REPAIR WORK BEGINS on West Seattle Bridge

November 29th, 2021

Final Phase of West Seattle Bridge Repair Starts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 24th, 2021

Council Adopts 2022 Budget

On Monday the Council acted to adopt the 2022 budget.

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

Traditional Public Safety

Community Safety

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

Behavioral Health Investments

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

Investments in Human Services

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

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

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

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

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

Mary’s Place was the Victim of Internet Fraud

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HSD has begun the hiring process for the vacant positions.

West Seattle Bridge/Reconnect West Seattle Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

English  Spanish  Traditional Chinese  Somali Tigrinya  Vietnamese

Neighborhood House is located at 6400 Sylvan Way SW.

CSCC Tour

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

East Marginal Way Federal Grant

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They report some of their main findings to be:

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

Virtual Office Hours

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

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

Expressing Thanks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 15th, 2021

West Seattle Bridge Repair Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

This Week in the Budget

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

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

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

The Chair’s balancing package is available here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hiring Bonuses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Support Is Available for Family Caregivers

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

-First Lady Rosalynn Carter

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

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

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

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

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West Seattle Bridge Repair Update, November 5; This Week in the Budget; City of Seattle Announces Awards to Seven Duwamish River Neighborhood Projects; Register for Film Career Day, This Saturday 11/6; Grants for Small Businesses to Implement Vaccine Verification

November 5th, 2021

West Seattle Bridge Repair Update, November 5

West Seattle Bridge Update

The latest is that SDOT is in the final stage of completing the negotiation for the Maximum Allowable Construction Contract (MACC) for repair of the bridge. A complete MACC will mean SDOT can finally issue the Notice to Proceed (NTP) for construction of the repair.

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

There are 15 separate contract packages that, together, make up the bridge repair project.  SDOT has advertised 12 of the 15 contract packages and had bid openings on 7. The first two “early works” contract packages are moving through the award and NTP process. Activities on these contracts will start shortly, with some of the work on the bridge and some in off-site locations, preparing for on-site activities.

The repair of the West Seattle Bridge remains on schedule for mid-2022 completion.

Additional updates on the bridge repair will be available at the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force meeting next Wednesday, November 10.

Spokane Street (lower) Bridge

On Wednesday one of the three pumps on the Spokane Street (lower) Bridge started malfunctioning, so SDOT closed the bridge for inspection. SDOT is replacing the pump now and should be done later tonight.  The bridge is currently open to land-based traffic but is closed to larger marine vessels that require both sides of the bridge to open.  SDOT had planned to replace a different pump on the bridge on Tuesday, November 9th, but this work is being done right now to avoid further closure.

Reconnect West Seattle Update

The third quarter report for the Reconnect West Seattle program is available here. 50 of 70 projects have been completed so far, including signal timing, lane striping, and bike lanes, and intersection improvements at West Marginal and Highland Park Way that facilitate the throughput of traffic, with more planned for completion later this year and in 2022.

This Week in the Budget

Budget public hearing graphic showing date of second of three public hearings is November 10 at 5:30 p.m. Sign up opens at 3:30 p.m

This week the Budget Committee has no meetings, as Chair Mosqueda develops a balancing package for the 2022 budget that incorporates some of the amendments proposed by Councilmembers.

Next week the Budget Committee is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. on November 10th, where the Chair will announce her balancing package.

A budget public hearing will take place at 5:30 p.m. on November 10; you can sign up to testify beginning at 3:30 p.m. at bit.ly/council-comment.

The Budget Committee will then meet to discuss the balancing package on November 12th at 9:30 a.m.

Last week the Budget Committee considered over 200 Councilmember amendments to the Mayor’s proposed budget. Below are some of the items that I sponsored, or where noted, co-sponsored:

Expanding pre-filing diversion to 25+: Since 2017 the City Attorney has operated a pre-filing diversion program for young adults aged 18-24; this would expand the program to those 25 and older, and continue the participation of community-based organizations on implementation; work on these issues began with the establishment in 2015 by the City Council of a Prisoner and Community Corrections Re-Entry Workgroup, which issued its final report in October 2018.

Bridges: I joined prime sponsor Councilmember Pedersen to co-sponsor a proposal for a $100 million bond sale to fund seismic and maintenance projects for bridges, with a focus on projects from the Move Seattle Levy.  It’s critical for the Council to commit to completing these projects and address the maintenance backlog.

I have an additional amendment to require monthly reporting on the progress of the West Seattle Bridge repair, working toward mid-2022 completion.

Bring LEAD to Scale Citywide:  I proposed $14.6 million to bring LEAD (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion/Let Everyone Advance with Dignity) to scale citywide in 2022.  In November 2019, Seattle City Council passed RES 31916, to acknowledge the City’s responsibility to reduce unnecessary criminal justice system involvement, and declared our commitment to fund LEAD sufficiently to accept all priority referrals citywide by 2023.  Last month LEAD presented to my Public Safety & Human Services committee the LEAD Scale Study report, including estimates of the number of people who would be served by LEAD instead of by law enforcement.  This budget action proposes to increase the base funding in the Mayor’s proposed budget sufficient to bring LEAD funding to $21 million next year.

Mental Health: The unprecedented anxiety, pain, and isolation of the past year and half are leading to negative mental health impacts for all of us – and occasionally erupting into abuse, self-harm, gunfire, assault, and other forms of violence.  That’s why I worked with the County to propose significant increases in mental health investments, including:

  • $1 million to increase funding for school-based mental and behavioral health services, and to increase the City’s investment in County-contracted mental health services including community mental health clinics, Designated Crisis Responders, and Healthcare for the Homeless.
  • $3 million to significantly expand mobile advocacy services and financial assistance for survivors of gender-based violence, a research-backed approach that promotes long-term stability, safety and well-being for survivors and their children.
  • A down payment on capital funding to rapidly set up a new voluntary behavioral health crisis center, a place for people in crisis to receive immediate, skilled support, without requiring law enforcement involvement.

Food and Nutrition:  The Mayor’s proposed budget included a significant cut in emergency food programs next year.  These resources are desperately needed to provide farm-fresh and culturally-appropriate, healthy food to the most marginalized communities.  With rising costs and supply chain challenges, now is not the time to cut back.  My actions:

  • $3.4 million to sustain food programs at their current levels through June 2022, when new state resources are expected
  • I cosponsored $200,000 for a hybrid meal delivery program for older adults and adults with disabilities, to provide both in-person congregate meals and home delivery or to-go meals in West Seattle, Ballard, and Lake City.

Services for Workforce Affordable Housing:  Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association and other affordable housing providers brought to my attention an emerging need for funds for services for their residents, specifically those living in housing affordable to those making between 30% and 80% of Area Median Income.  In response, I proposed $1.5 million to distribute through the Office of Housing for this purpose.

Secure ongoing funding for the Duwamish Valley Youth Corps: Since its inception, the Duwamish Valley Youth Corps has received funding from the City through contracts at the Human Services Department. The contract was not included in the Mayor’s proposed 2022 budget. I’ve submitted a budget proposal to ensure $200,000 in funding through the Office of Sustainability.

New funding for 911 dispatchers: Increase funding by $1.8 million dollars and add 26 new positions to meet the operational demands at the dispatch center.

Expanding Health One: The Health One program has proven to be a success; however, demand for this type of response is still needed. I’ve proposed adding funding to expand the team by one more unit next year. The Seattle Fire Department is on the verge of deploying their third unit, and with the addition of a fourth team we will be able to expand the hours of operation.

Funding for additional firefighter recruits: as I’ve written about previously, the Seattle Fire Department has seen an increase in firefighter separations, a pattern we’ve seen increase this year as well. In addition to the higher-than-expected separations there are over 400 firefighters eligible for retirement. We must address the loss of firefighters immediately which is why I’ve submitted another proposal to increase recruits by 20 additional firefighters, this is in addition to the two classes of 60 currently planned for in 2022.

SPD items: A request for continuing reports on police staffing, overtime, finances, and performance metrics; reserving $250,000 for the relational policing program, an initiative of Chief Diaz that was not included in the Mayor’s proposed budget that focuses on training in the community within Seattle prior to training in the state academy; reduce the proposed overtime budget by 11% (though it would be $2 million higher than the revised 2021 budget) through efficiencies, and track overtime for events and demonstrations separately; the SPD hiring plan is fully funded.

The budget meeting schedule is available at the Select Budget Committee webpage. You can download the budget calendar here.

Budget Committee meetings have public comment for 30 minutes at the beginning of the morning session.   You can sign up to speak at the link.

City of Seattle Announces Awards to Seven Duwamish River Neighborhood Projects

The City of Seattle announced grants for seven community projects serving neighborhoods and communities along the Duwamish River. As part of the Duwamish River Opportunity Fund, these projects will help to increase the sustainability of the neighborhoods impacted by the Superfund clean-up. The projects will begin this year and will continue into 2022.

Decades of industry near the Duwamish have left significant contamination in the mud and along the river’s banks. In 2001, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) listed a 5.5 mile stretch of the Duwamish River as a Superfund cleanup site. Since then, the City of Seattle, King County, the Port of Seattle and the Boeing Company have invested over $100 Million in early cleanup actions to reduce contamination by 50 percent, while also working to eliminate ongoing sources of contamination.

Since 2014, the Duwamish River Opportunity Fund has granted more than $1.6 million to community projects focused on quality-of-life enhancements in the neighborhoods of South Park, Georgetown, and SODO. The fund is one component of a broader City effort to improve the quality of life and restore the health of Duwamish River communities.

2021 Duwamish River Opportunity Fund Awards

  • $40,000 to Amigos de Seattle to fund a radio show production training curriculum centered on the LGBTQ+, Indigenous, and Afro-Latino communities.
  • $39,900 to Duwamish Tribal Services to plan and design a new cafe and walk-up window on the south end of the Duwamish Longhouse.
  • $39,163 to Duwamish Valley Sustainability Association to support the development of five animated videos and a three-dimensional model that will use simple language to explain the Duwamish River Superfund Site cleanup to the community.
  • $35,129 to Pollution Prevention Resource Center (PPRC) to create and deploy a storm drain stencil and wastewater container decal that will help prevent wastewater dumping to storm drains. The stencil and decal will be targeted at food trucks in Duwamish commercial districts.
  • $39,850 to South Park Arts & Culture Collective to provide free open mic nights, public painting sessions, and ongoing art classes for young people in the South Park neighborhood.
  • $40,000 to Utility Squared Community in support of the Municipal Utility Services & Infrastructure Quick-Curriculum, a project that aimed at building the next-generation infrastructure workforce and accelerating job readiness through sparking youth curiosity and cultivating knowledge of Municipal Utility Services & Infrastructure.
  • $40,000 to Villa Comunitaria to fund the early stages of the organizing and development of a South Park Childcare Cooperative that will primarily serve Latinx women, children and families in South Park.

To learn more about the fund, visit seattle.gov/neighborhoods/programs-and-services/duwamish-river-opportunity-fund. For questions, call (206) 233-0093 or email drof@seattle.gov.

Register for Film Career Day, This Saturday 11/6

film career day 2021, virtual and in person. Sat November 6 from 11am - 3pm

Film Career Day provides educational and networking opportunities to Seattle area youth interested in film and the creative industries, and brings representatives from training programs, employers, and other resources. It is 100% free to attend.

You don’t have to be in a film class or media arts program to attend — anyone who is passionate about making videos can expand their understanding of career paths in the film industry, and network with industry leaders and peers to connect with opportunities.  Learn more and register.

Grants for Small Businesses to Implement Vaccine Verification

This week I joined the Mayor and several of my Council colleagues to announce the City will be adding $2 million to the Small Business Stabilization Fund (SBSF) to support small businesses and organizations impacted by the new vaccination verification requirement in King County. Up to 2,000 eligible small businesses and organizations that are required to enforce this policy will receive additional funding of up to $1,000 to help offset the economic impacts of this requirement.

All small businesses and nonprofits such as performing arts, cultural institutions or business technical assistance nonprofit organizations are encouraged to apply to the Small Business Stabilization Fund by November 14, 2021.  The grants up to $1,000 for vaccine verification are expected to begin to be distributed in December 2021.

Long before King County put vaccine verification in place, more than 140 establishments were requiring proof of vaccination already.  Standing with workers and small businesses struggling to stay open means helping to implement and enforce vaccine verification.  An analysis by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) found that the vaccine verification policy at restaurants, bars, and gyms/fitness centers alone could prevent 17,900 to 75,900 infections, 421 to 1,760 hospitalizations, and 63 to 257 deaths locally over six months.  This step will save lives, remove pressure from our healthcare workers and keep small businesses open.

To apply for the Small Business Stabilization Fund or learn more about eligibility requirements and the application process, visit seattle.gov/SmallBusinessStabilizationFund.

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October 29th, 2021

City West Seattle Vaccination Clinic Opening Friday, October 29

The City of Seattle will be opening a vaccination hub in West Seattle beginning on Friday, October 29, at Neighborhood House (6400 Sylvan Way SW) in the High Point neighborhood. The City is partnering with Neighborhood House and Pliable mobile nursing teams for clinic operations.  Pliable is the woman-owned mobile health-care service started by two West Seattle nurse practitioners.

I’m thrilled residents in District 1 will again have access to a city-run vaccination site, here on the peninsula.  With boosters available now for many, and vaccines for children under 12 nearly in sight, this vaccination hub is coming at a perfect time. Whether you need your first shot or your booster, now you’ll be able to get it from our own, trusted, City-run site.  I’m deeply grateful to Neighborhood House leadership and staff for providing the location for this hub. And thanks to the Mayor’s Office for understanding the unique mobility needs we have and making sure District 1 residents aren’t left behind.

Beginning on Friday, October 29, eligible vaccinated individuals can receive booster shots of Pfizer, Moderna, and the Johnson and Johnson (J&J) vaccines. Upon federal and state approval of eligibility, children ages 5-11 will be able to receive first and second Pfizer doses at City sites.

The new West Seattle Vaccination Clinic will operate Fridays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Details, including hours of operation and the vaccines offered, are available at www.seattle.gov/vaccine.   The website contains vaccination information in seven languages, and in-language assistance is also available over the phone.

King County Vaccine Verification Toolkit for Businesses

KC Vax Verified, a partnership of Public Health—Seattle & King County and the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and other business and community organizations across King County, has announced a business toolkit for the vaccine verification requirement that went into effect for businesses and indoor events on October 25th.

The toolkit includes where the order applies; who must comply; what counts as verification; signage; training guidance, and scenario planning.

You can download the toolkit here. It is available in  English here.

You can go here to get the toolkit in other languages, including Amharic, Arabic, Farsi, French, Hindi, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Oromo, Punjabi, Russian, Samoan, Somali, Chinese simplified, Spanish, Tagalog, Tigrinya, Chinese Traditional, Ukranian, and Vietnamese.

Seattle Relief Fund Launched

The Seattle Relief Fund is $16 million of funding for direct cash assistance to Seattle’s most vulnerable low-income residents and their households who have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.  Award amounts are between $1,000 and $3,000 depending on household size.

This includes households that were unable to access state unemployment, had no health insurance, didn’t receive federal stimulus payments, or experienced housing instability or mental health crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Applications are open from October 25 through November 15 and will be reviewed from November 16 through 29. Decisions on payments will be made from November 29 through December 6, and payments sent after December 9.

The fund is open to all eligible Seattle residents regardless of their citizenship or immigration status. Eligible applicants must be 18 years old or older and have incomes under 50 percent of Seattle’s area median income (less than $40,500 for an individual or $57,850 for a family of four).

Applications are available in eight languages.

Thank you to the numerous community partner organizations listed at the end of this press release.

Small Business Stabilization Fund Applications Open

The Small Business Stabilization Fund is accepting new applications through November 9th.

The Office of Economic Development is investing an additional $4 million to stabilize micro and small businesses negatively impacted by COVID-19 by providing cash grants through the Small Business Stabilization Fund. Funded by the Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (CLFR) established under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the Stabilization Fund will provide $5,000, $10,000 and $20,000 grants to be used on operational expenses such as rent, wages, equipment and more.

Applications are open to businesses within the City limits that have been impacted by COVID-19 and the related health and safety restrictions, such as business interruptions or closures incurred because of the pandemic; have up to 50 full time equivalent employees; are current open for business, and began operating prior to October 19, 2019, and other criteria listed here.

Also eligible are nonprofit entities that are performing arts, cultural institutions or business technical assistance organizations that have active nonprofit status with the Washington Secretary of State.

If you need assistance to complete the online application, language access services, accommodations or accessibility information, please contact the Seattle Office of Economic Development at (206) 684-8090 or oed@seattle.gov.

You can apply here, in several languages.

This Week in the Budget

This week the Budget Committee met over the course of three days to hear potential Councilmember amendments to the Mayor’s proposed budget.

The next step in the budget process is for Budget Chair Mosqueda to develop a balancing package that incorporates some of these amendments. This will take place over the next week and into the following week, so there will be no Budget Committee meetings next week.

The next meeting will be a public hearing on November 10 at 5:30 p.m. The balancing package is expected to be released by then; it will be formally presented at the Budget Committee on November 12th.

Below are links to the proposed budget amendments, arranged by department. In addition, a few “walk on” amendments were added to the agenda and aren’t listed here.

October 26 items

  1. Introduction and Proposed Budget Amendments Overview
  2. Finance General (FG)
  3. Department of Finance and Administrative Services (FAS)
  4. Legislative Department (LEG)
  5. Mayor’s Office (MO)
  6. Office of City Auditor (AUD)
  7. Seattle Information Technology Department (ITD)
  8. Seattle Public Utilities (SPU)
  9. Seattle Public Library (SPL)
  10. Department of Education and Early Learning (DEEL)
  11. Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS)
  12. Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs (OIRA)
  13. Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI)
  14. Office of Planning & Community Development (OPCD)
  15. Department of Neighborhoods (DON)
  16. Office of Economic Development (OED)
  17. Office of Sustainability & Environment (OSE)
  18. Office of Labor Standards (OLS)

October 27 items

  1. Office of Housing (OH)
  2. Homelessness Response (HOM)
  3. Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR)
  4. Seattle Police Department (SPD)
  5. Community Safety and Communications Center (CSCC)
  6. Seattle Fire Department (SFD)
  7. Office of the Inspector General for Public Safety (OIG)
  8. Seattle Municipal Court (SMC)
  9. Law Department (LAW)
  10. Office for Civil Rights (OCR)
  11. City Budget Office (CBO)

October 28 items

  1. Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT)
  2. Human Services Department (HSD)

The budget meeting schedule is available at the Select Budget Committee webpage. You can download the budget calendar here.

Budget Committee meetings have public comment for 30 minutes at the beginning of the morning session.   You can sign up to speak at the link.

Sound Transit Light Rail Draft EIS Coming in Early 2022

We recently received an update from Sound Transit about the timeline for publication of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the West Seattle/Ballard light rail line.   Sound Transit now expects to publish the Draft EIS in early 2022. Previously the target date was late 2021. There will be a public comment period after publication.

Here’s a link to Sound Transit’s public engagement page for the project, which includes information about the EIS process, how to comment, and alternatives studied in the EIS.

After public comment, the Sound Transit Board will select the options to be studied in the Final EIS, which Sound Transit expects to publish in 2023.

In addition, Sound Transit has extended the deadline to apply to the Community Advisory Groups for the West Seattle and Ballard light rail project through November 1 at 5 p.m.. Information about applying is available from Sound Transit here.  Interest forms are also available in Spanish, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Vietnamese and Somali and they are accepting applications in-language.

Seattle University 7th Annual Public Safety Survey

Seattle University has begun administering its 7th Annual Citywide Seattle Public Safety Survey, collecting qualitative and quantitative data about perceptions of crime and safety from those who live and work in Seattle.

The survey is accessible at publicsafetysurvey.org and is available in Amharic, Arabic, Chinese, English, Korean, Oromo, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog, Tigrinya and Vietnamese.

A report on the survey results will be provided to the Seattle Police Department as the neighborhood’s safety and security concerns as expressed by the people participating in the survey. More information on the Seattle Public Safety Survey can be found here.

SPD’s work with Seattle University led to the development of the Seattle Police Department’s Micro Community Policing Plans, which have guided SPD’s precinct-level priorities.

The survey is open through November 30. Previous results are available here.

Loans For Fire-Impacted White Center Businesses

Though it’s neither in Seattle District 1 nor the Seattle city limits, White Center is just across the street in an area where many residents of District 1 visit.  For that reason, I wanted to share this update about help coming to White Center.  Local businesses and organizations impacted by the July 5 fire in White Center can now apply for low-interest loans of up to $2 million if they have suffered from “substantial economic injury.” The federal government defines substantial economic injury based on whether a business is unable to meet its obligations and pay its ordinary and necessary operating expenses.

With multiple devastating fires in the core of White Center this summer, the U.S. Small Business Administration has declared an Economic Injury Disaster, opening the door for businesses to apply for loans to help rebuild the local economy. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) made a declaration of an Economic Injury Disaster this week, opening a loan application process for businesses and organizations that suffered substantial economic injury.

Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information, and download applications at https://disasterloanassistance.sba.gov/. Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov for more information on SBA disaster assistance. Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing may call (800) 877-8339.

The deadline to apply for economic injury is July 26, 2022.

The Washington Small Business Development Center is also offering free, personalized counseling to help affected businesses in their recovery. Businesses may contact the Washington SBDC office by emailing washington@wsbdc.org, calling (833) 492-7232, or visiting their website at https://www.wsbdc.org.

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Update on Bridge Repair; This Week in the Budget; Sound Transit Invitation to Apply for Community Advisory Group for West Seattle/Ballard Line; SDOT Enforcing 72 Hour Parking Law; 10/21: Join a Virtual Open House About the Future of the Junction’s Parking Lots; Vaccination Verification Required At Many Businesses Starting October 25; Vaccination Mandate Deadline for City Employees; King County Districting Town Hall; Adopt-A-Drain

October 20th, 2021

West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force Update on Bridge Repair

The West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force met on Thursday, October 14th and heard schedule and design updates for the mid-2022 completion of the bridge repair. The 90% design threshold has been met and we are on target to meet the all-important 100% design threshold in early November. Pre-construction work is happening right now, even if you can’t see it.  New work platforms are being designed and constructed off-site.  Utilities are being relocated within the bridge girder to make space for new post-tensioning work.

In November, construction of the repair is scheduled to begin, after conclusion of the Maximum Allowable Construction Cost (MACC) negotiations, and approval from WSDOT and FWHA. Work  platforms are scheduled for installation in December, along with crack injections:

Here’s a visual that displays (in green) the schedule for the different elements of the West Seattle Bridge repair work (utility relocation, work platform installation, post-tensioning, epoxy injections, and carbon fiber wrap).

The schedule for rehabilitation work on the lower (Spokane Street) bridge is listed below in purple:


This Week in the Budget

Last week the Council met as the Select Budget Committee. On Tuesday, the committee had the first of three public hearings. On Wednesday, we began the first of three days of morning and afternoon sessions to hear “Issue Identification” presentations on select departments. Council Central Staff identified potential issues in their presentations and staff memos as a starting point for Councilmember discussions. The presentations and memos are linked below.

Wednesday October 13th

Thursday October 14

Friday, October 15

On Monday October 18th, Councilmembers had a noon deadline to submit potential amendments to the Mayor’s Proposed 2022 budget. This week staff is working to develop amendments that will be presented in the Select Budget Committee from October 26th to 28th.

The budget meeting schedule is available at the Select Budget Committee webpage. You can download the budget calendar here.

Budget Committee meetings have public comment for 30 minutes at the beginning of the morning session.   You can sign up to speak at the link.

Sound Transit Invitation to Apply for Community Advisory Group for West Seattle/Ballard Line

Sound Transit is seeking applications for serve on a Community Advisory Group (CAG). Sound Transit’s announcement is below, including contact information.  Applications will be accepted through 5 p.m. on Wednesday, October 27.

“Sound Transit is looking for people along the West Seattle and Ballard corridor who bring diverse perspectives and lived experiences to serve on a community advisory group (CAG). The CAGs will provide an additional forum for community members to help inform the Sound Transit Board’s confirmation or modification of the preferred alternative for the West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions project.

The CAGs will work collaboratively to highlight issues and tradeoffs to the community for the Sound Transit Board to consider as the agency works to deliver a project on time and within scope. Feedback from the advisory groups will be taken together with all the input gathered from the public comment period when Sound Transit releases the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the project, and shared with the Sound Transit Board before it confirms or modifies the preferred alternative early next year. In addition to participating on a CAG, community members will be able to engage in a variety of ways during the public comment period including at public meetings, by phone, mail, email and online.

 The CAGs will include a balance of neighborhood and community interests and reflect the diversity throughout the corridor, including income level, race, age, physical and cognitive abilities, and lived experience. Each advisory group will be comprised of 10-15 community members, and organized by geographic area.

Sound Transit is seeking people who:

  • Live, work and/or volunteer along the project corridor.
  • Are a part of or have deep understanding of one or more of the communities along the corridor.
  • Have knowledge and/or interest in public transportation, mobility and how transportation affects the lives of people in the region.

Sound Transit asks that members be prepared to:

  • Act as a community ambassador, willing to share information with community members and bring forth community values, concerns, and ideas.
  • Consider the community as a whole and go beyond personal interests.
  • Participate collaboratively with group members whose views may be different from their own.
  • Attend approximately six-monthly meetings from fall 2021 through early 2022, participating fully in the process.

Interest forms will be accepted through 5 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 27. Fill out an interest form at https://wsblink.participate.online/#cag. For assistance, contact the West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions project team at wsblink@soundtransit.org or 206-903-7229.”

SDOT Enforcing 72 Hour Parking Law

SDOT announced that they would begin to issue warnings to enforce the 72-hour parking law starting on October 15. SDOT reports that their initial focus will be on ” unoccupied hazardous vehicles that may have been abandoned over the past 19 months.”

In September, SDOT began managing parking enforcement, when parking enforcement officers were transferred from SPD.  Enforcement of the 72-hour parking law was suspended in March 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

SDOT’s announcement says:

“While the initial focus is on abandoned vehicles, all vehicle owners should get back in the habit of regularly moving vehicles to avoid a possible warning and citation. People should also check their block regularly for temporary parking restriction signs, which can be placed with a minimum of 24-hours notice for things like emergency utility work, cleaning, or special events.

Parking enforcement at SDOT will not impound a vehicle with someone living in it unless it poses a specific risk to public health such as inadequate sanitation causing a direct risk of illness or injury, inadequate protection leaving the occupants exposed to the weather, or other environmental, fire, health and safety hazards.”

SDOT’s announcement also notes:

“Starting soon, people will be able to report abandoned vehicles that have been parked on the street for more than 72 hours using the Find It, Fix It app. Because enforcement was paused for so long, the City expects that it will take longer than usual to respond to requests to clear abandoned vehicles currently on the streets.”

In March of this year the Mayor issued a press release about COVID 19 restrictions that noted “As more businesses are reopening, SDOT is developing a plan to reinstate the 72-hour parking ordinance that will be back in effect starting April 1, 2021.”

One challenge in resuming enforcement is the Long decision by the State Supreme Court in August, which ruled that auctioning a vehicle that served as a residence conflicted with the state Homestead Act.

I’ve asked SDOT about procedures; the Court’s decision suggests business practices will need to account for this decision because licensed tow operators are required by law to conduct forced sales of unredeemed vehicles.

10/21: Join a Virtual Open House About the Future of the Junction’s Parking Lots

What could be the vision for the future use of the West Seattle Junction’s four paid parking lots?  Find out and provide input and insight during the Virtual Open House on Thursday, 10/21 at 6:30pm on Zoom.

See initial architectural drawings from Ankrom Moisan (the same firm that designed the new Husky Deli building).  Hear from Community Roots Housing, a local leader in affordable housing.  Learn about the vision to build and sustain small businesses via the Small Business Incubator program.

Oct 21, 2021 06:30 PM, join the Virtual Open House here.  Learn more here.

Meeting ID: 824 6786 0906
Passcode: 467445

Vaccination Verification Required At Many Businesses Starting Monday

Beginning October 25, people ages 12 and older will be required to show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test result to enter certain indoor and outdoor events and establishments in King County.

This requirement will help to protect customers and workers, protect our health care system (read a statement of support from the healthcare community), and prevent business closures as the Delta variant continues to spread in King County. You can read this Public Health Insider blog post for more information, and view the Local Health Order.

What can I use as proof of vaccination?

  • CDC COVID-19 vaccine record card or photo of vaccine card
  • Printed certificate or QR code (available at the end of September) from com
  • Other official immunization record from within or outside the U.S., including from your health care provider. A photo or photocopy of this card is also acceptable.

NOTE: Documentation of medical or religious exemptions not accepted.

What if I don’t have my vaccination card?  If you lost your CDC vaccination card, try these options to find your vaccination record:

  • Sign up for MyIR at MyIR.net. Look up your vaccination record, then print or take a screenshot. If your records don’t show up, call 833-VAX-HELP (833-829-4357).
  • Ask your provider. If you received your vaccine at your health care provider, the provider’s office should be able to give you a copy of your record.
  • Ask at the vaccination site. Go back to the site where you were vaccinated and ask a clinic supervisor if they can look up your record and create a new card.

For questions about your immunization record, email: waiisrecords@doh.wa.gov.

What if I’m not Covid vaccinated yet?  Luckily, COVID-19 vaccine is always free, regardless of citizenship or immigration status. Everyone ages 12 and older can get a vaccine. Ages 12-17 can get Pfizer ONLY, while ages 18+ can get Pfizer, Moderna or J&J. Learn more about vaccination for youth at kingcounty.gov/vaccine/youth

No appointment is needed; most pharmacies, clinics, and Public Health centers now offer drop-in COVID-19 vaccination. Enter your zip code in Washington’s Vaccine Locator tool or check Public Health’s Getting Vaccinated page to find a vaccination site near you.  Or use this map to find vaccine locations in District 1:


Vaccination Mandate Deadline for City Employees

On August 9 Mayor Durkan announced that City of Seattle employees must be fully vaccinated by October 18, consistent with the Governor’s order regarding state employees. In late September, the City announced an agreement with city unions  (except for the Police Officer’s Guild) regarding vaccination requirements for City employees.

I have been in regular contact with the Seattle Police Department and the Seattle Fire Department regarding potential impacts. A very large majority of employees of both departments are fully vaccinated.  Unfortunately, 176 first responders are ineligible to to work.  Some of the 520 employees citywide have been told that they are eligible for alternative assignments for work that does not put them in touch with other employees or the public.  That arrangement is unlikely to be available for most first responders.

Both SPD and SFD have engaged in contingency planning in the event of staffing problems.

SPD is prepared to move to “Stage 3” operations, where every sworn member of the department shall be in their class A/B uniform for the duration of their shift. Those members who are in non-patrol units shall be prepared to immediately report to one of the five precincts for 911 call response.

Fire was prepared to move into an operational level below standard staffing levels beginning the morning of the 19th, while, for example, moving uniformed members in administrative positions back into Operations to respond to emergencies; mandatory overtime will be used in some cases.   No fire stations will be closed; all 33 fire stations will be staffed with at least one response unit.

10/21 King County Districting Town Hall

The King County Districting Committee is responsible for redrawing King County Council Districts using 2020 Census data. By law, district boundaries must be realigned every 10 years to reflect changes in population distribution.

The Committee has scheduled four town hall meetings via Zoom for the following dates. Each town hall will include interpreters in Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, and American Sign Language. The meetings will livestream on Facebook via King County TV. Community members may request additional languages by emailing districting@kingcounty.gov. This information is posted on the Committee’s website.

  • Sunday, October 17th at 2pm
  • Tuesday, October 19th at 2pm
  • Wednesday, October 20th at 2pm
  • Thursday, October 21st at 7pm

To join any of the October town hall meetings you can join online here, or by telephone: 253-215-8782

  • Meeting ID: 817 8751 3404
  • Passcode: 760489

Adopt-A-Drain

Seattle, through, Seattle Public Utilities, and along with six other cities around the Puget Sound are launching “Adopt-A-Drain.” Adopt-a-Drain asks residents to adopt a storm drain in their neighborhood and keep it clear of leaves, trash, and other debris to reduce water pollution and help prevent localized flooding.

This Adopt-A-Drain model was launched five years ago by the Watershed Partners of the Minneapolis/Saint Paul, Minnesota metropolitan area. That program currently has more than 8800 participants who have adopted 16,000 drains and collected 350,000 pounds of debris.

If you’re interested in adopting your neighborhood stormwater drain you can learn more here.

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This Week in the Budget; Share Your Vision for Seattle Parks by 10/13; Seattle Leading the Way in Spurring Economic Recovery; Behavioral Health Leaders’ Summit; West Seattle Bridge Tour; 5 Year Anniversary of the Mobile Integrated Health Program; East Precinct OPA Report; Resolution Supporting the Decriminalization of Entheogens; Habitat for Humanity South Park Home Dedication; The 4th Annual Seattle/Pacific Northwest Black College Expo™; Virtual Office Hours

October 8th, 2021

This Week in the Budget

This week there are no meetings of the Select Budget Committee, as Councilmembers and staff comb through and consider the Proposed 2022 Budget. 

The first public hearing is Tuesday, October 12th at 5:30 p.m. Sign up begins at 3:30 p.m. at bit.ly/council-comment

 

This is the first of three public hearings. The other two are on November 10th and 18th. Public comment is also taken during the morning session of each Budget Committee meeting.  

On October 13th, 14th and 15th, the Budget Committee is scheduled to meet for “Issue Identification.”  Issue Identification is the stage in the budget process when Council Central Staff identify potential issues with the Mayor’s proposed budget that are likely to be of significant interest to the Council and the public, as well as possible options to change the proposed budget.  Councilmembers can verbally share potential amendment ideas at this stage too. 

Meetings will include morning and afternoon sessions beginning at 9:30 a.m. and  2 p.m. Here’s the schedule:

October 13: morning session: overview of 2022 budget; afternoon: Department of Education and Early Learning (DEEL), Office of Economic Development (OED)

October 14: morning session: Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD), Human Services and Community-Led Investments; afternoon: homelessness

October 15: morning session: Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), alternatives to police response & the criminal legal system; afternoon: Police Department (SPD)

Share Your Vision for Seattle Parks by 10/13

It’s your last call to participate in Seattle Parks & Recreation’s online open house.  Parks is collecting community feedback on their plans for pandemic and economic recovery, and what you want to see at our parks, open spaces, and community centers in the coming years.  Share your ideas by 10/13. 

 

Seattle Leading the Way in Spurring Economic Recovery

A new Brookings Institute report finds that Seattle is leading the way in quickly distributing federal relief to boost household and economic recovery.  Leaders of the 20 largest American cities have committed only 18% of the flexible funds they received from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Compare that to Seattle, where Council approved the Seattle Rescue Plan this summer, which committed half of our available fundingThis fall, Council will consider plans to commit the rest of our ARPA funding.   

Investing in our economic recovery is essential – a lesson learned during the Great Recession of 2008.  An analysis by the Center for American Progress found that economic recovery was swifter and unemployment lower in the 30 states that increased government spending, compared to the 20 states that embraced austerity and cut spending. The Brookings reports concludes, “Cities that got out of the gate with comprehensive plans bridging high-level goals with project-level details—such as Boston, Buffalo, St. Louis, and Seattle—offer models for how other cities can approach this historic opportunity.”   

 

 

Behavioral Health Leaders’ Summit

On Tuesday, I participated in a summit convened by Downtown Emergency Services Center (DESC) to discuss the urgent need for a stronger system of support for people experiencing behavioral health crisis, including:  

  1. Discussion of HB 1310 and what legislative changes at state and local levels would resolve concerns about the circumstances in which law enforcement can assist in behavioral health crisis events.   
  2. Clarification about what instructions have been provided to law enforcement officers about HB 1310.  SPD Chief Diaz has put this public statement out, but we know that there are still inconsistency in statements from officers about what they can and cannot do. 
  3. Identification and immediate implementation of options and resources for creation of additional non-law enforcement interventions to send to behavioral health crisis events.   

Leaders of approximately fifteen local behavioral health providers shared their stories of clients struggling with the effects of the pandemic, and a behavioral health system that is straining to serve them with inadequate resources.   King County Executive Dow Constantine, Mayor Jenny Durkan, City Council President Lorena González, King County Council Chair Claudia Balducci, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, King County Sherriff Mitzi Johanknecht, and others were in attendance to hear the concerns and discuss solutions. 

I will be pursuing funding and policy changes to support their recommendations, which include: 

  • Expand places for people in crisis to receive immediate support, post-crisis follow-up services, and community-based behavioral health services 
  • Stabilize the behavioral health sector workforce 
  • Clarify when law enforcement involvement in behavioral health crises is necessary and possible. 

 

West Seattle Bridge Tour

In anticipation of construction of the bridge repair starting in full swing next month, I joined SDOT and others for a tour of the West Seattle Bridge earlier on Thursday the 7th.   

Here I am in the interior of the bridge, with the post-tensioning cables used in the stabilization of the bridge at the bottom, and cameras that monitor the interior condition of the bridge at the top.  

 (photos: SDOT) 

The West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force will hold a public meeting next week, with updates.  

 

5 Year Anniversary of the Mobile Integrated Health Program

This week marked the five year anniversary of the launch of the Mobile Integrated Health Program. I first wrote about the expansion of the Mobile Integrated Health Program here, when former Councilmember Bagshaw, and the Seattle Firefighters, proposed an expansion of Mobile Integrated Health to include Health One, so more 911 calls could be directed towards providers that are better able to assist individuals in need.  You can read what I wrote about the latest Health One expansion here.  We expect another Health One expansion this fall with funds the Council provided in last year’s budget. 

The Mobile Integrated Health Program has led to saving the City time and resources, freeing up the time of fire fighters and police officers so they can respond to the calls that only they can respond to, and ensuring that residents are connected most efficiently with the services they need.  

 

East Precinct OPA Report

The Office of Police Accountability (OPA) published a report last week on the June 8, 2020 decision to close the East Precinct. Following a late-June 2020 discussion in my Public Safety and Human Services Committee, I asked OPA to determine whether the decision for all SPD staff to leave the East Precinct building was in accordance with SPD policy and procedures.  I later sent the following questions, with the OPA considered a complaint for investigation: 

  • What are the SPD policies and procedures to authorize vacating a precinct? 
  • What are the conditions, according to SPD policies and procedures, under which SPD can authorize vacating a precinct? 
  • Who, according to policies and procedures, authorizes SPD staff to vacate a precinct? 
  • In this instance, who directed SPD staff to vacate the East precinct?   
  • In this instance, did the person or persons who directed SPD staff to vacate the East precinct have the authority to do so? 
  • In this instance, did the conditions exist, according to SPD policies and procedures, for an authorized SPD personnel to order vacating the East Precinct? 
  • The Chief of Police and Mayor Jenny Durkan have stated that they did not direct staff to vacate the East Precinct, if not were either of them aware that staff had been directed to vacate the East Precinct? 
  • If there is a determination that no personnel directed or authorized SPD personnel to vacate the East Precinct, what is the violation of policies and procedures of individual officers if they did so without direction or authorization? 

A few Seattle residents made similar requests to the OPA.  

The investigation resulted in findings of “not sustained” for four separate lines of inquiry, meaning OPA found no misconduct. These findings, I believe, came up short in addressing the questions I asked OPA to review.   

First of all, the OPA is reinforcing the narrative that the East Precinct was abandoned because of the specific threat to the East Precinct.  But there is nothing in the official Incident Action Plan, linked document here, that suggests that FBI threats led to the decision to abandon the precinct.   Further, NE#2 (“Named Employee” in OPA terminology) also “stated that SPD had received information from the FBI that protest groups were going to target government buildings, and that SPD believed that the East Precinct was vulnerable to the type of destruction inflicted on Minneapolis’s Third Precinct.”  This suggests that the FBI intelligence was generalized, not specific to the East Precinct. 

In July 2020, I wrote about that here:  “The decision to barricade the East Precinct was attributed to what was described as a “credible threat” from the FBI to the East Precinct. My conversations with Chief Best have revealed that the FBI threat was not specific to the East Precinct; rather, it appears to have been a generalized assessment of threat to “police and government structures” in Portland, San Francisco, and Seattle. 

If the OPA is, in a large way, relying on a generalized FBI threat in its findings that no policy was violated with the decision to evacuate the building, how does this – for instance – address my 6/23 question asking whether the “conditions exist, according to SPD policies and procedures, for an authorized SPD personnel to order vacating the East Precinct?” There are apparently no policies, for a decision of this magnitude, to base the evacuation on an assessment of specific threat to a particular facility.  Shouldn’t OPA recommend, though a Management Action Recommendation (MAR), that SPD create a policy describing the conditions under which SPD can authorize vacating a precinct?  See more about OPA MAR’s here:  Policy Recommendations – OPA | seattle.gov 

Secondly,  I am concerned about the “Remaining Factual Issue” on pages 19-20 about whether the decision was made independently of Chief Best and that Chief Best reports that she was notified after the fact.    

Chief Best has said that the decision was made by others and that she directed them to not abandon the East Precinct.   Further in the OPA interview she reported that “she empowered her command staff to make decisions without always consulting her.”  On the other hand the Incident Commander, in his first interview with the OPA said that her, “never discussed the evacuation of personnel” with Chief Best.  In his second interview he said he told Chief Best during a phone call “exactly what we were going to do” and that he would never make as significant a decision as evacuating all personnel from the East Precinct “without running by the chief exactly what it was that we were going to do,”  and his recollection of the response was, “Not specific words, but she concurred with the response, and I think she understood it.”   

This unresolved “remaining factual issue” seems to be at the crux of some of the questions I asked on June 23, some of which remain unanswered.  Again, if there are no policies that define who can make this decision and under what authority, and there remains lingering question of how this particular decision was made on June 8th, shouldn’t OPA recommend, though a Management Action Recommendation (MAR), that SPD create a policy?  

 

Resolution Supporting the Decriminalization of Entheogens

On Monday, the Council voted unanimously to adopt a resolution “declaring that the investigation, arrest, and prosecution of anyone engaging in entheogen-related activities should be among The City of Seattle’s lowest law enforcement priorities and stating the Council’s support for full decriminalization of these activities.”  Entheogens – also known as psychedelics – have recently been shown to benefit individuals suffering depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, grief, and intergenerational trauma, and underlying issues associated with problematic substance use. These and other physical and mental conditions are plaguing many communities, which has been exacerbated by the impact of COVID-19. 

The Council passed this resolution after recommendations from the Overdose Emergency Innovative Recovery (OEIR) task force, which has been convened and led by VOCAL-WA. In early June the Council sent a letter to the task force requesting the: 

“examination of public policy governing psychedelic medicines, commonly referred to as ‘entheogens’. The OEIR Task Force work will expand efforts for solving the local overdose crisis, drug user health inequities, and region-wide safety and health by proposing and evaluating recommendations in order to build evidence and enhance practices on innovations in recovery and person-centered interventions. Given the potential of entheogens as treatments for substance addiction and behavioral mental health conditions, we believe this topic is a suitable addition to the Task Force workplan.” 

The task force released recommendations that in part state: “Municipalities, in the State of Washington and elsewhere, that have independent ordinance criminalizing psychedelics should repeal them, and those that don’t should direct their law enforcement agencies, local prosecutors and municipal courts to deprioritize enforcement and should public communicate this as municipal policy.” 

It is the current enforcement practice of the Seattle Police Department (SPD) to neither detain nor arrest individuals, nor to confiscate drugs from individuals, solely for suspected violations or violations of Section 69.50.4013 of the Revised Code of Washington (RCW), which is applicable to the possession of entheogens as controlled substances in the meaning of RCW 69.50.101(g). 

Many other jurisdictions have decriminalized some of all entheogens, including: Oakland, California; Santa Cruz, California; Denver, Colorado; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Washington, D.C.; the State of Oregon; and Portugal, Brazil, Jamaica, and the Netherlands have also decriminalized some or all entheogens. 

 

Habitat for Humanity South Park Home Dedication

Last Saturday I attended a home dedication for Habitat for Humanity in South Park. The housing project was, in part, funded through the Seattle Office of Housing and consisted of 13 new homes built on two lots that previously had only one house.  The two lots were zoned what’s called Residential Small Lot; a zoning classification that replaced “single family zoning” located within Urban Villages in 2019 after the Council’s passage of the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA)program.   

Home ownership is key to building intergenerational wealth and a key driver of the racial wealth gap. During the Council’s passage of the JumpStart revenue, I sponsored an amendment that sets aside approximately $6 million annually for permanently affordable homeownership opportunities available to households earning up to 80% of Area Median Income. The funds are reserved for this type of housing development, households at risk of displacement from their communities, or who have faced barriers to homeownership due to past discriminatory policies and practices such as redlining and restrictive racial covenants.   Between funds newly available in Jump Start, funds available through the Housing Levy, and funds that are collected through MHA, the city funding available for homeownership has tripled in recent years. 

At the event I met some new homeowners and learned about what Habitat for Humanity is doing in the Seattle area to build more affordable housing. I want to thank Habitat for Humanity for inviting me out and for all their work.  Thanks as well to the Office of Housing!  Congratulations to Blue Print Capital for the award that they received for innovative housing development. 

 

 

The 4th Annual Seattle/Pacific Northwest Black College Expo™

It’s free and hosted virtually on Friday, October 15, 2021 from 2:30 pm to 4:30 pm as an online experience for students to gain access to colleges, highlighting historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), and other educational institutions.  

In an effort to support and connect with students in the Seattle/Pacific Northwest area, National College Resources Foundation has partnered with Seattle Public School District and Renton School District.  

The Seattle/Pacific Northwest Black College Expo is an opportunity for students to get accepted on the spot, get their college application Fees waived and receive scholarships. This event will help high school seniors and college transfer students looking to transfer to a four-year college.  

In addition to getting connected to college recruiters, students will have access to informative seminars and workshops which include but are not limited to How to Find Money for CollegeWhy Attend an HBCU411 for the Student Athlete, and How to Start a Business 

To register, please visit: www.ncrfoundation.org or call 877-427-4100.  

Black College Expo™ (BCE) a trademark program of National College Resources Foundation (NCRF), a 501c3 non-profit organization that functions daily as a full-service student outreach program in various schools.  BCE was founded in 1999 by Dr. Theresa Price as a vital link between minorities and college admissions.  NCRF’s mission is to curtail high school dropout rate and increase degree and/or certificate enrollment among underserved, underrepresented, at risk, low resource, and homeless and foster students.  NCRF’s vision is to close the gap in educational achievement, workforce and economic disparities with the goal to end racism and racial inequalities.  

 

Virtual Office Hours

On Friday October 29, I will be hosting virtual office hours between 2pm and 6pm, with the last meeting of the day beginning at 5:30pm.  

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

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

  • Friday, December 17, 2021 
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This Week in the 2022 Budget; Diaper Need Awareness Week Proclamation; Boosters, Vaccines, and Avoiding Overflowing Hospitals; Seattle Municipal Court Audit

October 1st, 2021

This Week in the 2022 Budget

On Monday the Mayor, as required by state law, sent a Proposed 2022 budget to the City Council, as well as a Proposed 2022-2027 Capital Improvement Program. Both links allow you to download the entire proposal, or to select a specific department.

The Council’s review of the proposed budget began this week, with an overview from the City Budget Office, and a round of Department Presentations.

Below are links to the presentations heard in the Select Budget Committee this week:

September 29: 

September 30: 

October 1:  

No meetings are scheduled for next week, as Council offices and Central Staff will be reviewing the proposal. The next scheduled meeting of the Select Budget Committee will a Public Hearing on October 12 at 5:30 p.m.

The budget meeting schedule is available at the Select Budget Committee webpage. You can download the budget calendar here.

Budget Committee meetings have public comment for 30 minutes at the beginning of the morning session.   You can sign up to speak at the link.

Diaper Need Awareness Week Proclamation

On Monday, Council President González and I presented a Diaper Need Awareness Week proclamation to District 1 treasure Westside Baby as part of the national effort to recognize the growing number of families who struggle to secure enough diapers to keep their babies healthy.  Our community is lucky to have Westside Baby step up to address this need during the pandemic, distributing 860,000 more diapers last year than the year previous.

Diaper need is a growing health issue that affects 1 in 3 families in the United States.  Low-income families pay up to 14% of their entire income just for disposable diapers.  Here in Seattle, diaper need impacts BIPOC families particularly hard, with 42 percent of Seattle’s BIPOC families struggling to afford diapers.

National research shows that diaper need is linked to higher rates of depressive symptoms in new moms than hunger is. It is also linked to more frequent visits to the pediatrician for diaper rash and urinary tract infections.

A diaper drive is a great way to show support during Diaper Need Awareness Week, and I encourage everyone to consider hosting or contributing to a diaper drive.  You can learn more about meeting diaper need at westsidebaby.org.

Boosters, Vaccines, and Avoiding Overflowing Hospitals

Are you eligible for a booster?  The CDC recommends booster doses of Pfizer vaccine for people who have completed two doses of Pfizer at least 6 months ago and are:

The following people may also receive a booster shot of Pfizer vaccine at least 6 months after receiving two doses of Pfizer vaccine based on their individual benefits and risks:

Only booster doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine have authorized by the FDA at this time. Booster doses of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines have not yet been authorized.

Note: Third doses of Moderna have been authorized only for people who have significantly compromised immune systems, such as those receiving cancer treatments or organ transplants.

I’m working with the Mayor’s Office and community partners in District 1 to find a host for a temporary, City-run booster clinic, expected to open in October.  This effort likely won’t be as large as the former vaccination clinic at the SW Athletic Complex, but I’m glad that District 1 residents will benefit from easy availability of booster shots.

Hospital capacity is becoming a problem statewide.  Getting vaxed and boosted has never been more important, as our hospitals across the state are inundated with Covid cases, the overwhelming majority of which are among folks who aren’t yet vaccinated.  As reported by the Seattle Times, spikes of Covid in rural communities with low vaccination levels are overwhelming their local medical facilities, “forcing the transfer of hundreds of patients to King County hospitals to manage the load.”

The surge is so acute that Governor Inslee has requested healthcare help from the other Washington, asking for federal staff, including both clinical and non-clinical staff, to support the Washington health care system in response to rising COVID-19 hospitalizations.

What if I’m not Covid vaccinated yet?  Now’s the right time, since many activities in King County will start requiring proof of vaccination at the end of October.  Luckily, COVID-19 vaccine is always free. Everyone ages 12 and older can get a vaccine. Ages 12-17 can get Pfizer ONLY, while ages 18+ can get Pfizer, Moderna or J&J. Learn more about vaccination for youth at kingcounty.gov/vaccine/youth

No appointment needed: most pharmacies, clinics, and Public Health centers now offer drop-in COVID-19 vaccination. Enter your zip code in Washington’s Vaccine Locator tool or check Public Health’s Getting Vaccinated page to find a vaccination site near you.


Seattle Municipal Court Audit

The Seattle Municipal Court (SMC) hears prosecution of all misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor crimes, civil infractions, and other offenses authorized under the Seattle Municipal Code and certain Revised Code of Washington Statutes. The Court is made up of seven elected judges and five appointed magistrates.

The Auditor’s office conducted an audit, at the Council’s request, on the SMC’s probation program on the impacts of probation on people of color and the racial proportionality of imposing probation, conditions of compliance, and rates of successful completion and early release.

On September 23, the Auditor released their report which includes 14 recommendations (see appendix B for the full list). The executive summary of the report notes:

“While we found racial and ethnic disproportionality in the composition of SMC’s 2017-2019 probation population and other aspects of SMC’s probation program, we also saw SMC make progress towards addressing recommendations in the Court initiated Vera Institute of Justice June 2020 probation study and issues our office identified during this audit. However, we also found more work can be done to address racial and ethnic disproportionality in probation. Our review of probation data revealed that Blacks/African Americans are particularly overrepresented in the most intrusive forms of probation supervision monitoring, are underrepresented in successful probation outcomes, and tend to have cases that remain open rather than being closed after obligations are met. In reviewing the impacts of probation on people of color, we found that SMC’s efforts to promote equity within its probation system were hampered by data gaps, and a lack of performance outcomes, accurate accounting of fines and fees, and internal controls. We found SMC did not adhere to some internal and external policies, procedures, and requirements that can affect successful probation outcomes, particularly for people of color.”

The SMC responded to the report which is included as appendix A. Of note, the SMC is in the process of updating their 30-year-old technology for case management, the new system is scheduled to be fully implemented in the summer of 2022.

This work continues to build on the Vera Institute of Justice’s report which was issued in June 2020.  I last wrote about this here. In 2020, SMC redesigned its Programs and Services division, including Probation Services, in response to stakeholder feedback, a desire to decrease disproportionate impacts to court clients, and the Vera Report recommendations.  Seattle Municipal Court reports the following changes:

  • Discontinued records checks, except in cases where records monitoring is required by statute. As of early 2021, SMC had reduced records checks by 78% resulting in 1,640 less clients on SMC probation.
  • Focused Probation Services on high-risk case types, which has reduced clients on active supervision by 16%.
  • Eliminated discretionary supervision fees imposed in criminal cases including all probation-related fees.
  • Incentivized early release from probation by utilizing a goal-based approach to supervision. Newly published key performance indicators suggest a decrease in the average length of supervision to 18.7 months.
  • Implemented a new case closure policy where counselors administratively close cases when clients have completed their goals.
  • Implemented a probation client bill of rights and grievance process and began collecting client feedback as they exit probation. Initial results show 78% of clients completing the survey feel supported, encouraged, and motivated by their probation counselor.
  • Began collecting self-reported race and ethnicity data through a new probation intake process.

I’ll be working during this budget session to ensure that we continue to make progress on the Vera report recommendations as well as the recommendations from the City Auditor.

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Next Week in the Budget // Public Safety & Human Services Committee Work // Welcome Back to Seattle Public Libraries // Eviction Moratorium Extension // PayUp Update // Pre-Filing Diversion Racial Equity Toolkit Report for Adults 25 Years Old and Older

September 24th, 2021

Next Week in the Budget 

Next week, the City Council will begin the 2022 budget process.  The Council’s process begins after the Mayor presents her proposed 2022 budget on Monday, September 27th 

Beginning on September 29, the Council will begin to meet as the Select Budget Committee to hear presentations from the City Budget Office and some departments.   This stage of the budget process allows Councilmember and the public to hear from the departments a description of the notable changes proposed in the Mayor’s proposed budget for that particular department.  

All Councilmembers are members of the Select Budget Committee.  Each day’s meeting begins at 9:30 a.m. and, after a break, reconvene at 2 p.m. All meetings are broadcast live on the Seattle Channel 

Here’s the meeting schedule: 

Wednesday September 29th 

  • Morning: City Budget Office overview 
  • Afternoon: Office of Economic Development, Office of Sustainability & Environment, and Department Of Education and Early Learning 

Thursday September 30 

  • Morning: Office of Housing, Human Services Department, Homelessness response 
  • Afternoon: Community Safety & Community Led Investments, Seattle Police Department 

Friday, October 1 

  • Morning: Department of Transportation, Department of Parks and Recreation 
  • Afternoon: COVID Response and Recovery 

 

The budget meeting schedule is available at the Select Budget Committee webpage. You can download the budget calendar here. 

Budget Committee meetings have public comment for 30 minutes at the beginning of the morning session.   

Public Safety & Human Services Committee Work 

I held a special meeting of the Public Safety & Human Services committee today, my last committee meeting before budget season launches and committee work is put on hold.   

Taking Pre-Arrest Diversion to Scale:  Seattle City Council passed RES 31916 in November 2019, in which we acknowledged the City’s responsibility to reduce unnecessary justice system involvement and declared our commitment to ensuring that law enforcement pre-arrest diversion programs, such as LEAD, receive public funding sufficient to accept all priority referrals citywide by 2023.   

Today, representatives from LEAD and the Human Services Department presented on the number of referrals that might be expected, and the funding that would be required to expand pre-arrest diversion to accept those referrals.  The analysis was requested by a Statement of Legislative Intent that I sponsored and was adopted unanimously by Council last fall.  You can view the presentation here.   

LEAD provides community -based care for people who commit law violations related to behavioral health issues or extreme poverty, as an alternative to punitive enforcement -based responses. Ensuring that LEAD has sufficient resources to expand its critical work will be a budget priority for me.   

Task Force Recommendations for Realigning the Criminal Legal System (CLS):  For the past year, individuals impacted by the criminal legal system have been meeting as a Task Force, convened by the Seattle Office of Civil Rights, to develop recommendations for policy changes to the criminal legal system that will 1) reduce as much harm as possible; and 2) prevent people from ending up in the system to begin with.  They presented their recommendations this morning; you can view the presentation, and read the full report, “Centering Impacted Voices.”  Here are their key recommendations: 

In July, my committee heard a presentation on criminal legal system realignment resulting from the 2019 budget, when Council funded a term-limited position in the Legislative Department to write a strategic plan, and a position at the Office of Civil Rights to coordinate stakeholder engagement around realigning the criminal legal system.  That strategic plan, Realigning Seattle’s Criminal Legal System through a Public Health Approach: The intersection between Community wisdom and evidence-based practices, relied on previous rounds of stakeholder engagement to identify “Community Guiding Principles” which served as a foundation for research into theories on the causes of crime as well as best practices and expert recommendations on creating effective alternatives to the traditional criminal legal system.  You can view that July presentation here. 

 

Welcome Back to Seattle Public Libraries 

The Seattle Public Library has reopened all District 1 libraries and expanded hours.  If you’ve been missing your local library during the pandemic, now’s the time to visit in person!  Find library hours and locations.   

 

Eviction Moratorium Extension 

On Tuesday Mayor Durkan announced an extension of the residential and commercial eviction moratorium and other COVID 19 related protections. The extension is through January 15, 2022. 

While Seattle has a high vaccination rate the City and County are in the process of allocating tens of millions in rental assistance – and as reported by the Seattle Times there are roughly 60,000 Seattle-area renters that are behind on rent.  

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

PayUp Update 

You may recall from my blog update in July that we’ve been conducting stakeholder meetings to discuss Working Washington’s PayUp policy proposal (which you can read more about here). This policy proposal covers workers in the “gig economy” that are working on-demand or pre-scheduled jobs that are facilitated by a network company (think: food delivery or someone you might hire via a website to assemble your IKEA furniture). Our stakeholder meetings continued through mid August, and during my September 14 committee meeting we heard another update from Council Central Staff.  

The presentation from Central Staff goes over the first, unintroduced bill, and describes the policy decisions we’ve made to-date. The draft covers the first three policy areas: minimum compensation, transparency, and flexibility. I would encourage you to look through the previously linked presentation from Central staff which includes details about the structure of pay, transparency and flexibility.  

We have continued the stakeholder process for this unintroduced draft legislation with two additional meetings in September to gather additional feedback. While in budget, beginning September 27, we will pause consideration of this legislation, but will be working with stakeholders and the Office of Labor Standards to ensure policy decisions can be made post-budget.  

Other cities are working on similar labor standards for gig workers too.  Yesterday, New York City passed legislation requiring their Office of Labor Standards to study and implement rules to establish a minimum pay standard, including transparency for how trips are calculated. Additionally, they passed legislation requiring access to restrooms and allowing gig workers to limit the distance they want to travel as an independent contractor.  Bill sponsor Councilperson Carlina Rivera is quoted in this article saying: This package of bills is historic…We’re hoping other cities will look to us for inspirations.”  Alex Clardy from my office, whose been staffing this policy development was quoted too, “There’s been a slow federal response to how technology changes work,” Clardy said, adding that local governments “need to trailblaze here.” 

Pre-Filing Diversion Racial Equity Toolkit Report for Adults 25 years Old and Older 

In the Public Safety and Human Services Committee last week we heard a briefing from the City Attorney’s Office regarding the Pre-Filing Diversion Racial Equity Toolkit Report for Adults 25 years Old and Older 

Since 2017 the City Attorney’s Office has operated a prefiling diversion program for adults aged 18 to 24. Council requested this is a Statement of Legislative Intent adopted with the 2020 budget (sponsored by Council President Gonzalez). Like many things in the City, this has taken additional time due to the impact of the COVID pandemic.  

Work on these issues dates back to the establishment in 2015 by the City Council of a Prisoner and Community Corrections Re-Entry Workgroup, which issued its final report in October 2018.  

The RET report notes that pre-trail diversion is a type of disposition offered by the City Attorney’s Office. If the person completes community service and has no new criminal law violations, the case is dismissed after a set period of time. For 2019, for the existing program 73% of cases were dismissed through completion; 15% were still open, and 11% were sentenced, after not completing the program. Completion rates for the program in 2017 were 84%, with 9% sentenced.  

From 2016 to 2020, 41% of defendants age 25 or older are in the 25-34 age range, while those 55 and over represent 13%. 

The report notes significant disparities in defendants:  

When comparing the census data to the data collected by Seattle Municipal Court to those identified as Black, represented 7.3% of the population, but accounted for 25% of the defendants and 30% of the cases filed. Additionally, according to the most recent census data, American Indian and Alaskan Native individuals account for 0.5% of the population but are 2% of the defendants. 

One of the report recommendations includes better data gathering to include identifying Latinx persons: 

Mechanisms to gather racial and demographic data need to include identifying Latinx/Hispanic individuals. Currently, this information is not asked. We have no data on the impact of Seattle’s criminal legal system on the Latinx population. 

Recommendations of participants include capturing data when the program is implemented; piloting can be effective; adequate funding from the beginning is important; public awareness of benefits, and informing the community about the program. 

We’ll find out what’s included regarding this program in the Mayor’s proposed 2022 budget on Monday.  

 

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West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force Updates // Lower Bridge Access Update // West Seattle Transit Service // Terminal 5 Quiet Zone // Proof of Vaccination in Public Places

September 22nd, 2021


West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force Updates

The West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force met on September 15, and includes two key updates.

First of all, the bridge repair remains on schedule for mid-2022.

Secondly, the West Seattle Water taxi will maintain daytime operating hours during the winter, instead of going to the regular winter schedule on October 15th.  Thanks to King County and SDOT for working together to make this happen, and to City voters for approving the Seattle Transit Measure last year to provide funding.

West Seattle Bridge Repair

Construction on the repair is scheduled to begin in November, with some construction activities beginning next month.

Permit approvals have been attained on schedule, which is critical, as permitting delay in by external governments is a key risk for schedules for large capital projects.

Next month, early work on construction will include building work platforms off-site (work platforms were visible during the stabilization done last year), coring through parts of the bridge to allow installation of the work platforms, and relocating utilities inside the box girders in order to make room for post-tensioning.

There is one scope change to the bridge repair project. Additional geotechnical review has determined that seismic stabilization of Pier 18 will not be needed at this time. If the work is needed in the future, it would not require a traffic closure. The cost estimate for this work was $12 million.

Instead, the project will shift these funds to $12 million of major maintenance work, including work on expansion joints, concrete overlay and carbon fiber wraps. This work would be needed in the future, and disrupt traffic in future years. So doing it now makes good sense. Also, doing this work now allows the City to keep federal grant funds, rather than having to return them.

 


Lower Bridge Access Update

When the West Seattle Bridge was closed, SDOT limited use of the Spokane Street (lower) bridge between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. to emergency vehicles, transit, freight and urgent government uses.

In June, SDOT granted conditional access to restaurants and retail businesses, maritime and industrial businesses, vanpools, employer shuttles, on-call medical workers, people traveling for lifesaving medical treatments, longshoreman, and urgent/unplanned trips for government vehicles (limited to urgent/unplanned trips and includes City of Seattle, King County, State of Washington, local law enforcement). Over 1,300 users have been granted access.

The bridge has been open for general use from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.; in June SDOT added 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. for general use on Saturday and Sunday.

With Terminal 5 opening in January 2022, SDOT had announced that conditional uses granted to June would need to be revoked, or sharply restricted at that time, and use limited to emergency vehicles, transit and freight.

There is good news on this front. SDOT has announced they have no changes in the current access planned for January 2022, expect for additional limits on government vehicle use. This is possible, in large part, because users granted access have been judicious in their use of the bridge. The West Seattle Junction Business Association and the West Seattle Chamber, and representatives of other user groups have played a very helpful role in this, so I want to thank them for their efforts.

Based on current trip levels, and expected increase in freight traffic, SDOT is encouraging users to voluntarily reduce trips levels between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Their area of concern is especially regarding eastbound trips at that time; they are working with the Port and Northwest Seaport Alliance to shift trips when possible.

Here’s the current policy scheduled to take effect on January 1:

Below is a timeline for current access, and “Phase 1” access beginning on January 1. If there is a need to reduce access levels, a “Phase 2” plan would involve reducing West Seattle and maritime business trips caps (I.e. allowing fewer trips per month), and restricting access between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.


West Seattle Transit Service

The Water Taxi’s summer sailing schedule was set to end on October 15, which would normally mean an end to mid-day and weekend sailings until next spring. However, this year SDOT will provide the funding needed to maintain full daytime service from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. all winter long as repairs continue to the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge.  This funding comes from the Seattle Transit Measure approved by voters last year, which allowed for use by the water taxi, a subject we discussed at the Council before voting to place the measure on the ballot.

The West Seattle Bridge closure has been incredibly hard on all of us.  I’ve heard from constituents, who rely on the Water Taxi, how important regular and frequent service is.  Maintaining summer-level daytime Water Taxi service through the winter will maintain an important option to get on and off the peninsula.

Here’s the schedule for the fall and winter:

  • Seven day a week service between Seacrest Park in West Seattle and Pier 50 downtown from approximately 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
  • Ships will leave the dock every 35 minutes during weekday peak commute hours and every hour mid-day, evenings, and weekends.
  • The expanded service will not include late night Friday and Saturday sailings after 7:00 p.m.

Other improvements for bus service are scheduled to take effect October 2, and will provide more frequent service on  Routes 50, 60, 120 and RapidRide C Line during the bridge closure, and for some of the time afterwards (it is scheduled to be phased out in fall 2022 and spring 2023).

The transit ballot measure Included a spending category to address “emerging mobility needs” such as the long-term closure of the West Seattle Bridge. I proposed an increase in the amount of funds allowed for this category, which the Council adopted.

Here’s updated service for District 1 bus routes starting October 2:

Below are the details for increased service  while the bridge is closed:

C Line and 120:

 

Route 50 (though it now goes on Lander St overpass), so the map for the SODO portion is out of date; it also continues on to Othello station:

Route 60, starts by Westwood Village,  and goes to Broadway on Capitol Hill and medical and employment centers on First Hill:

 


Terminal 5 Quiet Zone

On Monday the Council unanimously approved Council Bill 120138, authorizing the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) to acquire property needed to construct the necessary improvements for a quiet zone.

Inn 2016, prior to T-5 shutting down, I received many emails about noise from trains leaving T-5 at the Chelan Café intersection and suggesting designation of the area as a “quiet zone.”  See here for more about quiet zones.  This led to the development of a Statement of Legislative Intent (SLI) in 2016, during my first year in office. SLI 66-1-A-1, in 2016, requested SDOT work with the Port of Seattle, the Federal Railway Administration, and the railway companies doing business at T-5, to extend the quiet zone along W Marginal Way between Delridge Way SW and 17th Ave SW.

T-5 has been undergoing an modernization project which is nearly complete and the Port expects full rail operations beginning in 2022. The timeline originally slated the quiet zone to be completed in December 2020, but the project has been plagued with delays. Fortunately SDOT is now able to move forward with property acquisition and we’re hopeful that construction will begin in 2022 and a quiet zone will be established by 2023.


Proof of Vaccination in Public Places

Seattle residents have led the nation in fighting the pandemic.  We’ve stayed socially distant, moved our socializing outside, masked up, and gotten vaccinated to keep our neighbors and loved ones safe and healthy.

Yesterday, I joined King County Health Officer Dr. Jeffrey Duchin, along with King COunty Executive Constantine and Mayor Durkan and industry leaders, as he announced an additional layer of protection from COVID-19.  The new Verification of Vaccination Health Order will require people attending recreational activities in most public places to show proof that they have been vaccinated against COVID-19, starting October 25th.

An analysis by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) found that the vaccine verification policy at restaurants, bars, and gyms/fitness centers alone could have a significant positive impact, preventing between 17,900 and 75,900 infections, 421 and 1,760 hospitalizations, and 63 and 257 deaths locally over six months with the order in place.

This Order will make it possible for our small business owners, cultural workers, and hourly workers to get back to work while keeping our community safe.  I’m more than ready to return safely to live music and meals out with friends and family. As Chair of the committee with oversight of Public Health, I deeply appreciate the industry leaders who have worked so tirelessly with Public Health to craft this policy.

What can be used as proof of vaccination? 

  • CDC vaccination card or photo of vaccine card.
  • Documented proof of vaccination from medical record or vaccine provider.
  • Printed certificate or QR code (available at the end of September) from com.

You do not need to show identification with proof of vaccination.

Not yet vaxed?  It’s much easier to get vaccinated now than it was earlier this year – and it’s free!

Have more questions?  Public Health’s webpage has a detailed Frequently Asked Questions section.  You can also read this Public Health Insider blog post and view the Local Health Order.

 


SDOT Survey on the Alki Point

The Seattle Department of Transportation has released a survey to gather input on the future of the Alki Point Keep It Moving Street. The majority of people contacting me about the Alki Point Keep Moving Street have reported that it provides many benefits including improved safety, accessibility, sustainability, mobility and livability.

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

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

Options 2 and 3 allow cars back onto the street. For that reason, supporters of keeping cars off the street recommend option 1,

To take the survey please click here.

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


SPD Supplemental Budget Vote

The Council voted on Monday to adopt a mid-year supplemental budget ordinance. It includes spending authorization regarding the SPD budget.  Approximately $15 million of SPD’s adopted budget is estimated to not be needed to fund officer salaries as approved by the Council last Fall in the fully-funded 2021 hiring plan, due to continued larger than projected by SPD number of officers leaving.  So the question for the Council was how to spend these funds for 2021 priorities.

The legislation includes amendments adopted by the Finance and Housing Committee that Councilmember Mosqueda and I co-sponsored, and additional amendments I sponsored, to address the shortage of police officers. Again, as mentioned above, the 2021 officer hiring budget has always been fully funded.

SPD thanked the Council for the vote, which included funding for community service officers, crime prevention coordinators, mental health/wellness, hiring process accelerators, continued 911 call analysis to support re-imagining policing, and technology for updating and modernizing SPD’s management of overtime, and funding for overtime, with more public events taking place than anticipated in the 2021 budget.

It also includes funding for the Triage One program, Regional Peacekeepers Collective, items with strong joint support from the Council, Mayor and SPD.

The funding package also includes $3 million for Community Safety Investments. HSD recently approved $10.4 million for 33 proposals, out of 73 submitted. HSD approved $10.4 million of the $17.8 million requested, so there are ready-to-go community safety proposals that could be funded with additional funds..

The legislation also releases spending restrictions on $7.5 million in funds that were retained within SPD’s budget, but listed for possible use in a 2021 participatory budgeting program; that program isn’t proceeding during 2021.

In July, I requested SPD present the Council with spending options to ameliorate the staffing shortage, and I appreciate their sending recommendations, most of which the Council funded.

After several meetings in the Finance and Housing Committee, and additional discussion in the Public Safety and Human Services Committee, there was an amendment at Full Council regarding recruitment and retention of police officers.

Hiring and retention is an important issue, that’s why the amendments I co sponsored included investments to support these efforts, such as adding $320,000  for technology upgrades for officer wellness and supervision that support retention, and $110,000 in funding for a third-party backgrounding service, to accelerate the hiring process for both sworn and civilian positions and support recruitment. Some potential hires pursue new employment opportunities due to the length of the hiring process and necessary background checks, so this change is needed.

I believe the topic merits additional attention through the annual budget process, which begins on September 27th.  Central Staff has determined that the Executive has documented staffing shortages and accompanying service delivery issues in several departments.

The impacts of COVID on employment has been unprecedented, both for the private sector as well as the public sector with people leaving their jobs and with sustained vacancies across most employment sectors.  I value the delivery of city services of all city departments and if we need to discuss recruitment bonuses, I think we need to consider vacancies across all city departments and whether we need to consider hiring bonuses to fulfill hiring goals and service delivery obligations for other departments as well.

For example, the Fire Department also has staffing challenges that merit close attention.

I want to analyze this issue across city departments in a comprehensive way; the proposal from Councilmember Pederson would have authorized SPD to pay up to $15,000 per hire; if we are considering hiring bonuses for hires to other departments, we need to consider the possible citywide cost. Consequently I voted against the proposal. There are practical issues with the two versions of the amendment as well, which would provide funding for the remainder of 2021 only.

Of the two versions of the amendment, one included  $230,000 for hiring bonuses, but despite the description of the amendment, the rest of the $3 million for officer retention didn’t have a clearly specified use, and would likely need to be re-authorized during the 2022 budget process. The other version of the amendment proposed using as a funding source $1 million in discretionary funding for SPD. With more public events taking place than anticipated in the 2021 budget, as well as staffing shortages, I prefer this funding remain available to SPD as discretionary use as needed.

I also strongly support what the 2019 Hiring and Retention report from August 2019 called “Wellness-First Schedules” of 4 10 hour shifts to provide 3 consecutive days of rest for officers,  rather than only 2 days of rest.  This has long been a priority of SPD officers and would help greatly to address both recruitment and retention.

Many front line city workers have receive “appreciation pay” for their service during the pandemic.  Appreciation pay is one officer retention strategy and I am supportive of continued discussions for how to best authorize appreciation pay for police officers.  I am very grateful for the officers who have not left SPD and remain committed to community safety and committed, specifically, to Seattle.

Proclamation honoring those who responded to domestic violence

On Monday the Council and Mayor signed a proclamation honoring those who responded to a domestic violence homicide.

The Domestic Violence Unit of the King County Prosecutor’s Office wrote a letter to the Council and Mayor in requesting recognition from the City of Seattle.  I welcomed the opportunity to offer this recognition to Seattle residents, police and fire department personnel, and Seattle Center employees – who responded with heroism, professionalism, and empathy to try and save a life, address the trauma of a child, and hold the offender accountable for what is described as “among the most public and graphic domestic violence homicides in Seattle and Washington state history.”


Duwamish Superfund Site

Monday marked the 20th anniversary since the Duwamish River was declared a superfund site. Unfortunately the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a proposal that could lower the amount and effectiveness of the clean-up efforts. There is disagreement about the methodology of the EPA’s recent study. Unfortunately, instead of moving forward with the original requirements or verifying their study results with additional academic input, they are forging ahead.

During a public comment period earlier this year I implored the EPA to conduct additional testing as requested by the Duwamish River Clean Up Coalition; however that has not happened. The EPA continues to move forward; though they are collecting additional public comment, which you can submit via email here. Comments must be sent in by September 27.

I would encourage you to read the Seattle Times Op-Ed by Paulina López, James Rasmussen, and BJ Cummings.


Virtual Office Hours

On Friday September 24, I will be hosting virtual office hours between 2pm and 6pm, with the last meeting of the day beginning at 5:30pm.

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

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

  • Friday, October 29, 2021
  • Friday, December 17, 2021
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