Metro Re-Routing West Seattle/Downtown Buses Starting September 12; Your Voice Your Choice Voting Open through September 30; August Constituent Email Report

September 7th, 2019

Metro Re-Routing West Seattle/Downtown Buses Starting September 12; 1st & Dearborn Intersection Closed Beginning September 12

King County Metro announced changes yesterday to the West Seattle/Downtown bus routes, beginning on September 9th. Here’s a link to a map showing the changes (also shown below).

WSDOT announced that on September 12 they will begin removing what remains of the Alaskan Way Viaduct, and will need to close the intersection at 1st and Dearborn for up to 10 days.

Starting September 9th, buses traveling from Downtown to West Seattle will travel onto the 2nd Avenue Extension, then on to 4th; a new stop will be added on the 2nd Avenue Extension, at South Main Street.

This routing will be in effect until early 2020.

Buses will no longer travel southbound on 1st Avenue, and the stop for southbound buses at 1st/King will close.

Northbound buses, from West Seattle to Downtown, will travel on the SODO Busway and 4th Avenue. The C Line will have a stop at Prefontaine; the 21X, 55, 56, 57, 113, 120, 121, 122, 123 and 125 will have a stop at James Street, as shown on the map.

The northbound changes are scheduled from September 12th through 21st.

In early 2020, these routes will use Alaskan Way, and access Downtown on Cherry Street, then continue on 3rd Avenue.

Here’s a link to KC Metro’s announcement.

Thank you to Metro, SDOT and the County Executive for their responsiveness to constituent concerns. My earlier newsletters about this are here and here.

Also, earlier this week WSDOT announced they will begin charging tolls for the SR99 tunnel beginning November 9. My office has spoken to WSDOT about the importance of closely monitoring how this goes, as it has the potential to add more cars Downtown, and affect traffic and bus trip times, especially between November 9 and when buses begin using Alaskan Way. WSDOT indicated they are aware of this and will be monitoring it.

WSDOT’s announcement for the closure of the 1st/Dearborn intersection says: “This closure will cause unavoidable disruptions to traffic and we ask drivers to make a plan for their trips: consider alternate routes or ways of getting around, including exiting SR 99 at Spokane Street, using transit or taking the King County Water Taxi. Next month will also bring demolition to the section of viaduct around Marion Street and changes for passengers arriving at Colman Dock. This construction is just one component of the #SeattleSqueeze as Seattle updates its transportation infrastructure to match the city’s mobility needs.

Your Voice Your Choice Voting Open through September 30

Voting for the Your Voice Your Choice program has begun, and is open through September 30.

Projects were identified by community members earlier this year, and reviewed by SDOT and Parks. Here’s a map of candidate projects.

You can review District 1 projects here, and vote here.

Voting is open to anyone age 11 and up (must be 13 and up to vote online) who lives, works, goes to school, worships, receives services, volunteers, or is part of a program in the City of Seattle. Each voter may cast one ballot per City Council district, and may choose up to three (3) projects per district. You can vote online or by paper ballot at any Seattle Public Library branch. Printable ballots are in the dropdown below.

Ballots are available in other languages here.

Information about past projects is available here.

August Constituent Email Report

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


Tenant Protections for Survivors of DV and Roommates; KC Metro Examining Potential Bus Reroutes, Testing Thursday; Senior and Disabled Persons Property Tax Exemption Income Level Raised; Delridge Comp Plan Amendments; Want to Name a Park?

August 14th, 2019

Tenant Protections for Survivors of DV and Roommates

This week we had a first discussion in Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development and Arts Committee on legislation I’ve sponsored to protect survivors of domestic violence from being held liable for damages incurred by an abuser, and to protect roommates and family members from categorical housing denials and evictions. I have been working closely with advocates with Washington Community Action Network and the Housing Justice Project to draft and advance this legislation.

Both of these bills were identified as priorities in the “Losing Home,” report. In several places, the report shows how domestic violence (DV) is often a “precursor to housing instability, especially for women” who may fall behind on rent after missing work due to domestic violence, or experience a change in income after reporting and/or separating from an abuser.

Another financial impact that survivors of DV face is outstanding costs of damages to a unit; under current law, tenants are responsible for paying for all damages, even if it was caused as a result of domestic violence, and outstanding debt due to damages can impact a persons’ credit and rental history, creating another barrier for survivors to leave a DV situation. Council Bill 119598 seeks to change that by prohibiting a landlord from holding a survivor liable for damages to the unit so long as:

  • They are provided written documentation that the tenant or household member was a victim of DV, and that the damage was caused by a perpetrator of DV;
  • The documentation is signed by a qualified third party and describes:
    • the time, date, and location of the act of DV that resulted in property damage occurred;
    • a brief description of act of DV that resulted in property damage; and
    • that the tenant or household member informed the qualified third party the name of the perpetrator; and
  • The tenant or household member informed the qualified third party of the name of the perpetrator of the act of domestic violence and property damage.

The top goal of this legislation is to ensure that survivors of DV aren’t held liable for damages related to the circumstances of their abuse. It makes more explicit the protections under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)—public housing organizations like the Seattle Housing Authority follow VAWA by explicitly prohibiting denial, termination, or eviction against people on the basis of being a survivor. The issue of liability during incidents of DV in rental housing also has precedence in the state legislature—current statewide protections permit a survivor to terminate a tenancy within 90 days of an incident of abuse without penalty.

That said, the ability to determine who should be held responsible for damages to a unit is still important to work out. As it’s currently written, the legislation doesn’t require that the name of the perpetrator be disclosed to a landlord so as not to put the survivor at risk of retribution. That said, if a landlord does have the name of perpetrator, they can seek recourse for damages. We are looking to see if this bill can create a path that facilitates the ability of a landlord to pursue damages against the perpetrator.

CB 119606 prohibits a landlord from limiting the number of people residing in a rental unit to fewer than the legal occupancy limit established by local, state, or federal law. The bill requires any rental agreement to allow occupancy by:

  • A tenant;
  • A tenant’s family or household members;
  • One additional person who is not a tenant’s family or household member; and
  • The additional person’s family and household members.

In a high rent environment, living with roommates and family members is necessary to help renters make rent and afford other expenses like food, health care, childcare, transportation, etc. The 2019 National Low Income Housing Coalition report shows that the average housing wage (what a tenant needs to make to afford a rental unit at fair market rate) is $36.52 for a 2-bedroom home in Seattle-Bellevue area. This is more than twice the minimum wage.

I appreciate how this bill ensures that our private housing market can be inclusive diverse household compositions. A constituent who came to testify in support spoke to the need to care for aging and disabled family members while renting—with this legislation they won’t have to worry about being denied from a home so long as they can meet their obligations as a lease-holder.

This bill also restricts a landlord from imposing additional screening criteria when a household member or roommate is added to the household, and protects the remaining tenants’ authority to bring on additional roommate(s) if one or more spaces of the legal occupancy is vacated.

KC Metro Examining Potential Bus Reroutes, Testing Thursday

On Thursday, August 14 King County Metro will reroute buses from Downtown to West Seattle that currently travel on 1st Avenue.

This will apply to southbound service on the 21 Express, 37, 55, 56, 57, 113, 120, 121, 122, 123, 125 and the RapidRide C Line, from 5 a.m. on Thursday to 5 a.m. on Friday.

There will be a temporary bus stop on the 2nd Avenue Extension South between Main and Washington. The bus will not travel on 1st Avenue, and so won’t use the stop at King Street.

Here’s a link to Metro’s notice, which notes, “The data we collect will be compared against current routing and last week’s temporary reroute and used to determine options to improve pathways during the “Seattle Squeeze.” Their post also provides information re: frequently asked questions.

Thank you to KC Metro for doing this. SDOT has completed the work on signal timing on 1st Avenue they committed to.

Last Monday Metro noted the work on 1st Avenue, and said, re: moving the buses on to a different pathway (e.g. 4th Avenue) “these measures would be difficult and costly to renew and maintain for an extended time.”  After seeing that I sent a letter to the Mayor requesting information about how much this would cost; the letter quotes from bus riders who e-mailed me about their experiences with long delays.

The letter further asked the Mayor to consult with the Fire Chief whether traffic conditions on 1st Avenue affect the ability of the Fire Department to provide timely fire life/safety response in the Pioneer Square neighborhood.

You can sign up for KC Metro bus alerts here; once you sign up you can select which bus routes you’d like to receive notices for.

Here’s a link to background about my earlier requests to SDOT, including  regarding a bus lane in 2018, and re: using 4th Avenue in April.

Senior and Disabled Persons Property Tax Exemption Income Level Raised

Earlier this year the state legislature passed legislation that will make more seniors and disabled person eligible for property tax exemptions in 2020. The legislation went into effect on July 28.

The legislation required the State Department of Revenue to update income eligibility thresholds in each county in the state beginning August 1, 2019, and every fifth year thereafter (listed as Income Threshold 3 in the 2020-2024 chart).

For 2019 taxes the income threshold for eligibility was $40,000; for 2020 taxes in King County the eligibility level will be $58,423.

The King County Assessor webpage notes that applications for 2020 taxes will be available in January; you can sign up for the list to receive information here.

The Assessor notes that only 1 in 100 qualified senior and disabled persons have registered for the program, so if you think you might be eligible please go to the KC Assessor’s webpage about exemptions (which includes information about deferrals as well).

After taking office, I heard about a desire for property tax relief from numerous seniors in District 1; it can affect people’s ability to remain in their homes.

The City’s 2017 State Legislative Agenda spoke in general terms about affordability for seniors, but after hearing from numerous seniors in District 1, I wanted to include more specific language.

So I worked with the City’s Office of Intergovernmental Relations to add a specific request to the City’s 2018 State Legislative Agenda: “The City supports reviewing and updating the eligibility requirements under the property tax exemption for senior citizens and disabled persons.” It was also included in the 2019 State Legislative Agenda.

Many thanks for 45th District Senator Dhingra and other co-sponsors for work on this very important legislation.

Delridge Comp Plan Amendments

At Monday’s Full Council meeting one of the actions we took was to pass a resolution to identify possible amendments for further study for the Seattle 2035 Comprehensive Plan – this process is known as docketing.  The Council included in that resolution, attachment A, which proposes a number of changes intended to enhance the Delridge Neighborhood plan, and requests recommendations from the Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD) and the Seattle Planning Commission including:

  • Increasing usage of parks, trails and cultural/recreational facilities by engaging historically underrepresented communities in the planning process;
  • Coordinating with community members and supporting Delridge Community Center, the Southwest Teen Life Center and Youngstown Cultural Arts center to provide culturally supportive programming;
  • Reduce pollution and stormwater impact to Longfellow Creek by with Natural Drainage Systems in the public ROW;
  • Increase sidewalks, implement the Pedestrian Master Plan, and engage in ST3 station planning focused on transit-oriented development efforts;
  • Increase opportunities to access affordable healthy food, and support urban farming and education; and
  • Use the RSJI toolkit when scoping capital projects and programming and emphasize inclusive engagement efforts to increase access for communities of color, immigrants, refugees, Native people, people living on low incomes, youth and limited-English proficient individuals in Delridge in planning process.

This is a step following up on the passage of the North Delridge Action Plan Resolution, which I wrote about here last April. The City’s Comprehensive Plan is typically updated once a year and those updates derive from the docketing process. The adoption of attachment A means that OPCD will complete an environmental review and recommendations of the proposed amendments, and Council then moves forward with the adoption of amendments in the Seattle 2035 Comprehensive Plan.

Want to Name a Park?

Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) is inviting the public to submit potential names for the new park which will be located at 48th and Charlestown. SPR originally purchased this property in 2014 and anticipate the new park will be completed by 2021. You can find more information about the park here.

There is a Parks Naming Committee which is comprised of one representative designated by the Board of Park Commissioners; one by the Chair of the City Council Civic Development, Public Assets and Native Communities Committee; and one by the Parks Superintendent. Naming criteria for the park can be found here. All names will be considered by the Committee who will make a recommendation to the Parks Superintendent who will have the final say.

If you would like to submit a name for the park you need to do so by Friday, October 18, 2019. It is requested that you please include an explanation of how your suggestion matches the naming criteria. Send to:

Seattle Parks and Recreation, Parks Naming Committee
100 Dexter Ave. N, Seattle, WA 98109

or by e-mail to Paula Hoff


Impact Fees; Delridge Day this Saturday; July Constituent Email Report; In-District Office Hours

August 9th, 2019

Impact Fees

This week the Sustainability and Transportation Committee had a briefing on impact fees. Impact fees are charges to developers to address the needs for capacity improvements to transportation, parks, schools, and fire facilities. I last wrote about impact fees here and provided some history about the Council’s efforts to develop an impact fee program.

This weeks’ briefing, which you can watch here (start at 3:05:36) explains what transportation impact fees are, which other local jurisdictions have them & how they compare with each other, and potential next steps.

Why is this coming up now? In my last write up I reported on the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) list of eligible projects which is required for a Comprehensive Plan amendment.  That list of projects includes:

  • Bicycle Master Plan
  • Freight Master Plan
  • Pedestrian Master Plan
  • Move Seattle Plan
  • Capital Improvement Program

To meet requirements, the Transportation Impact Fees methodology must “separate the share of project costs that address existing deficiencies from the share of project costs that add multimodal capacity and serve new growth. The resulting growth-related improvement costs are then further separated to identify the share of growth related to land development in Seattle versus growth from outside of the City. New development in Seattle cannot be charged a fee to pay for the capacity needs generated by development outside of the City.”

The EIS received a determination of insignificance, but it was appealed by Impact Fee opponents to the Hearing Examiner in November. We now expect the Hearing Examiner to rule by the end of August or early September. Depending on the ruling the Council could potentially move forward with an impact fee proposal this year.

Next Steps:

Step 1 – Comprehensive Plan Amendments

  • Hearing Examiner decision on appeal expected by mid- August
  • Committee discussion and action on Comprehensive Plan amendment legislation

Step 2 – Fee Schedule and Program

  • Policy and regulatory decision on a fee schedule, exemptions
  • Discussion and potential action on implementing regulations
  • September – October: Discussion of potential amendments to the Mayor’s proposed budget based on an impact fee program
  • November: Potential Full Council action on Comprehensive Plan amendments, implementing regulations, and associated budget amendment

You can read more about impact fees here.

Delridge Day this Saturday

With over 50 booths this year’s festival will be the largest yet. There will be skate lesson from Skate Like A Girl at 12pm and 2pm, field games for all ages throughout the day, martial arts demonstrations, and live music from Bill Wolford, Ellis Brothers, The Slags, and Roo and the Few.

FREE food will be provided thanks to the support of the Seattle Police Foundation, and the Police Department will be there too for the annual Southwest Precinct Picnic. Last year they brought a working canine, a bomb squad robot to hand out candy, and mounted officers.

Come join your neighbors:

  • Date: Saturday, August 10, 2019
  • Time: 11:00 am–3:00 pm
  • Location: Delridge Community Center and Park

July Constituent Email Report

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

In-District Office Hours

On August 16, I will be at the South Park Community Center (8319 8th Ave S) between 2pm and 7pm. The final meeting of the day will begin at 6:30 p.m.

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

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

  • Friday, September 27, 2019
    Senior Center of West Seattle, 4217 SW Oregon St
  • Friday, October 25, 2019
    Southwest Customer Service Center, 2801 SW Thistle St
  • Friday, November 29, 2019
    South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S
  • Friday, December 20, 2019
    Senior Center of West Seattle, 4217 SW Oregon St



Bus Commutes on 1st Avenue // Center City Streetcar, $9 Million Proposal

August 2nd, 2019

Bus Commutes on 1st Avenue

West Seattle bus riders are facing unacceptably long wait times on 1st Avenue to get back home in the evening.

Earlier this week my office sent a request to SDOT Director Zimbabwe to examine options to speed up traffic. The email that I sent to constituents earlier this week requested an update from SDOT Director Sam Zimbabwe; today SDOT replied. Here are the four separate actions SDOT has identified:

  1. Revising signal timing at 1st Ave S & S Dearborn St and Alaskan Way S & S Dearborn St to further aid transit operation
  2. Further optimizing the signal timing plan for the 1st Ave corridor through Pioneer Square while emphasizing the north and south movements
  3. Implementing pre-game event timing to support the last two mid-day baseball game for the season
  4. Working to ensure high priority for incident management during the morning and afternoon commute time

Thank you to Director Zimbabwe for responding to this important issue for West Seattle commuters.

Center City Streetcar, $9 Million Proposal

The Mayor and SDOT have sent legislation to the Council requesting a $9 million “interfund” loan for the Center City Streetcar.  The loan is intended to pay for necessary extra design work because SDOT ordered streetcars that are too large to fit in portions of the alignment and the maintenance base. The funding will also allow SDOT to re-evaluate the strength of 1st Avenue in Pioneer Square.

The $9 million loan is proposed to eventually be paid back from the sale of the city-owned Mercer Megablock properties, expected in 2020.

The current cost estimate of the Center City Streetcar is $286 million, with a funding gap of at least $65 million. I’ve written about a Center City Streetcar here, here and here, so I’ll address only a few points here.

First of all, in 2017, when the estimated cost was $158 million, the Council adopted an amendment I proposed requiring that SDOT report to the Council to “identify contingency strategies and potential funding sources to address the risk that future Federal Transit Agency funds are not included in the federal budget to reimburse the capital construction costs of the project.”

SDOT’s report said only “If the full $75 million is not appropriated by Congress, SDOT will identify alternative funding sources to complete the project on schedule.”

The Council still has not received an answer about how to pay for the extra costs of the project, nor have we received a proposal to fully fund it.

This matters.  The most likely option to be proposed for how to pay the extra costs of the projects is by not funding other transportation priorities.

If the City receives all $75 million from the federal government and the Council authorizes a bond sale, estimated to be $45 million, to dedicate commercial parking tax revenues to fund the bonds there will still be a $65 million gap.

The more likely scenario is a $140 million funding gap.  Here’s why:

Thanks to the First Quarter Enhanced Capital Project reports for the 2019 watchlist that I sponsored and that the Council adopted earlier this year, for better accountability over large capital projects, we learned that: “The $50 million will expire in Sept 2020 if a small starts grant agreement is not yet executed. We do not expect to have an executed small starts grant agreement by Sept 2020 under the revised, draft schedule.”

Even if it was possible for the federal funding to come in, and there were no additional cost increases, $75 million would cover only 26% of the construction costs.   But in reality, as we learned from the watch list report, the new, hoped for $25 million in FTA funding is speculative but, also the original $50 million will expire too, requiring Congress to do a new future budget appropriation in 2020.

Keep in mind that in February 2016, when former Mayor Murray announced that $75 million was proposed for federal funding, the total project cost was listed at $135 million. This estimate was included in the October 2015 SDOT “Small Starts” grant funding application to the Federal Transit Administration. That application listed the FTA grant as funding 55.6% of construction costs.

The FTA funding for this project is more uncertain than ever, resulting in a possible $140 million funding gap, nearly half of the project.

While SDOT and the Mayor’s Office have different leadership today than that when the report was issued, and have been more transparent about costs, I still believe that it would be bad stewardship of public resources if the Council voted before have a funding proposal for the project.

Secondly, we need more information about the funds from the sale of the Mercer properties. How much will the City have available to spend from the sale of those properties? What could we do with those funds?

The first use of funds from the sale is to repay around $18.5 million in loans taken out against the properties, principally to fund the Mercer Project. Some of the funds must be used for transportation (100% for one of the properties, 42% for the other). In Resolution 31786, adopted by the Council in late 2017, the Council stated its intent to use additional non-transportation revenues for affordable housing.

This context is needed to make an informed decision about what the best use of these funds is. Is it $9 million? Or more?

Finally, it’s increasingly important for all of Seattle to have good transit connections to the South Lake Union employment center. When the C Line route from West Seattle shifted to run to South Lake Union, rather than ending in Downtown, ridership went up. Route 40, connecting Ballard and Fremont to South Lake Union since 2012, has high ridership. The H Line Rapid Ride project is scheduled to connect Delridge directly to South Lake Union beginning in 2021.

I-976 has qualified for the statewide November ballot; if it passes, in 2020 the Seattle Transportation Benefit District (STBD) would lose $25 million in vehicle license fees Seattle voters approved in 2014 for additional bus service, beyond what is funded by King County Metro. This could affect Seattle’s ability to maintain current funding levels for service in 2020; on the C Line, for example, over 1/3 of service is now funded by Seattle. While the City has some reserves, this is important to keep in mind.

Consideration of legislation for the $9 million is planned for Tuesday, August 6 in the Sustainability and Transportation Committee.


Housing Bond and Eviction Reform Update; Business Stabilization Fund Pilot; DNDA Spotlight in the Seattle Times!; Bag Ban Report

July 26th, 2019

Housing Bond and Eviction Reform Legislation Update

I’ve been advocating to use the City’s bonding capacity for affordable housing and services since taking office in 2015.  In 2017, I sponsored legislation that authorized the City to issue $29 million in limited tax general obligation (LTGO) funding for building affordable housing—using the City’s line of credit which gets paid back through tax revenue over time. Over a dozen nonprofit developers indicated their interest to help bring over 2000 units of affordable housing online with this added funded capacity.

Since future tax revenue is necessary to pay off the debt, this authority is best used when connected to a revenue stream to pay the debt.  The $29 million dollar bond issuance authorized by the Council in 2016 for housing will be paid off with revenue generated by the Short Term Rental tax.

House Bill 1406, passed in this year’s session of the Washington State Legislature, gives local cities and counties the opportunity to retain sales tax revenue that is already collected and would otherwise be given to the state for acquiring, rehabilitating, or building affordable housing.  This means that the City of Seattle now has a dedicated revenue source to pay a our continued use of our bonding capacity and to help bring affordable housing online much more quickly. This added bonding capacity could also help leverage more state and federal dollars for our affordable housing. As I wrote a few weeks ago, the bill will go into effect next week, starting the clock on a 6-month timeline for the City to pass a Resolution stating the intent to use the new authority, and a year to pass an ordinance enacting the authority.

That said, given our affordable housing crisis we know we can’t drag our feet on this! I appreciate that Councilmember Mosqueda and the Mayor have also been diligently tracking this timeline, and I am excited for the opportunity to partner with them to find a way to double the City’s annual housing investments in each of the remaining four years of the Housing Levy and better reflect the projected County-wide need to adequately fund our homelessness intervention system identified in the 2018 McKinsey report.

Additionally, some much-needed reforms to our eviction system have also been made in the state legislature that aligned with my priorities to help people stay in their homes highlighted in the “Losing Home” report. Some of these changes were heard in my Committee this Tuesday in a bill that ‘harmonizes,’ i.e. aligns, City policy with new state requirements. Specifically, these changes are:

  • Extend the 3-day pay-or-vacate notice for nonpayment of rent to 14 days—so tenants have time to access services, support, or the next paycheck to get caught up and avoid eviction;
  • Define rent as “recurring and periodic charges identified in a rental agreement,” and clarifying that it be applied before other costs like late payments, damages, legal costs, or other fees. This provision is important to insure that landlords don’t use rent to pay for other costs and trigger a basis for an eviction.
  • Extend the minimum notice to 60 days in advance for all rent increases (upon completion of a fixed-term or month-to-month rental agreement), replacing Seattle’s 60-day notice required for increases above 10%. This provision will provide tenants more time to anticipate and make plans in advance of a rent increase, as well as incentivize landlords to plan ahead.

These changes will help check off a few items from Resolution 31861 that I sponsored earlier this year to outline City Council’s efforts to codify the recommendations made in “Losing Home”.

I will be introducing two more bills this summer that will meet two more items from this Resolution: ensuring that survivors of domestic violence aren’t held liable for damages done by their abuser, and to prevent roommates and family members, oftentimes sources of financial support in a high-rent environment, from being denied housing or evicted. I’ll keep you updated as these bills advance.

Business Stabilization Fund Pilot

South Park community members identified the need for small business help at a May community walk with City of Seattle departments.  This walk allowed the City to engage with communities to identify and address needs, including landscape maintenance on City-owned properties; replacing streetlights; removing graffiti; improving sign and pavement markings; and removing debris from illegal dumping. But also, this engagement helped lead the Office of Economic Development to launch a new Business Stabilization Fund Pilot program.

The need for a program like this was also underscored by the experience of the Luna Park Businesses impacted with reduced customers during the Avalon/35th SW Seattle Department of Transportation work there to complete paving, add a protected bike lanes and add a transit lane.

The new program is intended to provide financial support to a small business impacted by destabilizing event like the impact of construction projects, raising rents, displacement, crime, or a personal emergency. Funding is in the form of small grants up to $25,000 through one-time Community Development Block Grant (CBDG) funding dedicated to stabilization for low-income small businesses that might not have the financial wherewithal, or face cultural/linguistic barriers, to applying for a bank loan.

The Small Business Stabilization Fund has a deliberate focus on countering the displacement impact driven by economic growth in the City. I’ve written before about local economist Dick Conway’s analysis of job creation in what OED Director Lee calls the “knowledge” sector like tech, but also it creates increased demands on our infrastructure and public services. This, in combination with our regressive tax system, results in a deep burden on for people who are low- and middle-income, including small business owners. Our small businesses are a job pipeline integral for a healthy, diverse economy.

inclusive economy infographic

This infographic was circulated in a recent OED Race and Social Justice Initiative Report in my Committee to depict how the department is structured to create an inclusive economy.  “Small business support and technical assistance” is one of four organizing principles the department is using to address the challenges resulting from an economy that is booming, but leaving many behind.

As I heard in this briefing, this program has been deliberately crafted with racial equity in mind, and is targeting outreach towards:

  • “Microenterprises”, operated by low-income owners and have five or fewer employees; and
  • High-risk displacement areas

OED’s Small Business Advocate team are on-deck to provide support in completing the application for the funding and identifying other OED programs that could benefit the business, and a financial consultant will be matched with recipients to offer guidance in helping business stabilization. These are also strategies embedded in the Legacy Business Program.  I look forward to seeing how they play out!

If you’re a small business that has experienced a destabilizing event that you think could qualify you for this Fund, click here to apply.

DNDA Spotlight in the Seattle Times!

The Delridge Neighborhood Development Association (DNDA) was featured this week in the Seattle Times highlighting a $100,000 grant from the Washington Women’s Association and the phenomenal community programs the organization hosts.

I’ve had the pleasure to work closely with Executive Director David Bestock and DNDA for several years, most recently on a wetlands restoration project off Brandon and Delridge that will be an great asset for the neighborhood!

Bag Ban Report

This week in my Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development, and Arts committee we had an update from Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) on our Plastic Bag Ban. In 2011 the Council passed Ordinance 123775 which banned retailers from using single-use plastic carry-out bags.  In 2016, I worked with SPU to update the ordinance to remove the sunset date for the 5 cent charge for paper bags to allow retailers to recoup the cost of paper bags customers use when they don’t bring their own reusable bag. We also changed the law to require that compostable bags be properly labeled and tinted either green or brown.  You can read about that update here. We suspected then that the 5 cent fee was not high enough to compensate smaller and independent retailers who do not purchase the same volume of paper bags in bulk as the larger chains, and therefore they pay a higher fee.

I promised then that I would continue to track compliance rates for these smaller retailers. With this new report and presentation from SPU this week, we learned that compliance continues to be a challenge for small grocery stores.

bag ban compliance by sector

Specifically, the report indicates that the top three barriers to compliance are:

  • Unaware of ordinance or ordinance specifics,
  • Language barriers, and
  • Added costs to operations.

I will continue to work with SPU to improve the City’s outreach to small and minority owned businesses to ensure accurate and culturally appropriate translation of documents. Further, to support smaller retailers in recovering the full cost of the paper bags, I intend to increase the pass through charge to 10 cents.

As outlined in the Central Staff memo, I am also considering several other measures: a. reduce our plastic use, b. reduce emissions associated with garbage collection, c. require compost and recycling access in multifamily buildings, and d. require deconstruction and salvage of buildings being demolished.. Our recycling rate has plateaued at 56.54% in 2018, yet the city has a goal of recycling 70% of our solid waste by 2022.  We are falling behind most in the areas of recycling in multifamily buildings and in construction waste.  The policies above can help move the needle so that we can realize this goal.

Stay tuned for my next committee meeting on August 13th where we’ll discuss the 2018 Waste Prevention & Recycling Report and next steps.




SOCR 2018 Housing Discrimination Testing; Combat Arts Academy in Delridge—OED Small Business of the Month!; South Park Library Reopening Celebration; In-District Office Hours; Response to Court of Appeals Ruling on Municipal High Incomes Tax

July 19th, 2019

SOCR 2018 Housing Discrimination Testing

The Seattle Office of Civil Rights (SOCR) conducts testing every year to determine the prevalence of racism and bias in our housing and employment sectors. Also called “affirmative testing,” this strategy gives the City an opportunity to do outreach and education for people in violation of the law, intentionally or not.

SOCR conducted two main tests:

  • A match-pair (a.k.a “secret-shopper”) test whereby two testers, one African American and one White, matched to control for essential differences, contact a property owner about a rental
  • Testers that voluntarily disclose a criminal background to illicit questions, statements, or preclusion from an application related to their disclosure

In 2018, SOCR tested for discrimination and/or differential treatment in the housing market based on 1) criminal background, and 2) race. 179 tests were conducted (some of which were multiple contacts to one housing provider), and 42 tests revealed violation of the Fair Chance Housing ordinance. This is legislation I championed in 2017 that makes it illegal for a landlord to request information about criminal history or deny someone housing based on a criminal background.

I sponsored this legislation because involvement with the criminal-legal system is a common proxy for housing discrimination. Conversely there is no rigorously tested evidence connecting bad tenant behavior with a criminal background and we know that barriers to stable housing can lead to increased recidivism. If you are someone concerned with increases in crime, this legislation addresses that by reducing recidivism by increasing access to housing.  Finally in efforts to undo the racist implications of the prison-industrial complex, Resolution 31637 adopted in 2015, put the City on track to worked to strengthen peoples’ reentry after incarceration. You can find the report and recommendations here.

The timing is right for these kind of affirmative testing efforts in our housing market, and these testing efforts affirmed that. Seattle is in an affordable housing and homelessness crisis; aside from what we can logically assume, what is less clear is how people of color are disproportionately impacted. This is particularly true for African American people; the latest “Count Us In” data for King County shows that African Americans make up 24% of people experiencing homelessness (1 percentage point up from 2018), while only 6% of the population. Seattle data from 2016 shows a similar disparity:

The match-pair test also revealed evidence of racism:

  • 32 out of 53, or 60%, of the “secret-shopper” tests showed differential/discriminatory treatment based upon race.
  • 38% of test cases showed better treatment for White people; 23% of test cases showed better treatment for African American people; 39% showed no difference in treatment

The goal of these tests is to support our Seattle Office for Civil Rights as an enforcement agency—it’s my belief that implicit and explicit bias are present in all levels of society, and policy intended to undo racism, heterosexism, cis-sexism, and economic oppression needs to focus on changing behavior by educating about how we are changing these norms in different institutions, and penalizing persistent violators. To that end, this testing gives the City an opportunity to identify a sample of violations and dig deeper to assess awareness and understanding of Fair Housing laws new and old, before applying a punitive response—this is the wholistic approach that SOCR uses in “enforcement” responses.

Of the 42 enforcement actions that were taken, 13 advisory letters were sent to encourage housing providers to contact SOCR to talk about the results of the test so that they could be offered technical assistance and training. A total of 21 housing providers were found in violation outside of the scope of the advisory letters; 12 diligently followed-up with SOCR’s request for copies of their application, screening criteria, and evidence that they have a Fair Housing poster to justify how they were in compliance; 13 were offered  training on rental laws in Seattle; and 8 were issued a penalty requisite to the cost of testing expense.

If you believe you’ve had your rights violated in housing, find out more and file a complaint here.


Combat Arts Academy in Delridge—OED Small Business of the Month!

The Seattle Office of Economic Development has highlighted the Combat Arts Academy on Delridge and Brandon for their July feature of the Small Business of the Month! As the chair of the committee that oversees economic development, I encourage and appreciate the department’s efforts to support and uplift small businesses like this, especially in my district!

Owner Sonia Sillan is recognized and interviewed, and it’s cool to see how this small business owner is making martial arts accessible for women and girls and expanding into Burien.

Check out the whole feature here.


South Park Library Reopening Celebration

In late June the South Park Library reopened after being closed two months for renovations. The Library wants to invite you to come celebrate the reopening this Sunday between 2pm and 5pm.

Everyone is welcome and actives are free! There will be brief remarks by myself and others at the start of the program followed by a resource fair, crafts and face painting, a two-story giant slide, a selfie booth, and a food truck with free lunch for the first 100 people!


In-District Office Hours

On July 26, I will be at the Southwest Customer Service Center (2801 SW Thistle St) between 12pm and 5pm. The final meeting of the day will begin at 4:30 p.m.

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

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

  • Friday, August 16, 2019
    South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S
  • Friday, September 27, 2019
    Senior Center of West Seattle, 4217 SW Oregon St
  • Friday, October 25, 2019
    Southwest Customer Service Center, 2801 SW Thistle St
  • Friday, November 29, 2019
    South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S
  • Friday, December 20, 2019
    Senior Center of West Seattle, 4217 SW Oregon St


Response to Court of Appeals Ruling on Municipal High Incomes Tax

A State Court of Appeals issued a ruling earlier this week regarding the municipal tax on high incomes. In response to the ruling, I issued a statement, copied below:

Councilmember Lisa Herbold (District 1, West Seattle – South Park) issued the following statement today in response to the State Court of Appeals ruling on a municipal income tax on the affluent.

“Two years ago my colleagues and I unanimously passed legislation to tax people with high incomes. In doing so we created an opportunity to right a decades-old law that was wrongly decided in the first place.

“Our challenges over time have been two-fold; both statutory and constitutional. The Court of Appeals found the City had the statutory authority to impose an income tax. The court further ruled that a law prohibiting cities from enacting net income taxes is unconstitutional.  Having resolved the underlying statutory law, the courts have also cleared the way for a constitutional reconsideration. As such, our state Supreme Court is the last hurdle in this race, thereby moving us one step closer towards reversing Washington’s outdated, regressive and unfair tax structure, which is largely recognized as the most regressive tax structure in the nation. 

“The state Supreme Court has an opportunity to put fairness, transparency, adequacy, stability, and economic vitality at the top of their list of values and reverse the narrow 5-4 decision they made in the 1930s, that ruled a city income tax as unconstitutional.

“The ordinance enacting Seattle’s tax identified many pressing priorities, including the homelessness crisis, affordable housing, education, and transit, mental and public health services, and creating green jobs and meeting carbon reduction goals.  These are important needs, but as I promised in 2016, if we win this case, my highest priority will be to use some of the revenue to lower the property tax burden and the impact of other regressive taxes, including the business and occupation tax rate for small businesses.”



LGBTQ Inclusive Services in Homelessness Services & Ingersoll Report; Council Passes ADU Legislation; Wildfire/smoke preparation; DNDA Funding for Delridge Way SW Improvements; In-District Office Hours

July 15th, 2019

LGBTQ Inclusive Services in Homelessness Services & Ingersoll Report

Last year I sponsored a Statement of Legislative Intent that requested Seattle’s Human Service Department  (HSD) to submit guidelines to make sure that the providers with whom the City contracts are offering services and have policies that are inclusive of LGBTQ recipients of those services.  The experience of homelessness is incredibly exposing.  Given the persistence of heterosexism, transphobia, and cis-sexism in our society, as well as the disproportionate representation of people in the LGBTQ community experiencing homelessness, my goal was to ensure that our shelters and social services are accessible, safe, and responsive to LGBTQ community members needing these services.  I was inspired to spearhead this issue by the advocacy of Gunner Scott, at that time with the Pride Foundation.

HSD partnered with Ingersoll Gender Center to develop recommendations to improve shelter conditions for transgender and gender diverse communities in particular. National homeless data shows that transgender and gender non-conforming adults are more likely to experience unsheltered homelessness than cisgender people. Other sources point to as many as 20% of transgender people experience homelessness at one point in their lives.

Ingersoll is an organization that provides local expertise in advocating for transgender and gender diverse communities. Ingersoll’s “Improving Conditions for Transgender and Gender Diverse Communities within Seattle Shelter Systems” report notes:

“Transphobia, like other types of gender based oppression, is rooted in sexism and white supremacy that has deeply impacted any sense of trust between our communities and systems of government. That deep distrust paired with the specific challenges of the current homelessness response system in Seattle results in a not uncommon decision for many in our communities to sleep outside rather than face the violence they experience when accessing shelter and services.”

The major recommendations of Ingersoll’s report responded to the primary goals highlighted in my SLI:

  • ensure the right to self-identify during intakes at a shelter and provide the correct gender and name that may be different than what is provided on an ID isn’t a barrier to receiving services;
  • allow intake assessments to include conversations about sleeping arrangements and bathroom options that offer private options and accurately reflect someone’s gender identity;
  • proposing a system to track the direction and number of referrals to different services and agencies based on gender identity before exiting homelessness or the shelter system; and
  • reflecting a National Center for Transgender Equality (NTCE) 2015 study that shows that one in four Black transgender people “avoided staying in a shelter because they feared being mistreated”, requesting improved data tracking of multiple identities, like gender and race, to learn how our shelters are producing inequitable outcomes for Black transgender people.

These recommendations provide a “targeted universalist” approach which is a philosophy that focuses solutions on communities that are impacted by compounding levels of discrimination. By responding to specific barriers faced by the trans- and gender nonconforming communities, I believe these recommendations can produce beneficial outcomes for the entire homelessness community.

I applaud this report for taking a systems-based analysis on the City’s shelter services. Through the engagement Ingersoll did with both community members accessing services and HSD staff, it is clear that our systems need to develop a more sophisticated analysis on gender-based discrimination.  An additional recommendation from Ingersoll, not included in the Executive response, is third-party mediation for people who have filed a grievance in a shelter setting. I will be assessing Ingersoll’s recommendations further as we work to make our shelter system more responsive to and accessible for the trans and gender nonconforming community.


Council Passes ADU Legislation

On July 1st the Council passed new legislation regarding the Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs).

I support the construction of ADUs to provide more housing options in our city, as well as potentially provide homeowners an option to have family members – both aging parents and adult children – live in units on their property as well as create an income source for those struggling to keep up with a high mortgage and increasing property taxes.  The numbers of people who attended the Council’s ADU public hearing to say that they had been waiting for years for the legislation to be passed so that they could build an ADU for their parents and/or adult children – who otherwise could not afford to live in Seattle – was a compelling story of property owners who want to share their asset to create affordable living for people about whom they care.

My hope is that this legislation will lead to, not only more housing options, but more *affordable* long-term housing options. However, I believe that the likely outcomes of this legislation need to be put in perspective.  It will neither significantly address our affordable housing needs nor “destroy single-family neighborhoods.”

First of all, I think it’s really important to recognize that the areas that we refer to as Single-Family Zoned areas are not truly exclusively areas for “single families.”  Individuals and roommates can live in a house together without being a family and ADUs have been legal in these neighborhoods since 2010.  Even before passage of this new law, if you live in a Single-Family Zoned neighborhood, you could build a detached unit and rent a room (or more) in your own home.

Secondly, the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) predicts 4,430 new ADUs will be constructed over the next 10 years. On a per year basis that works out to only 443 ADUs built each year. The total number of acres of single-family zoned land where ADUs can be built under this legislation, totals 35,107 acres across the entire city.  If only 443 ADUs are built each year, that’s approximately one ADU per 79 acres, across the city.  Put another way, under the projection in the EIS, only one ADU per about approximately 12 city square blocks will be built each year. This EIS analysis suggests that this legislation will not dramatically change our neighborhoods.

Councilmember O’Brien brought forth an amendment stating that, in the future, Council intends to impose additional restrictions on short-term rentals in ADUs should significant numbers of ADUs be used exclusively for short-term rentals. I believe it would have been more prudent to limit the number of short-term rentals allowed in ADUs within the legislation.  I proposed an amendment to do so.  I voted in favor of the legislation in spite of this amendment not passing because a report from Puget Sound Sage in 2016 indicated that there were 2,817 whole unit listings on AirBnB. If you compare that to the roughly 357,000 housing units in the city, it works out to be 0.79 percent of housing units being used as short-term rentals.  If this trend is replicated in the ADU development market and considering the EIS projections of numbers of ADUs to be built over the next ten years, that would suggest that only about 35 of the 4,430 units built over 10 years will be built as short-term rentals.  While that number seems to be unrealistically low, I am willing to wait to see what the report says about short-term rental production in ADUs.

I also proposed an amendment that before property owners could receive a permit to build a second ADU they would have to own the property for one year, only impacting new owners of property.  20% of single-family properties are currently occupied by renters. These are the properties most vulnerable to the speculative market. The EIS shows that there is, under the new law, more profit to be made by selling ones’ property, rather than the possible profit from building 2 ADUs.  About 88 renter households each year (according to the EIS) will be displaced if the owners of those 88 properties sell to a developer who will evict the tenants, tear down the existing rental property, and build 3 high cost units on each of the approximately 88 properties.  My amendment would have limited the likelihood of that occurring.  In opposing my amendment my colleagues voted in favor of the interests of a person (or LLC) newly purchasing a property and wishing to develop it, over the interests of the tenants occupying the property in an increasingly speculative single-family market. I don’t believe that 88 renter households displaced each year is minimal, as my colleagues seem to believe.

Speculation and concentration of global investment in real estate are a real issues, and as outlined in this UN Human Rights Commission report, something that is occurring not just in Seattle, but around the world. There are also several articles about the rise of speculation after the housing market collapses which you can read here, here, or here. The purpose of the amendment was to curb this speculative development; as I said during the vote: “while we cannot prohibit speculative development, this amendment would create a ‘speed bump’… creating a more cautious approach.” Ultimately the amendment failed.

As I stated in an earlier paragraph, my hope is that this legislation will lead to, not only more housing options, but more *affordable* long-term housing options. Although amendments I care about failed, the promise of ADUs hold to provide more affordable housing options, while not guaranteed, can still be realized.  Elements of work yet to be done are described in the Mayor’s Executive Order which among other things, calls for:

  1. The submission of ADU designs to streamline and lower the costs and permitting process by making pre-approved plans available at low or no cost to homeowners.
  2. That the Department of Construction and Inspection (SDCI) support innovative prefab and modular construction methods, and to issue construction notices within 30 days for homeowners using a pre-approved plan.
  3. SDCI will hire a staff member, otherwise known as a navigator, to help through the permitting process.
  4. The pilot Home Repair Program outlined in the Affordability and Finance plan, passed by the City Council last month, will allow for low-interest financing through the Office of Housing to help low-income homeowners create ADUs which will be affordable at 80% area medium income.

Many of you wrote me about this legislation – whether in support or in opposition – I want to thank you for writing me.


Wildfire/smoke preparation

Wildfire smoke has been an increasing presence during late Seattle summers over the last few years, due to forest fires in the western US and British Columbia. We had 24 days of poor air quality from wildfire smoke in 2018, and 9 days were considered unhealthy.

To prepare for any wildfire smoke this summer, the Mayor has created a Smoke Ready Seattle webpage. It has links to air quality maps, where to sign up for Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PSCAA) wildfire smoke alerts, and PSCAA guidelines on safe activity levels based on current conditions.  It also has links about air filters, protecting pets, and how to fit masks.

The Mayor also announced facilities will be open with enhanced indoor air quality.

PSCAA has a wildfire smoke preparation page, including links to cooling center locations, with a number of locations listed in District 1.


DNDA Funding for Delridge Way SW Improvements

On Monday the Council accepted funding from the Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association for enhanced plantings in medians and curb bulbs for the Delridge Way SW/RapidRide H Line project.

The Delridge Neighborhood Development Association is doing great work to enhance business nodes along Delridge Way SW, in coordination with the Office of Economic Development.

The locations for these enhanced plantings are Andover, Youngstown, Brandon and Orchard, and correspond to four neighborhood areas identified in the North Delridge Action Plan, so it’s good to see that SDOT is keeping this neighborhood plan in mind and working with DNDA.

These neighborhoods are identified in the North Delridge Action Plan as the Andover Junction, Delridge Community Campus, Brandon Junction and Sylvan Junction.

Construction is planned to begin in 2020, with Bus 120 converting to the Rapid Ride H Line in 2021.


In-District Office Hours

On July 26, I will be at the Southwest Customer Service Center (2801 SW Thistle St) between 12pm and 5pm. The final meeting of the day will begin at 4:30 p.m.

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

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

  • Friday, August 16, 2019
    South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S
  • Friday, September 27, 2019
    Senior Center of West Seattle, 4217 SW Oregon St
  • Friday, October 25, 2019
    Southwest Customer Service Center, 2801 SW Thistle St
  • Friday, November 29, 2019
    South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S
  • Friday, December 20, 2019
    Senior Center of West Seattle, 4217 SW Oregon St



Fireworks; Lunch & Learn: The AIDS Memorial Pathway Project; June Constituent Email Report

July 3rd, 2019


In Seattle, except for permitted fireworks displays, fireworks are illegal under the  Seattle Fire Code.

The Seattle Fire Blog and the SPD Blotter both published posts encouraging residents to leave the fireworks to professionals, and requesting that you call 911 only in the event of an emergency.

After hearing a number of constituent complaints in West Seattle and South Park, I sent a letter to the Mayor requesting that SPD take action on fireworks, a follow up to my letter from last year. In 2017 when I requested SPD enforce fireworks laws, they indicated they received too many complaints to respond to. So, I requested they emphasize warnings and confiscate fireworks.

My letter to the Mayor this year notes “my concerns are that with ever-escalating fireworks use, the current laissez-faire approach, will one day result in either someone getting hurt at the scene of an unlawful fireworks display and/or 911 response will suffer with human consequences.”

I requested that SPD “exercise a plan in 2019 that will emphasize warnings and confiscation of fireworks to impact behavioral change.”

I received a reply today that stated SPD and the Fire Department held a press conference noting that fireworks are illegal and dangerous, and that July 4th is a very busy day for the two departments, and that SPD does not have the capacity to respond to every non-emergency complaint regarding illegal fireworks.

To be clear, I never suggested that SPD should respond to every single fireworks complaint.  In fact, our data from previous years is an indicator that they respond to very few complaints at all.  For instance, in 2017, I found that of 132 fireworks complaints from resident in the Southwest Precinct only two reports were written.

Subsequent to my original letter of June 18, I followed up with a request to the Mayor and SPD to consider the innovative approach the Eastside city of Bellevue is taking, as noted in the Bellevue Reporter.

This approach is designed to reduce the number of 911 calls and generate a picture of where fireworks activity is concentrated for enforcement purposes.  If replicated, this approach would allow SPD to focus enforcement efforts where the greatest number of complaints and greatest danger from illegal fireworks use exists.

The post on the City of Bellevue’s website notes that on the evening of July 4th Bellevue’s service portal and phone app will include a “report fireworks” category. Seattle has a similar service portal  and the find-it-fix-it phone app.

According to the Bellevue Reporter article, “The inputted data will then be added to a heat map with “hot spots” pointing to areas with the most activity. Dedicated crews of police and fire officials will head out quickly to areas with the most reports, said Meeghan Black with the Bellevue Police Department.”

The post notes that “police officers and firefighters will conduct fireworks emphasis patrols throughout the city on July 4.”

The Bellevue Reporter article notes that the “hope is that the reporting tool will reduce the number of firework 911 calls that swamp phone lines during the holiday” so that 911 isn’t flooded with non-emergency calls that can make it more difficult for callers with true emergencies to get through.

Seattle could use our Find It Fix It App in a similar fashion.

This is a clear illustration of how the chain of command works: The law clearly says that unpermitted fireworks use is illegal.  Yet, Councilmembers are not part of the chain of command and cannot compel SPD to enforce (or not enforce) particular laws. This is a function wholly reserved to the executive branch of government. I was asked the other day what I would do to be more effective in ensuring that this existing law was enforced in the future.  Given that the decisions about whether and how to enforce the fireworks ban lies with the Mayor, regretfully, I can’t think of another approach to informing people with fireworks complaints to follow the advice included in the letter from the Mayor’s office: “if you or your constituents have any emergency concerns regarding fireworks, they should call 911. If the situation is not an emergency, we encourage you to contact the SPD non-emergency number at (206) 625-5011.”

If you don’t receive a satisfactory response, you might want to consider contacting the Mayor’s Office too.

Lunch & Learn: The AIDS Memorial Pathway Project

Join Committee Chairs Herbold and Juarez on Tuesday July 7/9 from noon- 1:30 pm for Lunch-at-Learn to hear about The AMP from the Office of Arts & Culture, commissioned artists, and community members.

RSVP here.

In 2020, the plaza over Seattle’s Capitol Hill Light Rail Station next to Cal Anderson Park will become home to The AMP: AIDS Memorial Pathway. The AMP will feature dynamic art installations and plaza space that will enshrine the historical and current efforts of advocates and activists fighting to end HIV/AIDS and discrimination.

The AMP is coming together through the passionate leadership of volunteers and community leaders, including people living with HIV, people of color, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community. In the spring of 2018 The AMP partnered with the City’s Office of Arts & Culture to commission artist Horatio Hung-Yan Law to write a master art plan guided by months of outreach and conversation with communities affected by HIV/AIDS, especially people of color, transgender individuals, and other historically under-represented communities.

Agency and private partners that have also played a role will be featured in this conversation: Former Councilmember Tom Rasmussen; artist Christopher Paul Jordan; Office of Arts & Culture Director Randy Engstrom; Rosette Royale, The AMP story-gathering consultant; Royal Alley-Barnes, MAT, civic thought leader; The AMP Project Manager Jason Plourde;  Michele Hasson, The AMP Chair; Kristen Ramirez The AMP Project Manager; and Office of Arts & Culture Communications Director Erika Lindsay.

June Constituent Email Report

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


Administrative & Funding Plan for City’s Investments in Affordable Housing; Junction Reuse and Recycle with Shredding June 29th; Arts in Nature Festival June 29th/30th; Lunch & Learn: The AIDS Memorial Pathway Project

June 28th, 2019

Administrative & Funding Plan for City’s Investments in Affordable Housing

On Monday, the Full Council approved the Administrative & Funding Plan for how the Office of Housing (OH) awards and distributes funding for affordable housing in the City. Seattle has a large network of nonprofit affordable housing developers and providers who are experts in building housing to serve the diverse needs and experiences of housing instability and homelessness.

I sponsored several amendments that were incorporated into the final Plan:

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

Councilmember Mosqueda led this effort. I was proud to partner with her to include an amendment requesting OH and the Finance and Administrative Services (FAS) department to advance labor equity outcomes in affordable housing construction projects such as apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship utilization, and hiring workers from targeted zip codes, components of tracking our workforce that we already require for public works projects under the City’s Priority Hire program. The City’s role as a funder for affordable housing development can help ensure your housing levy tax dollars are—in addition to building affordable housing—promoting wealth and career pathways for communities historically marginalized or excluded from construction trades, specifically people of color and women.

Turning to the nature of our affordable housing and homelessness crisis in Seattle and the County; the McKinsey Report shows that rising homelessness has tracked with rent increases in our region. The report states that since 2011, the available supply of units for households at 80 percent of the Average Median Income (or almost $80,000 for a household of 3) has more than doubled, and “…those affordable to households earning 50 percent or less of the AMI have almost halved.” This situation prices people out of our housing market and drives people with lowest incomes out of the City or into homelessness.

It’s the Office of Housing’s mission to fund affordable housing projects for people with the severest housing need.  As mentioned earlier, our partners who build affordable housing are ready to build more. OH’s 2019 Intent to Apply generated interest for housing providers to develop over 2,300 units across the City projected to cost over $190 million. OH has indicated that despite providers being ready to build $190 million in housing in 2019, the City only has about $50 million to spend.

To put this spending into perspective, the McKinsey report also projects that King County would need to invest between $360- 410 million annually to adequately fund interventions like rapid rehousing and Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) for people with the severest housing need. To do our part in meeting this regional need, I propose that the City—as one King County jurisdiction—double its annual housing investments in each of the remaining years of the levy so that we meet this threshold. In 2017 I championed legislation to allow the City to issue limited tax general obligation bonds for infrastructure projects, and I am excited by new bonding authority granted by the state that could allow Seattle to retain a portion of the sales tax that would otherwise go the State to enhance our bonding capacity for affordable housing.

This state law requires a restructure of the sales tax starting with a resolution stating the intent to use the new bonding authority within 6 months of the July 2019 date that the law goes into effect—I will keep you updated on my efforts to do so!

Junction Reuse and Recycle with Shredding June 29th

Have an old appliance, clothing, electronics or other hard to get rid of household goods? The annual Reuse, Recycle, and Shredding event is coming up on June 29 where you can recycle and reuse many difficult to dispose-of items for free!

Where: West Seattle Junction Parking Lot located on the corner of SW Oregon and 42nd Ave SW.

When: Saturday, June 29, 9am – 1pm


  • Automotive waste
  • Broken furniture
  • Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs)
  • Construction waste
  • Garbage
  • Hazardous waste
  • Car seats
  • Household batteries
  • Non-recyclable or non-reusable items

Staff reserves the right to refuse items that are not listed, contaminated, or too large.

For more information on where to dispose of items not accepted visit:

Arts in Nature Festival June 29th/30th

The Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association is hosting the Arts in Nature Festival this weekend on Saturday and Sunday at Camp Long. The festival integrates art, nature and neighborhood.

Activities include film, music, dance, poetry, comedy, theater and other performances. Here’s a link to the activity schedule.

Lunch & Learn: The AIDS Memorial Pathway Project

Join Committee Chairs Herbold and Juarez on Tuesday July 7/9 from noon- 1:30 pm for Lunch-at-Learn to hear about The AMP from the Office of Arts & Culture, commissioned artists, and community members.

In 2020, the plaza over Seattle’s Capitol Hill Light Rail Station next to Cal Anderson Park will become home to The AMP: AIDS Memorial Pathway. The AMP will feature dynamic art installations and plaza space that will enshrine the historical and current efforts of advocates and activists fighting to end HIV/AIDS and discrimination.

The AMP is coming together through the passionate leadership of volunteers and community leaders, including people living with HIV, people of color, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community. In the spring of 2018 The AMP partnered with the City’s Office of Arts & Culture to commission artist Horatio Hung-Yan Law to write a master art plan guided by months of outreach and conversation with communities affected by HIV/AIDS, especially people of color, transgender individuals, and other historically under-represented communities.

Agency and private partners that have also played a role will be featured in this conversation: Sound Transit, Seattle Parks Department, Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), Seattle Public Utilities (SPU), Office of Arts & Culture, Berger Partnership, Schemata Workshop, and Gerding Edlen, the developer of the Transit Oriented Development (TOD).


ADU Legislation; Update SPD staffing report; DROF Applications and Trainings; South Park Library Reopened; Recycling Update; In-District Office Hours; Delridge Way SW—Rapid Ride H Line survey

June 21st, 2019

ADU Legislation Update

The Sustainability and Transportation committee voted on Tuesday to advance the Accessory Dwelling Unit legislation. There were several amendments that were discussed, including two of mine.  I support the construction of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) which can provide more housing options in our city, as well as potentially provide an income source for homeowners struggling to keep up with a high mortgage and increasing property taxes.  But my hope is that this legislation will lead, not only to more housing options, but more *affordable,* long-term housing options.

The first amendment I proposed (amendment #4) would prohibit short-term rental use in any ADUs permitted after the effective date of the ordinance. The second amendment (#5) would have required ownership of the property for one year prior to permitting a second ADU.

The purpose of these two amendments are to 1. provide as much long-term affordable housing options as possible while 2. mitigating the likelihood of speculative development in single-family zones by preventing purchase of single-family properties where tenants live, their eviction, and then immediate redevelopment of the property with a new home and two ADUs. 22% of single-family zoned housing is occupied by renters.

When we were discussing the need for regulations limiting the conversion of rental housing to Short Term rentals in 2016, Puget Sound Sage issued a study that showed:

“Areas of Seattle where households are at high risk of displacement have high or steady growth in STR whole unit listings on Airbnb. Whole unit listing growth these high displacement areas include: the Rainier Valley (32% growth), Beacon Hill (36% growth), Bitter Lake/Greenwood (60% growth), Northgate (31% growth), and Delridge (31% growth).”                                                                                                 

We passed good short-term rental legislation to help stem the loss of rental housing, but new units built under these new ADU regulations should be available as long-term rentals for those that are being pushed out of our city. I do not support prioritizing the desire of some homeowners to receive short-term rental income in new ADUs they might build, over the need of renters for long-term affordable housing.

Some of my Colleagues argue that the “right place” to address this issue is by re-opening the Short-Term Rental regulation and amend it in order to regulate ADUs.  I disagree.  The Short-Term Rental regulation was designed to stem the tide of existing rental housing being converted to short-term rentals.  That is a different purpose than the need before us today, to ensure that new ADUs are built and used for long-term housing. We have a housing affordability crisis, and we must be focused on addressing that need and using every tool in the toolbox to address it.

Last week Puget Sound Sage wrote:

“As our research showed in 2017, households of color benefit less than white households from renting out their homes, simply because homeownership rates are not equivalent across race.  For example, 28% of households in Seattle are comprised of people of color (Latinx, Black, API, Native American, and other races).  Yet only 21% of homes in Seattle are owned by households of color.  Most starkly, black home ownership is at an all-time low since the 1970s.

“It’s not clear to us whether homeowners or developers will build ADUs for use as STRs, or at what scale.  But we urge an abundance of caution to ensure that STRs do not become a finance vehicle for yet more disparate home ownership patterns between white and POC households.”

If we, as a City are worried about displacement, we should make sure that our polices are not adding to it.

The Full Council may vote on this issue at the July 1st meeting.


SPD staffing report

As part of the 2019 budget, the Council required SPD to report to the Council on staffing. The Council recently received the first quarter 2019 report. It includes several updates.

First of all, the hiring bonuses of up to $15,000 went into effect on April 17, and will be in effect for the next round of tests given for entry-level officers  in July.

Secondly, SPD has expanded testing outside of Seattle, something that historically they haven’t done. Tests were held in Honolulu, Atlanta, and Houston.

In addition, language preference points are now included in the positions description for police officer positions, where it notes, “Applicants who are bilingual may request to be tested for proficiency in another language (after passing the written and video exams).   Candidates who successfully pass the language proficiency test will have language preference points added to their exam score.”

SPD also noted that, to “reach populations that reflect Seattle’s diverse communities” they advertised in publications including The Medium, International Examiner, NW Vietnamese News, NW Asian Weekly/Chinese Post, Salon Ethiopia, and Saludos/The Cause. SPD has also held four hiring workshops, which played a role in the high pass rate during the most recent entry level exam. SPD also appeared at 14 career fairs, and other community events.

During 2018, 36% of SPD’s new officer hires were people of color, an increase over historic standards, and slightly above Seattle’s overall population. This continues an increasing trend, from 14% in 2013, to 22% in 2014, 29% in 2015 and 2016, and 35% in 2017.

The 1st quarter update also notes the work group convened by the Mayor about hiring, recruitment, and retention of officers will be working on updated strategies with SPD and other departments.

SPD’s target is to hire 104 new officers in 2019, or 26 per quarter; 26 were hired in the first quarter of 2019, meeting the target.


DROF Applications and Trainings

The Department of Neighborhoods is seeking proposals for the Duwamish River Opportunity Fund (DROF) to help fund community-based projects that increase the sustainability of these neighborhoods. The total amount of funding is $250,000.

Proposals should address topics such as economic development, access to healthy food, affordable housing, environmental restoration, or job training. To learn more and apply for funds please go here, the deadline for applications is August 12 by 5pm.

Applicants are encouraged to attend a workshop before applying. At the workshop you will review the application process and discuss the requirements for a good proposal. The workshop will be held:

For questions, call 206-256-5947 or email


South Park Library Reopened

Last Monday the South Park Library officially reopened. As I wrote about in April, the library closed for:

  • Re-carpeting
  • Repainting inside
  • Adding new electrical outlets
  • New furniture
  • Modifications of the circulation desk
  • New mobile shelving
  • New collaborative spaces

In April I had also asked a few questions of the Chief Librarian, one of those requests was to add additional Bookmobile days during the library closure so that residents of South Park did not have to unnecessarily travel to the Southwest branch for services. The library was able to provide two additional days of service for the Bookmobile during the closure.

There will be a public celebration of the reopening in the afternoon on Sunday, July 21 which will include refreshments and entertainment.  More information TBD.


Recycling Update

As I’ve written about before, and you may have heard about in the news, China’s new recycling policy has resulted in increased pressure on our recycling market. On May 31, I asked Seattle Public Utilities and Zero Waste Washington to update us on the state of recycling.  Zero Waste Washington is an advocacy group that works to protect our environment by fighting for better designed products and for those products to be continually recycled and reused.

In their presentation, Zero Waste Washington lays out the issues of plastic use and contamination of other recyclables, consumer confusion about recycling, obstacles in recycling operations and markets, and the work they’ve done at the state level.

In the graph below you can see a massive increase in production of plastics, and specifically in the area of packaging, where we continue to see new types of plastic packaging.


In addition to the influx of plastic, there is consumer confusion about what is recyclable and what isn’t. Zero Waste Washington calls it the “three second shrug.”

This  means that when we approach the three cans (compost, recycling, and garbage) if it’s not clear within three seconds which bin the item goes in, it’s likely to end up in the trash or possibly in the wrong bin.

This unfortunately contributes to our contamination rate of 11-20%. China’s new standard only allows a contamination rate of 0.05%, which effectively bans much of North America’s recycling. In response to this, recyclers are working to improve the quality of our recycling through reduced sorting speeds, increased staffing, and new sorting technologies. In 2018, Republic spent $1.5 million in upgrades to their facility on 3rd and Lander.

You can see from this chart which recyclables are exported or locally recycled. Luckily, we have local recyclers for both metal and glass. Since China instituted their new rules our export of paper, cardboard, and plastics has dropped dramatically. While China continues to remain the largest buyer downstream, they are not receiving nearly as much recyclable materially initially.

SPU, King County, and other city governments and solid waste contractors participated in a Responsible Recycling Task Force which provided a report and recommendations after engaging in a 10-month review of the issues. In addition to this, SPU and King County hosted a public-private Plastics Summit to help identify challenges and solutions.

The State is also working on addressing our recycling issues through bills:

  • SB 5323 would ban single-use plastic bags at retail stores, and while this bill didn’t pass, the issue will be brought back up again next year
  • SB 5397 tasks the Department of Ecology with evaluating, reporting, and making recommendations on plastic packaging regulations
  • HB 1569 requires better labeling of compostable packaging
  • HB 1114 sets a goal to cut in half our food waste by 2030 and requires the Department of Agriculture and Department of Health to deliver a report with recommendations on how to achieve this goal by October 2020.

Finally, I also want to update you on legislation that I’m working on which would improve solid waste access in multifamily residents. Multifamily buildings are not currently required to provide on-floor access to garbage, recycling, and compost. This is unfortunate given that buildings with on-floor access have approximately 57% success rate for recycling, as compared to buildings without on-floor access with approximately 10% recycling and composting success.

Seattle has a goal to divert 70% of garbage by 2022; however, multifamily properties only composted or recycled 37% of their waste in 2017 which is substantially less than SPU’s multifamily sector target of 54% by 2022. In order to increase participation in recycling and composting in multifamily buildings we must do a better job of making it easier for residents. If you live in a single-family home, ask yourself, do you have to go to 3 different places to dispose of your recycling, garbage, and compost?  I am developing legislation to require builders to include equal access to all streams of solid waste on every floor in multifamily buildings. SPU updated my committee this week, about the stakeholder engagement process which began last November and they’ve heard positive feedback from the developer community where 33% of new large multifamily buildings already provide on-floor access. SPU expects to finish their stakeholder engagement process by July and propose recommendations in late summer.


In-District Office Hours

On June 28, I will be at the Senior Center of West Seattle (4217 SW Oregon St) from 2:00pm – 7:00pm. The final meeting of the day will begin at 6:30 p.m.

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

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

  • Friday, July 26, 2019
    Southwest Customer Service Center, 2801 SW Thistle St
  • Friday, August 16, 2019
    South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S
  • Friday, September 27, 2019
    Senior Center of West Seattle, 4217 SW Oregon St
  • Friday, October 25, 2019
    Southwest Customer Service Center, 2801 SW Thistle St
  • Friday, November 29, 2019
    South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S
  • Friday, December 20, 2019
    Senior Center of West Seattle, 4217 SW Oregon St


Delridge Way SW—Rapid Ride H Line survey

SDOT is holding an online survey about the Delridge Multimodal Corridor/Rapid Ride H Line project.

The Delridge Multimodal Corridor includes improvement to Delridge Avenue SW designed to increase transit speed and access, in coordination with King County’s planned transition to convert Bus 120 into the RapidRide H line in 2021.

The survey includes visuals of proposed intersection designs, details on changes, and the opportunity to provide comment.

You can take the survey here; it is also available in Spanish and Vietnamese.

Additional information is available at the SDOT project webpage, which includes information on the 30% design, and what public feedback was incorporated into the design, and what wasn’t.

I have sponsored spending restrictions to require Council approval for spending beyond identified limits. The final design is expected to come along with the proposed 2020 budget later this year.


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