West Seattle Bridge Repair Update; Sound Transit Draft EIS Formal Comment Period Begins; Gun Violence; Public Safety and Human Services Committee Updates from 1/25; Get Vaccinated at the South Park Library on Saturday; Join the Families, Education, Preschool & Promise (FEPP) Levy Oversight Committee; Seattle Promise Deadline Extended to 3/1; Seattle Home Fairs

January 28th, 2022

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West Seattle Bridge Repair Update; Sound Transit Draft EIS Formal Comment Period Begins; Gun Violence; Public Safety and Human Services Committee Updates from 1/25; Get Vaccinated at the South Park Library on Saturday; Join the Families, Education, Preschool & Promise (FEPP) Levy Oversight Committee; Seattle Promise Deadline Extended to 3/1; Seattle Home Fairs
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West Seattle Bridge Repair Update

The next important step in the repair of the West Seattle Bridge is the installation of the second external work platform, near Pier 18 on the east span of the bridge. This is scheduled to be raised into place on Saturday, January 29th.

The work platforms allow for the installation of carbon fiber wrap and epoxy to the exterior of the bridge.

 

Sound Transit Draft EIS Formal Comment Period Begins

Today Sound Transit announced the start of the formal 90-day public comment period for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the West Seattle and Ballard light rail project. Public comment runs through April 28. Virtual public meetings are scheduled for March, with a West Seattle-focused meeting on March 30th.

The West Seattle and Ballard Draft EIS webpage includes all the documents Sound Transit has released. It’s a lot of information, including Chapters 1-6 of the Draft EIS as well as a few dozen appendices. The Executive Summary is the most user-friendly single document.

To see the alternatives the DEIS examines in West Seattle, below are the maps and charts of just the West Seattle-related portions of the Executive Summary.

Here’s a link to the 14 pages in the Draft EIS Executive Summary that cover the three segments for West Seattle: 1) Duwamish crossing; 2) Delridge (which includes both the Delridge and Avalon Stations); and 3) West Seattle Junction. This includes the alternatives shown on maps; cost estimates; impacts; charts showing the height of stations and elevated guideways; and some visual simulations.

Below is high-level information about the three segment alternatives, with maps showing the routes and charts showing the costs and impacts of the three segments. If it doesn’t display well, you can click on the link above for West Seattle, or if you’d prefer, the links for each of the three individual segments below.

In the maps below, the Preferred Alternative(s) selected by the Sound Transit Board is listed in red; the Preferred Alternative(s) with Third-Party funding is in brown. Dashes indicate elevated lines; dots show tunnels. There are a few instances of short portions that are at-grade, or retained cut, as explained below.

Duwamish Crossing segment

The first of the three West Seattle segments is the Duwamish crossing. This covers the area from SODO across the Duwamish to north Delridge.

There are three alternatives: two that go to the south of the West Seattle Bridge, and one to the north. One of the options to the south was identified by the Sound Transit Board as the Preferred Alternative for the Draft EIS. It is shown in red as the option that would travel close to the West Seattle Bridge (the other option is further south, toward the edge of Harbor Island). All options are elevated.

The preferred alternative has an estimated cost of $1.2 to $1.3 billion; the other two options are at $1.3 billion and $1.5billion. All would have some impact on businesses and employees; the south alternatives would have residential impacts:

Delridge segment

The second West Seattle section is the Delridge segment, which includes both the Delridge and Avalon stations. This segment runs from where a bridge crosses the Duwamish to the Avalon station at 35th and Avalon.

This includes station options in Delridge at a variety of locations; all have residential and business impacts. The Avalon stations are in the same general area; one option has lower heights. Both have residential and business impacts.

For the Delridge stations, cost estimates range from $400 million to $700 million. The station options for Avalon are estimated at $400 million and $500 million.

West Seattle Junction segment

The third West Seattle segment is the West Seattle Junction, which goes from the Avalon station area around 35th and Avalon to the station in the Junction.

There are two elevated preferred alternative options selected by the Board, that go to Fauntleroy at Edmunds, and to 41st and 42nd.

The Board also selected two preferred alternatives with 3rd party funding for tunnels at either 41st or 42nd and Alaska.

In addition, there are two partial tunnel options: Short Tunnel and Medium Tunnel. Both would go to 41st at Alaska. Near the Avalon Station area, they include a either a “Retained Cut,” where the trackway is cut into the ground with retaining walls, or at-grade leading into a retained cut (this is easier to see in the maps shown for each option in the link above).

The elevated preferred alternative to Fauntleroy is estimated at $900 million; the elevated preferred alternative to 41st/42nd is estimated at $1.3 billion. The two preferred tunnel alternatives with 3rd party funding are estimated at $1.7 billion. The Short Tunnel is estimated at $1.3 million, and the Medium Tunnel at $1.1 billion. All options have residential and business impacts.

Some of the segment alternatives connect with one another, but not all. Here’s a link to a table that shows the connections between segments. It’s in Appendix N-2, Visual and Aesthetics Technical Report.

Through April 28, comments may be sent via email to WSBLEDEIScomments@soundtransit.org or by voicemail at 800-471-0879.

The project webpage notes, “The Sound Transit Board will consider the analysis in the Draft EIS, as well as public, agency and Tribal comments, and additional information, before confirming or modifying the preferred alternative later this year. Sound Transit will then prepare a Final EIS. After publication of the Final EIS, the Board will make a final decision on the project to be built.”

Gun Violence

Rates of shots fired in Seattle continue to be higher than usual. In 2021 Seattle had 612 verified criminal shooting incidents and shots fired incidents city-wide – a 40% increase in overall shooting incidents over 2020, and an 86% increase compared to 2019. Of these, 31 incidents resulted in a fatality; 143 resulted in non-fatal injury.

I sincerely appreciate Chief Diaz’s recognition in the linked article that there is no single cause of the increase in gun violence in Seattle, as well as in jurisdictions throughout the nation. “We’re seeing upticks in every aspect of this, it’s not just one specific thing,” Diaz said. “You’re wondering is it related to COVID? Is it because you almost have to re-socialize everybody together? We have to almost realize that people have so much angst and so much anxiety and if they have access to a gun they’re willing to pick up a gun and use it.”

The rate of gun purchase over the last two years has also been documented in a recent New York Times article: “Americans bought many more guns in 2020 and 2021 than they did in previous years. The guns purchased in 2020 also seemed to be used in crime more quickly than firearms bought in previous years. And Americans seemed more likely to carry guns illegally in 2020. In short: Americans had more guns and were possibly more likely to carry and use them.” Research generally shows that where there are more guns, there is more gun violence.

In Seattle, SPD reports seizing 1,237 guns last year. As member of the King County Regional Gun Violence Prevention Leadership Group, convened by King County Executive Constantine and Renton City Councilmember Ed Prince, I appreciate their leadership to ensure King County is taking a public health approach to community safety and wellbeing while interrupting instances of violence through prevention, intervention, and restoration. Together, we must make a difference and save lives.

The City of Seattle 2022 Washington State Legislative Agenda is more important than ever. Here are the priority items: “We support common sense, responsible solutions to reduce gun violence, including efforts to limit high-capacity magazines, rejecting intimidation by limiting open carry of firearms in politically charged and contentious environments. We believe in maintaining funding for critical gun violence prevention research and intervention projects and that local governments should have the ability to regulate firearms or weapons to ensure the safety of their communities in accordance with local circumstances.” If you have interest in testifying to the State Legislature on these bills, you can find information about how to do so here: Alliance for Gun Responsibility (everyaction.com).

As mentioned, the increase in crime and gun violence is occurring throughout Seattle neighborhoods. I have also repeatedly discussed with Chief Diaz the organized retail theft, the open-air resale of these stolen goods, and the violence that often accompanies this activity. 12th Avenue South and South Jackson Street in Little Saigon and 3rd Avenue Downtown in the Pike/Pine area are two such areas where a lot of retail thefts and shootings have been reported over the last few weeks. The Chief has let me know that there is significant police activity at both locations. SPD is also in touch with neighborhood groups in these areas and in touch with SDOT as well about how to make changes that allow for SPD to observe suspected criminal activity. I care about downtown, but I also know that our neighborhood business districts are suffering too, including District 1. If you are a business owner, or a supporter of the businesses in your neighborhood, you may want to consider learning more about this bill in the State Legislature to address organized retail theft in instances where items are sold online.

Here is a recent statement from Mayor Harrell about the increase in gun violence:

“Every Seattle resident deserves to feel safe in our City, but repeated incidents of gun violence threaten and harm our collective sense of public safety. My office is committed to taking comprehensive and urgent action to address this preventable public health crisis. Our solutions must be both responsive and proactive.

“That’s why in my first month in office, I’ve hired a Gun Violence Prevention Coordinator to work directly with those impacted by this kind of violence and to help coordinate and drive community-based outreach and solutions.

“I will continue to advocate and support appropriate staffing levels at SPD to ensure quick responses to public safety emergencies and thorough investigations of acts of gun violence.

“And I will advocate for new investments like pilot programs for proven technology like Automatic Gunfire Locator Systems, along with regional coordination and change at the legislative level that allow us to pursue new policies to address the gun violence epidemic.”

Public Safety and Human Services Committee Updates from 1/25

  1. $13.8M Available from Human Services Department

At Tuesday’s Public Safety & Human Services committee meeting, I invited the Human Services Department to tell us about the new funding that will be made available to community organizations this year. The 2022 Notice of Funding Opportunities (NOFA) includes a planned $13,814,738 in investments:

If you are a service provider, make sure you get notified when applications become available! HSD shares updates in several ways:

Learn more about the funding opportunities here, and view HSD’s committee presentation here.

  1. Discussion with Consent Decree Monitor

I also hosted an update from Antonio Oftelie, the court-appointed Monitor for the Seattle Police Department Consent Decree with the US Department of Justice, about his work during 2022.

You can watch the presentation and discussion on the Seattle Channel archive for this meeting. Here’s the Monitor’s presentation, along with a Central Staff overview of the Consent Decree.

The presentation included the questions the Monitor is seeking public input on as part of the community engagement meetings he is co-hosting with the Community Police Commission. The Monitor is publishing what are called “preliminary assessments” on crisis intervention, stops and detentions, and use of force, to inform public meetings, and seek community input.

The community input will be used to finalize compressive assessments that he will file with the Court, as part of his role as Monitor. He indicated these assessments could be filed sequentially or all at once.

At the first of the community engagement meetings earlier this month, on crisis intervention, there were three questions the Monitor asked based on the Preliminary Assessment on Crisis Intervention:

  1. What specific ideas do you have to improve crisis intervention in Seattle?
  2. What research or advocacy on crisis intervention should the Seattle Community Policing Commission pursue in 2022?
  3. What crisis intervention policy and practice areas, if any, should the Federal Monitor oversee implementation on in 2022?

If you have input on these questions, you can contact the Monitor team through the Consent Decree Monitor website.

Meetings will take place on Stops and Detentions on February 8, and Use of Force on March 8, 2022. Preliminary assessments will be available at the Monitor’s website.

The Monitor will also be developing a 2022 plan. The plan will cover: a. continuing ongoing work on accountably, b. efforts to support the Sentinel Event Review carried out by the Inspector General, and c. technical assistance the Monitor provides.

Get Vaccinated at the South Park Library on Saturday

If you can’t make the South Park Library clinic, check here for more vaccination locations: Getting vaccinated in King County – King County.

Join the Families, Education, Preschool & Promise (FEPP) Levy Oversight Committee

Are you interested in serving on a public committee to advise on how the City of Seattle advances equity in education through policy & financial investments? Applications are open now for Department of Education & Early Learning’s FEPP Levy Oversight Committee for 2022! Learn more at education.seattle.gov/fepp2022/.

 

Seattle Promise Deadline Extended to 3/1

Keep calm and hang in there. Seattle Promise extended its deadline, and they’re here to help. Get your Seattle Promise application and college admissions application in by March 1, 2022. Seattle public high school seniors, apply today at seattlecolleges.edu/promise.

All graduating seniors attending Seattle public high schools are eligible for Seattle Promise, regardless of grade point average (GPA), income, ability, or country of birth.

Seattle Promise is a college tuition and success program with three core components:

  • Free tuition at any of the Seattle Colleges: North Seattle College, Seattle Central College or South Seattle College for up to two years, 90 credits or a student’s first degree, whichever comes first.
  • Equity scholarships, which provide flexible funding to students, for books, transportation, housing, etc. for those with financial need.
  • Student support and advising beginning in the junior year of high school and lasting through completion of a degree, certificate, credential or transfer to a four-year institution.

Learn more and apply at Seattle Promise: More than a Scholarship — A Partnership | Seattle Colleges.

Seattle Home Fairs

The Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections is hosting Home Fairs online. The virtual home fairs are an opportunity to learn about the permitting process, code requirements, renting in Seattle, and more. You can check-out their website and signup here.

Here are the dates and presentations:

Our January 29 Seattle Home Fair schedule is:

Our January 30 Seattle Home Fair schedule is:

 
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Sound Transit West Seattle Light Rail Draft EIS; West Seattle Bridge Update; Free Covid Tests and Masks; Pothole Reporting and Tracking; Catalytic Converter Theft Testimony; Applications Due 2/28 for the Indigenous Advisory Council; Reduced Operating Hours at Some Libraries; Explore District 1 Through Public Art; Virtual Office Hours

January 21st, 2022

Sound Transit West Seattle Light Rail Draft EIS

The Sound Transit Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the West Seattle Ballard Link Extension is now available online in advance of the formal publication date of January 28. Sound Transit will hold a 90-day public comment period starting January 28, though April 28.

Here’s the West Seattle and Ballard Draft EIS webpage, where you can access the Executive Summary, as well as the chapters and appendices of the report.

The Executive Summary includes maps showing the alternatives, as well as charts comparing the costs and impacts. The alternatives considered in the DEIS were approved for inclusion by the Sound Transit Board. After the public comment period, the Board will decide which alternatives to include in the Final EIS. For West Seattle, the DEIS analysis is in three segments:

  • Duwamish crossing
  • Delridge (which includes both the Delridge and Avalon Stations)
  • West Seattle Junction

The Fact Sheet notes how to send in public comments, and the geographic focus for each of the five public meetings:

Email comments should be sent to: WSBLEDEIScomments@soundtransit.org. Comments may also be submitted online through https://wsblink.participate.online/ or left as a voicemail at the following number: 1-800-471-0879. Written or emailed comments should include the commentor’s name and return address or email address. All comments may be submitted in languages other than English and will be translated. Comments may also be offered at a public hearing or open house:


West Seattle Bridge Update

Here’s  the first of SDOT’s regular progress update videos. This December video highlights hydro-demolition to create access openings in the bridge deck, installation of rigging cables, and platform assembly for crews to create a workspace on the underside of the bridge.

A second work platform is scheduled to be raised to the underside of the bridge next weekend.

Spokane Street (Lower) Bridge Update:

In addition, for the Spokane Street (low) bridge, current bridge strengthening and enhancement work associated with the Low Bridge are incorporated with the KNA repair contract. At this point in time, KNA is constructing the work platforms at ground level with the plan to raise and secure the suspended work platform under the low bridge in mid-February.

SDOT is coordinating with the maritime community and key stakeholders to schedule pump replacement and hydraulic system maintenance on the east side of the waterway; this work will require approval from US Coast Guard to deviate from a full bridge opening to only a single leaf opening to marine traffic. This work could occur as soon as late January pending feedback from stakeholders and approval from US Coast Guard.

SDOT plans to install a repaired hydraulic cylinder on the east side of the waterway when the components needed to complete the install are ready.

Control systems are also being upgraded. SDOT’s contractor, Taurus Power & Controls, continues to procure the required control system components and develop detailed plans for installing the new control system scheduled for completion after the high bridge opens in mid-2022.

As a part of the Low Bridge Controls Project, SDOT will reroute and update the wires connecting the control tower that allow the low bridge to open and close for maritime traffic off the West Seattle Bridge – where they are today – to a new location under the waterway. The communications project reached 100% Design in early December and will advertise for bids in late January.

Reconnect West Seattle Update

SDOT provided the following updates re: Reconnect West Seattle work to mitigate the closure of the West Seattle Bridge.

To recap 2021, the Reconnect West Seattle (RWS) program installed 115 capital projects: 53 of them community prioritized as listed in the RWS Implementation Plan and the three Home Zone neighborhoods, and 62 to directly mitigate traffic impacts.

Looking ahead to 2022, the team will be working to deliver 10 2022 RWS Implementation Plan projects, the remaining 24 Home Zone projects, continued traffic mitigation, RWS decommissioning (projects that need to be removed as the High Bridge is reopened), and two sets of projects that will begin after the High Bridge re-opens that we purposefully held to avoid impacting traffic on the detour routes.

In addition, The team:

  • installed 8 paint-and-post curb bulbs to mitigate traffic concerns from the Fauntleroy Community (6 at three locations) and W Marginal Way residential area near 17th Ave SW (2 locations).
  • modified SR-99 southbound, with WSDOT approval, to open the third lane for more capacity, specifically focused on better transit reliability to approach the Low Bridge.
  • met with the 16th Ave SW Safety committee near South Seattle College again to discuss concerns and process for improvements. Additional Vision Zero yard signs in different languages will be placed along 16th Ave SW in January, and radar speed sign design is ongoing.
  • Is looking at Utah Ave S, rather than Colorado Ave S, for a bike connection in SODO, to align with the E Marginal Way project, which identifies the east/west bike connection to meet with Utah Ave S.

Home Zones

South Park

  • Crews have started planting 100 trees in the neighborhood this winter.
  • We have 8 projects to complete in the first half of 2022.

Highland Park

  • Crews have starting planting 100 trees in the neighborhood this winter. Fifty of the trees will be planted along the SW Barton St Neighborhood Greenway and species will alternate between Oak, Elm, Ironwood, and Dogwood.
  • We have 13 projects to complete in the first half of 2022.

Georgetown

  • Crews were one day into adding ADA curb ramps at S Eddy St and S Albro Pl when concrete drivers went on strike, so we will finish that project when able. Another project’s construction, 6th Ave S walkway and delineation, was paused by winter weather in late December/early January.
  • Crews started planting 100 trees in the neighborhood this winter.
  • We have 4 projects to complete in the first half of 2022.

 

Free Covid Tests and Masks

Free Home Tests:  Every home in the U.S. can order 4 free, rapid at-⁠home COVID-⁠19 tests. The tests are completely free, and shipped to your home, courtesy of the federal government. Tests will usually ship in 7-12 days. Order your tests at COVIDtests.gov. For assistance, you can file a service request, or call the help desk at 1-800-ASK-USPS.

This morning, Washington State launched its own online portals (in English and Spanish) to order free tests to be delivered to your home.  Tests are expected to arrive within 1-2 weeks.  If you have any problems, contact syct-orders@careevolution.com and include the order number if available.

As of January 15th, all private health insurers are required to reimburse the cost of eight at-home antigen COVID-19 tests per covered individual each month.  Check out this FAQ and contact your insurance company to learn more.

As always, you can get a free PCR test from City- and County-run testing sites.  Check out the County’s list of testing sites, or register for a test from a City site.

Free Masks Coming:  Both the federal and state governments have recently announced the intention to distribute free masks.  Here’s what we know so far:

  • President Biden announced last week that the federal government will be providing high-quality masks for free. This article has more details, including that masks are likely to be distributed through pharmacies and community health centers.
  • On January 5th, Governor Inslee announced that Washington State will “release about 10 million masks… for distribution into local communities, including K-12 schools, in the coming weeks. Local and state emergency management distribution channels will be used, as well as local health departments and our K-12 infrastructure…”

Both efforts are likely to be widely covered in the media, so stay tuned.  In the meantime, Public Health – Seattle & King County provides this advice about high-quality masks.  Looking for a credible place to buy N95 and KN95 masks?  Check out the nonprofit Project N95.


Pothole Reporting and Tracking

With winter weather, snow and heavy rainfall, there has been an increase in potholes on Seattle’s streets. I’ve received a number of constituent contacts about potholes and have assisted in getting potholes reported.

Here is where you can report a pothole online. You can track the progress on SDOT’s Pothole Repair Status page.

SDOT notes their goal is to fill potholes within three business days; they notified media it may take longer as a result of winter storms, and the effect on road conditions citywide.  SDOT did an alert last week noting they received 4 times as many reports (600) during the previous week compared to last winter. That’s why it’s taking longer than usual. In addition, there are more reports of potholes over a number of blocks, rather than individual potholes. During 2021 85% of reported potholes were filled within 72 hours.

Winter weather has brought additional impacts on staff time, from driving snow plows to the importance of responding quickly to the Highland Park Way landslides, with the West Seattle Bridge closed. There’s also been flooding in some areas, including South Park; the storms unfortunately didn’t stop with just the snow.

At the Pothole Repair Status page you can also track where potholes have been filled during the past 90 days; larger circles indicate several potholes were filled. For example, during November, 9 potholes were filled on 35th Avenue SW between SW 106th and 107th, 12 on Harbor Avenue SW between Fairmount and Bronson, and 6 on SW Sylvan Heights Drive.

 

Catalytic Converter Theft Testimony

Earlier this week I spoke in support of a bill at the state legislature to address catalytic converter theft. State law limits the ability of local jurisdictions like Seattle to adopt laws. Here’s the testimony I gave:

Thank you, Chair Goodman, Representative Ryu and members of the committee. 

“My name is Lisa Herbold. I am a member of the Seattle City Council. I represent the neighborhoods of West Seattle and South Park and serve as the chair of our public safety and human services committee.  I am here to testify in support of House bill 1815. 

I’ve heard concerns from neighbors and constituents about the dramatic increase in the theft of catalytic convertors. These crimes inconvenience drivers and working families. Replacing these stolen car parts cost my constituents time and money they don’t have to spare.

This bill would begin to address the problem and explore solutions. The pilot established by this bill would mark catalytic convertors with vehicle identification numbers or other unique identifiers. This would enable local jurisdictions to better identify the ownership of catalytic convertors and would make it more difficult for thieves to resell these parts illegally. The bill also establishes a task force to help develop creative policies to solve difficult problem. 

Thank you very much for your time.”

RCW 19.290.200 states that “the state of Washington hereby fully occupies and preempts the entire field of regulation of scrap metal processors, recyclers, or suppliers.”

I worked with the City’s Office of Intergovernmental Relations (OIR) and SPD to add this language to the City’s State Legislative Agenda: “We support action to address the theft of catalytic converters, including repealing state’s preemption of the regulation of scrap metal processors.”  I continue to be in touch with OIR and SPD about this and look forward to continuing work with the state legislature.

 

Applications Due 2/28 for the Indigenous Advisory Council

Applications are now being accepted for Positions 1-9 of the Indigenous Advisory Council through online or paper applications. Completed applications are due Monday, February 28 at 5pm.

On Indigenous Peoples Day 2021, Councilmember Debora Juarez transmitted City legislation to create an Indigenous Advisory Council. This council is a step forward in strengthening the City of Seattle’s relationships with American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian communities. Beginning in 2022, appointed members will advise the Mayor, City Council, and City departments on policies and issues directing affecting Indigenous people.

If you have questions or would like to receive a paper application, please contact Francesca Murnan, Indigenous Advisory Council Liaison, at Francesca.Murnan@seattle.gov or 206-459-6379.

 

Reduced Operating Hours at Some Libraries

In response to staffing challenges caused by omicron, Seattle Public Library is reducing some operating hours.  They note:

These changes are being made in order to offer more consistent and reliable operating hours and schedules for the public and to provide more reliable schedules for Library staff…  We expect these changes will reduce, and possibly eliminate, the unscheduled branch closures we have seen over the last month.

We do not have an anticipated end date for this schedule, but we continue to onboard and train new staff to expand our staffing capacity.

Here are the new operating hours for District 1 branches, with changes highlighted:


 

Explore District 1 Through Public Art

Seattle is home to an incredible collection of permanently sited and temporary artworks.  Established in 1972, it includes more than 400 permanently sited/integrated artworks and over 3,200 portable artworks. They’re made possible through Seattle’s 1% for art ordinance. In 2020, Seattle’s Office of Arts & Culture made the collection available online through the Civic Collection Emuseum.

We’ll share some local pieces to inspire your district explorations from time to time.  You can find the South Park Vortex pictured below at Marra-Desimone Park, on South Director Street.


Virtual Office Hours

On Friday January 28, I will be hosting virtual office hours between 2pm and 6pm, with the last meeting of the day beginning at 5:30pm.

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

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

  • Friday, February 25, 2022
  • Friday, March 25, 2022
  • Friday, April 29, 2022
  • Friday, May 27, 2022
  • Friday, June 24, 2022
  • Friday, July 29, 2022
  • Friday, August 19, 2022
  • Friday, September 30, 2022
  • Friday, October 28, 2022
  • Friday, December 16, 2022

 

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Remarks about SPD Ruse; West Seattle Bridge Update ; South Park Flooding and Highland Park Way Landslide ; Signing Up for Committee Agendas ; Hospitalization Crisis; Free Home Test Kits Coming; Human Trafficking Awareness ; December 911 Outage; Virtual Office Hours

January 14th, 2022

Remarks about SPD Ruse, Faking Presence of Armed Proud Boys

You watch my remarks from a press conference following revelations that the Seattle Police Department improperly used a ruse, faking radio calls claiming a hate group was marching through Seattle on June 8, 2020 toward people protesting police brutality.

West Seattle Bridge Update

Last weekend the first of two work platforms was raised to the undersi2de of the West Seattle Bridge. Here’s a time-lapse video showing the work:

Check out our time-lapse video of the work platform lift

The work platforms will be used to install carbon fiber wrap and add epoxy injections to the exterior of the bridge. Here’s an image of the installation:

Upcoming work includes core drilling inside the bridge at Pier 16, to create access holes for post-tensioning cables that will reinforce the strength of the concrete in the bridge. Utility lines will be relocated there to make space for additional post-tensioning cables.

Mayor Harrell let members of the West Seattle Bridge Task Force know that he would like to continue the meetings and requested that members continue to serve. I appreciate Mayor Harrell’s recognizing the expertise and commitment of members. Members have been critical in identifying important issues directly to SDOT during planning, and it’s important to continue this work to assist in keeping the project on target for the June 30 timeline for completion of repairs.

South Park Flooding and Highland Park Way Landslide

Last week South Park experienced flooding caused by King Tides and significant rainfall. Many residents have been impacted by the flooding and sewer backups due to the high-water levels. If you have property damage due to flooding or sewer backups there is assistance available. Please reach out to me (lisa.herbold@seattle.gov) and I will connect you with the appropriate entity to get the assistance process started.

The city is working to address the flooding issues in South Park through two major projects, the South Park Drainage and Roadway Partnership and the South Park Pump Station. I previously wrote about the pump station project here.

Last week, and earlier this week, Highland Park Way SW was closed due to landslides.

My office wrote SDOT to about what the landslide mitigation plan is for Highland Park Way SW, noting the critical importance of Highland Park Way as a detour route while the West Seattle Bridge is closed. Traffic volumes remain significantly higher than prior to the closure of the bridge.

My message noted that landslides occurred during 2017; this is a recurring issue. In 2017 I raised the issue of proactive work to minimize the risk of slides, for supplemental budget legislation then under consideration.

SDOT replied to acknowledge the request about mitigation plans and funding, and noted they would follow up, and noted they had installed concrete ecology blocks where the slide occurred:

Traffic was then opened for one lane in each direction and has since been fully restored.

The Council approved the funding in 2017, and SDOT noted they engaged in erosion control measures in after the 2017 landslide, which took place further to the south of this year’s landslide, including plantings and a concrete wall; that slope has remained stable.

Signing Up for Committee Agendas

As noted last week, the City Council has adopted a new 2022-2023 committee structure. Below is a comparison of the new and previous 2020-2021 structure.

You can sign up to receive committee agendas for individual Council committees, or for all of them. To sign up click on the button below:

Subscribe to 2022-2023 Committees

If you have signed up previously for committee agenda, most subscriptions have been carried over to the committee that best reflects the 2022-2023 committee scope. For some new committees, you may need to re-subscribe.

All committee agendas are posted at the City Clerks’ committee webpage.

Hospitalization Crisis; Free Home Test Kits Coming

Public Health-Seattle & King County says the situation at our local hospitals is dire.  In their live media briefing yesterday, the Washington State Hospital Association had 3 asks for all of us:

  1. Don’t use the ER for COVID testing or mild symptoms.  Find testing sites.  
  2. Get vaccinated and boosted.  Find a vaccine appointment.  
  3. Upgrade your masks.  Learn more here.

Free Home Covid Test Kits:  Today, the White House announced that starting on January 19th, you will be able to order free home Covid test kits at COVIDtests.gov – Free at-home COVID-19 tests.

To ensure broad access, the program will limit the number of tests sent to each residential address to four tests. Tests will usually ship within 7-12 days of ordering.  Read more here.

Hospitalization Crisis:  Amidst our crisis in hospital capacity, I invited Director Dennis Worsham from Public Health-Seattle & King County to present at Tuesday’s meeting of my Public Safety & Human Services committee meeting.  You can view his presentation here, and watch his remarks here starting at 1:19’.

Director Worsham pointed to this analysis from the New York Times, which shows that people who are not fully vaccinated are much more likely be hospitalized:

Pause on Non-Emergency Procedures Statewide:  On Thursday, Governor Jay Inslee ordered a four-week pause on all non-emergency procedures at hospitals statewide, and additional actions including calling up National Guard members to help address the hospitalization crisis.

Get Vaxed & Boosted Locally: The West Seattle vaccination site is open Fridays 11am-7pm and Saturdays 8:30am-4:30pm at Neighborhood House, 6400 Sylvan Way SW.  Vaccination is always free.  Schedule your appointment here, or just show up.  (Appointments required for kids ages 5-11.)

Human Trafficking Awareness

On Monday, I sponsored a proclamation declaring January as “Human Trafficking Awareness Month,” to proclaim the equality and freedom inherent to all people. The proclamation sets forward the City’s intent to advocate for legislation and protection for survivors, to educate leaders, and to encourage public awareness and action against various forms of human trafficking.

To report concerns that human trafficking might be taking place, please call the Washington Anti-Trafficking Response NetworkVictim Assistance Line at 206.245.0782or the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888.3737.888.

More information about combatting human trafficking can be found here:

People of color, young people, LGBTI people, and people vulnerable through socio-economic barriers, are disproportionately affected by trafficking.  More than 400 trafficking survivors receive advocacy, counseling, and therapeutic services as a result of City investments. I’m grateful to the Domestic Violence Prevention Council and Human Services Department for bringing awareness of how trafficking contributes to the breakdown of families and community, fuels organized crime, and undermines public health.

December 911 Outage

At my committee meeting on Tuesday, Community Safety and Communications (CSCC) Director, Chris Lombard presented on the December Statewide 911 outage that lasted just over an hour. Most calls continued to get routed to CSCC dispatchers but were routed through another number. This was a back-up redundancy which worked as intended.

The outage was caused by a contractor – ComTech – doing maintenance on their network. The network includes an “A” side and a “B” side, and when one side is down the network should default to the other side. When ComTech began maintenance on the “A” side calls were not routed through the “B” side as intended. ComTech provides these services through a contract they have with the State, and the city does not have a relationship with ComTech.

Shortly after the outage began the city sent a public notification via Alert Seattle which included an alternative number to call for emergencies in Seattle. Unfortunately, that alert went much wider than the city itself. The city is still investigating why this happened. This is unfortunate because some people misunderstood the alert and called which led to an unmanageable spike in calls at the dispatch center. These calls were not emergencies, but people either confirming the number worked or because they misunderstood the alert message to mean that they should call to test the number. The dispatch center received 1,051 calls within one hour when they typically would have received 79 calls. This increase of 1,230% in shown in this graph:

While the city doesn’t have a direct relationship with ComTech, King County and the State are investigating and will report more on the outage and how to avoid others like it in the future.

Virtual Office Hours

On Friday January 28, I will be hosting virtual office hours between 2pm and 6pm, with the last meeting of the day beginning at 5:30pm.

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

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

  • Friday, February 25, 2022
  • Friday, March 25, 2022
  • Friday, April 29, 2022
  • Friday, May 27, 2022
  • Friday, June 24, 2022
  • Friday, July 29, 2022
  • Friday, August 19, 2022
  • Friday, September 30, 2022
  • Friday, October 28, 2022
  • Friday, December 16, 2022
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Coronavirus News: West Seattle Vax Site Reopens Amid Hospitalization Surge; Council President Juarez and New Council Committees for 2022/2023; West Seattle Bridge Update; Sound Transit Draft EIS/Public Comment begins January 28; CPC/Monitor Outreach Meeting on Crisis Intervention; SPD Proud Boy Ruse on June 8, 2020; Thanks to City Employees for Winter Storm Service

January 7th, 2022

Coronavirus News: West Seattle Vax Site Reopens Amid Hospitalization Surge

The City’s West Seattle vaccination clinic reopens today, January 7th, and will continue to provide Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, pediatric vaccines, and boosters throughout January 2022, with capacity for 800 doses per day.  The clinic operates at Neighborhood House, 6400 Sylvan Way SW Seattle, WA 98126, on Fridays from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

In Seattle, nearly 90% of residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and nearly 52% of eligible residents have received a booster dose.

Hospitalization Crisis:  Washington State is starting to experience a crisis in hospital capacity due to the fast-spreading omicron variant.  UW recently announced it is postponing elective surgeries due to the surge in coronavirus cases.  Thursday, the Washington State Medical Association urged Gov. Jay Inslee to officially declare Washington state in crisis and immediately take action to aid overwhelmed emergency departments and hospitals across the state.

Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for King County, warned that people without vaccine protection are at much higher risk for hospitalization and death from omicron, while milder breakthrough cases are common in folks with vaccination.  Boosters provide the best protection.

Dr. Duchin, Health Officer for King County, tweeted this advice:

Read more about staying safe from omicron: How to stay out of the hospital with Omicron here – PUBLIC HEALTH INSIDER.

Public Health Briefing 1/11 at 9:30AM: I’ve invited Director Dennis Worsham of Public Health – Seattle & King County to brief Council on their efforts to combat the current surge in the coronavirus pandemic.  Tune in if you’d like to learn what our local government is doing to keep residents safe, and how you can keep yourself safe as well.  Tune in Tuesday, January 11th at 9:30am at Watch Live | seattlechannel.org or Seattle Channel on your TV.

 

Council President Juarez and New Council Committees for 2022/2023

On Tuesday the Council voted Councilmember Debora Juarez as Council President for 2022 and 2023. In seconding her nomination for Council President, I read from testimony that the Council had received from Rev. Harriet Walden, Co-Chair of the Community Police Commission and Co-Founder of Mothers for Police Accountability, in support of Councilmember Juarez’s bid for the Council Presidency:

“Our beloved City of Seattle needs healing and unity and Debora Juarez is the leader we need to help Seattle heal and unite. As an Indigenous woman, with strong ties to local Tribal and Indigenous communities, it is time for a leader like Debora who can restore our relationships with each other and with the earth. It is time for others to step aside and let the Indigenous peoples of these lands be represented in City Hall and steer Seattle in a new direction.”

Consistent with the role, Council President Juarez proposed legislation to create a new committee structure for the Council for 2022 and 2023.

The legislation includes standing committee assignments, departmental oversight, meeting schedules, adjusting the Full Council meeting day from Monday to Tuesday, and leadership positions via Resolution 32037.

The complete committee structure and membership is described here.

I will continue in my role as Chair of Public Safety and Human Services, and Vice Chair of the Finance and Housing Committee. In addition. I will also serve on the Transportation & Seattle Public Utilities Committee; the Economic Development, Technology & City Light Committee; and the Public Assets & Homelessness Committee.

I’d also like to welcome the three new elected officials were sworn in this week; here are links to their websites: Mayor Bruce Harrell, City Attorney Ann Davison, and citywide City Councilmember Sara Nelson.

 

West Seattle Bridge Update

Repair work on the West Seattle Bridge is proceeding. Here’s the most recent visual from December 29 showing the status of work:

Hyrdo-blasting work has been completed for access points to the work platforms. They will be used to apply carbon fiber wrap on the outside of the west and east spans of the bridge. In addition, work to attach rigging will hold the work platforms in place. This consists to 10 to 14-foot long metal cables through the holes in the bridge deck. Stairs and scaffolding are also being installed inside the bridge. Here’s an image of the holes in the deck:

Upcoming work includes core drilling inside the bridge at Pier 16, and installation of post-tensioning cables to strengthen the bridge’s concrete, and relocation of utility lines to make room for additional post-tensioning cables.

During the holiday break, SDOT completed the replacement study to help guide the long-term planning for when the bridge eventually needs to be replaced. Information is available at the High Bridge Replacement Study webpage, which also includes the Final Report, and Executive Summary.

The bridge repair is expected to last through the original lifespan of the bridge, roughly 2060. The bridge opened in 1984 and was designed to last 75 years.

You can sign up here to receive regular updates from SDOT about the West Seattle Bridge repair.

 

 

Sound Transit Draft EIS/Public Comment begins January 28

Sound Transit announced they will publish the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the West Seattle and Ballard light rail extensions on January 28. This begins a 90-day public comment period.

Here’s Sound Transit’s summary of the EIS process and how to comment.

After the public comment period, the Sound Transit board will confirm or modify the options to be considered in the Final EIS, which Sound Transit expects to be published in 2023. After publication of the Final EIS, the Board will select the project to be built.

The options studied in the Draft EIS are in the image above, which can be accessed by clicking on the “Alternatives” link at the top of Sound Transit’s website at https://wsblink.participate.online/. You can also access station area options for Delridge, Avalon, and the Alaska Junction.

Also included at the website are links for Advisory Groups; the West Seattle/Duwamish Community Advisory Group next meets on January 11 from 5 to 7 p.m.; here’s a link to where you can view the meeting then.

I’ll have additional information in coming weeks but wanted to let you know this is coming up. You can sign up to receive e-mail updates about the project directly from Sound Transit here.

 

CPC/Monitor Outreach Meeting on Crisis Intervention

The Community Police Commission and Consent Decree Monitor will be collaborating on a series of community engagement meetings regarding preliminary assessments of the Seattle Police Department.

The goal of these meetings is to inform the public on overall progress of the Consent Decree, to get community input on what comes next in Seattle in police reform and how the City proceeds after the Consent Decree.

These sessions will occur on the following dates, on the following subjects:

  • Crisis Intervention: January 11, 2022
  • Stops and Detentions: February 8, 2022
  • Use of Force: March 8, 2022

The January 11 meeting on Crisis Intervention will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Here is information on how to join the meeting:

Join Zoom Meeting:

https://zoom.us/j/96694242277?pwd=N2F0ekFib3R0R2dpNTQvNW9qTXlzQT09

Meeting ID: 966 9424 2277

Passcode: 948051

The Monitor has a new website at https://seattlepolicemonitor.org/ .

On the website is a December 2021 Preliminary Assessment on Crisis Intervention, the subject of the January 11 meeting. The website notes that reports on Stops and Detentions and Use of Force assessments are forthcoming.

The preliminary assessment on Crisis Intervention also summarizes previous 2016 and 2018 reports and provides a new analysis of 2019 and 2020 data.

 

SPD Proud Boy Ruse on June 8, 2020

The Office of Police Accountability (OPA)  released an investigation earlier this week into SPD’s use of a ruse during radio calls on June 8, 2020. In the ruse, officers stated members of the Proud Boys right wing extremist group were on the streets and suggested some might be carrying weapons.

This took place just hours after SPD abandoned the East Precinct, a time the Seattle Times calls “a crucial moment during 2020’s racial justice protests.”

I appreciate Mayor Harrell’s comments about the damage to public trust. I’ve heard similar concerns from constituents and share this sentiment.

Though under Washington State Law, ruses are legal, they should never be done in a manner that escalates volatile situations.  I have called for increased oversight in this press release:

Councilmember Lisa Herbold calls for increased oversight of SPD use of ruses, deception

SEATTLE Following revelations that the Seattle Police Department (SPD) faked radio calls claiming a hate group was marching through Seattle on June 8, 2020, Councilmember Lisa Herbold (Chair of the Committee on Public Safety and Human Services) is calling for increased oversight of SPD’s use of deceptive tactics, or ruses.

Following a similar improper use of a ruse in 2019 that the Office of Police Accountability (OPA) said contributed to a man’s suicide, the OPA made a recommendation to provide training on the appropriate use of ruses. However, SPD only “partially implemented” that recommendation.

Now, as she continues to review the facts of this case, Councilmember Herbold is requesting that SPD and OPA immediately work together to both fully implement OPA’s 2019 recommendation and create a clear policy requiring that SPD’s use of ruses be fully documented, which has not occurred in the past.

The need for documentation is amply demonstrated by how these two ruses came to light only due to investigations by individuals and Converge Media in the 2020 case.  Clear oversight by command staff is also essential.

The report notes, in sustaining an allegation that Named Employee #1 (NE = “Named Employee” in OPA terminology):

“After reviewing all of the evidence, OPA finds that NE#1 abused the law enforcement discretion afforded to him in three respects. First, he approved and oversaw a misinformation effort without providing sufficient guidelines around what should be discussed during the transmissions. Virtually all of the officers interviewed by OPA said that they were never told what to say or not say, including mentioning the Proud Boys. The failure to provide sufficient safeguards resulted in the use of misinformation that was problematic, as discussed more fully below.

Second, NE#1 did not ensure that the effort was appropriately supervised. While this was in part NE#2’s fault, he was, in turn, supervised by NE#1, who ultimately controlled the effort. OPA finds this to be particularly significant as several of the officers said that they had never engaged in this type of misinformation effort before and did not know what they were doing – or what they were expected to do.”

The findings state that Assistant Chief of Patrol Operations did not approve the ruse, but he was aware of the ruse, but unaware of the use of the Proud Boys in the ruse, and didn’t engage in oversight. I am concerned that there are no findings for any management actions in the OPA report regarding what I consider to be an additional failure of oversight.

In addition, the report finds lack of documentation, with no management action recommendation from OPA for how documentation should be handled in the future. This is why I have called for the change in policy as referenced in the press release above.

“Third, NE#1 did not cause any of the misinformation effort to be documented. For example, there was no after-action report or other paperwork indicating what was done and why. This made it extremely difficult for OPA to reconstruct the events after the fact. Similarly, the recordings of the transmissions were not recorded by SPD. While perhaps this was not within NE#1’s purview, it still goes to an overall lack of documentation of the effort. But for the journalist providing the recordings to OPA and the recordings being preserved by a website, no evidence would have existed to assist in this investigation.”

The CPC has talked about the need to address SPD’s use of ruses during their public meetings last year.

There’s a bigger picture here that is also important. The report notes, “Even more problematic was the use of the Proud Boys as part of the misinformation effort.”

It later notes:

“…the use of the Proud Boys when it was known that the transmissions would be monitored took a volatile situation and made it even more so. It was reasonably foreseeable to believe that the demonstrators would be afraid and concerned that the Proud Boys – some of whom were said to be open-carrying – would come to CHAZ/CHOP. It was also reasonably foreseeable to believe that this could cause demonstrators within the zone to take steps to arm and defend themselves. Indeed, over the past several years, there had been multiple physical conflicts – some fatal in other cities – between left and right-leaning protestors.

This conclusion is not altered by the fact that, at least based on CM#1’s Facebook Live video, there was an intent among some of the individuals within CHAZ/CHOP to arm themselves and guard the barricade before the misinformation concerning the Proud Boys was known to them. In OPA’s perspective, it is still the case that discussing the Proud Boys, that they were armed, and that they may be moving in the direction of CHAZ/CHOP improperly added fuel to the fire and could have had dire results.”

After the ruse was broadcast, word spread rapidly.  I heard from constituents the evening of June 8, 2020 who were alarmed about the potential presence of members of the Proud Boys group, given their reputation for carrying weapons, as the ruse stated. I texted then Chief Best that evening.

She and I spoke directly and my recollection is that Chief Best’s response was that I should be more skeptical of what I hear reported in the media. I assumed by her response that she had confirmed that there was no Proud Boy presence in Seattle that night. The SPD scanner reports referenced in my text were not scanner recordings that I heard myself so I was unable to assert in my conversation with Chief Best that Proud Boy presence was being reported by SPD themselves.

Since that time, members of the Proud Boys have been implicated in the January 6, 2021 assault on the US Capitol just over one year ago, and indents of violence in Portland.

Regarding the use of ruses generally, SPD Policy 5.001 Standards and Duties Section 11. Employees Will Be Truthful and Complete in All Communications lists three exceptions, as noted below:

  1. Employees Will Be Truthful and Complete in All Communication

Exception: Employees may use deception for a specific and lawful purpose in certain circumstances, when:

– There is an exigent threat to life safety or public safety

– It is necessary due to the nature of the employee’s assignment

– There is a need to acquire information for a criminal investigation

I have invited OPA Director Myerberg to present his findings to the Public Safety and Human Services Committee meeting next Tuesday.

 

Thanks to City Employees for Winter Storm Service

A heartfelt “thank you!” to the more than 170 City employees who stepped up to serve during last week’s winter storm.   City employees volunteered to be reassigned to winter storm duty between December 24th and January 3rd, protecting people who were struggling to survive unsheltered.

Of course, none of this lifesaving work would have been possible without the many experienced service providers who offer shelter and connections to housing year round, and have been serving on the frontlines of the pandemic for almost two years now.  My heartfelt thanks to everyone who answered the call.

For more information visit: Human Interests – Seattle Human Services news and events.

Staff who were reassigned temporarily received incentive pay in addition to regular compensation.

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Spokane Street Lower Bridge Maintenance Short-term Closures December 19, January; Enjoy West Seattle’s Food Scene; Council Oversight for New Woodland Park Zoo Agreement; State Legislative Agenda; Winter Weather Information; Updating Council Rules to Prepare for Return to City Hall; Legislation on City Attorney’s Office Reporting

December 16th, 2021

Spokane Street Lower Bridge Maintenance Short-term Closures December 19, January

SDOT announced they will have some closures of up to 30 minutes on the Spokane Street (lower) bridge on Sunday, December 19 and on Sundays in January on the 9th, 16th, 23rd and 30th.

The closures are for rehabilitation upgrades to ensure the bridge remains in safe and usable condition.

Three closures, for up to 30 minutes each, are planned each day. The closures will be around 9 a.m., 1 p.m., and 5 p.m.

These closures are scheduled for off-peak periods, when there are lulls in traffic, in order to minimize impact on the community.

Enjoy West Seattle’s Food Scene

If you have some time off at year end, why not celebrate West Seattle’s many wonderful neighborhood restaurants?  The Seattle Times recently featured some favorites: Even if West Seattle feels like a world away, these delectable eats are worth the trip | The Seattle Times

Council Oversight for New Woodland Park Zoo Agreement

On Monday, I joined my colleagues in approving a new 20-year agreement between the City of Seattle and the Woodland Park Zoo.  I heard from many of you, and from advocates across the city, who felt a keen interest in this legislation, in protecting the animals in the Zoo’s care, and in ensuring Zoo neighbors and stakeholders are well represented in Zoo governance and decision-making.  Thank you to everyone who reached out.  Your advocacy made it possible to strengthen the new 20-year agreement.

Council Oversight:  I sponsored a successful amendment to require Council oversight and approval of the Zoo’s Long-Range Plan.  This Plan will cover the Zoo’s plans for capital improvements in Seattle, changes to animal habitats, and use of the City-owned property in Enumclaw which the Zoo is considering using for animal breeding and holding – all of which are the appropriate object of considerable public interest.  By requiring Council approval, we are building in a touch point, where the public will have an opportunity to raise any concerns, and Council will have an opportunity to exercise reasonable oversight of changes to the Zoo that may impact its operations, animals, or financial health over the course of the 20-year agreement.

Animal Care:  Many of you wrote in with your concerns about the animals in the Zoo’s care.  Section 12.3 of the new agreement requires the Zoo to comply with all local laws regarding animal disposition.  This means that City Council could, in the future, consider animal disposition policies that would apply to, for instance, Zoo animals and other operators of animal attractions:

Animal Collection, Acquisition and Disposition. WPZS shall have the authority to determine the composition of the Zoo Animal collection, including breeding, acquisition, sale or other disposition of Zoo Animals in the course of WPZS’s operation of the Zoo. In implementing such authority to acquire, sell or otherwise dispose of its Zoo Animals, WPZS shall strictly comply with requirements of (a) all applicable federal, state or local laws, regulations and policies; and (b) the guidelines and policies of the AZA.

With this clause, and Council’s required approval of the Long Range Plan, I am comfortable that the new agreement gives Council sufficient oversight of animal habitat and welfare that is consistent with the City’s role as Zoo owner, not operator.

Public Benefits:  The new agreement also requires the Zoo to provide and report on public benefits they provide, the value of which will keep pace with annual inflation.  These include 100,000 free tickets distributed through community partners, eighteen 50% off family discount days between October and March, scholarships to Zoo camps, free school group admission for schools with a significant number of low-income students, and discounted educational programs.

State Legislative Agenda

The Council adopted the 2022 State Legislative Agenda, which guides the City’s lobbying during the state legislative session beginning next month in Olympia. The Office of Intergovernmental Relations (OIR) is responsible for directing the City’s lobbying there.  I testified at several committee hearings during the session earlier this year, as did other Councilmembers and department staff.

One provision I worked to get included in this year’s 2022 State Legislative Agenda is, “We support action to address the theft of catalytic converters, including repealing state’s preemption of the regulation of scrap metal processors.” The Seattle Police Department is partnering in this effort too.

I’d also like to thank OIR for including requests from Disability Rights Washington regarding the importance of funding for missing sidewalks and safe and accessible crossings.

Also included is language from Resolution 32026 I sponsored to ask the State to increase its investments in behavioral health: “We support additional behavioral health funding to ensure those in crisis, including our students and young people, receive the ongoing care, housing, and services they need.”

The agenda also includes support for allowing non-uniformed officers to perform garage and event management activities by allowing a flagger to direct traffic without a police officer present as part of the traffic control plan approved by the city. This has been an ongoing issue, and this year was a particular request from a coalition of advocates from the film, music, and special events communities.

Winter Weather Information

Colder temperatures are arriving in Seattle, which can lead to freezing temperatures, and snow and ice, so here’s information about City and King County Metro winter and snow response resources.

The City’s Winter Storm Response webpage is available in multiple languages, and has links to resources from SDOT, City Light, Seattle Public Utilities, Parks, home and pet safety, and shelter and food.

Here’s information about SDOT’s snow response resources: when snow arrives, SDOT’s interactive map shows which roads have been treated or cleared in the last hour, three hours, and twelve hours. You can view it by neighborhood.

SDOT’s winter weather response webpage has information in several languages. You can download a brochure with additional information.  They seek to achieve bare and wet pavement on specified streets within 12 hours after a significant lull in a storm.

SDOT’s cameras map shows live road conditions.

Here’s Seattle Public Utilities’ (SPU) advice has advice on protecting pipes from freezing, and what to do if they burst. If icy road conditions may prevent regular collection, SPU recommends following their blog for updates about garbage, recycling, or food/yard wasted collection.

Here’s King County Metro Winter snow guide  page, including information about the Emergency Snow Network. KC Metro may activate this network when snow arrives.

You can sign up for alerts there as well. The Service Advisories page will have updates on bus times, and cancellations.

Metro’s Text for Departures feature provides real-time updates for the next departure time for transit service at that stop, by texting your bus stop number to 62550, no sign-up or download is needed.

You can also sign up for Transit Alerts by route, and follow @kcmetrobus on Twitter for the latest travel tips and service information.

The Human Services Department has identified hundreds of potential shelter spaces, including at Fisher Pavilion, Exhibition Hall and City Hall, that may be activated for an emergency response based on different scenarios, including a short-term weather event or a longer-term weather event.  When that happens, the locations will be listed at the City’s Winter Storm Response webpage, and via social media.


Updating Council Rules to Prepare for Return to City Hall

On Monday, my colleagues and I approved updated rules and procedures for Seattle City Council as part of a routine semi-annual review.  This update gave us the opportunity to consider the important question of how Council will return to in-person work in the coming year.

I believe that we should return to our civic building when we are able – and I also want to take advantage of the lessons we have learned during the pandemic, that robust electronic participation is possible.  Working closely with Councilmember Mosqueda’s office, I sponsored a successful amendment to request in-person attendance at full Council meetings but allow for electronic participation when needed and technically feasible.

I also sponsored an amendment that recognizes the important role of committee chairs in setting and accomplishing an annual work agenda, by requiring the Council President to consult with the committee chair with jurisdiction over legislation before placing it on the Introduction & Referral Calendar.  Committees often do the hard work of analyzing and strengthening proposed legislation before it comes before the Full Council.  My amendment will allow the committee chair to weigh in on whether legislation should be considered in committee first.

One change that you might notice: Council’s weekly calendar has shifted.  In 2022, Council Briefings will occur on Mondays at 2pm, while Full Council meetings will occur on Tuesdays at 2pm.  This change will help ensure that Clerks and other Legislative Department staff are not required to work over the weekend to prepare for Full Council meeting.


Legislation on City Attorney’s Office Reporting

The Council voted 7-1 this week to approve Council Bill 120247.

Many people wrote to my office with concerns that the Council was limiting the powers of the City Attorney.  This is incorrect. The content of the bill itself explicitly affirms that, under the City Charter, the City Attorney has sole discretion about how cases are prosecuted.

The bill simply adds data collection and reporting requirements to the duties of the City Attorney’s Office. These reporting requirements will help to increase transparency about how the City Attorney’s Office is handling diversion programming.

The Council passage of the 2022 budget resulted in a significant increase to the budget for the City Attorney’s Office (CAO) in 2022, including additional staffing positions.  When Council makes significant investments, it’s not unusual to require reporting on those investments.  Further, Council has requested and received similar reports of the CAO.  Please see these links for CAO reports provided to my committee this year:

  1. CAO Report on Choose 180
  2. Elements of the reporting requirements in this bill follow from work the Council has done dating back to 2015, with the vote of a previous Council to establish the Seattle Re-entry group, which led to the Seattle Reentry Workgroup Report in 2018; a recital in the legislation passed this week notes the Workgroup recommendation to expand the use of prefiling diversion to those 25 and older, leading to the Council requesting that the CAO contract with a consultant to provide this report:  Racial Equity Toolkit Report on diversion expansion

Similar to what is required under Council Bill 120247, the King County Prosecutor’s website has a data dashboard that includes data such as the number of open cases, felony referrals, declines, filings, dispositions, demographics, and other data.  The guiding principles of the data dashboard are listed as transparency; accountability; effectiveness, and reform.  A number of other additions to the dashboard are planned in the future, including analysis of specific types of crimes, details on diversion and other alternative programs, and juvenile court data.  The KCPO dashboard is updated monthly and the legislation that we passed this week only requires CAO reporting that is either quarterly or annual.

The CAO already issues an annual report, see page 10 for case data.  It seems to me that “beefing up” the reporting in the CAO annual report is all that is needed to be responsive to the requirements of this bill.

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Regional Gun Violence Prevention Leadership Advisory Group; West Seattle Bridge Schedule Details for Repair and Major Maintenance; Get Vaxed and Boosted to Protect Against Omicron; 2022 Funding Available Notification from Human Services; Public Safety & Human Services Committee Report; Unreinforced Masonry Resolution; SFD Chief Compensation Bill

December 11th, 2021

Regional Gun Violence Prevention Leadership Advisory Group

Gun violence is a public health crisis that affects the entire region. Taking a public health approach to addressing gun violence can address root causes and improve community safety for all people involved. BIPOC communities are more impacted by gun violence. This is a critically important equity element to center our work.

Last month, I participated in a meeting of the King County Regional Gun Violence Prevention Leadership Group, convened by King County Executive Constantine and Renton City Councilmember Ed Prince. I appreciate their leadership to ensure King County is taking a public health approach to community safety and wellbeing while interrupting instances of violence through prevention, intervention, and restoration. Together, we can make a difference and save lives.

The Regional Peacekeepers’ Collective plays a key role in this effort. I sponsored $500,000 in the 2021 midyear budget supplemental to fund the Regional Peacekeepers’ Collective.  I appreciated and supported the Mayor’s proposal for additional funding in the 2022 budget.

The Mayor’s proposed budget inadvertently included a reduction of $3.65 million to fund community safety investments, which I worked with the Council to restore.  As a result, the 2022 budget continues funding for the Community Safety Initiative, which includes funding for programs in Southeast Seattle, the Central District, and the Alive & Free program in West Seattle.

I support King County’s Regional Gun Violence Prevention efforts and call on leaders across the County to join us.

West Seattle Bridge Schedule Details for Repair and Major Maintenance

At the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force, Kraemer North American, the contractor for the West Seattle Bridge repair, presented schedule details for the repair and major maintenance, and detailed drawings showing where work will take place.

First, a note that SDOT will be updating, on an ongoing basis, the visual below as one way to illustrate the progress on repair work listing status of work by color coding.

This locations shown in orange as “under construction” are where hydro blasting is occurring to be able to mount external work platforms, which will be moved along the west and east bridge spans for carbon fiber wrapping and epoxy injections on the outside of the bridge. Work platforms are shown in blue as “coming soon.” Once the hydroblasting is complete, for example, the orange area will then be shown in green as “complete.”

Repair Overview

Below is information about the repair presented by Kraemer North America.

This slide shows where repairs will take place. In case it’s not visible on your device, here’s a link to a larger visual for this and the next slide. In the drawings, “PT” means steel post-tensioning (shown in the green line), and “CFRP strengthening” means carbon fiber polymer wrap strengthening (shown in blue for exterior work, and purple for additions inside the bridge).

Plans for the lower bridge are in the bottom drawing.

Below is a visual of the bridge deck from above (the second slide linked here). Some of the work shown here is for major maintenance, as described below.

The green lines are expansion joints that will be replaced; the blue lines are expansion joints that will be rehabilitated.

The area in red is where a new bridge deck overlay will be added on the Fauntleroy Expressway.

10 overheard sign structures will be added, replacing existing signs. In addition, new jersey barriers will be installed, 4000+ feet long.

West Seattle Bridge Repair Schedule

Here’s the first detailed schedule for repairs to the West Seattle Bridge, working toward mid-2022 completion. It shows the timetable for repair elements including carbon fiber polymer work from December 2021 to May 2022, post tensioning during March and April 2022, crack injection from December 2021 to May 2022 and restoration of the bridge deck in June 2022:

Bridge Major Maintenance

In addition to the repair work, SDOT is performing major maintenance to the bridge during this time period. This will reduce the need for future lane closures. The work is possible because additional geotechnical review determined that seismic stabilization of Pier 18 will not be needed at this time, as originally forecasted.

Funds originally planned for use on Pier 18 stabilization are now directed to major maintenance, including work on expansion joints shown in the bridge deck map above, concrete overlay and carbon fiber wraps. If SDOT hadn’t reallocated federal grant funds to this work, they’d have to be returned to the federal government.

Work also includes re-striping the roadway and replacing signs. Kraemer noted if the signs cannot be installed before the bridge re-opens, they will be installed overnight to minimize impact on traffic.

Carbon Fiber Reinforcing Polymer Wrap

Carbon fiber wrap will be used outside and inside the bridge. It is as strong as steel. Epoxy injections will be used to seal cracks in the concrete; after that, concrete will be polished, and then the carbon fiber will be installed to prevent cracks. Paint with UV protection will then be added to avoid degradation of carbon fiber.

Post-tensioning

The slide below includes detail from Kraemer about the steel post-tensioning work. It notes the post-tensioning steel strands will be 46.75 miles if stretched end to end, and include 20.8 million pounds of force, compared to 6.72 million pounds of force in the emergency stabilization work done last year.

The post-tensioning steel strands will be added across the entire structure. The purpose is to pull the bridge from end to end tighter together, to get the concrete to press into itself (concrete isn’t inherently strong in tension). Some post-tensioning was included in the original bridge, but more is needed.

A key element of post-tensioning is ensuring that it works to maintain the geometry of the bridge, with the center higher, and Piers 15 and 18 lower. This is one reason why design is important to success of the project; another is the addition of 92 tons of steel and 24 tons of concreate. The additional weight must be accurately balanced.

Bridge Access: Work platforms

Work platforms will be used in two sections starting by Pier 15 and Pier 18, as shown above. They will be movable along the east and west portions of the work area, to add epoxy and carbon fiber wrap.

They were designed for the bridge during stabilization. Winching systems are on site, and the hydroblasting will allow the platforms to be hoisted into place.

Here is a link to additional details and visuals on High Bridge Access

To limit interruption to marine traffic and traffic on the lower bridge, the platform raising will be scheduled for an evening or weekend.  Once work is complete, platforms will be returned to the ends at Piers 15 and 18 and lowered.

The “hydroblasting” work consists of water pressurized at 8,000 pounds per square inch. This is sufficient to remove the concrete, but doesn’t damage tensioning strands in the bridge, or the rebar in the structure.

You may have seen firefighters on the bridge deck this week; they were there for training exercises.

Reconnect West Seattle Updates

The Duwamish Longhouse interim signal on West Marginal is now operational. A permanent signal will be installed later. This has been a longstanding request of the Duwamish, dating to the opening of the Longhouse in 2009, to enhance access.

Below are updates SDOT provided regarding Reconnect West Seattle Projects.

Traffic mitigation:

  • SDOT completed some tree maintenance work on West Marginal Way SW, north of the Highland Park Way SW intersection.
  • On 9th Ave SW & SW Portland St and 16th Ave SW & SW Holly St, SDOT constructed speed cushions to mitigate high motorists’ travel speeds. Our transportation operations division is still working with the Seattle Fire Department to resume traffic calming discussions in a few locations in West Seattle. SDOT has paused speed hump/cushion installation in 2021 to allow for these discussions.
  • SDOT built new curb ramps on SW 28th St and SW Thistle St.
  • SDOT installed eight “paint and post” projects – in the Fauntleroy neighborhood (6 at the locations below) and at Marginal Way Pl SW and 17th Ave SW (2):
    • 45th Ave SW and Wildwood Pl SW
    • California Ave SW (at Fauntleroy Church and YMCA)
    • 37th Ave SW and SW Thistle St

Home Zones

South Park:

  • SDOT is working with abutting property owners in the development of conveyance swale and walkway projects, since those property owners will need to care for the improvements.

 Highland Park:

  • SDOT is still engaged with concerned property owners on 14th Ave SW between SW Kenyon St and SW Elmgrove St about tree planting impacts on parking and potential future view loss. SDOT will attempt one more design modification with the community to determine if a low-cost walkway could move forward for this street.
  • SDOT is meeting with the Parks Department about a recommended walkway along the north side of SW Webster St (south side of Riverview Park) and discuss the design that is within their property and determine if this project will move forward. The community desires a walkway.
  • The SDOT Urban Forestry crews are currently planting approximately 50 trees in the Highland Park Home Zone on SW Barton St, which will become a Neighborhood Greenway in early 2022. The crews will be alternating with Oak, Elm, Ironwood and Dogwood.
  • The Home Zone communities are excited for the trees as they combat air pollution from the increased traffic and corresponding emissions they have experienced due to West Seattle reroutes.

Get Vaxed and Boosted to Protect Against Omicron

87.5% of residents 12+ have begun vaccinations in King County.  The Washington State Department of Health is urging everyone to get vaccinated or boosted as soon as you are eligible – especially now that the omicron variant has been discovered in King County.

Many pharmacies at drug stores and grocery stores are offering shots by appointment or walk-in.  Vaccines are always free.  Some useful resources:

This Saturday from 9am to 3pm, Louisa Boren STEM K-8 is hosting a vaccine clinic for students in the district and their families.  Students do not have to attend the school where the clinic is offered.

Medical Provider: Safeway/Albertsons Pharmacy
Vaccine Available: Pfizer Pediatric for 5–11-year-olds.
First and second doses OK.
Registration

By getting vaccinated and boosted, healthy friends and family help protect the most vulnerable in our communities, such as children and adults with chronic conditions that place them at higher risk for severe illness due to COVID-19.  Learn more about booster shots here: COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shots | CDC.

2022 Funding Available Notification from Human Services

The Human Services Department (HSD) recently released its Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for 2022.  The NOFA provides an overview of HSD’s impending funding opportunities for 2022, anticipated funding amounts, release dates, and contract start dates.

Planned investments for 2022 include:

  • Farm to Table Support Services
  • Youth and Young Adult Behavioral Health
  • Gender-Based Violence Victim Services
  • Batterer Intervention Services; AND
  • Gender-Based Violence Legal Services

Once finalized, HSD will issue detailed funding opportunities for each investment on its Funding Opportunities webpage.  The list may change or be expanded in the future; you can sign up to receive notifications about funding opportunities on the same page.

Public Safety & Human Services Committee Report

Human Services Department (HSD) Financial and Operational Improvement Plan

HSD financial controls have been in the news lately.  I have been working with HSD, the City Budget Office, and my colleagues to address these issues.  Because I know the public has concerns too, I invited Acting HSD Director Tanya Kim, City Budget Director Ben Noble, HSD’s CFO Joseph Kasperski, and City Finance Director Glen Lee to report in my committee on their work strengthening HSD’s financial management.  At the December 9th meeting of the Public Safety & Human Services committee, they also addressed the steps they are taking to guard against fraudulent activities in the future, including requiring requests from contractors to change banks to be handled centrally by the City’s Finance office as described above.  You can review presentation materials here, and watch the presentation and discussion here.

Unreinforced Masonry Resolution

Unreinforced Masonry buildings, commonly known as “URMs,” constructed between 1886 and 1957 with brick or clay tile bearing walls where the parapets and walls are not secured to the floors and roofs, have been a topic of ongoing conversation at City Hall for decades – over fifty years now. Council Central Staff’s memo on Resolution 32033 does a great job of covering the background if you want to learn more.

Fast forward to 2017, the City’s URM Policy committee released final recommendations which note that there are over 1,100 URMs in the City, and these buildings pose a risk because occupants of them are likely to be injured or killed in a major earthquake. The cost of seismic upgrades is a barrier for building owners.

In February 2018, I led the members of the Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee to send a letter to Mayor Durkan underscoring the urgency and need to prioritize a URM policy in order to prevent catastrophic loss of life when – not if – the next major earthquake strikes. Specifically, the committee requested focus on the 77 buildings with critical vulnerability first, these include hospitals, schools, and fire stations.

The 2017 recommendations estimated a total cost to Seattle building owners of over a billion dollars to retrofit all the URM buildings in Seattle. So, finding a way to finance this work is a critical component to developing a program to require seismic retrofits. In 2020, after City lobbying efforts, the State passed, and the Governor signed into law, the C-PACER program. The C-PACER program provides a financing mechanism to help owners of commercial and multifamily buildings cover the costs associated with energy efficiency and seismic retrofits.  With the C-PACER program authorized by State Law, King County had to enact it because the financing mechanism is related to the function of property assessments, a function of County government.  The King County Council recently did so and, as a result, the program is anticipated to begin accepting applications in early 2022.

Since early 2020, I have been working with stakeholders to craft a resolution that would provide guidance to City departments in their development of a phased mandatory retrofit program for URMs. I’d hoped to pass the resolution last year; however, the work of the Office of Emergency Management and Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections necessary to fulfill the requirements in the resolution was not possible given the 2020 focus on addressing the emergency impacts of COVID19.

The unanimous passage of this resolution out of my committee today is the culmination of a years’ worth of work with stakeholders and the executive to agree on the reporting parameters and timeline contained in the resolution.  Additionally, included in Mayor Durkan’s proposed budget and supported with the final passage by Council, was funding for a full-time position at the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspection to facilitate and coordinate the work necessary to develop a final program to address URMs.

I thank the many stakeholders for their work and dedication to the passage of this resolution.  Creating a pathway that will ensure that URMs are safe buildings for those occupying and working in them will require our continued work together.

SFD Chief Compensation Bill

This bill, which passed unanimously out of committee, creates a new compensation program for the Seattle Fire Chief. Currently the Fire Chief is classified as an “Executive 4,” which is the same classification used for Deputy Fire Chiefs. Salary compression issues are created when the top job is classified in the same way as other jobs, because there little or no difference in pay, but large differences in responsibilities, skills, or qualifications.  The Seattle Department of Human Resources (SDHR) conducted an analysis of comparable fire chief positions among the standard “West Coast Seven” cities which includes San Francisco, San Diego, Oakland, Long Beach, Sacramento, San Jose, and Portland to come up with a new salary rate for the position of Fire Chief.

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West Seattle Bridge; Shop to the Beat: Artists and Small Businesses Apply Now; Your Voice Needed: Highland Park/South Park Trail Connections; Job Readiness Bootcamp for Ages 16-24: Apply by December 18th; Office of the Inspector General Discipline Audit; World AIDS Day & 40th Anniversary; Virtual Office Hours

December 3rd, 2021

West Seattle Bridge

Here’s some additional information about the start of work on the final stage of the West Seattle Bridge repair with the issuance of the formal “Notice to Proceed” on Monday.

Below is a graphic showing the locations and type of repair work that will be done. It’s listed as “Phase 2 Rehabilitation.” The work already done to stabilize the bridge is list as “Phase 1.”

The “Phase 2” repair work will include carbon fiber wrapping and post-tensioning on the center span, but also on the other two sections of the bridge, between Piers 15 and 16, and Piers 17 and 18. “Phase 1” Stabilization work done last year was limited to the center span.  The exception was a bearing on Pier 18 that required releasing and replacing.

Here’s an image showing additional detail for planned repair work near Pier 15:

Post-tensioning involves tightening high-strength steel cables into the concrete girder to support the concrete. Some cables were included in the original bridge; some were added during stabilization, and more will be added in the repair.

Carbon-fiber wrapping strengthens the bridge, in tandem with the steel cables. It will be added both inside and outside the bridge. SDOT notes carbon-fiber wrapping is added in stages, alternating with post-tensioning, to ensure the bridge continues to strengthen as the girders get more compressed.

Additional visuals and details on post-tensioning and carbon fiber wrapping are available at the project website.

The website notes additional maintenance work that will be done, including paving:

While the final West Seattle Bridge repairs are underway, we’re also planning additional maintenance work on the entire West Seattle Bridge corridor from the connection at I-5 to Fauntleroy Blvd.

These improvements include:

  • Replacing bridge joints that allow the structures to expand and contract during hot and cold weather safely
  • Paving to give people driving a smooth and predictable surface that will last for years
  • Replacing all signs and the structures that hold them with signs that are easier for people driving to read and withstand high winds and storms

Performing major maintenance work now – while the bridge is closed – is smart use of the contractor teams and we’ve sequenced the work, so it won’t affect the schedule of returning traffic to the bridge or lead to construction delays or detours for people driving and transit once we’ve reopened it to traffic.

The Council recently adopted the 2022 City budget; it includes funding for the bridge repair. The Council voted to authorize $44.6 million in bonds in 2022 for the bridge repair and related work. In addition, the Council separately authorized a $100 million for bond sale for bridge maintenance and rehabilitation that Councilmember Pedersen sponsored, and I co-sponsored.

This Council Budget Action, in addition to authorizing a bond sale, also provided $1.1 million in funding to “allow SDOT to advance project development to the 90 percent design stage for the following bridge rehabilitation projects: (1) $300,000 for Spokane Street Swing Bridge Hydraulic Overhaul (2) $900,000 for Spokane Viaduct Rehabilitation.”

Completing 90 percent design for these projects will allow SDOT to pursue construction funding through state and federal grant programs, or for consideration in the development of a future transportation levy proposal.

Office of the Inspector General Discipline Audit

The Office of the Inspector General has released a new report, Audit of Disciplinary System for SPD Sworn Personnel. It examines disciplinary actions from the start of 2018 to March, 2021.

The report notes the OIG “did not observe conditions generally thought to be most harmful to accountability or public trust (e.g., a pattern of arbitrators overturning discipline or a chronic failure to address repeated misconduct).”

However, the report also notes “current processes and practices, alongside SPOG and SPMA provisions, create gaps in the discipline system. These collectively impact the timeliness, fairness, consistency, and transparency of discipline for individual officers, and diminish transparency and fairness for community members affected by police misconduct.”

SPOG is the Seattle Police Officers Union; SPMA is the Seattle Police Management Association.

Some of the findings and recommendations pertain to the Office of Police Accountability (OPA), and some to the Seattle Police Department (SPD). One finding pertains to the Public Safety Civil Service Commission (PSCSC). Each OPA, SPD, and PSCSC provide their responses to the OIG’s recommendations, listed toward the end of the report. For 10 of the 11 recommendations, they concur and provide updates about plans and timeline to implement recommendations.  Included among the findings and recommendations:

  • The OPA use of the disposition “Not Sustained Training Referral” for minor policy violations has resulted in a significant number of disciplinary actions not being documented
  • Lapses in OPA processes resulted in complainants not receiving relevant updates on case status and resolution
  • Weak controls related to arbitrator selection in disciplinary appeals do not ensure fairness, consistency, transparency, or timeliness
  • SPD should prohibit the accrual of overtime for employees who have not completed ordered suspensions
  • The OPA Director, in consultation with the Chief of Police, should develop criteria to more consistently identify opportunities for complainants to speak with the Chief of Police as provided in the Accountability Ordinance 3.29.125 (G)

This last recommendation was issued in noting that Chiefs have tended to apply the lower end of proposed discipline ranges. While officers facing discipline have the opportunity for a hearing with the Chief, in only one case did OPA recommend the Chief meet with the complainant, as allowed by the 2017 Accountability Ordinance. The report notes the OPA Director will meet with the Chief to develop criteria “to develop criteria to more consistently identify opportunities for complainants to speak with the Chief.”

The report also raised administrative recommendations about the management of personnel system, and clear communication with the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission.

The Inspector General also recently released a 2020 Annual Report. The report covers the completed 2021 Audits of:

  • SPD Patrol Canine Teams; with 6 findings of systematic SPD concerns
  • The Audit of Destruction of DNA Evidence; including 3 recommendations
  • Audit of Secure Firearms Storage

In addition to the 2020 audits, the Annual Report also covered the following additional topics:

  • Council Request for Review of SPD Crowd Dispersal Less Lethal Weapons Policies
  • Surveillance Technology Oversight
  • Study of Sworn vs. Civilian Investigations of Police Misconduct Complaints
  • Sentinel Review of SPD Response to 2020 Protests
  • Leading Training of SPD, OPA, and OIG on Effective Interviewing Techniques
  • Technical Advice to SPD on Development of Peer Intervention Program
  • Reports on Claims and Lawsuits Against SPD
  • Expansion of Data Analytics Platform technology funded in the 2022 budget, that will allow “OIG to streamline its analysis of the OPA complaint investigation system.”

Finally, the OIG reported on its oversight of OPAs investigative process, including:

  • How complaints are classified
  • Whether Investigations are thorough, timely, and objective
  • Whether OIG directed additional investigation
  • Risks associated with the Unsubstantiated Conduct Screenings
  • The Rapid Adjudication Program and the Mediation Program

Shop to the Beat: Artists and Small Businesses Apply Now

Shop to the Beat is accepting applications! The program, run by the City’s Office of Economic Development, matches musicians and small retail businesses to provide in-store performances during peak hours, help increase foot traffic and sales for retailers, and provide competitive pay for musicians who were significantly impacted by the pandemic.  Apply for Shop to the Beat by December 17!

Are you a small retail business interested in having a free performance at your location?

Submit the Shop to the Beat Application to share your contact information and select your preferred days, times and style of music.

Are you a local musician interested in performing at a small business this holiday season?

Please visit the Gigs4U website to register as a musician. Enter the following referral code: S2B.

Your Voice Needed: Highland Park/South Park Trail Connections

As an element of the South Park and Highland Park Home Zones, Seattle Department of Transportation is developing a conceptual design to connect the South Park neighborhood to the Highland Park and Westwood neighborhoods with a multi-use trail. To help guide that process, they want your input.

Please follow this link to take a brief survey on potential trails connecting South Park and Highland Park.

Haga clic en este enlace para responder una breve encuesta sobre posibles senderos que conectarían South Park y Highland Park.

The survey will be open until December 15.  If you would like the survey to be translated into a language that isn’t Spanish, please email WestSeattleBridge@Seattle.gov

Learn more about these projects at the Reconnect West Seattle Home Zone website. Provide your input on any of the Reconnect West Seattle Home Zone projects by emailing westseattlebridge@seattle.gov  or calling the multi-lingual phone line at (206) 400-7511.

Job Readiness Bootcamp for Ages 16-24: Apply by December 18th

The Seattle Youth Employment Program (SYEP) is currently accepting applications for its 2022 Job Readiness Bootcamp, which will run January 24, 2022 – April 30, 2022.

The program increases youth and young adults’ ability to pursue careers that pay well and are meaningful to them, open to young people (ages 16 to 24) from qualifying-income households and communities that experience racial, social, and economic disparities.

Learn more and apply by December 18th at Seattle.gov/SYEP.

World AIDS Day & 40th Anniversary

December 1st was World AIDS Day and the 40th anniversary of the first reported cases of AIDS.  On World AIDS Day we recognize the resilience of people living with HIV, honor the lives lost to HIV, and remember four decades of work to fight the epidemic in King County and around the world. With your help, we can end the HIV epidemic in our community.

Since 1982, when King County reported the first case of AIDS locally, community members, officials, and activists have worked to raise awareness, fight stigma, and prevent HIV.

  • Visit this virtual exhibit to learn about the early response in King County.
  • Check out the AIDS Memorial Pathway for local stories of those who have survived, died, witnessed, and continue to fight against HIV/AIDS.

Virtual Office Hours

On Friday December 10, I will be hosting my final virtual office hours of the year between 2pm and 6pm, with the last meeting of the day beginning at 5:30pm. This is a change from the previously anticipated date of 12/17.

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

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REPAIR WORK BEGINS on West Seattle Bridge

November 29th, 2021

Final Phase of West Seattle Bridge Repair Starts

Today SDOT announced the start of construction of repairs to the West Seattle Bridge, with the issuance of the formal “Notice to Proceed” to Kraemer North America. This is great news for our District 1 communities and the entire region.

For 20 months, District 1 residents and businesses have been suffering. It’s not just longer commutes to work, medical appointments, soccer practice, and other activities off the peninsula.  For some, it’s also less time spent with family and loved ones.

For West Seattle businesses already impacted by the COVID pandemic, accessing needed supplies and surviving the bridge closure has been another challenge. For residents in the southern neighborhoods, including South Park, they’ve had increased traffic safety impacts.

Formally starting the repair process is a huge step for District 1. Completing the repair by the scheduled date of mid-2022 is critical not just for West Seattle, but for all the Duwamish communities. I will be in close coordination with SDOT as this work moves toward successful, on-time completion of the repair.

The bridge opened in 1984 and was designed to last 75 years. SDOT expects the repair will ensure the bridge lasts through its original life span, roughly 2060. This is a significant difference to the early estimates that included a bottom end range of 10-15 years, and shows the wisdom of proceeding with a repair, rather than a replacement, which would have resulted in several additional years of closures.

I strongly supported a repair and advocated for it after release of the cost/benefit analysis showed it was viable and was very glad when Mayor Durkan decided to proceed with a repair. Constituents in West Seattle also advocated strongly for it.

Most of the repair work will take place inside of the bridge. Work crews will install an external work platform and be on the bridge deck, like the earlier emergency stabilization work.

Mayor Durkan noted repair work on the bridge will entail 91 tons of steel cable, 46 miles stretched end to end, and two football fields of carbon fiber polymer wrap.

Many thanks to our congressional delegation for attaining federal funding: Senators Cantwell and Murray, and Representative Jayapal. The Port of Seattle has also provided funding.

My Council colleagues never hesitated in providing full support and fast action to ensure needed funding. Councilmember Pedersen has been an excellent partner as Chair of the Transportation and Utilities Committee.

I appreciate the efforts of SDOT in getting us to this point.  Director Zimbabwe’s “hands on” approach to leading his team has made a real difference.  For their time, expertise, and good advice, I also want to thank the 36 participants of the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force, led by community members Paulina Lopez and former Mayor Greg Nickels.

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Council Adopts 2022 Budget; Mary’s was the Victim of Internet Fraud; West Seattle Bridge/Reconnect West Seattle Update; Pediatric COVID Vaccine Clinic in High Point – Saturday 11/28 and Sunday 12/19; CSCC Tour; East Marginal Way Federal Grant; CLOSING SOON/SDOT Survey on the Alki Point Keep Moving Street; Virtual Office Hours

November 24th, 2021

Council Adopts 2022 Budget

On Monday the Council acted to adopt the 2022 budget.

We have for the last year and half been working to broaden our city’s definition of public safety to, with intention, a. include traditional public safety investments, b. community safety investments so law enforcement can respond to calls only they are qualified to handle, while also c. increasing funding for critical upstream investments that add to true community safety for all.

Traditional Public Safety

Community Safety

These are critical investments that are building safety in neighborhoods from the ground up, and laying the groundwork for non-law enforcement response to crisis

Behavioral Health Investments

It is clearer than ever that the unprecedented fear, pain, and isolation of the COVID pandemic are leading to negative mental health impacts for all of us.  All data points to the pandemic having a significant impact on our behavioral health – and anecdotally, erupting into self-harm, abuse, assault, gunfire and other forms of violence.  This budget includes significant new investments in both mental health and substance use disorder services, including:

Investments in Human Services

As the pandemic stretches through its second year, we know that we must maintain a baseline of increased support for households who continue to struggle, and the workers we rely on to help.

One last point about the SPD budget, I voted against a motion to eliminate 101 vacant police officer positions that are also unfunded. Though the motion didn’t pass, it would not have, in any way, affected the 2022 budget.

Contrary to what you may hear or read; the budget amendment would not have cut 101 police officers from the Seattle Police Department (SPD). It would have removed 101 unfunded, vacant positions that SPD does not expect to hire next year, nor even the following year.

SPD currently has the authority to employ 1,357 sworn officers. Due to resignations, retirements, other separations and the hiring freeze ordered by Mayor Durhan, during 2020, the department currently has fewer officers than that. In fact, SPD believes next year they can hire and retain a total of 1,223 officers. Council President González’s amendment would have allowed SPD to hire all those positions, with 1,256 sworn officer positions (33 more than SPD’s prediction).

In short, according to SPD’s own projections, the amendment would not have decreased the number of officers at SPD or even limit the possibility of SPD hiring more officers.  What the amendment would have done is ensure that funding which SPD which can’t be used on salaries, is not included in next year’s 2023 SPD budget proposed by the Mayor.   Though I agreed that the amendment was an example of good fiscal policy, I voted against the amendment because there was so much misinformation about its impact and further, I didn’t want to inadvertently send the message to the public that the Council had determined with the amendment that 1,256 officers was the “right number” of officers for SPD.  SCC Insight has a useful explainer on this issue.

Mary’s Place was the Victim of Internet Fraud

On Thursday, June 24th, the Human Services Department learned of a potential cyber fraud incident involving payments from the City to Mary’s Place, a non-profit that the Human Services Department contracts with to provide outreach, family shelter and other services.  Initial findings indicated that a fraudulent online request was made to HSD, for the payments intended for Mary’s Place to be made to the fraudulent account.

Upon learning of the incident, HSD immediately filed a report with the Seattle Police Department to launch an investigation of the fraudulent activity, and coordinate with the FBI as necessary.  I was notified the following Monday and I immediately asked whether HSD had made payment in response to the fraudulent request.  I learned that HSD had made payment in response to the fraudulent request and that “SPD is investigating, including the extent of the harm done.”  In addition, HSD appropriately notified the Washington State Auditor of the loss in late July.

The bank account that was associated with Mary’s Place automatic payments from HSD was changed and payments were deposited to an unknown bank account.

The Seattle Times recently reported that a 2020 study from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners estimates that about 5% of government agencies’ budgets get lost to fraud each year, amounting to “trillions and trillions of dollars” globally.   I understand that HSD did not use a multi-step, independent verification and authentication process required when vendors request a change to their payment method” and that, now, this verification process has been centralized within Finance and Administrative Services to ensure these policies are followed.

In August, Budget Director Ben Noble wrote to Council about HSD’s longstanding financial capacity constraints within HSD, compounded during the pandemic when HSD received significant new resources.  HSD’s budget has grown from $142M in 2016 to $385M in 2021.  Here are some key excerpts:

“The City has proactively conducted internal and external audits to identify both immediate and long-term challenges and to develop recommendations. While these audits found no systemic issues of fraud or improper spending, these reviews identified the significant need to improve HSD’s billing processes, account reconciliation, and audit/grant review processes.”

“In November of 2018, the City Budget Office (CBO) assigned staff to HSD to conduct an internal assessment of financial and accounting procedures at HSD. Acting upon these CBO recommendations in 2019, HSD began consolidating financial teams and hiring more experienced financial staff.”

“In 2020, HSD hired its first-ever Chief Financial Officer, Joseph Kasperski, which was a key step in strengthening the department’s financial operations. Soon thereafter, HSD hired an external CPA firm, Francis & Company, to further identify challenges and develop solutions to HSD’s financial capacity issues…Francis & Company’s ongoing assessment and HSD’s leadership believes more steps need to be taken to ensure the long-term health of HSD’s financial system…The City has hired a financial advisory firm, Alvarez & Marsal (A&M), to partner with HSD to implement key operational staffing and technical improvements needed to resolve challenges that have been identified.”

After hearing from Budget Director Noble, the Council worked to provide support that was not included in Mayor Durkan’s proposed 2022 budget, for the Human Services Department to address the most immediate needs identified by A&M for “additional personnel, with appropriate expertise, to support a more rigorous set of financial protocols and accounting procedures. Recommendations include filling key vacancies, including a Budget Manager and an Accounting Manager, and the addition of eight new positions. The new positions will provide additional capacity in accounting, procurement, and financial planning.”

HSD has begun the hiring process for the vacant positions.

West Seattle Bridge/Reconnect West Seattle Update

SDOT has begun site preparations for bridge repairs, including loading work shacks and equipment for erosion control onto the high bridge to be ready for construction work.

Upcoming activities will include hydro-blasting to create access for work platforms, as well as more details about those work platforms being assembled and transported to the bridge

Watch for additional updates on the start of repair construction very soon!

SDOT did a comparison of collision data on key District 1 arterials for the 18 months before the closure of the West Seattle Bridge, compared with the 18 months after. As everyone has personally experienced, the increase on West Marginal stands out.

Below are a few of the most recent Reconnect West Seattle traffic mitigation efforts, among hundreds of projects over the last year.

Image on the left: The curb and post island on West Marginal was requested from maritime businesses, who struggled to get out of their driveway.

Middle image:  Some constituents have contacted me about the entrance to 1st Ave S bridge from West Marginal; posts have been added, after SDOT considered another alternative and found it infeasible.

SDOT has also installed speed bumps on 16th Avenue SW near South Seattle College to address speeding. I appreciate SDOT’s ongoing work with the local community coalition of residents, South Seattle College staff, and students.

SDOT recently presented an update on long term replacement concepts for the West Seattle Bridge, to study where a bridge could fit.  A report should be available before the end of the year.  SDOT expects the bridge to last for its original expected life to 2060, once repairs are completed. This report can help guide planning before then.

Of the concepts presented, the On-Line bridge and the Hybrid Bridge were the highest rated. The On-Line bridge is in the right of way of the current bridge, and could be replaced in halves, so half the bridge would be open for vehicle traffic during construction. The Hybrid option would have separate east and westbound bridge spans and could maintain some traffic during construction.


Pediatric COVID Vaccine Clinic in High Point – Saturday 11/28 and Sunday 12/19

Neighborhood House in High Point will be hosting a pediatric-only COVID vaccine clinic on Sunday the 28th, and December 19th (for 2nd shots) for children ages 5-12.  They are seeking to get the word out to BIPOC communities. Below are links to sign in sheets in multiple languages; they are asking to sign up in advance:

English  Spanish  Traditional Chinese  Somali Tigrinya  Vietnamese

Neighborhood House is located at 6400 Sylvan Way SW.

CSCC Tour

I was recently able to meet with our 911 dispatchers and toured the Community Safety and Communications Center where they answer 911 calls.

The Community Safety and Communications Center (CSCC) was stood up earlier this year after the Council’s budget process last year.  If you recall, the 2021 budget removed our 911 dispatch center from the Seattle Police Department. This was an important step towards creating the foundation for building an alternative response for some 911 calls. 911 dispatch has been called the gatekeeper for the whole criminal justice. 911 training, when housed within police departments, typically emphasizes a police response.  In 2015, 83 of the 153 unarmed people killed by police officers across the nation, came into contact with the police officer that killed them, in response to a 911 call.

With 911 Dispatch moved out of SPD and into CSCC this year I turned my attention to the staffing issues they are experiencing. Mayor Durkan’s proposed budget would have only funded 140 positions, of which 20 are vacant.  An additional 17 positions currently have part-time absences due to situations such as medical and military leave. However, the budget passed by the Council added another $879,000 and position authority for 26 positions to address staffing and operational needs at CSCC. These additions were informed by the 2016 Kimball report, which recommended, based on a workload analysis, that the 911 Call Center should have 169 FTEs.

Here’s an excerpt from a letter I received from our 911 Dispatchers:

We’re desperately in need of reinforcements and additional staffing as we’ve had the worst retention in the past 2 years than we’ve ever experienced in this 9-1-1 center’s history. This amendment will allow the CSCC to mass hire telecommunicators and bring aid to a center on the brink of cracking.

Our current telecommunicators are working endless mandatory overtime, 52-56 hour work weeks, being forced to come in on their days off, and constantly are working understaffed.

Working short-staffed increases workload and delays call answering times, which can be life threatening situationally. Further, these employees are experiencing burnout, PTSD, depression, exhaustion, and a distorted work/life balance.

I want to thank the staff of the CSCC for their dedication to our city’s public safety and for welcoming me, showing me their space, and how they do their work.

East Marginal Way Federal Grant

We’ve learned recently that the City will receive $20 million from a federal grant for the East Marginal Way Corridor Improvement Program. This fully funds the project.  Work is expected to begin toward the end of 2022. The grant funding will enable SDOT to do both the safety improvements and the road reconstruction at the same time. This means that there will be fewer disruptions to freight traffic during construction.

The RAISE (Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity) grant will now help improve operational and safety deficiencies by widening and strengthening the road to accommodate larger and heavier truck traffic, provide access to freight terminals at the Port of Seattle for the trucks that use the corridor each day, and helping to reduce congestion with improved traffic signals.

Below are some of the improvements in the East Marginal Way S Corridor Improvement project:

  • Reconstructing the East Marginal Way S roadway and upgrading the route to Heavy Haul Network standards along a 1.1-mile segment from a point south of S Massachusetts St to S Spokane St to enhance efficient freight flow.
  • Constructing a 2-way protected bike lane along a 1.4-mile segment between S Atlantic St and S Spokane St to increase visibility, protect the approximately 1,000 people who ride bikes on this corridor each day, and work toward our Vision Zero goal of ending traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030.
  • Rebuilding the sidewalk on the west side of East Marginal Way S adjacent to the roadway reconstruction to provide a safe, accessible route for people walking.
  • Constructing new traffic signals that will work dynamically together to enhance safety and improve traffic flow at several of the City’s busiest freight intersections.

The East Marginal Way S Corridor Improvement Project was included in the 2015  Levy to Move Seattle approved by city voters.

Last year I organized two letters of support for federal funding for this project from City Councilmembers. The project is a high priority for bike connections between West Seattle and Downtown, to fully separate bicycles from motor vehicle traffic in the SODO industrial area; the closure of the West Seattle Bridge highlighted the importance of these connections.


CLOSING SOON/SDOT Survey on the Alki Point Keep Moving Street

I last wrote about the survey the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is conducting for Alki Point in September. SDOT is still gathering input, on the future of the Alki Point Keep Moving Street. The majority of people contacting me about the Alki Point Keep Moving Street have reported that it provides many benefits including improved safety, accessibility, sustainability, mobility and livability.

On Page 5 of the SDOT survey presents three design options:

  • Option 1: Stay Healthy Street + Neighborhood Greenway
  • Option 2: Neighborhood Greenway + additional pedestrian space
  • Option 3: One-way street with shared walking and biking path
  • Option 1 is the option to make permanent a Stay Healthy Street.

Options 2 and 3 allow cars back onto the street but may prohibit cars from using some parts of the street. Supporters of keeping the street closed to cars, excepting local access, recommend option 1.  Some people (myself included) were unsure, because of the reference to “driving in the street,” whether the first option under questions 12-14 referenced the current condition the Keep Moving Street designation.  SDOT confirmed that it did because “as a Keep Moving Street, people driving who need to get to homes and destinations along Keep Moving Streets are still able to drive on these streets. The first option under each of the three questions is referring to the existing condition which allows local access vehicles.”  SDOT says that they want to know if people are comfortable with a Stay Healthy Street design that “allows mixing of people walking, biking, using mobility devices, and driving, or if people are more comfortable with a separation of people walking and people biking from people driving.”

The survey is still open until the end of November, so please click here to take the survey.

The comments section will allow you to describe any additional changes or improvements you would like to see.

Previously, last summer SDOT conducted a broader survey on all Stay Healthy Streets with more than  9,000 total responses; 1,000 responses specific to the Alki Point Keep Moving Street.

Here is a presentation from stakeholders supporting maintaining the Keep Moving Street designation on Alki Point.

They report some of their main findings to be:

  • The results were overwhelmingly positive for this Stay Healthy Street with positive responses outnumbering negative responses 4 to 1.
  • 81% of positive responses said that they either felt “Safe” on the street or mentioned safety as a benefit of the Alki Beach KMS somewhere in their response or both.
  • 37% of positive responses suggested improvements or issues that could be addressed through improvements. Top suggestions/issues included:
    • Too many cars coming onto the street not complying with the “Local Access Only” signs and driving onto the street. This compromised safety, access, sustainability and more.
    • Ways to separate people from cars or noting that cars and people were not always clear about where to drive, walk, roll or bike.
    • Request for signage to address speeding, better, explain “Local Access Only”, park access, parking, etc.
  • Those with positive responses did not ask for more cars on the street. They made suggestions to further limit cars and traffic.
  • Positive respondents liked the street because it was safer, more accessible, more sustainable, more livable, improved community, etc.
  • 1,919 of ALL survey takers, when asked, “Would you like to see any of these locations considered for a Stay Healthy Street?”, cited Alki Point.

Virtual Office Hours

On Friday December 10, I will be hosting my final virtual office hours of the year between 2pm and 6pm, with the last meeting of the day beginning at 5:30pm. This is a change from the previously anticipated date of 12/17.

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

Expressing Thanks

There’s something this time of year that unites us all. It doesn’t matter whether you observe Thanksgiving or whether you think of the fourth Thursday of November as an idealized myth obscuring genocide and imperialism. It doesn’t matter if you are on your own for Thanksgiving or whether you are with friends and family. What unites us this week is that we all take stock of the reasons we have to be thankful. The act of thankfulness is more than just gratitude, it is mindful gratitude. It is remembering to, with intention, tell ourselves and others why it is that we have gratitude.

I’m a person who often forgets to practice mindful gratitude. For me, the fourth Thursday of November is a good time to practice. I have the regular reasons to be thankful: family, friends, work, my health. But I want to use this space today for my mindful gratitude for the people who work with me each and every day to serve the residents of District 1.

Newell Aldrich: I’m thankful to have worked side by side with Newell since 1997. I’m thankful for his work in this year’s budget deliberations to expand a successful law enforcement diversion program, find savings in SPD’s budget, get good fiscal oversight measures in place over SPD and the West Seattle Bridge repair project. I’m thankful that he staffs the issues most challenging and among the most important to D1 residents – Transportation and policing. I’m thankful for his attention to detail and his careful, thorough analysis.

Alex Clardy: I’m thankful that I had the opportunity to watch Alex get married this year. I’m thankful for Alex’s work in the 2022 budget to help me secure funding for staffing for firefighters and 911 dispatchers, the Duwamish Valley Youth Corps, and an expansion of Camp Second Chance. I’m thankful that Alex is so generous in offering help to others before they even ask.

Christena Coutsoubos: I’m thankful that Christena staffed approximately $17.5 million in 2022 budget victories that will serve people’s greatest need.  She worked with eleven separate advocacy groups to get it all done. I’m thankful that her many skills and focus are serving so many so well.

Elizabeth Calvillo Dueñas: I’m thankful that Elizabeth started working with Team Herbold this year. I’m thankful for her patience. I’m thankful for her willingness to serve the public at an especially challenging time to do so.

Here’s a great read about how to tell the Thanksgiving Story on Its 400th Anniversary.

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West Seattle Bridge Repair Update; This Week in the Budget; Hiring Bonuses; Apply by Today for Individual Cash Assistance from the Seattle Relief Fund; Support Is Available for Family Caregivers

November 15th, 2021

West Seattle Bridge Repair Update

SDOT presented updates at the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force on Wednesday, November 10th. The repair remains on track for completion by mid-2022.

The negotiations for the Maximum Allowable Construction Contract (MACC) for the West Seattle Bridge repair are complete, and SDOT expects to issue the formal Notice to Proceed for the project next week.

While most of the repair work will take place inside the bridge, upcoming visible work on the outside will include creating lifting points for the external work platforms with “hydroblasting”; work crews and trailers, and other equipment will be on the bridge deck soon as Kramer crews return to the bridge. When the work platforms (similar to those used last year for the bridge emergency stabilization) are being installed, there will need to be short term night/weekend closures of the lower bridge.

Post tensioning work and epoxy injections in cracks will begin in December; additional details on schedule information should be available soon.

SDOT notes the schedule is “risk-loaded.” This means it accounts for consideration of risks, such as weather (e.g. snow), supply chain disruption, worker shortages and other issues. After completion of the repair, SDOT will test the bridge for strength of the bridge before reopening to traffic. They estimate it will take no more than two weeks but said during the meeting that they expect it to be shorter.

A month before opening to traffic, SDOT will share the reopening date and activities they plan to commemorate the opening. They noted the activities will not delay opening the bridge to traffic.

This Week in the Budget

Last week the Budget Committee met to hear the Initial Balancing Package proposed by Chair Mosqueda and held a second public hearing. 282 speakers signed up to comment on the Chair’s proposed balancing package.

Friday, November 12 was the deadline for Councilmembers to propose amendments to the Chair’s balancing package. The balancing package and amendments to the balancing package, will be voted on at the Budget Committee meetings scheduled for November 18 and 19.

Another public hearing is scheduled for the November 18 meeting at 9:30 a.m. You can register to give comment on this page. The sign-up form is available two hours before each session begins.

The Chair’s balancing package is available here.

I want to raise a critical point about this budget that I believe must be raised, regarding the Jump Start payroll tax. As Chair Mosqueda and other Councilmembers have noted, this budget is predicated on the payroll tax.  It is only the Council’s payroll tax, which the Mayor vetoed, that has made it possible for the City to avoid deep budget cuts for this year and last.

The City Attorney, thus far, has successfully defended the City from a legal challenge in King County Superior Court. The Chamber has now appealed that ruling to the Washington State Court of Appeals. A recent poll, funded by the Northwest Progressive Institute, found 67% support among the public for this tax, 50% strongly support it. The Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce had a different poll that found 61% of voters supported progressive tax like a capital gains tax or a high earners income tax. When I asked the Chamber why they funded this poll, they told me  that it was to help them identify policy areas to work on, and in some cases to collaborate with Council on, where there are areas of agreement.   When I was briefed on this poll by the Greater Seattle of Chamber of Commerce, I asked President Rachel Smith, whether, given the strong public support for the Council’s payroll tax, they were going to end their members’ appeal to strike it down.  I was told they were not going to end their appeal.

If the City’s defense is not successful, the incoming Mayor will be faced with proposing budget cuts that could be $200 million or more for 2022; it would also create a similar deficit for the 2021 budget which relied on an interfund loan to be paid back with payroll tax revenue.  This would make it nearly impossible to avoid across the board cuts.

I’d hate to see incoming Mayor-elect Harrell be in that position early during his term.  It would be good for no one. Just last year, when responding to revenue shortfalls after the start of the COVID pandemic, Mayor Durkan ordered $20 million in cuts to the Seattle Police Department budget, and a hiring freeze for all new city staff, both civilians and SPD officers.

The written briefs in the appeal case are due on December 15.  In other words, those briefs will be developed under the current City Attorney. Oral arguments, on the other hand, will be made under the next City Attorney, likely in the first half of the year.

While I’ll have more information soon, I want to note that the Chair’s balancing package proposes to increase the Police Department’s budget by $7 million over their 2021 budget. It’s unfortunate that Mayor Durkan has claimed this is a “cut.” This is not accurate. It would be a smaller increase than the Mayor has proposed, while proposing funding for hiring more officers—125—than have ever been hired before in a year.

Hiring Bonuses

Hiring and retention are important issues.  That’s why, just three short months ago, in the August midyear 2021 adjustment, the Council added $320,000 for police officer wellness and supervision to support retention, and $110,000 to accelerate the hiring process for both sworn and civilian positions and support recruitment. The Chair’s proposed 2022 budget package that the Budget Committee heard this week retains these investments for 2022.

In the midyear 2021 adjustment, the Council also added funding I proposed for Chief Diaz’s pre-BLEA 45-day program that “pulls recruits out of traditional classroom training and immerses them in community-based, peer-based, and introspective experiences that will provide them both a lens through which to receive their BLEA training and a foundation upon which to build their careers as Seattle Police Officers.” Because Mayor Durkan did not include it in her proposed 2022 budget, the Chair’s proposed 2022 package adds this investment, in recognition that hiring and retention investments are important.

Mayor Durkan has proposed hiring incentive program that has dramatically changed over a very short time. Those changes have significant 2022 budget implications that the Council has the responsibility to analyze. Just two short months ago, Mayor Durkan proposed a program that benefited only SPD recruits, with $15,000 for lateral hires and $7,500 for new hires. Then, two weeks ago, she proposed a different program altogether, with a different cost, and without sufficient funding provided in her proposed 2022 budget to support it.

When the Mayor proposed her first version of a bonus program, the Council majority decided we needed  to spend additional time on this issue during the annual budget process, because Central Staff had determined that the Executive has documented staffing shortages and accompanying service delivery issues in several departments. The impacts of COVID on employment have been unprecedented, both for the private sector as well as the public sector with people leaving their jobs and with sustained vacancies across most employment sectors.

This Council  values the delivery of city services of staff from all the city’s departments. Consequently, we need to consider vacancies across all city departments and whether we need to develop a hiring bonus program to fulfill hiring goals and service delivery obligations in other departments

Further, if we are considering hiring bonuses for hires to other departments, we need to consider the possible citywide cost.  Mayor Durkan recently issued an Executive Order for an entirely different hiring bonuses program from the one she proposed in August, this one for police officers and 911 dispatchers.

But Mayor Durkan’s proposed 2022 budget did not include sufficient resources to support the hiring bonus program that she proposed.

It’s important to consider that an April 2019 SPD analysis of the previous incentive program found only 18% of SPD applicants (20% among applicants of color and 19% among female-identifying applicants) cited the incentive as an “important factor” in their decision to apply.

One new proposal the Council will be considering during upcoming budget deliberations is a Councilmember amendment to reject Mayor Durkan’s hiring incentive program for recruits to the Seattle Police Department. I will be making a proposal to allow the current hiring incentive program under Mayor Durkan’s Executive Order to continue through December 31, 2021 .  A separate budget action requires a report on the need for a Citywide hiring incentive program and requests recommendations for staffing and vacancy issues that are occurring among frontline workers; causing a service issue with the public; or inhibiting a department from fulfilling a core function. The Council may amend the current hiring incentive program to cover necessary hiring bonuses for recruits in other departments.

My original budget action would have reserved $1.09 million to support a 2022 bonus hiring incentive. Though this funding wasn’t included in the balancing package, I am still seeking a path to fund a 2022 bonus hiring incentive program.

Apply by Today for Individual Cash Assistance from the Seattle Relief Fund

The Seattle Relief Fund application closes on Monday! The City of Seattle is offering $16 million in one-time financial assistance to residents impacted by the pandemic. To learn more about eligibility or apply: http://seattlerelief.com or 206-775-7490.

[COMMS: PLEASE LINK THE GRAPHIC BELOW TO OPEN Seattle Relief Fund IN A NEW TAB WHEN CLICKED.  THANKS – CC.]

Support Is Available for Family Caregivers

“There are only four kinds of people in the world: those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.”

-First Lady Rosalynn Carter

November is Family Caregiver Support Month, and I was proud to bring a proclamation to Seattle City Council that…

  • recognizes family caregivers as the backbone of our long-term care system and contributors to the strength of families and communities;
  • encourages individuals who are able to provide respite for a family caregiver for a couple hours, a day, or overnight; and
  • encourages all Seattle residents to take time to learn about services that can support caregivers’ physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.

More family caregivers need to know that help is available. Community Living Connections (1-844-348-5464) is Seattle-King County’s one-stop-shop for questions related to aging, disability, and caregiving – including caregiver support services. All calls are confidential, and calls, consultations, referrals, and most services are free of charge.

I also want to thank the Human Services Department’s Aging and Disability Services for coordinating the annual African American Caregivers Forum on Saturday, Nov. 13 from Noon-2 p.m., and to the Human Services Department, Age Friendly Seattle, and Mayor’s Council on African American Elders for co-sponsoring.  Learn more and register to participate online at Legacy of Love – Aging & Disability Services for Seattle & King County (agingkingcounty.org).

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