingcounty.gov. 

SDOT is planning to finish West Seattle Bridge stabilization work this monthOn Pier 18, they  finished pouring the concrete that will keep the lateral bearings in place, and are completing the final round of carbon fiber wrapping.  

Here is the most recent traffic volume data: 

Here are the most recent vehicle travel times:


Council Adopts 2021 Budget 

In late November, the City Council adopted 2021 City budget that focuses on the key areas of economic recovery, health and safety, and housing.  

The budget process began in late September, when the Mayor proposed a budget. The Council dedicated two months to analyzing and making changes to the proposal.  

The City’s total budget is $6.5 billion, of which $2.76 billion can only be allocated to City Light and Seattle Public Utilities because that revenue comes entirely from ratepayers. The City’s General Fund totals $1.4 billion.  

The adopted budget includes approval to issue $97.2 million in bonds to the overall West Seattle Bridge project, which includes Reconnect West Seattle projects to mitigate traffic impacts, as well as work to maintain the Spokane Street (lower) bridge. This adds $27.2 million to the $70 million interfund loan that I co-sponsored and that was earlier approved by the Council. 

Below are items I sponsored, or co-sponsored as noted. 

District 1 Transportation 

West Seattle Bridge/Reconnect West Seattle: Require reporting for the West Seattle Bridge/Reconnect West Seattle program, SDOT’s mitigation program to fund project that ameliorate impacts of West Seattle detours routes on communities like Highland Park and South Park. 

West Marginal Way Longhouse crossing project; this specifies that $2.8 million will be included in the 2021 budget for this project with full funding. 

Georgetown to South Park Trail I co-sponsored this proposal with lead sponsor Councilmember Morales, which provides $5.2 million toward the trail. 

Community Safety 

Provide funding to a. reverse cut of Fire exams and b. reverse cut of 20 firefighters from SFD recruit class:  Maintains current hiring and testing capacity.  The SFD has recently seen an increase in firefighter separations, and If the same attrition pattern on average over the last five years (38 separations) continues in 2021, SFD could have 75 vacancies with an additional 412 eligible for retirement. 

Add funding to expand Health One: added $254,000 to the Fire Department and $222,975 for personnel to the Human Services Department to expand Health One operationsHealth One is an innovative model that reduces reliance on SPD and SFD resources by better connecting people who call 911 with appropriate and necessary services– whether they need medical care, mental health care, shelter, or other social services.  

Add funding to the Fire Department to fund Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs), Lucas Devices, and Ballistic Sets: AEDs provide an electrical shock in cases of life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias which lead to sudden cardiac arrest. Lucas Devices provide chest compressions (CPR) when it is unsafe for Emergency Medical System crews to do so. Ballistic Sets protect firefighters and paramedics at scenes of violence and allow them to quickly enter these scenes to rescue highly vulnerable patients. 

The role of parking enforcement officers:  Expand the function of the proposed Seattle Emergency Communications Center to include Parking Enforcement Officers (PEOs) and rename the office the Seattle Community Safety and Communications Center (CSCC). Consider expanding the current role of the PEOs to assume functions currently provided by SPD sworn officers, which could include red light camera enforcement, school zone enforcement, response to non-injury collisions, response to and reporting on minor thefts and car break-ins, and traffic control. 

South Park Public Safety Coordinator: This will continue the work of the South Park Public Safety Coordinator. This position was the top priority recommendation in the 2017 South Park Public Safety Taskforce Report funded by the City Council. Current priorities include facilitating community safety dialogue around South Park’s experience around policing and alternatives to police in South Park; street and safety concerns due to West Seattle Bridge closure, business district concerns, and youth engagement. Recent work includes coordinating Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) work in youth art murals and a Clean Streets Initiative, community support during COVID, neighborhood walks, and facilitating and distributing a neighborhood newsletter in English, Spanish and Vietnamese.  Here is a great article about his work. 

Community-Led Public Safety Investments: Appropriate funds for scaling up community-led organizations, to move the City’s community safety strategy toward a public health-centered, harm reduction model of restorative justice, crime prevention, and ameliorating the harm caused by the criminal legal system to individuals and communities most impacted. These strategies will aim to prevent, reduce and mitigate both violent and non-violent crime. 

Restore Funds for Alternatives to Criminal Legal System: Restore funds proposed for reduction to organizations pursuing alternatives to or addressing harms caused by the criminal legal system that were awarded grant funding through the 2020 Collaborative Grantmaking process. 

SPD Budget: These actions reintroduced reductions to the SPD budget adopted in the 2020 summer budget rebalancing, including proposals for out of order layoff reductions in sworn officers and reduction of overtime and travel. Also included was abrogation of vacant positions, and positions not possible to be filled under SPD’s staffing plan, to align funding for positions with staffing, and free up funds not anticipated to be spent. Those dollars will be invested into community-led public safety investments. 

SPD Overtime and staffing tracking: These actions request SPD to report to the Council monthly on use of overtime, and staffing levels. 

Report on traffic stops: This requests SPD report on the demographics of traffic stops for criminal and non-criminal purposes, and racial disparities, as requested in Ordinance 125358 on bias-free policing; and a report with recommendations on training and policy changes consistent with the Department of Justice Consent Decree to address bias and disparities in the report 

Participatory Budgeting:  Council approved significant funding for community safety grants allocated through a participatory budgeting process in the 2021 budget.  Seattle is behind other major cities when it comes to allocating larger dollar amounts and supporting participatory budgeting, although we have experience with participatory budgeting through Your Voice, Your Choice.  Paris allocates about $60 million annually through participatory budgeting Learn more about cities all over the US and Canada doing participatory budgeting at the Participatory Budgeting Project: https://www.participatorybudgeting.org/case-studies/ 

These community safety grants will be informed by the community-based participatory research currently underway by Black Brilliance Project, through a contract with the Legislative Department.  Black Brilliance Project researchers gave Council an update on their research this Monday; you can watch the presentation here.  These researchers aren’t just collecting data; they include young people, elders, and people with lived experience of community safety and our criminal legal system, as well as upstream systems.  The researchers are also diving into the nuance in stories and asking deeper questions about systemic violence and how it effects us collectively as well as individually.  While the research is still underway, here are some early, high-level recommendations: 

Housing and Human Services 

Provide Funding for Landlord Liaison Programfully fund a landlord liaison program that has connected 1,170 individuals to housing by establishing partnerships of landlords that own more than 470 properties. 

Add Funds to Maintain Family Rapid Rehousing Caseloads: Due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, homelessness services agencies report that households enrolled in rapid re-housing programs have required substantially longer to exit the program.   This increases funding to ensure families do not fall back into homelessness, with half of the funds reserved for agencies with culturally-relevant expertise or serving populations disproportionately affected by homelessness. 

Age Friendly Seattle: Restore proposed cuts to Age Friendly Seattle. 

Reduce Overdoses and Overdose Deaths: Add funding to contract with Public Health for services recommended by the 2016 Heroin and Prescription Opiate Addiction Task Force for active drug users in existing low barrier programs with the goal to reduce overdoes and fatal overdoses as well as increase the health of people who use substances. 

Increase Services for Drug Users: Increase services and harm reduction programs at social service agencies that serve people who use drugs daily, allowing them to expand hours, increase staff, expand to additional locations, provide peer and community outreach, implement good neighbor agreements for syringe pickup, provide participant incentives, explore Medicaid reimbursement for services, and make safety improvements. 

Increase Outreach to People Experiencing HomelessnessExpand homelessness outreach and engagement services within District 1 and citywide, and provide flexible financial assistance for serving people experiencing unsheltered homelessness. 

Social Service Provider Academy; this is a career development program that offers higher education opportunities to housing and homelessness social services entry level staff who are interested in advancing professionally in their field. 

One element of the balancing package, proposed by Budget Chair Mosqueda, increased the amount in the Emergency Fund by $32 million, to $38 million. Given the course of COVID-19 and economic uncertainty heading in to 2021, this is a good precaution. 

With the COVID pandemic ongoing, impacts to businesses and workers continue. Earlier this week the Council adopted $5 million in relief fund for small business grants focusing on hard-hit restaurants and bars, and workers in the hospitality industry.  

 

Free Testing for COVID-19 in District 1 

District 1 long term care facilities are again struggling with coronavirus, with both Providence Mount St. Vincent and Park West reporting significant outbreaks and deaths among residents and staff in the past several weeks.  There have been over 500 deaths at long-term care facilities in King County, representing 60% of all Covid-related deaths since the pandemic began.  My heart goes out everyone who is concerned about their vulnerable loved ones right now. 

Early testing is important to help prevent COVID-19 from spreading to friends, family, and the community. If you have a sign/symptom of COVID-19 or were exposed to someone with COVID-19, please get tested. 

  • Get tested for COVID-19 if you have any of the above symptoms, or: fatigue, headache, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, or nausea. 
  • If you have difficulty registering, call the King County COVID-19 Call Center at 206-477-3977 (open 7 days a week, 8 a.m.-7p.m.) If you need an interpreter, please tell us in English what language you need. 

City testing sites can handle more than 7,000 tests daily.  1 in 4 Seattle residents have reportedly used these sites so far.  The City has administered 450,000 tests across the Aurora, SoDo, Rainier Beach, and West Seattle Citywide testing locations since June.   

West Seattle Walk-up, 2801 SW Thistle St., Seattle, WA 98126
Make reservations online
Available, Mon-Sat, 8:45am-5:30pm
Languages: Interpretation available including ASL and tactile interpretation
NOTICE: Will be closed on Dec. 24, Dec. 25, Dec. 31 and Jan. 1. 

Additional testing sites in District 1 – call for appointments and more information: 

Neighborcare Health at High Point
6020 35th Ave SE, Seattle, WA 98126
Available: Monday-Friday, 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Languages: Amharic, Amharic, Arabic, Cambodian, Oromo, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Ukrainian available onsite; interpretation available 

Call for appointment: (206) 461-6950  

Sea Mar Community Health Centers at South Park
8720 14th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98108
Languages: Spanish, Interpretation available 

Call for appointment: (206) 762-3730 

As a reminder, the best ways to keep our community safe and healthy are: 


Free Flu Vaccination and Help with Health Insurance 

For more Health Insurance Open Enrollment events: http://kingcounty.gov/outreach  

To find a vaccination clinic: http://kingcounty.gov/findaclinic 

Eviction Moratorium Extension  

On Wednesday, December 16 the Mayor signed a new Executive Order extending COVID-19 relief measures including an extension of the eviction moratorium through March 31, 2021.  

Further, on Monday the Council unanimously passed an extension of temporarily suspended late fees on utility accounts; and the Utility Discount Program’s Self-Certification Pilot Program is extended until June 30, 2021, which can lower Seattle City Light bills by 60 percent and Seattle Public Utility bills by 50 percent. 

Save the Stone Cottage 

As you may have seen in their recent press release, Save the Stone Cottage is working to fundraise to save the building and move it before it’s demolished. The home needs to be lifted off the foundation and transported to a temporary location as a developer is moving forward with new construction at the property.  

I’m so thankful for the efforts of so many neighbors that have come together to save Eva’s Stone Cottage, and none of it would be possible without the historic preservation efforts of all of those involved including: John Bennett, Kathy Blackwell, Deb Barker, Jeff McCord, Mike Shaughnessy, Ken Workman, BJ Bullert, Shari Sewell, and Lisa McNelis. 

Ive been encouraged by conversations early this year with the Parks Department and help from the Department of Construction and Inspections.  Unfortunately attentions were turned to more pressing needs at the beginning of the public health emergency.  I am hopeful we can return to those conversations in the New Year. 

Shop Your Block 

It’s a great time to support our beloved, local small businesses in West Seattle and South Park – from the safety of your home.  If you still have holiday or year-end shopping to do, check out these online marketplaces. 

West Seattle Junction 

Only In South Park 

Find online marketplaces for additional neighborhoods and a searchable interactive map of businesses here.   


Council Recess 

The Council will be on its regular holiday recess through January 4th, so there will be no City Council or committee meetings until then.  

Happy Holidays to everyone! 

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Public Safety and Human Services Committee; State Legislative Agenda; Leadership Transition at the Human Services Department; State Covid Restrictions Extended; Virtual Office Hours

December 11th, 2020

Public Safety and Human Services Committee

During most of 2020, regularly scheduled City Council committee meetings have not taken place. Committee meetings have mostly been cancelled due to COVID 19, the need for the Budget Committee to meet over the summer in order to amend the 2020 budget due to revenue shortfalls, and the regular fall budget process.

With the budget process completed, my Public Safety and Human Services Committee meeting schedule will resume. Below is a quick summary of items that were considered in the December 8 committee meeting.

CPC/OIG/OPA Update: the Community Police Commission, the Inspector General, and the Office of Police Accountably provided an update on their work. Here’s a link to the presentation.

One highlight from the briefing was that the CPC reported to Council that a challenge they are experiencing is “lack of recommendation implementation.”  The CPC is responsible to: “Identify and advocate for reforms to state laws that will enhance public trust and confidence in policing and the criminal justice system.” (SMC 3.29.300).  For this reason, they are developing a tracker for their recommendations to improve policing practices.  A tracker provides accountability that makes it easier for elected officials to follow up when action is not taken.

Subpoena authority legislation:  this legislation will strengthen the power of the Office of Police Accountability (OPA) and Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) to subpoena those who may have been involved in or witnessed incidents of potential officer misconduct. Subpoena power was one of the issues raised by the federal court and by an assessment of the City’s accountability system. The legislation was developed in collaboration with the Mayor’s Office, Office of Police Accountability, Inspector General, and City Attorney’s Office. A committee vote in planned for December 17th; a Full Council vote will be in early January.

Proposal for Misdemeanor Basic Need Defense: this proposal was briefly discussed during budget, and after requests from other Councilmembers and the Council President we decided to take this up after the budget was passed. The proposal we discussed on Tuesday focused on the concept of creating a basic need defense: making meeting an individual’s immediate basic need an affirmative defense to a crime. Central Staff’s memo (see link) provides background and context about how an affirmative defense fits into the criminal legal system, identifies some policy considerations for a potential future bill, and outlines next steps.

I want to highlight that, this conversation isn’t a consideration of a dramatic new policy. As our City Attorney said (his letter is attached to the memo linked above): “I have worked to move the City Attorney’s Office away from prosecuting property crimes that appeared to be committed out of survival necessity… It’s not only a just choice by prosecutors, it’s also one reenforced by Seattle jurors who are loath to convict for crimes committed out of pure necessity.”  This proposal would simply give defendants the ability to offer this defense in court when there is a prosecution.  A judge or jury will still be tasked with determining guilt or innocence.

State Legislative Agenda

Numerous issues of importance to Seattle constituents require action by the Washington State Legislature. For this reason, each year the City adopts a state legislative agenda. On Monday the Council adopted Resolution 31982, to set the City’s 2021 state legislative agenda.

Below are some of the items I worked with City’s Office of Intergovernmental Relations and Council President González to get included.

The Community Police Commission sent a letter with their legislative priorities, and I worked to ensure they were included in the City’s legislative agenda. Below are areas included in the CPC’s recommendations, and the language adopted in the Council resolution:

  • Remove accountability from bargaining process (discipline, appeals, subpoena authority): “We support prohibiting collective bargaining between law enforcement agencies and officers on topics related to disciplinary action, appeals of discipline, subpoena authority, and any state reforms related to law enforcement.”
  • Remove arbitration as a route of appeal for police misconduct: “The City of Seattle also supports removing private arbitration as a route of appeal in law enforcement discipline cases.”
  • Repair broken decertification system: “We also support legislation to reform the decertification of peace officers, including allowing the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission (WSCJTC) to initiate decertification once the police agency issues a final sustained finding of disqualifying misconduct.”
  • Ensure community is represented in WA State Justice Training Commission (only 3 of 16 members are designated for community members), advocate for at least 50%: “We support changes to the WSCJTC’s membership to have non-law enforcement community members represent at least fifty percent of the voting membership.”
  • Institute truly independent investigations (establish investigative unit in State AG’s office, and entity to review all closed investigations): “We also support the establishment of a statewide use of force database, and an independent state agency to investigate use of deadly force incidents and independent prosecutions of deadly use of force to ensure a fair and impartial assessment can be reached.”
  • End qualified immunity: “The City of Seattle supports efforts to increase accountability and transparency in law enforcement. We support ending qualified immunity, and legislation that broadens the definition of disqualifying misconduct to ensure that police officers who engage in serious misconduct may not work in a law enforcement capacity elsewhere.”
  • Strengthen requirements for officers to intervene when they witness police misconduct: “We support the establishment of statutory duty to intervene, so that police must intercede and report misconduct by another officer.”

Groups such as Black Excellence in Cannabis and King County Equity Now have written the Council about expunging cannabis-related offenses, and lack of ownership opportunities. The legislative agenda notes:

  • “The City also supports review of marijuana licensing and the incorporation of a racial and social equity program that recognizes the historic inequities and harm resulting from the over policing of marijuana offenses in communities of color, including the resulting lack of ownership opportunities. We support expunging all cannabis related felonies and offences to address the disproportionate impact on the Black community.”

As is consistent with my membership on the regional committees for Water Quality and the Watershed Resource Inventory Area: 9 we added in support for Floodplains by design:

  • “We support investments in climate resilient infrastructure, including flood risk reduction, salmon recovery and working lands protection and enhancement through its Floodplains by Design program.”

I’ve heard from multiple constituents and businesses wondering about property tax relief due to Covid-related closures, we added:

  • “We support efforts to lower the taxable value of properties impacted by the stay at home order issued in response to the COVID-19 crisis.”

Finally, in working with the ACLU of Washington, the City supports changes to current laws about Drive While License Suspended 3 (DWLS3), we added:

  • “We support legislation to reduce the impact of economic disparity by de-linking drivers’ license suspensions from non-payment of traffic fines.”

Leadership Transition at the Human Services Department

Last week we heard the news that HSD’s interim Director Jason Johnson will depart at the end of the year, and Helen Howell will join the City in January as HSD’s new interim Director, while a search for a permanent Director is underway.  I understand Director Johnson will stay on for a few weeks in January to help ensure a smooth transition.

As Chair of the committee with oversight of HSD, I appreciate Director Johnson’s commitment to its lifesaving work for the most vulnerable Seattle residents.  Although originally planning to step down earlier this year, with the onset of COVID-19 Johnson extended his time, implementing policies to expand shelter resources and services for people experiencing homelessness, streamline emergency food access, and maintain critical services for aging and disabled residents throughout the pandemic.  Director Johnson and his team at HSD have earned my appreciation and gratitude for their extraordinary efforts this year.

Helen Howell most recently held the position of Senior Director of Policy, Research & Social Impact Initiatives at the King County Housing Authority, while also overseeing Homeless Housing Initiatives and the Housing Choice Voucher Program. Prior to that, Howell served as the Executive Director of Building Changes, a Seattle nonprofit focused on reducing youth and family homelessness across the state.  I look forward to working with her in the coming year.

In 2019, Council passed Resolution 31868, which lays out the steps that Council intends to follow in the appointment process for a new City department head.  This process begins with Council requesting that the Mayor communicate to the Committee Chair about the planned recruitment process prior to identifying a nomination, including a description of the intended process and the engagement of any advisory groups, stakeholders, and subject matter experts who will be involved.  This process helps ensure that both City Council and the public have an opportunity to hear the Mayor’s goals and vision for HSD, as well as learning about the eventual candidate.  I have already reached out to Deputy Mayor Washington, who will be leading the search for a permanent Director, to begin that process.

State Covid Restrictions Extended

District 1 long term care facilities are again struggling with coronavirus, with both Providence Mount St. Vincent and Park West reporting significant outbreaks and deaths among residents and staff this week.  In the last two weeks, Seattle has seen 2,170 new cases of COVID-19 and nearly 100 new hospitalizations of Seattle residents.  My heart goes out everyone who is concerned about their vulnerable loved ones right now.

Governor Inslee has extended temporary restrictions through January 4th, due to increasing illness, hospitalizations, and deaths from coronavirus throughout Washington state.  Currently, nearly 80% of ICU beds are currently occupied, with around 1,000 residents in those units. Even in the best-case scenario, hospitals across the state would need to add surge capacity to ensure enough ICU beds to care for COVID-19 patients in the weeks and months to come. In the worst-case scenario, state ICU capacity would need to be doubled before the end of the year.

You can read more about restrictions here.

The City has administered over 450,000 COVID tests across the Aurora, SoDo, Rainier Beach, and West Seattle Citywide testing locations since June.  Information about free public testing can be found here.

You can track the current level of COVID-19 in Seattle and King County’s on Public Health – Seattle & King County’s data dashboard. The dashboard is updated daily.

As always, the best way to beat the coronavirus and keep loved ones safe during the holidays or any time:

  • Wear a mask around people you don’t live with (even close friends and family).
  • Stay home as much as possible.
  • Follow the Governor’s limitations on indoor gatherings.
  • Quarantine and get tested at the first sign of illness or if you’ve been around someone with COVID-19.
  • The safest option is to avoid gathering with people you don’t live with this holiday season.


Virtual Office Hours

On Friday December 18, I will be hosting virtual office hours between 2pm and 6pm, with the last meeting of the day beginning at 5:30pm.

Due to the nature of virtual office hours, you will need to contact my scheduler Alex Clardy (alex.clardy@seattle.gov) in order to receive the call-in information and schedule a time.

Please look for my office hours for 2021 to be announced early next year.

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Great News for D1 in the Vacant Building Monitoring Program Report; West Seattle Bridge Update December 4; South Park Bridge Overnight Closures on December 9th, 10th; A New Way to Stop the Spread of COVID-19 in Washington: Your Smartphone; Open Enrollment for Affordable Healthcare Ends December 15th – Assistance Available; ST3

December 4th, 2020

Great News for D1 in the Vacant Building Monitoring Program Report

I last wrote about this program in June 2019. As a quick refresher, this program requires monthly inspections for vacant buildings, which (1) have received three notices of violation, (2) are located on a lot for which a master use permit or building permit application has been filed, or (3) are included on a list maintained by the police or fire departments of vacant buildings that have generated large numbers of calls for dispatch and take away resources for public safety.

Vacant buildings are a major issue in the city and especially in District 1. That’s why I worked for years to revamp the Vacant Building Monitoring Program.  Before the new program launched in 2019, D1 had the most vacant building complaint cases of any District in the city with 95 cases in 2018, yet, D1 had the least number of buildings in the old monitoring program, with only two properties being checked on a quarterly basis.  Monitoring is important because when a vacant building is regularly monitored by Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI), inspectors can make sure that the building is boarded up and maintained in accordance with the vacant building standards.

See here:  https://www.seattle.gov/DPD/Publications/CAM/cam605.pdf

We just received the first status report on the program. Under the new program, there are currently 486 vacant properties being monitored across the City, and 77 of those vacant properties are in D1.  This is a huge improvement over only 2 vacant buildings in District 1 being monitored before the passage of the new program!

Between June 2019 and September 2020, SDCI inspected 1,804 properties. Sites that were issued Notices of Violation or failed to meet building and yard standards were revisited, and SDCI completed 3,142 follow-up inspection.

Further, the program is designed to be self-sufficient.  The fees that are collected is revenue that is used to pay for inspections. The cleanup and closure work is billed to property owners if the City has to do that work, in instances that the owners fail to do it. Expenditures are on track as projected for 2020.

West Seattle Bridge Update December 4

Community Task Force Updates

The West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force met earlier this week to hear updates from SDOT and discuss next steps.

SDOT is continuing stabilization work on the bridge, which is expected to be completed later this month. These images show continuing stabilization work, to add carbon fiber wrap to the bridge exterior, and the floor of the girder on the inside of the bridge:

SDOT’s next steps for repair include monitoring stabilization work through a period of colder weather; completing a study that models how likely other parts of the bridge are to need future repairs before the bridge is eventually replaced; adding more post-tensioning work and carbon fiber wrap to the other bridge spans; installing additional instrumentation to monitor the new bridge strengthening; and reviewing the seismic condition of the Pier 18 foundation. SDOT’s timetable lists design, permitting and construction planning for repair to occur fall 2020 through summer 2021, with construction in fall 2021 and early 2022, with the bridge opening to traffic at a date to be determined in 2022. I will continue to advocate that we look for more ways to  move the timeline forward.

In this spirit, SDOT announced they plan to use the General Contract/Construction Manager project delivery method (GC/CM). This will mean bringing on a contractor earlier in the process, specifically during design and construction planning.  Doing so can result in both schedule and cost savings.

Below please find the updated overall schedule for bridge and related work. There is a new timetable for the evaluation of alternatives for future replacement (often called the “Type, Size and Location” study). Previously, SDOT was proceeding on an accelerated 3 month schedule.  Now that a repair has been chosen, SDOT will be implementing a standard one year timeline for the study of alternatives for eventual replacement.

Reconnect West Seattle

Here’s a summary of work done to implement Reconnect West Seattle projects:

Here’s a project status map, showing projects by year of completion.

Next steps include continuing work on detour-route traffic mitigation, and implementation of the Home Zones safety project in Highland Park, South Park and Georgetown, with the timeline listed below for work with the community:

On West Marginal, a temporary signal and crossing is planned for next year;  a timetable is listed below for consideration of additional projects:

As SDOT implements elements of the Reconnect West Seattle Plan, COVID reopening/recovery timelines will need to be considered for investments.

South Park Bridge Overnight Closures on December 9th, 10th

Six and a half years after it opened, the South Park Bridge is getting its first full mechanical/electrical inspection. King County Road Services announced  that the bridge will close for that inspection on two nights in December – Wednesday, December 9th, and Thursday, December 10th, 10:30 pm to 6 am both nights. The main detour those nights will be the nearby 1st Avenue South Bridge. The West Seattle low bridge also will be open to all traffic as usual for all but the last hour of those windows.

A New Way to Stop the Spread of COVID-19 in Washington: Your Smartphone

Seattle is facing the third wave of COVID-19 cases – the most dangerous phase.  We’ve had nearly 11,000 cases of COVID since the pandemic began – and 34% of those cases occurred in November alone.  Hospitalizations have reached the same levels as March and April, and both the number of hospitalizations and deaths continue to increase.

Washington State Department of Health (DOH) announced the launch of WA Notify, a simple, anonymous exposure notification tool to help stop the spread of COVID-19 using your Android or iPhone.  WA Notify will alert you if you spent time near another WA Notify user who later tests positive for COVID-19.   WA Notify uses privacy-preserving technology jointly developed by Google and Apple and works without collecting or revealing any location or personal data.

How do I add WA Notify to my phone?

You can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 by adding WA Notify to your phone today. Studies show that the more people who use it, the more effective it is.  Several states including Virginia, New York and Colorado are using similar technology, as are Ireland, Canada and Germany.  More than 1 million Washingtonians are already using it.  Read more about WA Notify here.

We’re all tired, but our doctors, nurses, and essential workers are at greater risk than ever as hospitals are on the verge of being overwhelmed.  If we all do our part, we can reverse this trajectory and protect our community’s health and our economy.

Open Enrollment for Affordable Healthcare Ends December 15th – Assistance Available

The 2019 Open Enrollment period for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act ends on Dec. 15.  Public Health—Seattle & King County is taking extra steps to assist people who are unsure about how to sign up or how to choose from the many options.

How to get help in King County:

  • Online: Coverage is Here King County website: Answers to basic questions, plus locations and dates for in-person assistance
  • Online: Washington Healthplanfinder website and app: It’s easy to browse specific options, compare pricing, and see whether a key provider or prescription is covered
  • Phone: King County hotline for health access: 800-756-5437
  • Phone: Washington Healthplanfinder: 855-923-4633 (extended evening hours Dec. 11-15)
  • Enrollment Centers: These sites are open daily (in addition to special events listed on the website), to help people enroll.
    • Public Health-Seattle Metro Service Center, 201 S. Jackson, Seattle 98104 (Mon.-Thurs 8:30-4:30 and some Fridays and Saturdays, please check schedule)
    • Public Health-Federal Way Enrollment Center, 1640 S. 318th P, Suite B, Federal Way 98003 (Mon.-Thurs. 8:30-5:00; for weekend hours, please check website)

There are nine special enrollment events scheduled between now and 12/15 in King County.  Health insurance specialists, called Navigators, will be at the following locations.  You can schedule an appointment ahead of time at www.kingcounty.gov/outreach, or just show up for first-come, first-served appointments.

In King County, consumers can choose plans from six insurance companies.  More than half of all customers qualify for an immediate tax credit, which lowers the monthly price for insurance. Many others qualify for Washington Apple Health, which is free and available year-round.

For those who enroll before the 11:59pm deadline on Dec. 15, insurance coverage will start on Jan. 1, 2020.  For those eligible for Washington Apple Health, enrollment is available year-round.

New Small Business Grants Available, Applications Due December 11th

Small businesses struggling to survive the impact of COVID-19 can apply now for up to $20,000 in a new round of $50 million in state Working Washington grants. Priority is focused on businesses with annual revenues of $5 million or less in 2019 and those most impacted by the recent public health measures, as well as businesses in sectors that have experienced significant, cumulative impacts. Examples include full-service restaurants, fitness centers, bowling alleys and music and event venues.

Grants can be used only to cover expenses or costs incurred due to COVID-19 and that were necessary to continue business operations.  Certain nonprofits may also be eligible if they have a primary business activity that falls into a similar high-impact category, for example a nonprofit full-service restaurant or nonprofit music venue.

Information and applications for this third round of Working Washington Business Grants are available at www.commerce.wa.gov/bizgrants. Business owners who have questions about the grants can email bizgrants@commerce.wa.gov or call (360) 725-5003.

Commerce encourages businesses to apply by December 11.  The Seattle Office of Economic Development is offering technical support to small businesses who are applying. For assistance, email oed@seattle.gov or call 206-684-8090. In-language assistance available in Spanish, Vietnamese, Korean, Cantonese, Mandarin, Amharic, and Somali.

ST3 Online Open House

Sound Transit recently launched a new online open house about the West Seattle/Ballard light rail project to share information about the project in advance of the release of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (Draft EIS), now projected for mid-2021. The purpose of the online open house is to provide as much information as possible now, well in advance of the release of the Draft EIS.

The informational online open house features an overview of the environmental review process along with detailed maps, elevation profiles and descriptions of each alternative currently being studied. Additionally, there are new maps for each proposed station and cross-sections for all elevated stations, along with information about how people could walk, roll, bike, or take transit to potential station locations.

The site is mobile and e-reader friendly and also translated into Spanish, Vietnamese, Simplified and Traditional Chinese: ESPAÑOL | TIẾNG VIỆT | 正體字/繁體字 | 简化字 .

After the Draft EIS is published, anticipated in mid-2021, Sound Transit will launch a public comment period to ask for feedback about the routes and stations and their potential effects.

You can select tabs for more information about  Environmental Review, Alternatives and Stations. Here are links to the West Seattle station alternatives: Delridge, Avalon, and the Alaska Junction

The Environmental Review section notes:

COVID-19 has significantly impacted Sound Transit’s long-term funding projections, causing uncertainties about project delivery dates. In 2021, the Sound Transit Board will continue a realignment process to determine the degree to which plans and timelines for voter-approved projects need to change.

In recent months, COVID-19 has also impacted Sound Transit’s work with partners to advance WSBLE environmental review work. Until the Board makes realignment decisions in 2021, WSBLE project materials will continue to reflect the original project schedule with the exception of incorporating the recent impacts to the environmental review timeline. These changes include moving the completion dates from 2030 to 2031 for West Seattle and from 2035 to 2036 for Ballard. Schedules are based on limited design and engineering at this phase of project development. Opening dates are subject to further changes under the realignment process.

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West Seattle Bridge Update, November 20; Weekly Budget Update; Funding for Bridge Maintenance; Coronavirus is Surging in Seattle – How to Stay Safe; Small Business Stabilization Fund Applications Due November 30th; “Shop Your Block” Supports Neighborhood Businesses

November 20th, 2020

West Seattle Bridge Update, November 20

Mayor announces decision to pursue repair for West Seattle Bridge

Yesterday Mayor Durkan announced the City will proceed with a repair for the West Seattle Bridge. Her statement is linked here.

I released this statement:

I agree repairing the bridge is the best approach to restore safe access as quickly as possible. 

Since the closure of the West Seattle Bridge on March 23rd, I’ve heard every day from residents and businesses that are hurting, their lives and businesses disrupted. I’ve heard consistently from D1 constituents that restoring safe access as quickly as possible is the highest priority.  

As social distancing decreases, traffic and access issues will only increase.  Two years for a repair is shorter than other alternatives, even in the best scenarios.  Moreover, the Technical Advisory Panel’s confidence that the likelihood of a repair lasting 30-40 years is compelling; so are the conclusions of the Cost Benefit Analysis.  (See p. 59, of the Cost Benefit Analysis, or CBA.)

I appreciate the Mayor’s approach toward working with Sound Transit about potential joint use for a future bridge.

Proceeding with a study for a replacement as the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) monitors the effectiveness of stabilization measures after weather changes, preserves our options, should we need to change course. 

The Council quickly acted to provide $70 million in loan funding for the West Seattle Bridge and SDOT’s Reconnect West Seattle program, to stabilize the bridge and mitigate the impacts of bridge detour routes through communities that have experienced generations of under-investment.  We are poised to authorize $100 million in debt in the 2021 budget, with $50 million in bonds listed in the city’s Capital Improvement Program for 2022.

Business and workforce impacts resulting from the bridge closure are key concerns for West Seattle businesses, especially small businesses, but also for our regional economy due to reduced trips to and off the peninsula. Closure also impacts access to jobs and to supply chains.  I have come to understand that impacts to supply chains disproportionately impact smaller businesses.

The Mayor’s decision to choose the repair pathway for the West Seattle Bridge has been thoughtful, thorough, and inclusive of a diversity of perspectives as well as the input of SDOT’s independent Technical Advisory Panel.”

Proceeding with a repair

During the press conference announcing this decision, Technical Advisory Panel (TAP) Co-Chair Barbara Moffat noted that proceeding with a repair had the unanimous support of the TAP. She also indicated that the contracting method used could result in the work being done more quickly. The GCCM contracting method, for example, involves bringing the contractor on earlier in the process, during design, which can result in faster completion. SDOT indicated a repair completion during 2022, though when in 2022 hasn’t been established.

I support anything we can do to accelerate the timeline, and appreciate SDOT Director Zimbabwe’s  commitment to this.

SDOT expects to have a final repair cost estimate in early 2021; the figure used in the Cost/Benefit Analysis is $47 million, though SDOT cautions that is a preliminary figure. They will be studying how the bridge responds to the stabilization work expected to be completed before the end of the year, as well as colder weather. This will inform design work on the repair.

Here’s SDOT’s blog post about proceeding with a repair. It notes SDOT’s design consultant HNTB, will also move forward with a Type, Size & Location study that will lay the groundwork for future replacement, which will be needed eventually.

T5/Maritime economy

Another important element in this decision I’m glad the Mayor highlighted is the future of Terminal 5 and the maritime economy, which provides thousands of jobs, and helps maintain Seattle’s diverse economy. Terminal 5 is being modernized in two phases with the first being completed in the spring of 2021, and the other in 2023.

The Co-chairs of The Northwest Seaport Alliance, Port of Seattle Commission President Peter Steinbrueck and Port of Tacoma Commission President John McCarthy, issued a statement saying “the safe and rapid restoration of vehicle capacity and  traffic mobility to the high bridge is the highest priority for us.”

Tour of West Seattle Bridge

Last week I went on a tour of the West Seattle Bridge, and saw the interior of the bridge, and the post-tensioning work to stabilize the bridge.

Here’s the view on one of the work platforms suspended from the bridge deck:

Post-tensioning cables have now been tightened to 100% onto anchors:

Here’s the interior of a box girder:

Here’s equipment monitoring the cracks:

Post-tensioning cables within the box girder:

Reviewing a crack:


Weekly Budget Update

This week the Budget Committee voted on new amendments to the Chair’s proposed 2021 budget balancing package. The City Council will meet one more time as the Budget Committee on Monday morning to vote the package out of committee and will vote on the final budget at the Monday 2pm Full Council meeting.

Budget Chair Mosqueda developed a budget balancing package she released last week. Councilmembers were able to propose amendments to that balancing package; with additional funds available due to revised revenue forecast, a number of these items were able to be funded. So Chair Mosqueda developed a second package that was considered in the Budget Committee.

The resulting balancing package included two consent agendas (Group A and Group B on the agenda). Items not included in the consent agendas were considered individually, in Group C on the agenda. In addition, Councilmembers could identify items in the consent packages for individual votes (so the agenda as listed doesn’t fully reflect what was adopted).

New items I proposed that were included in the Group B consent agenda (starting at item #126 in the agenda linked above) and adopted by the committee include:

Funding for Bridge Maintenance

At the Budget Committee this week, I co-sponsored legislation along with prime sponsor Pedersen for a $20 vehicle license fee to address the recommendations of the City Auditor for maintenance of Seattle’s bridges. The Auditor found Seattle is “not spending enough on the upkeep and preservation of its bridges, and risks becoming out of compliance with federal regulations.”

The current Seattle vehicle license fee is $80, with $60 of that expiring at the end of this year. So the $20 fee would result in a total Seattle fee of $40 during 2021, half the size of the fee in 2020.

Councilmembers voted 5-4 to substitute a version that adopted the fee, but removed specifying funding for bridge maintenance; instead, a stakeholder process will develop a proposal for use of the funds. I voted “no” on the revised proposal because I am concerned that the City Council is handing the decision of whether we should provide funding necessary to partially implement Auditor recommendation to a citywide stakeholder group who might decide that the funds should be used for other purposes.  I believe that it is up to the Council and Mayor to make the decision of how to best implement recommendations of the City Auditor.  This creates, I feel, a troubling precedent that undermines SMC 3.40.050 which reads: Audit reports—Follow-up required – It is City policy to follow up on audit reports by the City Auditor.

Below is an article I wrote that appeared in Publicola in advance of the vote, with additional information.

Seattle is a city of hills and water; thus we are also a city of bridges. Our bridges are critical for mobility and both the local and regional economy.  Bridges are also critical transit infrastructure. That’s why I, along with Councilmembers Alex Pedersen and Andrew Lewis, have introduced legislation, along with a companion budget action for 2021, that would create a new $20 vehicle license fee (VLF) to pay for critical bridge maintenance throughout the city. The fee, if it’s approved by the Council this week, will be added to the existing $20 fee that funds additional Metro bus hours through the Seattle Transportation Benefit District.

The closure of the West Seattle Bridge on March 23 placed Seattle’s dependence on its bridges in stark relief. Every person and business in West Seattle, or anyone going to West Seattle, has felt the impact of this closure. Before it was closed, the West Seattle Bridge carried 17,000 daily transit riders on 13 routes making 900 daily trips. Two of these routes—the RapidRide C Line and Route 120—were among the top 10 routes for ridership in all of King County.

But the West Seattle Bridge is hardly the only vulnerable bridge in Seattle; for decades, funding for critical maintenance has fallen short, allowing the city’s bridges to fall into further and further disrepair. In September, the City Auditor released an audit, requested by Councilmember Pedersen, that focused on 77 bridges owned and operated by the Seattle Department of Transportation. That audit reported that bridge funding is well below the minimum annual $34 million level needed for the long-term health of this critical infrastructure.

The audit notes the overall condition of SDOT’s bridges has declined during the last decade and that Seattle is “not spending enough on the upkeep and preservation of its bridges, and risks becoming out of compliance with federal regulations.” This is, unfortunately, consistent with previous findings on the state of Seattle’s bridges, including an SDOT report from 2013 that found that 43 of the city’s bridges were “functionally obsolete,” and suggested that the city had a bridge maintenance backlog of nearly $2 billion.

We must address this underinvestment and protect our Frequent Transit Network, which includes all routes that operate with frequencies of 15 minutes or less for most of the day.

SDOT’s concern about a $47 million repair for the West Seattle Bridge was based largely on the fact that a repaired bridge would cost $500,000 a year to maintain. That’s twice the maintenance estimate for a new bridge, but SDOT’s experts estimated that the repairs would add another 30 to 40 years to the bridge’s useful life. When I learned this, it felt like a challenge to do my part to be a better steward of our public assets. I asked myself, “Why build a new bridge, at nearly ten times the cost of repairing it, just to avoid the higher costs of maintaining the bridge we have?”

I’m a passionate advocate for bus service funding.  I agree that we must increase direct investments in transit service  as well.  This is not an either or question, but a question of how.  In the near term, here is what we are doing and how we can do more:

  • Earlier this year, the Council increased the size of Mayor Jenny Durkan’s proposed Proposition 1 sales tax measure from 0.1 percent to 0.15 percent and reduced the amount it included for maintenance and capital investments in order to focus funding on service hours.
  • Thanks to the passage of Proposition 1, which renewed the Seattle Transportation Benefit District, there is at least $23 million available from reserves from the last STBD to add more transit service to the system
  • The proposed VLF “increase” for bridge maintenance is $3.6 million for 2021, increasing to $7.2 million in 2022. I would support revisiting the potential for spending this additional $3.6 million on transit service in 2022.

COVID-19 has changed our transit landscape and will continue to do so throughout 2021. Metro, for example, recently reported a 60 percent drop in bus ridership in 2020. SDOT has proposed a 2021 plan for the new STBD that moves $8 million to budget reserves rather than adding more transit hours. I don’t want to allocate funds for service capacity in 2021 that we can’t spend.

Seattle isn’t alone in underfunding the maintenance of our bridges. Nationally, we would need to spend an additional $25 billion a year until 2032 to adequately fund our nation’s bridges. But we didn’t wait for the federal government to enact policies like a $15 minimum wage, or to fund legal assistance to help people avoid deportation.  Seattle led the way. While this proposal won’t fully fund  bridges, is a necessary down payment for our key bridges that we can, and should, make.

Coronavirus is Surging in Seattle – How to Stay Safe

We are at a precarious moment in the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 transmission and the number of people being infected are at all-time highs in King County and the outbreak is growing faster than ever. In the past week, hospitalizations have increased by 70%. Cases are on a trajectory to continue to increase and will be followed by even more hospitalizations and deaths.

It is more important than ever to limit our travel, avoid gatherings, and take extra precautions around our vulnerable friends, family and neighbors – especially those who are elderly or have underlying health conditions.

With an appeal to act now, before our hospitals are overwhelmed, 500 nurses signed a letter to urge King County residents:

“Please, for us, for you and your families, and for our whole community…

  • Wear a mask whenever you’re in public, particularly indoors.
  • Stay at least 6 feet from others outside your household.
  • Avoid gatherings, especially inside
  • Reduce travel and other activities away from home.
  • Get tested right away if you have COVID-19 symptoms or were in close contact with someone who is infected.”

Getting our outbreak under control can seem daunting. But as the nurses remind us: “We’ve flattened the curve before, and we can do it again.”

Free COVID tests are available at drive-through and walk-up sites all over King County.

New statewide restrictions are in place to slow the spread of COVID-19.

  • Indoor social gatherings with people who do not live with you are prohibited, unless you quarantine for 14 days prior OR quarantine for 7 days and receive a negative COVID test result.
  • Outdoor gatherings are limited to no more than 5 people who do not live with you.
  • More information about temporary restrictions for restaurants, stores, religious services, and other activities is on the Current COVID-19 Guidance

We know the holiday season this year will look different. Check out these ideas for safer gatherings, including virtual options and a checklist to help plan a safer outdoor gathering.

Gathering with people we don’t live with—even close friends and family—may spread COVID-19. But if you are considering gathering, here is a helpful conversation guide to have with family or friends:


Small Business Stabilization Fund Applications Due November 30th

Applications are due on November 30th for the City of Seattle’s new $4 million round of small business stabilization fund (SBSF) grants.  OED will award $10,000 grants to small businesses with 25 or fewer employees.  For more information on all eligibility requirements, visit OED’s website.

To request in-language assistance or application assistance generally, a business owner can email oed@seattle.gov or call 206-684-8090 and leave a voice mail with the following information:

  • Your name
  • Phone number
  • The language you need in English
  • What support you need

“Shop Your Block” Supports Neighborhood Businesses

Today, the City of Seattle launched the new Shop Your Block retail map, part of a larger public campaign to  support small businesses throughout the holiday season.  Shop Your Block connects consumers to local small retail businesses throughout Seattle using the new retail map and online neighborhood marketplaces. Shop Your Block celebrates Seattle’s unique character and encourages the public to support local retailers in their neighborhood —in person or online— this holiday shopping season.

Also check out West Seattle’s own online marketplace: https://westseattlemarket.com/.

Interested in adding your business to the Shop Your Block retail map?  Click here for instructions.  Have questions?  Contact Shop Your Block at ShopYourBlock@seattle.gov or call (206) 684-8090.

Shop Early. Shop Local. Shop Safe. Shop Your Block.

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West Seattle Bridge Update November 13th; This Week in the Budget; $10,000 Small Business Stabilization Fund Grants – Applications Due 11/30; African American Caregivers Forum on Saturday 11/14; Free Legal Clinic for Undocumented Immigrants; 34th Legislative District Town Hall

November 13th, 2020

West Seattle Bridge Update November 13th

(photo: Mike Lindblom)

On Monday, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) joined the City Council at the weekly Council Briefing meeting in order to update Councilmembers about the status of the West Seattle Bridge. In addition to providing a briefing about the physical work being done to stabilize the bridge, SDOT brought Councilmembers up to speed about the Mayor’s impending decision to repair or replace the bridge, the Reconnect West Seattle mitigation program for communities most impacted by the bridge detours routes, and related news.

Here’s a link to the presentation.

SDOT noted they are advancing both repair and replace pathways. For replace, this entails a “Type, Size, and Location” study to design options included in the Cost Benefit Analysis and to bring that design work to 30% of a complete design. This allow SDOT to provide a sound basis for cost estimates. This is estimated to take 3 months. For repair, it entails a two-month study, to provide more in-depth analysis of bridge performance that would be a likely outcome of a repair, including monitoring reaction of the bridge to colder weather.

SDOT noted they are not yet at a divergence of different pathways, and won’t be until May or June. That means that work can continue on both repair and replace pathways without delaying the timeline for either option. With work on both continuing, SDOT has explained that the Mayor’s impending decision for repair or replace will be more along the lines of a “preferred alternative”,  as is commonly used in Environmental Impact Statements.  In other words, it allows the City to name a preferred pathway while preserving the ability to continue to consider a less preferred pathway.

This is important; what could be a lengthy consideration of a rapid replacement, if that’s the “preferred alternative,” should not delay a potentially high performing repair that could be done quickly.

SDOT notes that numerous inputs will inform the decision to repair or replace:

Here’s a chart comparing the alternatives, which includes the “rapid replacement” option. SDOT emphasizes these are rough order of magnitude estimates, compared to the cost estimates that will result from additional study and design:

Below are spending estimates for different aspects of work for the West Seattle Bridge and related projects:

memo by RHC Engineering, the City Council’s engineering consultant, notes the following regarding the cost/benefit analysis (Alternative 2 is repair, Alternative 4 is Superstructure replacement):

“In general, RHC Engineering believes that additional engineering analysis could be undertaken to better capture the existing bridge behavior and quantify the risks and benefits related to Alternative 2. The CBA attempts to compare all alternatives using a consistent approach to risk and contingencies, this approach may mischaracterize the costs and benefits of Alternative 2. Unlike Alternative 4 that relies on a planning level concept, there is significant existing information, including original construction drawings, bridge inspection and health monitoring data, load rating and seismic evaluation, and the stabilization work, to support a refined engineering analysis for Alternative 2. 

Further analysis has the potential to address risk factors associated with repair, which could affect the cost and performance assessment of Alternative 2, when compared to Alternative 4. As an example of this clarification of risk, SDOT has progressively found that the bridge is technically repairable, and the bridge foundation is solid under a design earthquake event.”

It further notes:

“Alternative 4 seems to have more uncertainties, with a completely new engineering design, permit and regulations compliance, demolition and new construction period. This could result in the public facing a more prolonged traffic closure than under a repair scenario.”

The “rapid replacement” option SDOT announced in October was not included in the cost/benefit analysis.  It is a potential approach within alternative 4 that SDOT notes will be studied in greater detail in the Type, Size, and Location study.

Post-tensioning work completed:

After SDOT completed release of the Pier 18 bearing, they completed post-tensioning work for stabilizing the West Seattle Bridge. This helps prevents further cracking of the bridge.

Post tensioning strands run inside the girders between the piers:

Here’s a photo that shows most of the post-tensioning strands at 10% strength, with the one on the right  tightened, before the release of the bearing:

Here’s what the strands look like at 100% tightening.

The next step in stabilizing the bridge is to complete carbon fiber wrapping of the girders.

And here’s SDOT’s video showing the bridge stabilization and monitoring work:

Traffic

Here is the most recent traffic data:

Here are the most recent travel times:

This Week in the Budget

The balancing package focuses on the key areas of economic recovery; health and safety; and housing. It incorporates changes sponsored by Councilmembers. Below are actions I sponsored that are included in the balancing package:

Provide funding to a. reverse cut of Fire exams and b. reverse cut of 20 firefighters from SFD recruit class:  This budget action would allow the Seattle Fire Department to maintain current hiring and testing capacity. The hiring freeze instituted by the Mayor only effects civilian employees and therefore the SFD should maintain its ability to test and recruit new firefighters. The SFD has recently seen an increase in firefighter separations, and If the same attrition pattern on average over the last five years (38 separations) continues in 2021, SFD could have 75 vacancies with an additional 412 eligible for retirement.

Add funding to the Fire Department to fund Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs), Lucas Devices, and Ballistic Sets: AEDs are used to provide an electrical shock in cases of life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias which lead to sudden cardiac arrest. Lucas Devices provide chest compressions (CPR) when it is unsafe for Emergency Medical System crews to do so. Ballistic Sets protect firefighters and paramedics at scenes of violence and allow them to quickly enter these scenes to rescue highly vulnerable patients.

The role of parking enforcement officers:  Expand the function of the proposed Seattle Emergency Communications Center to include Parking Enforcement Officers (PEOs) and rename the office the Seattle Community Safety and Communications Center (CSCC). Consider expanding the current role of the PEOs to assume functions currently provided by SPD sworn officers, which could include red light camera enforcement, school zone enforcement, response to non-injury collisions, response to and reporting on minor thefts and car break-ins, and traffic control.

SPD Overtime and staffing tracking: These actions request SPD to report to the Council monthly on use of overtime, and staffing levels.

SPD Budget: These actions reintroduce reductions to the SPD budget adopted in the 2020 summer budget rebalancing, including proposals for out of order layoff reductions in sworn officers and reduction of overtime and travel. Those dollars would be invested into community-led public safety investments.

South Park Public Safety Coordinator: This will continue the work of the South Park Public Safety Coordinator. This position was the top priority recommendation in the 2017 South Park Public Safety Taskforce Report funded by the City Council. Current priorities include facilitating community safety dialogue around South Park’s experience around policing and alternatives to police in South Park; street and safety concerns due to West Seattle Bridge closure, business district concerns, and youth engagement. Recent work includes coordinating Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) work in youth art murals and a Clean Streets Initiative, community support during COVID, neighborhood walks, and facilitating and distributing a neighborhood newsletter in English, Spanish and Vietnamese.  Here is a great article about his work.

West Seattle Bridge/Reconnect West Seattle: Require reporting for the West Seattle Bridge/Reconnect West Seattle program, SDOT’s mitigation program to fund project that ameliorate impacts of West Seattle detours routes on communities like Highland Park and South Park.

Provide Funding for Landlord Liaison Program: fully fund a landlord liaison program that has connected 1,170 individuals to housing by establishing partnerships of landlords that own more than 470 properties.

Add Funds to Maintain Family Rapid Rehousing Caseloads: Due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, homelessness services agencies report that households enrolled in rapid re-housing programs have required substantially longer to exit the program.   This increases funding to ensure families do not fall back into homelessness, with half of the funds reserved for agencies with culturally-relevant expertise or serving populations disproportionately affected by homelessness.

Age Friendly Seattle: Restore proposed cuts to Age Friendly Seattle.

Community-Led Public Safety Investments: Appropriate funds for scaling up community-led organizations, to move the City’s community safety strategy toward a public health-centered, harm reduction model of restorative justice, crime prevention, and ameliorating the harm caused by the criminal legal system to individuals and communities most impacted. These strategies should aim to prevent, reduce and mitigate both violent and non-violent crime.

Reduce Overdoses and Overdose Deaths: Add funding to contract with Public Health for services recommended by the 2016 Heroin and Prescription Opiate Addiction Task Force for active drug users in existing low barrier programs with the goal to reduce overdoes and fatal overdoses as well as increase the health of people who use substances.

Increase Services for Drug Users: Increase services and harm reduction programs at social service agencies that serve people who use drugs daily, allowing them to expand hours, increase staff, expand to additional locations, provide peer and community outreach, implement good neighbor agreements for syringe pickup, provide participant incentives, explore Medicaid reimbursement for services, and make safety improvements.

Restore Funds for Alternatives to Criminal Legal System: Restore funds proposed for reduction to organizations pursuing alternatives to or addressing harms caused by the criminal legal system that were awarded grant funding through the 2020 Collaborative Grantmaking process.

Increase Outreach to People Experiencing Homelessness: Expand homelessness outreach and engagement services within District 1 and citywide, and provide flexible financial assistance for serving people experiencing unsheltered homelessness.

Last week the Council received an updated revenue forecast for 2021. The forecast contains higher estimates for the B&O and sales tax. However, the estimates are still well below pre-COVID revenue projections.

The Budget Committee is scheduled to take votes on the 18th and 19th, with a Full Council vote on the budget on November 23rd.

Councilmembers may propose amendments to the balancing package at the meetings on the 18th and 19th;  the deadline to submit “Form C” documents with amendments was Thursday the 12th. Any amendments must be revenue-neutral, and keep the budget in balance.

One element of the balancing package, proposed by Budget Chair Mosqueda, that hasn’t received much attention, is the increase in the amount in the Emergency Fund by $32 million, to $38 million. Given the course of COVID-19 and economic uncertainty heading in to 2021, this is a good precaution.

$10,000 Small Business Stabilization Fund Grants – Applications Due 11/30

Applications are due on November 30th for the City of Seattle’s new $4 million round of small business stabilization fund (SBSF) grants.  To date, OED has assisted 469 small businesses through several rounds of funding this year.  For this round, OED will host two informational webinars on how to successfully apply for the SBSF – click a date to register:

To be eligible for a grant:

  • A small business or non-profit must have 25 or fewer employees, be located within Seattle city limits, and have an annual net revenue at or below $2 million.
  • Non-profits must explicitly provide economic opportunity supports through education programs and/or job training.

For more information on all eligibility requirements, visit OED’s website.

At least two-thirds of grant recipients will be selected from applications from businesses with five or fewer employees and from areas that are identified as high risk of displacement or highly disadvantaged. Those areas are determined by several socioeconomic factors to identify areas of the city that have been historically underserved and more likely to be disproportionally impacted by economic shocks.

This fund also aims to better support creative industry small businesses and workers and will specifically allocate 10 percent of all grants—or 24 grants—to creative industry small businesses.

To request in-language assistance or application assistance generally, a business owner can email oed@seattle.gov or call 206-684-8090 and leave a voice mail with the following information:

  • Your name
  • Phone number
  • The language you need in English
  • What support you need

African American Caregivers Forum on Saturday 11/14

Legacy of Love is an annual forum with a special focus on memory care. Learn from professionals as well as family caregivers who share their challenges and joys in caring for loved ones. Take away tips for talking with a loved one about their need for extra care; tips for screening and managing professional caregivers during the pandemic; tips for dealing with sundown syndrome; and resources for family caregivers throughout the region.

DATE: Saturday, November 14, 2020

TIME: 12 noon–2 p.m.

KEYNOTE: George Dicks, BA, GMHS, RCMHP—a geriatric mental health specialist at Harborview Mental Health Services for more than 35 years—will discuss “Caregiver Hope, Love, and Resiliency,” including his own experience as a family caregiver.

REGISTRATION: Pre-registration is encouraged but not required. To register, visit SurveyMonkey.com/r/LegacyOfLoveRegistration.

JOIN: A few minutes before event time, go to bit.ly/AgeFriendlyLive and click on the blue “Join Event Now” button.

INFO: For more information, e-mail Karen.Winston@seattle.gov or visit AgingKingCounty.org/LegacyOfLove.

Free Legal Clinic for Undocumented Immigrants

DACA remains legal for now. And despite the results of the 2020 election, advocates recommend that undocumented immigrants, current DACA-recipients, past DACA-recipients, and DACA-eligible individuals consult with an immigration attorney to explore potential options to apply for legal status. The organizations below are offering free legal help to qualified DACA recipients and undocumented immigrants, including consultations, screenings, and other legal assistance.

You can sign up for a free 45 to 60-minute online consultation with an AILA attorney, who can:

  • Screen you for potential forms of immigration relief and answer your questions, or
  • Review your completed DACA application packet before you submit.

Online clinic: Thursday, November 19, 4 PM – 7 PM: Sign up for one of the clinic timeslots here.
Additional Resources:

34th Legislative District Town Hall

On Wednesday, I’ll be joining host Senator Joe Nguyen as well as Representatives Eileen Cody and Joe Fitzgibbon, and King County Councilmember Joe McDermott.

The town hall will begin with an introduction by each participant, move into a conversation about the issues facing Washington in the build up to 2021, and end with questions from the audience.

There will be time for live questions during the stream, but if you would like to submit a question ahead of time, please send an email to Courtney.James@leg.wa.gov.

You can RSVP to the event here, as well as watch it on Facebook or join on Zoom here.

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West Seattle Bridge Update, November 6; Budget Update; Increased Funds and an Agreement on Encampment Management; Cooper Legacy Award for Affordable Homeownership; Age Friendly Forums for LGBTQ+2S Seniors;

November 6th, 2020

West Seattle Bridge Update November 6

Next Monday morning SDOT will update the City Council on the West Seattle Bridge at the Council Briefings meeting, scheduled for 9:30 a.m.

After the recommendations from members of the Community Task Force last week, the decision on whether to repair or replace the bridge is in the Mayor’s hands.

SDOT reached a key milestone this week when they released the damaged bearings at Pier 18, one of the bridge’s four main support structures. SDOT notes:

“Imagine you have a bad back. There’s a tightness there, and you don’t know where it came from. All you know is that you need to release the stress to find relief. For the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge, a similar kind of relief came this week, as crews released damaged bearings on Pier 18.”

The lateral bearings allow the bridge to move in response to traffic, temperature changes, or even earthquakes. The bearings at Pier 18 were compressed and bulging, locking together two parts of the bridge which are normally independent, so the bridge couldn’t move as it should, creating additional pressure and affecting the bridge as a whole.

SDOT’s blog post about this has additional detail.

Below are photos showing recent bridge stabilization work and post-tensioning work, from earlier this week. Now that the bearing has been released, SDOT can perform the final 100% stressing of the post-tensioning system, and begin the final phase of carbon fiber exterior girder strengthening.

Here are the most recent traffic numbers:

Here are the most recent vehicle travel times:

This chart shows recent vehicle traffic on the lower bridge:


This Week in the Budget

Last week the Budget Committee met to consider Council Budget Actions and Statements of Legislative Intent developed by Councilmembers. The Budget Committee has not met this week.

This week Budget Chair Mosqueda is considering the more than 120 budget actions proposed by Councilmembers, and is developing a balancing package. The balancing package will be presented in the Budget Committee on November 10th. After that, Councilmembers can propose changes via amendment by November 12th at 5 p.m.; any proposals must be “self-balancing.”  “Self-balancing” means that the sponsor for the budget proposal must also identify a cut from the Chair’s balancing package to be permitted to make the proposal.

The following week, the Budget Committee will cast votes on the Chair’s balancing package and any amendments. Those meetings are scheduled for November 18th and 19th, with a Full Council vote planned for November 23rd.

You can view or download the full Select Budget Committee meeting calendar here.  Sign up to receive Select Budget Committee agendas by email here.

Public comment will be taken at the start of each meeting at 9:30 a.m. You can register to give comment on this page. The signup form is available two hours before each session begins.

COVID Update

Washington State Department of Health (DOH) released a statewide situation report on COVID-19 transmission last week, which shows coronavirus transmission is increasing throughout Washington. The best estimates of the reproductive number (how many new people each COVID-19 patient will infect) were 1.34 in western Washington and 1.12 in eastern Washington as of October 10. The goal is a number well below one, which would mean COVID-19 transmission is declining.

Here are the number of daily positive tests in Seattle since September:

On top of being widely distributed geographically, case counts in western Washington have been increasing in all age groups since mid-September. This suggests that no single transmission route is driving rising trends, and COVID-19 burden is widely dispersed across the population. Growth in cases is particularly pronounced in the 25 to 39 and 40 to 59 age groups.

We can all take steps to protect our friends, families and communities:

  • wear a mask around people you don’t live with (even close friends and family)
  • limit the number, size and frequency of gatherings
  • wash your hands frequently
  • get your flu shot
  • stay home if you’re sick.

If you do choose to gather with others, there are steps you can take to reduce risk.  Get tips for safer gatherings and ideas for alternative celebrations at coronavirus.wa.gov/gatherings.  And check out this 2-minute video from Public Health – Seattle King County about staying safe while gathering with friends and loved ones.

Help managing stress:  If you or anyone you know is struggling to manage stress from COVID-19, call the Washington Listens support line at 1-833-681-0211. Call 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

How to get help with health insurance in King County:  King County’s health insurance Navigators are once again offering personal help with the enrollment process through Washington Healthplanfinder — with special adaptations to protect against COVID-19.

  • Online: Coverage is Here King County website: Answers to basic questions, plus locations and dates for in-person assistance
  • Online: Washington Healthplanfinder website and app: It’s easy to browse specific options, compare pricing, and see whether a key provider or prescription is covered
  • Phone: King County hotline for health access and insurance questions: 800-756-5437
  • Phone: Washington Healthplanfinder: 855-923-4633
  • Email: Chap@Kingcounty.gov
  • Enrollment Centers: These sites are open several days each week to help people enroll.
    • Public Health-Seattle Metro Service Center, 201 S. Jackson, Seattle 98104 (November hours: Mon./Wed./Thurs. 10:00-4:00)
    • Public Health-Federal Way Enrollment Center, 1640 S. 318th P, Suite B, Federal Way 98003 (November hours: Mon./Tues./Thurs. 10:00-6:00; Wed. 11:00-8:00; Sat. 10:00-3:00)

Why is it important to get a flu shot this year? Getting a flu shot will make it easier for you and your primary care provider to decide how to treat any viral infection this winter. There is a lot of overlap between flu symptoms and early COVID-19 symptoms. If you have any symptoms and you have had the flu vaccine, that will be useful information to help decide on the best course of testing and treatment for you.

Select Safeway locations are offering free flu vaccine for uninsured adults, open to uninsured adults over the age of 18. No fee and no proof of residency or immigration status required.  Find a participating location here

New Expanded Roles for Accountability Partners in Bargaining Police Contracts

Earlier this week Mayor Durkan and I announced new, expanded roles for accountability agencies in bargaining police contracts. For the first time, a community representative from the Community Police Commission will have a role in the bargaining process.

In the upcoming contract negotiations with the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild (SPOG) and the Seattle Police Management Association (SPMA), a City Council representative will be at the bargaining table and Office of Police Accountability Director Andrew Myerberg, Inspector General Lisa Judge, and a member of the Community Police Commission will serve as bargaining advisors.

I noted in the announcement “This new role for the Community Police Commission is an important step in our collective efforts toward greater police accountability. Several items in the 2017 accountability legislation adopted by the Council, but not included in the last SPOG contract, require bargaining. All hands on deck with our three accountability bodies helping advise the City in the next bargaining round is critical,” said Councilmember Herbold (District 1, West Seattle/South Park). “In addition, having a City Council representative at the table will greatly enhance the ongoing knowledge of Councilmembers serving on the Labor Relations Policy Committee. I appreciate Mayor Durkan’s collaboration in making these significant improvements to the bargaining process.”

The existing contract with SPOG is set to expire on December 31, 2020, and the contract with SPMA expired on December 31, 2019. At upcoming negotiations, a City Council representative will sit at the bargaining table, alongside members of the City’s Labor Relations unit and the Seattle Police Department. Office of Police Accountability (OPA) Director Andrew Myerberg, Office of the Inspector General (OIG) Inspector General Lisa Judge, and Community Police Commission (CPC) member Suzette Dickerson will now serve as bargaining advisors to the City. Their role will be to provide input to the Labor Relations Policy Committee (LRPC) on bargaining parameters and strategy. They will be available upon request of the Labor Relations Director to attend bargaining sessions and provide feedback on contract proposals. Once the contract negotiations are complete and contracts are ratified by the union members and the City Council, the accountability partners and the City Council representative will provide input into the first public report that will be issued by the Labor Relations Director.

There was no formal City Council staff representation in previous contract negotiations with SPOG and SPMA, and only Mayor’s Office, Seattle Police Department, and Labor Relations representatives were at the table with the unions. While the OPA served as a bargaining advisor previously, the CPC did not, and the CPC never participated in LRPC meetings. The civilian-led accountability partners have distinct and independent roles: The OPA investigates allegations of misconduct by SPD employees; the OIG evaluates the department’s policies and practices to identify systemic issues and propose changes; and the CPC represents the community’s voice and provides community input on policing.

Proposition 1 Passage Great News for District 1

On Tuesday, Seattle voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 1 with 81% of the vote on election day. Here’s the statement I released after the vote:

“Today’s vote in support of Proposition 1 for transit funding is good news for West Seattle.  Proposition 1 specifies that up to $9 million annually to support mobility needs related to the closure of the West Seattle Bridge, and COVID-19 response and recovery.

“With the West Seattle Bridge closed through at least 2022, traffic and access issues will only increase once social distancing ends or decreases. Transit service will be critical to meeting the ambitious goals of SDOT’s Reconnect West Seattle plan.

“The ballot measure notes Investments could include, in addition to  transit service, speed and reliability improvements, first-last mile transit connections, and Transportation Demand Management strategies described in the community-driven Reconnect West Seattle plan.”

During Council deliberations in July I supported increasing the size of the measure from the Mayor’s original 0.1% sales tax proposal, to 0.15%. I proposed an amendment the Council adopted increasing the amount available for mitigating the closure of the West Seattle Bridge and COVID-19 response to $9 million annually.

I also sponsored an amendment to increase equity. Without this amendment the criteria for service would not allow for funding routes such as the 131, 128 and 113 in Highland Park and South Delridge, or the 132 in South Park, because of the number of stops they have outside Seattle. The amendment adds as eligible routes “any King County Metro route serving historically low-income communities in Seattle.” The Council also adopted this.

Seattle University 6th Annual Citywide Public Safety Survey

Seattle University is administering the 6th annual citywide Seattle Public Safety Survey, which is open  through November 30th and is available in Amharic, Arabic, Chinese, English, Korean, Oromo, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog, Tigrinya and Vietnamese. The purpose of the survey is to solicit feedback on public safety and security concerns from those who live and/or work in Seattle Results are provided to the Seattle Police Department.

Results of previous surveys, and the survey, are available at the Seattle Police Department’s Micro-Community Policing Plan website.

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West Seattle Bridge Update November 2; Budget Update; Proposal to Redefine the Terms “duress” and “de minimis”; Increased Funds and an Agreement on Encampment Management; Cooper Legacy Award for Affordable Homeownership; Age Friendly Forums for LGBTQ+2S Seniors

November 2nd, 2020

West Seattle Bridge Update, November 2

The West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force met last Wednesday to make recommendations to the Mayor regarding the decision to repair or replace the West Seattle Bridge. The Mayor attended to hear the task force members’ comments.

Here are my comments:

“As the City Councilmember for District 1, I hear nearly every day from residents and businesses that are hurting.  The sooner we restore bridge access, the better. That’s a premium value for me. Once social distancing ends or decreases, traffic and access issues will only increase.  Two years for a repair is shorter than other alternatives. The capital cost is relatively affordable at $47 million compared to other options. The Council is poised to authorize $100 million in debt in the 2021 budget for items related to the West Seattle Bridge, the Reconnect West Seattle program, and lower bridge maintenance.

The Technical Advisory Panel’s confidence that a repair will last 40 years is compelling.  The Council’s independent consultant examined the longevity of a repair, and is in concurrence. See page 59 the Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA):

“..based on the work done to-date and the correlation of analytical modeling to measured behavior, the technical risk of the bridge not behaving as intended, thus limiting the service life of the rehabilitation, likely has a very low probability (less than 5 percent) of occurring.”

Under the CBA, the rating of repair alternative 2 has the highest value index–the ratio of performance to cost, which measures return on investment. It also has “the highest potential for an increase in value index as compared to other alternatives.”

Six years is too long; the impacts to residents and businesses will be too high. I don’t believe that any option that takes six years to construct is viable.

Risks for the rapid replacement option, proposed two weeks ago by the firm contracted to design a replacement for the West Seattle Bridge — should the replacement path be selected — have not been evaluated.  Those risks include permitting risks and funding risks.  In the proposed expedited timeline, a lot of things must go right. I believe that any consideration of the new rapid replacement option needs a risk analysis of the timelines and a clear articulation of the actions to be taken to meet those timelines.  Not all risks are solvable by political will; some elements would be out of the city’s control.

Equity is a highly rated attribute of the Cost Benefit Analysis. The higher equity attribute ratings, as shown by the map in the Cost Benefit Analysis, illustrates the location of disparate harmful impacts along detour routes through the southern portion of the peninsula and Duwamish communities as well as percentages of people of color by census tract. In the case of the West Seattle Bridge closure, equity is accomplished in the reduction of disparate harmful impact to communities historically disadvantaged through underinvestment.

Secondly, business and workforce impacts remain very important for West Seattle businesses, especially small businesses, but also for our regional economy due to reduced trips to and off the peninsula. Closure also impacts access to jobs and to supply chains.  Impacts to supply chains disproportionately impact smaller businesses with fewer resources to weather a closure.

I started my reflections here with a quote from the CBA; in closing, I offer another. The Cost Benefit Analysis states: “The additional duration required to design and construct a replacement structure, along with potential schedule slip risks, as compared to rehabilitating the bridge, would likely favor rehabilitating the bridge versus replacing the bridge, especially when considering the opportunity cost of time.”  I understand that the CBA is only one input to the important decision before you Mayor Durkan.  Considering the time and care that your West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force put into the development of the CBA, I respectfully request you consider the guidance it provides with the significant weight that I believe the guidance deserves.”

Next Steps

The decision to repair or replace the West Seattle Bridge is now with the Mayor.

The co-chairs of the Community Task Force, former Mayor Nickels and  Paulina Lopez, Executive Director of the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition will compile recommendations from members and send them to the Mayor.

Here’s a link to  last week’s presentation of final Cost Benefit Analysis.

Upcoming community task force meetings are scheduled for November 18 and December 2; the agenda for this week’s meeting lists topics for those meetings as a bridge update; Reconnect West Seattle implementation update, and repair/replace pathways update.

Home Zone Program in Highland Park

As part of the Reconnect West Seattle program, SDOT is implementing the Home Zone Program in affected neighborhoods that are experiencing increased traffic with the West Seattle Bridge closure. The program goals are to:

  • Create safe and walkable neighborhoods for people of all ages and abilities.
  • Create holistic plans that address traffic calming and maintaining local access.
  • Improve resident’s quality of life and strengthen community.

The week before last, I went on a walk with Highland Park residents and SDOT to discuss implementation of the Home Zone Program in Highland Park.

SDOT reported back to the Highland Park Action Coalition earlier last week, and will be bringing a work plan to the community, with a December target.

(photo: Michele Witzki)

SDOT staff have also done a similar walk with residents in South Park.

First Avenue South Bridge closure in January

WSDOT announced they will close two of the four southbound lanes of the 1st Avenue South Bridge for needed repairs in January, over a four week period. Northbound lanes will remain open.

As shown in the traffic data below, the average weekday volume for the 1st Avenue South Bridge for the week of October 16 was just under 103,000 vehicles, 7% higher than the February 2020 pre-COVID baseline.

The bridge is run by the state; I’ll pass on any updates I receive about schedule; exact dates haven’t yet been scheduled.

Here is the most recent traffic data:

Here are the most recent vehicle travel times:

West Seattle Bridge stabilization work

Last Monday SDOT announced their contractor is planning to finish installing the post-tensioning system; perform the Pier 18 release, and begin constructing a new bearing for Pier 18.

SDOT notes upcoming stabilization work:  “After the Pier 18 release and post-tensioning are complete, Kraemer North America will do other stabilization work including applying final layers of CFRP (carbon fiber reinforced polymer) to the girders and rebuilding the Pier 18 bearing. Once all stabilization work has been finished, we will lower the work platforms onto barges. This will likely be in late November or early December.

Budget Update

Last week the Budget Committee met to consider Council Budget Actions and Statements of Legislative Intent developed by Councilmembers. Below are the departments that were considered each day, with links to the agenda, that link to Councilmember proposals:

October 28: City Budget Office, Education and Early Learning, Neighborhoods, Finance and Administrative Services, City Attorney’s Office, Legislative Dept., Office for Civil Rights, Economic Development, Housing, Intergovernmental relations, Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, Planning and Community Development, Retirement System, Libraries, Public Utilities

October 29: Citywide, Finance General, Human Services, Sustainability & Environment, Construction and Inspections, Information Technology, Fire

October 30: Transportation, Homelessness, Police, Emergency Management, Parking Enforcement Officers

The Budget Committee will not meet next week. During that time, Budget Chair Mosqueda will consider the actions proposed by Councilmembers, and develop a balancing package. The balancing package will be presented on November 10th. After that, Councilmembers can propose changes by November 12th at 5 p.m.; any proposals must be self-balancing.

You can view or download the full Select Budget Committee meeting calendar here.  Sign up to receive Select Budget Committee agendas by email here.

Public comment will be taken at the start of each meeting at 9:30 a.m. You can register to give comment on this page. The signup form is available two hours before each session begins.

Proposal to Redefine the Terms “duress” and “de minimis”

There has been a lot of media attention last week on a proposed policy change still in development but discussed first in last week’s Budget Committee as well as written about in my weekly blog post last week.

During the budget process, after the Executive delivers their proposal Councilmembers submit rough ideas that are then presented during “Issue Identification.” These can be questions, high-level proposals, or more specific proposals. Next the Council moves to “Council Budget Actions” and Statements of Legislative Intent, these proposals were discussed last week.

I submitted a proposal as described below and here in our Central Staff’s presentation and memo.

The City currently spends approximately $20 million a year on incarceration, yet the progress on addressing the issues of behavioral health disorder or meeting basic human needs of those circling in and out of our carceral system continues to lag.  In order to better meet these needs and improve public safety outcomes  – we must continue to ramp up interventions to connect people before arrest and to do so by taking referrals directly from community members.

This proposal would not, as some have said, provide “blanket immunity from most misdemeanors,” nor would this proposal “provide an absolute defense.” Like any prosecution, the adjudication outcome lies with the Court.  This legislation would allow the judge and/or jurors to consider not just what may have happened but why it may have happened and whether the role of poverty and behavioral health struggles led to the alleged violation. The legislation reflects a confidence in the judges and residents of Seattle to determine, in the words of the Seattle Municipal Code, what conduct merits condemnation as criminal.

As we’ve seen in the massive national and international protests in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, it is past time that we reexamine our systems which often perpetuate homelessness and economic instability.

Incarceration is known to significantly increase the risk of housing instability and homelessness.  Thank you to Council President Gonzalez for sharing with me a report from The Prison Policy Initiative where it is noted that “formerly incarcerated people are almost 10 times more likely to be homeless than the general public.” This legislation will provide an alternative path forward for judges seeking to assist individuals who’ve committed misdemeanors that can be clearly traced back to mental illness, substance abuse disorders, homelessness and poverty.

The legislation is, as I write above, in development.   This proposal came out with all other proposals in the “issue identification” step of the budget process.  In “issue identification,” Central Staff and Councilmembers – in addition to making proposals to cut or add funds – flag the need for relevant pieces of budget legislation that could or should be adopted. That we’ve generated significant public awareness on this issue and have not yet introduced a bill will serve the Council and the public in our ongoing efforts to develop the bill.  I appreciate hearing the supportive statements in Budget Committee from the Councilmembers who serve on my Public Safety and Human Services Committee as well as the supportive letter from City Attorney Pete Holmes.

Increased Funds and an Agreement on Encampment Management

On Monday October 26, my colleagues and I approved legislation that provides an additional $2,074,000 for contracted outreach to people experiencing homelessness in 2020, while keeping a core team of City employees in the Human Services Department in order to coordinate efforts around encampments across City departments, and provide strategy and direction to contracted outreach providers who work directly with people living unsheltered.  The new funds can be used for behavioral health services, flexible financial assistance, case management, housing navigation services, and to support the technology needed and other administrative needs of the contracted outreach providers. 

This legislation is the result of several weeks’ worth of negotiations among myself; Councilmembers Lewis and Morales; the Mayor’s office; and outreach providers such as REACH and LEAD; to come to an agreement on a new approach to encampment management and outreach that will lead to fewer encampment removals, more voluntary compliance and good neighbor activities to address hazards and concerns, and improved health and safety for people living in encampments, their housed neighbors, and people who work nearby.  The resulting framework of shared principles is an important first step toward that vision.

This framework marks a shift toward a problem-solving model, so that in the future, when an outreach team is sent, the initial purpose isn’t assumed to be removing the encampment.  There is more work to be done to operationalize the framework over the next several weeks, and to ensure that the new approach truly serves the needs of people living unsheltered, of groups of people in encampments, and of their housed neighbors and neighboring businesses. Crucially, Council, the Executive, and outreach providers themselves will be working to build this new problem-solving approach together.

Cooper Legacy Award for Affordable Homeownership

I was honored to accept, along with Councilmember Mosqueda, the Cooper Legacy Award from Homestead Community Land Trust earlier last week, awarded for furthering the values of social justice, equity, inclusion, and community engagement.  The award recognized the importance of funding for affordable homeownership included in CM Mosqueda’s Jump Start progressive revenue tax.  I sponsored a successful amendment that will provide $6 million annually for affordable homeownership for people living at or below 80% of Area Median Income.

As I said in my acceptance: “Home ownership is key to building intergenerational wealth, and a key driver of the racial wealth gap.  We must bridge that gap with a focus on BIPOC families at risk of displacement from their communities, or who have faced barriers to homeownership due to past discriminatory policies and practices such as redlining and restrictive racial covenants.”

Homestead Community Land Trust preserves and advances access to permanently affordable homeownership as a means to create thriving, equitable and inclusive communities.  I was honored to be one of its founding board members.  A community land trust (CLT) is a private, nonprofit organization created to acquire and hold land for the benefit of a community and provide secure affordable access to land and housing for community residents. In particular, CLTs work to meet the needs of residents not served by the housing market. CLTs prohibit speculation and absentee ownership of land and housing, promote ecologically sound land-use practices, and preserve the long-term affordability of housing.

Age Friendly Forums for LGBTQ+2S Seniors

On Friday, October 30th from 2:00 – 3:30pm, Age Friendly Seattle panel presentation was held on LGBTQ+2S & BIPOC: Vaccinations, Vaccine Trials and YOU.

The panelists included:

  • Russell Campbell, deputy director of the Office of HIV/AIDS (HANC) Network Coordination at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
  • Esther Lucero, CEO of the Seattle Indian Health Board, and a member of the Diné Nation
  • Peter Mann-King, co-chair of the Gay City—Seattle LGBTQ Center board of directors and a program manager with the LGBTQI+ Initiative at Swedish Health Services
  • Karina Walters, director of the Indigenous Wellness Research Institute, UW School of Social Work, and a member of the Choctaw Nation

The panel discussed BIPOC experience and concerns and support enrollment among those disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and other health conditions.

See LGBTQ+2S forums here.

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West Seattle Bridge Update, October 23; Budget Update; Budget Public Hearing; Domestic Violence Help; Assistance for Renters and Homeowners; Free Flu Shots; Parking Lots Reopening in Parks; VOTE

October 24th, 2020

West Seattle Bridge Update, October 23

This week SDOT released the Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) report, developed to inform the decision whether to repair or replace the West Seattle Bridge. SDOT has a blog post about this, which includes a link to a reader’s guide. The CBA includes cost estimates for construction and operations and maintenance, and includes monetized risk and life-cycle costs.   Monetized risk is a phrase used throughout and it means a calculation of potential cost impacts, based on probability plus impact of risks.

SDOT briefed the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force on Wednesday; the task force will consider recommendations on the CBA next Wednesday, October 28th.

The task force also heard other updates from SDOT, and also a presentation from HTNB, the design company hired by SDOT, about an option they call “rapid span replacement.

Updates

SDOT has been continuing work on stabilizing the West Seattle Bridge; this is an important element of any potential repair option.

Here are Reconnect West Seattle projects that have been completed:

SDOT’s target date for activating the automated enforcement system on the lower bridge is December 1st, with warning notices issued in December, and a target date for violation notices to begin on January 1st, 2021. Cameras will be mounted at the bridge entrance, with warning signs; signs will be installed soon to note upcoming enforcement. SDOT has created a Low Bridge Access Subcommittee to examine use of the bridge; once enforcement begins, new traffic patterns may emerge that could allow for more flexible use of the lower level bridge.

 

Cost Benefit Analysis

In the CBA, SDOT emphasizes the cost figures are rough order of magnitude projections, not cost estimates. These conceptual options are at 0% design.

The capital project costs listed include construction, monetized risks, design and 3rd party review. The life cycle costs include O&M, repair/rehabilitation, and remaining service life through 2100:

Of the alternatives examined, alternative 1 is expensive, with a short lifespan:

Alternative 2, Repair, shows an upfront construction cost of $47 million, and could return traffic in 2022; SDOT notes potential drawbacks below:

Additional detail shows much of the ownership cost comes via the need to replace it before 2100, and O&M lifetime costs of $40.5 million, while noting further study needed for increased certainty on duration of repairs:

Alternative 4 is a superstructure bridge replacement, with upfront constriction costs at $383 million, and a 75 year life. It estimates traffic reopening in 2026.

Here’s additional detail; an example of monetized risk is $189 million for the potential for the US Coast Guard to want higher vertical clearance beyond the current 140 feet. Lifetime O&M costs are $22 million:

Alternative 5 is a full replacement, with a $564.7 million construction cost estimate; there could be greater risks with Coast Guard permitting.  It would last 75 years, and open in 2026.

Lifetime O&M is estimated at $29.5 million. The monetized risk included is $149.5 million for the FAA, regarding flight path restrictions for a higher bridge.

Alternative 6 is an immersed tub tunnel, estimated at $1.99 billion for construction, with a 2030 opening date:

Lifetime O&M is estimated to cost $110 million:

Here’s how the alternatives compare based on the attributes included in the CBA; a repair is the baseline, so it’s rated 5.0; other options are rated in comparison. The repair option rates best on the following attributes:  equity, environmental, business and workforce impacts, and mobility impacts, with a shorter closure. Other options rate higher on these attributes:  O&M, constructability, forward compatibility, funding opportunities, multimodal impacts, and seismic/safety.

Here’s a comparison of annual average (and total through 2100) operations and maintenance costs:

The Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) report is 89 pages and dense. It includes more detailed information about what’s described above.  Below are a few examples of what is included.

Here’s the decision matrix of the key questions considered:

Here’s a chart showing the diversion routes due to the bridge closure. It shows the greatest impact in neighborhoods with higher percentages of people of color. It estimated options 2, 4 and 5 had the least impact on communities of color, due to shorter closures, compared to options 1 and 6.

Charts are shown for the attributes from the CBA.  Here’s the one for business and workforce impacts:

A summary of attribute findings, using ratings from SDOT, the Community Task Force, and the Technical Advisory Panel found Alternative 4 (Superstructure Replacement) with the highest score:

On the other hand, the Technical Advisory Panel analysis found Alternative 2 (Repair) had the highest score:

In the monetized risk section, it notes the risk of a repair not meeting a 40 year service life is very low (less than 5%).  The CBA includes several sensitivity studies.  Sensitivity studies assess the potential for different CBA outcomes under a set of different assumptions, and show how even slight variations in assumptions can yield different CBA outputs. Separate studies were done on  service life, existing bridge seismic/safety performance, cost contingency impacts, risk monetization impacts, accelerated construction impacts and discount rate.

The studies overall found that the Repair option has the highest value index.  The value index is the ratio of performance to cost,  The repair option also has the highest potential for an increase in value index.

Rapid Span Replacement

The CBA includes high-level replacement options. SDOT has said they are interested in pursuing options for a replacement that could be completed sooner than 2026. I appreciate SDOT considering any options or construction or design methods that can tighten timelines; 6 years is far too long.

SDOT’s design consultant, HNTB, presented to the task force on Wednesday about a proposal based on their work on a bridge at Lake Champlain, which was completed in two years. This option was not included in the CBA; it fits within Alternative 4, Superstructure replacement.

The forthcoming decision is about repair and replacement only.  If replacement is chosen as the preferred alternative, a 12 week “Type, Size and Location” study would be needed to consider the various replacement options. That would get design to 30%.

For this option, HNTB suggests it could be completed in early 2023. The main center span would be developed offsite, brought in by a barge, and raised. For this reason, demolition and construction work could proceed at the same time.

Their assumptions are below:

Schedule risks include permitting. One assumption is that, because there is minimal in water work, permits could be obtained faster than usual. This would depend on a high degree of interagency cooperation at multiple levels. Funding would also need to be obtained relatively quickly. The site, for purposes of construction, is relatively constrained as well.

HNTB says the bridge would have a lower weight, with the use of steel, reducing the stress on the existing pilings, and enhancing seismic performance. They indicate that, in the future, elements of the bridge could be replaced while the bridge remains in service.

They indicated the potential for significantly shorter closures to maritime traffic during construction; the image below projects how a center span would be brought in by a barge and the challenges with the lower bridge.

Finally, HNTB projects a shorter construction schedule, with an opening in 2023, significantly shorter than the replacement options considered in the CBA, I.e. 2026.

This Week in the Budget

On Tuesday and Wednesday the Budget Committee continued Issue Identification sessions, where Central Staff reports on the Mayor’s proposed budget, and identifies potential issues for the Council to address. Councilmembers can also raise issues, or potential proposals.

Here are the presentations from this week:

October 20

Parks and Recreation I Central Staff Memo I Presentation

Department of Transportation I Presentation I Central Staff Memo

Police Department I Central Staff Memo I Presentation

October 21

Community Safety and Violence Prevention | Memo | Presentation

Human Services Department | Presentation | Memo

Homelessness Response | Presentation | Memo

Citywide COVID-19 Response | Presentation | Memo

Next week the Budget Committee will meet on Wednesday through Friday to hear Council Budget Actions and Statements of Legislative Intent. This round will include more detailed proposals than during Issue Identification; these proposals also require two co-sponsors.  The Budget Chair will consider these proposals in developing a Balancing Package, scheduled for November 10th.

You can view or download the full Select Budget Committee meeting calendar here.  Sign up to receive Select Budget Committee agendas by email here.

Public comment will be taken at the start of each meeting at 9:30 a.m. You can register to give comment on this page. The signup form is available two hours before each session begins.

Budget Public Hearing

On Tuesday the 27 at 5:30pm the Council will host its second Public Hearing on the Budget. Check out the committee website here for committee dates and to sign up for public comment for the Public Hearing. You can register for public comment two hours before the meeting begins and the hearing will go until everyone has been heard.

Below are some of the items I proposed during this week’s Issue Identification meetings.

Homeless Outreach for D1: 

I am requesting the addition of a homeless outreach worker dedicated to West Seattle and South Park.  This position would support individuals facing behavioral health (including substance abuse and/or mental health issues) and homelessness in our neighborhoods to access services and reduce barriers to stable housing.

Social Service Provider Academy Support:

Provide funding to support students at the Social Service Provider Academy (SSPA) at Seattle Central College (SCC). This is a career development program that offers higher education opportunities to housing and homeless social services entry level staff, many of whom have been previously homeless themselves, who are working to advance in their field.

Duress and Di Minimis Defense Legislation:

This bill redefines the City’s definition of duress and di minimis in the Seattle Municipal Code to reduce the use of the King County Jail in instances where a jail sentence is not appropriate. If the bill passes, the duress and di minimis defenses could be utilized for individuals who, “at the time of the offense, experience symptoms of a behavioral health disorder or a behavioral health condition.” Or when, “the defendant committed the offense with the intent of meeting a basic need the defendant was experiencing at the time of the offense.”

Transferring Some Harbor Patrol Functions to the Seattle Fire Department:

Consistent with Resolution 31962, this proposal would work towards transfer of certain aspects and functions of Harbor Patrol from the SPD to SFD.

Sidewalk Repairs:

Increase funding for repairing sidewalks, as recommendation in the Policy Recommendations for Sidewalk Repair in Seattle, developed by SDOT with the Evans School at the UW.

Fauntleroy Boulevard Project:

The Mayor’s proposed budget eliminates funding for the Fauntleroy Boulevard Project. I do not suport this decision. Full funding for the project was included in the Move Seattle Levy, passed by voters in 2016. 100% design was reached in fall of 2017.

Implementation of that project was delayed in January 2018, however, because the project overlaps with one of the options under consideration for Sound Transit’s light rail project; consequently, a decision on implementation was delayed until completion of Sound Transit’s EIS process, expected to be completed in 2022.

SDOT’s Fauntleroy Project Website (dated November 1, 2019) committed to the objectives of this  project:

“We remain committed to the goals of the Fauntleroy Boulevard Project. If Sound Transit’s light rail design for West Seattle does not impact Fauntleroy Way, we will move forward with the full project as designed. If Sound Transit’s design impacts Fauntleroy Way, we will work with Sound Transit to implement streetscape improvements on Fauntleroy Way that align with goals of the Fauntleroy Boulevard Project.”

The Role of Parking Enforcement Officers:

Expand the function of the proposed Seattle Emergency Communications Center to include Parking Enforcement Officers (PEOs) and rename the office the Seattle Community Safety and Communications Center (CSCC). Consider expanding the current role of the PEOs to assume functions currently provided by SPD sworn officers, which could include red light camera enforcement, school zone enforcement, response to non-injury collisions, response to and reporting on minor thefts and car break-ins, and traffic control.  This would have the benefit of allowing armed officers to focus on work only they can do;  56% of calls SPD responded to in 2019 were non-criminal.

PEOs have passed extensive background checks, and are knowledgeable about police procedures. The Director of the PEO Guild has noted extensive language skills of PEOs in Amharic, Tigrigna, Soninke, Swahili, Luganda, Cantonese, Spanish, French, Bulgarian, Swedish and Malay; over 60% are BIPOC.

Implementing some of these items  may require bargaining.

West Seattle Bridge/Reconnect West Seattle:

Require reporting for the West Seattle Bridge/Reconnect West Seattle program.

SPD Overtime Tracking:

This will be a request to SPD to report to the Council on use of overtime.

SPD Vacancies:

Remove vacant positions, some of which are funded, and invest those dollars into participatory budgeting.

SPD Budget:

This proposal would reintroduce reductions to the SPD budget adopted in the 2020 summer budget rebalancing. This includes proposals for out of order layoff reductions in sworn officers and reduction of overtime and travel. Those dollars would be invested into participatory budgeting.

CHEL Funding Transfer:

This proposal would move $1.4M that Council has provided for Community Health Engagement Locations (CHELs) from General Fund to the Human Services Department, with the expectation that HSD may contract those funds to Public Health for supervised consumption services.

Restore Funds Cut to Age Friendly Seattle:

Restore $60,358 to the Age Friendly Seattle operating budget for contracts and administration.

LEAD reporting:

In response to RES 31916 passed by Council in 2019, require reporting on projected referrals to LEAD from multiple referral pathways through 2023, and the resources required to bring LEAD to scale and ensure its ability to accept all referrals citywide.

Domestic Violence – Where to Find Help

If you or someone you know needs help, you can call, chat, or text, 24 hours everyday, at the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233.  For more ideas and action steps that you can take to end domestic violence, visit: https://endgv.org/ or https://wscadv.org/dvam/.

In Washington State, 41 percent of women and 32 percent of men report experiencing violence from an intimate partner. The City of Seattle invests more than $10 million annually in community programing focused on gender-based violence. Through these investments, HSD and partners support more than 10,000 survivors each year.

While domestic violence does not discriminate, language barriers, lack of culturally relevant services, threats of deportation, and fear of isolation put marginalized communities at an increased risk of experiencing gender-based violence. Women of color and Native women are two-to-three times more likely to experience a gender-based, violence-related fatality than their white counterparts.

Yesterday was Purple Thursday, a day when we are asked to honor and stand in solidarity with survivors of domestic violence by wearing purple.  October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which the Human Services Department (HSD) and the Office of Labor Standards (OLS) have recognized as a time to remember victims and survivors of abuse and exploitation; to raise awareness about violence and its effect on families and communities; and to acknowledge and highlight those working to end gender-based violence.

Financial Assistance Available for Renters and Homeowners

Renters

The City of Seattle has allocated $12 Million to expand UWKC’s Home Base program to provide rental assistance to King County households that have lost all or part of their income due to the coronavirus pandemic. If you are a renter and you would like to apply for rental assistance, please visit www.uwkc.org/renthelp. Interpreters are available through 211.

If you are a member of a community-based organization, City board or commission, or otherwise serve as an ambassador for a Seattle community or neighborhood group, we invite you to attend an upcoming webinar to learn more about the rental assistance program and how to promote the program to the communities you serve. Webinars will take place on Thursday, October 22 from 10-11am and Friday, October 23 from 9-10am. When you register for one of these dates, you will receive an e-mail with the link to join the webinar. If you have any questions about these upcoming webinars, please e-mail Stephanie.Velasco@Seattle.gov or call 206-641-4972.

Homeowners

Last month the City announced $700,000 to scale up its support of mortgage counseling and foreclosure prevention loans administered by HomeSight.  If you are experiencing financial hardships that may impact your ability to make any of your housing payments, please call the Washington Homeownership Resource Center’s Hotline 1-877-894-4663.They will refer you to free or low-cost resources that may be able to help with housing payments including your mortgage, property taxes or homeowner’s dues.

If you need information in a language other than English, the operators will connect you with a third-party interpreter. Tell them in English what language you need for interpretation, and wait on the line while they get an interpreter to help.

Get Your Flu Shot for Free

The City and Seattle Visiting Nurses Association (SVNA) are providing free flu shots through the end of October.  The City-sponsored flu clinic at Genesee Park (10/30) will offer language access to accommodate individuals facing language barriers.  Flu shots are available to all, insured or uninsured.

Sign up for a flu shot time here.

Date Locations Hours
Monday, October 26th Cleveland High School 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Chief Sealth High School 10:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Tuesday, October 27th Washington Middle School 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
South Shore K-8 10:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Wednesday, October 28th Chief Sealth High School 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Madison Middle School 10:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Thursday, October 29th South Shore K-8 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Cleveland High School 10:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Friday, October 30th Rainier Beach High School 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Genesee Park 10:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Parks Parking Lots Reopen

Parking lots for District 1 parks that have been closed for the past few months reopened on Monday, Oct. 19.  Check out the Parks department’s list of parking lots for up to the minute information about which parking lots remain closed in other parts of the City.

VOTE

Tuesday, November 3 is the election, but you should have already received your ballot, and you can send it back as soon as you receive it.  Don’t wait. You can mail it back (without a stamp), or take it to a ballot drop box. Be sure to make a plan to vote. Are you mailing it in or taking it to a drop box? Plan a time to do this and follow up here to make sure your vote is counted.

If you’re not yet registered to vote, it’s not too late! You can register online through October 26.

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