West Seattle Bridge Update, July 31; Age Friendly Seattle Virtual Events; Seattle City Light Scammers

July 31st, 2020

West Seattle Bridge Update, July 31

Funding

The Council has received legislation to fund necessary 2020 work on the West Seattle Bridge and related projects.

The legislation authorizes two interfund loans for a total of $70 million. The primary loan is for $50 million from the Construction and Inspections Fund, with a secondary loan of $20 million from the REET (Real Estate Excise Tax) II Capital Projects Fund. The loans will be paid back in 2021 by issuing bonds, with Real Estate Excise Tax proceeds used to pay the debt service on the bonds. REET is authorized under state law for use for capital projects and maintenance.

This funding will support a preliminary two-year work plan, including bridge stabilization work that may include shoring and/or controlled removal (if for example a replacement is pursued), bridge replacement options analysis and design,  lower bridge repairs and enhancements, and implementation of Reconnect West Seattle projects.

SDOT will work to identify potential partnership funding; at a presentation earlier in July, SDOT identified bonds, federal and state grants, and other potential funding sources.

The summary also estimates project cost through 2025, for purposes of the City’s six year 2020-2025 Capital Improvement Program (CIP) budget at $191.9 million. That is the midpoint of cost estimate ranges from $159.2 million to $225.7 million. SDOT indicates this estimate will be reevaluated at 30% design. Clarity on whether repair or replacement will be pursued will also help inform future estimates.

Future bond sales are listed in the six-year 2020-2025 CIP page for a total of $150 million in funding, including 2021 and 2022 bond sales. In general, CIP funding sources beyond the current year are estimates that can vary year by year, especially in the early stages of projects; only the current year listed for CIP budget items will have appropriated funding, which is authorized annually by the Council.

Lower Bridge Use

SDOT published an update with additional details and a FAQ on their policies for use of the lower bridge. SDOT notes capacity for around 160 more vehicles per hour during the day, toward the bridge capacity of 450 vehicles in either direction each hour, and information about their decision to not allow motorcycles to use the bridge.

I asked SDOT about potential general use of the lower (Spokane Street) Bridge on weekends, and they note traffic levels are comparable to weekdays (July 18 and 19 were weekend days), and at times exceeds the authorized level of 450 vehicles per hour. They have additional information by time of day for July 11/12 and 18/19 in this blog post.

Overall, lower traffic volumes are above the pre-COVID baseline:

SDOT is planning to send legislation to the Council in late summer or early fall to allow for camera enforcement, and has indicated they will revisit policies for use of the lower bridge then.

Stabilizing the West Seattle Bridge

SDOT’s bridge stabilization contractor has completed raising four work platforms to allow work on measures intended to clow cracking. The platforms allow work crews to safely access the exterior of the bridge, and allow up to 10 people to work on the bridge. The platforms will be under the bridge for at least three months, and will be lowered onto barges when work is complete.

SDOT notes that over the next few months, crews will use the work platforms for bridge access to perform stabilization measures including:

  • First, we will inject epoxy to seal the cracks in order to protect the bridge’s skeleton of steal post-tensioning cables holding up the concrete.
  • We will wrap sensitive sections of the bridge with carbon fiber reinforced polymer to strengthen the bridge much like putting a cast on a broken bone.
  • Then we will install additional steel post-tensioning cables inside the hollow portion of the bridge to help hold up the bridge, like adding braces for extra support.
  • Next, we will repair the locked bearings at Pier 18 which are preventing the bridge from reacting to normal daily stresses as intended.
  • Finally, we will go back and install additional carbon fiber wrapping and post-tensioning cables for further strengthening and support.

During stabilization work, we will continue to use our intelligent monitoring system to watch the bridge’s response to the repairs to make sure it remains safe for workers and the waterway below.

Additional information is available here.

Traffic

The most recent traffic volumes show high rates continuing on West Marginal, Highland Park Way, with volumes above the pre-COVID baseline on the South park Bridge, Roxbury, and South Michigan Street.

Vehicle travel times are below:


Age Friendly Seattle Virtual Events

Age Friendly Seattle virtual events—Civic Coffee Hours and a new series, Close to Home: Stories of Health, Tech and Resilience—offer older adults in the greater Seattle area a weekly opportunity to stay connected. You’ll learn how local government, nonprofit organizations, and community members cope with the “new normal” of COVID-19 and a wealth of other topics. You can join them to get this valuable information, ask questions, and get answers.

All events start at 10:30 a.m. Pacific Time and are accessible by visiting our Virtual Events hub that has everything you’ll need to participate online (use the blue “Join Event Now” button) or by phone (use the green “Get Instructions” button). If you join on your computer, you’ll have a choice of closed captioning in Arabic, Chinese, English, Korean, Russian, Spanish or Vietnamese.

Close to Home: Stories of Health, Tech and Resilience is a new series of programs that stream live on the first, second, and fourth Thursday of every month, featuring information and resources for older people, caregivers, and their families. Presenters include government, nonprofit, and community representatives.

Age Friendly Seattle’s popular Civic Coffee Hours now stream live on the third Thursday of each month (except December), continuing to provide a platform for community elders to interact with government decision makers. A broad range of issues have been discussed over the years (see previous events at the bottom of the Virtual Events page).

If you cannot attend the live virtual events on Thursday mornings, you can find previously streamed episodes in the Virtual Events playlist on their YouTube channel—with captions in all seven languages. When you visit, please Subscribe (and click the bell to be notified) of new episodes as soon as they are uploaded.

Detailed instructions are also provided on Age Friendly Seattle’s Facebook page and Twitter feed. They look forward to connecting with you soon!

Seattle City Light Scammers

I have received reports from constituents in District 1 about Seattle City Light scam calls. This seems like a good opportunity to remind my blog readers that Seattle City Light Employees will:

  • Never call, email, or make a home visit requesting an immediate payment.
  • Never call on the weekend
  • Never call to request credit card, banking, or financial information
  • Never email you to request credit card, banking, or financial information
  • Never request credit card banking or financial information during a home visit
  • Never shutoff service without providing written warning in advance
  • Always provide Employee Identification

If you receive a phone call asking for immediate payment or your power will be shutoff, please hang up and call Seattle City Light Directly at (206) 684-3000. Additionally, please check out Seattle City Light scam alerts page here for more information and to report a scam.

Share


Coronavirus Updates; West Seattle Bridge Update, July 24; Seattle Transportation Benefit District Update; Statement on Trump Sending officers to Seattle; Duwamish River Opportunity Fund Seeks Proposals; More Protections for Small Business Owners & Nonprofits; Updates from the Budget Committee

July 24th, 2020

Coronavirus Updates

Governor Inslee and Secretary of Health Wiseman announced yesterday restrictions on the “Safe Start” phased reopening in Washington. These restrictions come after an increase in the number of covid-19 cases. Across the state we now have over 50,000 cases, 1,500 deaths, and 5,000 hospitalizations due to the virus. In order to try and stymie the increase the Governor has changed the regulations for restaurants, bars, fitness centers, weddings, and funerals.

Most notably table size for dine-in in phase three is reduced to five people from the same household and total occupancy reduced from 75% to 50%. Alcohol service inside of restaurants must end by 10pm. These regulations will take effect on July 30.

Further, the Governor expanded the requirement to wear face coverings in all common spaces including: elevators, hallways and shared spaced in apartment building, universities and hotels as well as congregate settings such as nursing homes.

More specifically in King County we continue to see a rise in positive cases:

 

These numbers show that it’s more important now than ever before that we double down on social distancing, wearing a mask when in public areas, and staying home as much as possible in order to prevent backsliding anymore.

Finally, the Governor also extended the eviction moratorium across the state until October 15. In the city of Seattle we have additional protections for renters:

  • Council Bill 119784 which creates a defense to evictions for non-payment of rent for six months after the end of the declared public health emergency.  It requires that renters file a certification of financial hardship with the court in raising the defense.
  • Council Bill 119788 which allows residential tenants to make up past due rent in installments up to six months.
  • Council Bill 119787 which prohibits landlords from considering evictions related to COVID-19, as part of an application, during and six months after the civil emergency.

West Seattle Bridge Update, July 24

Reconnect West Seattle surveys open through July 31 

South Park

Here are links to printable versions, that also include maps showing the location of potential projects: Roxhill, Highland Park, Riverview, South DelridgeSouth ParkGeorgetownSODO.

The website also includes bike network and freight network proposals.

Through July 22nd, over 10,000 people replied to the survey, and over 1,000 to the neighborhood prioritization ballots: 741 response from Highland Park, Roxhill, South Delridge, and Riverview; 161 responses from South Park, and 110 in Georgetown and 50 in SODO.

Additional information and surveys are available in multiple languages at the Reconnect West Seattle website.

My office has asked about Sylvan Way, which is seeing significant traffic impacts and accidents since the closure of the West Seattle Bridge. Specific proposals for Sylvan Way are not included in any of the neighborhood surveys; SDOT is examining this and may have separate proposals.

Lower Bridge Use 

SDOT intends to increase access to the lower bridge during the summer, for maritime/industrial users by Harbor Island; 22 employer shuttles; 8 vanpools of essential workers, and for Longshoremen. Vehicles must display the placard below.

Cost Benefit Analysis: Repair or Replace 

SDOT presented information about a cost benefit analysis to guide decision making about whether to pursue a replacement or repair the existing bridge. The analysis is proposed to be based on evaluation criteria; 10 draft criteria are listed below:

  • Constructability Will the contractor be able to build this repair/replace concept given site constraints and schedule?
  • Environmental What kind of temporary and permanent impacts will this repair/replace concept have on the Duwamish River and surrounding area? Can we build it within the mandated in-water work windows?
  • Equity  How will this repair/replace concept contribute to equity in West Seattle and the Duwamish Valley?  How will it impact historic and treaty rights of local Native Peoples?  How will it impact and/or alter communities of color from accessing cultural and community hubs?
  • Forward compatibility  Will this repair/replace concept be compatible with Sound Transit light rail? Will it restore traffic capacity (weight and quantity) to the desired levels? Will it meet waterway navigational needs?
  • Funding What funding will be available, and what will the potential funding burdens be on local resources and communities? Is this repair/replace concept eligible for federal, state, local, or emergency funding?  Estimated capital costs and a Bridge Life Cycle Cost Analysis will be conducted for each alternative, too.
  • Maintenance and  operations What will this repair/replace concept need over its lifespan in terms of operations, maintenance and inspection?
  • Mobility  How will this repair/replace concept contribute to the movement of people and goods and overall access?  How will it impact vulnerable communities (seniors, people with disabilities and others) from accessing social service needs such as meals, healthcare services, case management and other vital services?
  • Multimodality  Does this replace/repair concept facilitate or improve the movement of people and goods by all modes? How will it impact current local and regional traffic?
  • Regional business  How will this repair/replace concept impact businesses as it pertains to the local and regional movement of people and goods? How will it impact the ship channel? Will construction affect business access?
  • Seismic resilience and safety What seismic standards will the repair/replace concept meet? How will seismic upgrades be incorporated into the design?

If you have thoughts about the relative importance that should be given to the criteria, or see something important that is not listed, please let me know.

Below are the key dates SDOT sees for getting to a decision:

Below are six concepts SDOT is using for the cost-benefit framework. The times listed for the durability for a repair are 15+ years, longer than the previous 10 year maximum estimate, a sign that a repair may be more durable than original estimates indicated. I asked SDOT for additional information about this; they indicated it was based on engineering analysis on potential repair, such as the core sampling results, and instrument readings, and feedback from the Technical Advisory Panel. SDOT’s consultants and TAP will provide more specific estimates and detail as part of their work in coming weeks.

A Type, Size and Location study would be needed to determine actual options; these concepts are for the purpose of the cost-benefit analysis.

Here’s one of the repair concepts:

Here’s one of the replacement concepts:

Here’s the tunnel concept:

You can see all six options in this SDOT blog post.

Traffic/Travel Times 

Travel times continue to be high on West Marginal and Highland Park Way, and above pre-COVID levels on the South Park Bridge and Roxbury at 15th, and on S Michigan in Georgetown, and 7% above pre-COVID levels on the 1st Avenue South Bridge (a WSDOT facility):

Here are the most recent travel time estimates:

Seattle Transportation Benefit District Update/Bus Service

Last week the Council voted in committee to move the Seattle Transportation Benefit District (STBD) ballot measure to the Full Council for a final vote on Monday, July 27. The STBD funds additional bus service beyond what King County Metro provides.

The proposed 2020 measure includes funding for “emerging needs,” and specifies funding for West Seattle due to the closure of the West Seattle Bridge. In 2014 Seattle voters approved funding for additional bus service, low-income bus passes, and related services. The measure provided funding from 2015 through 2020.

I sponsored an amendment that the Council adopted to increase equity. The current criteria for service funding does not allow for funding routes such as the 131, 128 and 113 in Highland Park and South Delridge, or the 132 in South Park, because of the number of stops they have outside Seattle. The amendment would add as eligible routes “any King County Metro route serving historically low-income communities in Seattle.”

These routes also coincide with the most frequent routes off the peninsula with the closure of the West Seattle Bridge: Highland Park Way, and Roxbury/Olson. The South Park Bridge is seeing increased traffic diversion to cross the Duwamish; route 128 connects High Point with the Alaskan Junction, and a high concentration of grocery stores.

The remaining issues before the Council is whether the rate should be 0.1% or 0.2% sales tax, and whether it should last for four or six years. I-976 prohibited collection of the vehicle license fee that formed half of the revenues for current STBD funding.  For car-owning lower-income households, increasing the sales tax from .1% to .2% will be far outweighed by not having to pay the car tab fee. The low-income households who don’t have a car would see their total tax burden rise by increasing the sales tax from .1% to .2%. The questions that remain for me, are 1. whether the impact to those households from reduced bus service is more harmful than the increased tax burden; and 2. whether an additional .1% tax, on top of the proposed .1%, and the additional funding it would raise specifically for the West Seattle “emerging needs” setaside, would help Metro add significant new transit capacity to support the SDOT mode shift goals of increasing West Seattle and South Park transit users from 17% (pre COVID19) to 30%.

At the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force meeting, KC Metro shared a slide noting the transit hot spots for West Seattle bus traffic. Downtown and South Lake Union are destination points, but there are also a high level of trips within West Seattle:

Bus trips 131, 132, 120, 128 and 50 are operating at 50% of pre-COVID baseline, while bridge crossings are around 20% of baseline.

Metro indicated in response to my office’s question, that a 0.1% STBD would be close to pre-COVID levels, but not at those levels. Below are items they mentioned that would need funding from outside KC Metro; I’ve heard from constituents about all of these:


Before COVID, in January 2020, the STBD funded within District 1, 24% of service on Routes 120 and 50, 28% for the C Line, 23% for Route 55, 9% for Route 57, 8% for Route 60, 14% for 125.

Statement on Trump Sending Officers to Seattle

Council President González and I released a statement this morning about the prospect of Donald Trump sending federal agents to Seattle, with no request from Seattle:

Council President González, Councilmember Herbold Say City of Seattle Stands United Against Occupation By DHS Federal Agents 

Council President M. Lorena González (Position 9, Citywide) and the Council’s Public Safety Chair Councilmember Lisa Herbold (District 1, West Seattle & South Park) issued this statement following several reports that federal agents are on “stand-by” in Seattle monitoring potential protests around federal buildings: 

“Seattle leaders have made it abundantly clear that federal local law enforcement intervention is unwanted and unneeded.  Despite the collective call on the Trump administration to halt plans to come to Seattle, national and local media report that federal agents from the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) are on standby in Seattle.  DHS is the same agency responsible for implementing President Trump’s horrific policy of separating children from their families seeking lawful asylum at the southern U.S.-Mexico border.    

“President Trump’s deployment of federal agents to Seattle is dangerous political theater designed to intimidate and harm Americans exercising their constitutional right to protest. Weaponizing federal agents against the people they serve is unacceptable.  Protests demanding transformational change to a broken policing model must not be met with threats of violence from federal agents.  

“We will not allow the Trump Administration to reign terror on the residents of the City of Seattle. We are united in our belief that debate and demonstrations are fundamental to making our city and our country better. 

“We ask all members of the public to be vigilant, to have a safety plan, and to know your rights, if you are demonstrating or are near demonstration areas.  If you are detained, you have the right to remain silent and to speak to an attorney. The U.S. Constitution provides rights for everyone, regardless of your immigration status.   

“Our offices will continue to monitor the federal agents’ presence in Seattle, and we will work with Mayor Jenny Durkan, Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, Governor Jay Inslee, and our congressional representatives to halt any actions by federal authorities that violate our residents’ constitutional rights.” 

On June 8, 2020, the Seattle City Council unanimously passed Resolution 31948 condemning the use of military force in jurisdictions such as Seattle that have not requested and do not intend to request federal interventions.  

Separately, earlier this week we sent the following e-mail to the President of the Seattle Police Guild. We have received no reply.

We are writing to you today with alarm and concern about this weekend’s events in Portland: the arrival of Federal Law Enforcement to address local protests and usurp the authority of local law enforcement to address the public safety impacts of the protests.  It is our sincere hope that you have neither met with federal law enforcement, nor collaborated with federal law enforcement, regarding recent protests in Seattle. We ask you to confirm, in writing, that you have done neither.    

Seattle’s leaders are united in saying federal law enforcement is neither wanted nor needed here. 

  • On June 8th, Seattle City Council passed Resolution 31948 condemning the use of military force in jurisdictions such as “Seattle that have not requested and do not intend to request federal interventions.”   
  •   Mayor Durkan, on June 1 issued a statement that “no U.S. Military troops are needed nor will they act as police in Seattle.” And today she signed a letter with Mayors from several other cities to call on the Trump administration to immediately halt plans to send federal forces to major American cities and withdraw any forces currently in cities.  
  • The Seattle City Council’s Public Safety and Human Services Committee Chair, Lisa Herbold, has confirmed that Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best has not met with Homeland Security about plans to deploy Federal Law Enforcement in Seattle.    

We are alarmed to learn through recent reporting that police and federal officers are working together to respond to protests in Portland, in contravention of the city’s elected leaders. City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty issued a public statement saying that, “We know that Portland Police Association President Daryl Turner met with DHS Secretary Chad Wolf…  We know Portland Police are collaborating with this federal occupying force.”   

Acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Ken Cuccinelli said in recent days that the administration intends ”to continue not just in Portland but in any of the facilities that we’re responsible for around the country.” As City Councilmembers, we must make it clear to you and SPOG that this occupation is not welcome in Seattle. 

Our urgency in reaching out to you is further heightened by your interview today on the Dori Monson show where you said:  

“Maybe this is the opportunity where we’ve seen the success of what’s going on in Portland as far as the law enforcement ability to hold these criminals accountable by arresting them. And you saw the success that the federal officers had….when they moved in to Portland. Perhaps this is a time now in Seattle where we might need some federal intervention here.”  

As the Mayors’ letter states:  “The majority of the protests have been peaceful and aimed at improving our communities. Where this is not the case, it still does not justify the use of federal forces. Unilaterally deploying these paramilitary-type forces into our cities is wholly inconsistent with our system of democracy and our most basic values.” Not only is unilateral deployment of federal force unjustified; as SPOG president, we hope you recognize that you are not authorized to invite the presence of these forces to Seattle, nor to collaborate with them.  We emphasize, with as much urgency as we can muster, that you not replicate the reported actions of Portland Police Association President Daryl Turner.  

Duwamish River Opportunity Fund Seeks Proposals

On Tuesday the Duwamish River Opportunity Fund (DROF) announced that they’re seeking proposals to support and benefit the Duwamish River neighborhoods. In total the fund has $250,000 to support these community based projects.

Proposals should fall into one of the follow categories:

  • Safe fishing or fish consumption
  • Environmental development or restoration
  • Job training or economic development
  • Community development
  • Pedestrian safety
  • Affordable housing strategies
  • Healthy lifestyle

Applications interested in applying are also encouraged to participate in a virtual workshop before applying to better understand the application process and the requirements. There are two opportunities to attend a workshop:

Tuesday, August 4 – 5:00 – 6:30pm  

Join Online: https://bit.ly/DROF_2020-08-04

Join by phone:

+1-206-207-1700 United States Toll (Seattle)

+1-408-418-9388 United States Toll

Access code: 146 718 6791

Wednesday, August 12 – 5:00 – 6:30pm 

Join Online: https://bit.ly/DROF_2020-08-12

Join by phone:

+1-206-207-1700 United States Toll (Seattle)

+1-408-418-9388 United States Toll

Access code: 146 396 9922

If you’re interested in a one on one consultation or have questions, please call 206-733-9916 or email DROF@seattle.gov.

The deadline to apply is Monday, September 21 by 5pm.

More Protections for Small Business Owners & Nonprofits

On Monday, Council passed CB 119829 sponsored by Councilmember Lewis, which limits personal liability in commercial leases for small businesses and nonprofits impacted by Covid.  Commercial leases can contain provisions that allow a landlord to go after the personal assets of the tenant or a 3rd party that guarantees the tenant’s obligations. To prevent the crisis from having further far-reaching economic impacts by allowing a landlord to access personal assets, this emergency legislation prohibits enforcement of provisions that would allow personal liability.

I sponsored a successful amendment to this legislation, which will extend the protection for six months after the end of the Mayor’s state of emergency for small businesses and nonprofits that were subject to in-person operations limitations under the Governor’s Covid proclamations.  I believe small businesses and nonprofits may need a period of time after the state of emergency is lifted in order to regain their financial footing.  This amendment gives them a reasonable grace period to do that.

The additional six months is in alignment with legislation Council passed in April, which I sponsored with Councilmember Morales, that gives an extra six months beyond the state of emergency for small commercial tenants and their landlords to work out a payment plan for any owing rent or fees.  My goal is that during that additional six months, tenants and their landlords will be able to build trust in each other and in the tenant’s recovery, so that fewer landlords ever take the step of pursuing a tenant’s personal assets.

I’d like to remind commercial tenants and their landlords that those payment plans are required – small business tenants have the ability to insist on a reasonable payment plan in Seattle.  Small business and nonprofit tenants who are experiencing difficulty working with their landlords may be able to access free legal support through www.communities-rise.org.  They have a special lease toolkit and more resources.

Updates from the Budget Committee

Combating senior isolation: As Human Services chair, I have been concerned about the impacts on Covid on Seattle’s seniors. In the best of times, senior isolation is a real public health concern.  Now, it’s a quiet emergency.  I’m sure all of us with beloved elders understand how their lives are fundamentally altered by Covid, and the impact to their mental and physical health and resiliency.

The City’s Human Services Department has reacted by developing new programs and partnerships to combat senior isolation:

  • Calling more than 14,000 seniors in April to check on their health and welfare and triage special needs
  • Broadcasting monthly civic coffee hours, special Seattle Channel programming and webinars for seniors with captioning in multiple languages, and making these programs available on YouTube.  You can learn more here.
  • Pushing out information about Friendly Voices, a national volunteer hotline for seniors, and Washington Listens, a new statewide service
  • Distributing digital tablets to foster social connectivity and telehealth

During the 2020 budget rebalancing process, I am sponsoring amendments that will provide additional, much-needed resources to combat senior isolation.   I had hoped to make these additions part of the Jump Start Covid relief package, but ran out of time.  I am glad that multiple of my Council colleagues have signed on to co-sponsor these amendments, which will receive a vote on Wednesday, July 29th.

  • $50,000 to convene seniors centers, senior housing and other stakeholders to develop a plan to safely reopen in 2021.  Senior Centers are lifelines for the seniors who rely on them.  Their closure has been keenly felt, but with the unique vulnerabilities of their clients, re-opening is fraught.  These funds would allow for a well thought-out plan that keeps seniors and employees safe, while also balancing the need for the services and opportunities senior centers uniquely provide.
  • $120,000 to expand Stay Connected, a pilot partnership between four senior centers and the UW Alacrity Center. The pilot builds on an established evidence base to train laypersons – such as case managers, social workers or volunteers – to assess the estimated 20% of seniors who may be struggling with social isolation, and provide targeted interventions that can address symptoms of mild depression.
  • $50,000 to provide wifi hotspots at 30 locations around the City, where seniors could make use of wifi safely to access to online opportunities for socializing, reading, gathering information, and using video- and tele-health.
Share


West Seattle Bridge Update; 2020 Budget Rebalancing Deliberations; New Homeless Service Provider Funding; Director’s Rule for Exceptional and Significant Trees; Jump Start Investments; Seattle Transportation Benefit District; Letter to Mayor and Police Chief re: Free Press

July 17th, 2020

West Seattle Bridge Update

Reminder: Reconnect West Seattle Survey

The Reconnect West Seattle Survey to support communities impacted by the West Seattle Bridge closure will be open through the end of July. As of Tuesday, there were 7,000 responses.

Neighborhood Prioritization Process Ballots are an additional opportunity specifically for people who live in Roxhill, Highland Park, Riverview, South Delridge, SODO, Georgetown, or South Park to identify the projects that would be most helpful to improve safety and traffic outcomes in their neighborhoods through which West Seattle Bridge detours are located.

Information and surveys are available in multiple languages at the Reconnect West Seattle website.

Declaration of Emergency

Since the West Seattle Bridge closure in March I have been asking DOT and the Mayor to consider the benefits of declaring a state of emergency. I am happy to report that on Thursday the Mayor issued a proclamation of civil emergency for the West Seattle Bridge,  and an emergency order requesting federal and state assistance.

I thank the Mayor for taking this step, and to SDOT for working with myself and Transportation and Utilities Committee Chair Pedersen to include language in the proclamation committing to monthly updates to the Council on uses of the emergency powers (SDOT is providing weekly updates to the Council separately from the proclamation).

SDOT’s update notes “The emergency proclamation signed by Mayor Durkan today is the first ever brought forward and put into effect by a Mayor of Seattle in response to a critical piece of infrastructure,” testifying to the importance of the bridge not just for West Seattle, but for the region. SDOT notes the proclamation will:

  • Strengthen funding efforts and flexibility at all levels of government; in other words to help get funding from the State and Federal government;
  • Enable critical actions around the High-Rise Bridge—no matter what repair or replacement path is selected—through streamlined permitting, materials and contract procurement;
  • Support West Seattle Low Bridge precautionary strengthening work; and
  • Support implementation of mitigation measures in the greater Duwamish Valley communities impacted by changed travel patterns while the High-Rise Bridge is closed

The statement Councilmember Pedersen and I released supporting the declaration of civil emergency is linked here.

Lower (Spokane Street) Bridge Maintenance

SDOT announced the low bridge will require reinforcement, and announced some changes to help maintain the bridge.

SDOT is planning to use carbon fiber wrap and/or additional steel post-tensioning cables, similar to the what is planned for stabilization of the West Seattle Bridge.

SDOT is lowering the speed limit from 30 to 25 mph, to reduce stress and vibration on the bridge, especially from heavy trucks. In addition, they are adding weight restrictions for trucks carrying weight loads over 207,000 pounds (20% heavier than a 737). Technically these are considered Over-Legal 2 or OL-2 class trucks. This will affect around a dozen trips per week; vehicles this heavy already are required to obtain a special state and city permit to carry loads this high.

At a presentation before the Council in late April, SDOT estimated a $5 million cost for maintenance of the lower bridge during 2020. Estimates are now $10 million.

SDOT installed intelligent monitoring systems on the lower bridge similar to the equipment places on the West Seattle Bridge.

I’ve asked SDOT if they expect any closures and they indicated there will be short term closures during the control system replacement, lift cylinder maintenance/change out of the strengthening program over the next two years. They noted work will be scheduled to minimize impacts (i.e. overnight, weekends, and in coordination with other projects that impact traffic in the corridor). A closure in late May for maintenance was done overnight on the weekend.

Technical Advisory Panel Update

The Technical Advisory Panel has recommended retaining consideration of long-term repair, as they haven’t seen anything that indicates it is infeasible or economically unviable.

They also note an understanding that analysis is ongoing, and that there is uncertainty with respect to capacity (number of travel lanes that a repair option would provide), and that they reserve the right to revise their statement as new information is presented to them.

Traffic

Here’s the most recent traffic data, which shows continued heavy traffic on West Marginal and Highland Park Way, as well as increasing traffic on the lower (Spokane Street) bridge.

Below are the most recent travel times:

2020 Budget Rebalancing Deliberations

There has been a lot reported in the media recently about the 2020 budget rebalancing deliberations as it relates specifically to the SPD budget.  Unfortunately, some of which has been reported doesn’t reflect my, or the Council’s, efforts. I’d like to set the record straight regarding my position on the Seattle Police Department’s budget.

The first thing I want to address is the Southwest Precinct. No one on the Council, to my knowledge, is proposing to cut the Southwest Precinct.  It’s disappointing that Chief Best is proposing to do so in advance of any Council proposals.  Furthermore, if there ever was an effort to close the Southwest Precinct, as the Councilmember for District 1, I would unequivocally fight that effort. The Southwest Precinct is needed more now than ever before with the closure of the West Seattle Bridge. Finally, while under the Charter, it is wholly under the purview of the Police Chief to decide how to deploy officers, the Charter also states that “there shall be maintained adequate police protection in each district of the City.”  The Council can, within the City Budget, ensure that there is a “Budget Control Level” for each precinct, and it is the Council that has budget authority for the funding for each Budget Control Level or the spending for each precinct.

It has also been recently reported that the Chief says that she will need to reduce patrol staff to 630 employees – this prognostication from the Chief about an unknown future Council action seems designed to delay an important conversation about policing in Seattle and this Country.

Specifically, Chief Best has stated that we would lose more than 50% of our Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) officers due to typical layoff procedures which would require firings in reverse order of seniority. This system of layoffs is based upon institutional racism and speaks only to what we cannot do, not to what we must do. Now is the time to ask ourselves what we can do and how we can change a system badly in need of reforms. The Chief is empowered, under Public Safety Civil Service Commission (PSCSC) to request authority to implement layoffs in a way that is called “out of order.” This means the Chief does not have to fire the newest hired and more diverse officers first. She can request the PSCSC Executive Director for permission to lay off out of order when doing so is in “the interest of efficient operations of his or her department.” The Chief is making the argument to the public that firing BIPOC members of the SPD would be harmful,  I agree and I know that the Chief can argue just as convincingly that maintaining the employment of BIPOC officers is in the interest of efficient operations of the SPD. Specifically, the Chief should be arguing to remove those officers with the most number of disciplinary complaints first, regardless of their seniority.  Contrast Chief Best’s support for SPOG’s status quo approach with that of Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo who last month broke with their police union in recognition that “it’s debilitating for a chief when an officer does something that calls for termination, but the union works to keep that person on the job.”

Finally, I want to address the size of our police force. A recent report by the Vera Institute of Justice titled What Policing Costs compiled data from fiscal year 2020 adopted budgets from 72 of the largest cities in the US. There are two data points I want to highlight:

  • Seattle has one officer for every 340 residents, more officers per population than most West Coast cities. Under Public Safety Civil Service Commission rules we use seven comparative cities on the West Coast (Long Beach, Oakland, Portland, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose) as a benchmark for wages, hours, and conditions of employment. For instance, Portland has one officer for every 501 people, Sacramento, one officer for every 475 people, San Diego, one officer for every 537 people, and San Jose one officer for every 609 people.
  • Seattle spends $546 per resident for police, the 11th highest rate among the 72 largest cities in the country, and more than 6 of the 7 comparable West Coast cities.

It is true that in the past I have been an ardent advocate for and supported the hiring of additional police officers, in an effort to “grow the size” of our police force. As a community organizer working in low-income communities of color in the ‘90’s, I worked to lift the voices of community members seeking a fair allocation of police resources to meet the public safety needs of those low income communities.  As an aide to a Councilmember, I worked to pull residents across city precincts to advocate for hiring more officers citywide to ensure that public safety needs in one precinct were not addressed by “borrowing officers” from another, in a “rob Peter to pay Paul” situation and in 2006 we funded the first new positions to SPD since the 70’s.  And then, as a Councilmember myself representing some of the most diverse neighborhoods in the City receiving slow and inadequate police response, I have supported an additional $110 million dollars of annual funding for SPD in my four years on the Council, increasing the budget from $300 million 2016 to $410 million in 2020.

Now I’m hearing loud and clear from many in community that more officers does not equal more public safety. And I am listening.  I am reading, researching, and learning. This local effort, bolstered by the national dialogue about bloated police budgets in cities across the nation, without better public safety outcomes and ongoing racial disparity impacts to communities of color is causing me to reexamine my own assumptions about whether “growing the size of the SPD” will deliver better public safety outcomes.

I continue to support funding to address public safety. However, what has evolved in my position is that it should not be only the police addressing public safety concerns. Too often we ask the police to do too much and they are ill-equipped to handle these issues. Former Dallas Police Chief Brown noted in 2016, “We’re asking cops to do too much in this country. We are. Every societal failure, we put it off on the cops to solve. Not enough mental health funding, let the cops handle it… Here in Dallas we got a loose dog problem; let’s have the cops chase loose dogs. Schools fail, let’s give it to the cops… That’s too much to ask. Policing was never meant to solve all those problems.”

A review of 911 calls I requested in Seattle, to begin the process of identifying what work currently done by police officers might best be done by other types of professionals, found that in 2019 56% of dispatched calls were non-criminal.

It is past time that we work to solve these problems upstream, so that we don’t have to so heavily invest in a police force that’s unable to address all of the issues we’ve asked them to use policing in order to address. This why I support shifting funding away from SPD and into upstream programs – identified through community engagement – that are better situated to address the root concerns we have thus far failed to. In a 2016 report from the Obama White House’s Council of Economic Advisers found that “a 10 percent increase in wages for non-college educated men results in approximately a 10 to 20 percent reduction in crime rates.” This is just one small example of how investing upstream will not only save money, but prevent crime from occurring in the first place.

The new Southwest Precinct Captain, Kevin Grossman, who was recently interviewed by the West Seattle Blog said:

He’s hoping “the rhetoric calms down a bit” – he agrees that there’s an overreliance on 911 to solve our society’s problems, and acknowledges that police have traditionally ben asked to do a lot of things they shouldn’t do. “There’s room for a bigger conversation about what police should be doing, shouldn’t be doing.” but he hopes there’s room for a rational conversation, though he says 50 percent would be too big a cut – “a cut like that would be devastating and would seriously affect the level of service we would provide.” As for specific types of change, Grossman offered support for the CAHOOTS model. “That would take a lot of work away from us – that’s all right, but that’s not in place yet. … Would probably save the city a bunch of money and might turn out better than some of our calls.”

Even Captain Grossman agrees that we should be reexamining what we’re asking the police to do, and this means changing the level of service we expect from our police officers and shift some of those responsibilities to better equipped professionals that address these concerns upstream.

In support for Decriminalize Seattle and King County Equity Now’s goal of reducing SPD spending by 50% and reallocating funds to community needs, I proposed a Council Budget Action (beginning on slide 32) in the July 15th Council Select Budget Committee with a range of options for cuts in the SPD budget, some of which, if approved by the Council, can be immediately reinvested in community-based alternatives to public safety issues. Cuts in this package, or any other that the Council approves, that have labor implications, would be available over time after negotiations with the police unions, just as required for cuts in personnel for any city staff.

Another important budget update is about my efforts in the 2020 Budget rebalancing process to support Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD), a nationally-replicated program developed here in Seattle that diverts individuals away from arrest and toward a community-based intervention program for low-level criminal offenses (such as drug possession, sales, and prostitution offenses).  In Seattle, there are currently two ways to be referred to LEAD’s unique services:

  1. Referrals directly from law enforcement.
  2. Referrals – approved by law enforcement – from community sources and other agencies, such as the Seattle Fire Department, the Mobile Crisis Team, the Crisis Diversion Facility, the King County Prosecutor, the Seattle City Attorney, the King County Jail, the Department of Public Defense, Business Improvement Associations, other neighborhood groups and business groups, housing and health care providers.

Both pathways require the Seattle Police Department to play an active role in approving all referrals.  Unfortunately, for the past weeks and months, law enforcement has not had the capacity to make or approve these referrals.  As a result, LEAD’s scarce and desperately-needed resources, such as specialized case management and individual hotel rooms, have gone to waste – even though they are clearly and desperately needed.

I’m sponsoring a budget action, along with Councilmember Morales, that will remove SPD from that “gatekeeping” function it currently plays in LEAD, at the request of LEAD’s project managers and with the support of Police Chief Carmen Best.  The proviso will create a “third pathway” for referrals from non-law enforcement sources, without requiring SPD to approve them.  It would be one of several changes that LEAD has made recently to respond to the very changed environment in which they are operating – and the growing need for their work.

This new pathway will not change the positive, collaborative relationship LEAD has built with SPD officers over the years.  It just removes them from the administrative hurdle at the start of a new referral.  This Crosscut article goes into more depth on the need for this budget action.

New Homeless Service Provider Funding

A week ago, Council voted to appropriate $13 million in one-time funding from the state Department of Commerce to support COVID response.  These are sorely needed and anxiously awaited funds to reimburse frontline homelessness providers for their extraordinary efforts and unanticipated costs to serve people during the pandemic.

Less than 24 hours after Council’s vote, the Human Services Department released a Request For Proposals (RFP) for $4.85 million of the funds. The intent of the RFP is to help nonprofits sustain the new practices and protections recommended by Public Health and the CDC to keep their employees and the people they serve safe.   Proposals are due July 17th, and awards will be made by July 27th.  Funding awards will cover the period of March 1, 2020-December 31, 2020.

I appreciate the extraordinary speed with which HSD acted after receiving the green light from Council.  Their efforts will keep more people safe during the public health emergency.

Director’s Rule for Exceptional and Significant Trees

On Thursday the Department of Construction and Inspection released a draft Director’s Rule for the “Designation of Exceptional and Significant Trees, Tree Protection, Retention, and Tree Removal during land division, including tree service provider requirements.”  This is the most recent development in what has been a long and ongoing conversation that I know a lot of people in District 1 and throughout the city care deeply about.

The conversation left off when former Councilmember Bagshaw and her staffer, now Councilmember Dan Strauss – in coordination with the Mayor – authored a resolution that included a timeline and requested quarterly reporting on the progress of the development of the legislation from the Executive beginning January 31, 2020. In the resolution, the Council also requests that legislation prioritize:

  • Retaining protections for exceptional trees and expanding the definition of exceptional trees.
  • Adopting a definition of significant tress as at least 6 inches in diameter and creating a permitting process for the removal of these trees.
  • Adding replacement requirements for significant tree removal.
  • Simplifying tree planting and replacement requirements, including consideration of mitigation strategies that allow for infill development while balancing tree planting and replacement goals.
  • Reviewing and potentially modifying tree removal limits in single-family zones.
  • Establishing an in-lieu fee option for tree planting.
  • Tracking tree removal and replacement on both public and private land throughout Seattle.
  • Providing adequate funding to administer and enforce tree regulations.
  • Requiring all tree service providers operating in Seattle to meet minimum certification and training requirements and register with the City.

The Council voted unanimously to pass this resolution in September 2019.

We have since received the first and second joint reports required by this resolution from the Seattle Department and Construction and Inspection and the Office of Sustainability and Environment.  The first report was presented to the Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee, chaired by Councilmember Strauss on February 12. Included in that report was an updated timeline, which may need to be revisited due to the COVID-19 public health crisis. The second report will be presented to the Land Use and Neighborhood Committee on July 22 beginning at 9:30am.

With this draft Director’s rule the public will have until July 28 to comment, and you can send those comments here: SCI_DRulesComments@seattle.gov.

Jump Start Investments

Jump Start is the payroll expense tax passed by Council on July 6th.  It’s a narrowly-targeted tax on only the largest businesses paying the highest salaries and driving our city’s affordability crisis.  Only companies with annual payroll greater than $7 million will be taxed and they will only be taxed on their pay to employees making more than $150,000 per year.  Jump Start is projected to bring in $215 million annually.

At Wednesday’s Select Budget Committee, Councilmembers approved spending plans associated with the new Jump Start revenue.

CB 119812 authorizes spending from the City’s two “reserve funds” in 2020 to support people and businesses impacted by COVID, including support for small businesses, nonprofits, immigrants and refugees; food security; rental assistance; and immediate housing needs.

I sponsored a successful amendment (incorporated into Amendment 1) that will provide advice and assistance to recipients of direct assistance.  Eligibility for income-tested benefits such as food stamps can be complex for households to navigate.  In a year when households may receive more than one type of unplanned-for assistance from local, state or federal government, it’s especially complex.  And the community-based organizations who help clients navigate these programs may themselves have questions about how benefit and support programs interact.  My amendment will make it possible for organizations to access and provide advice to the people they are working with, so that no family inadvertently loses its needed benefits.

Resolution 31957 outlines how Jump Start revenue will be spent in 2021 and on.  In 2021, it replenishes the reserve funds that were appropriated in CB 119812; and continues investments in COVID relief and  services that are lifelines to Seattle residents.  In 2022 and beyond, it provides for significant investments in affordable housing, equitable development, economic revitalization, and Green New Deal efforts.

I sponsored two successful amendments to this resolution, both of which earned unanimous support.

Affordable Homeownership: Amendment 8 sets aside approximately $6 million annually for permanently affordable homeownership opportunities available to households earning up to 80% of Area Median Income.  The funds would specifically be reserved for 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.  I’m grateful to Budget Chair Mosqueda for her co-sponsorship of this amendment with me.

Home ownership is key to building intergenerational wealth, and a key driver of the racial wealth gap.  While the funds appropriated here will not address that problem at scale, they will give more BIPOC households every year the opportunity to bridge that gap for their own families, after being shut out from this opportunity by Seattle’s own past discriminatory policies.  Depending on the investments made, this funding stream could result in anywhere from 35 to 100 new permanently affordable homes per year.  No small feat in Seattle’s housing market!

Rental Assistance:  Amendment 6A asks the Executive to study developing a new rental assistance program, which could be funded using Jump Start revenue in the future.  Rental assistance is a much-needed lifeline for many Seattle households.  Even before COVID, Seattle’s runaway rental market was increasingly out of reach for many residents and workers, putting their homes and stability at risk.  And when Council takes actions to level the playing field for renters in this out-of-reach market, I consistently hear from small “mom and pop” type landlords concerned about losing their often naturally-affordable rental property that they are counting on for retirement or other income.

So it’s critical that rental assistance take the correct form, so that in the long-term, it does not become a public subsidy propping up an unaffordable rental market but that it supports both tenants and the small “mom and pop” landlords from whom they rent.  This amendment threads the needle among these concerns by asking the Executive to develop a plan that will accomplish multiple goals:

  • Help those most in need
  • Preserve long-term tenancies
  • Prevent evictions
  • Preserve affordable housing
  • Examine the role of small landlords in providing safe, affordable homes.

Many thanks to Council President González who took the lead in developing this amendment, and our co-sponsor Councilmember Morales.

Seattle Transportation Benefit District

Today the Council considered renewal of the Seattle Transportation Benefit District (STBD) in committee, and voted to move the legislation to full council on July 27th.

In 2014 Seattle voters approved funding for additional bus service, low-income bus passes, and related services. The measure provided funding from 2015 through 2020.

The proposed 2020 measure includes funding for “emerging needs,” and specifies funding for West Seattle due to the closure of the West Seattle Bridge.

I  co-sponsored an amendment to note the Council’s intent to consider developer impact fees, which are allowed under the state Growth Management Act for capital improvements, and the STBD for transit service. It passed 8-0.

I  also sponsored an amendment to increase equity. The current criteria for service funding does not allow for funding routes such as the 131, 128 and 113 in Highland Park and South Delridge, or the 132 in South Park, because of the number of stops they have outside Seattle. The amendment would add as eligible routes “any King County Metro route serving historically low-income communities in Seattle.”

The amendment also notes the need for transit funding in to meet the mobility goal shift of increasing transit use from 17% to 30%, established by SDOT, for West Seattle during the bridge closure. This amendment also passed 8-0.

Letter to Mayor and Police Chief re: Free Press

On July 10 I sent the letter below to the Mayor and Police Chief regarding the arrest or threat of arrest of members of the media by SPD. The City Attorney declined to prosecute the case for the arrest mentioned in the letter. I have not yet received a response to my letter, but will report back when I do.

I am writing about the recent arrest or threat of arrest of members of the media by the Seattle Police Department.

First Amendment protections for the press in the United State Constitution are a lynchpin of American democracy. Unless respected by government, the quality of our democracy is diminished and eroded.

After the filing of the Mayor’s July 1 Executive order in and around Cal Anderson Park, and subsequent city action, two members of the media have reported about their experiences regarding arrest, or the threat of arrest, that are neither in line with the First Amendment, nor the City’s Municipal Code.

First of all, Omari Salisbury of Converge Media, a regular press presence during the protests on Capitol Hill, tweeted “Citing order of @MayorJenny SPD is now giving @WWConverge a final warning to stop broadcasting or face arrest. Our offices are right next door to the East Precinct. This is where we broadcast from daily.”

While Mr. Salisbury was not arrested, such actions can have a chilling effect on press coverage.

In addition, a correspondent for the Independent, Andrew Buncombe, was arrested for “failure to disperse” on July 1 while covering the closure.  He subsequently wrote an account of his experience.

I am deeply concerned about the treatment of members of the media, and arrests, or use of threat of arrests. 

Seattle Municipal Code section 12A.12.020, Failure to Disperse, explicitly exempts news reporters in the event of a public safety order:

12A.12.020 – Failure to disperse.

  1. As used in subsection B of this section, “public safety order” is an order issued by a peace officer designed and reasonably necessary to prevent or control a serious disorder, and promote the safety of persons or property. No such order shall apply to a news reporter or other person observing or recording the events on behalf of the public press or other news media, unless he is physically obstructing lawful efforts by such officer to disperse the group. (emphasis added)

The City Council adopted an Observer’s Bill of Rights in 2017, which clearly states the right to observe the actions of officers:

SMC 3.28.610 Public observation, recording, or expression in the vicinity of police actions

  1. A person not involved in an incident may remain in the vicinity of any stop, detention, or arrest occurring in a public place, and observe or record activity and express themselves, including making comments critical of an officer’s actions, so long as the person’s conduct and presence are otherwise lawful. The person’s conduct and presence must not: hinder, delay, or compromise legitimate police actions or rescue efforts; threaten the safety of the officers or members of the public; or attempt to incite others to violence. These conditions on the conduct do not prohibit conduct that creates a slight inconvenience for an officer, such as minor delay caused by escorting the person to a nearby location.
  1. No employee of the Seattle Police Department nor an agent thereof shall prevent a person from engaging in an action or actions protected by this Section 3.28.610.

Mr. Buncombe ends his article by saying:

“In Trump’s America, where the media is routinely cast as evil and dishonest and where an African American reporter for CNN can be arrested live on air, the need to defend journalism and its centrality to an informed democracy has never been greater. And the foundational act for journalists is to show up, either literally or else in spirt and commitment and focus. Whether we’re covering the actions of a city council, the workings of Wall Street, or the faltering, long-overdue attempt of a nation to confront the racial inequities that underpin its creation, the most important thing is to pledge ourselves to the task of doing so, and then get on with it.

Our job is not to disperse. Our job is to be present.”

It is our job as elected officials to ensure the press remains free and is able to carry out its work, in accordance with the Constitution and City law. The Constitution and Municipal Code protections for the press, and observers, do not exist for the convenience of government, to be cast aside whenever they happen to be inconvenient to government.

Please explain your plan to remedy this unacceptable abridgement of 1st Amendment rights and improper use of City law.

That charges may be dropped by the City Attorney does not excuse the arrest of a reporter.  The action of removing the reporter from the scene prevented him from covering the story and informing the public of what he saw; neither Mr. Buncombe nor Mr. Salisbury should be subjected to even the threat of arrest.

Share


West Seattle Bridge July 10 Update; West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force Updates; Budget Committee Update;Mi’Chance Dunlap-Gittens Youth Rights Ordinance; Coronavirus Updates; Summer Food Assistance and a Public Shower Hotline

July 10th, 2020

West Seattle Bridge July 10 Update

Today the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is launching Reconnect West Seattle.

The Reconnect West Seattle Framework outlines SDOT’s approach to identify traffic mitigation projects along bridge closure detour routes, establish new mode share goals by zip code, and identify SDOT’s plans to help travelers make their trips on different modes.  It is a draft and the final plan will be informed by the people affected by the closure.

SDOT is asking residents in West Seattle and surrounding communities to take one or both of two surveys by July 31.

The Reconnect West Seattle Survey is for everyone who lives or works in West Seattle. The survey is the community’s chance to let SDOT and our partners know what they need to move on and off the West Seattle peninsula at similar rates to before the High-Rise Bridge closure, but with a significant reduction in travel lanes.

Neighborhood Prioritization Process Ballots are an opportunity for people who live in Roxhill, Highland Park, Riverview, South Delridge, SODO, Georgetown, or South Park to identify the projects that would be most helpful to improve safety and traffic outcomes in their neighborhoods. The ballots include a list of potential projects; you can also make suggestions that aren’t included in the list.

Next week postcards will be sent in the mail to the neighborhoods listed below.  Here’s a link to the Reconnect West Seattle draft framework.

Here are links for surveys in English:

Here are the surveys in English, Chinese Traditional, Somali, Spanish, Vietnamese, Khmer, Korean and Oromo.

Reconnect West Seattle Survey: English, Español, 繁體中文, af Soomaali, 한국어, Tiếng Việt, Oromiffa, ភាសាខ្មែរ

Roxhill, Highland Park, Riverview, & South Delridge Ballot: English, Español, 繁體中文, af Soomaali, Tiếng Việt, Oromiffa, ភាសាខ្មែរ

South Park Ballot: English, Español, 繁體中文,af Soomaali, Tiếng Việt, ភាសាខ្មែរ

Georgetown Ballot: English, Español, 繁體中文, af Soomaali, 한국어, Tiếng Việt

SODO Ballot: English, Español, 繁體中文, Tiếng Việt

Paper copies of the survey and ballot are available by request at westseattlebridge@seattle.gov or by calling 206-400-7511.

Reconnect West Seattle has two main goals: to restore travel across the Duwamish to similar levels seen before the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge closure and using an equity focus to reduce the impact of detour traffic in some Duwamish Valley neighborhoods.   If you have feedback on the plans, you can, in addition to completing SDOTs survey, let me know and I will work to advocate for your recommendations.

Prior to the bridge closure, a vast majority of people in West Seattle drove cars on and off the peninsula as their primary means of transportation. For example, in 2019 over 80 percent of morning commuters heading eastbound drove, while just 17 percent took the bus. Now that the bridge is closed, and travel lanes have been reduced from 21 to 12 lanes there are not enough travel lanes to support the same travel habits and number of cars on the road.   SDOT’s goals are to increase West Seattle bus commuters from 17 percent to 30 percent.

Metro is also working to develop its own service scenario options that respond to the closure as well as any potential emergency closure of the Spokane Street bridge (low bridge). Metro’s goal is to develop range of mobility options for fast, reliable service between WS and downtown that is travel time competitive (or better) than driving.

Today the Council began deliberations on the proposed the Seattle Transportation Benefit District (STBD) for vote in the November 2020 election in order to continuing the 0.1% sales tax we are paying now. Though State law allows us to propose a 0.2% measure, we are not pursuing an increase because of the economic crisis many are experiencing.  The measure would raise half the amount of what we are raising now because Tim Eyman’s statewide Initiative 976, opposed by a majority of Seattle voters, eliminates  our ability to collect the car tab dollars. The City of Seattle and other cities are suing to overturn I-976.

Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, STBD provided funding for 36% of C Line service. The Council voted to amend the criteria to allow additional service on Route 120; those are two of Metro’s top 10 routes in all of King County.  The STBD has expanded access to frequent, reliable transit by growing the portion of households within a 10-minute walk of transit service arriving every 10 minutes or less from 25 percent in 2015 to 70 percent in 2019.

Thanks to Councilmember Pedersen for his work as Transportation and Utilities Chair to move this forward. Here are the materials for the first Council briefing: Central Staff memo, draft legislation, presentation and here is the STBD webpage.

I am pleased that Mayor Durkan’s proposal includes a commitment to address the unique access problems West Seattle faces without the bridge by making investments that address acute mobility needs in areas like West Seattle.  The proposal includes funding for West Seattle service investments, listing $3 million annual average investment over six years, though more of that could be spent in earlier years, while the bridge is closed.   This funding could support targeted transit service or transportation demand management strategies to mitigate the West Seattle Bridge closure.

West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force Updates

The West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force meeting on Wednesday, July 8 included updates.

SDOT will be doing a cost-benefit analysis to compare repair and replacement scenarios using a broad range of criteria; they will present draft criteria to the Community Task Force in August. Here’s the path for decision making:

SDOT indicated that it’s likely that any replacement or even repair of the bridge would exceed the City’s financial means without outside funding.  SDOT is exploring numerous potential funding sources:

SDOT indicated it will be releasing a request for proposals for an investment grade traffic and revenue study:

On July 13, the Council will discuss and may vote on Council Bill 119826. This would authorize SDOT to accept a $3.5 million grant from the Puget Sound Regional Council (LINK) that includes $2 million to conduct a Type, Size and Location Study for the eventual replacement of the West Seattle Bridge.

The study will examine potential replacements, such as rebuilding the bridge or an immersed tube tunnel. It would for the basis for environmental review of alternatives and developing cost estimates.

Update on Traffic

Traffic volumes remain high on West Marginal and Highland Park Way, and are trending above the pre-COVID baseline on the South Park Bridge, Roxbury, and Michigan Street in Georgetown. The 1st Avenue South Bridge is also 7% above the pre-COVID baseline.

Below are the most recent travel time estimates:

Budget Committee Update

The Council’s Budget Committee met on July 8 to consider revisions to the 2020 budget to address the more than $300 million revenue shortfall because of COVID19 and its impact on our economy.

The Budget Committee began with a panel presentation from Decriminalize Seattle, King County Equity Now, and the Participatory Budget Project.  It’s important that we listen to community voices moving forward in reimagining what policing and public safety look like.  The panel proposes that the City Council cut 50% from the SPD budget and earmark those funds for reinvestment in community-led health and safety initiatives.  They suggest cuts might come from:

  • Freezing hiring
  • Reduction in patrol staffing, prioritize for reduction those officers with highest number of complaints
  • Remove the Office of Collaborative Policing, including Navigation Team
  • End contracts with private firms that defend SPD and the City against police misconduct
  • Cut SPD’s recruitment and retention budget
  • Cut SPD’s public relations budget
  • Cut SPD’s spending on Homeland Security
  • Cut SPD’s training budget
  • End overtime pay for police officers
  • replace current 911 operations with a civilian-led system

One of the presentations was a Seattle Police Department 9-1-1 Call Analysis from SPD. I requested this presentation to examine the categories of work involved in SPD response, to begin the process of identifying what work currently done by police officers might best be done by other types of professionals. The idea was proposed by Decriminalize Seattle in the Budget Committee meeting on June 17 that 911 calls should be referred, where appropriate, to non-police responders including community-based workers who can provide mental health support, family and community mediation, drug-user health, and many other crisis services.  Their presentation highlighted emergency response systems that were not dispatched by police departments like:  the Mobile Crisis Outreach Teams in Salt Lake City and the M.H. First team in Sacramento.

Three weeks ago, after learning about this model from Decriminalize Seattle, I requested this presentation on 911 call analysis.  Soon after, the Chief announced support to “Assess non-criminal 911 calls, current outcomes, and alternate responses” and my colleague, Councilmember Andrew Lewis last week announced a proposal to “create and fully fund a new mental health and substance addiction first-responder program, based on a Eugene, Oregon program called Crisis Assistance Helping Out On the Streets, or CAHOOTS.”

The Budget Committee will meet again next Wednesday to hear Central Staff issue identification memos, including issued identified by Councilmember for potential cuts and additions to the 2020 rebalancing budget package.

Mi’Chance Dunlap-Gittens Youth Rights Ordinance

Children often can’t exercise their constitutional rights when in contact with the police.  Studies have found that children’s immature brain development results in not understanding their Miranda rights and difficulty asserting their constitutional right to silence. Black children, with experiences and knowledge of the experiences of their community, have fear and distrust of police that elevate the barriers to asserting their rights.

For these reasons, we must establish safeguards for police interaction with children.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry recommends that “juveniles should have an attorney present during questioning by police or other law enforcement agencies.”

I am working with Councilmember Morales and a coalition of community members who have proposed the Mi’Chance Dunlap-Gittens Youth Rights Ordinance to protect children under the age of 18 by “ensuring that they consult with counsel prior to waiving their constitutional rights and prior to any interrogation or request to search.”

Mi’Chance Dunlap-Gittens was a 17 year old who killed running from plainclothes deputies who, as part of a sting investigating a hit-and-run death, pretended to be a 15-year-old female in search of alcohol.  Dunlap-Gittens was not involved in the crime that they were investigating

Research shows that:

  • Children are more susceptible to police coercion and have a willingness to comply with authority.
  • Children don’t fully understand what can happen when they waive their rights.
  • Children are more likely to give false confessions.
  • Children of color are disproportionately contacted by law enforcement, incarcerated, and charged with offenses in King County juvenile court. In 2018, 73.2% of the children charged were children of color and 86.5% of the youth incarcerated between January and September of 2019 were children of color.

The Youth Rights’ Ordinance would require that:

  1. An officer, before any questioning and after administering a Miranda warning to a person 17 years of age or younger, allow the youth to consult with legal counsel in person, by telephone, or by video conference. There are limited exceptions for information sought to protect life from an imminent threat; delay would hamper the protection of life from an imminent threat; and only if, in this exception, the questioning is limited to those matters.
  2. An officer, prior to requesting any consent to search a youth or their property, home or vehicles allow the youth to consult with legal counsel in person, by telephone, or by video conference.
  3. After consulting with legal counsel, the youth may, or can choose to have a parent, guardian or legal counsel, advise the officer whether they want to exercise their constitutional rights.

In 2017, California passed a similar law for youth 15 and younger.  San Francisco, in 2019, expanded the protection to youth 17 and younger. When children understand their rights, trust, accountability, and due process is enhanced and children, especially children of color, are less vulnerable to practices that lead to disproportionality in both police charges and incarceration.

Coronavirus Updates

Rising COVID rates:  Coronavirus has been increasing in King County since mid-June, with the largest increase in new cases in young adults and Seattle residents. With more re-opening of businesses, community activities and contact with one another, Public Health Seattle & King County is warning that the risk for infection has increased.

Maintaining the safety principles that led to our initial success against the outbreak has never been more important. These include:

  • Practice physical distancing of 6 feet or more
  • Minimize contact with others outside your home
  • Frequent hand washing or sanitizer
  • Use cloth face coverings in public
  • Avoid group gatherings and poorly ventilated spaces.

Free testing locations:  Coronavirus testing is free in Washington state.  Consider being tested if you have recently been in close with anyone with Covid, or if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches, headache
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

If you have a healthcare provider, contact them about getting tested.  If you don’t have a healthcare provider, this webpage has a list of free testing locations for you.  All are available regardless of immigration status, and provide free language interpretation services.  District 1 locations include:

Neighborcare Health at High Point (West Seattle)

6020 35th Ave SW, 1st Floor, Seattle, WA 98126

Phone: (206) 461-6950

Languages: Amharic, Arabic, Cambodian, Oromo, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Ukrainian; interpretation available

Sea Mar Community Health Centers at South Park

8720 14th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98108

Phone: (253) 681-6600

Languages: Spanish, Interpretation available

Sea Mar Community Health Centers at White Center

9650 15th Ave SW #100, Seattle, WA 98106

Phone: (206) 965-1000

Languages: Spanish, Interpretation available

UW Mobile Clinic at South Seattle College

6000 16th Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98106

Phone: (206) 744-0400

(Open Fri., 10am-3pm, no appointment necessary)

Languages: Interpretation available

New mask requirements:  Face coverings are required in all public indoor spaces, and outdoors when you cannot remain 6 feet apart.  Effective July 7, the Governor’s statewide order directs businesses to require and enforce the use of face coverings by all customers or clients.  Learn more about face coverings here.

A face covering is not needed when you are outside walking, exercising, or otherwise outdoors if you are able to regularly stay 6 feet away from other people who do not live with you.  Some people do not need to follow this directive, including:

  • Babies and toddlers under age 2 should never wear cloth face coverings. Children ages 2-4 are strongly encouraged to wear a face covering.
  • All children ages 5 years & up should wear a face covering unless medically directed to do otherwise.
  • Anyone with a disability that makes it hard for them to wear or remove a face covering.
  • Anyone who is deaf and moves their face and mouth to communicate.
  • Anyone who has been advised by a medical professional to not wear a face covering because of personal health issues.
  • Anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, or unable to remove the face covering without help.

Confused about what’s open and what’s not?

  • Check out this webpage from Public Health of Seattle & King County that explains what is open and not during Phase 2, and contains links to specific guidance and requirements.
  • Seattle Parks and Recreation keeps this blog post continuously updated with the latest on parks and amenities openings and closings. You can find a neighborhood park here.

Pediatric vaccinations keep your child safe

Keep your child safe by staying up to date on vaccinations during COVID-19. Clinics have changed to make it safe for your child to get needed vaccines.  While there isn’t a vaccine against COVID-19 yet, the good news is that vaccines can protect children from 14 other serious diseases. Delaying or missing vaccines could put your child, your family and your community at risk for these diseases. Vaccinating children on time is the best way to protect them.

Talk with your child’s doctor, nurse or clinic about the immunizations your child needs to stay healthy, and ask about the clinic’s safety measures to protect your family when you visit.

  • Need help finding a doctor or clinic, or other health resources? Call the Help Me Grow Washington Hotline at 1-800-322-2588.
  • ¿Necesita ayuda para encontrar un médico o clínica u otros recursos de salud? Llamea la línea de Help Me Grow Washington al 1-800-322-2588.

Summer Food Assistance and a Public Shower Hotline

Free summer meals in District 1:  The City’s Summer Food Service Program began on July 6th and will run through August 21st.  It provides free breakfasts, lunches and afternoon snacks for children ages 1-18.  Many sites are available to the public, so any child 18 years and under can come to receive a meal.

Summer Food Service Program sites will operate with precautions in place to minimize risk while serving meals to the community.  Sanitation and distancing practices will be followed in accordance with CDC and local health department guidelines.

District 1 Meal Sites include: South Park Community Center, Highland Park Playground, High Point Community Center, and Cascade Middle School.  Find the meal site closest to your house at https://www.uwkc.org/free-summer-meals/.

Public hygiene facilities:  With community centers, libraries, and some service providers closed down, the public health emergency has been particularly difficult for people who rely on public hygiene facilities.  The City of Seattle has published a map of hygiene facilities (including toilets, handwashing stations, laundry, showers, and day centers) that may be helpful to anyone who relies on public facilities to stay clean and safe.

In addition, the City just launched a hotline that will be kept updated with locations and hours for mobile shower facilities: (206) 386-1030.  A flyer is attached with more information.  The current plan for the shower locations is below, but this may change – that’s why it’s a good idea to call the hotline at (206) 386-1030 first.

  • King Street Station: 303 S Jackson St.; Monday – Friday; 10AM to 4PM
  • Seattle Center: 305 Harrison St.; Tuesday – Saturday; 10AM to 4PM
  • University Heights Center: 5031 University Way NE; Sunday & Monday; 10AM to 4PM

Share


West Seattle Bridge Update, July 2; News from the Select Budget Committee; Seattle Municipal Court Vera Project Probation Report; Workers’ Rights Update; June Constituent Email Report;

July 2nd, 2020

West Seattle Bridge Update, July 2

Next week SDOT will be releasing a draft “Reconnect West Seattle Mobility Action Plan” on their website.  This will include specific neighborhood plans for four areas: Highland Park/Riverview/South Delridge/Roxhill, South Park, Georgetown, and SODO; it will also include modal plans such as freight and bicycle. There will be a public comment period about which projects within the plans to prioritize; feel free to send comments to me as well. The plans will be presented to the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force on July 8 and 22.

SDOT has begun stabilization work on the bridge, which is a necessary step whether rebuilding the bridge or removing and replacing it. SDOT notes, “Though our recent analysis indicates that repairing the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge may be possible, we still do not know how much repairs would cost, how long they would take, how many lanes could be restored, and whether repairs would last long enough to be a worthwhile investment.”

Some of the stabilization work will involve “hydro-demolition” of concrete (similar to high power pressure washing) to open holes without damaging the rebar or steel tendons (that’s why a drill isn’t being used). Crews will open over 100 holes, which will take at least two weeks.

After the holes are created, work platforms can be hoisted up from a barge. This will allow work to be done from both the top and underside of bridge, so that stabilization measures can proceed; initial carbon fiber wrapping could begin as soon as late July with external post-tensioning to follow.

Below is a diagram of post-tensioning strands and anchor bolts located in the bridge girder. They won’t be visible from the outside except where they anchor to the bottom of the bridge:

SDOT indicates the initial carbon fiber wrapping will take around 10 weeks. Post-tensioning strand installation will begin shortly after, and take a week or two. After these stabilization measures, work on releasing the bearings on Pier 18 take place. After that, SDOT will complete carbon fiber wrapping and post-tensioning.

During the last week, I attended SDOT’s monthly meeting with employers and businesses, as well as a town hall with Amazon, which has numerous employees who live in West Seattle.

As part of the Mayor’s proposed adjustment to the 2020 budget, in response to the COVID crisis, the City Budget Office sent a memo that estimates bridge repair costs in 2020 to be $22.8 million:

West Seattle Bridge

While not specific to COVID19, funding the emergency repair activities for the West Seattle High Bridge will put additional pressure on the SDOT budget. SDOT estimates 2020 costs for bridge repair to be $22.8 million. To help fund 2020 costs for emergency repair work, SDOT will take on additional debt supported by an interfund loan in 2020. More funding will be required in 2021 and 2022.

Yesterday, the House of Representatives voted to pass H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act, a $1.5 trillion critical investment in our infrastructure, including roads and highways, ferry and rail programs, and bridges all across the county.  My office has been working with Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal to make sure she has the best information about our West Seattle Bridge funding needs.  She has made the case to her colleagues that passage of H.R. 2 is “especially important as we work to ensure that our community has the resources necessary to repair or rebuild the West Seattle Bridge.” The legislation that passed the House will now go to the Senate.

At the Community Task Force meeting last week, SDOT indicated they are seeking a declaration of emergency from the Governor; this requires first a declaration by the Mayor.  Because this will assist with funding and possibly permitting and contracting, I have been advocating for a declaration of emergency since the March closure.

Traffic counts continue to be high on West Marginal and Highland Park Way SW, and continue to increase above pre-COVID thresholds on the South Park Bridge and South Michigan Street; SW Roxbury is also above pre-COVID traffic counts:

Here are the most recent travel times:

Beginning July 12, the 1st Avenue South Bridge will be closed overnight for up to 14 days in order to replace some of the grid decks. WSDOT operates this bridge. Closures will take place from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., Sunday through Thursdays.

The Spokane Street (lower) bridge at the northern end of the peninsula is now open to general traffic between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m.

 

News from the Select Budget Committee

New progressive tax on Seattle’s largest businesses

The headline this week is new progressive revenue for the City of Seattle.  At the Council’s Select Budget Committee on Wednesday 7/1, I joined most of my colleagues in approving Councilmember Mosqueda’s JumpStart legislation, a narrowly-targeted tax on only the largest businesses paying the highest salaries and driving our city’s affordability crisis.  Only companies with annual payroll greater than $7 million will be taxed and they will only be taxed on their pay to employees making more than $150,000 per year.  This structure is different from the 2018 Employee Hours Tax (or “head tax”), which had a flat tax to employers for each employee, regardless of their pay.

The tax will be levied beginning in 2021.  Revenue will be invested in COVID-19 relief, continuing City services that are helping residents stay afloat during the emergency, affordable housing, equitable development, and small business support.

During the committee meeting, we amended the legislation to adjust the tax rates and bring in an estimated additional $40 million annually (totaling approximately $215 million a year); eliminate the 10-year sunset clause; and strengthen the “level playing field” language, which says that Council intends to reconsider this tax if the county or state passes similar a similar progressive tax, so that businesses are not bearing a double burden.

Wednesday’s vote means the tax legislation (CB 119810), and a basic spending plan associated with the new expected revenue (CB 119811), have successfully passed out of committee.  On Monday, the Full Council will vote to approve both.  On July 15, the Select Budget Committee will consider a resolution with a more detailed spending plan for the JumpStart tax revenue, as well as legislation (CB 119812) that will fund COVID 19 relief programs this year, including support for small businesses and immigrants and refugees, food security, rental assistance, and immediate housing needs.

New funds for Seattle’s homelessness response

Also on Wednesday, we passed legislation I sponsored with Councilmember Mosqueda to accept $13 million from the state Department of Commerce to fund homelessness and affordable housing services (CB 119816). These funds first became available to the City back in March; I have been working behind the scenes to get these dollars allocated quickly, and I thank Budget Chair Mosqueda for her willingness to consider this legislation as soon as we received it, instead of holding it back for the larger budget rebalancing conversation.  This legislation will also be voted on Monday at full Council.

This $13 million is desperately needed by nonprofit service providers who are incurring significant expenses they couldn’t have planned for due to coronavirus, while making extraordinary efforts to provide frontline care and services to people who are hit the hardest by the public health emergency and economic downturn.  It will provide food service to people experiencing homelessness or living in permanent supportive housing; backfill planned investments in permanent supportive housing that are in jeopardy due to lack of tax revenue; continue support for efforts to make congregate shelters safer during coronavirus; continue hygiene services for people living unsheltered; and reimburse homeless service providers for other extraordinary costs required by the coronavirus response, such as facility modifications, and changes to program models.  In addition, this legislation will allow the Executive to “restore” $1.4 million for rental assistance and homelessness prevention, which is a top priority of mine.  Given that so many people are still not back to work and that we still have an eviction moratorium in place, giving tenants and landlords increased access to rent assistance funds is very important.

Schedule note

The presentation on SPD 911 response I noted last week has been rescheduled for the meeting on July 8.

Seattle Municipal Court Vera Project Probation Report

Seattle Municipal Court announced a report released by the Vera Institute of Justice to Municipal Court Probation Services on Strategies for Improving Policies and Practices. The report which was commissioned in 2019 to evaluate the Courts Probation Services is based on the following principles:

  • Principle 1: Probation supervision should be goal-based and focus on people who pose a high risk to public safety, which is likely to be a small portion of those charged with misdemeanors.
  • Principle 2: Probation conditions and management of those conditions should be responsive to levels of risk, needs, and strengths.
  • Principle 3: Probation should be outcomes-based.
  • Principle 4: The process of shifting the goals of probation supervision requires significant staff training and mentoring.
  • Principle 5: Collaboration and community engagement are necessary for effective system change.
  • Principle 6: Probation departments must recognize and minimize disproportionate impact on people of color and women.

The report includes 15 recommendations and the Court’s response to the report. The recommendations are:

  1. SMC should prioritize probation resources for people who pose higher levels of risk to the community, thus significantly reducing the department’s overall caseload and avoiding increased system involvement among people who present less risk.
  2. SMC probation supervision should shift from “time-based” to “goal-based.”
  3. A risk assessment instrument should be validated for use with the current population of people on probation.
  4. Probation conditions and responses to violations should be focused on responding to risk and encouraging prosocial activities—rather than enforcing compliance—and should not be applied uniformly.
  5. Probation Services should track and regularly analyze key performance measures.
  6. SMC should make client interactions more meaningful.
  7. SMC should make greater use of incentives to encourage clients’ success.
  8. All new staff should receive in-depth training—beyond what is received while on the job—on SMC and Probation Services policies, regardless of prior work history (e.g., coming from DOC).
  9. New policies should be memorialized officially, easily accessible to all SMC staff in a centralized location, and continually referenced.
  10. SMC should remove barriers to collaborative approaches among its stakeholders.
  11. SMC should consider changes to CRC staffing and logistics to enable more client-focused service.
  12. SMC should engage community organizations and clients in identifying areas for improvement, which will offer insight that system stakeholders do not have.
  13. To collect data accurately, SMC should allow clients to self-identify and include ethnicity.
  14. SMC should conduct a deeper analysis to understand why racial disparities and gender disparities exist, including comparisons of conditions imposed, types of violations, and reasons for revocation across race, ethnicity, and gender.
  15. SMC should further explore gender-responsive programming.

The Court’s statement is linked here. In part it states that:  “In response to preliminary findings from the Vera report, SMC judges adopted new sentencing guidelines in early 2020 with the goal of reducing judicial referrals to probation for lower-risk individuals and reserving probation for high-risk cases.”  When I requested a copy of the new sentencing guidelines, I was told that the reference to new sentencing guidelines did “not refer to a specific document or policy at this point.”  Given my understanding that sentencing guidelines are included in a written document to help judges determine what elements of a crime scored in favor or against of specific types/lengths of sentences, I am now seeking to determine how the recommendations of the Vera Report can be achieved without new sentencing guidelines.

Workers’ Rights Update

Today the Office of Labor Standards (OLS) announced a nearly $2 million dollar settlement with Macy’s for violations to the Secure Scheduling Ordinance. I want to first recognize and thank the workers whom this has directly impacted for years.  If you’re not familiar with Secure Scheduling, this was legislation I championed with Council President Gonzalez, to require employers to schedule 14 days in advance, and if that schedule needs to change then employers must compensate their employees.  Time is money and last minute disruption of the schedules of parents, caregivers, students, and people with second jobs has real economic impacts. I also want to thank OLS and UFCW for bringing this injustice to light and setting the record straight.

In other news, as you’ll recall from recent blog posts, I sponsored legislation with Councilmember Andrew Lewis requiring employers to pay premium pay for third party food delivery drivers. The legislation requires that third party delivery apps pay their drivers $2.50 in premium per food drop off. This is in order to compensate the drivers for the hazardous yet essential work these workers are providing. The rational for the $2.50 is broken out into three areas – hazard pay, time to adequately clean their vehicles to meet public health guidelines, and the supplies needed to clean their vehicles.

Last Friday, Instacart filed a lawsuit against the city. Councilmember Lewis and myself had previously conferred with our Law Department about these issues, and both of us and the Law Department are confident that the City will prevail.

June Constituent Email Report

Constituent correspondence is a very important task in my office. My staff and I spend time every day helping you improve our community, whether that’s by getting you help from a city department with our constituent case management services or giving you information about legislation that the Council is considering. The unshaded categories and numbers are problem-solving emails answered in June, what I refer to above as “case management services.” The shaded categories and numbers are emails answered in June related to policy or legislation that the Council is considering.  Please note the new COVID-19 row highlighted in yellow.  These are a mix of case management services to get individuals the help they need in this crisis as well as emails answered in response to constituents contacting my office about Emergency Orders and emergency legislation related to COVID-19 response.  I have a debt of gratitude to the work being done by my team to respond urgently to people in crisis in this difficult time.

 

Share


West Seattle Bridge Update, June 26; Police Accountability Reports and Plans; Council Repeals Drug and Prostitution Loitering Legislation; Select Budget Committee Update; COVID-19 Updates

June 26th, 2020

West Seattle Bridge Update, June 26

At Wednesday’s West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force, SDOT proposed to allow general use of the lower bridge at Spokane Street from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., when traffic levels are lower. School buses will also be allowed anytime. Other types of uses, such as employer shuttles, healthcare workers and maritime users, are recommended for further consideration:

I thank SDOT for proposing this change; I’ve advocated for other uses for the last few months. SDOT noted that for vanpools and employer shuttle, a key consideration is how many users there are in each vehicle, a challenge during the COVID-19 era of social distancing, and expressed interest in getting data from employers about the number of users in shuttles.

Here’s a link to an SDOT blog post about their rationale. SDOT notes the bridge capacity constraints and the need to monitor conditions for potential changes. SDOT noted that they will also continue to explore increased access, which will depend on scalable enforcement solutions such as automated camera enforcement.

SDOT also presented an update on the status of the West Seattle Bridge. SDOT released a blog post earlier this week about repairing the bridge, where they note “we still do not know how long any repairs would last.” The blog post goes into detail about how steel post-tending systems work and testing to date.

Below is a visual of bridge stabilization SDOT plans, showing what carbon fiber wrap and post-tensioning reinforcement could look like:

SDOT also noted shared a visual showing that some work will be performed from barges, with four temporary platforms. This will reduce the maritime clearance for the bridge by seven feet:

SDOT indicated that this stabilization work would be designed to complement a repair, if that path is chosen.

The Technical Advisory Panel (TAP) also presented to the Community Task Force for the first time.

We learned that one of the members has extensive experience in tunnels, including immersed tube tunnels (e.g. in Boston). As this is a proposal with significant community interest, I’m glad to hear this skill set is reflected in the TAP.

SDOT noted that for replacement, which will be needed regardless of whether a repair is done first, a type, size and location study is the first part of the process. It will involve public comment. The consultant selected through the RFQ process will work with SDOT on this; SDOT indicated it’s too early to say what the schedule for this will be.

Below are the key actions for the TAP, the first item is to review and support the decision-making process for type of repair or not to repair:

SDOT also presented an update on their plans for neighborhood traffic and mobility plans, on the following schedule:

SDOT is calling this the Reconnect West Seattle Mobility Action Plan. It will include specific plans for southern neighborhoods on the peninsula: Roxhill/Highland Park/Riverview/South Delridge, as well as for South Park, Georgetown and SODO. As noted in the schedule, community comment and prioritization is requested when documents are shared the week of July 6. An update to the Community Task Force is scheduled for July 8th, and the 22nd.

Below are some of the neighborhood-specific goals for what SDOT has developed to date:

Here’s a link to the SDOT presentation.

A memo received from the City Budget Office indicates significant shortfalls in revenues, especially from the commercial parking tax and school zone cameras. It notes “SDOT estimates 2020 costs for bridge repair to be $22.8 million. To help fund 2020 costs for emergency repair work, SDOT will take on additional debt supported by an interfund loan in 2020. More funding will be required in 2021 and 2022.”

Travel Times

The most recent travel times show heavy traffic on West Marginal, Highland Park Way, with increases above pre-COVID levels on the South Park Bridge and South Michigan Street. Traffic on the 1st Avenue South Bridge is at pre-COVID levels:

Here are the most recent travel times:

 

Police Accountability Reports and Plans

On Tuesday I held a special Public Safety and Human Services Committee meeting where we heard from the Office of Police Accountability (OPA) and the Office of Inspector General (OIG). These are two of the three legs of the “three legged stool” that make up the city’s police accountability framework, the third is the Community Police Commission (CPC) who unfortunately were unable to attend the meeting.

At the meeting the OPA and OIG updated the Council on their 2019 annual reports, you can read the OPA report here, and the OIG report here. Further the committee discussed the progress on their current investigations regarding the demonstrations. The OPA has a dashboard up here so that you can track their progress on these investigations. The OPA has received over 18,000 complaints of police misconduct since the beginning of the demonstrations in late May which have lead to 17 individual investigations all of which are tracked on the previously linked dashboard. The OIG on the other hand looks at systems instead of individual complaints.  In response to the call for a community led investigation into the actions of SPD, the OIG has begun what’s referred to as a Sentinel Event Review. As outlined on the OIG website:

“Sentinel event review is a systems-based, root cause analysis of incidents with significant negative outcome that is of importance and concern to community. The goal of this review is systemic improvement, and we are seeking to ensure it is grounded in community priorities and perspective, and also informed by law enforcement and relevant subject matter experts. The focus is on system improvement that addresses institutional racism.”

While both the OPA investigations and the OIG Sentinel Event Review will take time, both agencies have put aside other work to ensure expeditious conclusions and accountability of the Seattle Police Department for actions taken during these demonstrations.

After the committee meeting, following up on my questions during committee about whether the decision for all SPD staff to leave the East Precinct was in accordance with SPD policy and procedures, I sent a request for an OPA inquiry into the questions below:

  • 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?

Council Repeals Drug and Prostitution Loitering Legislation

On Monday the City Council voted unanimously to repeal the City of Seattle’s drug loitering and prostitution loitering laws.  The bills were sponsored by Councilmembers Lewis, Pedersen, and Morales.

The 2018 Seattle Reentry Workgroup Report, written in response to Council Resolution 31637, recommended that “City Council should remove drug traffic loitering and prostitution loitering from the City’s criminal code.”

The City Attorney has declined to prosecute under these laws since 2018.  Repeal will ensure that a charge of loitering can no longer be a basis for arrest or future prosecution when there is no evidence otherwise of drug trafficking or sex work.

The 2018 report also recommended expansion of pre-filing diversion. The City Attorney recently sent the Council recommendations to expand the pre-filing diversion program for young adults aged 18-24 used by Choose 180, to include adults 25 and over. I support this expansion. I’ll be proposing to add funding for this expansion during the Council’s current reconsideration of the 2020 budget.

During the Council meeting, I read the introduction to the report, which led to the recommendation to repeal these laws, which says,

“We would like to acknowledge and thank the many individuals and organizations who provided support, expertise, and shared their experiences and wisdom throughout this process. We also recognize those who have been supporting folks returning from incarceration and organizing for institutional change for a very long time. We know that much of that work has been done without compensation or acknowledgment yet done with love and an unyielding commitment to family and community strength. We thank you for that work and hope these recommendations support you. We also acknowledge that the individuals most impacted by the recommendations in this report are unable to join us at the City’s tables, as they are still incarcerated. We did this work in your honor.”

Select Budget Committee Update

Progressive revenue

Last week, I wrote about Budget Chair Mosqueda’s JumpStart legislation, which I am co-sponsoring. JumpStart is a finely-tuned progressive tax, specifically requiring the largest employers to pay a tax only on the highest salaries that are driving our city’s affordability problems.  It’s expected to raise about $173 million in 2021, the first year, and about $200 million annually after that.

JumpStart has a clear spending plan that will make significant impacts on affordable housing, homeless services, help for small businesses, and investments in equitable development initiatives.  In 2020 and 2021, it will provide additional resources for Covid relief.

I am sponsoring an amendment that will begin the tax later this year (instead of next year), raising an additional $75 million to fund lifelines like housing and food assistance that Seattleites are relying on right now, especially those most impacted by coronavirus, including BIPOC communities.

Starting in 2022, JumpStart will provide significant annual funding, estimated at $132 million a year, for housing that is affordable and available to Seattle residents struggling on the very smallest incomes, and folks experiencing homelessness.   It will also put $20 million annually into the Equitable Development Initiative, an important tool for community-driven development in communities at risk of displacement. And it includes about $40 million annually to support local businesses and economic activity to spur the recovery.

The legislation has a “sunset clause,” which means the tax will end after ten years.  It also includes a provision that would allow Council to end the tax early if a similar, progressive tax is passed by the County or State.  Next Wednesday, Council will consider amendments to the legislation.

Seattle Police Department budget “inquest”

Seattle City Council continued its deep dive into understanding the Seattle Police Department at Wednesday’s Select Budget Committee meeting.  We heard a presentation from Council Central Staff, and representatives of the City Budget Office and Seattle Police Department, focused on questions that Councilmembers had identified on June 10th.  You can view the presentation here.

City Council submitted numerous questions to the Seattle Police Department about the demonstrations after the death of George Floyd.  Some of these questions are related to funding questions related to SPD’s budget.  Here’s a link to the replies to Council questions.

In the Budget Committee on Wednesday, we ran out of time to be briefed on a presentation I requested about 911 response (presentation can be found at the link) and the categories of work involved in SPD response.  I made this request in a previous budget committee begin the process of identifying what work currently done by police officers might best be done by other types of professionals.

While it’s a starting point, I’d like to include work beyond just 911 calls, and a clearer sense of what officer work could best be done by others. Here’s an article with a high-level chart for how officers typically spend time in other cities that’s a useful illustration of what will be helpful for policymakers in Seattle.

Mayor’s 2020 budget rebalancing package

On Tuesday, Council received from the Mayor a package of legislation to help address the expected $300 million shortfall in tax revenue due to COVID19 in 2020.  It’s a complex process that will take up much of Council’s energy through the month of July.  On Wednesday, we received an initial, high-level briefing from Director Ben Noble of the City Budget Office on the rebalancing package; you can view that presentation here.

Particularly at a time when Seattle residents are using their voices and bodies to call attention to the way that SPD investments have increased disproportionately over time, and calling on City Council to reshape our community safety function and make investments in Black and brown communities that have suffered and died from overpolicing – we have to resist the urge to cut without intention, and instead choose investments in Seattle residents and communities that will spur the health of our economy, as well as our neighbors and communities.

COVID-19 Updates

Mandatory face masks starting Friday

You’ve likely heard that the Governor has mandated wearing face masks starting on Friday.  Here’s what you need to know.

Governor Inslee has issued a statewide order requiring individuals to wear a face covering in indoor public spaces such as stores, offices and restaurants. The order also requires face coverings outdoors when you can’t stay 6 feet apart from others.  A face covering is not needed outside if you are able to regularly stay 6 feet away from other people who do not live with you.

Use cloth face coverings. Do not use medical masks.

Wear fabric face coverings, such as cloth face masks, scarves, and bandanas. The face covering must fit over your nose and mouth. Instructions on making cloth masks

It is important to save medical-grade surgical masks and N95 respirators for healthcare workers and people who have special health needs.

Some people do not need to follow this directive, including:

  • Children ages 2 years and younger. Babies and toddlers under age two should never wear cloth face coverings.
  • Children ages 3-5 are strongly encouraged to wear a face covering when possible.
  • Anyone with a disability that makes it hard for them to wear or remove a face covering.
  • Anyone who is deaf and moves their face and mouth to communicate. Check out this guidance for community members who are deaf, hard or hearing, or blind.
  • Anyone who has been advised by a medical professional to not wear a face covering because of personal health issues.
  • Anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, or unable to remove the face covering without help.

If you see someone without a face covering, please extend the benefit of the doubt and respect others’ decisions. No one should be subjected to stigmatization, bias or discrimination for wearing or not wearing a face covering. Default to understanding rather than judgement.

In addition to face coverings, the most important things we can do to protect our health and that of others are:

  • Maintain six feet of distance from others
  • Stay home when ill
  • Practice frequent hand washing and respiratory etiquette (cough in your elbow, not the air)
  • Disinfect surfaces often.

These all work together to slow the spread of COVID – especially when the majority of people participate.

Extension of Moratorium on Rental Evictions

On June 18 the Mayor issued an Executive Order to extend the relief policies that have been put into place during the Covid-19 public health crisis. The Executive Order extends the moratoriums on residential, nonprofit, and small business evictions through August 1. This means that unless there’s an immediate threat to health and safety of the community, landlords cannot move to terminate or evict a tenant. If you’ve received a termination or eviction notice, please reach out to Renting in Seattle at 206‐684‐5700 or go online to submit a complaint. For additional resources available to renters, please see this link.

Tired of social isolation?  The City has new resources for seniors

Social isolation is a major problem for older people in the best of times, and worse during COVID19. The City’s Aging & Disability Service (ADS) serves residents who fall squarely within the high-risk category for COVID-19—age 60+; those with chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, or lung disease; people with compromised immune systems; and people with health disparities.

ADS and partners have taken steps to address social isolation, including:

  • ADS produced printed cards for food and meal deliveries that promote Community Living Connections and AARP’s Friendly Voices service
    • Any older adult or caregiver can call Community Living Connections to access resources. All calls are free and confidential: 1-844-348-5464.
    • Friendly Voices arranges calls between older adults and trained AARP volunteers for social connection. Request a call at https://aarpcommunityconnections.org/friendly-voices/ or 1-888-281-0145.
  • Age Friendly Seattle now offers a weekly online program, Thursdays 10:30 a.m.  Log in at https://bit.ly/AgeFriendlyLive.
    • Programs are either a virtual Civic Coffee Hour or a new series called Close to Home: Stories of Health, Tech & Resilience.
    • Live events are fully auto-captioned in English and six other languages, using MS Teams. The captions remain options for anyone who views the programs later on the ADS YouTube channel. This helps serve people who are hard of hearing as well as people with limited English.
  • Look for new programming called “AgeWise TV” on Seattle Channel at http://www.seattlechannel.org/feature-shows/agewise-tv. ADS supported a partnership between the Pike Market Senior Center, Seattle Channel, and other senior centers and community organizations to develop ten one-hour programs for older people.
Share


Today is Juneteenth; Legislation on Crowd Control Weapons, Chokeholds, and Badge Display; West Seattle Bridge Update June 19; Budget Committee Update; COVID Update

June 19th, 2020

Today is Juneteenth

On Wednesday, I joined my City Council colleagues in unanimously approving a proclamation recognizing today, June 19th, as Juneteenth.  Juneteenth commemorates the day in 1865 when enslaved African-Americans in Texas first learned that slavery had been abolished two and a half years earlier by the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation.   The first Juneteenth celebration was held in Texas a year later.  In part, the proclamation reads:

WHEREAS, for Black people in this country, Juneteenth is the closest occasion of a “freedom day” to celebrate;

WHEREAS, the struggle for the total freedom of Black people has not been achieved, the gains toward that freedom deserved to be named; and…

WHEREAS, in Seattle, Juneteenth will be observed in people’s homes, neighborhoods, and hearts; and

WHEREAS, there are still many vestiges of slavery that persist and we as country have a long way to go until we reach full economic and social equity, and an to end anti-blackness;

NOW, THEREFORE, we, the Seattle City Council, proclaim and recognize June 19, 2020, as JUNETEENTH in Seattle, honoring its historic importance, acknowledging the work still to come, and encouraging all residents to join us in its celebration, because Freedom is worth celebrating.

Legislation on Crowd Control Weapons, Chokeholds, and Badge Display

Last week, I wrote about CB 119804 banning Seattle police from using chokeholds, and CB 119805 banning Seattle police from owning or using crowd control weapons such as teargas and rubber bullets.  On Monday, both bills passed as amended.  I sponsored amendments to ensure that the Department of Justice received notice of the legislation per the requirements of the federal consent decree that the City of Seattle is under; requiring that mutual aid agreements with other jurisdictions include language banning use of crowd control weapons for crowd dispersal; and requesting a formal recommendation on crowd control weapons by mid-August from the City’s police accountability organizations, as required by the Council’s 2017 accountability ordinance.  All three of my amendments passed unanimously.

The Council also adopted legislation I sponsored to require police officers to display the numbers on their badges.

The legislation was drafted in response to constituent outcry from constituents who indicated that officer badge numbers were not visible during recent demonstrations.

People in Seattle have the right to expect that badge numbers are clearly visible. This law requires it.

West Seattle Bridge Update June 19

On Wednesday the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force met for the second time.

SDOT indicated, for the first time, that their analysis to date shows the West Seattle Bridge can be repaired. Right after hearing this, I asked for clarification. SDOT indicated their radar analysis in the ground showed no fatal flaws, though they did note this is their analysis to date, not their final recommendation, and studies with their consultant continue.

At this point, in short, the key questions are:

  1. Can the bridge be repaired?
  2. If so, how many years could it be in use?
  3. How much would it cost?

In other words, if the bridge can be kept in use, whether it makes sense depends on the cost. SDOT’s chart below shows the path toward repair or replacement beginning with a decision point during the summer:

At the Community Task Force meeting next Wednesday, SDOT will present a proposal for expanding use of the lower bridge, currently restricted to freight, transit, and emergency vehicles.

I’ve advocated for additional users being allowed. For example,  general use during non-peak hours such as overnight, and allowing employer shuttles, van pools and school buses during peak times (I.e. treating them as transit).

The Technical Advisory Panel will present to the task force next week as well.

At the meeting this week SDOT noted goals for managing traffic in 2021, when traffic could increase in line with Governor Inslee’s Safe Start Washington phased reopening plan. Here’s a slide showing how people got around in 2019, and the impact of using the same travel patterns without the West Seattle Bridge:

SDOT’s draft approach for the task force’s consideration shows goals for 2021, and the number of commuters that would need to change in order to meet the goals, without the traffic and transit lanes of the West Seattle Bridge:

Below are outstanding questions my office has in to SDOT:

  • Has any investigation of the dimensions and locations of the current bridge elements been conducted and compared to the dimensions and locations of the bridge immediately after it was built to ensure that movement of the bridge foundations did not contribute to the cracking in the box girders? Has SDOT determined the foundation isn’t or hasn’t moved?
  • The May 15th WSP memo describes several potential modes of failure. Is it not possible to protect against loss of the mid-span concrete by installing additional steel reinforcing bars inside the box girder across the cracked concrete and yielded reinforcing steel to compensate for the loss of strength by the existing steel bars?  This would afford, at least, a temporary protection against the effects of a failure of the bridge to support its own weight.  This might also be part of a permanent repair solution.
  • Past technical discussions (HDR 2014) have concluded that the exact cause of the cracking could not be determined analytically. Is it viable to move forward with a solution without reaching a conclusion about the cause of the current problems?

I’ve also asked for an update about weekly growth of cracks on the West Seattle Bridge. SDOT is gathering this data, and indicates context is important for interpreting what it means.

King County Metro announced they will be adding Water Taxi service starting on Monday, and restoring shuttle Routes 773 and 775 that link to the water taxi.

Traffic volumes continue to be high on West Marginal and Highland Park, and moving above pre-COVID levels on the South Park Bridge, and South Michigan Street in Georgetown on the way to I-5:

Travel times are shown below:

Budget Committee Update

On Wednesday the Budget Committee held meetings during both the morning and afternoon.

During the morning session, Councilmembers heard about Budget Chair Mosqueda’s JumpStart Seattle progressive revenue proposal. Here’s a link to the Central Staff presentation with additional information. The legislation presented in committee provides for rate structures for a payroll tax as follows: for total business payrolls from $7 million to $1 billion 0.7% on total employee compensation from $150,000 to $499,999, and 1.4% on employee compensation of $500,000 or more; and for businesses with payrolls of $1 billion, 1.4% tax on compensation from $150,000 to $499,999, and 2.1% on compensation of $500,000 or more.

The legislation exempts grocery stores and some other entities the city does not have authority to tax.

The overall spending plan includes $86 million in 2020 from the emergency and revenue stabilization funds for COVID-19 relief. The revenue stabilization fund is for revenue shortfalls, which Seattle is experiencing; the emergency fund allows for use in response to epidemics.

This is a finely-tuned progressive tax that specifically requires the largest employers to pay only on the highest salaries that are driving our city’s affordability problems, with spending to addressing affordable housing, homeless services, help for small businesses and investments in equitable development initiatives.

The afternoon session included a discussion with City Councilmembers from Minneapolis, New York City, Austin, and San Francisco about other cities’ approaches to police budgets, and potential cuts, or proposals to lay out a new path for public safety.

COVID Update

King County is Now in Phase 2 – What does that mean?
Limited social gatherings may be held with five or fewer people outside your household. Restaurants, retailers and other businesses can once again serve customers. Most businesses will be required to operate at reduced capacity and hours, and all will be required to follow state guidelines designed to ensure the health and safety of employees and customers. These call for social distancing, regular hand washing and, with few exceptions, wearing cloth masks.

King County Public Health has a helpful webpage that can answer your questions.  And if you’re a business owner confused about the rules you must follow, you can call the King County COVID-19 Business and Community Information line: (206) 296-1608.

New Parks Guidance & Amenities Reopening

Visiting your neighborhood park this weekend?  Seattle Parks and Recreation has issued new guidance to “Keep It Small and Simple.”  Park visitors may enjoy trails, walking paths, and lawns, but must refrain from large gatherings, large sport games, or parties.  Some amenities are reopening.  Here are additional details:

Reserving athletic fields: You can make your field reservations now for practices starting July 1.  Organizations must commit to operating consistent with the Governor’s guidance.

Boat ramps: All boat ramps will be open to the public by June 20. Social distancing at boat ramps and when out on the water is still critical. Additional details on boat ramps here.

Swimming: Select swimming areas will reopen with lifeguards present daily starting July 1.  Indoor and outdoor pools, wading pools and spray parks will remain closed for the summer. While the Governor has permitted pool use in phase 1.5 with very limited capacity, Seattle Parks and Recreation previously decided to focus staff resources to provide outdoor lifeguarded swimming areas for summer 2020. Fall aquatic programming will be announced in August.

Amenities: Outdoor tennis and basketball courts, disc golf, community gardens and skate parks are now open for public use. Maintenance crews will be reinstalling nets and hoops over the next few weeks. No more than five people should be on the court at a time, players should refrain from sharing sports equipment, and give each other six-feet of social distance while recreating.

Facilities that remain closed:

  • Play areas and playgrounds
  • Picnic shelters
  • Fire pits
  • Wading pools and indoor/ outdoor pools
  • Spray parks (currently prohibited)
  • Community centers programs
  • For a full list visit the blog

And as always, these are the most important things you can do to keep us all safe and healthy:

  • practice physical distancing of 6 feet or more
  • frequent hand washing or sanitizer use
  • use of cloth face coverings in public for those who are able
  • avoiding group gatherings and poorly ventilated spaces.

 

Premium Pay for Food Delivery Drivers

I wrote about this premium pay for essential workers a couple of weeks ago – this Monday the Council passed the legislation. The final version of the legislation grants a $2.50 per drop off fee to food delivery drivers in the city of Seattle after negotiations Councilmember Lewis and I led with stakeholders. These workers are essential much like grocery store workers, and yet they were not being compensated for the risk they are taking in doing this work during this pandemic. Furthermore these workers were not being compensated for their time or for the supplies necessary to clean their vehicles between trips.

This legislation was passed under the authority of the Mayor’s emergency proclamation and goes into effect immediately and will remain until that emergency proclamation is rescinded.

Speak up for the arts

Calling all arts and culture champions:  The Inspiration League is a simple and quick way for individuals to amplify the voice of the cultural community for lawmakers to hear as they are developing public policy and appropriating relief funding. Across the state, valuable science, heritage, and arts organizations are struggling to survive and many cultural workers are unemployed. Get involved here to ensure the voices of the cultural communities are heard, and resources are invested in long term recovery.

 

Public Meeting July 1st for Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook Seawall Project

The Seattle District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded a $3 million contract September 27, 2019 to Redside Construction to replace an existing, 500-foot-long seawall Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook, 4503 Beach Dr. SW, Seattle, WA 98116, that was constructed in the 1920s and has experienced significant erosion and damage from storm events.

You can attend a public meeting on Wednesday, July 1st at 4pm, via your phone or online.  Learn more and find instructions to join the meeting here.   The West Seattle Blog covered the first public meeting earlier this week.

The construction contractor, Bainbridge Island-based Redside Construction, will begin staging equipment soon. It’s anticipated pre-staging will help avoid delays caused by the West Seattle Bridge closure. Redside Construction could start pre-staging equipment and close public access to the park as early as June 22. Construction is still set to begin early-July.

In the first week of staging, residents will see the installation of no parking signs and detours as well as fencing around the construction site. Temporary office trailers and steel piles for the seawall construction will also begin to arrive. Additional construction materials and a crane will be delivered by the end of the third week.

Share


Demonstrations in Seattle in Response to Police Brutality and Policing; West Seattle Bridge Update, June 12; Budget Committee Meeting and Rebalancing Package; Virtual Office Hours

June 13th, 2020

Demonstrations in Seattle in Response to Police Brutality and Policing

In the wake of the murder of George Floyd, and the deaths of countless other black and brown people at the hands of law enforcement before Mr. Floyd, demonstrations continue in Seattle and all over the nation.  The demands for change have spurred a conversation about the history of law enforcement in this country as a slave catching institution and enforcer of Jim Crow laws and what the future of this institution should be given that history.  In light of those national conversations, the police response to demonstrations over the last nearly three weeks, and the disparities in law enforcement we see here in Seattle, I am resolved to do all that I can do to center black voices in our efforts on the Seattle City Council.

I want to recognize the many demonstrations in support of black lives in District 1, including several throughout West Seattle, from the Black Lives Matter event in the Junction last weekend, to Hate Free Delridge’s numerous events, protests on the South Park Bridge, a student-led event at West Seattle High School, in White Center with students marching from Chief Sealth High School, and the Peace Peloton bike ride, to name just some of the events.

It’s my sincere hope that we as a society will truly reach for transformative change, and we must do so here in Seattle as well.

Below are a number of updates about what’s been happening at City Hall during the last week, and votes scheduled for Monday.

Badges

On Monday the Council will vote on legislation I am sponsoring to require officers to display their badge numbers, while allowing mourning bands to observe the death of officers on a different part of the badge. After I announced that I was drafting legislation, Chief Best issued a directive to all officers to display their badge numbers, while wearing mourning bands. I appreciate her order, and believe it needs to be adopted into city law.

Inquests

On Monday, I circulated a letter that Councilmembers signed asking the City Attorney to withdraw the civil petition challenging a reformed process for inquests developed by King County Executive Constantine.  The City Attorney withdrew the petition the next day.  I thank him for taking this action.

The City Attorney notes that Washington state lacks a consistent statewide inquest process; Pierce County doesn’t have inquests at all, so there will be no inquest for Manuel Ellis. I requested the City’s Office of Intergovernmental Relations to add the need to lobby for legislation like this to the City’s Legislative Agenda.

Last weekend King County Executive Constantine called on cities, including Seattle, to withdraw lawsuits against King County inquest reforms developed with the families of Tommy Le, Che Taylor, John T Williams, and Charleena Lyles as well as community groups like the Community Police Commission and others. The reformed inquest process was supposed to be put in place in 2019. In January 2018, Executive Constantine put all inquests on hold pending the review process.

There are currently nine pending inquests that can’t go forward because of the lawsuits opposing the reforms: Isaiah Obet; Damarius Butts; Eugene Nelson; Tommy Le; Charleena Lyles; Curtis Elroy Tade; Robert J. Lightfeather; Mitchell O. Nelson ,and Marcelo A. Castellano.

The Community Police Commission has taken a number of stances in support of inquest reforms, including participation in the inquest process review committee, and a statement of support for the reforms,  which took several months and involved affected families, many concerned King County residents, and solicited input from police agencies and lawyers for police unions. That process ultimately culminated in a package of reforms that found widespread approval from a coalition of community organizations, a police union, and the inquest reform panel.

For many years, the inquest system operated functionally to legitimize and immunize all deaths in police custody.  The County Executive convened a distinguished and balanced panel to lead a community-wide conversation about possible reforms to the inquest process.

Body cameras

The Mayor issued an executive order directing police officers assigned to work demonstrations to activate body-worn cameras at protests and demonstrations. This was requested by community groups and protestors to improve accountability during the ongoing demonstrations.

Letter to Mayor/Chief

I joined a number of local elected officials in signing a letter last weekend to the Mayor and Police Chief.

The Open Public Meetings Act does not allow for a majority of Councilmembers to sign the letter outside of a public meeting; I circulated the letter at Monday’s Full Council meeting to allow other Councilmembers to sign.

The letter firmly requested the Mayor and Chief to direct SPD to change tactics, to take urgent and sustained action to de-escalate police tactics used in daily protests, and noting tactics are placing constitutional rights at risk; exacerbating health risks amidst a devastating respiratory epidemic; bringing emotional trauma and racial aggression; it notes that “deploying police in riot gear to form a wall of officers positioned against peaceful protestors is not conducive to de-escalation and healing”.

The letter includes a commitment to 1) de-militarize the police, 2) further restrict use of excessive or deadly force by police, 3) increase accountability and transparency in police union contracts, 4) give subpoena and other investigative powers to independent oversight boards and 5) redirect police department funding to community-based alternatives.

The Council has taken actions in recent years to promote these objectives; we must do more.

  1. De-militarize the police

In 2017 I sponsored legislation that created a new section 3.28.140 of the Seattle Municipal Code which states “The Seattle Police Department shall not participate in the United States Department of Defense 1033 program authorized by Congress under Section 1033 of the National Defense Authorization Act (codified at 10 U.S.C. §2576(a)) or its successor, or any other federal program that transfers excess military equipment to civilian law enforcement agencies at reduced or no cost.” To their credit, SPD had already stopped participating in this program, though I believed it was important to enact this into law.

The Council will be using the June/July budget process to further scrutinize investments in SPD related to this demand (more below).

  1. Use of excessive or deadly force by police

On Monday, City Council will consider legislation sponsored by Councilmember Sawant that will restrict Seattle Police Department officers’ use of dangerous tactics and weapons.  CB 119804 would prohibit officers from using chokeholds, including neck restraints or carotid restraints, in the discharge of their duties.  According to the Seattle Police Manual, a chokehold is considered force that causes or is reasonably expected to cause, great bodily harm, substantial bodily harm, loss of consciousness, or death.  CB 119805 would ban Seattle Police Department from owning, purchasing, renting, storing, or using “crowd control” weapons that are designed to cause pain or discomfort.  This would include items that have been used against protestors over the past two weeks, including rubber bullets, flashbangs, tear gas, and other chemical irritants. Pepper spray would be allowed, but could not be used in a demonstration, rally, or other First Amendment-protected event.

  1. Accountability and transparency bargaining police union contracts

I’ve been working on the transparency requests from the three accountability bodies included in the legislation adopted about bargaining with the Seattle Police Guild in February.  We will have advisors with expertise in police accountability to guide the city in bargaining this year.

  1. Subpoena Power

The Council’s 2017 accountability legislation included subpoena powers for the Office of Police Accountability and the Inspector General. This is mentioned in the resolution I sponsored in February   about bargaining with the Seattle Police Guild as a priority for all three of Seattle’s police accountability bodies.  Specifically, the OIG called for the City to “preserve subpoena power as achieved in the SPMA contract,” the OPA called for the City to “strengthen and clarify subpoena authority and the process for how subpoenas are to be issued and enforced,” and the CPC called for the City to ensure that subpoena authority for OPA and OIG is aligned with the SPOG.

On Monday, I announced that I would be introducing legislation to create a process to allow the Office of Police Accountability and the Office of the Inspector General to use subpoena power to require that uncooperative individuals who have not been forthcoming in responding to requests for information: “produce any records or documents, or for the attendance and testimony of witnesses to give evidence.”

  1. Funding for Police

The Council has taken in recent years is to create a Community Service Officer (or CSO) program that went into effect this year.

CSOs assist with mediating disputes, follow up on calls for non-emergency services, help residents navigate services, support programming for at-risk youth, and attend school and community-hosted events. Some of the work involves assisting homeless persons and individuals struggling with substance abuse to access programs like diversion opportunities, housing, and behavioral health services.  One study shows that law enforcement spends 21 percent of its time responding to and transporting people with mental illnesses.

As noted in the press release announcing the jobs, “SPD seeks to fill the open CSO positions with individuals from demographic groups currently underrepresented in the Police department, including elders, immigrants, and individuals with past involvement in the criminal justice system.”

When the job applications were posted, the response was overwhelming, with more than a 1,000 people applying, eager to participate in a different model.

There is more information about the Council’s efforts to redirect police department funding to community-based alternatives in a separate article at the end of this blog post in the Budget Committee article.

 

West Seattle Bridge Update, June 12

SDOT released a decision tree about the path forward for resolving the closure of the West Seattle Bridge. The starting point is a decision during the summer about whether a repair is feasible, based on bridge structural testing, including core samples taken from the bridge last weekend to test the corrosion of steel.

One path in the chart leads to repair, with opening as soon as 2022, with a lifespan of up to 10 years. In this path, the bridge would still need to be replaced around 2032.

The second path leads first to replacement, with controlled demolition.  SDOT estimates that a new bridge could take roughly four to six years, opening approximately 2024-2026, depending on the type, size and location of replacement.

The bridge will need to be stabilized and strengthened for both options, before work can proceed. SDOT says,

“Again, we will know more as to whether or not repairs are feasible later this summer, once we complete our analysis on the structural stability of the bridge. Any decisions before then would be imprudent, but has and will not preclude our efforts to prepare for all pivots that data might suggest.” 

The decision tree also notes that if the Repair pathway is chosen, changing circumstances may lead to moving to the Replace path. Repair could potentially mean fewer lanes of traffic than the bridge carried before.

As I mentioned in last week’s blog post, after SDOT released their Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for design of a replacement for the bridge, I requested clarification from SDOT whether the RFQ would allow for a tunnel option, since the RFQ did not specifically reference a bridge as the only replacement option for the West Seattle Bridge.

SDOT revised the Request for Proposals released last week that specifically notes a tunnel, and coordinated options with Sound Transit, as follows:

 Purpose and Background to include the following statement:

Other replacement alternatives will be evaluated as part of the contract, and will include but may not limited to tunnel and Sound Transit coordinated options.

SDOT held the first meeting of the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force. At this meeting the members introduced themselves and their backgrounds, and the neighborhoods they live in, and SDOT went over the project at a high level with information previously public. Here’s the Project Milestones timeline they shared at the meeting with actions through 2021:

The second meeting will be next Wednesday.

Here’s an update on the most recent traffic data; traffic remains high on West Marginal, and Highland Park Way.

Below are recent travel times, by time of day:

Here’s a graph showing vehicle traffic volumes since early February:


Budget Committee Meeting and Rebalancing Package

On Wednesday the Budget Committee met and began an inquest into Seattle Police Department’s (SPD) budget. Council Central Staff presented a detailed analysis of SPD’s budget which totals just over $409 million. 75% of SPD’s budget is dedicated to salaries and benefits plus another 7% for overtime. Over the next several weeks I and the rest of Council will be taking a forensic look at SPD’s budget and having a conversation about the hiring goals and whether reliance on growing the size of the department is the best way to make our city safer.  Most importantly, we will commit to reinvesting these funds into people and communities most harmed by historical involvement with law enforcement – black and brown people and communities.

Then Dallas Police Chief Brown noted in 2016, “Every societal failure, we put it on the cops to solve,” several days after a sniper killed five officers in his city.

“Not enough mental-health funding, let the cop handle it. Not enough drug-addiction funding, let’s give it to the cops,” he said. “Schools fail, give it to the cops. That’s too much to ask. Policing was never meant to solve all those problems. I just ask other parts of our democracy along with the free press to help us.”

Some are demanding that the Council defund the SPD, which could mean a lot of different things, one specific target is 50%.  Others are demanding that we dismantle the police department.  For instance in Camden New Jersey a few years ago, they relieved all officers of duty, including the Chief, and made them all reapply to the new department.

Though the Council will be looking for cuts to make in the SPD budget to reallocate community-based alternatives, we can’t just flips a switch and then have no police. For instance, in Minneapolis they have committed to a one year process; they aren’t abolishing the police department today.  Minneapolis City Council members are saying they will gradually “dismantle” the department and replace it with one that uses health-care workers and social workers instead of police officers to respond to substance abuse, homelessness or mental-health calls. Violence prevention would be the work of community-based counselors.

What I hope we can have is a systematic questioning of the specific roles that police currently undertake, and then develop evidence-based alternatives so that we can dial back our reliance on them, and identify the most effective public safety approaches.

For instance, we should do an analysis of 911 calls to see how many of them are for mental health distress, overdose, social disorder, or simply filing out a police report after a theft (work that often happens many hours after the crime itself) to determine whether we need SPD response in all cases, or would social workers or substance abuse disorder professionals, CSOs, experts in dispute resolution, or other professionals be more appropriate?

In response to a youth protest Friday, and the position of the Seattle teachers’ union, the Seattle Education Association, the Seattle School Board has expressed an intention to end the practice of having armed “school emphasis officers” stationed across Seattle schools: South Shore PK-8, Aki Kurose Middle School, Denny International Middle School and Washington Middle School.  The School District ending the use of these officers could allow the City to stop providing funding for these officers.

The Budget committee also discussed Councilmembers Morales’ and Sawant’s revenue package. There are three bills included in this legislative package: the tax itself, an interfund loan (IFL), and the spending plan. According to central staff the tax would raise $500 million annually via a 1.3% tax on business payrolls of $7 million or more annually. The bill exempts grocery stores and businesses with payrolls below the $7 million threshold.

As I’ve previously written about before, the city is facing an estimated $300 million shortfall for 2020 according to the City Budget Office. The Budget Committee was set to hear a proposed budget package from the Mayor to address this shortfall, but the legislation was delayed by the Mayor for at least one week to make further adjustments before proposing the package to Council.

Wednesday’s Budget Committee meeting kicked off a six-week budget process where the Council will be meeting on Wednesdays regularly through July 15 and is aiming to have a Public Hearing on the rebalancing package on June 23 at 5pm.

 

Virtual Office Hours

On Friday June 26, I will be hosting virtual office hours between 3pm and go until 6pm, with the last meeting of the day beginning at 5:30pm.

Due to the nature of virtual office hours, you will need to contact my schedule Alex Clardy (alex.clardy@seattle.gov) in order to receive the call-in information and schedule a time. We will be using Skype for Business, and you can either utilize the application or the dial-in number.

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

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

 

Share


Murder of George Floyd and Demonstrations in Seattle; West Seattle Bridge Update: June 5; COVID Response Funds Available for Community-Based Organizations – Apply by Tuesday 6/9 ; New COVID Testing Capacity in Seattle, with Sites Sought for a West Seattle location; Don Armeni Boat Launch Re-Opens; Emergency Heliports to be Tested at Two West Seattle Parks; Essential Pay for Essential Workers; May Constituent Email Report

June 5th, 2020

Murder of George Floyd and Demonstrations in Seattle

This nation has a long and proud history of protest for change; and an even longer history of racial injustice and institutionalized, racialized violence, especially towards Black men and women.  The protests we are experiencing in Seattle, and seeing around the country, are the result of those histories, sparked by the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.  It’s important that we put these protests in that context: that Black men and women have disproportionately suffered and died at the hands of law enforcement in Seattle, and across the country. And that protesters are pleading not just for justice for George Floyd, but for an end to police violence against Black men and women here in Seattle, and across our country.

I was with many of fellow Seattleites at Not This Time’s event at Westlake on Saturday protesting the murder of George Floyd and generations of harm done to black communities and black people at the hands of law enforcement. The stirring words of rage and sorrow of the many voices lifted Saturday were a lament to the failures of a nation – built by black and brown people – to deliver justice in law enforcement, deliver economic equality, and deliver educational equity.

I have heard many say over the last few days that embracing protest does not have to constrain our rights from expressing rage, sorrow, and heartbreak.  It must not.

Last Saturday, I learned from the Mayor’s Office at 4:57pm about the 5pm curfew, and talked to as many protestors as I could.   That evening when I got home, I contacted Council President González and we decided that we needed to publicly issue a request to the Mayor’s Office, Chief Carmen Best, and Chief Harold Scoggins to brief the City Council and provide updates regarding the number of injuries and arrests, as well as the health and safety impacts.

We asked for a detailed after-action and incident report including details specific to rifles stolen, police vehicles destroyed, damage to property and to the Interstate as a result of the demonstration.  We requested a review of whether the policies for policing of demonstrations in the SPD Policy and Procedures Manual, following implementation of recommendations of the Community Police Commission, were followed.

I convened a meeting of the Public Safety and Human Services Committee on Wednesday. You can view the meeting on the Seattle Channel committee archive.

The meeting included public comment, and three panels: a community panel, Executive departments, and Seattle’s civilian-led accountability bodies. I encourage you to listen to the community panel.   The participants included:

  • Willard Jamison of United Better Thinking: working with youth and young adults who are unserved by traditional service providers.
  • Omari Salisbury with Converge Media a leading producer of culturally relevant audio and media content.
  • Netsie Tjirongo, a filmmaker, community organizer and member of the Seattle Film Task Force.
  • Dominique Davis of Community Passageways, a felony diversion and prevention program leading the way in reimaging and recreating an alternative to today’s criminal justice system.
  • Evana Enabulele of Queer the Land a collaborative project grounded in the self-determination of queer and trans Black/indigenous/people of color (QTBIPOC)

I’d like to thank the panelists on all three panels for their participation on short notice.

Andrew Myerberg, the Director of the Office of Police Accountability, which is responsible for investigating complaints about officer conduct, noted they have received 15,000 complaints (a number are about the same incidents), especially regarding a young girl who was pepper sprayed, as well as numerous complaints regarding flash-bangs and tear gas. OPA is seeking to address as many complaints w/in 60 days as possible. They have delayed work on other complaints, and will be 100% focused on this; the Seattle Police Management Association and the Seattle Police Officer’s Guild have agreed to toll other cases for 30 days, for which I thank them.

OPA is issuing updates on its press release page and twitter feed.

Inspector General Judge noted the Office of the Inspector General is undertaking a systems-based, root cause analysis of recent demonstrations response by SPD. The OIG say it is “OIG is committed to making this a community-centered process” and lists how to comment about this here.

CPC Co-Chair Dave, in response to a Council question about the city’s accountability structure, noted that the promise of the 2017 accountability legislation has not been realized, and other comments noted below.

The Council asked a number of questions for the executive, some of which come from the presenters; SPD published a timeline of events of May 30th.

I have heard from constituents about a number of issues: use of tear gas and blast balls; curfews; badge visibility; the consent decree with the US Department of Justice, police accountability, the labor contract with police officers, use of force, body worn video, and the city budget. I’ll seek to provide information about each below.

Use of tear gas and blast balls:

SPD has policies regarding crowd management. The policies require advance warning before using pepper spray (“OC spray”) or blast balls, but note this requirement is “as feasible.”

The policy states “When feasible, officers will not deploy blast balls and OC spray until a dispersal order has been issued to the crowd and the crowd has been given a reasonable amount of time to comply.”

Constituents have raised this issue, as well as the use of tear gas; during the committee meeting, CPC Co-Chair Prachi Dave also raised the issue of how this was being applied. I also said I was concerned that the references to the “if feasible” language in Chief Best’s response to questions about adherence to this policy was applied in a way that was overbroad.

During public testimony at the committee meeting, a Capitol Hill resident testified (as noted in Councilmember Mosequeda’s tweet” testified that his 3 month old son woke up coughing, spitting out mucus. He and his wife fled the neighborhood with their child.

Others note that we are still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is disproportionately affecting communities of color. Dr Jeffery Duchin tweeted,

“Public Health – Seattle & King Co opposes the use of tear gas & other respiratory irritants based on the potential to increase COVID-19 spread”.

Councilmember Mosqueda and I asked the CPC, OPA, and OIG for emergency recommendations regarding use of tear gas in demonstrations.

Today the three accountability bodies issued a joint letter to the Mayor and Chief requesting that

“the Seattle Police Department to cease the use of CS gas in response to First Amendment activity, until such time as any appropriate use can be vetted by oversight entities and incorporated into a written SPD policy. That policy should include sufficient safeguards so that CS gas is only used, if at all, in a manner that keeps faith with the public trust.”

The letter notes “The SPD manual does not reference the use of CS gas nor the conditions under which it can be used for general crowd control.”

I support this recommendation; the letter includes additional valuable information.

The Community Police Commission issued a letter in 2015 regarding SPD response to Post-Ferguson and Black Lives Matter demonstrations that mentioned police on blast ball usage required immediate review, and another in 2016, stating, “we reiterate the need we identified in May 2015 for a structured conversation in which the police and community members may together explore these issues. We again offer to convene that conversation unless an alternate forum is provided by the Council or other City leaders. Following that dialogue, we likely will offer recommendations for the use of blast-balls and the appropriate use of de-escalation tactics in crowd management situations. Until this can occur, we ask that the use of blast balls as a crowd management tool be suspended.”

It’s clear we need a broader community conversation about use of tear gas and blast balls. I raised this with the Chief when we spoke yesterday.

Curfews:

Council President González and I contacted the Mayor on Tuesday to express our concern about the lack of stated tactical objectives delineated in the Emergency Order being served by a curfew, and a we requested a description of describe tactical objectives of declarations. The Council has the right to confirm, modify or deny emergency orders.  Tuesday afternoon the Mayor issued another Citywide curfew to run through Saturday morning.

On Wednesday evening, shortly before a meeting notice was to go out for the Council to consider the most recent curfew (24 hours notice is required for Council action) the Mayor indicated her intent to withdraw the curfew notice. I thank her for revising her previous decision.

Badge visibility:

Earlier this week I announced my intent to introduce legislation to require officers to display their badge numbers, while allowing mourning bands to observe the death of officers on a different part of the badge. The legislation will be introduced on Monday.

Subsequently, Chief Best issued a directive to all officers to display their badge numbers, while wearing mourning bands. I appreciate her order, and believe it needs to be adopted into city law. After the 1999 WTO protests in Seattle, people noted they could not view the nametags of officers; Councilmember Steinbrueck sponsored legislation to require display of name tags.

SPD policy on uniforms complies with the 2000 legislation. It also statesOfficers may wear the Seattle Police Honor Guard mourning badge in accordance with: 3.170-Honoring Those Killed in the Line of Duty.” This calls for a Mourning Band “affixed horizontally across the center of the badge.” That’s where the badge number is, so in accord with this the policy will need to be updated.

Consent Decree, Accountability, Labor Contract

The Consent Decree, police accountability, and the contract between the city of Seattle and police labor unions are all interrelated.

The City of Seattle and the Department of Justice entered into a Consent Decree and MOU in 2012 after the DOJ found excessive use of force in 2011 in response to a 2010 request letter from a number of community groups.

A federal monitor was appointed to oversee the consent decree process, and issued ten systemic assessment reports on topics such as use of force, stops, search and seizure, early intervention, crisis intervention, community confidence, and other reports on the use of force.

In 2017 the Council adopted the accountability ordinance, after receiving authorization from the federal judge overseeing the consent decree. Accountability had not been explicitly included in the Consent Decree.

Under state labor law, public employees have the right to collectively bargain their working conditions. Consequently, some of the provisions in the accountability ordinance must be approved in collective bargaining agreements with the labor unions representing officers (Seattle Police Officers Guild, or SPOG) and management (Seattle Police Management Association, or SPMA).  These agreements must be negotiated with the unions.

The agreement with SPMA says “the City may implement the Accountability Ordinance.”  The agreement with SPOG includes some provisions of the accountability ordinance, but not others. CPC Co-Chair Dave noted that is why the promise of the 2017 ordinance has not been fully realized.

Labor contracts are starkly different than other legislation the Council votes on; they must be approved up or down; no amendments are allowed.

The process for contract negotiations has placed Councilmembers at a severe disadvantage. Labor Relations, in the executive branch of government, conducts negotiations. Five Councilmember participate in the Labor Relations Policy Committee (LRPC) to plan and adopt the strategy or position to be taken by the City during negotiations. Negotiations are legally confidential.

However, in the past once negotiations began the five Councilmembers have received only monthly updates, which allows for only high-level briefings. This placed Councilmembers at a significant disadvantage, because Labor Relations has the power to conclude an agreement, which the Council then must vote on, up or down, without amendment.

The City Council is required to hold a public hearing before beginning negotiations with SPMA and SPOG, and Councilmember González held public hearings in the committee overseeing public safety late last year; the contracts expire at the end of 2020.

Earlier this year I became chair of the Public Safety and Human Services Committee, and sponsored a resolution regarding collective bargaining with SPOG, which included letters from the three accountability bodies, and states the City will consider in good faith whether and how to carry out the recommendations from the public.

The letters from the three accountability bodies included recommendations for external advisors for negotiations; while the recommendations differ slightly, they include assisting the city while bargaining, to build community trust, and report to the community afterwards, to the extent possible, considering Confidentiality requirements.

The five Councilmembers on the Labor Relations Policy Committee (LRPC) are working to incorporate these recommendations into the negotiations, including greater Council awareness of what is taking place in negotiations.  City work in advance of negotiations has been delayed due to the COVID 19 pandemic.

Two years ago Judge Robart found the city in compliance with the terms of the Consent Decree, and a required two-year sustainment period then began as a precondition for the City to be fully released. Robart subsequently found the city out of compliance on accountability issues.

On Wednesday, the City Attorney withdrew the City’s motion to terminate the sustainment plan elements of the federal consent decree. The motion did not include a request of the court to find the City in compliance on issues related to police accountability, the same issues included in the 2017 Accountability legislation, but not the SPOG collective bargaining agreement.   The City Council asked US District Court Judge Robart, who is charged with overseeing the consent decree, to consider making recommendations for the city to address these issues and he did.

Because the City has not addressed the issues related to police accountability, the same issues included in the 2017 Accountability legislation, but not the SPOG collective bargaining agreement, I advocated for the motion to not include accountability, and thank the City Attorney for not including accountability in that in the original motion and for withdrawing the motion altogether this week.

Body worn video

In 1979, Seattle adopted the nation’s first local ordinance limited police intelligence gathering, by prohibiting police from collecting information on lawful political activities. The legislation was supported by Seattle’s Coalition on Government Spying, and forms the backbone of SMC 14.12 in the Seattle Municipal Code.

In 1975 there was disclosure that Seattle police had spied on, photographed and compiled extensive files on hundreds of political activists as well as community and church leaders during the late 1960s and early 1970s at a time when there were lots of demonstrations.

That legislation begins by stating “freedom of speech, press, thought, association, and assembly, as well as the right to petition the government for redress of grievances, are among our most cherished civil liberties, and the right to privacy is indispensable to safety and individual rights.”

SMC 14.12.A states:

“No person shall become the subject of the collection of information on account of a lawful exercise of a constitutional right or civil liberty; no information shall be collected upon a person who is active in politics or community affairs, unless under the same or similar circumstances the information would be collected upon another person who did not participate actively in politics or community affairs.”

I wanted to share this in the context of requests that SPD policies be changed for cameras to be turned on during demonstrations. The American Civil Liberties Union was involved in development of the policies; I’d like to discuss this with them.

SPD’s policies for body-worn video at demonstrations say,

“Employees will not record people lawfully exercising their freedom of speech, press, association, assembly, or religion unless they have probable cause to believe that criminal activity is occurring or when ordered to record by a supervisor, as provided below.

When an imminent risk to public safety or large-scale property destruction appears likely, supervisors at the squad level and/or the incident commander of an event may order employees to record with BWV. Under such direction, employees will record until ordered to cease recording.”

Here’s a link to SPD’s “Body Worn Video” page, that links to a report about stakeholder discussions about this policy; the City also has a surveillance ordinance limiting the use of new technologies.

Right to Observe:

In 2017 I sponsored an Observer Bill of Rights, affirming the right to observe police activity. The legislation created a new section Subchapter VI of section 3.28 of the Seattle Municipal Code.

I am reviewing whether this needs to be updated.

City Budget

The City Budget Office briefed the City Council in April, and indicated there could be a revenue shortfall in the 2020 adopted budget of up to $300 million. The Council’s Select Budget Committee will begin meeting next week to address this.

West Seattle Bridge Update: June 5

Request for Qualifications released June 2

On June 2nd SDOT announced a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for a team to design a poteential replacement for the bridge if it cannot be repaired.

An optional pre-submittal conference is scheduled for June 9th; a deadline for questions is noon on the 18th; the deadline for responses is June 30, with interview scheduled for July 28 and 29.

A design to replace the bridge will be needed even if SDOT is able to repair the bridge because repair is estimated to only have a ten-year life span.

The contract is estimated to be in the range of $50 million to $150 million.

The proposal requires responses to include project planning/alternatives analysis approach; project management approach; team skills and cohesiveness; previous project experience; project understanding and approach; and alternative delivery method/construction phase experience and approach.

The “Project Planning/Alternatives” section requires an answer to “relevant examples of how alternatives were identified and evaluated, how a recommended alternative was selected, what criteria was used for the selection” and “previous project experience that resulted in ensuring project planning goals and objectives were met for a bridge project of similar size.”

The “Project Understanding and Approach” section requires applicants to “Identify the three most critical challenges that will need to be resolved to deliver a successful project and your proposed approach to resolving each challenge” and “Describe the team’s approach for coordinating design elements between multiple permitting agencies/stakeholders such as US Army Corps of Engineers, US Coast Guard, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Railroads, Sound Transit, etc” and “Describe your view of the three most challenging elements to be overcome in delivering this type of bridge project.”

Here’s the evaluation criteria scoring for these categories:

Here’s a link to the RFQ, and more about the RFQ on the City’s consultant contracting page.

SDOT expects to know in coming weeks whether the bridge can be repaired. They are releasing to RFQ to begin the process of selecting a design team in order to be able to switch to that, without delay.

Because so many people have expressed interest in the immersed tube tunnel concept, I have asked SDOT whether this RPQ would preclude a team from making a proposal for an immersed tube tunnel for SDOT’s consideration.  Immersed tube tunnels are composed of segments, constructed elsewhere and floated to the crossing site to be sunk into place and then linked together.  Here’s a quick summary of advantages and disadvantages from Wikipedia:

Advantages relative to these alternatives include:

  • Their speed of construction
  • Minimal disruption to the river/channel, if crossing a shipping route
  • Resistance to seismic activity
  • Safety of construction (for example, work in a dry dock as opposed to boring beneath a river)
  • Flexibility of profile (although this is often partly dictated by what is possible for the connecting tunnel types)

Disadvantages include:

  • Immersed tunnels are often partly exposed (usually with some rock armour and natural siltation) on the river/sea bed, risking a sunken ship/anchor strike
  • Direct contact with water necessitates careful waterproofing design around the joints
  • The segmental approach requires careful design of the connections, where longitudinal effects and forces must be transferred across
  • Environmental impact of tube and underwater embankment on existing channel/sea bed.

SDOT plans to release a decision-tree soon to show what’s guiding their decision making process about whether to repair or replace.

Traffic data update

Repaving of Roxbury between 16th and 18th Avenues SW has been completed, in conjunction with King County DOT. SDOT updated the signal controller at 35th and Holden; they’ve updated 26 signals so far. They installed “Do Not Block” signs at intersections and driveways on West Marginal.

Below are the most recent traffic numbers; traffic continues to be high on West Marginal, Highland Park Way, and increasing to above baseline averages in Georgetown on South Michigan, the route to I-5. The South Park Bridge traffic and SW Roxbury has resulted to near baseline levels.  Note: we’ve been informed by HPAC members that traffic counts on Highland Park Way might be incorrect since the equipment was damaged.  The equipment has recently been replaced.

Here are the most recent travel times:

Other updates

The West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force, of which I am a member, will begin meeting next Wednesday.

SDOT has indicated they may bring forward a proposal for potential changes to use of lower bridge.

Last week the Puget Sound Regional Council Executive Board approved a supplemental funding action to provide the city with authority to dedicate $2 million in funds already received toward a bridge planning study.

COVID Response Funds Available for Community-Based Organizations – Apply by Tuesday 6/9

Applications are due June 9th for new grants of up to $25,000 for organizations working with communities at the highest risk of immediate and long-term negative health, social and economic impacts from Covid.  King County’s Equity & Social Justice COVID-19 Community Response Fund Grants will be awarded in these areas:

  • Organizations providing direct service to individuals and families with economic, physical, or social needs.
  • Organizations providing emergency assistance in the form of grants to communities for food security, housing security, and financial assistance.
  • Organizations providing in-language technical assistance to the community (navigating unemployment, health and long-term services and support systems).
  • Organizations supporting undocumented residents not eligible for state or federal benefits.
  • Organizations supporting Black, Native, and residents of color that are LGBTQ, disabled, and unsheltered as those most impacted by the COVID-19 virus and mandatory isolation/social distancing.
  • Outreach designed to raise awareness and increase utilization of local testing resources by communities of color and community-based data collection to record.
  • Organizations that can engage in ongoing data collection efforts to inform comprehensive anti-hate and bias policy and programming at King County.

Full criteria are here, and a link to the application form can be found here.

New COVID Testing Capacity in Seattle, with Sites Sought for a West Seattle Location

Free, drive-through testing sites will open today and Monday in two former vehicle emissions testing locations: North Seattle at 12040 Aurora Ave. (open Monday) and South Seattle at 3820 6th Ave. S. (open today).  The testing sites will operate Monday thru Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. for Seattleites who book ahead through the website.

On-site testing will be coordinated by trained Seattle Fire Department (SFD) personnel. SFD estimates pre-registration will allow the testing procedure to take fewer than 10 minutes per test. Together, these sites will be able to test 1,600 people daily.  The City is also looking to add walk-up testing and additional capacity in West Seattle, which it has determined is another high-need area.

These sites are designed and intended for drive-up testing and are not ADA compliant for pedestrians. If you need walk-up testing with ADA accommodations, please call your healthcare provider or Public Health – Seattle & King County at 206-477-3977 for more information.

Under Washington law, Covid-19 testing is free – you can learn more here.  Patients at the City’s two new testing sites will not be charged for testing and will not receive a bill, regardless of health insurance status. For insured clients, UW Medicine will handle the billing of an individuals’ private insurance, Medicaid or Medicare; you will not be charged a co-pay.

Don Armeni Boat Launch Re-Opens

Saltwater boat ramps on Elliot Bay at Don Armeni and Golden Gardens are now open, with social distancing guidelines in place:

  • Stay home if you are sick, and wash your hands frequently
  • Please give other boaters at least 6ft of space at all times
  • Launching boats should be done as quickly as possible, with little to no lingering in the launch parking lot
  • Only go boating with those who live in your household
  • Refrain from linking up with other boats for gatherings/parties

While the ramps will be open consistent with park hours, during busier times the boat ramps will be staffed with employees who manage traffic and will collect data on social distancing compliance and boat launch usage. Only vehicles with boat trailers are allowed in ramp parking lots.

You can learn more here.

Emergency Heliports to be Tested at Two West Seattle Parks

Seattle Parks and Recreation received a proposal from the Seattle Fire Department (SFD) to use Alki Playfield and Walt Hundley Playfield as emergency helipads to transport urgent care patients to Harborview Hospital in the event of an emergency during the West Seattle Bridge closure. SFD will conduct practice runs in early June.

Essential Pay for Essential Workers

Last Monday the Council voted unanimously on legislation brought forward by Councilmember Mosqueda to temporarily expand Paid Sick and Safe Time (PSST)  for workers of food delivery network companies (FDNCs) and transportation network companies (TNCs).

This coming Monday the Council will vote on another proposal from Councilmember Lewis and myself to establish a temporary $5 premium fee per delivery from FDNCs (companies such as UberEats, DoorDash, Instacart, and Postmates). Drivers for these companies are typically independent contractors – often misclassified – and are not subject to the City’s $15 minimum wage or other local labor laws.

The $5 fee recognizes the hazardous yet essential work these contractors are providing. The rational for the $5 is broken out into three areas – hazard pay, time to adequately clean their vehicles to meet public health guidelines, and the supplies needed to clean their vehicles.

May Constituent Email Report

Constituent correspondence is a very important task in my office. My staff and I spend time every day helping you improve our community, whether that’s by getting you help from a city department with our constituent case management services or giving you information about legislation that the Council is considering. The unshaded categories and numbers are problem-solving emails answered in May, what I refer to above as “case management services.” The shaded categories and numbers are emails answered in May related to policy or legislation that the Council is considering.  Please note the new COVID-19 row highlighted in yellow.  These are a mix of case management services to get individuals the help they need in this crisis as well as emails answered in response to constituents contacting my office about Emergency Orders and emergency legislation related to COVID-19 response.  I have a debt of gratitude to the work being done by my team to respond urgently to people in crisis in this difficult time.

Share


West Seattle Bridge Update: May 29; Planning for Seattle’s Economic Recovery; New Dashboard Shows King County’s Progress on Key COVID Indicators; Premium Pay for Essential Workers; Delridge Rapid Ride H Line Project: Work Starting Week of June 8

June 1st, 2020

West Seattle Bridge Update: May 29

Lower Bridge Maintenance Closure

SDOT has announced that the lower bridge will be closed for maintenance during the evening and early morning over the next few days, in order to work on the bridge’s controls and communications systems used to operate the bridge. Here’s the schedule for closure:

  • Friday night: 8PM to 5AM
  • Saturday night: 6PM to 3AM
  • Sunday night: 6PM to 3AM (if needed)

Traffic, including transit, will be detoured to the 1st Avenue South or South Park bridges. The bridge will also be closed to bicyclists and pedestrians; emergency vehicles will have limited access across the bridge.

Bridge advisory groups

SDOT has announced the formation of two advisory groups.

The first, the Technical Advisory Panel, is composed of independent experts with experience in bridge design and construction (especially concrete), to advise SDOT at key milestones in the process.

The second, the Community Task Force, includes residents and business representatives; I’ll be serving as an ex officio member, along with elected officials from the county, state, port, and office of U.S. Representative Jayapal.

Former Mayor and West Seattle resident Greg Nickels, and Paulina Lopez, of the Duwamish River Coalition, will serve as co-chairs. SDOT said, “Members will help ensure transparency, clear communication, and broad community engagement and understanding around both traffic mitigation efforts and the future path forward for the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge as we address new data, public input, fiscal challenges, and many other important factors that will inform consideration of repair versus replace scenarios.”

In the press release, I noted the importance of community voices being involved:

“Community voices must be at the table when considering the future of the West Seattle Bridge. The West Seattle Town Hall last month revealed that many residents, those living with the reality of the West Seattle Bridge closure, have good ideas to improve traffic flow and public transit during the closure. I appreciate SDOT’s commitment to, with this task force, considering the thoughtful suggestions of those most impacted in future planning decisions.” Councilmember Lisa Herbold, District 1, West Seattle and South Park.

Traffic update

SDOT has updated its traffic data format, to include mapping, and travel times by time of day. The most recent updates are below. Traffic on West Marginal and Highland Park Way continues to be high.

The numbers below show average travel times during peak travel times:

SDOT has a blog post with a summary of actions to mitigate the impacts of the closure of the West Seattle Bridge, including installation of traffic monitors, signal timing adjustments, travel displays for route planning, and accelerating road work at South Spokane Street and 6th Avenue South, repaving and adjusting signals at the 5-way intersection by the lower bridge, and links to some of the community letters they have responded to. Paving work, jointly carried out by SDOT and King County SDOT, between 16th and 18th on Roxbury is scheduled to be completed today.

SDOT plans to install “Do Not Block” signs at intersections and driveways on West Marginal Way in response to concerns from businesses about difficulty exiting and entering their properties.

Traffic volumes on Michigan Street in Georgetown continue to increase. SDOT is trying different signal adjustments to keep vehicles moving, though the 1st Avenue South Bridge does have capacity limitations.

SDOT is doing ground penetrating radar surveys to locate drill holes for mounting external post-tensioning in preparation of Pier 18 restrain release.

I’ve requested SDOT provide an update about what they have learned from the recently installed monitoring equipment regarding the stability of the West Seattle Bridge.

Planning for Seattle’s Economic Recovery

It’s no secret that the coronavirus pandemic is damaging more than just our health.  Businesses and nonprofits have had to close or significantly cut back operations, leaving workers without the ability to support their families, or pay rent or mortgages.  With significant portions of our economy slowed or shuttered, the tax revenue generated by our economy shrinks; and as a result, the City of Seattle is facing an estimated $300 million shortfall for 2020 in a slow recovery, according to an April 22 presentation by the City Budget Office.

While upcoming budget discussions will be difficult, we need to keep in mind the lessons from the past and make investments in people and our economy that will quickly spur growth.  After the Great Recession of 2008, the Center for American Progress undertook an analysis of the impact of government spending on economic recovery.  They found that by 2012, economic recovery was swifter and unemployment lower in the 30 states that increased government spending, compared to the 20 states that embraced an austerity mindset and cut spending.

Unfortunately, Washington was among the 20 states that embraced an austerity approach to budgeting following the Great Recession.  This time, with even more at stake, we must resist the urge to mindlessly cut, and instead choose investments in Seattle residents that will spur our economic recovery.   The lessons of the past are clear:

 A fragile economy can be buttressed and boosted by increased public spending on investments like education, infrastructure, energy efficiency, and putting money in people’s pockets through safety-net programs like unemployment insurance and Medicaid. The government—like families and businesses—also buys a tremendous volume of goods and services from the private market. As businesses see more sales and potential customers, they will have confidence in the economy to add jobs and crank up the economy’s private-sector engine. Dramatically cutting spending in a fragile economy, however, can pull the rug out from nascent economic growth.”

This lesson makes it more important than ever that Seattle identify new sources of revenue that ask those who are thriving right now to contribute more toward our collective recovery.  The truth is that while some of Seattle’s key industries – such as tourism or restaurants – have experienced significant downturns, other portions of Seattle’s economy have been able to continue work largely as usual.

Last week, 65% of Portland area voters approved $2.5 billion in new taxes over 10 years to tackle their homelessness crisis.  They approved progressive taxes that ask people and businesses who are thriving to contribute more with a 1% marginal income tax for people who make $125,000 annually or couples who earn $200,000 combined; and a 1% tax on businesses that generate at least $5 million annually. Importantly, this measure gained the support of a large range of allies, including faith communities, elected officials, and Portland’s leading business association.

I’m grateful to Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda for organizing an Economic Realities of COVID Forum last week, and to those who shared their expertise from Washington State Budget & Policy Center, Front and Centered, People’s Economy Lab, In the Public Interest, Economic Policy Institute, Ventures, Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, ProTec17, and Chief Seattle Club.    You can watch video of the forum here.

New Dashboard Shows King County’s Progress on Key COVID Indicators

Public Health – Seattle & King County just released a new data dashboard that tracks King County’s progress on key indicators related to COVID, such as trends in reported cases, testing capacity, and healthcare system readiness. These indicators, along with many other data, are key considerations for reviewing current restrictions on activity, recommendations and precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The indicators help determine if current actions are adequate, need to be strengthened, or might be carefully relaxed.

The first couple of indicators are shown below.  To see the full dashboard and check for updates, click here.


Premium Pay for Essential Workers

On Tuesday Councilmember Lewis and I introduced legislation to establish a temporary $5 premium fee per ride for Transportation Network Companies, TNCs like Uber and Lyft, as well as for delivery for food delivery network companies, now often being referred to as “FDNCs.” FDNCs are companies such as UberEats, DoorDash, Instacart, and Postmates. Drivers for these companies are typically independent contractors – often misclassified – and are not subject to the City’s $15 minimum wage or other local labor laws.

This $5 fee – while recognizing the important and hazardous work these drivers are doing – would also compensate workers for their time and supplies to adequately clean their vehicles to meet public health guidelines. Furthermore, these workers often make less than minimum wage once tips are removed and expenses for their vehicle, mileage, and other supplies are taken into account. This $5 fee per delivery will help bring them closer into alignment with the City’s minimum wage.

Council Central Staff presented the legislation to Council on Tuesday morning, you can see their presentation here.

Another piece of legislation that Councilmember Mosqueda has been working on is providing this same group of workers Paid Sick and Safe Time (PSST). The City of Seattle has had PSST as a local labor law since 2012, and this legislation would temporarily expand it to independent contractors that work for FDNCs and transportation network companies such as Uber and Lyft.  Currently these workers do not receive paid sick and safe time and they may be faced with a decision to work even when they are sick.

Delridge Rapid Ride H Line Project: Work Starting Week of June 8

SDOT has announced that work will begin the week of June 8 on the Delridge RapidRide H Line project.

The project (formerly called the Delridge Multimodal Corridor Project) includes improvement to Delridge Avenue SW designed to increase transit speed and access, in coordination with King County’s planned transition to convert Bus 120 into the RapidRide H line in September, 2021. The H Line will provide Delridge with a direct connection to South Lake Union. Travel times are expected to improve 10-15%; the project will include new shelters, lighting, ORCA card readers, and real-time arrival displays. The project also includes repaving Delridge from Orchard to Andover.

34% of households along the route operate without a personal vehicle.

An online open house has additional information about the project, final design, how community feedback was incorporated, and construction planned for this summer.  If you have questions or comments, please email DelridgeTransit@seattle.gov or call 206-775-8739.

Delridge Way SW will remain open to traffic with 1 lane in each direction during most of the construction. Temporary detours may be needed for some work.

I sponsored “stage gating” requirements for SDOT to report to the Council at 10% design, and at 30% design, before receiving funding to continue, to ensure community input.

In the 2020 budget, I proposed a requirement that SDOT report back to the Council on several issues before proceeding.

The most recent traffic count showed traffic 75% below pre-COVID volumes on Delridge at Andover.

Share


© 1995-2018 City of Seattle