MLK Day on Monday; New Council Committees; Council Presidency and January Pro Tem; Inclement Weather/Severe Weather Shelter; In-District Office Hours

January 17th, 2020

MLK Day on Monday

2015 City Hall, City of Seattle Employees

Monday is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and City Council offices along with many other government offices will be closed.  The week’s City Council Briefing and Meeting will occur on Tuesday, January 21 instead.   Here are a couple of ideas for ways to celebrate the holiday:

Want to celebrate close to home?  Dirt Corps is holding a Day of Service at Westcrest Park on MLK Day.  Volunteers will learn about restoration methods while improving the health of a forested neighborhood park.  Learn more here.

Willing to travel a little further?  Join the 38th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration, a full day of events.  The schedule is below, and you can learn more here.

  • 8:30 a.m. Opportunity Fair and Workshops at Garfield High School
  • 11:00 a.m. Rally including speakers, music and dance
  • 12:30 p.m. March to City Hall

Another alternative: Seattle Parks and Recreation invites the public to join a youth-organized march to honor Dr. King on Saturday, January 18th.  This is SPR’s 16th annual youth march and the theme this year is “Together We Stand with 2020 Vision”. Teens, families and community members from throughout the city will speak out against injustices in a peaceful demonstration. The goal for the march is to celebrate the contributions that Seattle youth make in creating a better city, and to honor the work that youth do to keep Dr. King’s dream alive.  Learn more here.

New Council Committees

The Council voted earlier this month to establish new committees for 2020 and 2021.

I will be chairing the Public Safety and Human Services Committee, addressing issues related to the Seattle Police Department, Human Services Department, Fire Department, and Office of Emergency Management.

I’ll also serve as vice chair of the Finance & Housing Committee, and as a member of the Transportation & Utilities Committee and the Public Assets & Native Communities Committee. I serve as the alternate for the Community Economic Development Committee.

There is also a separate Select Committee on Homelessness and Investment Strategies. “Select committees” are established by the Council President and include all nine Councilmembers as members. I’ll serve as vice chair for this committee.

Committee duties are described in the Council resolution adopting committees, and the Council committees webpage.

Due to changes adopted in the Council Rules last year, committees will be structured and operate differently than in previous years.

Council committees will have five members, rather than three as in previous years. There will be a quorum of three to hold a committee meeting. In previous years, there was no quorum requirement for regular standing committee meetings and Councilmembers not on committees could attend and cote on legislation.  Under the new rules, only members of committees will be able to vote. Councilmembers not on the committee can attend only if invited by the committee chair and to participate in discussion, not to vote.

One possible outcome of this quorum requirement is that Councilmembers who might otherwise come to committee to offer amendments will now have to wait until Full Council to propose those amendments.   Another outcome of the new quorum requirement is that Councilmembers will serve on more committees.  In the past, each Councilmember served on 3 standing committee and was an alternate on one.  Now, I am serving on four standing committees and will be an alternate on one.

On final change is that in the past, each standing committee met twice each month.  Now, some committees are expected to meet twice a month and others only once a month.

Here’s the complete description of the Public Safety & Human Services committee adopted by the Council:

Public Safety & Human Services: To provide policy direction and oversight and to deliberate and make recommendations on legislative matters relating to:

  • criminal justice and law enforcement, with special emphasis on programs and strategies to reduce crime, domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, and youth violence (including the Seattle Police Department and the City Attorney’s Office);
  • police accountability (including the Office of Police Accountability, Office of Inspector General, and the Community Police Commission), and the implementation of the Settlement Agreement between the Department of Justice and the City of Seattle regarding the Seattle Police Department;
  • coordination with municipal, regional, state, and federal agencies engaged in public safety issues (including the Seattle Municipal Court);
  • fire prevention and suppression, and emergency medical services;
  • emergency preparedness, management, and response;
  • youth justice, alternatives to youth detention, and alternative housing options to youth incarceration;
  • human services including but not limited to, childcare, aging, and disability services; and the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program; and
  • local and regional public health.

In February, I will work on developing a committee work program for the Public Safety & Human Services Committee.  Other Councilmembers will do the same for their committees and the Council will adopt the 2020 Council Work Program by resolution.

Council Presidency and January Pro Tem

Earlier this month, I was proud to make the motion supporting Councilmember Lorena González as president of the City Council for 2020-21.  The Full Council voted unanimously in support.

The Council has a monthly pro tem calendar, adopted by resolution, for when the Council President is on leave or out of town.  During January I am serving as President Pro Tem for the City Council, while Councilmember González is on maternity leave.

The duties include chairing City Council meetings, referring legislation to committees and various administrative duties as head of the Legislative Department. This month, one of those duties has been to decide whether to keep the Legislative Department open during inclement weather after consulting with division directors and reviewing Office of Emergency Management reports each morning.

Inclement Weather/Severe Weather Shelter

The Seattle Human Services Department has been working hard to increase capacity for severe weather shelters, which will continue through Sunday night, January 19th at the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall – 301 Mercer Street – Seattle, WA 98109.

Additionally, earlier this week additional locations were opened.  For shelter options, please call 211 for help and follow Seattle Human Services for updates.


In-District Office Hours

My first in-district office hours will be on THURSDAY January 30.  I will be at the Southwest Customer Service Center (2801 SW Thistle St) from 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.  The final meeting of the day will begin at 4:30 p.m.

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

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

  • Friday, February 28, 2020
    Senior Center of West Seattle, 4217 SW Oregon St
  • Friday, March 27, 2020
    South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S
  • Friday, April 24, 2020
    Southwest Customer Service Center, 2801 SW Thistle St
  • Friday, May 29, 2020
    Senior Center of West Seattle, 4217 SW Oregon St
  • Friday, June 26, 2020
    South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S
  • Friday, July 31, 2020
    Southwest Customer Service Center, 2801 SW Thistle St
  • Friday, August 21, 2020
    Senior Center of West Seattle, 4217 SW Oregon St
  • Friday, September 25, 2020
    South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S
  • Friday, October 30, 2020
    Southwest Customer Service Center, 2801 SW Thistle St
  • Friday, December 18, 2020
    South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S
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2019 Year in Review

January 9th, 2020

New Office Phone Number

With the new Council taking office, telephone numbers for City Councilmembers are being changed to align with the district they represent. Councilmember phone numbers all begin with 206-684-880; the final digit will be for their district. Since I represent District 1, the new number will be 206-684-8801. For the two Citywide Councilmembers, the number will align with the position they represent; Councilmember Mosqueda represents Position 8, and Councilmember González Position 9.

2019 Year in Review

First of all, here’s the Council’s Year End Report.

CONTENTS

ACCOUNTABILITY AND FAIR TAXATION

D1 SPOTLIGHT

CIVIL RIGHTS, UTILITIES, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, ARTS COMMITTEE

HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS

CONSTITUENT CONTACTS

ACCOUNTABILITY AND FAIR TAXATION

Capital Project Oversight

Capital projects run over budget; remember the Seawall, the utility billing system, and the potential Center City Streetcar?  To address this, I sponsored legislation to require enhanced quarterly reports. The Council voted to establish the 2019 “Watch List” of large, complex capital projects with quarterly monitoring reports on scope, schedule, budget, coordination, community impact, and political risk. One stand out report, Q1 Watch List Center City Streetcar; rated the project “red” for risk factors, unsurprisingly, given cost increases. The most recent estimate is $286 million; funding includes $75 million in uncertain federal funds:

“The City is expecting $75 million in Small Starts Grant funding from the FTA…The $50 million will expire in Sept 2020 if a small starts grant agreement is not yet executed. We do not expect to have an executed small starts grant agreement by Sept 2020 under the revised, draft schedule….”

Without that funding, based on the January estimate, this project may be short $140 million. We can create watchlists to monitor risks, but there are no guarantees that this information will be used to reign in problem projects.  In this case, even after the report, the Council voted to approve $9 million to re-design the Center City streetcar; I voted “no.” Council approval is needed for additional spending.

Municipal Income Tax on High Incomes

A State Court of Appeals issued a 2019 ruling regarding the municipal tax on high incomes, challenging a 5-4 decision from the 1930s, that a city income tax is unconstitutional. Two years ago we unanimously passed legislation to tax high incomes. The Court of Appeals found the City had the statutory authority to impose an income tax. The court further ruled that a law prohibiting cities from enacting net income taxes is unconstitutional. Our state Supreme Court is the last hurdle in this race, thereby moving us one step closer towards reversing Washington’s outdated, regressive and unfair tax structure, which is largely recognized as the most regressive tax structure in the nation. The ordinance identified many priorities, including the homelessness crisis, affordable housing, education, transit, mental and public health services, green jobs, and meeting carbon reduction goals. If we win this case, my priority will be to use some of the revenue to address the impact of regressive taxes, including sale and property tax and taxes on small businesses.

D1 SPOTLIGHT

Bus Route Additions

As part of King County Metro’s service updates, Bus Routes 120 and 50 received additional service starting March 23rd.  In September, additional service was added for several District 1 routes, including the 120 and the C. Funding is provided by the Seattle Transportation Benefit District, approved by Seattle voters; running through the end of 2020.

In 2018, the City Council voted to change SDOT funding criteria to lay the groundwork for adding 2019 Route 120 service, one of the 10 busiest routes in the Metro system, and a ramp-up to convert the 120 to the Rapid Ride H Line.  King County Metro and SDOT are collaborating on the Delridge Rapid Ride H Line project; SDOT will repave Delridge from SW Orchard Street to the West Seattle Bridge.

To lay the groundwork for the Route 50 added trips in 2019, my office analyzed SDOT and City plans and found that the Admiral Urban Village didn’t meet the standards for Urban Villages, and that it was listed as an upgrade priority in the City’s Frequent Transit Network.

Passage of MHA and What’s Next

In March, the Council took its final vote on the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) legislation. The Junction community wants additional zoning capacity to be informed by community planning efforts, with understanding of the likely location of a future light rail station. In 2019, the Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD) began discussions with the Junction Neighborhood Origination so that the neighborhood plan will reflect the final route and light rail station location. OPCD committed to starting planning in earnest in 2020. MHA production estimates are 6,000 new affordable units. However, we have lost many affordable units to demolition of existing housing.  These losses offset the gains of new affordable housing.

From 2016-2018, 2699 units were lost to demolition. One reports is that 1889 of those units were affordable to households with incomes at or below 50% of median area income ($38,750 for a single person).  During same period, the city spent $175 million on 2,565 new units, 1434 affordable to those with incomes below 50%t of median. Over this period, demolitions led to a net loss of over 400 units serving renters earning less than 50% of the median income in Seattle. Applications are pending right now for removal of another 910 units. To address this, I have proposed legislation to address the displacement of our most vulnerable communities. I hope to work with the new Council to pass this in 2020.

North Delridge Action Plan Resolution

In 2019, the Council passed a resolution recognizing the North Delridge Action Plan, memorializing years North Delridge community effort, and requesting that the Executive make recommendations regarding the action items in six priority areas.  You can review those action items here. The Resolution also requests the Office of Planning and Community Development to recommend these proposed amendments, as identified by the community in the Action Plan, in the next Comprehensive Plan.

East Marginal Way Project Funding Adopted

The Council voted in 2019 for $5 million in grants to the East Marginal Way Corridor Improvement Project, allowing Phase 1 work in 2020, and construction in fall 2020. This is good news for bicycle access from West Seattle. When I met with West Seattle Bike Connections members, this was a high priority. Phase 1 work will include: work between S Atlantic St and S Spokane St with full separation between biking and driving to make biking safer and more predictable; a rebuild of the traffic signal at S Hanford St to protect all bicyclists and motorists; a new traffic signal at S Horton St for a protected diagonal crossing for bicyclists, and an existing signal update at S Atlantic St and S Spokane St.

West Seattle Traffic/Commutes in Seattle Squeeze

The “Seattle Squeeze” began with the Alaskan Way Viaduct closure; West Seattle commuters have been most affected. Because West Seattle bus riders faced long wait times on 1st Avenue in the evening after buses were rerouted from the viaduct on to 1st Avenue, I asked SDOT Director Zimbabwe to examine options to speed up traffic, including rerouting buses onto 4th Avenue. SDOT changed signal times, but problems persisted. SDOT and King County Metro later agreed to reroute buses on to 4th Avenue. Later, when the SR99 tunnel opened, traffic backups increased on SR99, the West Seattle Bridge, and onto arterials in West Seattle.  I sent a letter to SDOT Director Zimbabwe linked here. Because the bus lane on SR99 that had earlier been removed and was re-installed needed an adjustment, SDOT sought and received approval from WSDOT to extend the merge 1,000 feet.

Sound Transit Light Rail in West Seattle

2019 was a busy year for Sound Transit’s light rail project to West Seattle.  How did I help? After Sound Transit released potential “Level 3” alternatives for the Draft Environmental Statement (EIS), as a member of the Elected Leadership Group (ELG), I requested visualizations of what options would look like, to better understand the impact in West Seattle, by neighborhood. Later, after the public comment period for EIS scoping, I requested that the scoping documents be provided; Sound Transit helpfully did so before we made recommendations in late April. The ELG recommended options requiring additional funding and an option that would not. For the Alaska Junction, the ELG recommended removing the “yellow” line that would have gone through the East Alaska Junction residential neighborhood; I strongly supported removing this option. The ELG recommended a tunnel option needing additional resources and recommended the “representative” alignment at the current budget, with greater impacts on residents and businesses and little support. For Delridge, the ELG recommended the “blue” line, with a lower station and guideway, a more southern station, and significant residential impacts. To minimize impacts, I encouraged study of a revised version of the “purple” option, which would include a tunnel through Delridge. In May, the Sound Transit Board accepted our recommendations, and added study of two additional Delridge options: the modified Pigeon Point Tunnel, and a Yancy Street option to avoid the Youngstown neighborhood. After study, the cost for the Pigeon Point Tunnel went down from $500 million to $200 million. King County Councilmember McDermott moved to add this in the EIS at the Sound Transit Board; it failed in a close vote. Thanks to Councilmember McDermott for bringing this forward. The Yancy Street option, estimated to be within the budget, did move forward in to the Draft EIS. With the Draft EIS scheduled for 2021 completion, I sponsored a motion in the
Council’s budget for a report on the schedule and status of third party funding for the ST3 West Seattle and Ballard Link project

Monitoring Dangerous Vacant Buildings

The Council passed legislation during the 2018 budget for an enhanced vacant building monitoring program which went into effect on June 1, 2019. Despite District 1 having the most vacant building complaint cases of any area in the city, District 1 had the least number of buildings in the old monitoring program, with only two properties being checked on a quarterly basis! The condition of this property degraded after being vacant for only one year.

The new program has monthly inspections for vacant buildings with: (1) three notices of violation, (2) on a lot with a master use permit or building permit application, or (3) on a police or fire department list.  Buildings are removed from the Program if repaired and reoccupied, inspected three consecutive times with no violations, or demolished. The Department of Construction and Inspection (SDCI) anticipates 1,200 new properties in the monitoring program. In order to support the increased monitoring of these properties SDCI hired three new inspectors. In October, we received a report with a total of 857 properties now in the program.

CIVIL RIGHTS, UTILITIES, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, ARTS COMMITTEE

Closed Captioning Everywhere

One issue that the Commission for People with Disabilities has been raising with the Council is increasing access to public meetings, and public accommodations.  Under Seattle Municipal Code 3.14.933, the duties of the commission are to recommend policies, “to fairly address the concerns of people with disabilities individually and as a protected class, and as appropriate.” Council access has increased over the years with the installation of “hearing loops” in Council Chambers. The City Clerk and former Councilmember Rasmussen helped make this happen.  I then worked with the commission and the Seattle Channel and City Clerk to add captioning to Seattle Channel broadcasts. In 2019, the commission asked that I address the need to require closed captioning on TV receivers in public. Commission vice-chair Eric Scheir presented his experience and what other cities have done in my committee.  I consulted the Mayor’s Small Business Advisory Council and the Seattle Restaurant Association.  The Council adopted my legislation.  Last month, the Tacoma Council passed this bill too.

The First Electric Garbage Truck in the US

In 2019, Recology, a Seattle Public Utilities’ (SPU) solid waste collection contractor, received their first 100% electric garbage truck. In 2017, I wrote to SPU asking them to implement an electric fleet pilot program and become an early adopter of electric garbage trucks. The Council took a step closer when we adopted contracts in 2018.

SPU is leading the way in electrifying our waste collection trucks.  This truck is the first ever Class 8 rear loader in the United States. Seattle hills and rear load collection make Class 8 truck difficult to fully electrify. Recology can now begin real world testing of this vehicle.

SPU also announced new trucks for the City’s “Green Fleet” of nearly 200 collection trucks powered by renewable natural gas (collected from landfill garbage!) and hydrogenated-derived diesel, from vegetable waste and soybean oil by-products. Both produce lower emissions than typical fossil fuels.

Solid Waste Rates – Good News

As you can see from the chart below, rates were predicted to go up 4% this year, 3% in 2021, and 3.8% in 2022. The good news is that they will only go up 3.2% this year, 2.9% in 2021, and 2.9% in 2022.

The savings are due to:

  1. Solid Waste Collection Contract savings. SPU negotiated a contract saving ~$5 million yearly.
  2. Service demand from population growth resulted in $6 million in new revenue over three-years
  3. Updated financial policies
  4. SPU projected more single-family participation in the Utility Discount Program, but there will be more multifamily UDP customers, costing $7.8 million less over the three-year period.

The rate proposal stems from the SPU Strategic Business Plan which the Council passed in 2017, as a six-year guiding document that the utility updates every three years to reflect the most accurate information about rates needed to support project costs.

Accountability and Oversight for Ship Canal Water Quality Project

The SCWQP is a joint project with King County to minimize combined sewer overflows (CSOs). 85% of Seattle’s overflow volume is from the five outfalls addressed by this project. SCWQP is part of an effort to reduce contaminated water reaching Puget Sound as required by a Federal and State Consent Decree. The project will cost $570 million and funded with ratepayer funds. During the 2018 budget the Council provisoed project spending to exercise our oversight and accountability.  A proviso ensures that spending can’t occur after a certain stage until the Council specifically allows it. For the SCWQP, the Council stopped spending at the 100% design phase of the tunnel portion of the project.  If there’s good news after reporting on project status, the Council can vote to release funds to proceed with the project. If the news is bad, the Council can stop spending or change the scope to address problems. The good news is, SPU updated their confidence rating from 65% to 70%, meaning that the project is 70% likely to cost $570 million or less (the City’s share is approximately $393 million). The SCWQP is actually five construction projects. The storage tunnel is the largest project, estimated at $218 million.

The Council lifted the proviso to allow SPU to select a construction contractor; SPU executed a contract in September, officially kicking off the construction phase of the tunnel.

Amazon Switches to Union Security Workers

2019 was the year Amazon announced plans to contract with two unionized companies for security services, rather than Security Industry Specialists (SIS).  Four years ago workers started this struggle. Just 15 days after I first took office in 2016, I wrote to Amazon about unfair SIS working conditions. Workers charged SIS with practices from wage theft and discrimination to harassment and denial of legally mandated breaks and benefits.   SEIU Local 6 stated that, “labor practices of SIS at Amazon show a pattern of disrespect—for workers, veterans, families, local laws, American labor laws and fundamental human rights.”  The Seattle Human Rights Commission also weighed in. With this decision, Amazon is recognizing workers as people, not a metric.  I hope that Amazon does the same for their thousands of other contract workers, such as delivery drivers.

Legacy Business Program Update

2019 was also the year that the Office of Economic Development announced that they are taking nominations for Legacy Businesses! In 2016, a District 1 resident proposed a Legacy Business Program, modeled after a San Francisco effort: to “recognize that longstanding, community-serving businesses can be valuable cultural assets.”

The designation of Legacy Businesses honors the resiliency of beloved businesses in the face of displacement risk and contribution to cultural vibrancy, our economy, and our sense of place.   After tavern closures in England, they created an “Assets of Community Value” program.   When Paris bookstores closed, they developed a Vital Quartier program. To be eligible, a business must be an independently owned, for profit business, in continuous operations for a minimum of 10 years in Seattle, and have fewer than 50 employees, including the owner. You can nominate a business here; businesses can self-nominate too! An FAQ is available here. Here’s background information about my 3 year effort to establish the program. One winner will be selected from each council district by a Selection Committee comprised of representatives from business district organizations in each Council District. Winners receive access to small business services through the Office of Economic Development, including a commercial lease and succession planning toolkit, marketing and legal consultation.

Cultural Space Update

I have promoted the ongoing work of the Office of Arts and Culture (ARTS) to preserve cultural space in Seattle. ARTS released a Structure for Stability update report and provided a presentation in my committee on how to facilitate this work, including the creation of public development to save at risk spaces. The report notes, “cultural spaces have always been at the heart of our most successful neighborhoods.” Those spaces face the same affordability pressures as Seattle residents and businesses. There will be additional updates in 2020 on the Cultural Space PDA. Thanks to ARTS for their work.

AIDS Memorial Pathway (AMP) Project

In 2020, Seattle’s Capitol Hill Light Rail Station plaza next to Cal Anderson Park will become home to the AMP, with dynamic art installations and plaza space enshrining the efforts of advocates and activists fighting to end HIV/AIDS and discrimination. The passionate leadership of volunteers and community leaders has brought the AMP to life. In 2018, the AMP partnered with Arts & Culture to commission Horatio Hung-Yan Law to write a master art plan guided by months of outreach and conversation with communities affected by HIV/AIDS, especially people of color, transgender individuals, and other historically under-represented communities. Former Councilmember Tom Rasmussen is among the community helping to move the project forward. I proposed $100,000 in project funding, which was added to the 2nd quarter supplemental budget.

HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS

Parks Opening Access to Showers & Budget Increases for Public Restrooms!

In 2019, I promoted recommendations in a report of the City Auditor that I requested on the Navigation Team’s work to address unauthorized encampments. They recommended opening our shower and bathroom facilities broadly to the public to manage communicable diseases and other public health risks Seattle Parks & Recreation are opening more showers and restrooms to Seattle Public School students and their family who are experiencing homelessness. The newly available showers are at the seven pools, in addition to four community centers that already make them available to anyone in need.

A report by Schoolhouse Washington shows that there were 4,368 Seattle Public School students experiencing homelessness in 2018, 88% of whom are students of color. King County is home to 9,854 such students and 42,599 students experienced homelessness in Washington in 2018.

I am also excited about another effort to increase access to restrooms. Real Change’s “Everybody Poos” campaign urged the City to adopt the Mobile Pit Stop model, used in San Francisco and other cities. The Pit Stops are a place for people to use the bathroom, dispose needles and pet waste, and have staffing to ensure safety and cleanliness that the Auditor estimates is less costly than the self-cleaning bathrooms the City sold years ago, and less than the recently installed Ballard Commons Portland Loo. The Council added nearly $1.3 million to the budget this this fall to provide five mobile pit stops.

More Bond Authority for Affordable Housing

I’ve been advocating use of the City’s bond capacity for affordable housing since taking office in 2015.  In 2017, I sponsored legislation that authorized the City to issue $29 million in bonds to build affordable housing—using the City’s line of credit, which gets paid back through tax revenue over time. Because of Seattle’s success using our bonding authority for affordable housing, the State Legislature passed House Bill 1406 to give cities and counties sales tax revenue that is already collected for acquiring, rehabilitating, or building affordable housing.  This means that the City of Seattle now has a dedicated revenue source to pay for more use of our bonding capacity to build more affordable housing more quickly. Added bonding capacity will also leverage more state and federal dollars. Our partners who build affordable housing are ready to build more. OH’s 2019 Intent to Apply generated interest for housing providers to develop over 2,300 units across the City projected to cost over $190 million. OH indicated last Spring that the City only had about $50 million to spend.

House Bill 1406 made it possible for the City to announce in December that we’d invest $110 million, the largest investment in our history, to build nearly 2,000 truly affordable housing units.

The McKinsey Report shows homelessness corresponds with rent increases; since 2011, supply of units for households at 80% of the Average Median Income (~$80,000 for a household of 3) had doubled, yet units affordable to households at 50% or less of the AMI (49,800 for a household of 3) had halved.

The McKinsey report projects that King County would need to invest between $360- 410 million annually to adequately fund housing for people with the severest housing need. To do our part in meeting this regional need, last year I proposed that the City—as one King County jurisdiction—double its housing investment in each of the remaining years of the levy. We must continue the effort I started in 2017 to champion the City use of our bond capacity for affordable housing in 2020 and beyond.

Groundbreaking Eviction Reforms in the State Legislature

Last year I commissioned the Losing Home report from the Seattle Women’s Commission which reviewed 1,218 eviction actions in Seattle in 2017, and found:

  • Of one-tenant household evictions with $100.00 or less owed, 81% were women.
  • Black tenants experience eviction 4.5 times what they should based on demographics.
  • People of color were more likely to be evicted for smaller amounts of money.
  • Of 1,035 evictions, 86.5% were for rent and 52.3% of those were for a month or less in rent.
  • After eviction, only 12.5% of evicted respondents found another rental, 37.5% were completely unsheltered, 25.0% living in shelter or transitional housing, and 25% staying with family/friends.

After hearing the legislation, we developed Resolution 31861 for next steps on eviction reform, which set the stage for passage of important new state eviction reform.  After passing in the State Legislature, my Committee passed a bill that City law with new state requirements. Specifically, these changes are:

  • Extend the 3-day pay-or-vacate notice for nonpayment of rent to 14 days—so tenants have time to access services, support, or the next paycheck to get caught up and avoid eviction;
  • Clarifying that rent be applied before other costs like late payments, damages, legal costs, or other fees to insure that landlords don’t use rent to pay for other costs and trigger basis for an eviction.
  • Extend the rent increase notice to 60 days for all rent increases (upon completion of a fixed-term or month-to-month agreement), replacing Seattle’s 60-day notice for increases above10%.

Five More Bills Passed to Strengthen Tenant Protections

In September, the Council passed five bills that I sponsored, two that I authored. They are:

  1. CB 119658: protecting survivors of domestic violence from being held liable for damages to a rental unit caused by their abuser
  2. CB 119606: allowing tenants to share the costs of rent and enjoy other benefits of living with roommates and family members by prohibiting landlords from restricting legal occupancy limits established by local, state, or federal law
  3. CB 119619: requiring information on the rights and resources of tenants to be included on notices to terminate a tenancy, increase rent, or to enter a unit
  4. CB 119620: to enforce the state law requiring landlords to provide receipts for rent and prohibiting requirement of electronic rent payment
  5. CB 119621: requiring a landlord to register the rental unit with the Rental Registration and Inspection Ordinance (RRIO) before filing and issuing a notice to terminate tenancy

The legislation also followed from the Losing Home report from the Seattle Women’s Commission.

The Plan for City’s Investments in Affordable Housing

The Office of Housing’s mission is to fund affordable housing projects for people with the severest housing need. The Council approved the Administrative & Funding Plan for how the Office of Housing (OH) awards and distributes funding for affordable housing in the City. Councilmember Mosqueda led this effort.  I sponsored amendments incorporated into the final Plan:

  • A “Housing First” definition, so that providers applying for funding understand the City’s expectations of Housing First principles
  • Requiring written Mutual Termination Agreement policies to prevent misuse in accordance with recommendations of the Losing Home Report
  • Require providers’ policies to align with City law in screening tenant applications
  • Requiring Seattle Housing Authority projects receiving $5 million or more in City funding include a goal that 1 out of 5 apprentices hired for the project come from a pre-apprenticeship program
  • Increasing the maximum funding available for homeownership projects that are three bedrooms
  • Allowing loan funding to build rent restricted detached – and attached accessory dwelling units

I was proud to also partner with Councilmember Mosqueda to include an amendment advancing labor equity outcomes in affordable housing construction projects such as apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship utilization, and hiring workers from targeted zip codes, components that we a require for other public works projects under the City’s Priority Hire program. The City’s role as a funder for affordable housing development can help ensure your housing levy tax dollars are—in addition to building affordable housing—promoting wealth and career pathways for communities historically marginalized or excluded from construction trades, specifically people of color and women.

FIT ruling

In 2018 the Washington State Supreme Court unanimously upheld the City’s “First-in-Time” ordinance. The First-in-Time (“FIT”) Rule simply requires a landlord to:

  1. Notify prospective tenants of the landlord’s screening criteria and
  2. Offer tenancy to the first applicant meeting the criteria

The Rule does not dictate the criteria, require quantifiable or objective criteria, or prevent a landlord from conducting an interview to satisfy a criterion, preclude negotiations over lease terms, or otherwise limit how a landlord may communicate with prospective tenants. The FIT rule was included in a 2016 law I sponsored that also a. banned source of income discrimination, b. obligated landlords to accept financial assistance in the form of vouchers to stop an eviction, and c. banned landlords from providing preferential treatment to tenants working for certain employers. The purpose of the first-in-time screening rule is to prevent housing providers from not fairly considering applicants who are qualified under the landlord’s screening requirements. The Rental Housing Association and the Washington Multifamily Housing Association call First-in-Time screening a best practice because it protects landlords from a discrimination complaint by establishing an objective process for landlords to use when reviewing rental applications they are less likely to use explicit and implicit (unintentional) bias against applicants who are members of a protected class. Some people have expressed concern that this law might harm renters applying for housing who can’t respond quickly to a rental opportunity or that this law might stop preferential treatment a landlord might otherwise show a renter who is vulnerable. The FAQ here answers these questions and others.

2020 Budget

In November the Council adopted the 2020 City Budget.  The City’s total budget is $6.47 billion; $2.75 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 $1.48 billion with 51%, or about $755 million, dedicated to Seattle Police Department, Fire Department, Municipal Court, the City Attorney, the Office of Emergency Management, the Office of Police Accountability, and the Office of the Inspector General.

 

District 1 Specific Proposals:

Citywide Proposals:

Public Safety and Public Health

Homelessness and Housing

Civil Rights

Transportation and Utilities

Economic Development and Arts/Culture

I also sponsored a request for a report on timeline and funding to collect high-earners city income tax. A press release by 2019 Budget Committee Chair Bagshaw is linked here.

CONSTITUENT CONTACTS

There are three locations that I rotate between to help make it easier for constituents to meet with me in their neighborhood. Meeting topics ranged from homelessness to transportation to zoning to public safety issues. Multiple groups utilized this time to connect with me about specific issues their organization or neighborhoods were facing. In addition to my in-district office hours I regularly meet with constituents at my office in City Hall. In-District Office hours will continue again in 2020; please keep an eye out for my emails and on the blog to know when I will be in your neighborhood. In addition to my office hours, we receive thousands of emails from residents all over the city. As with my previous monthly reports the unshaded categories and numbers are problem-solving emails answered, what I refer to as “case management services,” and the shaded categories and numbers are emails answered related to policy or legislation that the Council was considering. This number does not reflect the follow up emails which are often required to gather more information or ensure a response from a department should that be necessary. Here’s the breakout:

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Legacy Business Nominations Open through February 14th; November Constituent Email Report

December 11th, 2019

Legacy Business Nominations Open through February 14th

In 2016, my first week as a Councilmember, a District 1 resident brought me the idea of a Seattle Legacy Business Program, modeled after a successful San Francisco effort: to “recognize that longstanding, community-serving businesses can be valuable cultural assets to the City.  In addition, the City intends that the Registry be a tool for providing educational and promotional assistance to Legacy Businesses to encourage their continued viability and success.”

I’m happy to report that the Office of Economic Development has announced that they are taking nominations for Legacy Businesses through February 14!

The nomination and designation of Legacy Businesses is one way to honor the resilience of these beloved businesses and recognize their contribution to the city’s cultural vibrancy, our local economy, and our sense of place.  In addition to San Francisco, other cities have Legacy Business Programs. After tavern closures in England, they created an “Assets of Community Value” program.   When Paris bookstores closed, they developed a  Vital Quartier program to preserve them.

I’m hopeful the city will continue to develop more resources and tools — such as succession planning, marketing consultations, and incentivizing the development of affordable commercial space — so our legacy businesses can continue to thrive.

To be eligible, a business must be an independently owned, for profit business, in continuous operations for a minimum of 10 years in Seattle, and have fewer than 50 employees, including the owner.

You can nominate a business here; businesses can self-nominate too!

One winner will be selected from each of the seven council districts. Based on public nominations, winners will be selected by a Selection Committee comprised of representatives from business district organizations in each Council District.

The Legacy Business Program celebrates businesses in our neighborhoods that are going beyond the basic sales of goods and services. These businesses are staples in their communities, serve as key contributors to neighborhood identity, and face a significant risk of displacement.

Winning businesses will receive public recognition at an awards ceremony in May, in recognition of National Small Business Month. Winners will also receive access to a variety of small business support services through the Office of Economic Development, including a commercial lease and succession planning toolkit, marketing and legal consultation.

An FAQ is available here, including information on awards.

Here is a little more background on the 3 plus year effort to get this program up and running. 

  • In June of 2016, I worked with the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, Historic Seattle, and 4 Culture to survey community members to identify our most important business establishments. Public feedback, with nearly 500 respondents, identified small businesses worthy of preservation.
  • The 2016 survey was intended to inform the Mayor’s Commercial Affordability Advisory Committee efforts in determining what policies or funding support may be necessary to preserve and protect Seattle’s iconic small businesses.
  • The Advisory Committee recommended in the fall of 2016 that the City provide promotional and technical support for certain legacy businesses operating in Seattle. The Committee said that more needed to be done to determine what Seattle’s legacy business program would look like, including age and sectors of eligible businesses.
  • I earmarked funding in the 2017 budget for a Seattle Legacy Business study to determine the scope and definition of a Seattle Legacy Business program.
  • The 2017 study confirmed that Legacy Businesses face similar challenges as most small businesses such as marketing and promotion, however there are unique issues like succession planning and long-term stability in commercial leases that pose specific threats.
  • I earmarked 2018 funding for a second study to make program design recommendations, including eligibility, a nomination and designation process for a new Legacy Business Designation Program.
  • That same year, another study in the University District, among recommendations related to displacement and gentrification, agreed that the Office of Economic Development, should adopt “best practice anti-displacement measures to protect small businesses, such as San Francisco’s Legacy Business Program.”
  • In 2019, as member of the Seattle Investment Fund Committee, I worked to pilot support to legacy businesses, investing $800,000 in affordable commercial tenant improvement space for legacy businesses in neighborhoods identified as high displacement risk areas in the City’s 2035 Growth and Equity Report. Among others, businesses like Earl’s Cuts and Styles and Phnom Penh Noodle House were awardees.

  • Carried over unspent 2018 funds in 2019 in the budget for the Legacy Business Program to designate and provide resources to one Legacy Business in each of the 7 Council Districts in 2019

Legacy businesses give our neighborhoods character and create a bridge to our city’s past. They face the same displacement pressures as many Seattle residents.

November Constituent Email Report

Constituent correspondence is a very important task in my office. My staff and I spend time every day helping you improve our community, whether that’s by getting you help from a city department with our constituent case management services or giving you information about legislation that the Council is considering. The unshaded categories and numbers are problem-solving emails answered in November, what I refer to above as “case management services.”  The shaded categories and numbers are emails answered in November related to policy or legislation that the Council is considering.

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Giving My Thanks to You; This Week in the Budget: Council adopts Final 2020 budget; Public Hearing on Police Guild Collective Bargaining Negotiations; Sound Transit Online Forum for light rail to West Seattle; Parks Wants Your Input on Trail and Wayfinding Improvements for Delridge

November 27th, 2019

Giving My Thanks to You

I look forward this time of year to the opportunity to reflect on all that I have for which to be thankful. On this Thanksgiving Day eve, there are individual people to be thankful for their contribution to making Seattle a better city.  If you are working for your community, I’m thankful for you.  I am thankful for the staff that work in my office as part of the District 1 team, Newell, Alex, Jeanne.  The service we give to the residents of District 1 would not be possible without your dedication and hard work.  For you I am especially thankful.

Groups I am thankful for are those who, in raising their voices, have insured City government is making decisions in the interest of the city, or of our District.  The organizations I would like to thank this year are plentiful, I will name three here:

  • The District 1 Community Network – D1CN has been formed to strengthen the diverse and distinct District 1 neighborhoods by bringing them together to advocate for agreed upon goals that benefit the entire district.
  • Washington Community Action Network – WACAN has profoundly changed the landscape for Washington State renters in 2019.
  • Historic Seattle – this organization is doing so much to preserve the spaces that are cultural anchors in a city that is ever-changing. I especially appreciate their efforts this year to Save the Showbox.

 

This Week in the Budget: Council adopts Final 2020 budget

On Monday, the Seattle City Council adopted the 2020 City Budget.

The City’s total budget is $6.47 billion, of which $2.75 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 $1.48 billion.  Fifty-one percent of the City’s $1.48 billion in General Fund revenue is dedicated to the core function of municipal government, public safety.  Specifically, about $755 million goes to Seattle Police Department, Seattle Fire Department, Seattle Municipal Court, the City Attorney, the Office of Emergency Management, the Office of Police Accountability, and the Office of the Inspector General.

Many thanks to all everyone who contacted me during this budget process; below are our successes from this budget cycle:

District 1 Specific Proposals:

Citywide Proposals:

Public Safety and Public Health

Homelessness and Housing

  • A diaper distribution pilot program and funding for grants to community-based organizations such as WestSide Baby to provide diapers to families of diaper-aged children whom lack of access to diapers presents a barrier to using and accessing childcare services, or for families who access diapers via food banks, shelters, enhanced shelters, and tiny home villages.
  • Funding for two new Department of Construction and Inspection positions to support tenant and property owner outreach and education.
  • Funding for renters’ rights outreach, education, and organizing
  • Impose a proviso on Navigation Team appropriations in HSD (this requires reporting to the Council; it does not limit funding for this work)

Civil Rights

Transportation and Utilities

Economic Development and Arts/Culture

Another item I sponsored requests that the City Budget Office report on steps, timeline and funding to collect high-earners municipal income tax.

The 2020 budget also includes an addition made by the Council during 2018, for $1.08 million for youth diversion programs sponsored by Councilmember O’Brien, that I co-sponsored. The Council approved additional funding this year as well.

It also includes $3.5 million for the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program; an additional $1.5 million grant has been secured from the Ballmer Group, reaching the funding target for the proposal presented to the Budget Committee on October 2nd.

A press release by Budget Committee Chair Bagshaw is linked here.

 

Public Hearing on Police Guild Collective Bargaining Negotiations

On December 5th, the Gender Equity, Safe Communities, New Americans & Education (GESCNAE) Committee will hold a public hearing to prepare for upcoming collective bargaining with the Seattle Police Officer’s Guild.

The public hearing requirement to give the public the opportunity to testify in advance of collective bargaining “on the effectiveness of the City’s police accountability system” in advance of negotiations was first adopted in Ordinance 122809, passed in 2008.  This is a requirement unique to the SPOG and Seattle Police Management Association (SPMA) bargaining processes (it exists for no other city unions) out of recognition that, “the City and the public have a strong interest in the conduct and operation of the police department given its impact on public safety

The hearing will be held jointly with the Select Labor Committee and the Community Police Commission and begins at 5:30 in the Council Chambers in City Hall, with presentations. Sign-in will begin at 5 p.m.; additional information is available on the meeting agenda.

The current contract with the Police Officer’s Guild runs through the end of 2020, and the City has provided notice to begin negotiations on a new contract.

SMC 4.04.120 (G) states, “The City of Seattle will consider in good faith whether and how to carry forward the interests expressed at the public hearing. Those suggested changes that are legally required to be bargained with the SPOG, SPMA or their successor labor organizations will be considered by the City, in good faith, for inclusion in negotiations but the views expressed in the public hearing will not dictate the city’s position during bargaining.”

 

Sound Transit Online Forum for light rail to West Seattle

Sound Transit has begun environmental review for light rail to West Seattle, and is studying alternatives approved by the Sound Transit Board.

If you couldn’t attend last week’s Sound Transit outreach event, you can still provide input as part of the process for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

Sound Transit is requesting comments about neighborhood priorities, based on the station locations they will be studying in the Draft EIS.

Here’s a link to the survey, and the project page.

 

Parks Wants Your Input on Trail and Wayfinding Improvements for Delridge

The Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation is working on updates to SW Brandon & SW Findley Streets for trail improvements and wayfinding. Come join the Parks Departments at Greg Davis Park (corner of 26th Ave SW and SW Brandon St) between 11am and 1pm on Saturday, December 7.

If you can’t make it and want to stay up to date on the project you can check it out here.

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This Week in the Budget; DEADLINE FRIDAY – New Renters’ Rights Public Comment; First-In-Time Ruling from State Supreme Court

November 21st, 2019

This Week in the Budget

This week, Seattle City Council Budget Committee Chair Bagshaw proposed a Chair’s Revised 2020 Budget. This revised proposal incorporated additional requests by Councilmembers that were submitted the previous week.

The Budget Committee met on Tuesday, November 19th to vote on budget actions proposed by Councilmembers. The baseline for discussion was the Chair’s Revised Budget. Councilmembers could propose additional items for consideration, or substitutes for items listed on the agenda.

A number of items that I proposed were added to the Chair’s Revised Budget (in addition to items included as part of the Initial Budget Proposal released on November 6th); some of them are brand new, while others are revised versions of earlier proposals:

  • Request that SDOT and CBO report on the schedule and status of third party funding discussions regarding South Transit’s West Seattle and Ballard Link Extension project
  • Request that DON report on a strategy to develop a community-led place-based violence prevention initiative in Westwood and South Delridge
  • Proviso spending on the Delridge Way SW – RapidRide H Line (MC-TR-C042) CIP project
  • Request that SPD report on compliance with copper wire laws to discourage the theft of copper wire
  • Request that SPD develop a City-wide asset loss process for reporting and investigating when City assets (like copper wire) are stolen
  • Add $179,712 in SPU for a pilot program of mobile pump-out services to RVs to limit environmental damage to waterways
  • Added funding for a diaper distribution pilot program and funding for grants to community-based organizations such as WestSide Baby to provide diapers to families of diaper-aged children whom lack of access to diapers presents a barrier to using and accessing childcare services, or for families who access diapers via food banks, shelters, enhanced shelters, and tiny home villages.
  • Adding funding for renters’ rights outreach, education, and organizing
  • Impose a proviso on Navigation Team appropriations in HSD (this requires reporting to the Council; it does not limit funding for this work)
  • Impose a proviso on funding for the Creative Industry Policy Advisor position in OED to require engagement with the film industry in developing the responsibilities for this position

The Budget Committee is scheduled to hold its final meeting the morning of Monday, November 25th; the Council is scheduled to vote on the final 2020 budget package the afternoon of the 25th.

Here’s a link to the Budget Committee schedule.  Budget Committee meeting agendas and materials are available here. A description of the Council’s budget process is linked here.

DEADLINE FRIDAY New Renters’ Rights Notice Law:  SDCI Director’s Rule Public Comment

In September, the Council adopted Ordinance 119619, requiring information about how tenants can exercise their rights and access resources to be included on:

The Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections is requesting public comment on proposed Director’s Rule 15-2019 regarding this legislation. Public comment is open through Friday, November 22nd.

If you are a renter, what information do YOU need if you receive one of these three notices from your landlord?  Let us know at this link to the proposed Director’s Rule. You can submit written comments on the proposed rule to

SCI_DRulesComments@seattle.gov. Here’s a link to the notice of the proposed rule.

First-In-Time Ruling from State Supreme Court

Washington State Supreme Court unanimously upheld the City’s “First-in-Time” ordinance last week. The First-in-Time (“FIT”) Rule simply requires:

  1. a landlord to notify prospective tenants of the landlord’s screening criteria and
  2. offer tenancy to the first applicant meeting the

The Rule does not dictate the criteria, require quantifiable or objective criteria, or prevent a landlord from conducting an interview to satisfy a criterion, preclude negotiations over lease terms, or otherwise limit how a landlord may communicate with prospective tenants.

From last weeks’ press release:

Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes said, “My office’s mantra has been to correct mistaken case law and give our elected policy makers the tools they need to govern a modern American city. This ruling has been years in the making, and we prevailed thanks to smart lawyering and an eye toward addressing antiquated decisions of the past.

“This case was argued at the State Supreme Court by the head of our Land Use Section, Assistant City Attorney Roger Wynne, and I could not be prouder to have him represent the City in this endeavor. His arguments and briefs built on his scholarly work and helped lead the Court to provide much-needed clarity to two complex areas of state constitutional law: regulatory takings and substantive due process. As the Court said, these cases ‘will have consequences far beyond the particular claims at issue here.’  These cases restore the appropriate level of deference to our locally elected policy makers.”

The FIT rule was included in a 2016 law I sponsored that also a. banned source of income discrimination at the start of tenancy, b. obligated landlords to accept financial assistance in the form of vouchers to stop an eviction, and c. banned landlords from providing preferential treatment to tenants working for certain employers.

Our anti-discrimination laws can reveal overt discrimination, they don’t do enough to address implicit bias.

Implicit bias has no place in our rental markets. The Office for Civil Rights conducted housing discrimination testing using pairs of equally qualified applicants — one in a protected class, the other in no protected class — shows persistent evidence of differential treatment in over 60% of the tests.

The purpose of the first-in-time screening rule is to prevent housing providers from not fairly considering applicants who are qualified applicants under the screening requirements, but are also members of a protected class.

The Rental Housing Association and the Washington Multifamily Housing Association both say that First-in-Time screening practices are a best practice screening process. It is a best practice because it protects rental housing providers from a discrimination complaint by establishing an objective process for landlords to use when reviewing rental applications.  In doing so, rental property owners are less likely to use explicit and implicit (unintentional) bias against applicants who are members of a protected class.

Some people have expressed concern that this law might harm renters applying for housing who can’t respond quickly to a rental application or that this law might stop preferential treatment a landlord might otherwise show a renter who is vulnerable.  The FAQ here answers these questions and others.

Many times, people don’t know that the decisions they are making are based in biases and thus discriminatory.  What is exciting and potentially transformational about this work is:

  • When we slow down our biases and act based on an assessment of the situation we end up making individual decisions that more accurately reflect our values.
  • Over time, through practice, we can gradually unlearn the implicit associations that we have.

The City Auditor will work on an assessment of the effectiveness of this law after 18 months of implementation.

The City received amici curiae (friend of the court) support from the Tenants Union of Washington State, Futurewise, the Seattle Displacement Coalition, and the Washington State Association of Municipal Attorneys.

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City Prevails in “First-in-Time” Lawsuit at State Supreme Court

November 14th, 2019

SEATTLE – The Washington State Supreme Court unanimously upheld the City’s “first-in-time” ordinance today. The First-in-Time (“FIT”) Rule requires a landlord to notify prospective tenants of the landlord’s screening criteria and offer tenancy to the first applicant meeting them. The Rule does not dictate the criteria, require quantifiable or objective criteria, prevent a landlord from conducting an interview to satisfy a criterion, preclude negotiations over lease terms, or otherwise limit how a landlord may communicate with prospective tenants.

Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes said, “My office’s mantra has been to correct mistaken case law and give our elected policy makers the tools they need to govern a modern American city. This ruling has been years in the making, and we prevailed thanks to smart lawyering and an eye toward addressing antiquated decisions of the past.

“This case was argued at the State Supreme Court by the head of our Land Use Section, Assistant City Attorney Roger Wynne, and I could not be prouder to have him represent the City in this endeavor. His arguments and briefs built on his scholarly work and helped lead the Court to provide much-needed clarity to two complex areas of state constitutional law: regulatory takings and substantive due process. As the Court said, these cases ‘will have consequences far beyond the particular claims at issue here.’  These cases restore the appropriate level of deference to our locally elected policy makers.”

Councilmember Lisa Herbold (District 1, West Seattle – South Park), the legislation’s sponsor, said, “One of the first pieces of legislation I introduced in 2016 was ‘first-in-time’ and source of income discrimination bills to ensure all renters are treated equally.

“I’m heartened that, three years after passage of the legislation, the (upper) courts agree: landlords must accept the first qualified applicant to live in a rental property.

“Our judicial system understands that implicit bias has no place in our rental markets. Office for Civil Rights conducted housing discrimination testing using pairs of equally qualified applicants—one in a protected class, the other in no protected class— showed evidence of differential treatment in over 60% of the tests.

“Today’s ruling gives renters and the city the tools they need to set things right for renters, and is another accomplishment on a long list of legislation Seattle can use to encourage other municipalities to protect renters from the scourge of discrimination everywhere.

“Finally, I want to thank the City Attorney’s Office, and specifically Roger Wynne who argued the case before the State Supreme Court.”

The City received amici curiae (friend of the court) support from the Tenants Union of Washington State, Futurewise, the Seattle Displacement Coalition, and the Washington State Association of Municipal Attorneys.

The Washington State Supreme Court’s decision can be found here.

# # #

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This Week in the Budget; Public Safety Survey; Tunnel Tolls-Alaskan Way; Set Out Free Additional Yard Waste; Sound Transit Neighborhood Forums; Constituent Email

November 14th, 2019

This Week in the Budget

On November 6th, Budget Committee Chair Bagshaw proposed an Initial Budget Proposal, which incorporated some of the Councilmember proposals presented between October 29 and November 1. The three overarching priorities Bagshaw announced are homelessness, housing and hygiene. The proposal includes funding for each, including $3.5 million in additional funding for the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program.

Councilmember proposals to modify this initial budget proposal were due on November 8th, and were presented in the Budget Committee on November 13th.

Next week, Chair Bagshaw will propose a Revised Budget on Monday, November 18th, which may include Council proposals presented on November 13th. The Budget Committee will vote on November 19th. The Full Council is scheduled to vote on the 2020 budget on November 25th.

Here’s a link to the Budget Committee schedule.  Budget Committee meeting agendas and materials are available here. A description of the Council’s budget process is linked here.

Here are the proposals for which I was the prime sponsor that are included in the Initial Budget Proposal; some are in slightly different forms than originally proposed:

District 1 Specific Proposals:

Citywide Proposals:

Public Safety and Public Health

Homelessness and Housing

  • Add funding for a diaper distribution pilot program for families in need to provide diapers for children in enhanced shelters, basic shelters, and tiny home villages.
  • Add funding to the Department of Construction and Inspection for two new positions to support tenant and property owner outreach and education.

Civil Rights

Transportation and Utilities

Economic Development and Arts/Culture

Other proposals I submitted were not included in the initial budget proposal; I’ve re-submitted some of them in revised form, as well as some new proposals; these were presented November 13:

The adoption of I-976 by state voters presents significant challenges. For example, Seattle voters in 2014 approved funding for additional bus service through the Seattle Transportation Benefit District; motor vehicle fees provide around half of the funding. King County Metro estimates that passage of I-976 could result in cuts of 175,000 bus service hours during 2020; the benefit district currently funds 350,000 hours of bus service on 74 routes in Seattle, including over 1/3 of service on the C Line.


Seattle University Public Safety Survey Open Through 11/30

Seattle University is carrying out its 5th annual Seattle Public Safety Survey.

The purpose of the survey is to solicit feedback on public safety and security concerns from those who live and/or work in Seattle. A report on the survey results will be provided to the Seattle Police Department to assist them with making your neighborhood safer and more secure. The survey is accessible at publicsafetysurvey.org, and open through November 30th and is available in Amharic, Arabic, Chinese, English, Korean, Oromo, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog, Tigrinya and Vietnamese.

If you’d like additional information, please contact Taylor Lowery at lowerytaylor@seattleu.edu.

Survey results from 2015 through 2018 are available at SPD’s public safety survey webpage.


Tunnel Tolls/Alaskan Way

WSDOT began collecting tolls on the SR99 tunnel last weekend.

Tolls rates vary by time of day, and are less expensive with a Good to Go pass. Here’s information about how it works, and Good to Go passes.

Under state law, toll rates are set by the Washington State Transportation Commission (WSTC). The WSTC applied the following objectives in determining the options, as required by a state law that was passed by the state legislature in 2012:

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

The funding plan adopted by the state legislature in 2009 included $400 million from tolls (later reduced to $200 million).


Opportunity to Set Out Free Additional Yard Waste

With the change in weather comes falling leaves. Unfortunately, these leaves clog storm drains which can lead to local flooding. Seattle Public Utilities is encouraging customers to rake their leaves to combat this and are offering free extra yard waste (up to 10 extra bags) throughout the month of November.

If you see a clogged storm drain, you can report it here.


Sound Transit Neighborhood Forums, 11/21, 12/7

Sound Transit is holding neighborhood forums about the alternatives they will be studying in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Two meetings will be in West Seattle.

The first, on November 21 from 6-8 p.m., will include all three West Seattle station areas: Alaskan Junction, Avalon, and Delridge. It takes place at the Alki Masonic Center at 4736 40th Avenue SW.

The second meeting, on December 7, will focus on the Delridge station, and builds upon the community engagement and collaboration approach outlined in the Racial Equity Toolkit. Spanish and Vietnamese interpreters will be available. The meeting is at the Delridge Community Center (Gym), 4501 Delridge Way SW, from 10 a.m. to noon.

More information about these meetings and other meetings along the alignment is available at the forum webpage, and the Sound Transit West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions webpage.



October Constituent Email Report

Constituent correspondence is a very important task in my office. My staff and I spend time every day helping you improve our community, whether that’s by getting you help from a city department with our constituent case management services or giving you information about legislation that the Council is considering. The unshaded categories and numbers are problem-solving emails answered in October, what I refer to above as “case management services.”  The shaded categories and numbers are emails answered in October related to policy or legislation that the Council is considering.

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This Week in Council Budget Deliberations; Delridge Grocery Co-op Groundbreaking

November 4th, 2019

This Week in Council Budget Deliberations

Last week the Council’s Budget Committee considered Council Budget Actions proposed by individual Councilmembers.

The next step in the Council’s budget deliberations will be for Budget Committee Chair Sally Bagshaw to propose an initial Council Budget Proposal, adjusted from the Mayor’s proposed budget to include Councilmember priorities, at the Budget Committee meeting on November 6th. Councilmembers can then propose amendments to the initial Council Budget Proposal by November 8th.  Those potential new amendments are scheduled to be discussed on November 13th.

Here’s a link to the Budget Committee schedule.  Budget Committee meeting agendas and materials are available here. A description of the Council’s budget process is linked here.

Here’s information about some of my priority proposals that were discussed in the Budget Committee last week:


District 1 Specific Proposals:


Citywide Proposals:

Public Safety and Public Health

Homelessness and Housing

  • Add funding for rental assistance for those at-risk of becoming homeless.
  • Add funding for a diaper distribution pilot program for families in need to provide diapers for children in enhanced shelters, basic shelters, and tiny home villages.
  • Add funding to the Department of Construction and Inspection for two new positions to support tenant and property owner outreach and education.

Civil Rights

Transportation and Utilities

Economic Development and Arts/Culture

Delridge Grocery Co-op Groundbreaking

Congratulations to the Delridge Grocery Co-op for their groundbreaking event on Saturday. This project began in 2009 and now it’s becoming a reality.  Special thanks to the Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC), which has made this space available for several years in anticipation of this exciting new development.

Delridge has long been considered a food desert, with low income residents living more than a mile from the nearest supermarket, as shown in the 2017 USDA map below.

The Delridge Grocery Coop has over 500 owners. You can sign up to become one here.

 

 

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This Week in the Budget; WTO 20th Anniversary Event on December 7; World Toilet Day Proclamation

October 25th, 2019

This Week in the Budget

This week the Council’s Budget Committee met on Monday and Tuesday for Budget Deliberations and Issue Identification. On Tuesday evening, the Council held the second public hearing on the 2020 budget.   We had some great public testimony from residents with the D1 Community Network in support of funding for priority projects in West Seattle and South Park, namely the Duwamish Longhouse Crossing Safety Project and the Georgetown to South Park Trail.

On Wednesday, Councilmembers had a deadline for all proposals to be discussed next week as part of the Council Budget Action discussions next week, beginning on Tuesday, October 29th.

After those items are presented, Budget Committee Chair Bagshaw will develop an Initial Budget Proposal at the Budget Committee meeting on November 6th. Councilmembers can then propose amendments to the Initial Budget Proposal by November 8th.

Here’s a link to the Budget Committee schedule.  Budget Committee meeting agendas and materials are available here. A description of the Council’s budget process is linked here.

Next week I’ll share information with you about my priority budget proposals.

WTO 20th Anniversary Event – December 7

November 30 marks the 20th year anniversary of the 1999 World Trade Organization protests in Seattle. To commemorate the event, the Washington Fair Trade Coalition (WFTC) is organizing an event with a rally, workshops, and a keynote speech featuring economist Joseph Stiglitz and Lori Wallach at Town Hall Seattle—check out more and RSVP here.

The WTO protests were aimed at shutting down the WTO Conference at the Seattle Convention Center that were launching an international round of trade negotiations. Activists, labor unions, anarchists, and student groups participated in the march after preparing for months. These groups were critical of the negative effects of free trade in the global south that threatened people of color, women, workers, and the environment.

The WTO Protests, also known as the “Battle of Seattle”, was an important moment in movement history for Seattle and the world; a decade of deregulation and austerity measures imposed on countries by organizations like the International Monetary Fund and World Bank had primed this “antiglobalization” movement, and WTO elevated the conversation into the mainstream. The vast majority of the demonstrators used nonviolent tactics, however as Seattle Police felt overwhelmed by the size of the protest, and a small group of Black Bloc anarchists attempted to target corporate businesses, police deployed tear gas, pepper spray, and rubber bullets on protestors. Police Chief Norm Stamper resigned following the protests, and the City settled in a class action suit of 157 individuals who were arrested without cause. HistoryLink has a cool article on the protest.

Estimates put the costs of the WTO Conference at $3 million above the original $6 million budgeted to host the conference, due in part to police overtime.

World Toilet Day Proclamation

Also coming up in November is World Toilet Day. World Toilet Day is internationally recognized to raise awareness in making toilets and hygiene services available and accessible for all. I decided to sponsor the Proclamation this week in partnership with Real Change and a budget proposal I’ve introduced to adopt five Mobile Pit Stops!

Not only do public bathroom facilities help keep our communities clean and mitigate the impact of communicable disease like Hepatitis A, but they protect our water ways. As Real Change’s “Everybody poo’s” campaign declares, using the bathroom is necessary human function, and public toilets create privacy and comfort for the broader public—not only does this benefit people living unsheltered, but tourist, patrons and businesses in our urban villages and commercial districts as well.

As I wrote in my last post, the Mobile Pit Stop model is a top recommendation from the City Auditor to help the Navigation Team be successful in as an important connection point for people living unsheltered to housing and services. I’ll keep you updated on this proposal as we move through the budget cycle.

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Budget Update; Public Hygiene Resources; Hiawatha Play Area; Sidewalk Maintenance; SEPA Update; Constituent Emails; Office Hours

October 18th, 2019

This Week in the Budget

Last week the Budget Committee did not meet.  Councilmembers had a deadline on Thursday, October 10 to identify issues to be included in staff memos for the Budget Deliberations and Issue Identification. These meetings began on October 16 and they continue through October 22nd.

At these meetings Council Central Staff present issues they have identified in the Mayor’s Proposed 2020 budget; the staff memos have a separate section for issues identified by Councilmembers. The issues can be identified at a high level, and for these meetings don’t require specific proposals. Agendas and materials are available at the Budget Committee agenda page.

Specific proposals will form the “Council Budget Actions” meetings of the Budget Committee and need to be submitted by October 23rd. Council Budget Actions will be presented from October 29 to November 1.

The second budget public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, October 22nd at 5:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers.

Here’s a link to the Budget Committee schedule.  Budget Committee meeting agendas are available here. A description of the Council’s budget process is linked here.

Parks Opening Access to Showers & Budget Proposals to Increase Public Hygiene Resources!

Seattle Parks & Recreation (SPR) has announced that they are opening up additional showers and restrooms to Seattle Public School students and their immediate family. The newly available showers are at the seven SPR pools.   This is in addition to four community centers across the city that already make showers available to anyone who needs one.

I appreciate SPR’s efforts to make hygiene services more available to youth and families in Seattle. This resource will especially help students experiencing homelessness. A new report by Schoolhouse Washington shows that there were 4,368 Seattle Public School students experiencing homelessness in 2018, 88% of whom are students of color. Schoolhouse Washington’s new data dashboard shows negative outcomes in attendance, language arts and math proficiency, and graduation rates of students experiencing homelessness—this data validates the challenges a student experiencing homelessness faces, even if they are “doubled-up” i.e. living with family and/or friends with resources not meant to accommodate several people.

In opening City facilities we can use existing resources to address the long-term impacts of homelessness.

For the past year, I have been promoting recommendations in a report of the City Auditor that I requested on the Navigation Team’s work to address unauthorized encampments.  The Auditor’s recommendations are for SPR to open our shower and bathroom facilities broadly to the public, especially for the goal of increasing access for people living unsheltered. This  recommendation from the City Auditor makes the point that in providing no-barrier access to hygiene services for people living unsheltered we can better manage communicable diseases and other public health risks.

This week’s announcement from SPR is a happy coincidence; just this past week in the City Council budget process, I proposed opening up showers and restrooms with a common standard of care (hygiene products, towels, signage) in several other Parks’ facilities, as well as comfort stations, to increase access throughout the city.

I am also excited about another effort to increase access to restrooms that will benefit everyone in our City. Real Change’s “Everybody Poos” campaign is urging the City to adopt the Mobile Pit Stop model, which has been implemented in San Francisco and other cities, to create more places for people to use the bathroom. The Pit Stops also can be a place for people to dispose needles and pet waste, and use a staffing model to ensure safety and cleanliness that by advocates estimates is more cost effective than the self-cleaning bathrooms the City decommissioned and sold a few years ago, and the recently installed Ballard Commons Portland Loo.

Hiawatha Play Area Relocation & Renovation

Seattle Parks and Recreation is working on a relocation and renovation of the Hiawatha play area. You can participate in a quick survey here, and attend a community meeting on Friday, October 25 between 6pm and 8pm at the Hiawatha Community Center (2700 California Ave SW).

Sidewalk Maintenance Policies Resolution

Last month I proposed legislation the Council adopted regarding sidewalk maintenance policies. The resolution requests SDOT develop policy options for the maintenance of sidewalks, create a public education program on snow and ice removal responsibility, and describe how SDOT enforces snow and ice removal responsibilities, and consider ways to emphasize clearing of sidewalks within 12 hours of a snow event.

In the committee discussion, we heard presentations from Rooted in Rights, a disability rights organization. The first presentation was from a photographer who uses a wheelchair, and was in an accident on an uneven sidewalk; the second was from a disabled person who was unable to leave his residence for eight days during the snowstorm last winter; due to snow and ice on sidewalks, he was unable to access public transit.

The Council requested SDOT consider Denver’s approach on sidewalk repair, where the City offers repayment assistance and affordability discounts for property owners who qualify, and also authorizes less expensive repair methods, such as grinding and crack filling.

The Move Levy passed by voters in 2015 committed to repairing up to 225 blocks of damaged sidewalks in urban centers and villages, and completed 78 from 2016-2018, with 12.8 through June in 2019 according to the Move Levy performance dashboard.

The levy committed to 150 blocks of new sidewalks, and completed 97.6 from 2016-2018, with 23.5 through June 2019.

SEPA Update at the City

Council Bill 119600, made changes to how the City of Seattle uses its authority granted to it under the State Environmental Protection Act.

When this legislation came before the Full Council, I still had reservations about the bill. I am concerned that the Council did not receive adequate input from the Hearing Examiner.  I also had concerns that so many members of the public have legitimate concerns or questions about the possible unintended consequences of this bill.

When I asked Hearing Examiner Vancil for his thoughts on this bill he wrote back (you can see the full letter here) with several thoughts. But here are some excerpts:

  • Regarding the timeline established in this bill, Hearing Examiner Vancil wrote:

“I believe the proposed timeline is a blunt tool to address Council desires to ensure efficiency in the SEPA appeal process. Under most circumstances 120 days is too much time, and for those cases that take longer it is my experience that it is all parties needing more time to complete the hearing process, and not just appellants, because such cases simply need more time.”

  • Regarding the delay of the MHA Hearing Examiner Vancil wrote:

“All parties, including the City, had schedule conflicts for their representatives and witnesses that delayed the conclusion of the hearing.”                                                                                                                         

  • Regarding the delay of Case W-18-002 (Fort Lawton), Hearing Examiner Vancil wrote:

“that case was delayed most significantly because it originally required four days to complete, and the hearing schedule could not accommodate four days because of the MHA hearing schedule and other already scheduled hearings.”

I believe that Hearing Examiner Vancil’s observations correct the misleading narrative that appellants have inappropriately used delay tactics to delay the process. Please note that the final legislation includes an amendment sponsored by Councilmember Pacheco that reduced the timeline from 120 days to 90 days except in the case for appeals associated with a Council land use decision, which maintains the 120 timeline.

Given that the City and appellant typically agree to extend the timeline and this bill does not prohibit that, I believe that it is unlikely that this aspect of the bill will have any actual impact on the timeline.

As this legislation worked its way through the City Council, I asked Central Staff for more in-depth information regarding previous appeals.  Specifically, whether the appeals made in previous years could be made under the new legislation, and the reason for those appeals.

Many have written to me to say that the adversarial SEPA appeals of City decisions, results in positive outcomes for both the City and the community, ultimately resulting in better projects. I found evidence of that to be true.  I asked Central Staff to review the 54 cases that were appealed over the last ten years.   25% of those cases were amended or remanded.  This means the appeals themselves resulted in changes that made the projects better. Of the 25% of cases that were amended or remanded over the last ten years, none of them would be exempted from appeal had this legislation been in place. So that’s the good news.

Further, over the last ten years of appeals, Central Staff analysis showed:

  • That 2 of 32 of project actions, or development proposals, appealed would not have been required to undertake SEPA under this new legislation. In both cases the Hearing Examiner ruled in the City’s favor as it related to the SEPA issues. In one of the two cases, the appellants won on the basis of land use code interpretations (not SEPA issues).
  • That 4 of 22 of non-project actions would possibly be subject to a waiver of appeals under this law. However, at least one of those cases – the University District Urban Design EIS – could have been appealed to the Growth Management Hearings Board on other grounds.

Taken together, this analysis means, to me, that though proponents have hailed the legislation as important SEPA “reform,” and opponents have decried the erosion of important environmental protections, the impacts of this bill are likely to be very modest.

Nevertheless, because of concern from the public, I sponsored two amendments to require both a. greater public engagement in the review of the impacts of this bill and additional efforts to improve the SEPA appeal process to the benefit of all parties and b. greater public engagement in the implementation of this bill.

Amendment one asks the Hearing Examiner to convene a stakeholder committee to identify opportunities to improve processes, procedures, or codes or identify any resource needs that could help to improve the hearing process, including any changes already made.  (Emphasis added).  This means that in the scope of the Hearing Examiner’s review it the ability to make recommendations related to CB 119600.  I often remind the public that policymaking is iterative.  This amendment creates an opportunity to revisit the decision made with the passage of this bill.  I worked directly with Hearing Examiner Vancil on this amendment and he supported it. Amendment one passed unanimously.

The second amendment, number three, directs SDCI to report to Council on their draft administrative rules clarifying SEPA procedures before they become effective. It also requires SDCI to convene a stakeholder committee to help advise the development of rules to help improve processes and procedures. This amendment also passed unanimously.

I was disappointed that the Council did not include my amendment to require SEPA review when developers include more parking than is required, specifically in the urban centers of Downtown and South Lake Union where we have seen a huge amount of parking being built in an area of the city that is also very well served by transit. Danny Westneat wrote two articles about this which in which he reported that in 160 acres in South Lake Union there were nearly 12,000 new parking spaces planned in 2015. In 2019 he reported that Mercer at Aurora, which in 2015 was at capacity and carrying 28,000 cars on an average weekday, was now somehow carrying 38,000 cars daily – 36 percent more. By not allowing the appeal of excessive parking especially in areas well served by transit we will only see the proliferation of more vehicular traffic in areas that cannot sustain it.  I was bewildered to hear support by bill proponents for the bill’s potential positive impacts to speed up projects that build housing and provide alternatives to single-occupancy vehicle travel but opposition to an amendment that could provide a tool that could result in less land being used for parking and eliminating incentives to drive.

I also want to address two items that I have heard significant concerns about.

  1. The ability to use SEPA to appeal economic impacts of projects.

This legislation will still allow consideration of economic impacts in SEPA review and analysis, even if the SEPA determination is not appealable. This goes far beyond what the state requires.  The state does not require cities to include consideration of economic impacts in SEPA review and analysis at all.  The legislation as passed continues Seattle’s long practice of studying the economic impacts of project and not-project actions.

  1. A concern that that SDCI has inappropriately, and in conflict with the law, not followed the code when it comes to the timeline of SEPA consideration.

The City’s practice, publishing a Determination of Non-Significance with the Master Use Permit decision, is consistent with the requirements of the law. The Master Use Permit decision relies on the Design Review board’s final decision. So, the City must wait until the design review board acts before publishing a determination of non-significance.

In closing, I want to thank those of you that reached out to me for your advocacy on this legislation. While I do not believe the City or the Council did an adequate job communicating about this legislation, public participation in the legislative process helps the Council craft better policy and certainly helps me be a better advocate for my constituents.

September Constituent Email Report

Constituent correspondence is a very important task in my office. My staff and I spend time every day helping you improve our community, whether that’s by getting you help from a city department with our constituent case management services or giving you information about legislation that the Council is considering. The unshaded categories and numbers are problem-solving emails answered in September, what I refer to above as “case management services.”  The shaded categories and numbers are emails answered in September related to policy or legislation that the Council is considering.

In-District Office Hours

On October 25, I will be at Southwest Customer Service Center (2801 SW Thistle St) between 12pm and 5pm. The final meeting of the day will begin at 4:30 p.m.

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

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

  • Friday, November 29, 2019
    South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S
  • Friday, December 20, 2019
    Senior Center of West Seattle, 4217 SW Oregon St

 

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