Roxhill Wetland Update; Seattle/King County Clinic; Transitional Encampment Legislation; Letter re: HB 2907; Council Passes Winter Evictions Defense; West Seattle Chamber Luncheon; In-District Office Hours

February 14th, 2020

Roxhill Wetland Update

The Roxhill Bog Committee has been working on this issue for many years attempting to save this important wetland. You can read a detailed timeline and history compiled by the Committee here.

Roxhill bog, at the Longfellow Creek headwaters, is actually a fen, defined as “open wetland systems that generally receive some drainage from surrounding mineral soils and are often covered by grasses, sedges or reeds.”

The importance of this effort is best described as the advocates have themselves: “to provide the community with a safe and engaging natural area for recreation and education… the health of Longfellow Creek, its salmon. and saving of one of the last peat fens in Seattle. Climate change and urbanization have caused Roxhill Bog to degrade to a critical tipping point if not addressed now, restoration of its natural functions may no longer be feasible.”

King County prepared a report in 2000 for Seattle Parks and Recreation which revealed that after the park was replanted the fen was no longer retaining sufficient water and recommended that a hydrological study be conducted to understand why the water was not being retained and how to engineer a solution. Seattle Parks and Recreation did not seek a hydrological study.

In 2015, SPU used CCTV to try and determine where the loss of water was occurring, with inconclusive results.

Since taking office in 2016 I have worked with the community on this issue including getting the Seattle Public Utilities and the Department of Parks and Recreation to attend a meeting at the Fen with the community. I’ve provided letters of support to both the American Rivers Association and King County to assist with grant applications. With King County Councilmember Joe McDermott’s support, the community recently received the WaterWorks grant from King Council which will allow the community to proceed with their own hydrological study.

Preservation and rehydration of the fen is so important because the future of salmon species that spawn and rear in Longfellow Creek is at a critical point.  Their numbers have diminished.  Improving the water quality in the creek is critical to their long-term survivability because of the effects of stormwater pollution on the health of the salmon. A natural hydrologic system that filters stormwater before it reaches the creek will improve water quality and save salmon.

Seattle/King County Clinic

In need of free medical, dental, or vision care?  Mark your calendar for the Seattle/King County Clinic, hosted at Seattle Center through Sunday 2/16.   The Clinic provides free services on a first come-first served basis for anyone who shows up – even if you have health insurance.

  • All are welcome regardless of income, insurance, housing or immigration status
  • Patients will not be asked for ID or documentation of any type
  • Free parking is available

Learn more, access flyers in multiple languages, and have your questions answered here.  Please help spread the word!

Transitional Encampment Legislation

I wrote about this topic a couple weeks ago and wanted to provide an update since the Committee voted this week at a special meeting of the Council’s Select Committee on Homelessness Strategies and Investments.  Councilmembers in attendance approved legislation allowing for more transitional encampment permits; Tiny House Villages are one type of transitional encampment.  The legislation was needed because the current permitting ordinance was scheduled to sunset in March – and transitional encampments are an important tool for the City to help people stay safe while finding homes.

Data shows that Tiny House Villages are the most effective type of temporary shelter in helping their residents find permanent housing.  In the first six months of 2019, 37% of encampment residents found their own homes, compared to 23% of people in enhanced shelter and just 4% of people in basic shelter.  Tiny House Villages are continually improving this important work, more than doubling their success rate from 2018 to the first half of 2019.

Councilmember Sawant’s bill, CB 119656, would make changes to encampment permitting procedures, including:

  • allowing the City to issue up to 40 permits for interim use encampments;
  • permitting encampments on a wider variety of sites including publicly owned land and residential zones; and
  • allowing unlimited renewals of one-year interim use permits, subject to compliance with all applicable regulations.

I sponsored two amendments that were approved by committee members:

  • Geographic dispersion – This requires that new encampments are equally distributed among Council districts, so that communities that are already generously hosting encampments will not be overburdened with additional sites.
  • Setbacks – This ensures that encampments are modestly set back from the property lot line in residential areas, allowing some distance from neighbors while still giving encampments plenty of room for living areas.

Additional amendments may be offered.  Councilmember Lewis has an amendment to require case management and security at interim use encampments and to clarify that the definition of transitional encampment includes modular structures as a type of shelter.

It’s important to note that this bill only changes the permitting process for transitional encampments; it does not allocate any additional funding to establish additional encampments.  The 2020 budget passed last fall included ongoing funding for the operation of the current eight transitional encampments, as well as Council-added funding to site and support two additional transitional encampments in 2020, which would prioritize referrals from the City’s Navigation Team and Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program.  That funding remains unchanged.

This legislation will be discussed and voted on during the next full Council meeting on Tuesday, February 18th.   You can learn more about city-permitted villages here.

Letter re: HB 2907

You may have heard that the state legislature in Olympia is considering a bill that would give King County the option to levy a new tax on large businesses, and that the revenue would help address our region’s homelessness and affordable housing crises.  Here are the basics:

  • 1% to 0.2% tax on businesses with more than 50 employees
  • The tax is levied on compensation that businesses pay to employees making at least $150,000.
  • Small businesses are exempted from paying the tax.
  • It’s estimated the tax could raise up to an additional $121 million a year.
  • The revenue would be required to be spent on homelessness and housing.

Sounds good so far, and it appropriately asks our neighbors who are benefiting the most from Seattle’s prosperity to pay their fair share towards solving some of the problems that result from a booming economy and competitive housing market.

But under pressure from big business lobbyists, state legislators are considering adding a “pre-emption” clause.  If they are successful, and the legislation passes, that would mean that Seattle would be prohibited from using its own, very limited revenue authority to raise any additional funds beyond the $121 million.

A new report from McKinsey estimates our region will need an additional $450 million to $1.1 billion annually to build the affordable housing we need for people currently experiencing homelessness and those struggling on the very lowest incomes (around $33,000 annually for a family of four).  The $121 million raised would be welcome, but insufficient to meet the region’s need.  Seattle, last year, provided about $128 million in funding to build more affordable housing.  In 2019 King County provided about $134 million in funding to build more affordable housing.

At the Seattle City Council meeting this Monday, Councilmembers signed a letter to the legislation’s sponsors, thanking them for their efforts to increase our region’s revenue options, and asking them to:

  • Increase the amount of revenue that can be raised through their legislation
  • Not pre-empt Seattle from using its own revenue authority.

Council Passes Winter Evictions Defense

The Winter Eviction legislation was introduced by Councilmember Kshama Sawant in December.  It was heard in her committee, Sustainability and Renters’ Rights, in January when it passed out of committee with Councilmembers Sawant, Lewis, and Morales voting in favor and Councilmember Pederson abstaining. At Monday’s Full Council meeting we unanimously passed an amended version of the legislation.

The intent of the legislation is to help prevent evictions which may lead to homelessness during the coldest and wettest months of the year. The legislation builds on the City’s Just Cause Eviction Ordinance which was passed in 1980 and prevents landlords from arbitrarily ending rental agreements. The legislation states that in order to end month-to-month lease agreements, a landlord must use one of the 18 listed reasons. Some examples of Just Cause Evictions are:

  • Failure to pay rent after receiving a pay or vacate notice
  • Owner wishes to sell the property (must give 90-day notice to tenant)
  • Owner wishes to move into the property or have immediate family move into the property (must give 90-day notice to tenant)
  • Owner wishes to demolish or substantially rehabilitate the property (must go through the Tenant Relocation Assistance licensing process first)

The newly passed Winter Eviction legislation amends the Just Cause Eviction Ordinance by providing another defense to an eviction.  The tenant, once before a judge would need to say that the Winter Evictions legislation is their defense, and the eviction would likely be delayed until the end of February. However, a tenant can still be evicted in the winter months for eight of the 18 causes listed in the Just Cause Eviction Ordinance.

During the Full Council meeting on Monday several amendments were passed including an amendment I sponsored. My amendment ensured that landlords could still have the possibility of evicting a tenant for not only criminal activity, but also for activity that threatens the health or safety of other tenants or the owner. Other amendments which passed include:

  1. Exemption of small landlords who own four or fewer rental units.
  2. Reducing the no-eviction period from 5 months to 3 months, or December 1 through March 1.
  3. Making the winter defense available only to moderate-income tenant households, defined as households whose income does not exceed 100% of Area Median Income.

  4. Establishment of a mitigation fund for low-income tenants who utilize this defense and cannot access funds through other assistance programs, or to  affordable housing providers who demonstrate that (1) an eviction was delayed during this period because the tenant raised this defense and (2) the tenant is unable to pay rent during that period independently.

Council staff estimates that this mitigation fund would need just over $500,000 to ensure all landlords of households likely to be otherwise evicted are reimbursed for unpaid rent over the winter months.  This estimate is derived from households that could not take advantage of other mitigation funds and that rental assistance would be needed for all three months covered by the legislation.  This estimate is based upon the number of tenants evicted in the three winter months in the Losing Home Report, or 187 evictions for non-payment of rent for the time period.  Last year existing rent assistance funds were able to help 32 households a month, or about 96 tenants over the three winter months.  This means about to fully assist the number of renters likely to owe money for failure to pay rent over the winter months, we’d have to provide funding sufficient for 95 additional renter households at an average of $1900 per renter, or the average assistance provided by Home Base in 2019.

West Seattle Chamber Luncheon

I appreciated having the opportunity on Thursday to address the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce at their February luncheon.  I was asked to speak to my 2020 plan for District 1 work.  As Chair of the new Public Safety and Human Services Committee my focus this year include SPD hiring goals including implementation of a hiring and retention plan that the Council funded in last year’s budget (we’ll get a staffing report at me February 25th committee meeting).   Other Committee priorities for District 1 include:

For more about my District 1 plans for work being done in other committees on which I am a member (Finance and Housing, Select Committee on Homelessness Investments and Strategies Vice Chair, Public Assets and Native Communities Committee member, Transportation and Utilities Committee, member), you can see the PowerPoint presentation at this link here.

In-District Office Hours

My next in-district office hours will be on Friday, February 28 at Senior Center of West Seattle (4217 SW Oregon St) from 2:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.  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 and receive a confirmed appointment (rather than first come first served for the walk in folks) you can email my scheduler Alex Clardy (alex.clardy@seattle.gov).

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

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


Permanent Bus Pathway to Open for West Seattle/Downtown Buses; SPD Arrest in Alki Shooting; Legacy Business Nominations; Seattle Planning Commission; Constituent Email Report

February 10th, 2020

Permanent Bus Pathway to Open for West Seattle/Downtown Buses

King County Metro and SDOT have announced that, beginning on February 22nd, buses that formerly traveled between West Seattle to Downtown on the Alaskan Way Viaduct will access Downtown through Alaskan Way and Columbia Street. This is the permanent travel path planned for buses, and comes with the planned completion of two-way bus lanes on Columbia Street Downtown.

This will be an important improvement for many District 1 routes, including the RapidRide C Line, 21 Express, 37, 55, 56, 57, 113, 120, 121, 122, 123 and 125. Buses will no longer travel through the temporary routes on SODO or 1st Avenue. Planned bus stop locations are shown on the map below.

The C Line and the 120 (planned for conversion to the RapidRide H Line in 2021) carry a combined total of about 20,000 riders each day.

The next step will be the completion of dedicated transit lanes on Alaskan Way between South King Street and Columbia Street in lane 2021. Here’s a link to King County Metro and the SDOT Blog releases.


SPD Arrest in Alki Shooting/Public Safety Update

Many thanks to SPD for their work to arrest a suspect after last weekend’s late-night shooting at Alki Beach.

Gun violence affects our communities, not only in Downtown, but throughout Seattle. There is no one action that will end violence in our community.  All jurisdictions must work together.  The City’s 2020 State Legislative agenda states, “We support common sense, responsible solutions to reduce gun violence, including efforts to limit high capacity magazines and expanding gun free zones, and we believe that local governments should have the ability to regulate firearms or weapons to ensure the safety of their communities in accordance with local circumstances.”  If you want to learn more, contact the Alliance for Gun Responsibility at the link here.

During the last few years, SPD has conducted emphasis patrols in the Alki neighborhood during warm weather months; the Council approved funding in 2020 to ensure emphasis patrols continue.

Community Service Officers (CSOs) will begin work in coming months. CSOs are unsworn officers who can prioritize community services associated with law enforcement such as crime prevention and non-emergency tasks, and free up SDP officers for 911 response.

Reinstatement of the CSO program has been a Council-driven initiative and the Council, after providing funds in 2017 for the 2018 budget, has been keenly interested in the deployment model for these CSOs.  The Council, in 2018, passed Budget Action 38-5-A-2, “SPD Report on CSO Program Development and Implementation.

The CSO program re-launched in April with 10 officers and two supervisors; the jobs were posted in May for application.

The Mayor subsequently proposed adding an additional 5 CSOs and a supervisor in the 2020 budget, which the Council approved. The proposed 2020 budget notes, “The five officers and supervisor will expand the CSO team to 18 which will allow the teams to be based in precincts.”  I know that some have suggested that a full third of CSOs should be based in a downtown storefront to address public safety issues in the Westlake area.  I will continue to be an advocate for distribution of this important new resource to Southwest Precinct communities, with deployment based upon needs and defined by crime data.

Reminder: Legacy Business Nominations are Due in One Week

Small, locally-owned businesses are the heart and soul of District 1’s beloved neighborhoods.  Do you have a favorite local business that you believe deserves city-wide recognition?  Show your love and nominate them here by Valentine’s Day, Friday, February 14th.

The Office of Economic Development will selaect one business from each of the seven Council districts.  To be eligible, a business must be an independently owned, for profit business, in continuous operations for a minimum of 10 years in Seattle, and have fewer than 50 employees, including the owner.  Winners will receive public recognition at an awards ceremony, and small business support services.

I was thrilled to champion this program after the idea was brought to me by a District 1 resident.  Let’s honor the resilience of our beloved businesses and recognize their contribution to our communities’ cultural vibrancy, our local economy, and our sense of place.  Learn more and nominate your favorite District 1 business here.

Seattle Planning Commission Openings and Upcoming Open House

The Seattle Planning Commission is seeking new applicants. The Commission advises the Mayor, City Council, and City departments on planning goals and policies as well as advising on land use, zoning, transportation, and housing issues. The Commission is made up of 16 members.

Specifically, the Commission lacks a District 1 representative, so I’m reaching out and asking you to apply if this is a commission you might be interested in serving on. Commissioners are volunteers who serve three-year terms with the opportunity to serve two terms.

If you have questions, would like to speak to current Commissioners about their role, or would like to apply please contact Vanessa Murdock, Executive Director at 206-733-9271 or via e-mail at Vanessa.Murdock@seattle.gov by February 28.

Additionally, there’s an open house on February 13 from 5 – 6pm at City Hall in room L280.

January 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 January, what I refer to above as “case management services.”  The shaded categories and numbers are emails answered in January related to policy or legislation that the Council is considering.

Share


LEAD Letter; Resolution Regarding Collective Bargaining with SPOG ; Public Safety and Human Services Committee Discussion with Chief Best; Information on Novel Coronavirus

January 30th, 2020

LEAD Letter

In the 2020 City budget, the City Council added new funding to expand the geographic scope of the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program, in addition to the funding included in the Mayor’s proposed budget, $1.5 million from the Ballmer Group, and funding from King County and other sources.  This funding would allow LEAD to reach into more neighborhoods to respond to public safety and disorder issues that are identified by the communities where we live and work.

Members of the City Council’s Public Safety and Human Services Committee sent a letter to the Mayor this week about the timing of program expansion. The letter requests that the Mayor execute a contract for the additional funds by March 1st and commit the City to providing the additional funding approved by the Council in 2020.

The letter notes that time is of the essence and that there is a backlog of 300 individuals that could begin receiving case management services and still others who cannot even be referred. The purpose of the Council’s additional funding is to expand capacity, and provide new referrals in real time for greater responsiveness to communities, including Business Improvement Areas, who identify problems.

The Council also approved funding in 2020 for an analysis to: 1) determine how the LEAD program operates within a logic model that reduces reliance on the criminal justice system; 2) identify specific performance measures that relate to the logic model and also informs how there is a reduction in reliance on the criminal justice system and a reduction in public disorder issues; and 3) identify the data necessary to support the performance measures.

You can read the letter here.

Resolution Regarding Collective Bargaining with SPOG

In late 2018 the Council voted to approve a collective bargaining agreement with the Seattle Police Officer’s Guild (SPOG). The contract runs through the end of 2020, so in coming months negotiations for a new agreement will begin for a contract in 2021.

Section 4.04.120 of the Seattle Municipal Code includes sections pertaining to the collective bargaining process with SPOG and SPMA (the Seattle Police Management Association).

Section 4.04.120.F of the Seattle Municipal Code requires a public hearing to give the public the opportunity to testify “on the effectiveness of the City’s police accountability system” before collective bargaining begins. This was adopted in Ordinance 122809, passed in 2008.

This is a requirement unique to the SPOG and Seattle Police Management Association (SPMA) bargaining processes (it exists for no other city unions) out of recognition that, “the City and the public have a strong interest in the conduct and operation of the police department given its impact on public safety.”

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

On December 5th, the Gender Equity, Safe Communities, New Americans & Education (GESCNAE) Committee held the required public hearing.  After the Council adopted new committees earlier this month, responsibility for public safety issues passed to the Public Safety and Human Services Committee that I now chair.

To address section G of SMC 4.04.120, the Council adopted Resolution 31535 in 2014, and earlier adopted Resolution 30871 in 2006 in advance of negotiations.

On January 28 the Public Safety and Human Services committee passed a resolution I sponsored along similar lines as the 2006 and 2014 resolutions, “affirming the City’s good faith intent to consider raising in the collective bargaining process for the Seattle Police Officer’s Guild (SPOG) 2021 contract renewal police accountability proposals that have been identified by the public and the City’s police oversight agencies.”

The resolution includes letters from the three accountability bodies, the Community Police Commission, the Inspector General, and the Office of Police Accountability regarding collective bargaining.

The resolution notes the sacrifice and contributions of SPOG members, and the right and all public employee unions to collectively bargain for wages, hours and working conditions.

It summarizes comments heard during the public hearing as: “testimony from individuals and on behalf of interest groups largely echoed the requests made by the CPC, OIG, and OPA, and included support for full implementation of the Police Accountability Ordinance (Ordinance 125315), support for additional police training including de-escalation and mental health training, support for bringing the City into compliance with the United States Department of Justice Consent Decree with regard to police accountability, opposition to racial disproportionality in the criminal justice system, support for new citizen review powers, support for new rights for complainants, support for making the role of the discipline appellate process consistent with the values of transparency and accountability, support for SPD officers to follow department policies and when privately employed, support for third party investigations, support for the hiring of additional officers, support for the protection of workers’ rights as maintained through the collective bargaining process, support for more outreach to the community on issues of police accountability, and support for requiring officers to have a relationship/ tie to the community they serve;”

The resolution states, “The City of Seattle will consider in good faith whether and how to carry forward these interests through various means including, but not limited to, enactment of appropriate legislation, development of collective bargaining goals and objectives, and facilitating community police dialogue. To the extent that Washington law requires any changes to be bargained with employee representatives, the City will seek to discharge such obligations in good faith.”

The legislation moves to the Full Council on February 10th.

Public Safety and Human Services Committee Discussion with Chief Best

After the Downtown shootings last week, I invited Police Chief Best to the Public Safety and Human Services Committee meeting. I appreciate her willingness to attend on short notice.

Her remarks included a presentation on crime trends in the West Precinct, and specifically in the Downtown Commercial area. The presentation also includes a focus on: Immediate Response Plans, Investigation & Intervention; Physical Environment & Activation, and Community Partnership and Collaboration.

Much has been said about the scores of previous arrests the three suspects. One of the action items that the Chief spoke about was their work with prosecuting attorneys to focus resources on the most significant/violent actors.

Here’s a link to the meeting at the Seattle Channel.

Information on Novel Coronavirus

On January 30, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a global Public Health Emergency. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is also closely monitoring the situation and has a summary available here.

As you may know, public health authorities have confirmed a case of novel coronavirus in Washington State.  Seven additional people have tested negative, 8 people have results pending, and 67 close contacts are being monitored. “Close contacts” are defined as: someone who has been within 6 feet, for more than ten minutes, of an individual with confirmed infection or has had direct contact with secretions from a person with an infection. King County Public Health has a list of resources here, updated as new information becomes available.

Share


Downtown Shootings This Week; External Committee Assignments; West Seattle ST3 Draft EIS Options Update; KCHA Section 8 Waitlist; Select Committee on Homelessness

January 25th, 2020

Downtown Shootings This Week

On Thursday I attended a press conference with the Mayor, Police Chief and Fire Chief at the West Precinct headquarters. At the press conference the Seattle Police Department announced they are placing a mobile precinct near the location where the shooting took place; bringing in additional officers to the area, including extra gang detectives, and working with area business owners to determine what changes can be made to the physical environment using Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) to make the area safer.

We need more police officers. I support hiring additional officers. During the last few years the Council has voted to:

  1. Add over $100 million to the SPD budget to increase staffing;
  2. Approve funding for strategies to grow our police department included in the 2019 Officer Recruitment and Retention Report;
  3. Fund emphasis patrols; and
  4. Fund the re-creation the Community Service Officer (CSO) program. 12 CSOs are scheduled to begin work soon, and will ease the burden on uniformed officers.

Wednesday evening, more than 100 police officers and 55 Fire Department first responders were at the scene. Police officers and the Fire Department each responded within a minute, the former because there were emphasis patrols already in the neighborhood.

Below is a statement I released along with District 7 Councilmember Lewis released this morning:

Councilmembers Herbold & Lewis Express Grief, Call for Action

Tragedy must not be Seattle’s new ‘normal’

SEATTLE – Council President Pro Tem  Lisa Herbold (District 1, West Seattle – South Park), and Chair of the Public Safety and Human Services Committee and Councilmember Andrew J. Lewis (District 7, Pioneer Square to Magnolia) issued the following statement in response to last night’s shooting, which tragically left one person dead and seven injured:

“This morning our hearts are filled with grief for the loss of life that occurred as a result of last night’s shootings.  We are deeply saddened for all of the people affected by last night’s tragedy and by the recent spate of gun violence, downtown and in other parts of the city.   

“To our first responders: Your rapid and diligent service – and willingness to risk your own lives – prevented an already-horrific situation from becoming even worse. Thank you.

“This cannot become Seattle’s new ‘normal’.  Seattle must be a place where everyone feels safe to work and play. Our downtown core is no exception and we share the safety concerns of businesses and residents alike.  The Seattle Police Department is working to grow the size of our force so police can do more proactive policing. We’ll have more to say soon about how the Council is supporting that work.  

“In the meantime, we will support continued implementation of emphasis patrols, the Community Service Officer program and other efforts that last year’s Council invested in and that we know are effective. 

“The violence our community has experienced this week must end. We call for peace, and the space and time necessary to heal.”

There is no one action that will end violence in our community.  All jurisdictions must work together.  The City of Seattle, each year develops a State Legislative Agenda.  For 2020, the following describes our legislative priorities:  “We support common sense, responsible solutions to reduce gun violence, including efforts to limit high capacity magazines and expanding gun free zones, and we believe that local governments should have the ability to regulate firearms or weapons to ensure the safety of their communities in accordance with local circumstances.”  If you want to learn more, contact the Alliance for Gun Responsibility at the link here.

Finally, the Public Safety and Human Services committee that I chair will hear from the Chief on Tuesday morning and at a later date also host a briefing on the status of Police Department Staffing and meeting their 2019 hiring and retention goals.  If you want to be informed of when that is scheduled, please sign up for agendas here.  If you’d like a copy of the 2019 report, let me know and I will send you a copy.

External Committee Assignments

In addition to the City Council committees that Councilmembers serve on, Councilmembers also serve on other City and regional committees. The Council adopted a resolution establishing membership on these external committees.

Here are the external committees I serve on:

King County:

  • King County Regional Policy Committee
  • King County Regional Water Quality Committee

Regional:

  • (alternate) King County Regional Homelessness Authority Governing Committee
  • Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion Policy Coordinating Group
  • Regional Law Safety & Justice Committee
  • WRIA 9:  Green-Duwamish (Duwamish-Green Watershed Restoration and Enhancement Committee)
  • (alternate) King County Regional Homelessness Authority Governing Committee

City of Seattle:

  • Domestic Violence Prevention Council
  • Firefighters Pension Board
  • Labor-Management Leadership Committee
  • Police Pension Board

West Seattle ST3 Draft EIS Options Update

Last week Sound Transit released updated additions for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, scheduled for early 2021.  The alternatives section of the project webpage says:

“Recent additions to this map include connection from the Yancy/Andover alternative to an Avalon underground station and connection from the elevated Avalon Station with a shorter tunnel to the Alaska Junction. These updates respond to the Sound Transit Board’s request in recent Board Motions to explore cost savings opportunities as well as ensure the Yancy/Andover alternative connects to previously-identified DEIS alternatives.”

New elements in Delridge include a second version of the “Yancy Street” option, in blue, with an alternative that would be at-grade with a retained cut.

In the Alaska Junction, the Preferred Alternative (the pink elevated line), Sound Transit is examining two station options, one at Fauntleroy Way SW, and a second south of SW Alaska Street between 41st and 42nd.  The guideway location along Fauntleroy is slightly different for the two alternatives.

Two new additions in the East Junction neighborhood include tunnel portals near 37th or 38th Avenue SW, leading to a tunnel station at 41st Avenue SW. The line would be either elevated or at-grade leading into a tunnel.

These additional alternatives would have impacts to residents and businesses, so I want to ensure the community is aware.

After the Draft EIS is published, there will be a public comment period, and the Board will confirm or modify preferred alternatives.

Additional information is available on the update on the project webpage.


KCHA Section 8 Waitlist

Would you or someone you know benefit from the opportunity to gain rental assistance?  Consider applying to join the King County Housing Authority Section 8 waitlist.  Between February 12th and 25th, you can apply to join the Section 8 waitlist lottery at kcha.org/lottery; applying is free.

Find out if you are eligible to apply here and learn more about the program. 

2,500 households will be selected at random to join the voucher waitlist, from among all the households who apply.  The waitlist lottery does not happen regularly; if you or someone you know is eligible, I urge you to learn more at kcha.org/lottery, and apply between February 12th and February 25th.


Select Committee on Homelessness

On Tuesday, January 22nd, the Council’s Select Committee on Homelessness Strategies and Investments met for the first time.  Councilmember Andrew Lewis chairs this committee.  As a Select Committee, all City Councilmembers sit on this committee.  This committee’s work will be central to our efforts to help more people struggling without adequate housing find homes.

You may have heard about the new Regional Homelessness Authority, which was established by an Interlocal Agreement between the City and King County in December.  Eventually, this Authority will oversee policy, funding and services for people experiencing homelessness countywide.  This year, it’s important that we ensure the Authority is set up thoughtfully, and its work is guided by experts with deep experience and knowledge about what works.  Councilmember Lewis and Council President Lorena González will serve on the Authority’s Governing Committee.  I will be an alternate in the case that one of them is unable to attend a meeting; and I will be watching its implementation carefully.  Council President González is on family leave until April, so I will be serving in her stead.

On Tuesday, the Select Committee also discussed legislation (see link for memo) that would allow for the establishment of additional encampments throughout the City, such as Camp Second Chance in Highland Park.  Here are the current locations and sizes.

Sanctioned encampments are self-managed communities that allow residents to have their own, secure place to live with their families, pets, and belongings.  People live in encampments temporarily, while they receive assistance to identify and move into permanent housing.  All of the encampments above started as tent encampments and are now all “tiny house villages.”

Under current law, encampments that are not a. sponsored by religious institutions or b. permitted by a special temporary use permit are only allowed in the green-blue areas of the map below.

The Mayor’s Proposed 2020 Budget included ongoing funding for operation of these eight transitional encampments. The Council added additional funding to site and support two additional transitional encampments.  We will be receiving a report by February 1, 2020, on potential transitional encampment locations.

The Select Committee on Homelessness will be meeting TBD again next month before the regularly scheduled February 26th meeting.  To find out when, see here:  http://www.seattle.gov/council/committees/homelessness-strategies-and-investments.

I am particularly interested in ensuring geographic equity in the placement of any new villages, so that communities who are already generously hosting villages are not overburdened.

Share


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

January 17th, 2020

MLK Day on Monday

2015 City Hall, City of Seattle Employees

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

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

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

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

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

New Council Committees

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Council Presidency and January Pro Tem

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

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

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

Inclement Weather/Severe Weather Shelter

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

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


In-District Office Hours

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

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

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

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


2019 Year in Review

January 9th, 2020

New Office Phone Number

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

2019 Year in Review

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

CONTENTS

ACCOUNTABILITY AND FAIR TAXATION

D1 SPOTLIGHT

CIVIL RIGHTS, UTILITIES, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, ARTS COMMITTEE

HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS

CONSTITUENT CONTACTS

ACCOUNTABILITY AND FAIR TAXATION

Capital Project Oversight

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

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

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

Municipal Income Tax on High Incomes

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

D1 SPOTLIGHT

Bus Route Additions

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

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

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

Passage of MHA and What’s Next

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

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

North Delridge Action Plan Resolution

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

East Marginal Way Project Funding Adopted

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

West Seattle Traffic/Commutes in Seattle Squeeze

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

Sound Transit Light Rail in West Seattle

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

Monitoring Dangerous Vacant Buildings

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

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

CIVIL RIGHTS, UTILITIES, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, ARTS COMMITTEE

Closed Captioning Everywhere

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

The First Electric Garbage Truck in the US

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

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

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

Solid Waste Rates – Good News

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

The savings are due to:

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

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

Accountability and Oversight for Ship Canal Water Quality Project

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

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

Amazon Switches to Union Security Workers

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

Legacy Business Program Update

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

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

Cultural Space Update

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

AIDS Memorial Pathway (AMP) Project

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

HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS

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

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

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

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

More Bond Authority for Affordable Housing

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

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

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

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

Groundbreaking Eviction Reforms in the State Legislature

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

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

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

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

Five More Bills Passed to Strengthen Tenant Protections

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

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

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

The Plan for City’s Investments in Affordable Housing

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

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

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

FIT ruling

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

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

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

2020 Budget

In November the Council adopted the 2020 City Budget.  The City’s total budget is $6.47 billion; $2.75 billion can only be allocated to City Light and Seattle Public Utilities because that revenue comes entirely from ratepayers. The City’s General Fund totals $1.48 billion with 51%, or about $755 million, dedicated to Seattle Police Department, Fire Department, Municipal Court, the City Attorney, the Office of Emergency Management, the Office of Police Accountability, and the Office of the Inspector General.

 

District 1 Specific Proposals:

Citywide Proposals:

Public Safety and Public Health

Homelessness and Housing

Civil Rights

Transportation and Utilities

Economic Development and Arts/Culture

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

CONSTITUENT CONTACTS

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

Share


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

December 11th, 2019

Legacy Business Nominations Open through February 14th

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An FAQ is available here, including information on awards.

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

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

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

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

November Constituent Email Report

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

Share


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

November 27th, 2019

Giving My Thanks to You

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

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

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

 

This Week in the Budget: Council adopts Final 2020 budget

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

The City’s total budget is $6.47 billion, of which $2.75 billion can only be allocated to City Light and Seattle Public Utilities because that revenue comes entirely from ratepayers. The City’s General Fund totals $1.48 billion.  Fifty-one percent of the City’s $1.48 billion in General Fund revenue is dedicated to the core function of municipal government, public safety.  Specifically, about $755 million goes to Seattle Police Department, Seattle Fire Department, Seattle Municipal Court, the City Attorney, the Office of Emergency Management, the Office of Police Accountability, and the Office of the Inspector General.

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

District 1 Specific Proposals:

Citywide Proposals:

Public Safety and Public Health

Homelessness and Housing

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

Civil Rights

Transportation and Utilities

Economic Development and Arts/Culture

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

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

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

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

 

Public Hearing on Police Guild Collective Bargaining Negotiations

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

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

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

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

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

 

Sound Transit Online Forum for light rail to West Seattle

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

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

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

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

 

Parks Wants Your Input on Trail and Wayfinding Improvements for Delridge

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

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

Share


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

November 21st, 2019

This Week in the Budget

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First-In-Time Ruling from State Supreme Court

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

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

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

From last weeks’ press release:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Share


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

November 14th, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

# # #

Share


© 1995-2018 City of Seattle