2022 Budget Meeting Schedule/Process // Standing with the Duwamish to Restore Federal Acknowledgement // West Seattle Bridge Priority Hire // Apply for Neighborhood Economic Recovery Fund Grants of up to $100,000 // Seattle Parks Survey // Virtual Office Hours

September 13th, 2021

2022 Budget Meeting Schedule/Process 

Consideration of the 2022 budget will begin in a few weeks. The City Council will meet as the Select Budget Committee from September 27 through November 22 to consider and adopt a 2022 budget for the City of Seattle.  Other Council committee meetings will be suspended during this time. 

“Select” signifies that it is not a regular committee, and that all nine Councilmembers are members. 

Here’s the schedule for meetings, and a quick description of what occurs during each of the different stages of budget deliberations: 

September 27: Mayor delivers proposed 2022 budget to the Council 

September 29-October 1; Department Presentations: the City Budget Office and Executive departments present  the Mayor’s proposals to the Select Budget Committee, in particular any significant program or staffing additions, changes or reductions compared to the 2021 budget 

October 12:  public hearing at 5:30 p.m. 

October 13-15; Issue Identification: Council Central Staff will identify potential budget issues and policy options about the proposed budget; Councilmembers can share potential amendment ideas as well 

October 26-28; Proposed Budget Amendments: Councilmembers will discuss their proposed amendments to the Proposed Budget; Councilmembers may indicate support for proposed amendments.  

Amendments require three sponsors (the member proposing the amendment, and two additional Councilmembers). The deadline for Councilmembers to propose amendments is October 18 at noon.  

November 10: public hearing at 5:30 p.m. 

November 12: Balancing package: Chair Mosqueda will present her proposed balancing package to the committee 

November 18-19 Balancing Package & Amendments: Councilmember amendments to the proposed balancing package will be considered.  They must be self-balancing.   Self-balancing means that a budget add will likely require a cut of another appropriation. 

The deadline for amendments is November 12 at noon.  

The meeting on November 18 will also include a public hearing from 9:30 to 11 a.m.  I appreciate that Chair Mosqueda has scheduled a public hearing to occur after she proposes a balancing package. 

November 22; Budget Committee and Full Council adoption of 2022 budget 

The Council Committee and Agendas webpage lists agendas for upcoming and recent meetings, with links to relevant materials. Select Budget Committee agendas will be available at the Select Budget Committee agenda page.You can click on the “year” field to access agendas from  previous years. 

Meetings are also shown on the Council meeting calendar 

You can sign up to receive meeting agendas by e-mail. 

Standing with the Duwamish to Restore Federal Acknowledgement 

The Duwamish Tribe is seeking  to restore federal acknowledgement.  You may recall that they received acknowledgement in 2001 by the Clinton administration, but that decision was reversed in 2002 by the Bush administration. 

I have endorsed the campaign, along with other elected officials, organizations, religious groups, labor unions and companies, and tens of thousands of individuals. You can sign the petition in support of federal recognition for the Duwamish Tribe here.  

As the website notes 

Chief Si’ahl (Seattle) of the Duwamish and Suquamish Tribes was the first signer of the Point Elliott Treaty of 1855. The largest city in Washington state is named for him. Chief Si’ahl honored the treaty. The United States has not. The Duwamish Tribe no longer has federally recognized status.  

Despite this, the Duwamish Tribe has for many decades been an important political and cultural influence in the Pacific Northwest. Additionally, the Duwamish have contributed to the environmental health and welfare of the citizens of Seattle, Puget Sound and the Salish Sea with an emphasis on underserved, marginalized populations, to the benefit of all people. 

In 2001, the Bureau of Indian Affairs under the Clinton Administration found evidence sufficient to recognize the Duwamish Tribe, only to have it revoked by the Bush Administration for ministerial reasons. With your support and advocacy, federal recognition of the Duwamish Tribe can be reinstated legislatively, administratively, or judicially in 2021, ending over 165 years of injustice. 

You can promote justice and help restore the Treaty rights for the Duwamish Tribe by signing this petition. The Duwamish deserve the dignity of being recognized and access to the Treaty rights that go with that recognition. 

More information is available at the Stand With the Duwamish website. 

 

West Seattle Bridge Priority Hire 

The US Department of Transportation has approved SDOT’s request to use requiring the contractor repairing the West Seattle Bridge hire from local economically distressed communities. The USDOT  reinstated and expanded a pilot program to allow local hiring provisions for federally-funded projects. As the project has attained $37 million in federal funds, federal approval is needed.  

Priority Hire began in late 2013, resulting in an estimated $45 million in construction wages going back into low-income communities through 2020, $20 million more than would have been earned without the program. Nine of the 31 economically distressed areas prioritized by the West Seattle Bridge program are in locations impacted by the closure.  An estimated 5,800 construction workers live in the impacted areas and could be among those prioritized for employment on the project.  

 

Apply for Neighborhood Economic Recovery Fund Grants of up to $100,000 

Do you have a great idea to support the local economy and promote racial equity in your neighborhood?  Apply to the Neighborhood Economic Recovery Fund!  Projects can be community-based solutions to address the negative impacts that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on our neighborhoods and local economy. 

Information Session 3 – September 21, 10:00-11:00 am – register here. 

 The Neighborhood Economic Recovery Fund can support a variety of activities and projects that directly help businesses, communities and local economies recover from those impacts. Examples include but are not limited to: 

  • Public and commercial space activations, such as, outdoor seating, retail/vendor markets, public art and music, community events and commercial space popups   
  • Digital equity projects, such as neighborhood digital marketplaces 
  • Communications infrastructure, such as websites, social media, and contact databases to promote community news and resources, and share stories of local businesses and events 
  • Physical Improvements, such as lighting, sidewalk cleaning, murals, façade    
  • Community safety projects, such as business block watches, community organizing 
  • Outreach to support businesses and residents build partnerships and shared vision, and 
  • Other economic recovery projects specific to neighborhood needs 

Find more about the grants, timeline, eligibility requirements, answers to frequently asked questions, and application materials at Neighborhood Economic Recovery Fund – Office of Economic Development | seattle.gov.   

 

Share your Vision for Seattle’s Parks 

Help shape the future of Seattle’s outdoor and community spaces in the coming years!  Seattle Parks & Recreation is holding an online open house and survey to seek community input about their plans for pandemic and economic recovery, responding to climate change, and supporting racial equity.   

Share what you want to see at our parks, open spaces, and community centers in the coming years by visiting SPR Strategic Plan Implementation – Online Open House (infocommunity.org).   

 

  

Virtual Office Hours 

 On Friday September 24, 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, October 29, 2021 
  • Friday, December 17, 2021 

 

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West Seattle Bridge Funding Update // Mask Up Indoors Starting Monday // Delridge Pedestrian Bridge/Survey Open through August 30 // Finance Committee Action on Mid-year Budget Including SPD // Less Lethal Weapons’ Regulation // Revenue Forecast

August 23rd, 2021

West Seattle Bridge Funding Update

On Wednesday, the Transportation and Utilities Committee approved legislation accepting grants to SDOT for transportation projects. The legislation now moves to the Full Council for a final vote.

Included are four grants related to the West Seattle Bridge. Two of these grants have been announced before:

  • $11.26 million INFRA grant
  • $12 million from WSDOT for federal grant bridge funds

This brings total federal grant funding to $37 million, approximately 70% of the full repair cost.

Two grants included in the legislation are new. The legislation gives authority to accept grants of up to:

  • $10 million from the Port of Seattle, and
  • $5 million from King County

Negotiations are still active with the Port and King County; consequently, agreements are not yet completed. The Council granted approval in advance in order to maintain the schedule. The legislation also accepts grants for 15th Avenue South and Aurora Avenue North:

Last week’s newsletter mentioned the South Park Drainage and Roadway Partnership Project; here’s an updated map showing where street and drainage improvements are taking place:

 

Mask Up Indoors Starting Monday

I know this isn’t news any of us want to hear. But masks are back.  They are a necessary tool in stopping the spread of the COVID-19 delta variant.  Please wear your mask when indoors in a public setting to protect the health of everyone.

Esto es algo que nadie quiere escuchar, pero debemos usar máscaras de nuevo. Son una herramienta importante para detener la propagación de la variante delta de COVID-19 y las necesitamos ahora mismo. Usa tu máscara cuando estés en un lugar público cerrado para proteger a todos.

The statewide indoor mask mandate starts on Monday, August 23rd.  The order requires face masks for everyone over five years of age in most public indoor settings, regardless of vaccination status. These include places like grocery stores, malls, gyms, and community centers. Masks are strongly recommended in crowded outdoor settings like sporting events, fairs, and concerts where physical distancing is not possible.  You can learn more here.

Vaccination Is Our Most Important Tool

Healthcare system strained:  Ultimately,  increasing vaccinations is our best bet to reduce the spread of COVID-19 locally.  The health care system is under immense strain right now, due in part to increased COVID-19 transmission, mostly among unvaccinated people. Between February and August in our state, 94.5% of people hospitalized for COVID-19 were not fully vaccinated.

On Thursday, Washington State Hospital Association reported that hospitalizations from COVID-19 are the highest they’ve ever been.  1,100 people were hospitalized with COVID statewide during the peak last December. On Thursday morning, there were 1,240.  Hospitalizations are also increasing in younger ages, notably 20-29 and 30-39.  Here are King County COVID hospitalizations:

Protections for workers:  My office has been hearing from restaurant and bar owners and workers who are concerned about worker safety, as employees are constantly in contact with unmasked customers who may or may not be vaccinated.  Currently, individual business owners can choose to require vaccination for customers, and many are doing so.  Workers are on the front lines of enforcement without the re-enforcement that a government mandate can provide when engaging with customers about vaccine status.  Facing a significant staffing shortage to begin with, they are calling for action to require vaccination for employees and customers, so they can assure a safe working environment – similar to vaccine requirements in San Francisco and New York City.

I have been in contact with Public Health – Seattle & King County and the Mayor’s Office regarding this request, and I continue to be interested in hearing from workers about the best way to secure their safety.  I am also hearing clearly that everyone is eager to do whatever it takes to keep people employed by avoiding more capacity restrictions or another shutdown for the industry.

Get vaxed and help others get vaxed:  Meanwhile, please get vaxed if you’re not already, and encourage your loved ones to do the same.  A higher level of vaccination is truly the only way we can emerge from pandemic restrictions.

Free rides to and from your vaccination are offered by Lyft and Hopelink Mobility (phone: 425-943-6706).

Free childcare is available for vaccination appointments and recuperation from KinderCare (phone: 1-866-337-3105), the Learning Care Group (phone: 1-833-459-3557), and the YMCA (contact your local YMCA to learn more).

Delridge Pedestrian Bridge/Survey Open through August 30

As part of the Delridge Way SW – RapidRide H Line project, SDOT is installing a new, accessible crossing on Delridge Way SW at the intersection with SW Oregon Street.

They are evaluating whether to remove or repair (seismic retrofit) the nearby pedestrian bridge connecting the Youngstown Cultural Center and the Delridge Playfield.

SDOT’s website has a description of the options.

SDOT will be at the Delridge Community Center to discuss the proposal on:

  • Friday, August 27 from 2 to 4 p.m.
  • Sunday, August 29 from 1 to 3 p.m.

You can also e-mail delridgetransit@seattle.gov and call 206-775-8739.

Here are links to the survey:

Finance Committee Action on Mid-Year Budget Including SPD

In September, the Council will be considering the mid-year supplemental adjustment to the 2021 adopted budget, as recommended by the Finance and Housing Committee on Tuesday.  This legislation includes changes to the SPD budget that I proposed, made possible by an estimated $15 million not needed for officer salaries this year.   I first proposed these investments in May, which unfortunately did not pass.  The supplemental budget proposal in the Finance and Housing committee represented another opportunity.

I proposed – and committee members approved – significant changes to the budget legislation to ameliorate the community safety impacts associated with the current shortage of police officers. The shortage of sworn officers is resulting in significantly reduced 911 “priority one” responses – responses that have a standard goal of 7 minutes.  It’s important that we make investments to address the real workload challenges for those sworn officers who remain on as public servants in Seattle.

My amendments also added funding for civilian positions, technology investments, a new training program, and alternatives to an armed response to build community safety.  Together, these amendments reflected the priorities of SPD, community safety advocates, the Mayor’s Office, and Council’s work to reimagine public safety and provide alternatives to an armed response, while ensuring officers have the ability to respond to calls that only they are qualified to do.

The successful new amendment, proposed with Finance & Housing Chair CM Mosqueda, includes funding for:

  • Community Service Officers and Crime Prevention coordinators;
  • Hiring process accelerators for both sworn officers and civilian hires;
  • National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform 911 call data analysis to support re-imaging policing;
  • Work, Scheduling and Timekeeping project updating and modernizing SPD’s management of overtime and addressing the recommendations made by the City Auditor in 2016, and recommendations made recently the Office of Police Accountability;
  • $1.5 million for overtime. SPD requested $3 million.  Both the Mayor and Council proposed reductions in the overtime budget last fall for 2021, assuming fewer large events would occur due to COVID.  With additional events now taking place, more overtime funding may be needed, as well as for patrol 911 response.
  • Evidence storage space, as recommended by the Inspector General;
  • Funding for additional Public Disclosure work, as recommended by the City Auditor.

The amendment also incorporates priorities I announced in my Public Safety and Human Services committee in late July.  The Mayor and SPD also stated support for these investments to re-direct a total of $1.5 million from the SPD budget to other departments.

  • Community Safety and Communications Center funding for a protocol system for 911 dispatchers; this is critical for ensuring 911 call takers have the training to ensure the best response, as we embrace alternatives. Similar to what Seattle Fire uses in its dispatch center, the protocol system will implement a more consistent process for obtaining key information from 911 callers and support better data analysis to plan for resource deployment, including alternatives to police response.  I didn’t want to wait until the Mayor made a 2022 budget recommendation to begin providing funding for this effort.
  • Regional Peacekeepers’ Collective funding to prevent gun violence. This is critically important right now.  Community violence intervention programs such as the Regional Peacekeepers Collective have been shown to reduce violence by as much as 60%.   I didn’t want to wait until the Mayor made a 2022 budget recommendation to begin providing funding for this effort.
  • Funding for Triage One; to redirect 911 calls as a result of the National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform call analysis commissioned by SPD; they are calls that do not require a first response from sworn officers, and reduce the need for them to respond to these calls. I didn’t want to wait until the Mayor made a 2022 budget recommendation to begin providing funding for this effort.

Our amendment also includes an investment of $3 million in the Seattle Community Safety Initiative,  to fund additional alternatives to policing. HSD recently awarded contracts to 33 of the 70 applicants; additional funds could fund additional projects, or extend the funding from 18 to 24 months.

I also proposed a separate amendment to fund $2.25 million for necessary SPD technology investments, which passed. It includes funding for Data Analytics Platform; for Capacity Planning Tool; Innovation Blueprint; and Officer Wellness and Supervision (which is a new version of this). Some of these are required by the Consent Decree.

The Data Analytics Platform will be used to monitor staffing and overtime, analytical processes necessary for reimagining policing such as 911 alternatives, next generation early intervention, and to monitor disparate impacts. The Capacity Planning Tool will evaluate staffing demand, and calculate staffing requirements based on scenarios such as 911 alternate response, and expands resource planning beyond core functions such as patrol and investigations to include support for functions such as force review and public disclosure. Innovation Blueprint includes identifying strategies and online tools to increase transparency and improve police practices. Officer Wellness and Supervision include more accurate statistical models for predicting and guiding interventions for employees exhibiting signs they need support, as part of the department employee wellness and retention strategy.

I strongly support Chief Diaz’s efforts to innovate in developing a training curriculum to ensure SPD recruits understand community expectations for a public service career in law enforcement in Seattle.  That’s why I successfully proposed funding for a program Chief Diaz is initiating to support Seattle-specific training for new officer recruits before they go to the state training academy.  The program is being developed under the guidance of a long-time educator, and consists of a 45-day program that “pulls recruits out of traditional classroom training and immerses them in community-based, peer-based, and introspective experiences that will provide them both a lens through which to receive their BLEA (I.e. academy) training and a foundation upon which to build their careers as Seattle Police Officers.” Most of this work will take place in the community. The curriculum strives to implement the principles of relational policing, as recommended by the Inspector General Sentinel Event Review.

 

Less Lethal Weapons’ Regulation

On Monday, the Council voted 7-0 to adopt legislation that I sponsored to restrict the use of less lethal weapons, principally during demonstrations.

There are currently no restrictions on the use of less lethal weapons in Seattle law.

After the Public Safety and Human Services Committee voted 4-1 to pass the legislation in July, I moved to delay the Full Council vote until after a Status Conference for the Consent Decree was held in early August.  It was important to wait in case the court wanted to comment on the legislation before the Council passed it.  Court approval of the SPD policies that will derive from the new law is necessary, per the scope of the Consent Decree, which includes all laws, policies, and practices that relate to use of force. The legislation was not discussed at the Status Conference.

The legislation 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 permits the use of pepper spray and pepper ball launchers only in those cases when the “risk of serious bodily injury from violent actions outweighs risk of harm to bystanders.” If used to control crowds another condition must be in place, that there is a “violent public disturbance. The legislation defines when a “violent public disturbance” is taking place.   Tear gas use is restrained by 5 separate conditions.

In developing the legislation, Council President Gonzalez and I met with the Consent Decree Monitor and the Department of Justice, to get their informal feedback in advance, with the understanding formal feedback will follow after SPD policies based upon the ordinance are developed and filed with the Court.

You may recall that my PSHS  committee first acted in February to recommend a draft bill that was used for those discussions

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.

To address these concerns, we added a definition of “crowd control,” and added a 60 day training period.  To address concern that officers should have some less lethal option to intervene when property damage is occurring but there is no risk of serious bodily injury, the legislation is silent on and does not regulate the use of non-chemical launchers, e.g. of bean bags or rubber bullets.

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 prior judicial decisions; Judge Robart specifically approved policies authorizing use of pepper ball launchers in late February, as part of SPD’s court-mandated annual update to use of force policies

Development of this legislation began after Council’s passage of legislation sponsored by CM Sawant in June 2020 to fully ban the use of most less lethal weapons for crowd control, after demonstrations in Seattle after the murder of George Floyd. Judge Robart issued a restraining order on that bill in July of last year. It never went into effect.  In August pf 2020, the Community Police Commission, the Office of the Inspector General, and the Office of Police Accountability made recommendations for how to change the law.  These recommendations were sent to Council and Judge Robart, as he requested them as well.

The Public Safety and Human Services Committee has met seven times about this legislation, and heard extensive public comment.

While some criticize the bill as too weak and others say the Council shouldn’t legislate less lethal weapons regulations at all, my goal has been to adopt the strongest regulations possible, building on the August 2020 consensus recommendations of the three accountability bodies, while adhering to the obligations under the Consent Decree.

The CPC stated support for this legislation, while noting their perspective that they believe more needs to be done:

“The Seattle Community Police Commission writes today to offer its support for Council Bill 120105. The Commission believes that 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 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.

Now that the Council has voted to adopt the legislation, this is what happens next:

  • First, SPD will draft policy revisions within 60 days (provided by Section 4 of the bill)
  • Second, DOJ and the Monitor will review the policy revisions (this is when their formal review under the Consent Decree takes place)
  • Third, the Court will 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)

 

Revenue Forecast

On Tuesday the City Budget Office shared an updated August revenue forecast for 2021 and 2022. Here’s a link to the presentation.

The forecast projects an additional $53 million increase in general fund revenues during 2021, and an additional $29 million in 2022, compared to the April forecast.

Sales tax and B&O revenue has come in at rates above the April forecast.

The forecast notes potential risks, including the rising number of cases due to the Delta variant; whether consumers delay returning to pre-pandemic spending patterns; inflation, supply-chain disruptions, shortage of available workers, and potential global drop in demand due to virus surges.

 

Welcoming Refugees from Afghanistan

It’s been heartbreaking to watch the news from Afghanistan this week, amid reports and images of allies left behind and families here in Seattle concerned for their loved ones.  It’s at moments like these that Seattle must live up to being a Welcoming City and find ways to support the refugees who will be resettled here.  The Council President’s office has been in touch with state and federal partners about actions Council can take to help.

Since August 1st, 160 refugees from Afghanistan have arrived in the US, primarily landing here in King County.  More are expected.  The local International Rescue Committee is one of five organizations locally that are helping refugees settle here as they arrive, and they offer this list of ways to help.  ReWA is also offering mental health counseling sessions for refugees as they arrive, and shares this information and ways to help their efforts.

River City Skate Park Opening

This Sunday the community will be celebrating the opening of the new River City Skate Park. Tours of the new plaza will happen between 12pm and 2pm and Skate Like a Girl will also have a table there with some giveaways, raffles, music and art.

 

Youth Member Seats to Join the WRIA 9 Watershed Ecosystem Forum for Salmon Recovery

The Watershed Resource Inventory Area (WRIA) 9 is looking for a youth member to join the forum.

The youth member will serve as an equal member of the Watershed Ecosystem Forum working on projects and policies related to salmon recovery in the Green/Duwamish and Central Puget Sound Watershed. The work is focused on improving habitat, water quality, reducing flood hazards, and increasing the function and health of the watershed and its communities.

Membership criteria:

  • Applicants must live or attend school within the WRIA 9 watershed (Enumclaw, Tahoma, Auburn, Kent, Federal Way, Renton, Highline, Vashon, and Seattle).
  • Applicants must be between the grades of 9 and 12
  • One year terms
  • All applicants will be considered regardless of race, color, gender, national origin, or ability.
  • Applicants under 18 must have parent permission to serve.

If this sounds like an opportunity you’re interested in, please apply here. Applications are due September 13th.

 

No Newsletter Next Two Weeks

The City Council is on its summer recess for the next two weeks, and there won’t be any Council meetings during that time. My next update will be in September.

 

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West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force Update; Stay Cool In the Heat; SPD Staffing, Overtime and Budget Update; Building Safety In Our Communities; Covid Update; Assess Your Masks; PEO Unit Transfer; SDOT Outdoor Café Survey; Fire Science Associate Degree Program; Duwamish Steward Position; Office Hours Update

August 13th, 2021

West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force Update

The West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force met on August 12.

Bridge Updates

First of all, SDOT confirmed the project remains on schedule for completion in mid-2022, and provided an update about how future schedule and cost estimates will be determined.

As I’ve explained in past blog posts, SDOT is using the General Contractor/Construction Manager (GCCM), which varies from standard contacting methods. Normally, a project is designed, and then put out to bid. The GCCM approach saves time by involving the construction contractor in design at 60% and 90% design, to identify potential challenges, and avoid change orders that can delay projects.

SDOT has provided the construction contractor, Kraemer, with a 60% completed design.  This will enable them to develop a first estimated cost/schedule estimate later this month. After 90% design is reached next month, a second estimate will be due in October. At that point, the Maximum Allowable Construction Cost (MACC) negotiations will begin, and construction will begin in November. The schedule below notes this, along with funding agreements with other funders, such as the federal government, in September:

Some work has been taking place on the bridge, such as asbestos work. Being inside the box girder, the work isn’t visible from outside.

What Went Wrong?

Graphics below are in response to public questions about what went wrong with the bridge. The original bridge was designed to the standards of that time, which did not include adequate post-tensioning of steel cables. This led to the cracking of concrete.

There are three spans to the bridge: the center span, and the two approaches. Cracking took place in all three spans. The center span across the Duwamish has been stabilized, which sharply limited crack growth. The two tail spans have not yet been stabilized; the repair will add post tensioning to the two tail spans:

Another question from community members is why a lane of traffic can’t be opened in the meantime.

SDOT indicates traffic would cause more cracking and harm the condition of the bridge, with the tail spans needing additional work to strengthen. The repair will add post tensioning to the entire bridge. In addition, there are holes in the deck used to access the box girders.

 

Reconnect West Seattle Update

Through August 1, over 1,500 applications for use of the lower bridge have been received, with the following access granted:

Traffic travel times on detour routes such as West Marginal Way are up significantly from last year; bus ridership and water taxi ridership are increasing slowly:

The West Marginal Way/Highland Park Way intersection improvements, designed to improve intersection throughput and concurrent turning movements, are on track to be completed by the end of September.

South Park Drainage and Roadway Partnership Project Update

SDOT also presented the South Park Drainage and Roadway Partnership Project.  This is a joint project between SDOT and Seattle Public Utilities to construct street improvements and drainage systems to address flooding that regularly occurs in some parts of South Park. The project includes a new pump station. I last wrote about the pump station here when construction began last Fall.

The project will take place in the South Park Industrial Area between 2nd Ave S and 8th Ave S, and S Holden St and S Monroe St.

For the map below, the blue lines are where street AND drainage improvements will take place, and the one yellow block is where only drainage improvements are planned:

The project will begin in September, and take 12-16 months. Project elements are noted below:

Work will begin first on South Monroe and South Chicago Streets, which are currently gravel roads.

Construction details are below:

Stay Cool In the Heat

Looking for tips on keeping cool during the heat surge?  Try this list of hot weather tips, and check out these City-operated cooling locations, including day centers, libraries, wading pools, and more.

Know the signs of dangerous heat exposure, and help your family and friends stay safe.


SPD Staffing, Overtime and Budget Update

On Tuesday, the Public Safety and Human Services Committee heard two items related to the SPD budget. First, we heard the second 2021 SPD update from Council Central Staff on finances, staffing, and use of overtime in SPD. The Council requested these updates and Central Staff is presenting them on a quarterly basis.

The second item was a briefing and discussion from SPD on their 2021 funding proposal that I requested they provide to the Council.

Since early this year, I’ve been advocating for resources so SPD can address the officer shortage, from increasing civilian staffing and funding new alternative responses, so sworn officers have more capacity to respond to the calls only they can address, such as violent crime.

I have proposed spending in the second quarter supplemental budget for programs such as Community Service Officers, Crime Prevention Coordinators, technology needs, SPD evidence storage capacity as identified by the Inspector General, funding Public Disclosure Request (PDR) positions in OPA and Seattle IT to address PDR backlogs as identified by the City Auditor, and the city’s investment in the Regional Peacekeepers’ Collaborative.

I have also proposed funding now, rather than waiting for the 2022 budget, to support the creation of the new Triage One program and a new dispatch system, which will allow us to deploy the right resources and allow for better analysis so we can build more alternatives to sending an armed police officers to every 911 call. The recent 911 call analysis commissioned by SPD indicates 12% of calls can be responded to without SPD involvement in the short term, and in the longer term, as many as 49%.

I said in my Public Safety and Human Services committee this week what I wrote in my blog post last week, that “despite that the Council fully funded SPD’s 2021 staffing plan, police officers are still leaving the SPD in unprecedented numbers. I thank those remaining and I appreciate those committed to their public service in Seattle. I want to ensure that the city prioritizes their time to addressing the calls to which only they can respond.”

The current budget discussions are regarding an estimated $15 million from what are called “salary savings.”  This is the budget term for the difference between the amount of funding actually needed to pay current officers as well as hire new ones, and the total funding included in the budget for this purpose.  Due to more officers leaving than we are hiring, there is a projected $15 million in salary savings in SPD’s budget.

In September 2020, the Mayor proposed cutting $15.7 million from the SPD base budget from salary savings. In addition, she proposed reducing civilian spending in SPD by $4.1 million, for a $19.8 million salary savings cut from SPD, and directed those funds to other departments and Mayoral priorities.

The Mayor’s proposed cut garnered little media coverage. The Council does its business in public—not behind closed doors—so Council discussions generate media attention, even for smaller amounts of budget reductions.

With additional data available during the budget process, in November the Council included $5 million for “salary savings” in what is called a budget “proviso.” This keeps the funds within SPD but held in reserve; they require Council action to spend, release the funds to SPD, or re-direct them to other uses. An additional $2.5 million was held in proviso for potential layoffs for “Brady List” officers only, that is, officers with a finding of for example dishonesty or bias; their testimony can be impeached, so they can’t fulfill all their duties as officers. These kind of lay offs aren’t permitted under current state law; so no officers have been laid off.

Unlike the Mayor’s $19.8 million SPD budget cut proposal, this $7.5 million was not re-directed to other departments, so the Council could opt to keep that funding within SPD, or move it elsewhere.

I proposed releasing these $7.5 million in provisos to SPD in legislation earlier this year that did not pass, and the Mayor did not support. I continue to support releasing those provisos, and I welcome the Mayor’s current support for this.

Council Central Staff’s Presentation includes the information requested from SPD on budget, staffing, overtime and 911 response. SPD did a lot of work to assist with the presentation, and I thank them for this.

The overall budget has been spent at 48% through mid-year.  With officer departures, additional funding for separation pay is clearly needed.

Through June, the annual overtime budget has been spent at 44%. Central Staff (and SPD) estimate this will not be sufficient for the year, as more events happen during the warm weather months. The 2021 budget was reduced by both the Mayor and the Council, as fewer events were anticipated due to the COVID pandemic. Consequently, some increase in overtime is needed. Chief Diaz has mentioned to me that he tracks overtime daily; I appreciate that level of attention.

I continue to be interested in transferring as much of this event overtime work to Parking Enforcement Officers as possible, especially considering the shortage of sworn officers.

Overall staffing is down, with 100 separations and 38 hires during 2021. SPD is proposing changes to how background checks for new recruits take place, by hiring a third-party backgrounding service through the end of 2022. This is to accelerate background checks; currently, there is a significant time gap between when candidates apply, and the completion of this process, and improving this can assist with fewer recruits dropping out. Transitioning to e-testing is also designed to expedite the hiring process.

911 response times are in several cases higher than 7 minutes for Priority 1 calls. The median (e.g. midpoint) response time during the 2nd quarter was below 7 minutes in two of the five precincts, and the average (total times divided by number of calls) was above 7 minutes in all precincts. This highlights the need for funding alternative responses that reduce the workload of sworn officers, including Triage One, Health One, Community Service Officers, and violence-prevention programs operating in West Seattle, South Seattle, and the Central District, and for our continuing work on 911 call analysis, and the programs funded through the Department of Human Services Department Safe and Thriving Communities Division as described in the next section.

Building Safety In Our Communities

Thirty-three community safety projects will be building safety in our neighborhoods from the ground up for the next 18 months, thanks to $10.4 million in funding I proposed, and approved by Council starting last summer.  At Tuesday’s meeting of the Public Safety & Human Services committee, representatives from the Human Services Department (HSD) presented on their recent award decisions.

This work builds upon the $4 million awarded last year to the Seattle Community Safety Initiative (SCSI), led by Community Passageways, which built community safety hubs and wraparound services in three Seattle neighborhoods, including West Seattle.  I sponsored that investment, which Council funded through a $4M appropriation during last summer’s 2020 budget rebalancing process.   You can learn more about SCSI here.

In addition to operating community safety programs that respond to violent and non-violent crimes, these organizations will meet together regularly with an evaluation team to assess their impact and learn from each other.  Seattle’s City Auditor has previously done a significant amount of work to understand the impact of street outreach programs, so I asked them to produce a brief report based on recommendations from the 2015 report on Street Outreach to help support these programs.

Some of the funded programs have indicated they are an alternative to an armed police response, or are able to co-respond to incidents with police.  I have asked Rex Brown, the Director of HSD’s new Safe and Thriving Division, to provide more information about these programs in particular.  I look forward to sharing what I learn.

Time and again, I’ve heard from constituents that the response to poverty, behavioral health crisis, and homelessness shouldn’t be an armed police officer, but instead better resources and community-led programs that address these core needs. The fourteen members of the National Commission on Covid-19 and Criminal Justice, including interim SPD Chief Adrian Diaz, recommend exactly this kind of investment in anti-violence strategies to combat increased violence and property offenses in cities across the country, including in Seattle.

Covid Update: Vaccines Are Best Defense Against Delta; D1 Popup Vax Clinics; Mask Uh3 Indoors; Assess Your Masks

Seattle is already leading the country on our vaccination rates: over 82.5% of residents 12 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

There is no doubt that vaccines work, and vaccination is our best defense against the highly contagious Delta variant. There has not been a reported death of a Seattle resident since July 11, and Seattle has averaged some of its lowest hospitalizations of the entire pandemic. Of the 1.45 million residents fully vaccinated in King County, 0.1% have had a positive test result following vaccination, 0.004% have been hospitalized for COVID-19 and 0.001% have died due to COVID-19.

Get Vaxed:  Lots of popup vax clinics coming to District 1 this weekend…

Saturday, August 14

  • 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM, South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Ave S 98108
  • 11:00 AM – 2:30 PM, South Delridge Farmer’s Market, 9421 18th Ave SW, 98106
  • 12:00 PM – 7:00 PM, Blaxinate Lounge, Alki Beach Bathhouse, 2701 Alki Ave SW, 98116

Sunday, August 15,

  • 3:00 PM – 9:00 PM, Statue of Liberty Plaza, Alki Beach Park, 2665 Alki Ave SW, 98116

And you can always find vaccination near you:

Mask Up Indoors:  Health officers from all 35 local health jurisdictions across Washington state have joined together to send a message: Everyone, regardless of vaccination status, should wear a mask in indoor, public spaces. This unified recommendation comes as case counts in our region are rising again, driven largely by the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19.

Assess Your Masks:  The highly contagious Delta variant requires renewed vigilance – and better “mask hygiene.” We will most likely be dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic longer than we hoped. We must continue to protect our neighbors who can’t be vaccinated, including kids under 12 and immune-compromised folks.

So, it’s a good time to assess your mask quality and supply – to have the best filtering and best fitting mask or respirator you can. To resist the Delta variant, you’ll want both a good fit and a high-quality mask.   Learn more here.


PEO Unit Transfer

During this week’s committee meeting we discussed and moved forward CB 120148 which will transfer the Parking Enforcement Unit (PEOs) out of the Seattle Police Department and into the Seattle Department of Transportation.

You may remember when I last wrote about the transfer of functions out of SPD, the Council had voted on the transfer of 911 dispatchers out of SPD.  Due to a divided workforce and uncertainty from other Councilmembers, we held off on transferring the PEOs out of SPD in May. Unfortunately, the workforce remains divided in the question of to which department they would like to be transferred, but the Council needed to act in transferring the unit prior to September 1 or the workers in the unit would not be paid.

CB 120148 passed out of committee unanimously and will be heard at Full Council on Monday, August 16 prior to the Council’s recess.

SDOT Outdoor Café Survey Open Through August 15

Last year, the Council adopted legislation to facilitate street cafes during the COVID pandemic, when there were sharp restrictions on restaurant and café capacity due to the pandemic. Allowing for outdoor service on sidewalks and streets helped small businesses survive.

In May, the Council adopted legislation which included a section requiring SDOT to present the Council a draft permitting proposal for the continuation of business uses, by March 31, 2022.

SDOT is conducting a survey to gather public input. The survey is open through August 15th, and available here.

Here’s SDOT’s blog post with additional information.

Fire Science Associate Degree Program

On Monday the Seattle Fire Department announced a new Fire Sciences Associate degree program in partnership with North Seattle College. This is an important step for addressing our aging workforce. I’ve continued to support additional funding for more firefighter recruit classes as well. In last year’s budget process I secured $1.6 million to restore recruitment class size and reverse proposed funding cuts for testing. Last year the SFD saw an increase in firefighter separations, and, if the same attrition averages over the last five years (38 separations) continue in 2021, the SFD could have 75 vacancies with an additional 412 firefighters eligible for retirement.

I’m excited that the Fire Sciences Associate degree program will launch this Fall, and targets two different demographics for potential applicants:

“The first is high school graduates looking to pursue a career in the fire service and the second is existing firefighters planning to wanting to strengthen profession-specific skills and further their baccalaureate education. An overarching goal of the program is to help bring a diverse array of applicants to local fire departments’ hiring processes by providing youth with an opportunity to learn about the fire service in advance of applying for a firefighting position.”

If you’re considering applying, the application deadline is September 20, 2021.

Duwamish Steward Position

On Thursday the Watershed Resource Inventory Area (WRIA) 9, of which I am a member and represent the City of Seattle, discussed adding a new steward position for the Duwamish River. A stewardship position can assist with conservation efforts and the community in a number of ways including:

“planning and prioritizing open space acquisitions and habitat restoration projects, coordinating with local jurisdictions and non-profit partners, pursuing grants and other restoration funding sources, coordinating community science and monitoring efforts, and engaging the public both to convey and receive input on priority work. These roles are critical for advancing salmon recovery in the watershed. Without a Duwamish Basin Steward, opportunities for land acquisition and habitat restoration have been left untended and have been lost to development of incompatible uses.”

I have been advocating for this position since 2019 and I am excited that we’re finally moving forward with funding for this position. Stakeholders including the City, Port of Seattle, King County and other cities effected by the Duwamish River are still considering different funding models, but the position should be hired in 2022. I want to thank the Green River Coalition and the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition and the Duwamish Alive Coalition for their advocacy in making this happen.

Office Hours Update

Office hours tentatively scheduled for August 20, have been cancelled. My next virtual office hours will be on Friday, September 24.

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, October 29, 2021
  • Friday, December 17, 2021
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Sound Transit Board Action on ST3 Realignment; Duwamish Waterway Park Expansion; Construction begins at Lowman Beach Park; Comprehensive Plan Update

August 6th, 2021

Sound Transit Board Action on ST3 Realignment

Yesterday the Sound Transit Board took action to adopt a realignment plan framework for the 2016 ST3 ballot measure, which includes West Seattle light rail. Sound Transit currently faces a $6.5 billion affordability gap, so some projects are being delayed. The framework allows for consideration of adjustment if, for example, additional federal funds are attained.

The Board’s action establishes four tiers, with Tier 1 being the highest priority projects. West Seattle light rail is included in Tier 1, and listed for completion in 2032 for all three stations (Delridge, Avalon, Alaska Junction).

Some scenarios presented to the Board in previous months listed West Seattle outside of Tier 1, and proposed completion in 2035, or building only to the Delridge station in 2035, and to the Alaska Junction in 2038. 2032 was the earliest date for West Seattle presented in any of the scenarios the Board reviewed.

Here’s a link to the Realigned Capital Program for ST3 projects as it stands after the Board’s action. It notes that there have been non-financial delays of one to three years for some projects, principally due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are three potential schedules listed (Earliest Potential, Affordable, and Initial Target—all three list 2032 for West Seattle).

 

Duwamish Waterway Park Expansion

On Tuesday, I joined members of the Public Assets and Native Communities committee in approving Seattle Parks & Recreation’s purchase of the Unity Electric site in South Park, which will eventually expand the Duwamish Waterway Park.  The Duwamish Waterway Park is used for important local and regional festivals that bring together Indigenous people, and South Park’s Latinx, Somali, Vietnamese, and Cambodian community members.

The current tenants hold a six-year lease, but Superintendent Aguirre indicated willingness to move forward more quickly if possible.  You can learn more about the acquisition and the park project here.

Approximately 5,000 feet of Duwamish River shoreline are accessible within a 5-minute walk for South Park residents – but less than 400 feet of that shoreline are public, and only 100 feet of shoreline provide access to the water.  Improved access to open space and particularly to the Duwamish River is one of the highest community priorities for South Park residents, which has been documented in numerous plans including the South Park Green Space Vision Plan, Equity & Environment Agenda, South Park Outside and the Duwamish Valley Action Plan.

I’m grateful to Superintendent Aguirre for bringing this acquisition to Council, and to the countless South Park community members who have shared their vision for shoreline access and public space large enough for community gatherings consistently over the years.  I look forward to this acquisition contributing to that vision.

 

Construction begins at Lowman Beach Park

Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) awarded the construction contract for the Lowman Beach Park Seawall and Beach Restoration project to Mike McClung Construction. The contractor is anticipated to mobilize on site in early September and this project will require partial closure of the park, including closure of beach access, tennis court, and trail access. Public access to a portion of the lawn and playground area will be maintained.  You can learn more about the Lowman Beach Park Seawall project here, and the racket court design project here.

Lowman Beach Park is a neighborhood park on the water located north of Lincoln Park at 7017 Beach Dr. SW. The Lowman Beach Park seawall is failing and will be removed as part of this project. As visitors to the park have seen, the existing seawall is slowly falling over and sliding towards the water. The goal of this project is to remove the remaining seawall and continue the shoreline restoration work that began when the south half of the seawall failed in the mid-1990s.  If you have questions about the project please contact the project manager, Janice Liang, at Janice.Liang@seattle.gov.

Comprehensive Plan Update

Once a year the Council passes a resolution to update the Comprehensive Plan, those plan updates derive from what we call the docketing process. Proposals are submitted by the public and the Seattle Planning Commission and Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD) make recommendations to include proposals – or not – in the docketing resolution. If you’re interested in additional background information, the Central Staff Memo here explains the process of updating the Comprehensive Plan, and describes the proposals received by the City and the recommendations of both OPCD, the Planning Commission, and Central Staff.

On Monday the Council unanimously passed the resolution updating the Comprehensive Plan.

One District 1 proposal was to rezone three parcels of single-family zoning to Low-rise 3 or 4 to allow for an affordable housing development for seniors in South Park on 3rd Ave S. This proposal was not recommended to move forward by the Planning Commission, OPCD, nor Central Staff.  The reason is that the Comprehensive Plan update does not typically consider areas smaller than one block in size.  There is strong interest in the vision for this property and recognition that it “aligns with many other City goals related to neighborhood access, building community wealth, and combating displacement.”  There are other approaches that can be pursued to support this vision.

The D1 item moving forward in the Comprehensive Plan update process is an assessment whether the South Park Urban Village meets the criteria for the urban village designation.

Finally, I want to note that the Council took another step forward with Impact Fees with this resolution. The resolution requests that the draft project list for transportation impact fees be updated which is a necessary step in implementing a transportation impact fee program. You can read more about impact fees here.

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Sound Transit Board Action on ST3 Realignment; Duwamish Waterway Park Expansion; Construction Begins at Lowman Beach Park; Comprehensive Plan Update

August 6th, 2021

Sound Transit Board Action on ST3 Realignment

Yesterday the Sound Transit Board took action to adopt a realignment plan framework for the 2016 ST3 ballot measure, which includes West Seattle light rail. Sound Transit currently faces a $6.5 billion affordability gap, so some projects are being delayed. The framework allows for consideration of adjustment if, for example, additional federal funds are attained.

The Board’s action establishes four tiers, with Tier 1 being the highest priority projects. West Seattle light rail is included in Tier 1, and listed for completion in 2032 for all three stations (Delridge, Avalon, Alaska Junction).

Some scenarios presented to the Board in previous months listed West Seattle outside of Tier 1, and proposed completion in 2035, or building only to the Delridge station in 2035, and to the Alaska Junction in 2038. 2032 was the earliest date for West Seattle presented in any of the scenarios the Board reviewed.

Here’s a link to the Realigned Capital Program for ST3 projects as it stands after the Board’s action. It notes that there have been non-financial delays of one to three years for some projects, principally due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are three potential schedules listed (Earliest Potential, Affordable, and Initial Target—all three list 2032 for West Seattle).

Duwamish Waterway Park Expansion

On Tuesday, I joined members of the Public Assets and Native Communities committee in approving Seattle Parks & Recreation’s purchase of the Unity Electric site in South Park, which will eventually expand the Duwamish Waterway Park.  The Duwamish Waterway Park is used for important local and regional festivals that bring together Indigenous people, and South Park’s Latinx, Somali, Vietnamese, and Cambodian community members.

The current tenants hold a six-year lease, but Superintendent Aguirre indicated willingness to move forward more quickly if possible.  You can learn more about the acquisition and the park project here.

Approximately 5,000 feet of Duwamish River shoreline are accessible within a 5-minute walk for South Park residents – but less than 400 feet of that shoreline are public, and only 100 feet of shoreline provide access to the water.  Improved access to open space and particularly to the Duwamish River is one of the highest community priorities for South Park residents, which has been documented in numerous plans including the South Park Green Space Vision Plan, Equity & Environment Agenda, South Park Outside and the Duwamish Valley Action Plan.

I’m grateful to Superintendent Aguirre for bringing this acquisition to Council, and to the countless South Park community members who have shared their vision for shoreline access and public space large enough for community gatherings consistently over the years.  I look forward to this acquisition contributing to that vision.


Construction Begins at Lowman Beach Park

Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) awarded the construction contract for the Lowman Beach Park Seawall and Beach Restoration project to Mike McClung Construction. The contractor is anticipated to mobilize on site in early September and this project will require partial closure of the park, including closure of beach access, tennis court, and trail access. Public access to a portion of the lawn and playground area will be maintained.  You can learn more about the Lowman Beach Park Seawall project here, and the racket court design project here.

Lowman Beach Park is a neighborhood park on the water located north of Lincoln Park at 7017 Beach Dr. SW. The Lowman Beach Park seawall is failing and will be removed as part of this project. As visitors to the park have seen, the existing seawall is slowly falling over and sliding towards the water. The goal of this project is to remove the remaining seawall and continue the shoreline restoration work that began when the south half of the seawall failed in the mid-1990s.  If you have questions about the project please contact the project manager, Janice Liang, at Janice.Liang@seattle.gov.

Comprehensive Plan Update

Once a year the Council passes a resolution to update the Comprehensive Plan, those plan updates derive from what we call the docketing process. Proposals are submitted by the public and the Seattle Planning Commission and Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD) make recommendations to include proposals – or not – in the docketing resolution. If you’re interested in additional background information, the Central Staff Memo here explains the process of updating the Comprehensive Plan, and describes the proposals received by the City and the recommendations of both OPCD, the Planning Commission, and Central Staff.

On Monday the Council unanimously passed the resolution updating the Comprehensive Plan.

One District 1 proposal was to rezone three parcels of single-family zoning to Low-rise 3 or 4 to allow for an affordable housing development for seniors in South Park on 3rd Ave S. This proposal was not recommended to move forward by the Planning Commission, OPCD, nor Central Staff.  The reason is that the Comprehensive Plan update does not typically consider areas smaller than one block in size.  There is strong interest in the vision for this property and recognition that it “aligns with many other City goals related to neighborhood access, building community wealth, and combating displacement.”  There are other approaches that can be pursued to support this vision.

The D1 item moving forward in the Comprehensive Plan update process is an assessment whether the South Park Urban Village meets the criteria for the urban village designation.

Finally, I want to note that the Council took another step forward with Impact Fees with this resolution. The resolution requests that the draft project list for transportation impact fees be updated which is a necessary step in implementing a transportation impact fee program. You can read more about impact fees here.

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Gun Violence, SPD Budget, Regional Peacekeeper Program; Covid Updates:  Mask Up Indoors, Popup Vax Clinics, WA Notify; Report on Executive Order on Re-imagining Policing and Community Safety; Center for Policing Equity Findings on Racial Disparities in Traffic Stops and Use of Force, 2014-2019; Mental Health Resources for BIPOC Communities; All-Hazards Mitigation Plan; Rental Inspection Program Lawsuit; Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal Project Executive Advisory Group

July 30th, 2021

Gun Violence, SPD Budget, Regional Peacekeeper Program

The recent uptick in gun violence in our community and being felt across our nation cannot become our new normal. Here and in other big cities across the U.S., the economic and health impacts of COVID-19 have exacerbated deep inequities in our communities, leading to a mental health crisis, a housing crisis and an economic crisis, all stressors that inflame conditions in our neighborhoods that lead to gun violence.

I am proposing a Seattle investment in the Regional Peacekeepers Collective now, not in next year’s budget, to address the steep rise in gun violence using a public health approach of:

  • Rigorous intervention for those directly involved

  • Secondary prevention for younger siblings

  • Follow-up care and support for family restoration and healing

Community violence intervention programs such as the Regional Peacekeepers Collective have been shown to reduce violence by as much as 60%.

Just like Seattle Fire Department quickly expanded Health One this year – with plans to expand again in the Fall – resulting in fewer police or fire engines sent, and just like Seattle has diverted 911 calls to administrative response in 2020 and 2021, we need to build a more robust alternate response now.

I have also proposed funding, rather than waiting for the 2022 budget, to support the creation of the new Triage One program and a dispatch protocol system, which will allow us to deploy the right resources and allow for better analysis so we can build more alternatives to sending an armed police office to a 911 call. Despite that the Council fully funded SPD’s 2021 staffing plan, police officers are still leaving the SPD in unprecedented numbers. I thank those remaining and committed to law enforcement service in Seattle and I want to ensure that they are dispatched to calls to which only they can respond.

Finally, I support funding to fill vacant Community Service Officer positions. I co-sponsored the creation of the program, and know these alternatives build community safety, and help allow sworn officers to respond to calls that only they can respond to.

The violence our community has experienced this week must end, and this Council will continue the work of reducing violence and building up true community safety.  As Chief Diaz said last week, “we need everyone to encourage their friends and family members to put down their weapons and find ways other than violence to resolve their issues.”

In addition to moving quickly to fund creating the Triage One response system, I also support moving quickly to provide funding for the Regional Peacekeepers Collective. I support these innovative approaches to public safety, and I believe we must act now to fund them. I will be proposing amendments to the supplemental budget legislation currently before the Council.

Earlier this year, I proposed legislation authorizing additional funding to SPD, and removing $7.5 million in restrictions in SPD’s budget.  I was very frustrated at this outcome, but the legislation did not pass. The legislation was based mostly on proposals I had invited SPD to present in the Public Safety and Human Services Committee that I chair. At the time, SPD presented proposals that they indicated would ameliorate the officer staffing shortage, such as hiring additional Community Service Officers positions, Crime Prevention Coordinator positions, technology investments, and additional funding for addressing public disclosure requests.  I supported these investments strongly.

The SPD budget currently has an estimated $13 million in salary savings, due to the staffing shortage.  In other words, there is $13 million budget to pay officers that we do not have, and we can’t hire them fast enough to spend the funds  Although these funds cannot be used to hire more officers, some of these funds can be used to address public safety needs. When I learned that there was an effort to re-direct this $13 million, away from SPD, I requested that SPD update the budget needs summary that they sent me when we were deliberating on the SPD budget bill earlier this year.

I will be working to authorize spending in the second quarter supplemental for funding for programs included in the previous bill, such as Community Service Officers, Crime Prevention Coordinators, and& technology, funding to address SPD evidence storage capacity issues as identified by the Inspector General, funding Public Disclosure Request (PDR) positions in OPA and Seattle IT to address PDR backlogs as identified by the City Auditor, as well as new investments listed above, like funding for Triage 1 and to support the Regional Peacekeepers’ Collaborative.

Covid Updates:  Mask Up Indoors, Popup Vax Clinics, WA Notify

In Seattle and other parts of the country, COVID-19 is on the rise, largely due to the spread of the more contagious delta variant and increasing activities as restrictions have been lifted.  The State Department of Health has more details in this blog post.  The federal Centers for Disease Control tracking shows substantial community transmission in King County.

What does this mean for you?

Mask Up Indoors:  Public Health – Seattle/King County, and the Centers for Disease Control now recommend all residents wear facial coverings when in indoor public settings.  This extra layer of protection is intended for settings like grocery stores, restaurants, retail, theaters, and entertainment establishments, where people can’t be sure everyone is vaccinated.

This step will help reduce the risk of COVID-19 to the public, including customers and workers.

Get Tested:  Get tested for COVID-19 if you have any symptoms or if it’s likely you were exposed to the virus.  Testing is quick and free at many locations.

Get Notified:  More than 2 million Washingtonians are using their phones to help stop the spread of COVID-19.  WA Notify can alert you if you’ve been near another user who later tests positive for COVID. It’s simple to add and your privacy is protected.

Get Vaccinated:  Despite increasing transmission and a bigger presence from the delta variant, vaccination is still working to protect people from severe COVID-19 illness. As of July 4, estimated hospital admission rates among unvaccinated people ages 45-64 were about 20 times higher than rates among people of the same age who were fully protected by vaccination. For ages 65 and older, the estimated admission rate for unvaccinated people was about nine times higher than for those who were fully protected.

Here’s how to find vaccination near you:


Report on Executive Order on Re-imagining Policing and Community Safety

On Tuesday the Public Safety and Human Services Committee heard a briefing from the Mayor’s Office, Police, Fire and the Community Safety and Communications Center on Re-imagining Policing and Community Safety.  This was long awaited work, deriving from both:

  1. The Mayor’s issuance of an Executive Order in October 2020, to “identify areas of SPD response that can be transitioned to civilian and community-based responses.”

  1. Council Resolution 31962 passed in August of 2020, to move civilian functions such as 911 Communications, Parking Enforcement, Harbor Patrol, and Emergency Management into a new department, and request that SPD undertake a 911 call response analysis.

The committee also heard a Central Staff Presentation with background, including description of the current state of mobile crisis response in Seattle, and comparisons to models in Denver, Olympia and Eugene, as well as potential alternative non-crisis 911 responses.

The Executive Presentation included an analysis of 911 calls from 2017 to 2019 by the National Institute for Criminal Justice Refrom. The presentation noted that in the near term up to 12% of calls for service can be responded to without SPD involvement, and “with further analysis, it is likely that additional calls can be diverted without compromising safety for both responders and subjects.”

The call analysis identified 174 call types as candidates for alternative responses; SPD confirmed 28 call types may not need SPD response (that’s where the 12% figure comes from). SPD agrees that some portion of 101 other call types could be appropriate for alternative response on a longer time horizon. Some of these raise legal and labor issues; others are about response time due to deployment model (e.g. officers being on constant patrol, whereas non-SPD responders are dispatched from a base).

The Executive does have a crisis response proposal for a small percentage of the 12% percentage of 911 calls that SPD and the Executive agree do not need an armed response. This is the Triage One proposal, to respond to “person-down” and “wellness-check” 911 calls, announced last week in a press conference I participated in along with the Mayor, Chiefs Diaz and Scoggins, and Community Safety Communications Center Director Lombard. Unfortunately, the Executive has not yet made a proposal to begin to address non-crisis 911 calls, nor to increase administrative response to 911 calls.

 “Per the NICJR analysis and SPD internal analysis up to 12% of calls for service can be responded to without SPD involvement in the near-term.”

The person down and welfare checks incident types proposed to be addressed by a new Triage One response represent only about 7,000 average annual calls. But the 12% of calls that the Executive agrees doesn’t need an armed response totals about 48k average annual calls. If Triage One is going to take the 7k person down & welfare check calls, what’s the recommendation to address the other 40k or so calls each year that the Executive agrees does not need an armed response?

Just like Seattle Fire Department quickly expanded Health One this year – with plans to expand again in the Fall – resulting in fewer police or fire engines sent, and just like Seattle diverted 911 calls to administrative response in 2020 and 2021, we need to build a more robust alternate response now.  When people say that the City needed to build the alternate response system before we reduced the size of the department, they are ignoring four things:

  1. No lay offs happened as a result of budget cuts
  2. Council was never talking about laying off any more than 70 officers (and only Brady list officers and some officers from specialty units that were being eliminated)
  3. Council has fully funded the 2021 SPD hiring plan, and
  4. We have already been steadily reducing the 911 calls that require an officers to respond.  But now, since so many officers have left SPD, we need a sufficiently robust alternate 911 response to replace 200 officers’ time, rather than only 70 officers’ time.

The IDT Report on Reimaging Policing and Community Safety in Seattle notes that the NIJCR Calls for Service Analysis report states up to 49% of call types could at some point be responded to with non-sworn response; as noted above, SPD indicates additional review is needed:

“SPD contracted with the National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (NICJR) to begin to identify which calls could reasonably be offloaded from Patrol. NICJR’s high-level analysis – based on call type, alignment with the criminal code, and frequency of arrests, proposed that up to 49 percent of call types currently responded to by patrol could, at some point in the future, be responded to via an alternative non-sworn response, without SPD involvement. NICJR specifically proposed a four-tier response model where non-SPD, SPD & community teams, and only SPD respond to calls. SPD agrees that this is the correct conceptualization of how to plan for future alternative response models, but that there is additional review required before commitments should be made to community and community groups about what work is appropriate and safe for a non-SPD response.”

The NIJCR analysis analyzed over 1.2 million calls for service from 2017 to 2019, and found that nearly 80% of calls were non-criminal. The analysis found 66.9% of time was dedicated to the non-criminal calls:


Center for Policing Equity Findings on Racial Disparities in Traffic Stops and Use of Force, 2014-2019

Earlier this month, SPD released a report by the Center for Policing Equity (CPE), which analyzed SPD data from 2014 to 2019, as part of CPE’s National Justice Database project.

The CPE report analyzed use of force, and a subset of traffic stops. The new study largely confirms that data of SPD’s own previous SPD review through 2018, issued in December 2019 showing policing racial disparities as well.

The CPE report shows disparities in use of force against black people from 2014 to 2019, varying between 35% and 42%, well above the black population in Seattle. The disparity was especially sharp with people age 21 and under, with over 50% of uses of force being used on a young black person. Overall, per capita, 5 incidents of use of force were recorded per 1,000 black residents for black people, compared to 0.8 for Latinx, 0.7 for White, and 0.3 for Asian residents.

There’s an important caveat for the traffic data, which I’ll describe below, but for the data available, a disproportionate amount of traffic stops were of black people (between 31% and 35%), and 3-4% for Native Americans, again, well above the residential population in Seattle.

Per capita rates for traffic stops were 70 per 1,000 residents during 2015 and 2019 for Native Americans; 43 per 1,000 for black people; 8 per 1,000 for white people; 7 per 1,000 for Latinx, and 2 per 1,000 for Asian people.

The data for traffic stops is complete though because it only includes what are called “Terry stops”, which is based on the standard of reasonable suspicion of involvement in criminal activity. SPD stops for traffic enforcement and other purposes were recorded on paper forms that were not systematically available and thus not reported on .

In 2017, the City Council adopted Ordinance 125358 on bias-free policing, which requires data collection for Terry Stops, as well as for traffic stops, including the “individual’s apparent race/ethnicity, color, or national origin; and gender or gender identity”. The legislation required that the data collected be made available to the Office of Police Accountability and the Office of the Inspector General. The legislation also requires noting the reason for the stop, and whether a citation was issued, or an arrest made.

Data for non-Terry traffic stops is still recorded on paper, so isn’t available in a systematic way that allows for analysis.  Consequently the requirements of Ordinance 125358 have not been adhered to by SPD and the data about these types of stops is absent from the CPE study.

I sponsored a budget action requesting SPD provide a report on July 1 on the demographics of traffic stops, including for criminal and non-criminal disparities as required by Ordinance 125358, and a report by November 1 that makes recommendations on training and policy changes, consistent with the Consent Decree, to address bias and racial disparities.

The report recommends recording information about every stop, and stored electronically.

SPD replied to the budget action request for information this week.  My office is analyzing the response.

Mental Health Resources for BIPOC Communities

Mental health conditions do not discriminate based on race, color, gender or identity. However, background and identity can make access to mental health treatment much more difficult.  In many communities, these problems are increased by less access to care, cultural stigma and lower quality care.

July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, dedicated to realizing a shared vision of a nation where anyone affected by mental illness – no matter their background, culture, ethnicity or identity – can get the appropriate support and quality of care to live healthy, fulfilling lives – a nation where no one feels alone in their struggle.

Here are some ways to access support:

All-Hazards Mitigation Plan

On Tuesday my committee passed the All-Hazards Mitigation Plan, the Full Council will vote on Monday.

The Seattle Office of Emergency Management (OEM) maintains an All-Hazards Mitigation Plan which 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.

OEM presented the 2021 Seattle All-Hazards Mitigation Plan update to the Public Safety Human Services Committee in mid-June, you can see the draft plan here and their presentation here. I also wrote about it at the time, you can read that here.

During the committee meeting I put forward an amendment, which was supported unanimously, and asks OEM to do two things:

  1. “develop a strategy to brief communities in the City of Seattle under the Sea-Tac International Airport and King County International Airport flight paths on information on existing City, County, and Port of Seattle planning that may relate to plane crash hazard mitigation and, following such briefings, report back to the City Council”

  1. “coordinate a citywide effort to identify approaches and projects which can mitigate the impacts of excessive heat on vulnerable populations in Seattle. The Office of Emergency Management should engage multiple City departments, community-based organizations, private sector partners and other subject matter experts including Public Health Seattle & King County and the Office of Sustainability and Environment to scope realistic and implementable strategies and approaches and identify needed public and private funding for those strategies.”

The first part of the amendment was developed with stakeholders from the Georgetown neighborhood after they reached out to me with their concerns regarding the King County International Airport and the possibility of a plan crash related emergency.

The second part of the amendment recognizes that the All-Hazards Mitigation Plan does address excessive heat, but that we need to do more as heatwaves are becoming more common in the Northwest.

Again, the Committee passed the plan out of committee on July 27 and the Full Council intends on voting on the plan on Monday August 2. Once the draft plan is approved by Council it will go for final review by the Washington State Emergency Management Division and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Rental Inspection Program Lawsuit

Earlier this week the Court of Appeals rejected a challenge to the City’s Rental Registration & Inspection Program (RRIO), in which all residential landlords must arrange public or private inspections of their rental units at least once every ten years. RRIO was established in 2014 to ensure all rental housing in Seattle is safe and meets basic housing maintenance requirements. There is a significant amount of history for me personally around this case which I describe below in the press release:

“The City Attorney’s Office successfully saw the program upheld at King County Superior Court, and this week a three judge panel on the Court of Appeals issued a clear opinion which upholds the Rental Registration & Inspection Program in its entirety. The plaintiffs argued that the City’s ordinance and the City’s requirements for inspectors, including training, were unconstitutional, but the judges found the arguments unpersuasive.

Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes said, “This is about protecting the health and safety of renters so they aren’t subject to conditions like toxic mold or exposed wiring. The goal in catching hazardous conditions is remediation, not punishment, so everyone can live safely in their homes. My thanks to City Attorney’s Office in-house attorneys Carolyn Boies, Jenna Robert, and Brian Maxey for presenting a well-argued case that saw this program over the finish line.”

Councilmember Lisa Herbold (District 1, West Seattle & South Park) helped develop the Rental Registration & Inspection Ordinance in her role as Legislative Aide to former Councilmember Nick Licata. As Councilmember herself, Herbold was primary sponsor of an ordinance amending the program in 2019.

Herbold said, “I have been working on this policy in some fashion for 27 years – since 1994, when landlords won round one of their opposition to a program enacted in 1987, then in 2006 to get state authorization for a new program, and then in 2010, when the Council passed Ordinance 123311. It’s an understatement to say, as former Councilmember Nick Licata did in 2010, that ‘Seattle’s had a long and difficult history on the issue of rental housing inspection programs.’”

The Rental Registration & Inspection Program requires the City to provide 60 days’ notice to property owners that the property must be inspected, and property owners must give any tenants at least 2 days’ notice prior to the inspection.

Studies show that renters living in the most substandard housing are the least likely to use the complaint-based system.  Renters often fear retaliation when they complain about their housing conditions. Hundreds of cities in the United States have proactive rental housing inspection programs requiring periodic inspections that don’t rely on a renter complaint. Some proactive rental housing inspection programs have been in existence for more than 40 years.”

Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal Project Executive Advisory Group

Last week, the Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal Replacement Project Executive Advisory Group held its first meeting. The group, of which I am a member, consists of elected officials representing West Seattle, Vashon, and Southworth, the Chairman of the Suquamish Tribe, as well as SDOT, KC Metro, WSDOT and Kitsap Transit. The meeting was a high-level introduction to the project. Membership rosters are available here.

The Community Advisory Group held their second meeting on Wednesday; the presentation isn’t yet posted, though the June 23 presentation is. Members are residents of the three communities, including Fauntleroy neighborhood residents, and representatives from the West Seattle Transportation coalition.

A Technical Advisory Group exists as well that consists of government representatives.

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West Seattle Bridge: Public Meeting / $12 Million More in Federal Funding; $10.4M in Community Safety Awards; Office of the Inspector General Sentinel Event Review; Council Approves Creation of Economic Forecasting Office; Designating Facial Recognition Technology as Surveillance Technology; Triage One Announced Today

July 23rd, 2021

West Seattle Bridge: Public Meeting/$12 Million More in Federal Funding

On Tuesday, SDOT hosted a virtual public meeting about the West Seattle Bridge repair. More than 250 community members attended. You can watch the meeting on YouTube. In coming weeks SDOT will post subtitles in English, Spanish, Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese, Khmer, Somali, and Oromo on the West Seattle Bridge Program page. They’ll also post a translated meeting summary, and the Q&A, as well as the translated power point presentation. Deputy Mayor Moseley announced that the WSDOT has approved $12 million in additional federal funds for the bridge repair, from funds that that WSDOT administers. This brings the total of federal funds dedicated to the repair to $38 million.


$10.4M in Community Safety Awards Announced

Throughout 2020, the calls from community to invest in alternatives to policing were consistent, loud and clear. Seattle City Council answered that call by appropriating $16 million to invest in community-led organizations that are creating community safety on the ground every day in Seattle.  Last year, the Human Services Department moved quickly to award $4 million to the Seattle Community Safety Initiative, which is building community safety hubs and wraparound services in three Seattle neighborhoods – including West Seattle – under the leadership of Community Passageways. This week, the Human Services Department (HSD) announced $10.4 million awarded to community-led organizations that are building safety in our neighborhoods from the ground up.  This new investment will bring together a cohort of organizations dedicated to reimagining how community safety can be achieved in Seattle, and gives them the resources they need to lead the way in creating safety in our City.  Services and strategies include:

  • Activating neighborhood-based strategies to reduce crime rates at hotspot
  • De-escalation support in response to shots fired
  • Re-entry services
  • Case management
  • Community awareness about disproportionality in criminal legal services
  • Family support to prevent youth from entering the criminal legal system
  • Supports to address family and gender-based violence

Representatives from HSD will attend my August 10th Public Safety & Human Services committee meeting to make a presentation on the grant awards.  You can sign up to receive an agenda for that meeting.

Office of the Inspector General Sentinel Event Review

Yesterday the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released a Sentinel Event Review of Police Response to 2020 Protests in Seattle, Wave 1: Downtown Protests May 29-June 1. A sentinel event is defined as a significant negative outcome, such as a death or serious injury, that acts as a signal that problems within a system exist and may lead to similar bad results if the system is not examined to find root causes and proper remedies. Industries like airlines and health care providers have developed and used “sentinel event review” processes to thoroughly examine these types of incidents, identify what caused them, and use those lessons to prevent them in the future. AS the OIG website notes, Sentinel Event Review (SER) “aims to identify the causes and contributing factors to these incidents with the goal of prevention.”  The principles and goals of these reviews are:

The review includes 54 recommendations, from five incidents, and events preceding those incidents:

The Office of the Inspector General, and community members who participated in the Sentinel Review as panel members, will provide a briefing to the Public Safety and Human Services Committee on Tuesday, July 27th.

Council Approves Creation of Economic Forecasting Office

On Monday the Council voted to approve the creation of an independent Economic and Revenue Forecasts’ Office. This action brings the City in line with the best practices of State and County government. The Central Staff memo notes, “Similar to functions of the King County Office of Economic and Financial Analysis and the Washington State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council, the ERFO would provide independent forecasts and economic analyses.” My thanks to Council President González for developing this proposal to insure that, in future years, the Council is on a level playing field with the Mayor in making budget proposals.  The timing and manner in which forecasts are shared with the Council should not be used as a strategic advantage for the executive.  Doing so only creates conflict. The memo notes that changes in forecasted revenues are at times presented to the Council simultaneously with new Executive branch spending proposals. The memo notes “Any difference between when data is first known and publicly communicated represents an opportunity to form a strategy and communicate policy proposals for using new resources.” This is true for any potential reductions as well.

Designating Facial Recognition Technology as Surveillance Technology

At Monday’s Full Council meeting we will be voting on a Clerk File – sponsored by myself and Councilmember Pedersen – that will ensure facial recognition technology is considered surveillance technology and therefore subject to the rigors of the City’s Surveillance Ordinance. You can read a description of how that ordinance works here. This image breaks down the basic steps in a review process for any technology considered to be “surveillance technology.”

During a recent Office of Professional Accountability (OPA) investigation (2020OPA-0731), the Director concluded that an officer’s use of facial recognition technology was not in violation to the City’s Surveillance Ordinance. I disagreed with this analysis and believe that facial recognition technology is currently fully within the jurisdiction and purview of the Surveillance ordinance, meaning that use of this technology is currently prohibited unless reviewed and approved as described in the graphic above.  However, in order to eliminate any confusion in the future whether facial recognition technology is covered by the Surveillance Ordinance, Councilmember Pedersen and I brought forward this Clerk File to settle the question.

In November of 2020, Chief Diaz wrote: “SPD does not use Clearview AI [a facial recognition technology] and has no intention of using Clearview AI. As Chief, I am committed to upholding the tenets of the Surveillance Ordinance and the civil liberties of our residents. Clearview AI’s business product is at odds with those two central priorities.”  Further, on my request SPD, sent out a department wide communication reminding everyone in the SPD about the policy. It makes clear that one cannot use personal technology as a means to bypass City policies and included the policies:

“SMC Chapter 14.18 prohibits the use of personal technology, administrative privileges, or any other means to bypass City processes on acquisition and use of surveillance technology.  

Please review SMC Chapter 14.18 definitions of surveillance technology and the Chapter requirements concerning the acquisition of any new surveillance technology.  The full SMC can be found here: https://library.municode.com/wa/seattle/codes/municipal_code?nodeId=TIT14HURI_CH14.18ACUSSUTE  

SMC 14.18.020 requires Seattle City Council approval for acquisition of surveillance technologies by all City employees prior to use.” 

The Chief, at a later date, publicly indicated that it is a “gray area” saying “It is not Chief Diaz’s position that Seattle’s Surveillance Ordinance, as presently codified, covers the use of facial recognition software.” The Clerk File before the Council on Monday will ensure that in the future the Surveillance Ordinance does indeed cover the use of facial recognition technologies and will be subject to the review process outlined above.

Specialized Triage One Response Model Announced Today

I joined Mayor Jenny Durkan, Police Chief Adrian Diaz, Fire Chief Harold Scoggins, and Director of the Community Safety and Communications Center Christopher Lombard for a press conference today. You’ll be able to view the full press conference on Seattle Channel. 

Throughout 2020, the calls from community to invest in alternatives to policing were consistent, loud and clear. We know that not every call to 911 requires an armed response. A new specialized triage response model has been proposed.  It is both creative thinking and a data-informed innovation, providing a qualified response to folks who require assistance but do not represent a threat.

I am increasingly hearing from constituents who are asking for exactly this kind of option, to help their family, friends, and neighbors.  The analysis on the city’s 911 calls shows that a proposed Triage One system could respond to about 8,000 calls a year.  An analysis of Seattle’s 911 calls will be presented to my Public Safety and Human Services committee next week. The more calls we take out of the 911 response system, the better response times will improve for police officers to respond to 911 calls that only they can take.  The Mayor enacted an Executive Order last year, and the City Council passed a similar Statement of Legislative Intent.  The Triage One proposal is one small element expected out of that much broader analysis that is scheduled to be heard on Tuesday.

911 call takers have been called the ‘gatekeepers for the entire criminal justice system.’ It’s past time that we provide better tools to our dispatchers so that the right resources can be deployed.

I have proposed funding in the second quarter supplemental budget for a new protocol dispatch system so dispatchers recently transferred by the Council from SPD to the Community Safety Communication Center can better deploy these new specialized triage response responders. The protocol system will also allow for better data analysis to allow for the continued evolution of resource deployment.

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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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