Covid on the Rise Among Unvaccinated; West Seattle Bridge Repair meets 60% Design Threshold; New $150k Loans Available to Small Businesses and Nonprofits; South Park Affordable Housing; Public Safety & Human Services Committee; Police Accountability Reports; PayUp Policy ; Less Lethal Weapons Legislation; Virtual Office Hours

July 16th, 2021

Covid on the Rise Among Unvaccinated

Public Health – Seattle & King County is reporting a rise in Covid cases and deaths: from 415 new cases and 6 deaths the week of July 1, to 870 new cases and 12 deaths this week.  Almost all new cases are now among those who have not yet received the vaccination.  74% of eligible King County residents have already found their shot.  Perhaps you can help a friend or family member get vaccinated and protected.

COVID-19 vaccines are new, and it’s normal to for people to have questions about them. The sheer amount of information—and misinformation—about COVID-19 vaccines can be overwhelming to anyone. You can help by listening without judgement and identifying the root of their concerns.  Here’s a helpful guide.

Here’s how to find a vaccination near you:


Big News: West Seattle Bridge Repair Meets 60% Design Threshold/West Seattle Bridge July 14 Community Task Force Update

The West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force met on July 14th, and heard updates on the West Seattle Bridge and Reconnect West Seattle projects.

West Seattle Bridge Repair

SDOT has reached the 60% design threshold, and plans to finalize design with Kraemer in October, working toward the schedule to open in mid-2022. SDOT indicated early construction activities will begin in October.

The work done last year to stabilize the bridge was focused on the center span over the Duwamish, between Piers 16 and 17 in the image below. Repair work (what SDOT is calling Phase 2 rehabilitation) will extend to the span of the bridge. Carbon fiber wrapping will be added between Piers 15 and 16, and between piers 17 and 18. Additional post-tensioning will take place as well. Additional work will take place on the center span as well.

Work platforms will be used to access the bridge, similar to the platforms that were visible last year, and removed in December.

Here’s an image showing where carbon fiber wrapping, and post-tensioning steel cables and anchors will be added near Pier 15. Carbon fiber wrapping will be added to the inside as well as the outside of the bridge:

Here’s a side view showing the inside of the box girder, showing where this work will take place.

Here’s the schedule and future milestones:

Rehabilitation work on the Spokane Street (lower) bridge will also include work platforms, and adding internal and external carbon fiber wrap, and epoxy injections.

As noted last week, SDOT will host a virtual public meeting on July 21 on the West Seattle Bridge; here’s their announcement:

JOIN OUR VIRTUAL PUBLIC MEETING ON JULY 21

The West Seattle High-Rise Bridge (high bridge) is on track to reopen in mid-2022 – join us to hear more about the bridge repair, low bridge access, and travel options around West Seattle and the Duwamish Valley. We’ll provide live captioning in English and interpretation in Spanish, Mandarin, and Vietnamese. A meeting recording will be posted online later with subtitles in Spanish, Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese, Khmer, Somali, and Oromo. If you need information in another language or have other accessibility needs, please call: (206) 400-7511, or email WestSeattleBridge@seattle.gov

HOW TO JOIN THE MEETING

On Wednesday, July 21 at 5:30 PM, join us in one of two ways:

Reconnect West Seattle

The second quarter updates for Reconnect West Seattle include implementation of the Home Zone safety projects in Highland Park, South Park and Georgetown:

Work elsewhere on detour routes includes installing safety arrow signs and reflectors on Sylvan Way, and ten radar feedback signs. Paving projects include work on Alaska Street on July 17 and 18 (Saturday and Sunday), and upcoming paving on Roxbury between 24th Ave SW and 25th Ave SW scheduled for July 19th and 20th (Monday and Tuesday).

Projects identified for 2022 are listed below:

I’ve been working with the 16th Ave SW Safety Committee on road safety in the area near South Seattle College and Sanislo Elementary; I appreciate SDOT working with them as well.

West Marginal Way

Traffic has been very high at the intersection of West Marginal Way and Highland Park Way since the closure of the West Seattle Bridge. Work to address this will begin on Saturday, July 17th. Improvements will include adding live video feed to monitor traffic in real time.  Other work will:

  • Remove existing raised traffic islands to create a new northbound lane and shift the southbound left turn lanes farther west to reduce wait times.
  • Update the traffic signal equipment for people of all abilities, which will allow us to make signal adjustments in real-time remotely from our traffic operations center based on what cameras show
  • Install new accessible curb ramps
  • Relocate the bus stop
  • Improve turning movements for vehicles traveling through the intersection to shorten wait times

This blog post notes work hours will be from 4 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day to minimize impacts. A lane closure will take place when the traffic islands are demolished. When completed, the new lane configurations will include new lane markings.

SDOT announced they will hold off on adding a bicycle connection until after the West Seattle Bridge opens. An update is included at their West Marginal Way SW Improvements page, which notes allowing traffic to normalize from current very high levels after the bridge re-opening. I believe holding off until after the bridge re-opens is a good decision.

Here’s the blog post SDOT did about their decision; they note the trail “will complete the all-ages-and-abilities network between South Park and the West Seattle Bridge Trail and beyond, including Alki, the Junction, downtown Seattle, and SODO.”

New $150k Loans Available to Small Businesses and Nonprofits

The Small Business Flex Fund is a new resource to help Washington’s small businesses and nonprofits access the financial support they need to thrive.  Small businesses and nonprofits can borrow up to $150,000 and the money can be spent flexibly, including on payroll, utilities & rent, supplies, marketing & advertising, building improvements or repairs, and other business expenses.  You will be connected to a local, community-based lender who can assist with every step of the application and direct you to additional support services, as well.

Apply now for:

  • flexible working capital loans
  • low interest rates
  • 60- or 72-month repayment timelines

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis and will be managed to support the program’s goals.  We recommend applying as soon as possible.

New Affordable Housing Coming to South Park

On Monday, I was thrilled to join my colleagues in approving the City’s purchase of two properties in South Park, with the intention of building 70-120 affordable homes for low-income families.

The Office of Housing is pioneering an innovative approach by acquiring these parcels first, and then partnering with community members to develop a Request for Proposals for affordable housing developers.  The vision for this development includes:

  • 70-120+ family sized units for low-income families
  • Community services on the ground floor
  • Using Community Preference to benefit those most at risk of displacement
  • Activation of 14th Avenue S. corridor with housing and ground floor uses
  • Aiming for highly energy and water efficient, all electric zero carbon building
  • Meets the racial equity outcomes outlined in the Duwamish Valley Action Plan

Affordable housing was one of the seven priority areas identified by community members in the 2018 Duwamish Valley Action Plan.  I want to express my deep appreciation for Maria Ramirez and Duwamish Valley Affordable Housing Coalition for their long track record of developing community vision and organizing for affordable housing in South Park and Georgetown, the communities of the Duwamish Valley.

Public Safety & Human Services Committee

On Tuesday, July 13 the Public Safety & Human Services Committee (PSHS) that I chair met. The agenda included:

  • Police accountability agencies semi-annual reports
  • PayUp proposal
  • Less lethal weapons legislation

Police Accountability Agencies’ Semi-Annual Reports

The PSHS committee heard semi-annual updates from the Community Police Commission, the Office of the Inspector General, and the Office of Police Accountability, as required by the 2017 Police Accountability ordinance. Here’s a link to their combined presentation.

The Community Police Commission presentation included their new recommendations tracker for the three accountability bodies, which shows the recommendation status, and whether it was implemented:

The CPC engaged the state legislature on numerous police accountability bills, and I worked to incorporate their recommendations into the city’s State Legislative Agenda.

CPC work groups include police practices, behavioral health, community engagement and complainant appeals process. They are engaged in a strategic planning process, and a podcast is in production. Additional information is available at the CPC website, where you can sign up for updates from the CPC.

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has been working on a Sentinel Event Review regarding the demonstrations during 2020 and 2021, and community trust around the use of force. The Sentinel Event Review examines roots causes to look for preventative system improvements.

They are working on Phase 1; the slide below notes when large numbers of uses of force and complaints were received:

Recent OIG reports include memos to SPD regarding response to persons in crisis, vehicle pursuit policies, and alternative responses for certain types of minor traffic offenses.

Audits and assessments that are ongoing include an SPD Mask-Wearing Review, an Effectiveness of Discipline Audit, as well as recurring audits of police surveillance. The OIG also reviews OPA classifications, and certifies OPA investigations; they will be adding the certifications to their website.

The Office of Police Accountability provided an annual report earlier, so had a shorter presentation.

In addition to investigating complaints of misconduct, as a result of investigation of complaints the OPA issues Management Action Recommendations (MARs). Recent MARS are noted below, and can be viewed on their website here.


PayUp Policy Proposal

What is PayUp?  Here is a description from Working Washington:

Gig workers in our city — including many people of color, immigrants, workers with disabilities,    LGBTQ workers, and parents — make as little as $2 a job working on apps like DoorDash,

Instacart, and Rover. We can’t afford to wait: now is the time to end these subminimum wages    for the most marginalized workers in our city by passing new laws that raise pay, protect flexibility, and provide transparency.

The gig economy is large and growing larger, all while pay is low and driving lower. A Working      Washington analysis of crowd-sourced data found workers’ effective pay rates after expenses                were $7.66/hour on Instacart, $1.45/hour on DoorDash, and $1.70 per delivery on Postmates.

As the gig economy has grown over the past year while other service-sector employment has shrunk, the growing number of workers desperate for income has enabled companies to drive pay rates further downwards.

Gig workers are calling on the City Council to step in and make the gig economy Pay Up Now by passing new policies that raise pay, protect flexibility, and provide transparency. Gig workers are calling specifically for:

1) Minimum wage + expenses for all time worked, with tips on top
– Establish a pay floor for each job which guarantees gig workers make more than minimum wage after expenses, with tips on top.
– Pay workers for all time worked and all required expenses. Minimum compensation must directly or indirectly account for all time required to complete a job, all miles driven during work time must be compensated

2) Protect flexibility by ensuring gig workers can choose when to work and which jobs to accept:
– Right to reject a given job or a given proportion of jobs without penalty.
– Right to schedule work time without restriction by the hiring entity.
– Right to freedom from direct management control for independent contractors.

3) Provide meaningful transparency for gig workers and customers:
– Up-front information: Companies must provide workers with up-front information that includes estimated time and distance, and a guaranteed minimum of what the job or block of work will pay.
– Clarity about prices and pay rates: Companies must provide workers a regular “pay stub” with information about pay, tips, and expenses, and must provide customers clear information about prices and charge.

4) Addressing unwarranted deactivations: Workers should have the right to be provided the reason why they were deactivated, the right to challenge their deactivation, and the right to be reinstated if there’s no evidence to support deactivation.

I have been meeting weekly since June 9 with stakeholder that include workers, workers advocacy organizations and representatives from the platforms, like UberEats, Instacart, Door Dash, Rover and others.

The PSHS briefing covered the proposal elements from workers and platforms included above, including coverage, pay structure, flexibility, transparency, and deactivation.  Linked here is the presentation.

Less Lethal Weapons Legislation

The Public Safety & Human Services Committee voted 4-1 in favor of the recommendation to send legislation to restrict the use of less lethal weapons to Full Council.

The committee adopted two amendments I proposed. The first brought the right of private action for violation of the less lethal weapons use regulations in line with the updated version of the bill first heard at the June 22 committee meeting. The second amendment clarified that the regulation within the legislation also applied to the use of pepperball launchers of various types.

The Community Police commission wrote to support the legislation, noting . “the bill’s inclusion of clear delineations of when less-lethal weapons can and cannot be used—and limitations on who can use them—is a significant first step in ensuring the safety of community members when they engage in First Amendment protected protests”.  The CPC also noted the “The Commission wishes to note that while we appreciate the improvements the bill would make to Seattle Police Department’s use of crowd control weapons, the Commission wants to ensure that the City Council does not forget that there is more work to be done. This legislation does work toward implementation of some recommendations made by the CPC last fall. However, those CPC’s recommendations identified additional changes necessary to best protect our community’s safety and civil liberties during protests for which we ask the City Council to not stop striving towards.”

Judge Robart, who oversees the Consent Decree, has called a status conference for an update on the Consent Decree, scheduled for August 10th. We do not know if the Less Lethal Weapons bill will be a subject of that status conference, nevertheless, for this reason (just in case informal feedback to the bill is provided at the status conference), I moved that the Full Council consider this legislation only after the status conference takes place.

Though we have received informal feedback from both the DOJ and the Monitor, neither has have conducted their formal review as required under the consent decree. Under paragraph 177 of the Consent Decree, DOJ and the Monitor conduct their formal review after SPD has proposed policy revisions, in this case, revisions that will be based upon the new law. The engagement that we conducted with DOJ and the Monitor about the draft bill was an informal process for us to have a dialogue before Council takes legislative action and before the formal Consent Decree review process takes place.

If the bill becomes law, this is what would happen next:

  • First, SPD would draft policy revisions within 60 days (provided by Section 4 of the bill)
  • Second, DOJ and the Monitor would review the policy revisions (this is when their formal review under the Consent Decree takes place)
  • Third, the Court would review the policy revisions (also required by the Consent Decree)
  • Fourth, if the Court approves the policy revisions, then the revised policies and the substantive provisions of the bill will take effect (provided by Section 5 of the bill)

Virtual Office Hours

On Friday July 30, 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.

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SDOT West Seattle Bridge Virtual Public Meeting on July 21; Office of Police Accountability Findings on Officers’ Attendance of January 6 Insurrection; Federal Judge Upholds Seattle’s Fair Chance Housing Law; Welcome Back Weeks July 12-26; Virtual Office Hours

July 9th, 2021

SDOT West Seattle Bridge Virtual Public Meeting on July 21

On July 21 SDOT will hold a virtual public meeting on the West Seattle Bridge. Here’s SDOT’s announcement:

On July 21 at 5:30 PM, the West Seattle Bridge Program will hold a virtual public meeting for you to hear more about the work we’re doing to reopen the bridge in mid-2022 and ask your questions.

Members of our team will provide updates about the ongoing repair effort on the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge (high bridge), expanded access on the Spokane St Swing Bridge (low bridge), and our work to improve access to and around West Seattle through the Reconnect West Seattle, Home Zone, and neighborhood travel options programs. We’ll also have plenty of time for you to submit questions, which will be answered live at our meeting by a panel of team members.

How to join the meeting

On Wednesday, July 21 at 5:30 PM, join us in one of two ways: 

  • To join by computer or mobile device | Click this link to launch Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89190663370
  • To join by phone | Dial (253) 215 8782 and then enter the webinar ID: 891 9066 3370.

We’ll provide live captioning in English and interpretation in Spanish, Mandarin, and Vietnamese.

Additional information is available at SDOT’s blog post.

 

Office of Police Accountability Findings on Officers’ Attendance of January 6 Insurrection

Yesterday the Office of Police Accountability released its investigation into six SPD officers who were in Washington, D.C. during the insurrection on January 6th. I released the following statement:

“On January 6 in Washington D.C., an insurrection targeted the US Capitol and our democratic institutions and attempted to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power that is the cornerstone of our democracy. That assault resulted in the death of a Capitol Police officer. Our elected leaders in Congress were in grave danger.

“Upon learning that Seattle police officers were in Washington, D.C. on January 6 attending the rally that preceded the insurrection, I heard very strong concern from numerous constituents.

“The recommendations of the Discipline Committee to terminate two officers for lack of professionalism and violations of law and policy are sound, and a necessary step for public confidence in police accountability and justice.

“Seattle police officers made up the largest known contingent of police attending the January 6 rally, more than any other municipality across the country. Many of my constituents question whether they can trust officers who attended “Stop the Steal” to uphold the mission and principles of SPD’s Code of Ethics. Whether they were “directly involved” in the insurrection, or if they attended with the intent to passively support the unlawful insurrection and violent assault of our nation’s Capitol, neither act is an example of protected free speech nor should our support of free speech shield accountability for these acts.

The SPD Code of Ethics states: ‘“As a Seattle Police employee I am responsible for supporting the mission and principles of the Seattle Police Department.’”  These principles are justice, excellence, humility and harm reduction.  Further, the standards and duties policy states:  ‘“Regardless of duty status, employees may not engage in behavior that undermines public trust in the Department, the officer, or other officers….It is not the Department’s intent to interfere with or constrain the freedoms, privacy, and liberties of employees; discipline will only be imposed where there is a connection between the conduct and the duties, rank, assignment, or responsibilities of the employee.’” (emphasis added)

“The strong ‘objection’ and characterization of the investigation as ‘unlawful and discriminatory’ by the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG) in their opposition to OPA’s investigation, seems intended only to unreasonably stall accountability.  Court precedent grants law enforcement agencies more latitude to restrict speech and association, citing their ‘heightened need for order, loyalty, morale and harmony.’

“At the onset of the investigation, I told Director Myerberg that I believed that the investigation should go further than asking the question of what actions SPD employees took while in D.C. on January 12 and should include an inquiry of whether SPD employees traveled to D.C. with knowledge, like so many people did, that there was going to be an attempted insurrection.  According to research from nonpartisan nonprofit Advance Democracy, before January 6 there were calls for violence that proliferated in tens of thousands of comments on posts on Twitter, TikTok, right-wing platform Parler, an online forum formed last year in support of Donald Trump, and other message boards. Since 2006, the FBI has been warning us that extremist groups have strong ties to law enforcement.

“If public employees knowingly travelled to a location in support of people whom they knew were intending to attempt an insurrection, even if their participation was as a passive observer, that is a ‘clear connection between conduct and duties or…responsibilities’ and is an offense that merits termination.  I will review the OPA investigation with an eye towards whether questions were asked of the four officers without sustained findings, and whether evidence was sought, to determine the advance knowledge they had of the planned violent events at the Capitol insurrection of January 6.”

 

Federal Judge Upholds Seattle’s Fair Chance Housing Law

Earlier this week a federal judge upheld the Fair Chance Housing ordinance I sponsored. Below is the press release City Attorney Pete Holmes and I released:

U.S. District Court Judge John Coughenour today rejected a challenge to the City’s Fair Chance Housing law, which bars most landlords from denying housing to applicants or taking other actions against tenants because of their criminal history. The City Council adopted the law in 2017 and it has remained in effect during the pendency of the case, which began in 2018.

Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes said, “A criminal conviction should not be a lifelong sentence to living on the streets. Housing access is core to stabilizing a person’s life, so I’m thankful to the judge for making the sound legal decision today. This case racks another win for the City by Assistant City Attorneys Roger Wynne and Sara O’Connor-Kriss and our outside counsel, Jessica Goldman.”

Councilmember Lisa Herbold (District 1, West Seattle & South Park), co-sponsor of the legislation, said, “When Seattle became the first city in the country to pass Fair Chance Housing in 2017, we knew it would change the lives of many who were unfairly rejected as tenants because of a criminal record, despite having served their time, or for others, never convicted in the first place. This policy is more important today than ever.  Policymakers are reimagining the criminal justice system and the public health benefits of being housed during a deadly pandemic are self-evident. Further, blocking people who have fulfilled the terms of their sentencing from accessing housing is a recipe for recidivism.  With housing, a person is seven times less likely to reenter the criminal justice system. I would expect anyone in favor of a safer Seattle to support this decision.”

Herbold added, “Thank you to the City Attorney’s Office, and all those who worked on this case, for successfully defending this policy, which gives so many Seattleites a fair shot at accessing housing.”

The court’s decision today represents yet another loss for the Pacific Legal Foundation, which has recently unsuccessfully challenged Seattle’s Democracy Voucher program and First-in-Time law. In a lawsuit that remains ongoing, PLF faced a setback in January in their case against Seattle’s and Governor Inslee’s eviction moratoria, the City’s three-to-six month overdue rent repayment plan ordinance, and the City’s six-month eviction defense after the current COVID-19 eviction moratorium ends.

The Fair Chance Housing ordinance made it an unfair practice for landlords and tenant screening services to “require, disclosure, inquire about, or take an adverse action against a prospective occupant, a tenant, or a member of their household, based on any arrest record, conviction record, or criminal history,” subject to certain exceptions.

Landlords represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation challenged the ordinance, claiming it violated their constitutional rights to free speech and substantive due process. Judge Coughenour rejected their claims.

Today’s ruling was informed by a State Supreme Court decision that answered Judge Coughenour’s questions about Washington’s substantive due process law. The Supreme Court’s 2019 decision overturned over sixty prior decisions that had hampered Washington governments’ ability to enact and enforce laws for the betterment of their residents.

 

Welcome Back Weeks July 12-26

In partnership with the Downtown Seattle Association, the City recently announced a series of Welcome Back Weeks events in Downtown area neighborhoods from July 12-26.

Welcome Back Weeks are part of the City’s downtown recovery effort, with the goal of bringing workers, small businesses, and visitors back downtown

Welcome Back Weeks will feature promotions across downtown neighborhoods, with large-scale events will take place in the Chinatown-International District, Pioneer Square, and Westlake. Details on all events, including live music, can be found here.

All three large-scale events will include vaccine pop-ups from the Seattle Fire Department, with Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer available.

 

Virtual Office Hours

On Friday July 30, 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, August 20, 2021
  • Friday, September 24, 2021
  • Friday, October 29, 2021
  • Friday, December 17, 2021

 

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$11 Million Federal Grant and Notice to Proceed for West Seattle Bridge Repair; 4th of July and Fire Danger; Safe Reopening King County; Catalytic Converters, SPD Blotter; Building Affordable Housing on Religious Organization Property

July 2nd, 2021

$11 Million Federal Grant and Notice to Proceed for West Seattle Bridge Repair

The City of Seattle has received a $11.2 million federal grant from the US Department of Transportation to help pay for repairs for the West Seattle Bridge. The grant is from the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America program.

Thanks to Representative Jayapal, who advocated strongly for federal funding, and met regularly with US DOT Secretary Buttigieg and other officials. Thanks as well to Senators Murray and Cantwell.

This increases total federal funding for the project to $25 million.

In other updates, on June 24, SDOT issued the Notice to Proceed to Kraemer North America for work to repair the bridge. This is another important and significant benchmark.  They expect to reach 60% design later this month.

King County Metro announced that on Saturday, July 3 normal passenger capacity resumes on all bus routes and the water taxi. KC Metro notes, “Passengers still must wear masks on transit and at indoor transit facilities in compliance with the federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA) mandate. Passengers also must continue to maintain a six-foot distance from bus drivers, except when paying fare.”

4th of July and Fire Danger

Earlier this week, Seattle twice set an all time record for high temperature. The forecast calls for high temperatures around 80 degrees throughout the weekend.

This combination of heat and dry weather significantly increases the risk of fires. Last Sunday, the Seattle Fire Department responded to six brush and bark fires. The use of fireworks in these conditions is extremely dangerous, and can be deadly. Two years ago a fire in White Center, just south of West Seattle, resulted in a fire burning down a house, a death from smoke inhalation, and the displacement of 12 residents from a neighboring home. Last year, a four-story apartment building in West Seattle quickly caught on fire from a brush fire that started from fireworks. It’s fortunate in that case that no one was injured.

The Seattle Fire Department has released the following statement about fireworks:

The recent hot, dry weather significantly increases the risk for dry grass, bark, and brush fires. A firework can easily start a fire in these conditions.

Every year, the personal use of fireworks cause fires and injure people in the Seattle area. Last year, the Seattle Fire Department responded to 16 fireworks-related fires including two structure fires. One significant fire happened on July 4, 2020 in West Seattle where fireworks ignited dry brush in front of a four-story apartment building which then quickly extended to the top floor balcony. Fortunately, no one was injured, but several residents were displaced and the total estimated loss was $100,000.

The recent hot, dry weather significantly increases the risk for dry grass, bark, and brush fires. A firework can easily start a fire in these conditions.

Here are ways to reduce fires caused by fireworks near your home:

  • Remove branches, dry grass and anything that can burn from around your home.
  • Make sure tree branches are not touching your home.
  • Clear roof and gutters of pine needles and leaves.
  • Don’t leave cardboard or loose paper recyclables outside – make sure they are in a closed bin.
  • Keep a garden hose with nozzle hooked up and ready to use.

Also, make sure smoke alarms are working by pushing the test button.

If you experience a fire, please call 9-1-1 immediately after you are in a safe location away from the fire.

Remember, fireworks are illegal in the City of Seattle. If you want to report the illegal discharge of fireworks, please do not call 9-1-1, but instead use the non-emergency line for the Community Safety and Coordination Center (206-625-5011). On a historically busy weekend in the City, the use of 9-1-1 should be reserved for life-threatening emergencies only.

I have talked to Fire Chief Scoggins about fireworks.  SFD Units will drive their district and provide public education leading up to and on the 4th.  SFD will respond to Fireworks calls dispatched by the Fire Alarm Center.  Fire Investigation Units will respond to investigate fire caused by fireworks. I have shared the location of problem areas in recent years in District 1.  Chief Scoggins in turn communicated these locations to the stations and confirmed that they will work to visit hotspot locations leading up to and on the 4th .

I’ve also spoken to SPD SW Precinct Captain Grossman; I appreciate his proactive outreach to Parks, SDOT and Seattle Public Schools to recommend preventative actions such as:

  • To SPS, Parks, and SDOT: Requested public messaging and signage that fireworks usage on school, parks, and SDOT property is strictly prohibited,
  • To SPS, Parks, and SDOT: Requested closing/locking any parking lot managed by SPS, Parks, or SDOT, or school field access gates.
  • To SPS, Parks, and SDOT: Requested keeping open fields and lots as lit up as possible (SPD has found that unlit open areas are particularly attractive to illegal fireworks users).
  • Requesting SPS to temporarily add cyclone fencing to parking lots and fields that have been used to launch fireworks in the past (e.g., Pathfinder K-8).
  • Requesting Parks to temporarily add cyclone fencing or other barriers to limit access to parking lots and fields that have been used to launch fireworks in the past (e.g., Riverview Playfield, Alki Beach Park, Alki Playground, Lincoln Park, Westcrest Park, and Roxhill Park).
  • Requesting SDOT to strategically close streets to limit vehicle access to problematic open public areas (e.g., the area around Riverview Park was particularly problematic last year).

The Department of Parks and Recreation has put up several hundred NO FIREWORKS signs in parks; Parks has also indicated they will to employ lighting and contracted security staff, mostly at our athletic fields with synthetic turf, where the damage from fireworks would be the most costly.

To deter fireworks use, lights will be turned on until 11 p.m. at fields, including in District 1, and fields will be monitored by security from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m.

  • Delridge Playfield, 4458 Delridge Way SW
  • Hiawatha Playfield, 2700 California Ave. SW
  • Walt Hundley Playfield, 6920 34th Avenue SW
  • West Seattle Stadium, 4432 35th Ave. SW

Please do not use fireworks and please discourage the use of fireworks by others. I previously wrote about fireworks efforts here.

Safe Reopening King County

On June 30th, Governor Inslee announced reopening in Washington State,  which removed most COVID-19 restrictions, and provided guidance on indoor and outdoor operations and events.

King County Public Health has a Safe Reopening page with a useful chart for mask wearing and physical distancing. While COVID cases are lower than before, it is still present.

The Safe Reopening page  also includes an FAQ with guidance, including for businesses.

If you still need to get vaccinated, try these:

King County Public Health vaccination data page notes 73.5% of King County residents age 16 and over have completed vaccination.

Catalytic Converters, SPD Blotter

Catalytic converter thefts have increased in the region, and across the country, over the last 18 months. Catalytic converters contain precious metals which can be sold for quick cash.

I worked early this year with SPD on language regarding policy related to catalytic converters theft to include in the 2021 workplan for the Public Safety and Human Services Committee:

“Create a local, regional, and possible state regulatory response to the national dramatic increase in catalytic converter theft. Develop enhancements to documentation of those attempting to sell the devices and/or restrict the ability to buy the devices to licensed retailers.”

One challenge with catalytic converters is that the market is national, as they can easily be mailed. This is different than, for example, the market for stolen copper wire, which is local. A coordinated response is needed across jurisdictions.  I have also asked SPD to, through Neighborhood Watch Groups, Crime Prevention Councils and SPD’s Crime Prevention Coordinators provide information about CatShields or similar products.   These products are relatively low cost, easily installed, and effective deterrents to catalytic converter thefts.

In following up with SPD on our shared interest in developing local legislation, we discovered that this appears to be an area pre-empted by state law.   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.”  This suggests that in order to, per my workplan above, pass legislation to “develop enhancements to documentation of those attempting to sell the devices and/or restrict the ability to buy the devices to licensed retailers,” we’d need to make some changes in State Law.

SPD provided information about this on the SPD blotter in October of last year. The blotter offers this preventative advice:

To prevent such thefts, detectives would like to remind vehicle owners to try and park their vehicle inside a garage or a well-lit, highly visible area.  Auto part manufacturers also sell after-market devices to further secure catalytic converters.

SPD reiterated this advice earlier this week.

Building Affordable Housing on Religious Organization Property

On Monday, the Council unanimously passed CB 120081 which establishes eligibility requirements and density bonus provisions for properties owned or controlled by religious organizations that are to be redeveloped for affordable housing.

The origins of this bill come from the State which passed Substitute House Bill 1377 in 2019. The bill states that local jurisdictions: “must allow an increased density bonus consistent with local needs for any affordable housing development of any single-family or multifamily residence located on property owned or controlled by a religious organization…”

As introduced, CB 120081 required a minimum affordability level for housing to be built on these lots at 80% area median income (AMI). 80% AMI rent for a studio is about $1,620 a month, and for a 1 bedroom is $1,851 a month. The density bonus can increase the development potential by double.  A non-profit developer who was worried about the bill as introduced explained to me that, by rule of thumb, sellers set land value at about $50,000 per unit.  A piece of property that has capacity for 50 units can be sold for approximately $2.5 million.  If we are, with these density bonuses, increasing in some cases the value of the property by double, then I believe that we should expect that units that are built have deeper affordability restrictions and offered at a lower rent.  Private developers do not need to be incentivized to build units at these rates as they are practically market rate rents already. If we did incentivize these higher cost rental developments, I was concerned that religious institutions would chose to partner more often with for-profit developers and there would be fewer partnerships with mission based non-profit developers who build housing affordable to renters at 60% AMI.

In order to address this concern, I put forward Amendment 1b to reduce the rent restriction to an average of 60% AMI, instead of a flat 80%.  Amendment 1b passed.  At 60% of AMI, a qualifying one-person and four-person household would have an income no greater than $46,500 annually and $66,400 annually, respectively. Affordable rents for a studio and 3- bedroom at 60% of AMI is $1,162 monthly and $1,726 monthly, respectively.

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Keep Cool This Week; West Seattle Bridge Repair; June 29th Open House for Lowman Beach Racket Court Project; COVID 19 Updates; Public Safety & Human Services Committee; Eviction Moratorium Extension; Duwamish River Opportunity Fund

June 25th, 2021

Keep Cool This Week: Tips, Cooling Locations, Drink Water, Identifying Heat Stroke

You’ve probably heard that it’s going to be hot – VERY hot – this weekend and into next week.  That doesn’t happen a lot in Seattle, so here are some tips on keeping cool and safe during extreme heat.

Cooling Locations:  The City of Seattle is opening emergency cooling centers and providing information about ways to beat the heat.  Learn more here.

You can find a list of places to cool down here:

The Senior Center of West Seattle will be open as a cooling center for older adults from Monday through Friday, 8:30am –4:30pm.

Enjoy the A/C at District 1 library branches that are reopening this week.  Find the full list of branch openings and hours here.  Here are the open hours from today through Tuesday…

Delridge Branch, 5423 Delridge Way S.W.

  • Mon 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

High Point Branch, 3411 S.W. Raymond St.

  • Fri 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Sun 12 p.m. – 6 p.m.

South Park Branch, 8604 Eighth Ave. S.

  • Sat 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Mon 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

These branches are also opening, but may not have air conditioning:

Southwest Branch, 9010 35th Ave. S.W.

  • Fri 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Sat 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Tue 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

West Seattle Branch, 2306 42nd Ave. S.W.

  • Tue 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Wading pools, swim parks, and pools are also opening this week – find the full list, including open days and hours, here.

I have asked the Human Services Department to open an emergency shelter in District 1 for people experiencing homelessness to stay cool during the heat wave, given our challenging transportation and mobility issues.  My sincere thanks to Rotary Club of West Seattle, which had volunteered its space, but unfortunately lacks air conditioning.  The Human Services Department is working with Salvation Army to see if an alternate location can be launched in White Center.

Stay Hydrated:  Drinking water is essential to keeping safe during hot weather.  Seattle Parks & Recreation is working throughout the weekend to turn on water fountains at public parks.  Check here for a list of open public hygiene facilities, including comfort stations with running water.

Identifying Heat Stroke:  If you start to feel unwell due to the heat, you may need medical attention.

West Seattle Bridge Repair: WSOT and FHWA Approval and Notice to Proceed

On June 3, both WSOT and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) approved the West Seattle Bridge repair NEPA submittal.  It is a major West Seattle Bridge repair benchmark and delivered well in advance of when it was anticipated.

SDOT submitted the signed National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) form in late May. This NEPA approval helps keep the project on schedule. SDOT reported earlier this month that repairs are on schedule to be completed by mid-June 2022.

The Council has received the Quarter 1 2021 Capital project Watchlist reports.  These are projects that the Council identifies by resolution each year to monitor risk factors including costs and schedule.  There are requirement for quarterly updates for projects on the Watchlist, under legislation I sponsored in 2018. The reports provide a candid assessment of risks to cost and schedule for major projects.

Reduced reporting took place during 2020 due to COVID; regular reporting has now resumed. The Council resolution included the West Seattle Bridge; here’s the West Seattle Bridge 1st Quarter Watchlist report.

The key project risk identified is permitting, a common issue with major projects.  Both environmental and railroad permits are needed for the bridge repair. As reported above, despite this risk, we got good news this month with approval of the required federal and state environmental review for the West Seattle Bridge repair. The best approach the city can take to address permitting risks is to have ongoing, timely coordination and information sharing with permitting agencies.

The Watch List report notes other potential risks, and mitigation plans.

First of all, lower bridge operations could interfere with temporary work plans. The mitigation plan to limit this risk is to use the general contractor/construction management (GC/CM) contracting method, which allows “for contractor input early in the design process so that this can be determined in advance of being onsite, and allow time for actual means and methods to be coordinated with the agencies.” SDOT expects to issue to the repair contractor the “notice to proceed” next week.

Secondly, “Pier 18 ground improvements include jet grouting for seismic improvements,” and permitting is a potential schedule risk. To mitigate this, SDOT notes that “if it presents a risk to the construction start, this work can be removed and performed under a separate contract. It is not required to rehabilitate the high bridge and return traffic.”

For Reconnect West Seattle work, the primary risk is crew capacity, though SDOT has prioritized this program for delivery of the projects within it.

More detail about budgeting is available in the Watch List report. The bridge repair remains on schedule for mid-June completion, with repairs for the lower bridge to be completed by the end of the 3rd quarter of 2022.

Here is the complete set of watchlist reports: Quarter 1 2021 Capital project watchlist reports.

Also included are updates on Ongoing programs and Discrete projects. Here’s link in excel format for both: Discrete and ongoing projects.

June 29th Open House for Lowman Beach Racket Court Project

You are invited to participate in the 3rd virtual open house to discuss this project and potential next steps.  The 2nd virtual open house presented four possible concepts for future improvements to Lowman Beach Park.  Seattle Parks and Recreation reviewed the feedback and have narrowed it down to two concepts that will be discussed at this online meeting.

Learn more about the project and review previous meeting materials here.

Virtual Open House #3 – Tuesday, June 29, 2021 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Meeting Link: https://tinyurl.com/Lowman-Mtg3
Password: a6MWeF3Aff8
Join By Phone: (206) 207-1700
Code: 1872 55 9987

COVID 19 Updates: Protecting Unvaccinated Kids, Respect the Rules of the Room, Find Your Shot

Protecting Kids:  More than 300,000 children in King County are not yet eligible for vaccination.  For anyone with children in their lives they want to keep safe,  here is some guidance from Public Health – Seattle & King County:

  • All adults should continue wearing masks indoors and outdoors in schools and childcare settings.
  • Consider wearing masks in other public, indoor settings when children are present in large numbers.
  • If you are eligible, get vaccinated and help protect others around you who are not eligible, including children under 12.
  • Choose to socialize outside whenever possible.

Respect the Rules of the Room: Fully vaccinated or not, remember it’s important to respect the rules of the room you’re in. Counties and businesses can make their own guidelines about masking, so it will be different depending on where you are.

If you walk into an establishment that requires masks, you will be asked to respect those rules. That’s why we say, “Respect the rules of the room you’re in,” because it’s an easy way to remember that there’s no one size fits all solution for masking across the state.

Find Your Shot: If you still need to get vaccinated, try these:

 

Public Safety & Human Services Committee

On Tuesday, June 22, my Public Safety & Human Services Committee (PSHS) met.  The agenda included:

  • the appointment of Meghann McCann for the Court Administrator, Seattle Municipal Court.
  • a presentation from the Human Services Department on Council’s Investments in Crisis Responses.
  • a briefing and discussion of legislation to limit the use of less lethal weapons.

Appointment of Meghann McCann as Court Administrator

The Seattle Municipal Court (SMC) Administrator – who is appointed by the SMC judges and confirmed by the Council – is responsible for the administrative and operational functions of the Court, and is charged with Court operations, including programs, resources, services, and systems that support the work of the Court.

Presiding Judge Willie Gregory presented Meghann McCann’s appointment to the PSHS committee.  He spoke to her experience designing and delivering training on implicit bias and removing systemic barriers to equity and inclusion.  This experience will serve the guiding principles of the Seattle Municipal Court.   In August 2020, Seattle Municipal Court judges voted to adopt the following three guiding principles for the court:

  1. Engage the community to guide court 2021-Q1-CIP-Monitoring-Report-Ongoing-Programs
  2. Eliminate disproportional impacts upon Black, Indigenous, and People of Color
  3. Collaborate with our stakeholders to transform the system and improve outcomes

Meghann has a long history of public service and most recently worked as the Deputy Director at the Washington State Department of Licensing. You can read more about her background here. Prior to the committee meeting the Council send a packet of questions to Meghann, some of which were discussed during the committee meeting, you can see the questions and answers here. The Public Safety and Human Services Committee unanimously recommended her appointment to the Full Council. The Council will take final action on Monday the 28th.

To read more about the transformation of Seattle Municipal Count under the leadership of Presiding Judge Gregory, see here:  Community Engagement – Courts | seattle.gov

Human Services Department Investments in Crisis Responses

In April, my committee heard an update from the Human Services Department (HSD) on the new Safe & Thriving Division, and the transfer of victim advocates to HSD from the Seattle Police Department.  On Tuesday, HSD made a presentation on Council’s additional investments in crisis response.  You can see the full presentation here, including case studies of people served by these responders.

The Health One program is housed at the Seattle Fire Department and deploys a team of two firefighters and one case manager to respond to low-acuity situations, including non-emergency medical issues and behavioral health crises. Council added more than $475,000 to the 2021 budget to add a third Health One team this year, in addition to the second unit expansion that occurred in April.  The funding is split between HSD and the Seattle Fire Department.

The Crisis Response Unit of the Seattle Police Department (SPD) deploys teams of one officer and one Mental Health Professional (MHP) on calls responding to individuals experiencing both chronic and acute behavioral health issues.  Council transferred the funding for the MHPs from SPD to HSD.

The Mobile Crisis Team operates county-wide, deploying MHPs and Substance Use Disorder Professionals to respond to individuals who are experiencing behavioral health crises. Council added $1 million to 2021 budget for the Mobile Crisis Team, to fill a funding gap of $750,000 and to expand their services to include a new pilot, the Behavior Health Response Team described below.

Less Lethal Weapons Legislation

The committee also heard a briefing on Council Bill 120105, legislation to limit the use of less lethal weapons. Here’s a link to the Central Staff Memo and Presentation.

In February the committee voted to recommend that a draft  bill, that was not formally introduced, be sent to the Court-appointed Monitor and the US Department of Justice for their informal review.

This introduced legislation follows engagement with the US Department of Justice and the Monitor.

The legislation builds off the legislation originally introduced by Councilmember Sawant and unanimously adopted by the Council, the subsequent consensus recommendations from the three accountability bodies, informal feedback from the US Department of Justice and Monitor after the Public Safety and Human Services Committee voted on February 9th to send draft legislation to the Monitor and DOJ for their review.

The bill includes a full ban on acoustic weapons, directed energy weapons, blast balls, ultrasonic cannons and water cannons. Use of Noise-Flash Devices (Flash Bangs) are banned in demonstrations.

The bill conditions the use of pepper spray and pepper ball launchers on when the “risk of serious bodily injury from violent actions outweighs risk of harm to bystanders.” Tear gas is allowed only in very narrow circumstances.

Changes since the February 9 version acted on by the committee are designed to address the issues raised by the DOJ and the various Court decisions. The Council originally adopted legislation in June 2020; in July, 2020 the DOJ sought a restraining order granted by US District Judge Robart, who oversees the Consent Decree.

During conversations about the draft bill, DOJ expressed concern about the potential that restricting the use of certain less-lethal tools in crowd management circumstances could actually lead to officers using higher levels of force, putting both assaultive protestors and the surrounding non-violent protestors at higher risk of harm. Judge Robart expressed similar concerns. DOJ likewise inquired as to whether the draft bill will provide time for relevant SPD officers to be trained to changes in policy, again, to avoid the unwanted impact of having untrained officers resort to higher levels of force than necessary. Judge Robart also raised this issue.

Key updates to the legislation in response to feedback from the DOJ and Monitor include adding a definition of “crowd control” and allowing SPD 60 days to allow for training after the Court approves the legislation (as required by the Consent Decree).

Another update allows for use of pepper ball launchers in, a demonstration or rally, but not for crowd control purposes, and only when the “risk of serious bodily injury from violent actions outweighs the risk of harm to bystanders.” This change is in response to feedback, and also judicial decisions; a District Court ruling allowed use in restricted circumstances, and Judge Robart specifically authorized use of pepper ball launchers in late February, as part of SPD’s court-mandated annual update to use of force policies.   How could we expect the Court to approve policies banning use of pepper ball launchers after SPD just requested and received approval of their use from the Court, just 4 short months ago?

There’s been some confusion, so I want to clarify the process going forward.

The DOJ and the Monitor have not yet conducted their formal review. Under paragraph 177 of the Consent Decree, DOJ and the Monitor conduct their formal review after SPD has proposed policy revisions. The engagement that we conducted with DOJ and the Monitor about the draft bill was an informal process for us to have a dialogue before Council takes legislative action and before the formal Consent Decree review process takes place.

  • If the bill becomes law, this is what would happen next:
  • First, SPD would draft policy revisions within 60 days (provided by Section 4 of the bill)
  • Second, DOJ and the Monitor would review the policy revisions (this is when their formal review under the Consent Decree takes place)
  • Third, the Court would review the policy revisions (also required by the Consent Decree)
  • Fourth, if the Court approves the policy revisions, then the revised policies and the substantive provisions of the bill will take effect (provided by Section 5 of the bill)

Eviction Moratorium Extension

Last Friday Mayor Durkan announced an extension of the residential and commercial eviction moratorium and other COVID 19 related protections. The extension is through September 30th.

While Seattle has a high vaccination rate the City and County are in the process of allocating tens of millions in rental assistance – in total the city has funded roughly $75 million in rental assistance being delivered to tenants, landlords, and affordable housing providers. This is in addition to the State and County resources.

Residential tenants who receive an eviction notice during the moratorium should contact the Renting in Seattle hotline at 206‐684‐5700 or go online to submit a complaint.

Duwamish River Opportunity Fund

The Department of Neighborhoods is looking for proposals to the Duwamish River Opportunity Fund (DROF) to fund community based projects. The total amount of funding available is $250,000.

The proposals should address one or more of the following areas:

  • Safe fishing or fish consumption
  • Access to healthy food
  • Environmental development or restoration
  • Job training or economic development
  • Community development
  • Pedestrian safety
  • Affordable housing strategies
  • Healthy lifestyle
  • Emerging issues (COVID-19, Homelessness, West Seattle Bridge closure)

The deadline to apply is Monday, August 16 by 5pm. There are also opportunities to attend virtual workshops to discuss the application process and requirements of a proposals. There are two workshops coming up in July:

Saturday, July 10 – 10:00am – 11:30am

Tuesday, July 13 – 6:00pm – 7:30pm

To learn more about the DROF and apply, please go here, and if you would like to set up a one-on-one consultation or have questions, call 206-733-9916 or email DROF@seattle.gov.

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Juneteenth is Today, June 19; Good District 1 Food News; COVID-19 Updates; Federal Relief Legislation Advances; ST3 Realignment; West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force; Expanding Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion; Pre-Filing Diversion Report; Independent Contractor Protections; Colman Pool Re-Opens;

June 19th, 2021

Juneteenth is Today, June 19

Juneteenth is today,  Saturday, June 19.  Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. On that date in 1865, Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, to inform the last remaining enslaved persons that they were free, over two years after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, and two months after the surrender of the Confederacy.

Just Thursday, President Biden signed a law making Juneteenth a federal holiday, approved by the Senate and House earlier this week.

Last month Governor Inslee signed House Bill 2016, making June 19 a holiday for state workers.  President Biden and Vice President Harris recognized the efforts of Ms. Opal Lee   who began Opal’s Walk 2 DC in 2016 at age 89. She started with the plan to walk the 1,400 miles from Fort Worth, Texas to Washington, DC in hopes of gaining support from Congress to officially name Juneteenth a national holiday.

The South Seattle Emerald has a Juneteenth 2021 in Seattle: A Guide to Local Events, and here is information about We Out Here 2021, a festival to honor and celebrate Black excellence.

Good District 1 Food News to Share from the Human Service Department (HSD)

We learned this week the results of the 2021 Geographic Specific – Delridge, Georgetown, South Park – Food Bank Services Request for Proposal,

The four agencies receiving $153,307 in funding are Cultivate South Park, St. Vincent de Paul of Seattle/King County, South Park Senior Citizens, and West Seattle Food Bank.

Cultivate South Park, is a coalition of South Park residents dedicated to building community through food and public spaces.  With these funds they can continue their “El Mercadito” program, an outdoor fresh food and produce market. South Park Senior Citizens can continue home deliveries of fresh produce from local farms and hot meals to their clients had proven essential to their clients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The origins of these funds was from a city-wide Food and Nutrition Request For Proposals released in 2019.  During that process, applications from service providers didn’t sufficiently cover the Delridge, Georgetown, and South Park neighborhoods.  To address this gap, HSD withheld a portion of the 2019 RFP funding, amounting to $223,372, in reserve for these neighborhoods. This was intended to allow HSD an opportunity to find agencies that would serve these specific communities and have funding available to do so because of the “geographic gap that emerged when agencies who applied didn’t meet the needs of Delridge, Georgetown, and South Park communities through the original Food and Nutrition RFP. “

Given that there was $223,372 available for needs in Delridge, Georgetown, and South Park and that HSD reported this week that they received four eligible applications for this RFP, requesting a total of $243,048 I have inquired with HSD why it is that they are not making available the balance of the $70,000 as intended.

COVID-19 Updates: Mask Directive Ends 6/29, King County Hits 70%, Where to Get Vaxed

There’s lots of positive news about the pandemic, despite the fact that 1,611 King County neighbors died of Covid in the past year.  It’s important to remember the lives lost too soon, even as we look forward to emerging from the worst of the pandemic.

Vaccination Goal Reached:  On June 15th, King County achieved an important milestone as 70% of residents age 16 and older have completed their vaccine series.

Mask Directive Ends 6/29:  Because we reached this goal, on June 29, the King County mask directive will end. Once the King County mask directive ends, the Washington state mask guidance will be in effect in King County.  And remember: it’s always important to “respect the rules of the room.”  If you’re in a space that requires you to wear a mask, please do!  And until June 29th, everyone should mask up.

Find Your Shot:  If you still need to get vaccinated, try these:


Federal Relief Legislation Advances with Key Investments for Arts Sector and Community Wellbeing

In Tuesday’s  Finance & Housing committee meeting, I joined other committee members to approve a series of amendments to the Seattle Rescue Plan, two bills (Council Bill 120094 and Council Bill 120093) to appropriate $128 million in federal COVID-19 relief from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).  The two bills will go to full Council for final approval on Monday, June 21st.

I’m happy to say that all four of my amendments were approved and incorporated into the legislation.

Relief for the Arts and Culture Sector:  The arts and culture sector has been hit hard by COVID-19.  Washington state employment security data shows that that the arts sector had the highest job loss of any sector in King County at 55%, and the US Census Bureau reports this sector is likely to take longer than most to recover.  More than a third of arts and culture worker have gone hungry at some point during the pandemic, according to Americans for the Arts surveys; and 80% of income-claiming musicians have sold an instrument to make ends meet.  The City’s 2019 Creative Economy Study found that the creative sector drives a full 18% of Seattle’s GDP – four times the national average.  Yet relief has been difficult to come by, especially for BIPOC artists and smaller, community-based creative organizations and businesses.

To ensure that Seattle doesn’t lose its extraordinary community of arts, music and creative workers, who enrich this city with their contributions, I worked with Seattle Arts Commissioners to propose two amendments, both of which were adopted:

Support for Keep Moving Streets including Alki Point:  The original Seattle Rescue Plan included funds to make Stay Healthy Streets permanent, but nothing for Keep Moving Streets such as Alki Point.  Neighbors at Alki Point mobilized and conducted their own survey with more than 1,050 signatures on a petition to make the change permanent.  My office received more than 75 emails in support of making Alki Point a permanent Stay Healthy Street.

I sponsored an amendment that expresses Council’s intent to provide funding in future appropriations to conduct outreach and provide the resources needed to make Keep Moving Streets such as Alki Point permanent.   I expect we will have an opportunity to do so this fall, when the second round of federal relief arrives.

RV Storage and RV Safe Lots:  Many of you have written to me with concerns about services for people living in RVs near your homes or businesses.  While Seattle Public Utilities does offer RV pump-out services and garbage pickup, I have long advocated for the City to establish RV safe lots, where RV owners may safely park their vehicles and access services.

The Seattle Rescue Plan included $500,000 to establish a pilot safe lot program.  My amendment expands the use of that funding, so that the City can safely store RVs for owners who accept referrals into shelter or housing.  Folks living in RVs may worry that their RV could be stolen, impounded or fall into disrepair if they accept a referral into shelter or housing that would require them to leave it behind.  Storing their RV temporarily while they move indoors can help those who fear losing their biggest asset, which has also doubled as a safe and secure home.

In addition, the legislation includes critical investments for which I have advocated, including $1.2 million supporting trauma-informed well-being services that will help Seattle residents struggling to survive the “shadow pandemic,” with restricted movement, social isolation, and economic insecurity increasing our vulnerability to violence and self-harm.

Sound Transit Board Discussions on Potential ST3 Realignment

On Tuesday the Transportation and Utilities Committee received a briefing from Sound Transit about potential “realignment” of projects approved by regional voters in 2016, including light rail to West Seattle.

The origin of the discussions is with reduced revenues related to COVID, and subsequent cost increases due to, for example, property becoming more expensive.

Sound Transit currently estimates the revenue shortfall at $1.5 billion, and cost increases at $6.4 billion, for a total gap of $7.9 billion. This is a significantly smaller gap than the $11.5 billion gap identified earlier this year, as revenue has increased.

One approach Sound Transit is considering to address the shortfall is to delay projects. The presentation at the committee meeting shows three scenarios; the current ST3 plan has light rail opening in West Seattle in 2031, delayed 1 year due to COVID.

For West Seattle, the presentation shows:

  • Scenario 1: to the Alaska Junction by 2035, with a connection to SODO, then a connection to Downtown in 2037
  • Scenario 2: to Delridge by 2035, and the Junction by 2038
  • Scenario 3: to the Junction by 2032, with a connection to SODO through 2038, then a connection to Downtown

I asked Sound Transit staff about these options. Staff noted the ST3 plan includes a 5-year spur line between West Seattle and SODO for the first five years.

I emphasized the need for capacity on trains for riders from West Seattle; if riders have to wait at the  SODO station while full trains go by, it will hinder the success of the system.  This highlights the need for close integration and cooperation between Sound Transit and King County Metro and SDOT.

In response, Sound Transit staff noted expansion of the main line is planned to Tacoma for 2032, and at that time additional trips and train lengths are part of their planning for operations, to increase capacity.

Also included are realignment proposals for other Seattle projects, including Ballard, the Graham Street infill station, and the NE 130th station. The presentation did not include information on cost savings for each potential delay.

I also asked, why make a decision before there is clarity on how much federal funding will be available? We receive new updates regularly from Washington, D.C. about a potential federal infrastructure package.

In addition, the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for West Seattle/Ballard will not be published until the fall. What is the rationale for making a decision on realignment before the public has had the opportunity to weigh in on the Draft EIS?

Sound Transit staff noted all options approved to be analyzed in the Draft EIS for West Seattle and Ballard will be included if the Board takes action.

I also asked what work is being done to reduce other costs, such as administration, operations, maintenance, and value engineering.

The next Sound Transit board meeting is on June 24. The presentation notes potential action to adopt a realignment framework in July.

I believe a decision on adopting a realignment scenario at this time is premature.

In the bigger picture, it’s worth noting Sound Transit will be opening 28 new stations by 2024,starting with three new stations on the Northgate link on October 2nd.


West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force meeting and resources

If you’d like to watch last week’s West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force meeting, below are links to the meeting, as well as to specific sections of the meeting:

West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force Meeting #20

Below is the agenda for the meeting. Clicking on the text will bring you to the time in the meeting video where that topic is discussed.

The next meeting will take place on Wednesday, July 14 at 12 PM (noon).

Below are resources to receive updates from SDOT:

$3M to Expand Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD)

Last fall, LEAD (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion/Let Everyone Advance with Dignity) expanded into District 1 its work diverting low-level criminal offenders away from courts and into services, after extended advocacy from District 1 residents to do so.  LEAD is a proven approach to reducing criminal recidivism that relies on a unique collaboration between law enforcement, advocates, elected officials, treatment providers, and community leaders – all working together to find new ways to solve real problems for individuals who are not well served by the criminal justice system.

Because of the pandemic, the number of referrals to LEAD has soared, while the costs to operate have increased, resulting in LEAD becoming overloaded and unable to accept new referrals.  I sponsored a successful amendment to appropriate $3 million to LEAD, in order to ensure they can continue to accept new referrals and provide services to those already enrolled.  The same legislation, sponsored by Councilmember Lewis, provides $9 million to expand JustCARE, a program that brings supportive housing to folks living unsheltered and engaging in low-level criminal offenses.  LEAD and JustCARE work together closely.

In 2019, Council approved Resolution 31916, which declared our intent to ensure that programs such as LEAD receive sufficient funding to accept all priority referred clients.  Last fall, Council approved my amendment that required LEAD to accept referrals from non-law enforcement sources, such as Business Improvement Areas.  We expect a report this summer from the Human Services Department, which holds the contract with LEAD, with estimates of the number of priority referrals and the funding that would be required to serve them.

City Attorney’s Pre-Filing Diversion 2020 Annual Report

In 2017 the City Attorney’s office began offering a pre-filing diversion program for 18-24 year olds accused of committing misdemeanor crimes such as theft, assault, property destruction, criminal trespass, obstructing an officer, and minor in possession (alcohol). The program is run in collaboration with Choose 180, a non-profit organization dedicated to restorative justice practices.

The City Attorney’s office has released a 2020 Community Report on this program. Instead of being processed through the criminal system, defendants participate in a 4-hour workshop presented by Choose 180. A charge is not filed against participants who successfully complete the workshop.

Nearly half of participants identify as African American/Black:

The report notes the disadvantages participants face on numerous levels. In May of 2019, the City Attorney began offering a post-filing diversion opportunity to address equity concerns given the high number of young people using shelter as their addresses. 25% of participants experienced housing instability during the previous year.

Slightly over half of participants are unemployed:

The report notes of “1,051 young people invited to participate in diversion, 447 young people completed the program, and 481 reports were diverted.”

92% of participants had no new convictions, showing an impressive rate of success:

To address the disadvantages participants face, Choose 180 also provides additional services to participants, “most frequently with mentoring, benefit programs, job readiness and opportunities, and housing.”

The 2018 Seattle Reentry Workgroup Report, written in response to Council Resolution 31637, recommended expansion of pre-filing diversion. The City Attorney subsequently sent the Council recommendations to expand the pre-filing diversion program to include adults 25 and over. Around 80% of charges filed by City Attorney’s Office involve individuals over the age of 25.  As the proposed Criminal Legal System Strategic Plan heard in my committee last week highlighted, “the City does not currently offer a mainstream diversion (non-age restricted) option for those who are not repeatedly cycling through the Criminal Legal System. The Driving While License Suspended program is not age-restricted but it is intended to address only one specific crime.”

I support this expansion and it is included as a work program item in my 2021 committee workplan. I’d intended to propose funds for an Racial Equity Toolkit assessment necessary for the expansion during the Council’s 2020 budget adjustment last summer.  The City Attorney was able to fund this work without a City Council budget adjustment and the Racial Equity Toolkit will likely be completed this summer. I look forward to supporting this expansion in the forthcoming budget season to launch a new program next year.

As recommended in the proposed Criminal Legal System Strategic Plan, as the Council “considers expanding diversion options for this group, it should explore restorative justice-based programing because interventions should be matched to an individual’s risk to reoffend, individuals with a lower risk level would require a lighter touch, which restorative justice conferencing could provide.”

One challenge our court system faces, at multiple levels, is a backlog due to the COVID pandemic. Diversion programs can be both a long-term solution and short-term aid.

Independent Contractor Protections Pass Full Council

On Monday the Council unanimously passed CB 120069, my bill entitling workers classified as independent contractors with pre-contract disclosures, timely payment, and payment disclosures for services valued at $600 or more.

Misclassified workers are among the most vulnerable workers and independent contractors are a quickly growing segment of our workforce. We don’t know how many workers are misclassified, but US Labor Secretary Marty Walsh has said, “in a lot of cases gig workers should be classified as employees.”  So there’s definitely more work to be done in this area. In the meantime, this law will provide independent contractors with labor standards that typical employees take for granted – like simply knowing what the agreement for payment is, an explanation of the basis for payment after receiving it, and an obligation of timely payment.

For me, addressing the effects of misclassification on a growing segment of our workforce is a priority. During my first committee assignment, I had oversight of the Office of Labor Standards (OLS), and the Council passed Resolution 31863 that I sponsored. In part, the resolution requested that the Labor Standards Advisory Committee (LSAC) work with OLS on the issue of misclassification and provide input on effective strategies. In May 2020, the Council received final recommendations from LSAC; however, due to the pandemic we were not able to take them up until early this year.

The passage of this legislation means that all workers will have easy access to information that will empower them to determine if they are being misclassified or not, while at the same time including timely payment and payment disclosures. This is an important step in making sure all Seattle workers are compensated for the work they do with transparency and fairness.

The bill also states that the Council intends to ensure that contract workers are paid Seattle’s minimum wage, while retaining their contractor status, and commits the Council to work on this issue with the goal of passing additional legislation by the end of the year.

As reported in the Seattle Times, “the message to the app companies is: ‘You need to start taking this seriously,’ said Herbold…”

Colman Pool Re-Opens June 19th

For everyone who’s missed our local pools, good news: Colman Pool reopens today, Saturday, June 19th!  Colman will offer lap and family swimming at reduced capacity, with some operational changes to ensure public and staff safety.  Learn more about operations and Colman’s new schedule here.

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West Seattle Bridge Update, June 11; Covid Updates; $30M Available to Fight Displacement; Non-Armed Response to Crisis Calls; Criminal Legal System Strategic Plan; Federal Funding Relief Update; Rental Assistance for Small Landlords; All-Hazards Mitigation Plan

June 11th, 2021

West Seattle Bridge Update, June 11

Construction schedule update

The West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force met on June 10th.

The first key update is that work to complete rehabilitation of the West Seattle Bridge is on track for mid-June, 2022. After that, the bridge will need to be tested before it can be open to traffic.

SDOT has selected Kraemer North America to carry out the rehabilitation of the bridge, and will issue a  Notice to Proceed on pre-construction services will be issued on June 28. The next schedule and design update (60% design) will be in July, working toward beginning construction in November.

Community Workforce Agreement/Priority, Local Hire

The USDOT announced May 19 that it would reinstate and expand a pilot program to allow local hiring provisions in federally-funded projects, which the City of Seattle supports through its Priority Hire and Community Workforce Agreement programs implemented in project contracts. The federal local hire rule is currently in a 30-day public comment period.

This federal program, if established, could allow SDOT to require its bridge contractor to hire construction workers from local, economically distressed ZIP codes in the Seattle region such as those covering the Delridge, Highland Park, South Park, and Georgetown communities, which have also borne the highest impacts of diverted traffic from the bridge closure. The program also prioritizes women, people of color, and registered apprentices. SDOT and the Department of Finance and Administrative Services will be submitting an application to be included in this pilot program.  This application to USDOT to allow local hire does not, in any manner, delay construction of the rehabilitation project.

Low bridge access updates

SDOT has received over 900 applications for authorized uses by restaurant and retail businesses; maritime/industrial businesses; longshoremen, life-saving medical access, and on-call medical providers. Since June 1, they have granted access to

  • 105 lifesaving medical treatment applicants
  • 201 on-call medical workers
  • 116 West Seattle-based restaurant and retail businesses

Applicants must meet criteria, apply, provide a license plate, and receive approval from SDOT before using the low bridge. Applications for July access are due on June 15. You can apply for access at the Spokane Street Swing Bridge (Low Bridge) Access website.

Around 900 daily round trips are being authorized for these users. SDOT estimates that access may need to be restricted or removed beginning in January 2022, when Terminal 5 reopens, and additional freight traffic will resume:

Here’s the approach SDOT will be taking to guide the decision, using data analysis and input from users including number of trips, and specific times of day that are most helpful:

Here’s the schedule for this decision:

Traffic Levels and COVID reopening

Last month Governor Inslee announced that the state is working toward a statewide June 30 reopening. On Wednesday Mayor Durkan announced Seattle became the first major US city to fully vaccinate 70% of residents 12 and older. We’ve been able to accomplish this, working together. It’s an achievement we can be proud of.

With this move toward reopening, however, traffic congestion is increasing. During April and May, traffic volumes were well above last year, during the early months of the pandemic.

In May, citywide traffic volumes were 27% below pre-COVID levels. By comparison, in May 2020, traffic volumes were 57% below pre-COVID levels.

This has clear implications for West Seattle and nearby communities. With the closure of the West Seattle Bridge on March 23, and restrictions on the low bridge, we went from having 21 lanes to cross the Duwamish to having only 12 lanes during daytime hours. The impact of this was lessened by sharply reduced travel levels due to the COVID pandemic that arrived to the Seattle area just a few weeks before the closure of the bridge.

The chart below compares travel times now and a year ago on West Marginal and access to the 1st Avenue South Bridge, and to East Marginal via the lower bridge. The May 2020 numbers in the top chart show some increases compared to the pre-COVID baseline, but generally below 25%.

The May 24-28 2021 chart on the bottom shows a lot more increases over 50% travel time (the red dots) during rush hour, with some well above that:

The return of a third boat on the Fauntleroy ferry routes will likely add to this; I raised this during the meeting, and SDOT staff indicated they are planning additional data collection, and adding  traffic calming measures in areas to the south of the terminal.

Below is the mode share goals SDOT developed last September for rush hour traffic between 6-9 a.m. and 3-7 p.m. and what they see as needed to manage the bridge closure:

In practice, telecommuting has been higher than predicted. While public transit ridership is increasing, the increase is lagging behind increases in car traffic. Those of us who use public transit at least part of the time will each have to assess our comfort level about returning to the use of public transit for commuting as re-opening proceeds, and for many it won’t be an easy choice. I also want to note that many people don’t have alternatives to using their car to commute (child care is but one example).   Paulina Lopez, one of the Chairs of the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force, reminded us yesterday that the impacts of the bridge closure do not only include frustration with travel times, but impacts to people living in detour route neighborhoods, like South Park, Highland Park, and Georgetown, where access to fast transit options are limited.   People living in these neighborhoods have fewer transit options and many are low wage workers who cannot telework or alter their work schedules.  Folks who live in transit-rich neighborhoods can help detour route neighborhoods by taking transit when they can, or commute at different times when possible, or continue to telework if permitted to do so.

Through the West Seattle Bridge Employer Resource Group, SDOT is encouraging large employers to allow their West Seattle employees to continue to work from home until the High Bridge reopens or take other modes than a personal vehicle; they have hired a Travel Options Program consultant to assist with these efforts and will partner with King County Metro to launch a mobility and travel options app in August.

Commute Seattle Puget Sound Area Return to Work Survey

At the Community Task Force Meeting, Commute Seattle shared a survey of employers on anticipated return to work, and travel patterns. They note it is skewed toward white-collar companies.

The survey shows for most companies at least some jobs can be performed remotely (for 20%, all jobs can be performed remotely; for 71%, some jobs can be;  for 9% all jobs must be performed on site).

The survey shows increasing on-site work is expected between June and December, though a majority say they don’t expect to have 100% of workers back on site until 2022:

A PSRC survey of workers, at least 80% want to work remotely at least part of the time.

Employers anticipate lower transit use; more biking and driving alone, and more remote work:

Reconnect West Seattle

SDOT crews have completed repaving SW Alaska Street.  Next steps are curb ramps upgrades and added red bus lanes in the westbound direction.

SDOT crews replaced concrete panels at 32nd and Barton that were in need of repair because they were failing structurally. They are looking into a King County Metro partnership to repair additional concrete panels in the bus layover zones along SW Barton St.

Covid Updates: Get Vaxed Saturday at the South Delridge Farmers Market, In-Language Assistance, D1 Vaccine Providers

First City to Reach 70% Vaccination: Seattle continues to lead the nation in vaccinations. As of June 10, we are the most vaccinated major American city, with nearly 80 percent of Seattle residents having begun the vaccination process, and more than 70 percent fully vaccinated.  But we aren’t done yet!

That’s why the Seattle Fire Department is partnering with African Community Housing & Development to host a pop-up vaccination clinic this Saturday at the South Delridge Farmers Market. Seattle Fire will offer the Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Pfizer vaccines, and the first 50 people vaccinated will get a $10 coupon to the market!

Find Your Shot:  If you can’t make it to the farmers’ market, here are some other places to find vaccination.

  • Enter your zip code to find convenient vaccine shots at Vaccinate WA.
  • Get a shot from one of the City’s vaccination sites – start at Seattle.Gov/Vaccine.
  • Try this map to discover District 1 vaccine providers.

In-Language Assistance:  If you need assistance in a language other than English to find a vaccine, www.Seattle.Gov/Vaccine has information in seven languages.  Or, try calling one of the in-language Vaccine Community Helplines.

Benefits of Vaccination:  There are so many benefits to getting vaccinated.  And getting vaccinated protects our most vulnerable family members, like our elders & those who are pregnant. COVID vaccines are FREE & you don’t need an appointment.


$30M Available to Fight Displacement

The City’s Strategic Investment Fund (SIF) is now accepting proposals for $30 million for land and property acquisition to respond to the disproportionate displacement of BIPOC communities. SIF awards will help groups buy land and buildings for affordable housing, affordable space for business, community centers, cultural spaces, childcare, and open space. More info about SIF and eligibility requirements here: http://bit.ly/OPCD-SIF


Non-Armed Response to Crisis Calls

At Tuesday’s meeting of Council’s Public Safety & Human Services committee, I facilitated a roundtable discussion of the City’s crisis response continuum – with a focus on non-armed responses to low-level crimes and behavioral health crisis.  The roundtable included representatives from LEAD (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion), Crisis Connections, REACH, Downtown Emergency Services Center (DESC), Health One, and the Crisis Response Unit.  The fascinating discussion illuminated the many responses already at work in Seattle every day, as well as the gaps in scale and coordination that must be bridged.  You can watch the roundtable here, starting at 32 minutes in.

The police in cities all over the US have become responsible for more than law enforcement.  Over the years, local government has turned the job of police officer into one that is expected to fix a wide variety of problems, from resolving community disputes, addressing substance abuse disorders, working in schools, de-escalating behavioral health crises, to responding to complaints about outdoor encampments and vehicles where people without homes live.

As covered in the October 2020 article in the Center for American Progress blog on the Community Responder Model:

“These calls to the police can result in unnecessary uses of force, justice system involvement, and other adverse outcomes for civilians, as well as put a strain on public safety resources. The harmful effects from these interactions have not been felt equally by all: Communities of color have disproportionately experienced heavy police presence, high rates of arrest, and harsh enforcement. The growth of policing has also negatively affected people with behavioral health disorders and disabilities, whose medical conditions are too often treated like a crime. According to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, “the mere presence of a law enforcement vehicle, an officer in uniform, and/or a weapon … has the potential to escalate a situation” when a person is in crisis.

The ever-expanding role of the police has had a negative impact on officers themselves, many of whom have attested to having too much on their plate. “Every time 911 receives a call, it’s currently the job of police to respond,” explains retired Maj. Neill Franklin, who served as head of training for the Baltimore Police Department. ‘But many calls don’t involve a crime. And when they do, many of those crimes are minor and related to quality-of-life issues such as homelessness, mental health disorders, or substance misuse. We need to stop expecting police to do social work and start sending the right trained professionals to address low-level crimes and noncriminal calls for service.’

Relying on police to handle low-level calls for service has other long-term consequences. Aggressive enforcement of low-level offenses and unnecessary negative police interactions not only affect residents’ health and well-being but also erode public trust in police. Loss of trust can have serious ramifications for public safety, including a significant reduction in the likelihood that residents will report crime to law enforcement, making it harder for officers to prevent and solve serious crimes.  To build true community safety, we must prioritize police response for life-threatening emergencies, and invest in alternatives for the almost half of 911 calls that don’t require an armed response.”

The Vera Institute of Justice conducted an in-depth analysis of 911 data from five cites—including Seattle – and found that nonemergency incidents were the most frequent type of call for service. The share of low-priority, nonurgent calls was 45% in Seattle. Top-priority, life-threatening emergencies made up the smallest portion of 911 calls, only 18% in Seattle.  The chart below shows the percentage of calls estimated that could be diverted away from 911 to Community Responders and administrative alternatives to 911 response.


Criminal Legal System Strategic Plan

My Public Safety & Human Services committee on Tuesday also heard a presentation on criminal legal system realignment.  As part of the 2019 budget, Council funded a term-limited position in the Legislative Department to write a strategic plan; and a position at the Office of Civil Rights to coordinate stakeholder engagement around realigning the criminal legal system.

The strategic plan, Realigning Seattle’s Criminal Legal System through a Public Health Approach: The intersection between Community wisdom and evidence-based practices, was presented by Council Central Staff member and author Carlos Lugo.  The plan relied on previous rounds of stakeholder engagement to identify “Community Guiding Principles” which served as a foundation for research into theories on the causes of crime as well as best practices and expert recommendations on creating effective alternatives to the traditional CLS that were in line with the Guiding Principles.  You can view the presentation here.

Next, we expect a report containing recommendations from the Community Task Force for Criminal Legal System Realignment, a workgroup comprised of 9 community members who have been impacted by the City’s criminal legal system.  Over the past year, they have met regularly, convened by Central Staff and the Seattle Office for Civil Rights, to provide recommendations for criminal legal system realignment.  I understand the Task Force is in the process of finalizing their report and hope to finish it over the next month or so before presenting it to Council.

Federal Funding Relief Update

Council continued its consideration of two bills (Council Bill 120094 and Council Bill 120093) to appropriate $128 million in federal Covid relief from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).  Last week, Councilmembers received a briefing on the legislation; you can see the presentation and watch the discussion here, starting at the 1:09’ mark.

The current legislation includes critical investments for trauma-informed well-being services that will help Seattle residents struggling to survive the “shadow pandemic,” with restricted movement, social isolation, and economic insecurity increasing our vulnerability to violence and self-harm.

On Tuesday, June 15th, I’ll join fellow members of the Finance & Housing Committee to consider amendments to strengthen the legislation.  You can sign up to receive the agenda here, and sign up for public comment here starting at 7:30am on June 15th.

Rental Assistance for Small Landlords

When Council approved funding for expansion of the rent assistance program I included in the legislation an expectation that landlords should be able to apply too.  Since that time, I have been actively working to ensure that landlords with four or fewer tenants in arrears could initiate an application through King County on behalf of their tenants.  I recently learned that there were technical reasons for why it was still challenging to apply as a landlord. On my request, in order to ensure access for small landlords, the City’s Office of Housing worked with the United Way of King County (UWKC) to set up an alternative access point to specifically support small landlords in Seattle.

As of Monday of this week, small landlords can request assistance here.  UWKC will act as an intermediary to help encourage tenants to complete the application process.

This program is a partnership between the City of Seattle and King County to provide rent and utility relief to households most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Funds for this program were received through the Federal Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA). Eligible families can receive up to 12 months of help (9 months in back rent and 3 months forward).

All-Hazards Mitigation Plan

On Tuesday, in my Public Safety and Human Services Committee, the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) presented the 2021 Seattle All-Hazards Mitigation Plan update, you can see the draft plan here and their presentation here.

The All-Hazards Mitigation Plan is the City’s guiding document for hazard mitigation and a comprehensive strategy for minimizing potential loses and maximizing community resiliency.

Last November OEM released a community survey to gauge community perceptions of hazards and priorities  for the All-Hazards Mitigation Plan:

The All-Hazards Mitigation Plan is updated every five years and includes evolving information on community led investments, adjustments to reflect values, cooperation with other major citywide plans, and additional departmental engagement.

Once the draft plan is approved by the Mayor the Council will take action which will allow for final review by the Washington State Emergency Management Division and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). I expect the Council will consider this plan later this year.

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Gun Violence Awareness Day; New South Delridge Farmers’ Market Starts June 12; Critical Support for Residents in Proposed Seattle Rescue Plan; West Seattle Bridge Detour Route Traffic Volumes/Travel Times; SPD Budget Vote; COVID Update: Last Chance to Get Vaccinated at 2801 SW Thistle; Renters’ Rights Forum – June 8, 5:30pm

June 4th, 2021

Gun Violence Awareness Day Proclamation

June 4 is the observance of the 7th National Gun Violence Awareness Day.  The Wear Orange campaign begins the weekend of June 4th – 6th, 2021.  The Greater Seattle Moms Demand Action joined the City Council meeting this week to receive a proclamation in recognition.

Orange is the color chosen because it is a bright, bold color that demands to be seen, it is what hunters wear in the woods to protect themselves from harm, and it is considered a universal color of caution.  Here’s more of the tragic background on the origins of Wear Orange campaign:

Orange is the color that Hadiya Pendleton’s friends wore in her honor after she was shot and killed in Chicago at the age of 15 – just one week after performing at President Obama’s second inaugural parade in 2013. After her death, her friends started to Wear Orange to raise awareness about gun violence. And what started with a group of friends on the South Side of Chicago has turned into a nationwide movement to honor the 100 lives cut short and the hundreds more injured by gun violence every day – and to demand action.  Orange expresses our collective hope as a nation– hope for a future free from gun violence, where our movie theaters, our concerts, our places of worship, and our schools are free from gun violence.

In Seattle we ended 2020 with 421 reported incidents of shots fired (up from 332 in 2019, an increase of 89 incidents, a 27% increase).

  • We had 301 incidents of shots fired (evidence/eye witness) in 2020 compared to 235 in 2019 (an increase of 66 incidents, a 28% increase)
  • We had 97 non-fatal injury shooting incidents in 2020 compared to 79 in 2019 (an increase of 18 incidents, a 23% increase)
  • We had 23 fatal shooting incidents in 2020 compared to 18 in 2019 (an increase of 5 incidents, a 28% increase)

“Subduing the pandemic, increasing confidence in the police and justice system, and implementing proven anti-violence strategies will be necessary to achieve a durable peace.” — The National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice

On Feb. 1, the commission reported increased violent and property offense rates for 39 cities, including Seattle. The report notes rising crime is cause for alarm but not panic.  The commission reports the pandemic may have placed “individuals under physical, mental, emotional and financial stress” and strained “institutions that respond to violent offenses,” including “community-based groups that productively engage and depend heavily on proactive outreach to at-risk people and places.”

I look forward to an update from the Human Services Department on the Community Safety Capacity Building Request for Proposals soon – representing $12 million in investments to build capacity for community-based groups that do this work to make our communities safer.

Many thanks and much appreciation to Moms Demand Action and the Alliance for Gun Responsibility for their tireless work promoting common sense gun safety laws, like those passed in this year’s State Legislative Session, such as SB 5038, to prohibit the open carry of firearms at public demonstrations local City of Seattle laws adopted to limit gun violence, including requirements to report theft and loss of firearms, taxes on retail sales of firearms and ammunition and regulations for the safe storage of firearms.

New South Delridge Farmers’ Market Starts June 12

I am excited to announce the new monthly farmers’ market in South Delridge opening beginning June 12th.

The farmers’ market will be at Hope Academy, at 9421 18th Avenue SW, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. every second Saturday from June through November.

You can find information about participating vendors, becoming a vendor, volunteering and the schedule at the South Delridge Farmers’ Market website.

A goal of the market is small-business development; the majority of vendors are people of color.

 

Critical Support for Residents in Proposed Seattle Rescue Plan

Today, I joined my fellow Councilmembers in considering legislation appropriating $128 million in federal funding to support Seattle residents in building back better from the Covid pandemic.  I am especially heartened by the investments dedicated to trauma-informed, community well-being services in the Seattle Rescue Plan.

Families are struggling to meet the basic needs of their children and  keep food on the table.  Survivors of violence have been cut off from their network of support and crisis services.  A year of isolation and insecurity has taken its toll on the mental health of us all.  This is the “Shadow Pandemic,” with restricted movement, social isolation, and economic insecurity increasing our vulnerability to violence and self-harm.

The proposed “Seattle Rescue Plan” (Council Bills 120093 and 120094) supports investment in distinct categories, including:

  • $1.5 million to address senior isolation and other impacts of the pandemic on older residents, as part of a $7.4 million investment in seniors expected from the state later this summer. Loneliness and social isolation bring increased risk for chronic health problems including dementia (64% increase), stroke (32% increase), and coronary artery disease (29% increase). Social isolation has also been linked to increases in emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and nursing home placements.  A survey of 897 older people sheltering at home during the pandemic found that the prevalence of elder abuse was approximately one of five—an 83.6% increase compared with prevalence estimates before the pandemic.
  • $600,000 for investments in mental health and behavioral health services for individuals, youth, and families. It has been said that “COVID has been like gasoline poured on an already raging fire.” Depression rates have tripled. At the end of 2020, Public Health recorded 42 overdose deaths in a two-week period, the highest number ever documented in King County.  Research indicates a record 1 in 4 people under 30 seriously contemplated taking their own lives during COVID.
  • $600,000 for programs and services for gender-based violence response An April 2020 survey of local organizations addressing gender-based violence showed 56% experienced an increase in the numbers of survivors seeking help, with the severity and complexity of survivors’ needs increasing.  The number of sexual assault survivors requesting help in Seattle has jumped 25% in the past year, and requests for legal advocacy have jumped 33%.  Meanwhile, federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funding that supports these services has been cut.
  • $225,000 for diaper distribution to address soaring diaper need. Diaper need is even more closely linked to depression in new moms than hunger.  Diapers cost $80 to $100 per month, and 16% of Seattle families struggle to afford them overall, including 42% of BIPOC families.  Federal assistance programs like SNAP and WIC don’t cover them.    The National Diaper Bank Network reports an 86% increase in the number of diapers distributed to children and families during the pandemic, and they projected that nearly 40% more children are being served by their diaper banks.
  • $690,000 to support restaurants preparing free meals to those in need, while supporting local farms and producers and building long-term local supply chain relationships. Food insecurity has more than doubled during the pandemic; 30% of King County households experienced hunger in the past year, and the impact is even larger among communities of color.

The Rescue Plan also includes $25 million in direct cash assistance prioritized for those disproportionately impacted by the COVID public health crisis.  Families and individuals struggling to survive know best how to put cash assistance to use to get through the end of the pandemic.

We must make these critical investments in services that will directly help the families and individuals hit hardest by COVID, so that not just the City but also its residents can build back better.  Over the next two weeks, Councilmembers will consider amendments to the legislation, which will be discussed at the next Finance & Housing committee meeting on June 15th.  You can sign up to receive the agenda here.

West Seattle Bridge Detour Route Traffic Volumes/Travel Times

Here are the most recent traffic volumes and travel times for District 1 and adjacent areas. Traffic volumes continue to be very high at the intersection of Highland Park Way SW and West Marginal Way, and higher than pre-COVID levels on the South Park and Bridge and WSDOT’s First Avenue South Bridge.

 

SPD Budget Vote

On Monday the Council voted on legislation regarding the SPD budget noted in earlier newsletters. The legislation did not pass; below is my statement about the vote on Council Bill 119981:

“The origins of CB 119981 are in response to a late addition to the 2020 budget. This late 2020 budget increase came after, in August 2020, the Council adopted Resolution 31962, which stated in part that ‘The City Council will not support any budget amendments to increase the SPD’s budget to offset overtime expenditures above the funds budgeted in 2020 or 2021.’

“This bill was about accountability, not about a number. I am disappointed that this Council today didn’t vote to support the objective of this bill which was to exercise fiscal oversight of the Seattle Police Department while simultaneously funding important public safety investments in areas where there was broad agreement and heeding the authority of the Consent Decree in these matters where the court is suggesting our actions overlap with Consent Decree obligations.

“We are also missing a chance to fund staffing for public disclosure response positions, as recommended by the City Auditor in his 2015 report on Police or funding for evidence storage in the Department of Finance and Administrative Services as recommended by the Office of the Inspector General.

“Above all, today’s vote is significant in that there will be no accountability over the SPD budget for overtime spending to police protests in 2020. Over the summer and fall budget cycles, the Council listened to people calling for a 50% cut to the SPD budget as well as people who opposed it, and we demonstrated that we can listen to multiple voices in our City and compromise to meet our objective to redefine public safety in our city.  This ability to listen to multiple voices is critical to change moving forward.

“With today’s vote we are allowing both those who don’t want us to exercise oversight of SPD’s budget as well as those who advocate for an all or nothing approach to revert us back to the status quo.”

 

COVID Update:  Last Chance to Get Vaccinated at 2801 SW Thistle

If you’re still looking for your first or second Covid vaccine shot, head to the City-run vaccination site at 2801 SW Thistle by June 9th.  You can make an appointment in advance, or just show up anytime Monday through Saturday between 9am and 4pm.  The last shot will be given at this site at 4pm on June 9th!

After June 9th, you’ll still have plenty of options to get vaccinated – so don’t fear if you miss out at the SW Thistle site!

  • The City will continue to operate its drive-through vaccination site in SoDo throughout the summer. Just head to 3820 6th Ave S, Seattle 98108, open 9:00 am to 5:00 pm from Monday to Saturday.
  • This map has links to authorized vaccine providers in District 1 – click through to discover if they have vaccination available.
  • Or try texting:

All students who need either their first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine are welcome at Seattle Public Schools’ vaccine clinics this June!  Parental consent for minors is required. Learn more at bit.ly/tcsvax.

Governor Jay Inslee just announced a lottery of incentive prizes for vaccinated Washingtonians.  No action needed to be eligible – just get your shots!

 

Renters’ Rights Forum – June 8, 5:30pm

Without additional action to extend the eviction moratorium, at the end of this month, June 30, the eviction moratorium is slated to come to an end. It is crucial to know your rights as a renter and the resources available to assist you.

Five commissions – Immigrant and Refugee Commission, Human Rights Commission, Disability Commission, Women’s Commission, and LGBTQ+ Commission are hosting a forum to help ensure renters understand their rights and options.

ASL interpreters will be available in-person and virtually. In-person attendance is limited, so register here as soon as possible.

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Reflections on the 1 Year Commemoration of the Murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police Officers; Covid Updates – West Seattle Covid Site Changes, Free Rides to Vaccinations, A Shot & A Beer; Office of Police Accountability 2020 Annual report; Stronger Protections for Small Business and Nonprofit Tenants; Proclamation Celebrating Landmark Civil Rights Legislation; 911 Dispatch Transferred from SPD; King County Eviction Prevention and Rental Assistance Program

May 28th, 2021

Reflections on the 1 Year Commemoration of the Murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police Officers

May 25th marked the one year anniversary of the death of George Floyd. I made the following comments at the beginning of the Public Safety and Human Services committee the morning of the 25th:

The Seattle Times ran a column by K. Ward Cummings this week about the risk of the pendulum of support for the Black Lives Matter movement swinging towards the status quo based on the history of that occurring when past generations have called for justice for Black Americans.   He wrote:  “Like freedom, selfishness is a foundation stone of the American experience. Our history is one long pattern of certain people satisfying their selfish needs at the expense of a selected few — beginning with a dispossession of the Indigenous peoples and then the exploitation of enslaved Africans. The observant learn quickly that racial justice in America arrives and recedes like the sweep of a pendulum: out toward justice for a time and then back again toward selfishness.”

The risk of that is seen in our efforts in Seattle this year too.  My SPD budget bill may be one such example.  I’m trying to forge a compromise that sticks to our commitment to hold SPD accountable for 2020 excessive overtime spending to police protests. My bill includes a nearly $3 million dollar reduction in SPD spending and it’s opposed by some on the Council because it’s not the full $5.4 million and opposed by others because it’s any cut at all.  Despite the fact that SPD will have $13 million in salary savings available in its 2021 budget, and additional funds from a proviso release.  To me this is an example of a loss of urgency in City Hall to find ways to reallocate funds from the SPD budget towards other public safety investments and it signals that the pendulum is swinging back to the status quo, away from the unity the Council has had over the last year on our efforts.  Another example is the unraveling of the Council’s unified position from the fall on moving SPD’s Parking Enforcement Officers into the new Community Safety and Communications Center in support of the PEO 100 worker, majority BIPOC, workforce vision of community safety and mostly in response to the Durkan administration’s lobbying.

Last summer we asked the court to maintain the consent decree in the face of outsized police response to mostly peaceful protests, and now we are faced with a consent decree that is a barrier to passage of policy regulating the use of weapons like blast balls and tear gas.  And a consent decree that is a barrier as well to the Council fulfilling our commitment to reduce SPD’s budget to hold them accountable for unauthorized overtime spending beyond the budget authority granted by the Council and using those funds for other pressing public safety needs.

We were asked last summer for the City to withdraw the City’s lawsuit opposing King County’s new inquest process.  We did so and today families still waiting for inquests still don’t have answers.

But we must also recognize our accomplishments.

Here are steps the City Council has taken in the past year:

Policing Alternatives:

  • Expanding Health One to create three response teams to allow firefighters & social workers to respond to more 911 calls and lessen police responses. Adding crisis counseling to support our first responders’ mental health. Health 2 came online in April, and Health 3 will launch in August.
  • The Council created the Community Safety and Communication Center, where just yesterday we transferred our 911 dispatchers out of SPD. This is a big step forward in recalibrating our dispatch efforts to things that are not sworn officers. The Council is still considering the transfer of PEOs from SPD to the CSCC where we’ve seen over 100 PEOs, many of whom have called in to Council meetings to share their workforce-drive vision for taking on work that’s currently done by sworn officers, but should not be. Responding to non-injury collisions for example.
  • Reducing our reliance on incarceration by redirecting $18 million from this year and next in the King County Jail contract to community-based health and housing programs that promote upstream safety and health.
  • Investing $4 million to launch the Seattle Community Safety Initiative: three community safety hubs and wraparound services in the Central District, Southeast and West Seattle
  • Investing $12 million to build the capacity of community-based organizations working to build safety from the ground up in our neighborhoods, including ending violence and reducing crime
  • Moving SPD’s Victim Advocacy Team, for crisis response, to the Human Services Department
  • Restoring $1 million to the Office of Civil Rights for grants to organizations pursuing alternatives to or addressing harms caused by the criminal legal system
  • Transferring Mental Health Professionals on SPD’s Crisis Response Unit to the Human Services Department, to respond to behavioral health crises
  • Investing $1 million to expand neighborhood-based teams of mental health, medical, substance use disorder professionals to respond to individuals experiencing chronic or acute behavioral health issues, particularly people experiencing unsheltered homelessness.
  • Funding a restorative justice pilot program in Seattle Public Schools
  • Adding a crisis counselor to Seattle Fire Department to increase positive interactions with persons in crisis or suffering with mental illness.
  • Allocating $30 million for a Participatory Budget process to increase civic engagement and inform future policy-making, and make investments to address build community safety, based on research and recommendations from the Black Brilliance Project

Policing Accountability

Seattle City Council took these votes to pass these laws and enact this funding, but it was all made possible by the voices and sustained action of thousands of people who made it clear – day after day, in the middle of a pandemic no less – that community safety can not be achieved without a fundamental restructuring of our City’s response to crisis calls, and non-police alternatives to people in crisis.

It is appropriate that, on this day, we hear from our Office of Police Accountability about their work over the past year.  Director Myerberg himself has said that OPA isn’t perfect. In fact, he says changes are needed to keep improving accountability systems both locally and statewide.  Hearing his report, together with the recommendation of the Office of the Inspector General and the Community Police Commission is part of improving an imperfect system of accountability.

I want to honor the life of George Floyd this morning but also recognize the deaths of Shaun Fuhr, Terry Caver, Derek Hayden, and Gregory Taylor at the hands of Seattle police officers over the last year.

Covid Updates – West Seattle Covid Site Changes, Free Rides to Vaccinations, A Shot & A Beer

June 9th is Final Day for Vaccinations at West Seattle Site:  This week, the City announced the West Seattle Community Vaccination Hub at 2801 SW Thistle St. will stop offering vaccinations after Wednesday, June 9th.  If you still need your first or second shot, make an appointment online now or call (206) 684-2489.

District 1 residents have been vaccination all-stars!  This map from Public Health – Seattle & King County shows that across District 1, nearly 80 percent of residents have started the vaccination process.  Nearly 60 percent are fully vaccinated. This trend leads the national average, and West Seattle and South Park have some of the highest vaccination rates in King County.  Thank you to everyone who has sought out vaccination so far!

Meanwhile, demand for vaccination has dropped off significantly at the West Seattle site, after a temporary surge when 12-15 year-olds became newly eligible.

“The West Seattle site has been important to the City’s overall strategy for providing testing and vaccine access in the fight against the pandemic; but now, vaccines are more readily available through pharmacies and medical clinics,” said Seattle Fire Department Acting Captain Brian Wallace. “We have already seen a lot of success at reaching people through pop-ups at sporting events and through business partnerships. This shift allows us to invest more in these outreach efforts.”

SFD Mobile Vaccination Teams (MVT) will focus their efforts in West Seattle on in-school clinics and pop-ups, and vaccinating students and families at eight schools in the West Seattle area as part of the in-school vaccination effort.

Free Rides to Vaccination:  From now until July 4th, you can get a free ride to and from your vaccine appointment from Uber or Lyft.  Just open up your Uber or Lyft app and follow the simple instructions to claim your free ride.

For those who are low-income, a senior, have a disability, or are a veteran, there are several free and low-cost transportation options to vaccine clinics. Just call Hopelink’s Vaccine Helpline at 425-943-6706 (press 5 for language assistance) or visit the Find a Ride website.

A Shot & A Beer:  On Friday, May 28, Seattle Fire Department is bringing the Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Pfizer vaccines directly to District 1’s Good Society Brewery and Future Primitive Brewing.  Along with your vaccination, and Good Society and Future Primitive are offering beer and non-alcoholic drinks on the house to all those vaccinated at the clinic!

Second doses are available with proof of first vaccination, so bring your vaccination card.

Covid Testing Returns to the West Seattle Vaccination Site:  Starting immediately, you can get a free Covid test again at the 2801 SW Thistle Covid site.  Tests are now administered by UW Medicine, with appointments available immediately.  These are self-swab tests where the patient conducts their own test under observation from a health care professional.  Results are provided by UW Medicine within 24-48 hours.

Testing is available regardless of citizenship/immigration status.  COVID-19 tests are free and insurance is not required.  Testing will be available Monday-Saturday from 9am-5:30pm.  Two ways to make an appointment:

  • Click here, then scroll down and click on the West Seattle link, or
  • Call 206-477-3977; in-language services are available over the phone.

Check out KingCounty.gov/Covid/Sites for information about Covid testing, and an updated list of locations offering free Covid tests.

Office of Police Accountability 2020 Annual report

The Office of Police Accountabilty (OPA) has released its 2020 Annual Report. OPA is charged with investigating officer misconduct. The OPA presented the report before the Public Safety and Human Services Committee earlier this week.

At my request OPA Director Myerberg also provided an update about the presence of six police officers in Washington D.C. on January 6:

Myerberg noted the investigation includes in-depth interviews with the involved officers, identification and interview of independent witnesses, collection and review of evidence (e.g., Body Worn Video, In-Car Video, 3rd party video, hotel and meal receipts), and obtaining and reviewing copies of police department reports related to the incident. He noted two supervisors traveled to DC.

In the committee meeting, Myerberg noted the officers involved will be interviewed a second time.

Once the investigation is complete, the investigative file is given to the Director for review and issuance of the case findings. The 180-day deadline for the completion of the investigation is July 5. Myerberg confirmed the investigation is on schedule to meet that deadline.

Below are a few high-level points from the 2020 report.

The report notes a significant number of complaints received between May 29 and June 12 relating to demonstrations. OPA estimates it received at least 19,000 contacts related to protest response during 2020 (13,181 complaints were about a single incident).

OPA opened 773 cases in 2020, classifying 56% of complaints as meriting investigation. Of those, 64% were received from the public. Instead, in past years more than half of investigations were initiated within SPD:

The most common allegations were about professionalism and use of force, with bias-free policing third highest:

Most employees with a complaint had one complaint, though several had more than one:

18% of OPA investigations included one or more sustained finding (some investigations include more than one allegation):

OPA issued sustained findings in 64 cases during 2020, with 114 sustained allegations against 68 employees, with disciplinary action as noted below:

63% of complaints were from the East and West Precincts:

Out of 99 completed investigations arising out of the 2020 protests, OPA has recommended sustaining allegations in 22 of these cases (22%) against a total of 37 SPD employees. Six of the cases involved sustained use-of-force findings; one involved a sustained force reporting violation. Thus far, in 2021, the Chief has overturned 2 of OPA’s findings, notably in the “pink umbrella” case where the OPA sustained finding against the officer for dispersing a crowd and using less lethal force against SPD policy. Between January 1 and March 31, 2021, as a result of OPA’s investigations, the Chief imposed discipline on 34 officers.   A law authored and sponsored by former City Councilmember Nick Licata in 2007, in SMC 3.28.812, requires in those instances when the Chief of Police disagrees with the OPA finding: “If the Chief of Police decides not to follow the OPA’s written recommendation on the disposition of an OPA complaint, the Chief shall make a written statement of the material reasons for the decision.”

The OPA also makes policy recommendations for management actions in the annual report, which are linked here.

Stronger Protections for Small Business and Nonprofit Tenants

On Monday, the City Council approved my legislation, cosponsored by Councilmembers Morales and Lewis, that strengthens tenant protections for small businesses and nonprofits impacted by the pandemic.  With the current commercial eviction moratorium expected to be lifted June 30, it’s essential that small businesses and nonprofits know about these protections, and come to the table to negotiate plans that will protect Seattle’s beloved small businesses and the essential nonprofits who serve their communities.

The legislation ensures that rent installments paid according to a payment plan negotiated between a tenant and landlord cannot be considered “late,” and used against the tenant to break their lease.  This legislation strengthens already-existing protections in Ordinance 126006, which I sponsored and was passed by Council in April 2020 during the early days of the pandemic.  Together, small businesses and nonprofits should expect:

  • Commercial rent control, by way of a moratorium on all rent increases for small businesses and nonprofits, as long as the civil emergency persists
  • Requires lessors to accept late rent paid in installments according to a payment plan during the civil emergency, and for six months following.
    • The parameters of an acceptable payment plan are:
      • Can’t require the small business or nonprofit to pay more than 1/3 of late rent within any month or period
      • All late rent must be repaid within a year of the end of the civil emergency; and
      • No late fees, interest or other charges can be added.

Small business and nonprofit tenants interested in receiving assistance to exercise these protections can contact the City’s Office of Economic Development (OED) to learn more, receive technical assistance, and find a lease amendment toolkit.  Call OED at (206) 684-8090 from Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or email OED at oed@seattle.gov anytime. Translation is available.  OED also maintains lists of resources for businesses and nonprofits impacted by the pandemic.

I hope this legislation encourages small businesses, nonprofits, and their landlords to have productive conversations about what it will take to keep the businesses and nonprofits in place, while making their lessors financially whole.

Proclamation Celebrating Landmark Civil Rights Legislation

On Monday, I was honored to present a proclamation, signed by Councilmembers and the Mayor, declaring Tuesday, May 25th to be Education for All Day in Seattle, to Gene Boes, President and CEO of the Northwest Center.

This proclamation acknowledges the 50th anniversary of landmark legislation passed in Washington in 1971: House Bill 90, commonly referred to as the “Education for All Act.”  Education for All was the first law in the nation to grant kids with disabilities access to public education, and it directly inspired what became the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which Congress passed four years later.

I want to thank Northwest Center for their work on this proclamation, and their work every day to promote the independence of people with disabilities.   In particular, thanks to Mary Sheely, and to NW Center founder Janet Taggert, one of the original authors of Washington’s Education for All law.  To learn more about Education For All, check out this video discussion with its authors, reflecting on 50 years of impact.

911 Dispatch Transferred from SPD

During budget deliberation last Fall the Council unanimously passed Ordinance 126233 which established the new Community Safety and Communications Center (CSCC) and included the plan to move both 911 dispatch and Parking Enforcement Officers (PEOs). On Monday the Council passed CB 120065 which transferred 911 dispatch to the CSCC.

Moving these functions to the CSCC was intended to help reframe how the City provides for community safety and respond to the Council’s interest in exploring expanded duties for the PEOs. The Council’s previous budget actions provided that the CSCC would begin performing the 9-1-1 call center functions by June 1. The legislation also intended PEOs to be moved simultaneously. However, during Full Council on Monday we took action which delayed the PEO move to a future date.

911 dispatch has been called the gatekeeper for the whole criminal justice. 911 training within police departments typically emphasizes a police response.  In 2015, 83 of the 153 unarmed people who were killed by police nationally came into contact with police because of a 911 call. The actions we took on Monday are part of Seattle’s work to develop a crisis response that doesn’t rely on an armed police response.

Next steps will include training and support of 911 dispatch to identify more calls that would benefit from a non-police response, from Seattle Fire Department’s Health 1 and the new (expanded this year) Health 2 unit, or the Mobile Crisis Team program also funded this year to pilot with a law enforcement referral.

King County Eviction Prevention and Rental Assistance Program

King County has announced $145 million in eviction prevention and rental assistance. Applicants will be able to get back rent and has many as three months of future rent for a total of 12 months of assistance. Landlords must agree not to terminate or refuse to renew tenancy until after December 31, 2021, except for special circumstances such as sale of the property or health and safety issues.

If you are a tenant, please go to this link to apply for these funds. If you’re a landlord who’s previously applied for these funds you can check the status here.

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COVID Updates: Mask Up Indoors, Vaccines to Students // SW Delridge Encampment Update // Small Biz & Nonprofit Relief // Earthquake Webinar Series

May 24th, 2021

West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force Update 

Bridge Repair Remains on Schedule for mid-2022 completion 

Last week the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force met for the 19th time since the closure of the West Seattle Bridge.  

The most important update is that the repair of the West Seattle Bridge remains on schedule for mid-2022 completion (June 30th). SDOT staff indicated that currently they could be a few days, or up to a week, ahead of schedule. 

The latest key schedule milestone is the hiring of a contractor to carry out the repairs of the West Seattle Bridge. On Wednesday, SDOT announced the selection o Kraemer North America. They had the best-scoring proposal based on technical merit, total price, and interview. They were selected from three finalists that were interviewed. Their contract will also include work to rehabilitate the Spokane Street (lower) Bridge.  

Hiring the contractor now is an important step in keeping the schedule on track. SDOT is using the GCCM (General Contractor/Construction Manager Manager) construction method. In GCCM, the contractor is involved in the design, to ensure constructability, and prevent unnecessary schedule delays and expensive contract change orders.  

Hiring now allows the construction contractor to participate in design work moving toward the milestone of 60% design in July. The traditional approach is to complete design first, then bid for a contractor. That takes more time.  

The stabilization of the bridge was completed in late 2020, and stopped the growth of cracks on the bridge; it is performing as expected. Design work for a repair has been proceeding since thenthe Technical Advisory Panel expressed confidence a repair could last 30-40 years. 

The next steps for keeping the project on schedule are listed below 

An issue constituents have asked me about is the visibility of repairs to the bridge.  

Most repairs will be done inside the girders, to strengthen the bridge with high-tension steel cables. This prevents cracking of the bridge. 10 miles of taut steel cable went installed inside the bridge during stabilization. 

During stabilization work, a platform was built below the bridge that allowed work crews to safety access the exterior of the bridge to add carbon fiber wrapping and epoxy. The platform was removed after stabilization was completed.  

Another question that comes up is whether the bridge can be opened for use by emergency vehicles, or other traffic.  

SDOT notes each end of the bridge is locked for safety, and while stabilized, the bridge is not at a level where it can accommodate traffic without risking additional cracking:  

Low bridge access update 

SDOT has now approved 60 users to access the lower bridge who are  receiving lifesaving medical treatments. They are also processing over 600 applications for bridge use. You can apply here if you are an eligible user:  

  • On-call medical workers (traveling to and from an on-call work shift only) 
  • All West Seattle restaurants and retail businesses (limited to urgent trips to pick-up equipment or supplies) 
  • Rideshare vehicles (vans, shuttles or official carpools with a state-issued rideshare license plate; This does NOT include Uber/Lyft) 
  • People traveling to and from lifesaving medical treatments (authorization from your medical provider required) via West Seattle; includes driving to treatments via the Fauntleroy Ferry. 

If you need assistance in completing the application or have questions, you can call (206) 400-7511 and leave a voicemail or email WestSeattleBridge@seattle.gov. Provide your name, contact info and language need and someone will return your call. 

Up to 10 roundtrips per month are available to qualifying businesses:  

Additional information about low bridge access is below:  

 

SDOT is monitoring relevant data, including bridge volumes, number of violations, and issues such as how long it takes traffic flow to recover from bridge openings. Daily and monthly permitted trips could be adjusted upwards or downwards based on use of the low bridge.  

Below is a comparison of monthly traffic volumes citywide compared to pre-COVID levels. At the beginning of  the pandemic in Seattle, the left of the chart shows March and April 2020 with a significant drop compared to 2019. 

At the right of the chart, monthly volumes are compared to 2019, since 2020 volumes are within the COVID period. April 2021 volumes were 28% lower than 2019, compared to April 2020 volumes, which were 60% below 2019 levels.  

It’s likely this trend will continue as vaccinations proceed and more re-opening takes place. KC Metro ridership reports lag compared to traffic data, but ridership is increasing as well.  

Work to implement traffic and pedestrian safety Home Zone projects continues in Highland Park, South Park and Georgetown: 

 

 

Here’s a link to the most recent traffic and travel time data, through the week ending May 14. Traffic volumes remain very high at the Highland Park Way and West Marginal Way intersection compared to pre-COVID levels.  

(Note: the Spokane St bridge was out of service on Wednesday, 5/12 from approximately 3:30-5:30 AM. This likely accounts for the dip in total daily bridge volumes for that day). 

 

Covid UpdatesMask Up IndoorsHow to Get Vaccinated; In-Language Vaccine Helplines; Vaccinations for Schoolkids 

Mask Up Indoors in King County  On Thursday, King County Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin issued a new Directive concerning masks.  Everyone age 5 and over – regardless of vaccination status –  must wear masks while inside places that are open to the public, such as grocery stores and restaurants:   

Everyone 5-years of age and older in King County should continue to wear a face covering within indoor public spaces (including retail, grocery stores, government buildings, and other businesses and places where members of the public can enter freely), unless a state-approved method is used to assure that all people allowed inside have been fully vaccinated. Everyone in correctional facilities, homeless shelters, schools, public transportation, and certain health care settings, including doctor’s offices, long-term care, and hospitals must also wear a well-fitted mask. 

You can read Dr. Duchin’s answers to frequent questions about the Directive here.   

The Directive will remain in effect until 70% or more of King County residents 16 years of age and older are fully vaccinated – expected in late June.   

Last week, Governor Inslee announced we are working toward a statewide reopening date of June 30th.  It could be even earlier If 70% or more of Washingtonians over the age of 16 initiate vaccination before then.  Let’s mask up and vaccinate – the end is in sight! 

How to Get Vaccinated:  Vaccination is now available for everyone 12 years old and over!  If you’re still looking for your first or second dose, try this: 

You can also visit the City’s mass vaccination sites – including the West Seattle site at 2801 SW Thistle – with or without an appointment.  Learn more at www.Seattle.gov/Vaccine, or call the Customer Service Bureau at (206) 684-2489. 

In-Language Vaccine Helplines:  Community-based organizations are operating COVID-19 Vaccine Community Helplines for immigrant and refugee residents who are limited English proficient and/or have limited access to the Internet.  Available languages:  

Amharic  |  አምሃሪ  Arabic  |  عربى  Cantonese Chinese  |  廣東話 
Korean  |  한국어  Mandarin Chinese  |  普通话  Somali  |  Soomaali 
Spanish  |  Español  Tigrinya  |  ትግርኛ  Vietnamese  |  Tiếng Việt 

 

Vaccines for Schoolkids:  Seattle Fire Department is offering vaccination clinics for schoolkids, with a goal of vaccinating all students 12 and older before the school year ends:  

  • If your student attends an SPS middle or high school, or a charter school, SFD will offer in-school vaccinations during the school week. More information here. 
  • If your student attends a private school, they can attend pop-up vaccination clinics SFD is hosting at private schools across Seattle. More information here   
  • Next Wednesday, May 26th, they’ll be in District 1 at Holy Family Bilingual Catholic School (9615 20th Ave SW, WA 98106) from 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.  Learn more here. 
  • If neither of the above opportunities work for your family, you can walk into our family-focused clinics at the Lumen Field Event Center tomorrow, May 19, and Saturday, May 22, or the family-focused pop-up clinic at Franklin High School on May 22. More information here. 


SW Delridge Encampment Update 

Over the past several months, I have been in communication with a number of concerned residents, business owners, and workers about an encampment obstructing the sidewalks on SW Delridge near 16th.  As of this week, most residents have accepted referrals into safe shelters from CoLEAD, or agreed to move their tents.   SPU has worked to clear away debris and arrange for the sidewalk to be cleaned.   

This positive outcome is the result of many people and teams working together, including homeless outreach workers with REACH, who provided survival items, referrals to services, and built relationships with encampment residents and local business owners; Seattle Public Utilities, who provided weekly trash collection services at my request starting in early March; NeighborCare, who sent nurses to the site; local business owners, who provided meals, purchased sharps disposal containers and contracted for augmented garbage pick up at their own expense, were willing to work towards a positive outcome for encampment residents as well as address their own concerns; and HOPE team-contracted outreach workers, who provided several shelter referrals early on.  I deeply appreciate all their efforts. 

Though the City had posted the encampment for removal, as reported by PublicCola last week, a “new outbreak of an unspecified gastrointestinal illness temporarily halted a planned sweep at a homeless encampment near White Center this week, after King County Public Health recommended strongly against uprooting people with severe symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting. 

In my own inquiries about the outcomes of city contracted outreach providers working with the City’s HOPE team, I also received concerning reports that there is a lack of clear communication from the City’s HOPE Team about shelter referrals, and it is difficult to get encampment residents prioritized for safe shelter.  The key to successful outreach is the ability to provide safe shelter referrals and build relationships and trust over time.   

In light of these problems placing people prioritized for help by outreach workers into indoor alternatives that the City gatekeeps, and in the hope of avoiding an encampment removal when people had nowhere to go, I began to work with CoLEAD, bringing a new level of resources to the encampment residents reportedly not previously available with HOPE team engagement.  CoLEAD provides intensive outreach, services, and housing to people living unsheltered who have historically been contacted by police and often arrested and taken to jail for crimes of poverty and criminalization of substance use and homelessness.   

 The key to successful outreach is the ability to build relationships and trust and provide safe shelter referrals.  The HOPE team is a new approach to encampment management that I negotiated last year along with Councilmembers Lewis and Morales; the Mayor’s Office; and homelessness outreach providers, which focuses on problem-solving in order to achieve:  

  • fewer encampment removals;  
  • more voluntary compliance and good neighbor activities to address hazards and concerns;  
  • improved health and safety for people living in encampments, their housed neighbors, and people who work nearby.  

This example of the HOPE team South Delridge encampment demonstrates that we need to ensure that City-contracted outreach workers who are paired with the City’s HOPE team have access to precious housing resources controlled by the City.  I will continue my work with City departments to ensure that shelter referral priorities can be better executed.    

Council Adopts Bridge/Transportation Infrastructure Amendments 

Last week the City Council approved legislation that directs SDOT to provide the Council with a list of transportation projects by September 30 that could be funded by $100 million in bond financing in 2022, with a minimum of 75% devoted to bridge maintenance or repair. Funding would be provided by the existing $20 vehicle license fee.  

This follows from the City Auditor’s report on the condition of Seattle’s bridges released in September, which noted the inadequacy of maintenance funding for the long-term health of the bridges we depend on in Seattle.  

On April 23, I joined Councilmembers Pedersen, Lewis and Mosqueda in co-sponsoring a proposal for $100 million in bonds for multimodal bridges and other transportation infrastructure needs by leveraging the new $20 vehicle license fee, with at least 75% dedicated to bridges. The amendment was adopted in the Transportation and Utilities Committee, with Councilmember Juarez joining as a co-sponsor.  

This schedule allows for consideration during the 2022 budget process, working toward a 2022 bond sale. The Council generally approves a bond sale in November for the following year. Last year the Council approved $212 million in bonds for 2021 that included $100 million for the West Seattle Bridge.   

At the May 5 committee meeting an amendment from Councilmember Strauss was adopted. The above language remains (i.e. at least 75% toward bridges), with an additional sentence  noting the project list should include schedule and when bonds would be necessary.   

The Strauss amendment removed a non-enforceable recital expressing intent to dedicate 75% to bridge funding. While that isn’t ideal, recitals are statements of intent only. By contrast, the direction to SDOT to provide a project list at least  75% for bridge funding is not optional—it is clear direction, and needed for a bond sale.  

That amendment resulted in a unanimous Council vote in support of the amendment.  An earlier proposal I co-sponsored to dedicate vehicle license funds to bridge maintenance was voted down by a 5-4 vote, so passage wasn’t 100% assured. Getting the list for consideration during the budget process that begins in September is what’s most critical.  

A bond sale requires three things: 1) a funding source; 2) a project list and 3) a Council vote in support. . 

Last year’s bond sale legislation, includes a project list. The fiscal note includes the projects and funding sources; both are needed for bond sales. Projects identified in the bond sale legislation would need to be incorporated into the 2022 city budget—which requires six votes to pass.  

The Council will be receiving a project list, and has identified funding, so everything needed for a bond sale that was in place from the previous amendment remains in place heading in to the budget process.  My commitment to a bond sale remains. 

In 2021, recommendations of the stakeholder committee would be funded, with resources going to  Sidewalk Safety Repair, Vision Zero, ADA spot improvements, and Major Maintenance of Capital Structures. 

SPD Budget Bill 

The Public Safety and Human Services Committee voted on the Seattle Police Department budget bill described in earlier newsletters on March 26 and February 26 

After the committee passed amendments on March 23rd, further action was delayed, as the Monitor overseeing the Consent Decree with the US Department of Justice had asked SPD a series of questions. After SPD replied, the Monitor expressed interest in ensuring funding would be available for training and patrol, and in funding levels for SPD.  

Consequently, I proposed an additional amendment that was adopted by a 3-2 vote at the May 11 committee meeting. It recognizes salary savings and funds from released provisos can be used for patrol and training, items the Monitor identified as important. The amendment releases an additional $2.5 million in funding to SPD, for a total of $7.5 million from funds that are held in provisos that SPD otherwise would not be authorized to spend. Provisos are budget actions the Council takes that prohibit spending by a department (but don’t technically remove the funds from the department budget). Council Central Staff estimates potential salary savings from vacant positions, could be as high as $13 million. 

From amendments adopted on March 23rd, the bill would reduce the SPD budget by $2.8 million, directing $800,000 toward police-related spending such as evidence storage (as recommended by the Inspector General), public disclosure (as recommended by City Auditor), and crisis responders in the Human Services Department.  It also directs $2 million to the participatory budgeting process to fund recommended priorities including crisis response alternatives, violence interruption, harm reduction proposals, and community-based emergency services. 

Additional amendments on March 23rd  funded $5.4 million in priorities SPD identified to ameliorate in the staffing shortage in a March 9 presentation I invited them to give to the committee. Funds would go for civilian positions, such as Community Service Officers and Crime Prevention Coordinators, and technology investments.  

The main bill was voted out of committee, though with two “yes” votes and three “no” votes. As such it goes to the Full Council with a “do not pass” recommendation.  

If this bill is not approved by the Council, the result will be that $7.5 million in 2021 funds will be  unavailable to SPD; the additional spending to ameliorate the officer staffing shortage will not be approved, funding to address the City Auditor’s recommendations relating to SPD public disclosure requests, and funding to address the Office of the Inspector General’s recommendations for additional evidence storage capacity will not be authorized, and no new additional funds will be authorized for participatory budgeting.  

I have shared the details of the legislation with the Monitor. 

May is Older Americans Month and Better Hearing Month 

Last Friday, I was honored to present two proclamations to members of the King County Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services, declaring May to be Older Americans Month and Better Hearing Month.   

I’ve been particularly concerned about the unique impact of the coronavirus on older residents over the past year.  I’ve heard from those who are struggling with the isolation required to combat the pandemic, and the mental health impacts of that isolation and fear.  Overnight, so much of our world moved online – from finding a vaccine appointment to checking out library items to Zoom visits with family and friends.  That’s not easy to access for many older residents, for a whole host of reasons.   It takes special care to make sure that older residents are not left out and left behind during the pandemic.   

Thanks to the King County Advisory Council, and to everyone who works to call attention to hearing loss, and to make our community a better place for older residents.  You can learn more about hearing loss here.   

Small Business & Nonprofit Relief:  Culturally Relevant Technical Assistance; May 31st Deadline for PPP; $10M for Arts and Nonprofits 

Culturally Relevant Technical Assistance:  Is your small business or nonprofit looking for help 

  • Finding and applying for resources, whether you are open or closed? 
  • Accessing translation assistance? 
  • Navigating local, state and federal resources? 
  • Planning for recovery and safe re-opening? 

If “yes”, please click here to find a Commerce Small Business Resiliency Network member organization for free assistance.  They are trusted community messengers who provide culturally relevant assistance for business owners and organizations affected by COVID-19. 

 

PPP Application Deadline May 31:  The federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) offers forgivable loans to small businesses impacted by COVID. The application deadline is May 31. Need help applying? Contact the Office of Economic Development at 206-684-8090 or OED@seattle.gov. Bilingual assistance is available! 

Learn about the PPP and other state and federal relief programs for small businesses and nonprofits here.   

$10M for Arts & Nonprofits:  Apply now for $10 million in grants to help community organizations across the state that have been impacted by the pandemic. The Nonprofit Community Relief grant program focuses on arts, culture, science and heritage nonprofits, as well as organizations whose primary mission is to serve veterans, neighborhood organizations and sports and recreation programs for adults and/or children.  Learn more and apply here  

Earthquake Response Webinar Series 

The Seattle Office of Emergency Management (OEM) is hosting a series of webinars focused on the City’s earthquake response plans and has asked that this information be shared.  

The first webinar will be held on May 27and will be a high level overview of how the City prioritizes and coordinates during response to a major earthquake. The four subsequent webinars will occur from June through September and will dive deeper into individual areas of the response including firefighting, mass care, and utility and transportation restoration. Each webinar will also highlight how individual and neighborhood preparedness efforts tie into the overall response.  

All webinars are open to the public and will include captioning in Traditional and Simplified Chinese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese. All sessions will include a Q&A session at the end, and will be recorded and posted to the Seattle OEM YouTube channelRegistration is not required, but participants can register to receive a confirmation email, calendar appointment, and event reminders. View the full schedule on OEM’s events calendar or see session information below. 

 

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COVID –19 Updates: No Vaccine Appointment Needed; South Park Plaza Redesign Survey; Immigrant Relief Fund Applications Open Until May 15; Apply for a Federal Restaurant Revitalization Award; Rental Assistance for Landlords; Public Hearing on Federal ARPA Funds; SPU Strategic Business Plan; Alki Point Stay Healthy Street; Reconnect West Seattle Quarterly Report

May 7th, 2021

COVID –19 Updates: No Vaccine Appointment Needed; Vaccination Progress; Free Transportation for Vaccines

No Appointment Needed:  It’s easier than ever to get vaccinated against COVID-19.  Now you can just walk up – no appointment needed – at the West Seattle, Rainier Beach, or Lumen Field vaccination sites runs by the City.  The address and hours of operation at these three City vaccination sites are as follows:

  • West Seattle Vaccination Hub: 2801 SW Thistle St., Seattle, WA 98126; Monday – Saturday, 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
  • Lumen Field Event Center: 330 S Royal Brougham Way, Seattle, WA 98134; Wednesdays and Saturdays, 11:15 a.m. – 5:45 p.m.
  • Rainier Beach Vaccination Hub: 8702 Seward Park Ave S, Seattle, WA 98118; Monday – Saturday, 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

If you prefer to schedule ahead of time, just click here to book an appointment at the City’s four vaccination sites, including in West Seattle.  Both first and second doses are available – even if you got your first shot somewhere else.

Safeway, CVS, and Albertsons pharmacies announced this week that they will provide vaccination without appointments as well.  If you’d like to be vaccinated at another District 1 location, it might be worth asking if they will provide walk-in vaccination.  Find locations and links to more information at the map below.

Vaccine Progress:  As of April 30, an estimated 68 percent of Seattle residents had begun the vaccination process, and 41 percent are fully vaccinated.  Citywide, 97% of people who get their initial vaccine dose return for their second dose!  District 1 residents are keeping pace, with between 96-97% of residents completing their vaccinations.  Thanks, everyone!

Free Transportation to Vaccine Clinics: For those who are low-income, a senior, have a disability, or are a veteran, there are several free and low-cost transportation options to vaccine clinics. Just call Hopelink’s Vaccine Helpline at 425-943-6706 (press 5 for language assistance) or visit the Find a Ride website.

South Park Plaza Redesign Survey

Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) invites the community to participate in the future of South Park Plaza site by reviewing the schematic design and taking this short survey.

To participate in planning and incorporating cultural elements in the design, take the survey and sign up for a focus group. For more information about the project please visit here.   For additional questions or if you need an interpreter or accommodations please contact Jay Rood at Jay.rood@seattle.gov.

Immigrant Relief Fund Applications Open Until May 15

If you’re an immigrant experiencing hard times because of COVID-19, and you aren’t eligible for federal financial relief or unemployment insurance, this fund is for you.  Apply for the Washington COVID-19 Immigrant Relief Fund and receive a $1,000 one-time direct payment.  Apply by May 15!

Si usted es inmigrante y está atravesando un momento difícil causado por el Coronavirus, y no puede recibir los fondos federales de asistencia financiera o seguro por desempleo por su estado migratorio, este fondo es para usted.  Presente una solicitud al Fondo de Asistencia debido al Coronavirus para Inmigrantes de Washington, y podría recibir un pago único y directo de $1,000 por persona que califique.  ¡Presenta tu aplicación antes del 15 de mayo!

  • Applications are available in Spanish, English, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean here.
  • Interpreters are available in many languages to help you over the phone at 1-844-724-3737 (open every day, 6AM-9PM).
  • You can get help applying from these organizations in many languages.
  • Learn more at immigrantreliefwa.org


Apply for a Federal Restaurant Revitalization Award

The United States Small Business Administration is opening up applications to eligible businesses for up to $5 million in funding per location, not to exceed $10 million total, from the Restaurant Revitilization Fund (RRF).  The City of Seattle’s Office of Economic Development (OED) encourages all eligible applicants to submit applications as soon as the portal opens.

RRF applications must be submitted in English or Spanish. For more information, visit sba.gov/restaurants or this SBA announcement.  Para obtener información en español, visite sba.gov/restaurantes.

OED will also provide technical assistance including accounting consultation for microbusinesses. Email OED at oed@seattle.gov or call 206-684-8090 for more information. Bilingual assistance is available in Amharic, Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean, Somali, Spanish, Thai, Tigrinya and Vietnamese.

Rental Assistance for Landlords

Landlords with at least five tenants behind on rent can now enroll in King County’s Eviction Prevention and Rental Assistance Program.  With $145 million in funding from the Federal Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA), this program will help landlords and tenants in King County who are struggling with overdue rent.  Landlords can learn more and enroll here.

If you are a tenant who needs help paying rent, sign up to receive notifications from the County.  The tenant program is scheduled to open for applications on May 17th.

Public Hearing on Federal ARPA Funds

On May 4th, I joined my colleagues on the Finance & Housing Committee for a public hearing on the best use of $119 million City expects to relieve in the first round of funds from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).  I appreciate the many individuals who took the time to sign up and advocate for the best way to provide relief and support with these funds.

Sarah Cody Roth of District 1’s own Westside Baby, and Ella McRae of Seattle Housing Authority, provided powerful testimony about the increasing need for diapers that is forcing new parents into agonizing choices between their child staying in wet diapers or paying for food – and pointed out that federal income supports for low income families can’t be used to purchase diapers.  Ella said a Housing Authority resident told her: “We need diapers more than we need food.”

Members of the public also advocated for resources for survivors of gender-based violence, for people struggling to survive unsheltered, for small businesses hit hard by the pandemic, and to invest in Black communities.  Thank you to everyone who participated.

Council will discuss specific spending proposals for ARPA dollars at the May 18th Finance & Housing committee meeting.  You can sign up to receive the agenda here.

SPU Strategic Business Plan

At Wednesday’s Transportation and Utility Committee meeting we voted to support the new Seattle Public Utility (SPU) Strategic Business Plan (SBP). The SBP is a six-year outlook and guiding document for the utility.  It is adjusted every three years to reflect the most accurate information about projects and costs and the utility rates needed to support those project costs. The process begins with a nine member, all volunteer Customer Review Panel (CRP). They are appointed to act as the voice of the utility rate paying customers during the planning and development stages of the SBP.

This update to the SBP was discussed twice in committee last month, and is now headed to Full Council on Monday, May 10.

The proposed rate path in this SBP is a full precent lower than the previously adopted plan. The increase of 4.2% includes inflation which is anticipated at 2.6%; however, there are increasing operational and capital expenses such as labor and healthcare costs for SPU workers, and increasing prices for concrete and lumber respectively. Additionally, there are contractual obligations with King County for sewage treatment. These costs are rising quickly as well and contribute to the overall 4.2% projected increase over the next six years.

I would encourage you, if you are interested in more detail, to see the presentations from SPU, the CRP, and our own Central Staff.

Alki Point Stay Healthy Street

Many constituents have reached out to me regarding the Alki Point Keep it Moving Street.  I want to share more broadly the work that has been done.

“Keep it Moving Streets” are streets selected to increase outdoor exercise opportunities for people to bike and walk in the road for areas with limited open space options, low car ownership, and routes connecting people to essential services and food take out. Local traffic is still allowed on the streets.

The vast majority of people contacting me are very interested in making the Alki Keep it Moving Street a permanent “Stay Healthy Street” which would result in roads being closed to through traffic. Neighbors have surveyed users of the Keep it Moving Street over the last few months. You can see some of their results in the graph below.

Additionally, released as part of the SDOT Stay Healthy Streets Online Survey most people used the Alki Point Keep it Moving Street than any other.

The Seattle Department of Transportation is considering five possible outcomes for Alki Point:

  1. Return to previous street operation
  2. Convert to a neighborhood greenway, changes would include:
    1. Stop signs at intersecting streets will be added where they currently operate as neighborhood yield intersections (64th Ave SW, Point Pl SW, 64th Pl SW, 64th Ave SW)
    2. Additional traffic calming so that spacing of speed humps and raised crosswalks is approximately every 300 feet. Approximately 3-4 speed humps or speed cushions would be added.
    3. Connectivity to the citywide bicycle network would be enhanced through the addition of sharrow pavement markings and wayfinding signs.
  3. Upgrade to a permanent Stay Healthy Street, changes would include:
    1. All of the neighborhood greenway enhancements listed above
    2. Street Closed and Stay Healthy Street signs at every intersection with durable materials
  4. Upgrade neighborhood greenway with additional space for walking adjacent to beachside curb.
    1. All of the neighborhood greenway enhancements listed above
    2. Removal of parking and delineation (tuff curb and post) of additional space for walking adjacent to the existing sidewalk adjacent to the beach
    3. Increased space for walking would be adjacent to park beach only, not continuous where buildings are between roadway and beach.
  5. Convert street to operate as one-way northbound for vehicles, providing shared walking and biking space adjacent to beachside sidewalk
    1. Delineation of a continuous shared walking and biking space adjacent to the existing beachside curb (8’ to 15’ wide)
    2. Continuous shared walking and biking space would connect from the existing Alki Trail to the end of the Alki Point Keep Moving Street.
    3. Adjustment of the roadway to operate as one way northbound for vehicles, preserving parking primarily adjacent to east/south curbs.

SDOT Director Zimbabwe has agreed to maintain the Keep it Moving Street designation for Alki Point until the community engagement process concludes and there is a final determination regarding a permanent configuration. This commitment was further renewed by Director Zimbabwe in a recent email where he confirmed that “Alki Point Keep Moving Street will be maintained over the summer.”

Reconnect West Seattle Quarterly Report

SDOT recently released the a Reconnect WS quarterly update report for the first quarter of 2021. Reconnect West Seattle projects are designed to ameliorate the closure of the West Seattle Bridge. The report includes updates on recent work completed, upcoming work, how SDOT is tracking goals, and a status report on each of the 64 identified projects (the “Home Zones” in Highland Park, South Park and Georgetown are listed as one project each, though they all include  numerous implementation projects).

Here’s SDOT’s blog post update; here’s a link to the report.

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