West Seattle Bridge Update, November 20; Weekly Budget Update; Funding for Bridge Maintenance; Coronavirus is Surging in Seattle – How to Stay Safe; Small Business Stabilization Fund Applications Due November 30th; “Shop Your Block” Supports Neighborhood Businesses

November 20th, 2020

West Seattle Bridge Update, November 20

Mayor announces decision to pursue repair for West Seattle Bridge

Yesterday Mayor Durkan announced the City will proceed with a repair for the West Seattle Bridge. Her statement is linked here.

I released this statement:

I agree repairing the bridge is the best approach to restore safe access as quickly as possible. 

Since the closure of the West Seattle Bridge on March 23rd, I’ve heard every day from residents and businesses that are hurting, their lives and businesses disrupted. I’ve heard consistently from D1 constituents that restoring safe access as quickly as possible is the highest priority.  

As social distancing decreases, traffic and access issues will only increase.  Two years for a repair is shorter than other alternatives, even in the best scenarios.  Moreover, the Technical Advisory Panel’s confidence that the likelihood of a repair lasting 30-40 years is compelling; so are the conclusions of the Cost Benefit Analysis.  (See p. 59, of the Cost Benefit Analysis, or CBA.)

I appreciate the Mayor’s approach toward working with Sound Transit about potential joint use for a future bridge.

Proceeding with a study for a replacement as the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) monitors the effectiveness of stabilization measures after weather changes, preserves our options, should we need to change course. 

The Council quickly acted to provide $70 million in loan funding for the West Seattle Bridge and SDOT’s Reconnect West Seattle program, to stabilize the bridge and mitigate the impacts of bridge detour routes through communities that have experienced generations of under-investment.  We are poised to authorize $100 million in debt in the 2021 budget, with $50 million in bonds listed in the city’s Capital Improvement Program for 2022.

Business and workforce impacts resulting from the bridge closure are key concerns for West Seattle businesses, especially small businesses, but also for our regional economy due to reduced trips to and off the peninsula. Closure also impacts access to jobs and to supply chains.  I have come to understand that impacts to supply chains disproportionately impact smaller businesses.

The Mayor’s decision to choose the repair pathway for the West Seattle Bridge has been thoughtful, thorough, and inclusive of a diversity of perspectives as well as the input of SDOT’s independent Technical Advisory Panel.”

Proceeding with a repair

During the press conference announcing this decision, Technical Advisory Panel (TAP) Co-Chair Barbara Moffat noted that proceeding with a repair had the unanimous support of the TAP. She also indicated that the contracting method used could result in the work being done more quickly. The GCCM contracting method, for example, involves bringing the contractor on earlier in the process, during design, which can result in faster completion. SDOT indicated a repair completion during 2022, though when in 2022 hasn’t been established.

I support anything we can do to accelerate the timeline, and appreciate SDOT Director Zimbabwe’s  commitment to this.

SDOT expects to have a final repair cost estimate in early 2021; the figure used in the Cost/Benefit Analysis is $47 million, though SDOT cautions that is a preliminary figure. They will be studying how the bridge responds to the stabilization work expected to be completed before the end of the year, as well as colder weather. This will inform design work on the repair.

Here’s SDOT’s blog post about proceeding with a repair. It notes SDOT’s design consultant HNTB, will also move forward with a Type, Size & Location study that will lay the groundwork for future replacement, which will be needed eventually.

T5/Maritime economy

Another important element in this decision I’m glad the Mayor highlighted is the future of Terminal 5 and the maritime economy, which provides thousands of jobs, and helps maintain Seattle’s diverse economy. Terminal 5 is being modernized in two phases with the first being completed in the spring of 2021, and the other in 2023.

The Co-chairs of The Northwest Seaport Alliance, Port of Seattle Commission President Peter Steinbrueck and Port of Tacoma Commission President John McCarthy, issued a statement saying “the safe and rapid restoration of vehicle capacity and  traffic mobility to the high bridge is the highest priority for us.”

Tour of West Seattle Bridge

Last week I went on a tour of the West Seattle Bridge, and saw the interior of the bridge, and the post-tensioning work to stabilize the bridge.

Here’s the view on one of the work platforms suspended from the bridge deck:

Post-tensioning cables have now been tightened to 100% onto anchors:

Here’s the interior of a box girder:

Here’s equipment monitoring the cracks:

Post-tensioning cables within the box girder:

Reviewing a crack:


Weekly Budget Update

This week the Budget Committee voted on new amendments to the Chair’s proposed 2021 budget balancing package. The City Council will meet one more time as the Budget Committee on Monday morning to vote the package out of committee and will vote on the final budget at the Monday 2pm Full Council meeting.

Budget Chair Mosqueda developed a budget balancing package she released last week. Councilmembers were able to propose amendments to that balancing package; with additional funds available due to revised revenue forecast, a number of these items were able to be funded. So Chair Mosqueda developed a second package that was considered in the Budget Committee.

The resulting balancing package included two consent agendas (Group A and Group B on the agenda). Items not included in the consent agendas were considered individually, in Group C on the agenda. In addition, Councilmembers could identify items in the consent packages for individual votes (so the agenda as listed doesn’t fully reflect what was adopted).

New items I proposed that were included in the Group B consent agenda (starting at item #126 in the agenda linked above) and adopted by the committee include:

Funding for Bridge Maintenance

At the Budget Committee this week, I co-sponsored legislation along with prime sponsor Pedersen for a $20 vehicle license fee to address the recommendations of the City Auditor for maintenance of Seattle’s bridges. The Auditor found Seattle is “not spending enough on the upkeep and preservation of its bridges, and risks becoming out of compliance with federal regulations.”

The current Seattle vehicle license fee is $80, with $60 of that expiring at the end of this year. So the $20 fee would result in a total Seattle fee of $40 during 2021, half the size of the fee in 2020.

Councilmembers voted 5-4 to substitute a version that adopted the fee, but removed specifying funding for bridge maintenance; instead, a stakeholder process will develop a proposal for use of the funds. I voted “no” on the revised proposal because I am concerned that the City Council is handing the decision of whether we should provide funding necessary to partially implement Auditor recommendation to a citywide stakeholder group who might decide that the funds should be used for other purposes.  I believe that it is up to the Council and Mayor to make the decision of how to best implement recommendations of the City Auditor.  This creates, I feel, a troubling precedent that undermines SMC 3.40.050 which reads: Audit reports—Follow-up required – It is City policy to follow up on audit reports by the City Auditor.

Below is an article I wrote that appeared in Publicola in advance of the vote, with additional information.

Seattle is a city of hills and water; thus we are also a city of bridges. Our bridges are critical for mobility and both the local and regional economy.  Bridges are also critical transit infrastructure. That’s why I, along with Councilmembers Alex Pedersen and Andrew Lewis, have introduced legislation, along with a companion budget action for 2021, that would create a new $20 vehicle license fee (VLF) to pay for critical bridge maintenance throughout the city. The fee, if it’s approved by the Council this week, will be added to the existing $20 fee that funds additional Metro bus hours through the Seattle Transportation Benefit District.

The closure of the West Seattle Bridge on March 23 placed Seattle’s dependence on its bridges in stark relief. Every person and business in West Seattle, or anyone going to West Seattle, has felt the impact of this closure. Before it was closed, the West Seattle Bridge carried 17,000 daily transit riders on 13 routes making 900 daily trips. Two of these routes—the RapidRide C Line and Route 120—were among the top 10 routes for ridership in all of King County.

But the West Seattle Bridge is hardly the only vulnerable bridge in Seattle; for decades, funding for critical maintenance has fallen short, allowing the city’s bridges to fall into further and further disrepair. In September, the City Auditor released an audit, requested by Councilmember Pedersen, that focused on 77 bridges owned and operated by the Seattle Department of Transportation. That audit reported that bridge funding is well below the minimum annual $34 million level needed for the long-term health of this critical infrastructure.

The audit notes the overall condition of SDOT’s bridges has declined during the last decade and that Seattle is “not spending enough on the upkeep and preservation of its bridges, and risks becoming out of compliance with federal regulations.” This is, unfortunately, consistent with previous findings on the state of Seattle’s bridges, including an SDOT report from 2013 that found that 43 of the city’s bridges were “functionally obsolete,” and suggested that the city had a bridge maintenance backlog of nearly $2 billion.

We must address this underinvestment and protect our Frequent Transit Network, which includes all routes that operate with frequencies of 15 minutes or less for most of the day.

SDOT’s concern about a $47 million repair for the West Seattle Bridge was based largely on the fact that a repaired bridge would cost $500,000 a year to maintain. That’s twice the maintenance estimate for a new bridge, but SDOT’s experts estimated that the repairs would add another 30 to 40 years to the bridge’s useful life. When I learned this, it felt like a challenge to do my part to be a better steward of our public assets. I asked myself, “Why build a new bridge, at nearly ten times the cost of repairing it, just to avoid the higher costs of maintaining the bridge we have?”

I’m a passionate advocate for bus service funding.  I agree that we must increase direct investments in transit service  as well.  This is not an either or question, but a question of how.  In the near term, here is what we are doing and how we can do more:

  • Earlier this year, the Council increased the size of Mayor Jenny Durkan’s proposed Proposition 1 sales tax measure from 0.1 percent to 0.15 percent and reduced the amount it included for maintenance and capital investments in order to focus funding on service hours.
  • Thanks to the passage of Proposition 1, which renewed the Seattle Transportation Benefit District, there is at least $23 million available from reserves from the last STBD to add more transit service to the system
  • The proposed VLF “increase” for bridge maintenance is $3.6 million for 2021, increasing to $7.2 million in 2022. I would support revisiting the potential for spending this additional $3.6 million on transit service in 2022.

COVID-19 has changed our transit landscape and will continue to do so throughout 2021. Metro, for example, recently reported a 60 percent drop in bus ridership in 2020. SDOT has proposed a 2021 plan for the new STBD that moves $8 million to budget reserves rather than adding more transit hours. I don’t want to allocate funds for service capacity in 2021 that we can’t spend.

Seattle isn’t alone in underfunding the maintenance of our bridges. Nationally, we would need to spend an additional $25 billion a year until 2032 to adequately fund our nation’s bridges. But we didn’t wait for the federal government to enact policies like a $15 minimum wage, or to fund legal assistance to help people avoid deportation.  Seattle led the way. While this proposal won’t fully fund  bridges, is a necessary down payment for our key bridges that we can, and should, make.

Coronavirus is Surging in Seattle – How to Stay Safe

We are at a precarious moment in the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 transmission and the number of people being infected are at all-time highs in King County and the outbreak is growing faster than ever. In the past week, hospitalizations have increased by 70%. Cases are on a trajectory to continue to increase and will be followed by even more hospitalizations and deaths.

It is more important than ever to limit our travel, avoid gatherings, and take extra precautions around our vulnerable friends, family and neighbors – especially those who are elderly or have underlying health conditions.

With an appeal to act now, before our hospitals are overwhelmed, 500 nurses signed a letter to urge King County residents:

“Please, for us, for you and your families, and for our whole community…

  • Wear a mask whenever you’re in public, particularly indoors.
  • Stay at least 6 feet from others outside your household.
  • Avoid gatherings, especially inside
  • Reduce travel and other activities away from home.
  • Get tested right away if you have COVID-19 symptoms or were in close contact with someone who is infected.”

Getting our outbreak under control can seem daunting. But as the nurses remind us: “We’ve flattened the curve before, and we can do it again.”

Free COVID tests are available at drive-through and walk-up sites all over King County.

New statewide restrictions are in place to slow the spread of COVID-19.

  • Indoor social gatherings with people who do not live with you are prohibited, unless you quarantine for 14 days prior OR quarantine for 7 days and receive a negative COVID test result.
  • Outdoor gatherings are limited to no more than 5 people who do not live with you.
  • More information about temporary restrictions for restaurants, stores, religious services, and other activities is on the Current COVID-19 Guidance

We know the holiday season this year will look different. Check out these ideas for safer gatherings, including virtual options and a checklist to help plan a safer outdoor gathering.

Gathering with people we don’t live with—even close friends and family—may spread COVID-19. But if you are considering gathering, here is a helpful conversation guide to have with family or friends:


Small Business Stabilization Fund Applications Due November 30th

Applications are due on November 30th for the City of Seattle’s new $4 million round of small business stabilization fund (SBSF) grants.  OED will award $10,000 grants to small businesses with 25 or fewer employees.  For more information on all eligibility requirements, visit OED’s website.

To request in-language assistance or application assistance generally, a business owner can email oed@seattle.gov or call 206-684-8090 and leave a voice mail with the following information:

  • Your name
  • Phone number
  • The language you need in English
  • What support you need

“Shop Your Block” Supports Neighborhood Businesses

Today, the City of Seattle launched the new Shop Your Block retail map, part of a larger public campaign to  support small businesses throughout the holiday season.  Shop Your Block connects consumers to local small retail businesses throughout Seattle using the new retail map and online neighborhood marketplaces. Shop Your Block celebrates Seattle’s unique character and encourages the public to support local retailers in their neighborhood —in person or online— this holiday shopping season.

Also check out West Seattle’s own online marketplace: https://westseattlemarket.com/.

Interested in adding your business to the Shop Your Block retail map?  Click here for instructions.  Have questions?  Contact Shop Your Block at ShopYourBlock@seattle.gov or call (206) 684-8090.

Shop Early. Shop Local. Shop Safe. Shop Your Block.

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West Seattle Bridge Update November 13th; This Week in the Budget; $10,000 Small Business Stabilization Fund Grants – Applications Due 11/30; African American Caregivers Forum on Saturday 11/14; Free Legal Clinic for Undocumented Immigrants; 34th Legislative District Town Hall

November 13th, 2020

West Seattle Bridge Update November 13th

(photo: Mike Lindblom)

On Monday, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) joined the City Council at the weekly Council Briefing meeting in order to update Councilmembers about the status of the West Seattle Bridge. In addition to providing a briefing about the physical work being done to stabilize the bridge, SDOT brought Councilmembers up to speed about the Mayor’s impending decision to repair or replace the bridge, the Reconnect West Seattle mitigation program for communities most impacted by the bridge detours routes, and related news.

Here’s a link to the presentation.

SDOT noted they are advancing both repair and replace pathways. For replace, this entails a “Type, Size, and Location” study to design options included in the Cost Benefit Analysis and to bring that design work to 30% of a complete design. This allow SDOT to provide a sound basis for cost estimates. This is estimated to take 3 months. For repair, it entails a two-month study, to provide more in-depth analysis of bridge performance that would be a likely outcome of a repair, including monitoring reaction of the bridge to colder weather.

SDOT noted they are not yet at a divergence of different pathways, and won’t be until May or June. That means that work can continue on both repair and replace pathways without delaying the timeline for either option. With work on both continuing, SDOT has explained that the Mayor’s impending decision for repair or replace will be more along the lines of a “preferred alternative”,  as is commonly used in Environmental Impact Statements.  In other words, it allows the City to name a preferred pathway while preserving the ability to continue to consider a less preferred pathway.

This is important; what could be a lengthy consideration of a rapid replacement, if that’s the “preferred alternative,” should not delay a potentially high performing repair that could be done quickly.

SDOT notes that numerous inputs will inform the decision to repair or replace:

Here’s a chart comparing the alternatives, which includes the “rapid replacement” option. SDOT emphasizes these are rough order of magnitude estimates, compared to the cost estimates that will result from additional study and design:

Below are spending estimates for different aspects of work for the West Seattle Bridge and related projects:

memo by RHC Engineering, the City Council’s engineering consultant, notes the following regarding the cost/benefit analysis (Alternative 2 is repair, Alternative 4 is Superstructure replacement):

“In general, RHC Engineering believes that additional engineering analysis could be undertaken to better capture the existing bridge behavior and quantify the risks and benefits related to Alternative 2. The CBA attempts to compare all alternatives using a consistent approach to risk and contingencies, this approach may mischaracterize the costs and benefits of Alternative 2. Unlike Alternative 4 that relies on a planning level concept, there is significant existing information, including original construction drawings, bridge inspection and health monitoring data, load rating and seismic evaluation, and the stabilization work, to support a refined engineering analysis for Alternative 2. 

Further analysis has the potential to address risk factors associated with repair, which could affect the cost and performance assessment of Alternative 2, when compared to Alternative 4. As an example of this clarification of risk, SDOT has progressively found that the bridge is technically repairable, and the bridge foundation is solid under a design earthquake event.”

It further notes:

“Alternative 4 seems to have more uncertainties, with a completely new engineering design, permit and regulations compliance, demolition and new construction period. This could result in the public facing a more prolonged traffic closure than under a repair scenario.”

The “rapid replacement” option SDOT announced in October was not included in the cost/benefit analysis.  It is a potential approach within alternative 4 that SDOT notes will be studied in greater detail in the Type, Size, and Location study.

Post-tensioning work completed:

After SDOT completed release of the Pier 18 bearing, they completed post-tensioning work for stabilizing the West Seattle Bridge. This helps prevents further cracking of the bridge.

Post tensioning strands run inside the girders between the piers:

Here’s a photo that shows most of the post-tensioning strands at 10% strength, with the one on the right  tightened, before the release of the bearing:

Here’s what the strands look like at 100% tightening.

The next step in stabilizing the bridge is to complete carbon fiber wrapping of the girders.

And here’s SDOT’s video showing the bridge stabilization and monitoring work:

Traffic

Here is the most recent traffic data:

Here are the most recent travel times:

This Week in the Budget

The balancing package focuses on the key areas of economic recovery; health and safety; and housing. It incorporates changes sponsored by Councilmembers. Below are actions I sponsored that are included in the balancing package:

Provide funding to a. reverse cut of Fire exams and b. reverse cut of 20 firefighters from SFD recruit class:  This budget action would allow the Seattle Fire Department to maintain current hiring and testing capacity. The hiring freeze instituted by the Mayor only effects civilian employees and therefore the SFD should maintain its ability to test and recruit new firefighters. The SFD has recently seen an increase in firefighter separations, and If the same attrition pattern on average over the last five years (38 separations) continues in 2021, SFD could have 75 vacancies with an additional 412 eligible for retirement.

Add funding to the Fire Department to fund Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs), Lucas Devices, and Ballistic Sets: AEDs are used to provide an electrical shock in cases of life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias which lead to sudden cardiac arrest. Lucas Devices provide chest compressions (CPR) when it is unsafe for Emergency Medical System crews to do so. Ballistic Sets protect firefighters and paramedics at scenes of violence and allow them to quickly enter these scenes to rescue highly vulnerable patients.

The role of parking enforcement officers:  Expand the function of the proposed Seattle Emergency Communications Center to include Parking Enforcement Officers (PEOs) and rename the office the Seattle Community Safety and Communications Center (CSCC). Consider expanding the current role of the PEOs to assume functions currently provided by SPD sworn officers, which could include red light camera enforcement, school zone enforcement, response to non-injury collisions, response to and reporting on minor thefts and car break-ins, and traffic control.

SPD Overtime and staffing tracking: These actions request SPD to report to the Council monthly on use of overtime, and staffing levels.

SPD Budget: These actions reintroduce reductions to the SPD budget adopted in the 2020 summer budget rebalancing, including proposals for out of order layoff reductions in sworn officers and reduction of overtime and travel. Those dollars would be invested into community-led public safety investments.

South Park Public Safety Coordinator: This will continue the work of the South Park Public Safety Coordinator. This position was the top priority recommendation in the 2017 South Park Public Safety Taskforce Report funded by the City Council. Current priorities include facilitating community safety dialogue around South Park’s experience around policing and alternatives to police in South Park; street and safety concerns due to West Seattle Bridge closure, business district concerns, and youth engagement. Recent work includes coordinating Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) work in youth art murals and a Clean Streets Initiative, community support during COVID, neighborhood walks, and facilitating and distributing a neighborhood newsletter in English, Spanish and Vietnamese.  Here is a great article about his work.

West Seattle Bridge/Reconnect West Seattle: Require reporting for the West Seattle Bridge/Reconnect West Seattle program, SDOT’s mitigation program to fund project that ameliorate impacts of West Seattle detours routes on communities like Highland Park and South Park.

Provide Funding for Landlord Liaison Program: fully fund a landlord liaison program that has connected 1,170 individuals to housing by establishing partnerships of landlords that own more than 470 properties.

Add Funds to Maintain Family Rapid Rehousing Caseloads: Due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, homelessness services agencies report that households enrolled in rapid re-housing programs have required substantially longer to exit the program.   This increases funding to ensure families do not fall back into homelessness, with half of the funds reserved for agencies with culturally-relevant expertise or serving populations disproportionately affected by homelessness.

Age Friendly Seattle: Restore proposed cuts to Age Friendly Seattle.

Community-Led Public Safety Investments: Appropriate funds for scaling up community-led organizations, to move the City’s community safety strategy toward a public health-centered, harm reduction model of restorative justice, crime prevention, and ameliorating the harm caused by the criminal legal system to individuals and communities most impacted. These strategies should aim to prevent, reduce and mitigate both violent and non-violent crime.

Reduce Overdoses and Overdose Deaths: Add funding to contract with Public Health for services recommended by the 2016 Heroin and Prescription Opiate Addiction Task Force for active drug users in existing low barrier programs with the goal to reduce overdoes and fatal overdoses as well as increase the health of people who use substances.

Increase Services for Drug Users: Increase services and harm reduction programs at social service agencies that serve people who use drugs daily, allowing them to expand hours, increase staff, expand to additional locations, provide peer and community outreach, implement good neighbor agreements for syringe pickup, provide participant incentives, explore Medicaid reimbursement for services, and make safety improvements.

Restore Funds for Alternatives to Criminal Legal System: Restore funds proposed for reduction to organizations pursuing alternatives to or addressing harms caused by the criminal legal system that were awarded grant funding through the 2020 Collaborative Grantmaking process.

Increase Outreach to People Experiencing Homelessness: Expand homelessness outreach and engagement services within District 1 and citywide, and provide flexible financial assistance for serving people experiencing unsheltered homelessness.

Last week the Council received an updated revenue forecast for 2021. The forecast contains higher estimates for the B&O and sales tax. However, the estimates are still well below pre-COVID revenue projections.

The Budget Committee is scheduled to take votes on the 18th and 19th, with a Full Council vote on the budget on November 23rd.

Councilmembers may propose amendments to the balancing package at the meetings on the 18th and 19th;  the deadline to submit “Form C” documents with amendments was Thursday the 12th. Any amendments must be revenue-neutral, and keep the budget in balance.

One element of the balancing package, proposed by Budget Chair Mosqueda, that hasn’t received much attention, is the increase in the amount in the Emergency Fund by $32 million, to $38 million. Given the course of COVID-19 and economic uncertainty heading in to 2021, this is a good precaution.

$10,000 Small Business Stabilization Fund Grants – Applications Due 11/30

Applications are due on November 30th for the City of Seattle’s new $4 million round of small business stabilization fund (SBSF) grants.  To date, OED has assisted 469 small businesses through several rounds of funding this year.  For this round, OED will host two informational webinars on how to successfully apply for the SBSF – click a date to register:

To be eligible for a grant:

  • A small business or non-profit must have 25 or fewer employees, be located within Seattle city limits, and have an annual net revenue at or below $2 million.
  • Non-profits must explicitly provide economic opportunity supports through education programs and/or job training.

For more information on all eligibility requirements, visit OED’s website.

At least two-thirds of grant recipients will be selected from applications from businesses with five or fewer employees and from areas that are identified as high risk of displacement or highly disadvantaged. Those areas are determined by several socioeconomic factors to identify areas of the city that have been historically underserved and more likely to be disproportionally impacted by economic shocks.

This fund also aims to better support creative industry small businesses and workers and will specifically allocate 10 percent of all grants—or 24 grants—to creative industry small businesses.

To request in-language assistance or application assistance generally, a business owner can email oed@seattle.gov or call 206-684-8090 and leave a voice mail with the following information:

  • Your name
  • Phone number
  • The language you need in English
  • What support you need

African American Caregivers Forum on Saturday 11/14

Legacy of Love is an annual forum with a special focus on memory care. Learn from professionals as well as family caregivers who share their challenges and joys in caring for loved ones. Take away tips for talking with a loved one about their need for extra care; tips for screening and managing professional caregivers during the pandemic; tips for dealing with sundown syndrome; and resources for family caregivers throughout the region.

DATE: Saturday, November 14, 2020

TIME: 12 noon–2 p.m.

KEYNOTE: George Dicks, BA, GMHS, RCMHP—a geriatric mental health specialist at Harborview Mental Health Services for more than 35 years—will discuss “Caregiver Hope, Love, and Resiliency,” including his own experience as a family caregiver.

REGISTRATION: Pre-registration is encouraged but not required. To register, visit SurveyMonkey.com/r/LegacyOfLoveRegistration.

JOIN: A few minutes before event time, go to bit.ly/AgeFriendlyLive and click on the blue “Join Event Now” button.

INFO: For more information, e-mail Karen.Winston@seattle.gov or visit AgingKingCounty.org/LegacyOfLove.

Free Legal Clinic for Undocumented Immigrants

DACA remains legal for now. And despite the results of the 2020 election, advocates recommend that undocumented immigrants, current DACA-recipients, past DACA-recipients, and DACA-eligible individuals consult with an immigration attorney to explore potential options to apply for legal status. The organizations below are offering free legal help to qualified DACA recipients and undocumented immigrants, including consultations, screenings, and other legal assistance.

You can sign up for a free 45 to 60-minute online consultation with an AILA attorney, who can:

  • Screen you for potential forms of immigration relief and answer your questions, or
  • Review your completed DACA application packet before you submit.

Online clinic: Thursday, November 19, 4 PM – 7 PM: Sign up for one of the clinic timeslots here.
Additional Resources:

34th Legislative District Town Hall

On Wednesday, I’ll be joining host Senator Joe Nguyen as well as Representatives Eileen Cody and Joe Fitzgibbon, and King County Councilmember Joe McDermott.

The town hall will begin with an introduction by each participant, move into a conversation about the issues facing Washington in the build up to 2021, and end with questions from the audience.

There will be time for live questions during the stream, but if you would like to submit a question ahead of time, please send an email to Courtney.James@leg.wa.gov.

You can RSVP to the event here, as well as watch it on Facebook or join on Zoom here.

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West Seattle Bridge Update, November 6; Budget Update; Increased Funds and an Agreement on Encampment Management; Cooper Legacy Award for Affordable Homeownership; Age Friendly Forums for LGBTQ+2S Seniors;

November 6th, 2020

West Seattle Bridge Update November 6

Next Monday morning SDOT will update the City Council on the West Seattle Bridge at the Council Briefings meeting, scheduled for 9:30 a.m.

After the recommendations from members of the Community Task Force last week, the decision on whether to repair or replace the bridge is in the Mayor’s hands.

SDOT reached a key milestone this week when they released the damaged bearings at Pier 18, one of the bridge’s four main support structures. SDOT notes:

“Imagine you have a bad back. There’s a tightness there, and you don’t know where it came from. All you know is that you need to release the stress to find relief. For the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge, a similar kind of relief came this week, as crews released damaged bearings on Pier 18.”

The lateral bearings allow the bridge to move in response to traffic, temperature changes, or even earthquakes. The bearings at Pier 18 were compressed and bulging, locking together two parts of the bridge which are normally independent, so the bridge couldn’t move as it should, creating additional pressure and affecting the bridge as a whole.

SDOT’s blog post about this has additional detail.

Below are photos showing recent bridge stabilization work and post-tensioning work, from earlier this week. Now that the bearing has been released, SDOT can perform the final 100% stressing of the post-tensioning system, and begin the final phase of carbon fiber exterior girder strengthening.

Here are the most recent traffic numbers:

Here are the most recent vehicle travel times:

This chart shows recent vehicle traffic on the lower bridge:


This Week in the Budget

Last week the Budget Committee met to consider Council Budget Actions and Statements of Legislative Intent developed by Councilmembers. The Budget Committee has not met this week.

This week Budget Chair Mosqueda is considering the more than 120 budget actions proposed by Councilmembers, and is developing a balancing package. The balancing package will be presented in the Budget Committee on November 10th. After that, Councilmembers can propose changes via amendment by November 12th at 5 p.m.; any proposals must be “self-balancing.”  “Self-balancing” means that the sponsor for the budget proposal must also identify a cut from the Chair’s balancing package to be permitted to make the proposal.

The following week, the Budget Committee will cast votes on the Chair’s balancing package and any amendments. Those meetings are scheduled for November 18th and 19th, with a Full Council vote planned for November 23rd.

You can view or download the full Select Budget Committee meeting calendar here.  Sign up to receive Select Budget Committee agendas by email here.

Public comment will be taken at the start of each meeting at 9:30 a.m. You can register to give comment on this page. The signup form is available two hours before each session begins.

COVID Update

Washington State Department of Health (DOH) released a statewide situation report on COVID-19 transmission last week, which shows coronavirus transmission is increasing throughout Washington. The best estimates of the reproductive number (how many new people each COVID-19 patient will infect) were 1.34 in western Washington and 1.12 in eastern Washington as of October 10. The goal is a number well below one, which would mean COVID-19 transmission is declining.

Here are the number of daily positive tests in Seattle since September:

On top of being widely distributed geographically, case counts in western Washington have been increasing in all age groups since mid-September. This suggests that no single transmission route is driving rising trends, and COVID-19 burden is widely dispersed across the population. Growth in cases is particularly pronounced in the 25 to 39 and 40 to 59 age groups.

We can all take steps to protect our friends, families and communities:

  • wear a mask around people you don’t live with (even close friends and family)
  • limit the number, size and frequency of gatherings
  • wash your hands frequently
  • get your flu shot
  • stay home if you’re sick.

If you do choose to gather with others, there are steps you can take to reduce risk.  Get tips for safer gatherings and ideas for alternative celebrations at coronavirus.wa.gov/gatherings.  And check out this 2-minute video from Public Health – Seattle King County about staying safe while gathering with friends and loved ones.

Help managing stress:  If you or anyone you know is struggling to manage stress from COVID-19, call the Washington Listens support line at 1-833-681-0211. Call 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

How to get help with health insurance in King County:  King County’s health insurance Navigators are once again offering personal help with the enrollment process through Washington Healthplanfinder — with special adaptations to protect against COVID-19.

  • Online: Coverage is Here King County website: Answers to basic questions, plus locations and dates for in-person assistance
  • Online: Washington Healthplanfinder website and app: It’s easy to browse specific options, compare pricing, and see whether a key provider or prescription is covered
  • Phone: King County hotline for health access and insurance questions: 800-756-5437
  • Phone: Washington Healthplanfinder: 855-923-4633
  • Email: Chap@Kingcounty.gov
  • Enrollment Centers: These sites are open several days each week to help people enroll.
    • Public Health-Seattle Metro Service Center, 201 S. Jackson, Seattle 98104 (November hours: Mon./Wed./Thurs. 10:00-4:00)
    • Public Health-Federal Way Enrollment Center, 1640 S. 318th P, Suite B, Federal Way 98003 (November hours: Mon./Tues./Thurs. 10:00-6:00; Wed. 11:00-8:00; Sat. 10:00-3:00)

Why is it important to get a flu shot this year? Getting a flu shot will make it easier for you and your primary care provider to decide how to treat any viral infection this winter. There is a lot of overlap between flu symptoms and early COVID-19 symptoms. If you have any symptoms and you have had the flu vaccine, that will be useful information to help decide on the best course of testing and treatment for you.

Select Safeway locations are offering free flu vaccine for uninsured adults, open to uninsured adults over the age of 18. No fee and no proof of residency or immigration status required.  Find a participating location here

New Expanded Roles for Accountability Partners in Bargaining Police Contracts

Earlier this week Mayor Durkan and I announced new, expanded roles for accountability agencies in bargaining police contracts. For the first time, a community representative from the Community Police Commission will have a role in the bargaining process.

In the upcoming contract negotiations with the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild (SPOG) and the Seattle Police Management Association (SPMA), a City Council representative will be at the bargaining table and Office of Police Accountability Director Andrew Myerberg, Inspector General Lisa Judge, and a member of the Community Police Commission will serve as bargaining advisors.

I noted in the announcement “This new role for the Community Police Commission is an important step in our collective efforts toward greater police accountability. Several items in the 2017 accountability legislation adopted by the Council, but not included in the last SPOG contract, require bargaining. All hands on deck with our three accountability bodies helping advise the City in the next bargaining round is critical,” said Councilmember Herbold (District 1, West Seattle/South Park). “In addition, having a City Council representative at the table will greatly enhance the ongoing knowledge of Councilmembers serving on the Labor Relations Policy Committee. I appreciate Mayor Durkan’s collaboration in making these significant improvements to the bargaining process.”

The existing contract with SPOG is set to expire on December 31, 2020, and the contract with SPMA expired on December 31, 2019. At upcoming negotiations, a City Council representative will sit at the bargaining table, alongside members of the City’s Labor Relations unit and the Seattle Police Department. Office of Police Accountability (OPA) Director Andrew Myerberg, Office of the Inspector General (OIG) Inspector General Lisa Judge, and Community Police Commission (CPC) member Suzette Dickerson will now serve as bargaining advisors to the City. Their role will be to provide input to the Labor Relations Policy Committee (LRPC) on bargaining parameters and strategy. They will be available upon request of the Labor Relations Director to attend bargaining sessions and provide feedback on contract proposals. Once the contract negotiations are complete and contracts are ratified by the union members and the City Council, the accountability partners and the City Council representative will provide input into the first public report that will be issued by the Labor Relations Director.

There was no formal City Council staff representation in previous contract negotiations with SPOG and SPMA, and only Mayor’s Office, Seattle Police Department, and Labor Relations representatives were at the table with the unions. While the OPA served as a bargaining advisor previously, the CPC did not, and the CPC never participated in LRPC meetings. The civilian-led accountability partners have distinct and independent roles: The OPA investigates allegations of misconduct by SPD employees; the OIG evaluates the department’s policies and practices to identify systemic issues and propose changes; and the CPC represents the community’s voice and provides community input on policing.

Proposition 1 Passage Great News for District 1

On Tuesday, Seattle voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 1 with 81% of the vote on election day. Here’s the statement I released after the vote:

“Today’s vote in support of Proposition 1 for transit funding is good news for West Seattle.  Proposition 1 specifies that up to $9 million annually to support mobility needs related to the closure of the West Seattle Bridge, and COVID-19 response and recovery.

“With the West Seattle Bridge closed through at least 2022, traffic and access issues will only increase once social distancing ends or decreases. Transit service will be critical to meeting the ambitious goals of SDOT’s Reconnect West Seattle plan.

“The ballot measure notes Investments could include, in addition to  transit service, speed and reliability improvements, first-last mile transit connections, and Transportation Demand Management strategies described in the community-driven Reconnect West Seattle plan.”

During Council deliberations in July I supported increasing the size of the measure from the Mayor’s original 0.1% sales tax proposal, to 0.15%. I proposed an amendment the Council adopted increasing the amount available for mitigating the closure of the West Seattle Bridge and COVID-19 response to $9 million annually.

I also sponsored an amendment to increase equity. Without this amendment the criteria for service would 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 adds as eligible routes “any King County Metro route serving historically low-income communities in Seattle.” The Council also adopted this.

Seattle University 6th Annual Citywide Public Safety Survey

Seattle University is administering the 6th annual citywide Seattle Public Safety Survey, which is open  through November 30th and is available in Amharic, Arabic, Chinese, English, Korean, Oromo, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog, Tigrinya and Vietnamese. The purpose of the survey is to solicit feedback on public safety and security concerns from those who live and/or work in Seattle Results are provided to the Seattle Police Department.

Results of previous surveys, and the survey, are available at the Seattle Police Department’s Micro-Community Policing Plan website.

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West Seattle Bridge Update November 2; Budget Update; Proposal to Redefine the Terms “duress” and “de minimis”; Increased Funds and an Agreement on Encampment Management; Cooper Legacy Award for Affordable Homeownership; Age Friendly Forums for LGBTQ+2S Seniors

November 2nd, 2020

West Seattle Bridge Update, November 2

The West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force met last Wednesday to make recommendations to the Mayor regarding the decision to repair or replace the West Seattle Bridge. The Mayor attended to hear the task force members’ comments.

Here are my comments:

“As the City Councilmember for District 1, I hear nearly every day from residents and businesses that are hurting.  The sooner we restore bridge access, the better. That’s a premium value for me. Once social distancing ends or decreases, traffic and access issues will only increase.  Two years for a repair is shorter than other alternatives. The capital cost is relatively affordable at $47 million compared to other options. The Council is poised to authorize $100 million in debt in the 2021 budget for items related to the West Seattle Bridge, the Reconnect West Seattle program, and lower bridge maintenance.

The Technical Advisory Panel’s confidence that a repair will last 40 years is compelling.  The Council’s independent consultant examined the longevity of a repair, and is in concurrence. See page 59 the Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA):

“..based on the work done to-date and the correlation of analytical modeling to measured behavior, the technical risk of the bridge not behaving as intended, thus limiting the service life of the rehabilitation, likely has a very low probability (less than 5 percent) of occurring.”

Under the CBA, the rating of repair alternative 2 has the highest value index–the ratio of performance to cost, which measures return on investment. It also has “the highest potential for an increase in value index as compared to other alternatives.”

Six years is too long; the impacts to residents and businesses will be too high. I don’t believe that any option that takes six years to construct is viable.

Risks for the rapid replacement option, proposed two weeks ago by the firm contracted to design a replacement for the West Seattle Bridge — should the replacement path be selected — have not been evaluated.  Those risks include permitting risks and funding risks.  In the proposed expedited timeline, a lot of things must go right. I believe that any consideration of the new rapid replacement option needs a risk analysis of the timelines and a clear articulation of the actions to be taken to meet those timelines.  Not all risks are solvable by political will; some elements would be out of the city’s control.

Equity is a highly rated attribute of the Cost Benefit Analysis. The higher equity attribute ratings, as shown by the map in the Cost Benefit Analysis, illustrates the location of disparate harmful impacts along detour routes through the southern portion of the peninsula and Duwamish communities as well as percentages of people of color by census tract. In the case of the West Seattle Bridge closure, equity is accomplished in the reduction of disparate harmful impact to communities historically disadvantaged through underinvestment.

Secondly, business and workforce impacts remain very important for West Seattle businesses, especially small businesses, but also for our regional economy due to reduced trips to and off the peninsula. Closure also impacts access to jobs and to supply chains.  Impacts to supply chains disproportionately impact smaller businesses with fewer resources to weather a closure.

I started my reflections here with a quote from the CBA; in closing, I offer another. The Cost Benefit Analysis states: “The additional duration required to design and construct a replacement structure, along with potential schedule slip risks, as compared to rehabilitating the bridge, would likely favor rehabilitating the bridge versus replacing the bridge, especially when considering the opportunity cost of time.”  I understand that the CBA is only one input to the important decision before you Mayor Durkan.  Considering the time and care that your West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force put into the development of the CBA, I respectfully request you consider the guidance it provides with the significant weight that I believe the guidance deserves.”

Next Steps

The decision to repair or replace the West Seattle Bridge is now with the Mayor.

The co-chairs of the Community Task Force, former Mayor Nickels and  Paulina Lopez, Executive Director of the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition will compile recommendations from members and send them to the Mayor.

Here’s a link to  last week’s presentation of final Cost Benefit Analysis.

Upcoming community task force meetings are scheduled for November 18 and December 2; the agenda for this week’s meeting lists topics for those meetings as a bridge update; Reconnect West Seattle implementation update, and repair/replace pathways update.

Home Zone Program in Highland Park

As part of the Reconnect West Seattle program, SDOT is implementing the Home Zone Program in affected neighborhoods that are experiencing increased traffic with the West Seattle Bridge closure. The program goals are to:

  • Create safe and walkable neighborhoods for people of all ages and abilities.
  • Create holistic plans that address traffic calming and maintaining local access.
  • Improve resident’s quality of life and strengthen community.

The week before last, I went on a walk with Highland Park residents and SDOT to discuss implementation of the Home Zone Program in Highland Park.

SDOT reported back to the Highland Park Action Coalition earlier last week, and will be bringing a work plan to the community, with a December target.

(photo: Michele Witzki)

SDOT staff have also done a similar walk with residents in South Park.

First Avenue South Bridge closure in January

WSDOT announced they will close two of the four southbound lanes of the 1st Avenue South Bridge for needed repairs in January, over a four week period. Northbound lanes will remain open.

As shown in the traffic data below, the average weekday volume for the 1st Avenue South Bridge for the week of October 16 was just under 103,000 vehicles, 7% higher than the February 2020 pre-COVID baseline.

The bridge is run by the state; I’ll pass on any updates I receive about schedule; exact dates haven’t yet been scheduled.

Here is the most recent traffic data:

Here are the most recent vehicle travel times:

West Seattle Bridge stabilization work

Last Monday SDOT announced their contractor is planning to finish installing the post-tensioning system; perform the Pier 18 release, and begin constructing a new bearing for Pier 18.

SDOT notes upcoming stabilization work:  “After the Pier 18 release and post-tensioning are complete, Kraemer North America will do other stabilization work including applying final layers of CFRP (carbon fiber reinforced polymer) to the girders and rebuilding the Pier 18 bearing. Once all stabilization work has been finished, we will lower the work platforms onto barges. This will likely be in late November or early December.

Budget Update

Last week the Budget Committee met to consider Council Budget Actions and Statements of Legislative Intent developed by Councilmembers. Below are the departments that were considered each day, with links to the agenda, that link to Councilmember proposals:

October 28: City Budget Office, Education and Early Learning, Neighborhoods, Finance and Administrative Services, City Attorney’s Office, Legislative Dept., Office for Civil Rights, Economic Development, Housing, Intergovernmental relations, Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, Planning and Community Development, Retirement System, Libraries, Public Utilities

October 29: Citywide, Finance General, Human Services, Sustainability & Environment, Construction and Inspections, Information Technology, Fire

October 30: Transportation, Homelessness, Police, Emergency Management, Parking Enforcement Officers

The Budget Committee will not meet next week. During that time, Budget Chair Mosqueda will consider the actions proposed by Councilmembers, and develop a balancing package. The balancing package will be presented on November 10th. After that, Councilmembers can propose changes by November 12th at 5 p.m.; any proposals must be self-balancing.

You can view or download the full Select Budget Committee meeting calendar here.  Sign up to receive Select Budget Committee agendas by email here.

Public comment will be taken at the start of each meeting at 9:30 a.m. You can register to give comment on this page. The signup form is available two hours before each session begins.

Proposal to Redefine the Terms “duress” and “de minimis”

There has been a lot of media attention last week on a proposed policy change still in development but discussed first in last week’s Budget Committee as well as written about in my weekly blog post last week.

During the budget process, after the Executive delivers their proposal Councilmembers submit rough ideas that are then presented during “Issue Identification.” These can be questions, high-level proposals, or more specific proposals. Next the Council moves to “Council Budget Actions” and Statements of Legislative Intent, these proposals were discussed last week.

I submitted a proposal as described below and here in our Central Staff’s presentation and memo.

The City currently spends approximately $20 million a year on incarceration, yet the progress on addressing the issues of behavioral health disorder or meeting basic human needs of those circling in and out of our carceral system continues to lag.  In order to better meet these needs and improve public safety outcomes  – we must continue to ramp up interventions to connect people before arrest and to do so by taking referrals directly from community members.

This proposal would not, as some have said, provide “blanket immunity from most misdemeanors,” nor would this proposal “provide an absolute defense.” Like any prosecution, the adjudication outcome lies with the Court.  This legislation would allow the judge and/or jurors to consider not just what may have happened but why it may have happened and whether the role of poverty and behavioral health struggles led to the alleged violation. The legislation reflects a confidence in the judges and residents of Seattle to determine, in the words of the Seattle Municipal Code, what conduct merits condemnation as criminal.

As we’ve seen in the massive national and international protests in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, it is past time that we reexamine our systems which often perpetuate homelessness and economic instability.

Incarceration is known to significantly increase the risk of housing instability and homelessness.  Thank you to Council President Gonzalez for sharing with me a report from The Prison Policy Initiative where it is noted that “formerly incarcerated people are almost 10 times more likely to be homeless than the general public.” This legislation will provide an alternative path forward for judges seeking to assist individuals who’ve committed misdemeanors that can be clearly traced back to mental illness, substance abuse disorders, homelessness and poverty.

The legislation is, as I write above, in development.   This proposal came out with all other proposals in the “issue identification” step of the budget process.  In “issue identification,” Central Staff and Councilmembers – in addition to making proposals to cut or add funds – flag the need for relevant pieces of budget legislation that could or should be adopted. That we’ve generated significant public awareness on this issue and have not yet introduced a bill will serve the Council and the public in our ongoing efforts to develop the bill.  I appreciate hearing the supportive statements in Budget Committee from the Councilmembers who serve on my Public Safety and Human Services Committee as well as the supportive letter from City Attorney Pete Holmes.

Increased Funds and an Agreement on Encampment Management

On Monday October 26, my colleagues and I approved legislation that provides an additional $2,074,000 for contracted outreach to people experiencing homelessness in 2020, while keeping a core team of City employees in the Human Services Department in order to coordinate efforts around encampments across City departments, and provide strategy and direction to contracted outreach providers who work directly with people living unsheltered.  The new funds can be used for behavioral health services, flexible financial assistance, case management, housing navigation services, and to support the technology needed and other administrative needs of the contracted outreach providers. 

This legislation is the result of several weeks’ worth of negotiations among myself; Councilmembers Lewis and Morales; the Mayor’s office; and outreach providers such as REACH and LEAD; to come to an agreement on a new approach to encampment management and outreach that will lead to fewer encampment removals, more voluntary compliance and good neighbor activities to address hazards and concerns, and improved health and safety for people living in encampments, their housed neighbors, and people who work nearby.  The resulting framework of shared principles is an important first step toward that vision.

This framework marks a shift toward a problem-solving model, so that in the future, when an outreach team is sent, the initial purpose isn’t assumed to be removing the encampment.  There is more work to be done to operationalize the framework over the next several weeks, and to ensure that the new approach truly serves the needs of people living unsheltered, of groups of people in encampments, and of their housed neighbors and neighboring businesses. Crucially, Council, the Executive, and outreach providers themselves will be working to build this new problem-solving approach together.

Cooper Legacy Award for Affordable Homeownership

I was honored to accept, along with Councilmember Mosqueda, the Cooper Legacy Award from Homestead Community Land Trust earlier last week, awarded for furthering the values of social justice, equity, inclusion, and community engagement.  The award recognized the importance of funding for affordable homeownership included in CM Mosqueda’s Jump Start progressive revenue tax.  I sponsored a successful amendment that will provide $6 million annually for affordable homeownership for people living at or below 80% of Area Median Income.

As I said in my acceptance: “Home ownership is key to building intergenerational wealth, and a key driver of the racial wealth gap.  We must bridge that gap with a focus on BIPOC families 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.”

Homestead Community Land Trust preserves and advances access to permanently affordable homeownership as a means to create thriving, equitable and inclusive communities.  I was honored to be one of its founding board members.  A community land trust (CLT) is a private, nonprofit organization created to acquire and hold land for the benefit of a community and provide secure affordable access to land and housing for community residents. In particular, CLTs work to meet the needs of residents not served by the housing market. CLTs prohibit speculation and absentee ownership of land and housing, promote ecologically sound land-use practices, and preserve the long-term affordability of housing.

Age Friendly Forums for LGBTQ+2S Seniors

On Friday, October 30th from 2:00 – 3:30pm, Age Friendly Seattle panel presentation was held on LGBTQ+2S & BIPOC: Vaccinations, Vaccine Trials and YOU.

The panelists included:

  • Russell Campbell, deputy director of the Office of HIV/AIDS (HANC) Network Coordination at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
  • Esther Lucero, CEO of the Seattle Indian Health Board, and a member of the Diné Nation
  • Peter Mann-King, co-chair of the Gay City—Seattle LGBTQ Center board of directors and a program manager with the LGBTQI+ Initiative at Swedish Health Services
  • Karina Walters, director of the Indigenous Wellness Research Institute, UW School of Social Work, and a member of the Choctaw Nation

The panel discussed BIPOC experience and concerns and support enrollment among those disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and other health conditions.

See LGBTQ+2S forums here.

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West Seattle Bridge Update, October 23; Budget Update; Budget Public Hearing; Domestic Violence Help; Assistance for Renters and Homeowners; Free Flu Shots; Parking Lots Reopening in Parks; VOTE

October 24th, 2020

West Seattle Bridge Update, October 23

This week SDOT released the Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) report, developed to inform the decision whether to repair or replace the West Seattle Bridge. SDOT has a blog post about this, which includes a link to a reader’s guide. The CBA includes cost estimates for construction and operations and maintenance, and includes monetized risk and life-cycle costs.   Monetized risk is a phrase used throughout and it means a calculation of potential cost impacts, based on probability plus impact of risks.

SDOT briefed the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force on Wednesday; the task force will consider recommendations on the CBA next Wednesday, October 28th.

The task force also heard other updates from SDOT, and also a presentation from HTNB, the design company hired by SDOT, about an option they call “rapid span replacement.

Updates

SDOT has been continuing work on stabilizing the West Seattle Bridge; this is an important element of any potential repair option.

Here are Reconnect West Seattle projects that have been completed:

SDOT’s target date for activating the automated enforcement system on the lower bridge is December 1st, with warning notices issued in December, and a target date for violation notices to begin on January 1st, 2021. Cameras will be mounted at the bridge entrance, with warning signs; signs will be installed soon to note upcoming enforcement. SDOT has created a Low Bridge Access Subcommittee to examine use of the bridge; once enforcement begins, new traffic patterns may emerge that could allow for more flexible use of the lower level bridge.

 

Cost Benefit Analysis

In the CBA, SDOT emphasizes the cost figures are rough order of magnitude projections, not cost estimates. These conceptual options are at 0% design.

The capital project costs listed include construction, monetized risks, design and 3rd party review. The life cycle costs include O&M, repair/rehabilitation, and remaining service life through 2100:

Of the alternatives examined, alternative 1 is expensive, with a short lifespan:

Alternative 2, Repair, shows an upfront construction cost of $47 million, and could return traffic in 2022; SDOT notes potential drawbacks below:

Additional detail shows much of the ownership cost comes via the need to replace it before 2100, and O&M lifetime costs of $40.5 million, while noting further study needed for increased certainty on duration of repairs:

Alternative 4 is a superstructure bridge replacement, with upfront constriction costs at $383 million, and a 75 year life. It estimates traffic reopening in 2026.

Here’s additional detail; an example of monetized risk is $189 million for the potential for the US Coast Guard to want higher vertical clearance beyond the current 140 feet. Lifetime O&M costs are $22 million:

Alternative 5 is a full replacement, with a $564.7 million construction cost estimate; there could be greater risks with Coast Guard permitting.  It would last 75 years, and open in 2026.

Lifetime O&M is estimated at $29.5 million. The monetized risk included is $149.5 million for the FAA, regarding flight path restrictions for a higher bridge.

Alternative 6 is an immersed tub tunnel, estimated at $1.99 billion for construction, with a 2030 opening date:

Lifetime O&M is estimated to cost $110 million:

Here’s how the alternatives compare based on the attributes included in the CBA; a repair is the baseline, so it’s rated 5.0; other options are rated in comparison. The repair option rates best on the following attributes:  equity, environmental, business and workforce impacts, and mobility impacts, with a shorter closure. Other options rate higher on these attributes:  O&M, constructability, forward compatibility, funding opportunities, multimodal impacts, and seismic/safety.

Here’s a comparison of annual average (and total through 2100) operations and maintenance costs:

The Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) report is 89 pages and dense. It includes more detailed information about what’s described above.  Below are a few examples of what is included.

Here’s the decision matrix of the key questions considered:

Here’s a chart showing the diversion routes due to the bridge closure. It shows the greatest impact in neighborhoods with higher percentages of people of color. It estimated options 2, 4 and 5 had the least impact on communities of color, due to shorter closures, compared to options 1 and 6.

Charts are shown for the attributes from the CBA.  Here’s the one for business and workforce impacts:

A summary of attribute findings, using ratings from SDOT, the Community Task Force, and the Technical Advisory Panel found Alternative 4 (Superstructure Replacement) with the highest score:

On the other hand, the Technical Advisory Panel analysis found Alternative 2 (Repair) had the highest score:

In the monetized risk section, it notes the risk of a repair not meeting a 40 year service life is very low (less than 5%).  The CBA includes several sensitivity studies.  Sensitivity studies assess the potential for different CBA outcomes under a set of different assumptions, and show how even slight variations in assumptions can yield different CBA outputs. Separate studies were done on  service life, existing bridge seismic/safety performance, cost contingency impacts, risk monetization impacts, accelerated construction impacts and discount rate.

The studies overall found that the Repair option has the highest value index.  The value index is the ratio of performance to cost,  The repair option also has the highest potential for an increase in value index.

Rapid Span Replacement

The CBA includes high-level replacement options. SDOT has said they are interested in pursuing options for a replacement that could be completed sooner than 2026. I appreciate SDOT considering any options or construction or design methods that can tighten timelines; 6 years is far too long.

SDOT’s design consultant, HNTB, presented to the task force on Wednesday about a proposal based on their work on a bridge at Lake Champlain, which was completed in two years. This option was not included in the CBA; it fits within Alternative 4, Superstructure replacement.

The forthcoming decision is about repair and replacement only.  If replacement is chosen as the preferred alternative, a 12 week “Type, Size and Location” study would be needed to consider the various replacement options. That would get design to 30%.

For this option, HNTB suggests it could be completed in early 2023. The main center span would be developed offsite, brought in by a barge, and raised. For this reason, demolition and construction work could proceed at the same time.

Their assumptions are below:

Schedule risks include permitting. One assumption is that, because there is minimal in water work, permits could be obtained faster than usual. This would depend on a high degree of interagency cooperation at multiple levels. Funding would also need to be obtained relatively quickly. The site, for purposes of construction, is relatively constrained as well.

HNTB says the bridge would have a lower weight, with the use of steel, reducing the stress on the existing pilings, and enhancing seismic performance. They indicate that, in the future, elements of the bridge could be replaced while the bridge remains in service.

They indicated the potential for significantly shorter closures to maritime traffic during construction; the image below projects how a center span would be brought in by a barge and the challenges with the lower bridge.

Finally, HNTB projects a shorter construction schedule, with an opening in 2023, significantly shorter than the replacement options considered in the CBA, I.e. 2026.

This Week in the Budget

On Tuesday and Wednesday the Budget Committee continued Issue Identification sessions, where Central Staff reports on the Mayor’s proposed budget, and identifies potential issues for the Council to address. Councilmembers can also raise issues, or potential proposals.

Here are the presentations from this week:

October 20

Parks and Recreation I Central Staff Memo I Presentation

Department of Transportation I Presentation I Central Staff Memo

Police Department I Central Staff Memo I Presentation

October 21

Community Safety and Violence Prevention | Memo | Presentation

Human Services Department | Presentation | Memo

Homelessness Response | Presentation | Memo

Citywide COVID-19 Response | Presentation | Memo

Next week the Budget Committee will meet on Wednesday through Friday to hear Council Budget Actions and Statements of Legislative Intent. This round will include more detailed proposals than during Issue Identification; these proposals also require two co-sponsors.  The Budget Chair will consider these proposals in developing a Balancing Package, scheduled for November 10th.

You can view or download the full Select Budget Committee meeting calendar here.  Sign up to receive Select Budget Committee agendas by email here.

Public comment will be taken at the start of each meeting at 9:30 a.m. You can register to give comment on this page. The signup form is available two hours before each session begins.

Budget Public Hearing

On Tuesday the 27 at 5:30pm the Council will host its second Public Hearing on the Budget. Check out the committee website here for committee dates and to sign up for public comment for the Public Hearing. You can register for public comment two hours before the meeting begins and the hearing will go until everyone has been heard.

Below are some of the items I proposed during this week’s Issue Identification meetings.

Homeless Outreach for D1: 

I am requesting the addition of a homeless outreach worker dedicated to West Seattle and South Park.  This position would support individuals facing behavioral health (including substance abuse and/or mental health issues) and homelessness in our neighborhoods to access services and reduce barriers to stable housing.

Social Service Provider Academy Support:

Provide funding to support students at the Social Service Provider Academy (SSPA) at Seattle Central College (SCC). This is a career development program that offers higher education opportunities to housing and homeless social services entry level staff, many of whom have been previously homeless themselves, who are working to advance in their field.

Duress and Di Minimis Defense Legislation:

This bill redefines the City’s definition of duress and di minimis in the Seattle Municipal Code to reduce the use of the King County Jail in instances where a jail sentence is not appropriate. If the bill passes, the duress and di minimis defenses could be utilized for individuals who, “at the time of the offense, experience symptoms of a behavioral health disorder or a behavioral health condition.” Or when, “the defendant committed the offense with the intent of meeting a basic need the defendant was experiencing at the time of the offense.”

Transferring Some Harbor Patrol Functions to the Seattle Fire Department:

Consistent with Resolution 31962, this proposal would work towards transfer of certain aspects and functions of Harbor Patrol from the SPD to SFD.

Sidewalk Repairs:

Increase funding for repairing sidewalks, as recommendation in the Policy Recommendations for Sidewalk Repair in Seattle, developed by SDOT with the Evans School at the UW.

Fauntleroy Boulevard Project:

The Mayor’s proposed budget eliminates funding for the Fauntleroy Boulevard Project. I do not suport this decision. Full funding for the project was included in the Move Seattle Levy, passed by voters in 2016. 100% design was reached in fall of 2017.

Implementation of that project was delayed in January 2018, however, because the project overlaps with one of the options under consideration for Sound Transit’s light rail project; consequently, a decision on implementation was delayed until completion of Sound Transit’s EIS process, expected to be completed in 2022.

SDOT’s Fauntleroy Project Website (dated November 1, 2019) committed to the objectives of this  project:

“We remain committed to the goals of the Fauntleroy Boulevard Project. If Sound Transit’s light rail design for West Seattle does not impact Fauntleroy Way, we will move forward with the full project as designed. If Sound Transit’s design impacts Fauntleroy Way, we will work with Sound Transit to implement streetscape improvements on Fauntleroy Way that align with goals of the Fauntleroy Boulevard Project.”

The Role of Parking Enforcement Officers:

Expand the function of the proposed Seattle Emergency Communications Center to include Parking Enforcement Officers (PEOs) and rename the office the Seattle Community Safety and Communications Center (CSCC). Consider expanding the current role of the PEOs to assume functions currently provided by SPD sworn officers, which could include red light camera enforcement, school zone enforcement, response to non-injury collisions, response to and reporting on minor thefts and car break-ins, and traffic control.  This would have the benefit of allowing armed officers to focus on work only they can do;  56% of calls SPD responded to in 2019 were non-criminal.

PEOs have passed extensive background checks, and are knowledgeable about police procedures. The Director of the PEO Guild has noted extensive language skills of PEOs in Amharic, Tigrigna, Soninke, Swahili, Luganda, Cantonese, Spanish, French, Bulgarian, Swedish and Malay; over 60% are BIPOC.

Implementing some of these items  may require bargaining.

West Seattle Bridge/Reconnect West Seattle:

Require reporting for the West Seattle Bridge/Reconnect West Seattle program.

SPD Overtime Tracking:

This will be a request to SPD to report to the Council on use of overtime.

SPD Vacancies:

Remove vacant positions, some of which are funded, and invest those dollars into participatory budgeting.

SPD Budget:

This proposal would reintroduce reductions to the SPD budget adopted in the 2020 summer budget rebalancing. This includes proposals for out of order layoff reductions in sworn officers and reduction of overtime and travel. Those dollars would be invested into participatory budgeting.

CHEL Funding Transfer:

This proposal would move $1.4M that Council has provided for Community Health Engagement Locations (CHELs) from General Fund to the Human Services Department, with the expectation that HSD may contract those funds to Public Health for supervised consumption services.

Restore Funds Cut to Age Friendly Seattle:

Restore $60,358 to the Age Friendly Seattle operating budget for contracts and administration.

LEAD reporting:

In response to RES 31916 passed by Council in 2019, require reporting on projected referrals to LEAD from multiple referral pathways through 2023, and the resources required to bring LEAD to scale and ensure its ability to accept all referrals citywide.

Domestic Violence – Where to Find Help

If you or someone you know needs help, you can call, chat, or text, 24 hours everyday, at the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233.  For more ideas and action steps that you can take to end domestic violence, visit: https://endgv.org/ or https://wscadv.org/dvam/.

In Washington State, 41 percent of women and 32 percent of men report experiencing violence from an intimate partner. The City of Seattle invests more than $10 million annually in community programing focused on gender-based violence. Through these investments, HSD and partners support more than 10,000 survivors each year.

While domestic violence does not discriminate, language barriers, lack of culturally relevant services, threats of deportation, and fear of isolation put marginalized communities at an increased risk of experiencing gender-based violence. Women of color and Native women are two-to-three times more likely to experience a gender-based, violence-related fatality than their white counterparts.

Yesterday was Purple Thursday, a day when we are asked to honor and stand in solidarity with survivors of domestic violence by wearing purple.  October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which the Human Services Department (HSD) and the Office of Labor Standards (OLS) have recognized as a time to remember victims and survivors of abuse and exploitation; to raise awareness about violence and its effect on families and communities; and to acknowledge and highlight those working to end gender-based violence.

Financial Assistance Available for Renters and Homeowners

Renters

The City of Seattle has allocated $12 Million to expand UWKC’s Home Base program to provide rental assistance to King County households that have lost all or part of their income due to the coronavirus pandemic. If you are a renter and you would like to apply for rental assistance, please visit www.uwkc.org/renthelp. Interpreters are available through 211.

If you are a member of a community-based organization, City board or commission, or otherwise serve as an ambassador for a Seattle community or neighborhood group, we invite you to attend an upcoming webinar to learn more about the rental assistance program and how to promote the program to the communities you serve. Webinars will take place on Thursday, October 22 from 10-11am and Friday, October 23 from 9-10am. When you register for one of these dates, you will receive an e-mail with the link to join the webinar. If you have any questions about these upcoming webinars, please e-mail Stephanie.Velasco@Seattle.gov or call 206-641-4972.

Homeowners

Last month the City announced $700,000 to scale up its support of mortgage counseling and foreclosure prevention loans administered by HomeSight.  If you are experiencing financial hardships that may impact your ability to make any of your housing payments, please call the Washington Homeownership Resource Center’s Hotline 1-877-894-4663.They will refer you to free or low-cost resources that may be able to help with housing payments including your mortgage, property taxes or homeowner’s dues.

If you need information in a language other than English, the operators will connect you with a third-party interpreter. Tell them in English what language you need for interpretation, and wait on the line while they get an interpreter to help.

Get Your Flu Shot for Free

The City and Seattle Visiting Nurses Association (SVNA) are providing free flu shots through the end of October.  The City-sponsored flu clinic at Genesee Park (10/30) will offer language access to accommodate individuals facing language barriers.  Flu shots are available to all, insured or uninsured.

Sign up for a flu shot time here.

Date Locations Hours
Monday, October 26th Cleveland High School 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Chief Sealth High School 10:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Tuesday, October 27th Washington Middle School 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
South Shore K-8 10:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Wednesday, October 28th Chief Sealth High School 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Madison Middle School 10:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Thursday, October 29th South Shore K-8 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Cleveland High School 10:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Friday, October 30th Rainier Beach High School 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Genesee Park 10:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Parks Parking Lots Reopen

Parking lots for District 1 parks that have been closed for the past few months reopened on Monday, Oct. 19.  Check out the Parks department’s list of parking lots for up to the minute information about which parking lots remain closed in other parts of the City.

VOTE

Tuesday, November 3 is the election, but you should have already received your ballot, and you can send it back as soon as you receive it.  Don’t wait. You can mail it back (without a stamp), or take it to a ballot drop box. Be sure to make a plan to vote. Are you mailing it in or taking it to a drop box? Plan a time to do this and follow up here to make sure your vote is counted.

If you’re not yet registered to vote, it’s not too late! You can register online through October 26.

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West Seattle Bridge update, October 16; Budget Update; RV Pump-out Program; West Seattle Junction BIA Public Safety Meeting; Lowman Beach Racket Court Redesign; Free Learning Hub at SW Teen Life Center; Virtual Office Hours

October 16th, 2020

West Seattle Bridge Update, October 16

Three updates at West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force Meeting

At the meeting of the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force on Wednesday, we received three important updates from SDOT regarding the decision on whether to repair or replace the West Seattle Bridge.

First of all, SDOT Director Zimbabwe announced that SDOT will release the final Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) on Monday. The CBA is developed to inform the decision whether to repair or replace the West Seattle Bridge. It’s critical for the members of the task force (and the public) to have this information, in order to fulfill their intended function of providing advice about the decision. Members of the task force expressed frustration last week at the amount of information they had received, and not having cost estimates beyond dollar signs from one to five, for both construction and maintenance and operations. I’ve heard the CBA is approximately 80 pages, and will likely be released Monday, so it will be challenging for task force members to digest by the next meeting on October 21st. There will likely be another meeting added the following week to better allow members to fulfill the function of providing informed advice.

Secondly, given the timing of the availability of the CBA, the Mayor is no longer expected to announce a decision at the task force meeting on the 21st.

Third, SDOT Director Zimbabwe announced their design contractor, HNTB, has brought forward a  replacement alternative based on the Lake Champlain Bridge, a two-lane bridge between New York and Vermont which opened in 2011. Here’s a  “white paper” prepared by the two state transportation agencies and the Federal Highway Administration, available at the NYDOT project page. SDOT will be presenting about it  at the task force meeting on Wednesday; I have not received any information about this beyond what is publicly available.

The replacement options considered to date have been presented to inform the decision whether to repair or replace the bridge; a Type, Size and Location study will be needed to decide what replacement would be used. The options presented so far include estimated opening dates in 2026, compared to 2022 for a repair. There’s been a suggestion that a new “rapid replacement” option could potentially be done in three years.

According to the white paper, the Lake Champlain project was completed in shortly over two years, through approaches on permitting, design and construction, and demolition of the bridge.

The white paper notes there was an unusual amount of close cooperation on permitting, including with  federal agencies, and between federal agencies.  A design-bid-build process was used, which can save time compared to standard processes.

Environmental review was condensed to five months, rather than e.g. 5+ years. No EIS was required; the project was able to receive a “Categorical Exclusion with Documentation;” it was built along the same alignment as the original bridge.

Off-site construction was used to build bridge elements, and brought into place on a barge; the center span was raised 75 feet.

In addition, the previous bridge was demolished (see 40 seconds in), and went into the lake.

The white paper indicates 80% of funding was provided by the federal government, with the rest split between the two states.

Compared to that project, there is a more challenging environment adjacent to the West Seattle Bridge, with the Port of Seattle and numerous adjacent maritime businesses, a salmon run and Native treaty fishing rights, and an urban environment.  In addition, much of the bridge is above land. It’s hard to see approval for any permitting to demolish the bridge into the Duwamish, for example. In addition, conceptual options for replacement presented to date by SDOT for Superstructure Replacement and Full Replacement include replacing portions of the bridge that are over land. An earlier option to replace only the center span (which is mostly over the water) was deemed infeasible.

While it’s unlikely all these conditions of the Lake Champlain Bridge could be replicated for the West Seattle Bridge, it’s important to learn what we can about accelerating timelines from other projects, as well as innovative approaches toward permitting and interagency coordination  whether we proceed with a repair or a replacement.

Permitting Risk and BNSF Rail Bridge

Schedule and permitting risks are an important element of the West Seattle Bridge decision. One of the risks mentioned in the cost/benefit analysis is permitting, e.g. vertical clearance required by the US Coast Guard.

In this spirit, recent developments on the ship canal rail bridge are worth keeping in mind. Last week BNSF Railroad announced they will be repairing the 1914 railroad bridge over the ship canal.

Two years ago BNSF had announced they planned a new bridge, with a vertical lift span, that would have 155 feet of vertical clearance, 15 feet more than the West Seattle Bridge

I have heard that the Coast Guard may have wanted additional vertical clearance beyond that. So I believe the risk re: delays for Coast Guard permitting must be fully vetted, and strongly encourage SDOT to contact BNSF re: their experience. We cannot end up in that kind of position two years from now, deciding to change course.

Survey says?

On October 12 at approximately 7 p.m., I conducted an online survey asking whether people support a repair or a replacement of the West Seattle Bridge.

It’s not a scientific survey, and geographic responses aren’t representative of District 1 overall.  That said, it is useful for receiving feedback from constituents at this point in time. Thank you to all who engaged.

As of 7 p.m. on October 14, approximately 7,000 people had participated and of them, 59.8% favored repair, 36% supported replacement, and 4.2% supported other.

39% of replies were from 98116, the zip code furthest north in West Seattle. Other zip codes, such as 98106 and 98126, stretch from north to south, 98126 is in the central portion, 98106 in the eastern portion. 98136 is the SW portion of West Seattle, and 98108 includes South Park.  98146 includes the very southwest portions of the city.

Zip Repair Replace % of Total Replies
98116 66.8% 29.6% 39% of total
98126 64.7% 31.39% 24% of total
98136 58.6% 37.1% 16% of total
98106 41.7% 54.6% 16% of total
98146 37.3% 60% 4% of total
98108 34% 66% 1% of total

Traffic

Here are the most recent traffic numbers:

The most recent travel times are below:


This Week in the Budget

On Tuesday, the Council’s Budget Committee began work on Issue Identification sessions, where Central Staff reports on the Mayor’s proposed budget, and identifies potential issues for the Council to address. Councilmembers can also raise issues, or potential proposals. Here’s the schedule, and presentations available so far; departments not identified are included in the “Miscellaneous Issues” section.

October 15

Introduction and Issue Identification Overview | Presentation

General Fund Balancing Analysis | Central Staff Memo | Presentation

October 16

Department of Sustainability and Environment | Central Staff Memo | Presentation

Department of Neighborhoods | Central Staff Memo | Presentation

Seattle Public Library | Central Staff Memo | Presentation

Miscellaneous Issue Identification | Central Staff Memo | Presentation

Issue ID meetings will continue on Tuesday and Wednesday next week:

October 20:

  • Parks
  • SDOT
  • Police

October 21:

  • Community Safety
  • Human Services
  • Homelessness
  • COVID-19

On October 22:

deadline for Council Budget Actions and Statements of Legislative Intent (SLIs) that will be presented beginning on October 28th. Items must have three sponsors, and specific dollar amounts.

You can view or download the full Select Budget Committee meeting calendar here.  Sign up to receive Select Budget Committee agendas by email here.

Public comment will be taken at the start of each meeting at 9:30 a.m. You can register to give comment on this page. The signup form is available two hours before each session begins.

There will be a second public hearing October 27 at 5:30 p.m.

Below are some of the items I have proposed this week; more of my proposals will come next week:

Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs):

The Seattle Fire Department does not currently own AEDs, also known as Lucas Devices. These devices are used when it’s difficult or unsafe for a medic to perform CPR.

Funding for Bunking Gear:

Some of the Seattle Fire Department’s bunking gear that our Fire Fighters currently wear each day is getting older, expiring, wearing out, and does not provide our first responders with the best technology available to keep them safe at extreme fires and other dangerous emergencies. High quality bunking gear protects firefighters and contributes to savings lives.

Provide funding to a. reverse cut of Fire exams and b. reverse cut of 20 firefighters from SFD recruit class

This budget action would allow SFD to maintain current hiring and testing capacity. The hiring freeze instituted by the Mayor only effects civilian employees and therefore the SFD should maintain its ability to test and recruit new firefighters.  The Seattle Fire Department has recently seen an increase in firefighter separations, and If the same attrition pattern on average over the last five years (38 separations) continues in 2021, SFD could have 75 vacancies with an additional 412 eligible for retirement. The City should continue its testing and hiring to ensure that the increase in separations, if continued, does not affect SFD operations.

South Park Public Safety Coordinator:

One of my top priorities is to provide funding to continue the work of the South Park Public Safety Coordinator. This position was the top priority recommendation in the 2017 South Park Public Safety Taskforce Report funded by the City Council. The report recommended a bilingual resident to coordinate community public safety efforts in South Park, working with the South Park Safety Partners.

Current priorities include facilitating community safety dialogue around South Park’s experience around policing and alternatives to police in South Park; street and safety concerns due to West Seattle Bridge closure, business district concerns, and youth engagement. Recent work includes coordinating Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) work in youth art murals and a Clean Streets Initiative, community support during COVID, neighborhood walks, and facilitating and distributing a neighborhood newsletter in English, Spanish and Vietnamese.

South Park is a low-income, majority BIPOC neighborhood, with numerous residents who are immigrants; a majority of South Park neighbors speak a language other than English at home; the median income is 33% less than the city average; 83% of students are eligible for free and reduced lunch programs.

Update on SPU RV Pump-out Program

In last year’s budget process I worked to add $180,000 to fund a RV pump-out pilot program that provides contracted mobile pump-out services, of black and gray water, to RVs located in environmentally sensitive areas. This effort was in response to recommendations of the City Auditor.  The program was originally planned to service between 40 and 64 RVs per month in order to protect our waterways as well as providing critical public health services to unhoused people who live in RVs.

At the beginning of the public health emergency in March Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) expanded their goals to provide increased hygiene services. Between July and August SPU averaged over 100 pumps-outs and they expect to continue providing this level of service. Furthermore, SPU has developed program flyers for outreach and has created a text service to communicate with RV occupants about when and where the next pump-out will take place. Finally, SPU has also begun partnering with Saint Vincent DePaul, helping to connect RV occupants with additional services during the pump-out.

West Seattle Junction BIA Public Safety Meeting

I participated in a meeting on Tuesday, October 13th hosted by the West Seattle Junction Business Improvement Area to discuss public safety concerns around Junction Plaza Park.  The City’s executive branch was represented by members of the Hygiene Station Team, including: Tess Colby – Senior Advisor, Office of the Mayor, Tom Van Bronkhorst – Strategic Advisor, Department of Neighborhoods, Bill Benzer – Seattle Public Utilities, Joe Everett – Precinct Liaison Attorney City Attorney’s Office, and Sina Ebinger – Operations Lieutenant Seattle Police Department.

Aaron Burkhalter, program manager for LEAD in West Seattle, also participated to talk about LEAD’s recent expansion into West Seattle.  I had connected LEAD with the BIA, which is coordinating neighborhood input, in order to begin to address some of the concerns expressed about Junction Plaza Park.  LEAD provides services to individuals who commit low-level criminal offenses (such as drug possession, sales, and prostitution offenses) in order to improve public safety, and its approach has been found to reduce criminal recidivism.  Aaron also participated in my Town Hall on September 30th; you can view his remarks here at about the 22 minute mark.

At some hygiene stations, the City has a contract with Millionair’s Club to provide cleaning services, staffing, and security.  I suggested this approach to the Hygiene Station Team during the meeting, and am inquiring about the cost of a such an approach.

As part of the 2021 budget deliberations, I’ll be proposing the addition of a homeless outreach worker dedicated to West Seattle and South Park.

Lowman Beach Racket Court Redesign

At Lowman Beach Park, 7017 Beach Dr. S W., the existing court will be removed as part of the Shoreline Restoration and Seawall Replacement project.  The Lowman Beach Park seawall began to fail in 2015. As visitors to the park have seen, the existing seawall is slowly falling over/sliding towards the water. SPR’s goal is to remove the existing seawall and continue the shoreline restoration work that began when the south half of the seawall failed in the mid-1990s and was removed.

For more information or to review the meeting in August please visit https://www.seattle.gov/parks/about-us/current-projects/lowman-beach-racket-court-design.

Free Learning Hub at SW Teen Life Center (With Food!) for Your Middle or High School Student

Looking for a safe, welcoming space for your young person to work on daily virtual learning? Seattle Parks and Recreation has learning hubs for middle or high school students at seven locations across the city, including SW Teen Life Center.

Free, with wifi, these spaces are equipped with community center and youth program staff who can help your student get engaged in learning.  The facilities offer a stable, productive environment by providing access to Seattle Public School’s virtual learning portals, along with recreational, enrichment and mentoring programs and in-person assistance with connectivity and academics. Breakfast and lunch are provided daily.

The hubs adhere to current public health standards by performing regular cleaning, sanitizing and daily wellness/temperature checks. All staff and students are required to wear masks, and social distancing and room occupancy limits are followed.

Wi-fi is available; participants must bring a laptop or tablet. Bringing a refillable water bottle is also suggested.  The hub sites are open Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 5 pm, and run until June 18, 2021. For more information, click here or call SW Teen Life Center at 206-684-7438 – interpretation available.

Virtual Office Hours

On Friday October 23, I will be hosting virtual office hours between 2pm and 6pm, with the last meeting of the day beginning at 5:30pm. These office hours are being rescheduled from October 30 due to a Budget Committee meeting scheduled all day.

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

Additionally, here is the tentatively scheduled office hours for the month of December. These are subject to change.

  • Friday, December 18, 2020; 2-6pm
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West Seattle Bridge Update, October 9; This Week in the Budget; Play Areas, Adult Fitness Equipment, and Parks Parking Lots to Reopen!; Seattle Parks Offers Virtual Programming and a Survey; Get a Digital Library Card; 2020 Census; South Seattle College’s New Ballot Box; COVID Cases are Rising in King County

October 9th, 2020

West Seattle Bridge Update October 9

Cost Benefit Analysis and Repair or Replace

As part of the cost/benefit analysis on whether to repair or replace the West Seattle Bridge, SDOT is using conceptual alternatives to inform the decision. On Wednesday, SDOT presented these conceptional alternatives to the West Seattle Bridge Community Task.

The Technical Advisory Panel (TAP) appointed by SDOT notes that all alternatives are technically feasible from an engineering standpoint. The TAP is developing guidance on the pros and cons of each:

The options SDOT presented include estimated costs by dollar sign, from 1 to 5, for capital costs and operations and maintenance (O&M), and include length of construction, duration of the structure, and risks. It’s not easy to assess without specific costs; SDOT indicates they are at 0% design.

The replacement options are designed to inform the repair/replace option only; a type, size and location study would be needed to study options for any replacement.

The first alternative, shoring, would take 5 years to build, last 5 years, and would not restore full capacity; it’s not receiving serious considerations:

The second alternative is repair. Compared to replacement options, it has a lower capital cost, and higher maintenance costs; SDOT estimates traffic could return in 2022, and would last 15+ years. They previously have listed a 15-40 year range.

They note lower seismic performance, though it’s fair to say that’s the intrinsic nature of repairs compared to replacements built with updated seismic codes.

The next alternative is superstructure replacement, which would replace the bridge from Piers 15 to 18. The capital cost is estimated higher than a repair, with the maintenance cost lower. Traffic is estimated to return in 2026, with 75 year duration. SDOT estimated this option (while noting design is at 0%) could be 5-10 times as much as repair for capital costs, though with lower O&M costs.

(a center-span replacement, Alternative 3, was deemed infeasible):

The next alternative is a full replacement bridge. A cable stay bridge is shown; SDOT notes that is just one potential approach. The construction cost is higher than the two previous options, and O&M is in between. SDOT estimates it would take six years:

The final option considered for the cost/benefit analysis is an immersed tube tunnel. SDOT estimates the  construction and O&M costs are estimated to be higher than other options, and construction would take until 2030:

Here’s a chart that compares the 10 attributes considered in the cost/benefit analysis. Alternative 2, Repair, is the baseline, so other options are scored in comparison.

Compared to a repair, replacement options are rated better for seismic; multi-modal impacts, and O&M; a replacement rates better for equity, business and workforce impacts, mobility impacts. Impact for residents isn’t mentioned, but it’s fair to include that as well.

Here’s SDOT’s assessment of the decision:

Here’s their description of how a replacement would proceed:

Here’s what will happen after the decision; it notes the “Type, Size and Location” will also proceed if a repair option is selected.

The task force is scheduled to meet on October 21st.  Members expressed interest in holding an additional meeting next week as well, for further discussion of the cost/benefit analysis, and providing  input as requested from the Mayor.

Here’s a link to presentation at the task force meeting. It introduces the term “certainty” a few times in the context of a decision; this wasn’t part of the cost/benefit analysis, and could potentially be more oriented toward a replacement.

The West Seattle Bridge is a critical lifeline for the West Seattle community. Its closure affects every resident and business on the peninsula. It is also a regional asset. The longer it takes for traffic and transit to resume, the more difficult it will be for West Seattle residents and businesses. A longer delay will also affect the Port of Seattle, and Terminal 5, which is being upgraded to handle megaship cargo vessels. I believe it’s vitally important to keep this in mind when making a decision.

Traffic/transit:

Here’s an update on traffic mitigation and Reconnect West Seattle work being done (the second phase of paving work this weekend on Olson/Myers is weather dependent):

The Lander Street Overpass has opened; as a result Route 50 will resume using the bridge.

Here’s the most recent traffic data and travel times:

Here are the most recent travel times:

Correction

Below is the correct slide for Technical Risks identified in the cost/benefit analysis as presented to the task force on September 23rd; last week’s newsletter had an incorrect slide.  Apologies for the error.


This Week in the Budget

The Budget Committee held a public hearing on the Mayor’s Proposed 2021 Budget on October 6th.

October 8th was the deadline for Councilmembers to identify issues for the Budget Deliberations and Issue Identification sessions. In these meetings, Council Central Staff will review the proposed budget and identify potential issues; issues identified by Councilmembers will also be included;  these can be questions, high-level proposals, or specific proposals. Budget Deliberation and Issue Identification Sessions are scheduled for October 15, 16, 20 and 21.

You can view or download the full Select Budget Committee meeting calendar here.  Sign up to receive Select Budget Committee agendas by email here.

Public comment will be taken at the start of each meeting at 9:30 a.m. You can register to give comment on this page. The signup form is available two hours before each session begins.

There will be a second public hearing October 27 at 5:30 p.m.

 

Play Areas, Adult Fitness Equipment, and Parks Parking Lots to Reopen!

All play areas and adult fitness equipment in Seattle parks are now open! Seattle Parks and Recreation staff, with support from Washington Department of Health and Seattle King County Public Health, have created some guidelines that can keep us all safe while using these spaces.  Please be aware that play areas and fitness equipment are not regularly sanitized or cleaned.

How to use play areas and equipment safely:

  • Play or fitness equipment is open to five or fewer kids or adults at a time
  • Some play areas have only one piece of play equipment (usually a climber/slide combo), and others have many pieces of equipment (swings, little kids climber, big kids climber, zipline, etc.). No more than five kids on a piece of play equipment.
  • Stay home if you are sick or if anyone in your family is sick.
  • Please wash your or your child’s hands before and after play/use.
  • Everyone, including all children over the age of two, must wear a mask. See here for mask information and exception because of disability.
  • Give yourself and others at least six feet of space.

Here are a few tips on how to keep us all safe and keep these spaces open:

  • Keep a close eye on your child to ensure that they are following the guidelines
  • Stay for a short time (30 min. or less) to give everyone an opportunity to play
  • No food or drink on the play equipment to ensure that masks are worn at all times.
  • Visit parks during less busy times. Visit less popular parks. Seattle has over 150 play areas (not including those at schools).
    • Mornings are less busy than afternoons
    • Weekdays are less busy than weekends
    • Lincoln, Green Lake, Seward, Magnuson, Discovery, Gas Works, Carkeek and Jefferson Park are some of Seattle’s busier play areas.
  • We are all in this together, so kindly remind others of the guidelines and find a different activity if the play area gets too crowded.

We cannot allow play areas to be places where COVID-19 is spread, so we need folks to use these spaces safely.

Parking lots that have been closed for the past few months will reopen on Monday, Oct. 19.


Seattle Parks Offers Virtual Programming and a Survey

Your favorite Seattle Parks and Recreation instructors have brought their talents to a screen near you! Community centers are closed, but check out online offerings below.  Take this survey to let Parks know what kind of virtual programming you would enjoy.  Learn more about online programs and sign up here, or click on the class names below.

Get a Digital Library Card

Although library buildings aren’t open to the public right now, you can still access Library resources with a Digital Library Card.  If you are 13 or older, live in Seattle and have a mobile phone, you can get instant access to e-books and e-audiobooks, start using Curbside Pickup at High Point or another location, and access to other resources within a few days.  Just fill out a simple application form hereSpanish and Vietnamese application forms are available.

Library staff are also ready to answer your phone call or chat or email through Ask Us.  Learn about the Library’s virtual or digital services here.

2020 Census

Haven’t responded to the 2020 Census yet? It’s not too late, but this your final warning! Go here to start the questionnaire, it takes less time than reading my weekly news letter, I promise.

Participating in the Census helps ensure an accurate count so that we all receive our fair share of federal funding and representation in Congress. If you have questions out the Census like how it works, data privacy, and history of the Census you can check out this FAQ here.

South Seattle College’s New Ballot Box

The South Seattle College wants to remind folks that there’s a new King County Elections Ballot Box on their campus located at 6000 16th Avenue SW. This is the third drop box we have in West Seattle now, the other two locations are the High Point Library (3411 SW Raymond) and Alaska Junction (Corner of SW Alaska Street and 44th Avenue SW).

The ballot drop boxes officially open on October 15, the day after ballots are mailed out and will remain open through election day, November 3. If you want to see a comprehensive list of ballot drop boxes around the County, you can see that here.

If you need to register to vote click here to register online.

COVID Cases are Rising in King County

You’ve probably heard that coronavirus is spreading at an accelerated pace in our community, including recent outbreaks at Salish Lodge and University of Washington.

We can make sure it doesn’t reach the levels it did last spring, and keep our neighbors, healthcare workers and first responders safe.  In fact, we have even more tools and information to fight coronavirus now than we did then.

TESTING

Seattle and King County is now recommending that anyone who has COVID-19 symptoms or close contact with someone who has COVID-19 be tested right away. Testing as soon as possible after symptoms appear is important to prevent COVID-19 from spreading to family, friends, and the community.  Call your healthcare provider to arrange for a test, or use one of the public testing locations in District 1:

Chief Sealth High School (ADA Accessible)

Make reservations online

2801 SW Thistle St., Seattle, WA 98126

Phone: 206-684-2489

Available, Mon-Sat, 9:30am-5:30pm

Languages: Interpretation available including ASL and tactile interpretation

Neighborcare Health at High Point

6020 35th Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98126

Available: Monsday-Friday, 12:30 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Call for appointment: (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: (206) 762-3730

Languages: Spanish, Interpretation available

The Greater Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network (SCAN) study is working to understand how COVID-19 is spreading throughout King County, and offers free, confidential, at-home tests. Enroll at scanpublichealth.org/screener.

Staying home is still safest

Maintaining the safety principles that led to the success against the outbreak has never been more important. These include continuing to practice physical distancing of 6 feet or more, minimizing contact with others outside the home, frequent hand washing or sanitizer, use of cloth face coverings in public, and avoiding group gatherings and poorly ventilated spaces.

Check out this blog post from Public Health on how to keep indoor spaces safe this fall and winter.

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West Seattle Bridge Update, October 3; District 1 Town Hall; This Week in the Budget; Grant Funding Available – Due 10/19; A New Proposal to Combat Rising Overdose Deaths in King County; Need Help With Child Care Costs?; Construction to Begin at Duwamish Waterway Park; Fare Share Legislation; Virtual Office Hours; Sidewalk Maintenance Report

October 5th, 2020

West Seattle Bridge Update, October 3

Automated Camera Enforcement Legislation

On Monday, September 28, the City Council adopted legislation that will allow for automated camera enforcement on the Spokane Street (lower) Bridge.

This was made possible by the action of the state legislature earlier this year under the leadership of Representative Joe Fitzgibbon, a long-standing effort the city has supported.

The state legislation allows for enforcement of transit lanes infractions and blocking the box. The state legislation authorized a pilot program through June 30, 2023.

Under the state law, only warning notices are allowed in 2020; fines of up to $75 starting in 2021, and half the funds would go to a state fund, and remaining funds may only be used for equitable access transportation improvements and mobility for persons with disabilities.

SDOT has indicated that uses of and access to the Spokane Street “lower” bridge can be reconsidered after camera enforcement begins, and resulting traffic patterns are reviewed.  SDOT has developed a subcommittee consisting of members of the Community Task Force to make recommendations for changes to lower level bridge access policies.

Currently, general access is allowed on the lower bridge from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., for school buses, and a limited number of employer shuttles, vanpools of essential workers, West Seattle businesses, and  Longshoreman. I’ve advocated for additional uses when possible, and recommended a resident of the northern portion of the peninsula be included in the subcommittee. I continue to hear requests  from for example residents, health care workers, businesses and residents.

Categories of Risk in the Cost/Benefit Analysis

In the cost/benefit analysis SDOT is doing on whether to repair or replace the West Seattle Bridge, one of the elements being considered is risk. There are three main categories they have identified: schedule, stakeholder/public, and technical.

Schedule risks can include delays in attaining funding, necessary permits, impacts of other projects, and discovery of new information. Here’s how they compare potential risks for repair and replacement:

Stakeholder/public risks include lack of support for repair or replace decisions or for future design alternatives. SDOT sees this applying for both repair and replacement:

 

Technical risks include accurately predicating how the bridge will respond to stabilization measures, and working with requirements of other agencies such as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Coast Guard, and accurately predicting which standards will apply. For example, the Coast Guard’s interest in a replacement providing adequate clearance for maritime vessels, and the FAA’s interest in not interfering with aviation.

On October 7, SDOT will present to the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force “rough order of magnitude” costs based on the cost/benefit analysis, and on October 21, a final cost/benefit evaluation, as well as a decision from the Mayor on whether to repair or replace the bridge

Traffic Data

The most recent traffic report is below, with high volumes continuing on West Marginal and Highland Park Way SW:

Here are the most recent travel times:


District 1 Town Hall

Thanks to everyone who participated in the September 30th District 1 Town Hall on public safety and the West Seattle Bridge. We had just over 530 attendees, and 88 questions.

Thanks as well to Police Chief Diaz and SW Precinct Captain Grossman for their participation, and the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) team for presenting the news about their expansion into the SW Precinct, and to SDOT for their update on the West Seattle Bridge. Thanks also for Brian Callanan of the Seattle Channel for hosting.

 

You can view the town hall on YouTube here.

This Week in the Budget

On September 29th, the Mayor proposed a 2021 budget for the City of Seattle. You can view it and the proposed 2021-2016 Capital Improvement Plan at the City Budget webpage.

The  Budget Committee began meeting the following day to hear presentations from the City Budget Office, and City Departments on the 30th, 1st, and 2nd.

Here’s a link to the presentations:

September 30:

October 1:

October 2:

You can view or download the full Select Budget Committee meeting calendar here.  Sign up to receive Select Budget Committee agendas by email here.

Public comment will occur at every Select Budget Committee meeting.  In addition, there will be public hearings on October 6 at 5:30 p.m. and October 27 at 5:30 p.m. You can register to give comment on this page. The signup form is available two hours before each session begins.

The second key event next week will be the deadline on October 8 at 5 p.m. for Councilmembers to send in “Form A” requests for Issue Identification discussions scheduled for October 15, 16, 20 and 21.

Grant Funding Available  – Due 10/19

The Seattle Office for Civil Rights is seeking applications for the 2020 Collaborative Grantmaking: Community Alternatives to Incarceration and Policing Request for Proposal (RFP). This RFP will provide funding for organizations and coalitions to develop alternatives to and address the harm created by incarceration, policing, and other parts of the criminal legal and immigration systems. A total of $1 million will be available to fund two to four proposals.

This funding is the result of community advocacy by groups including, Ending the Prison Industrial Complex (EPIC) and Budget for Justice (BFJ), for investments in alternatives to incarceration. It also builds on the work and advocacy of organizations and coalitions like Youth Undoing Institutional Racism, No New Youth Jail, EPIC, the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, and European Dissent, who called upon our local leaders to support a vision free of incarceration and led to the passing of Council Resolution 31614 in 2015.

Learn more and apply here.

A New Proposal to Combat Rising Overdose Deaths in King County

At a 9/22/2020 meeting of the Public Safety & Human Services committee, which I chair, a representative of Public Health – Seattle & King County presented data on the steady increase of overdose deaths in our county since 2011:

He noted that the biggest increase is in overdose deaths of individuals with multiple drugs in their system.  In particular, there has been a drastic increase in two drugs implicated in overdose deaths: methamphetamine and fentanyl.  You can watch the presentation here; the Public Health data begins at the 2:07’ mark.

In 2016, the Mayors of Seattle, Auburn, and Renton convened the Heroin and Prescription Opiate Addiction Task Force, bringing together a wide range of experts across multiple disciplines to recommend immediate actions to confront the epidemic. You can read the full report and recommendations here.

Community Health Engagement Locations were one of the Task Force’s recommendations; they are one type of Supervised Consumption Site or Service (also known as SCS).  There are about 100 safe-consumption sites (SCS) in other parts of the world, and there have been no deaths at any of these sites over the 30-year history of these sites operating.  Regarding the research base on Supervised Consumption, the Task Force found:

“Published studies support the effectiveness of the services provided at SCSs in reducing drug-related health risks and overdose mortality for individuals utilizing the SCSs.

“Research of established SCSs also did not reveal an increase in criminal activity or negative impacts on the communities following the implementation of SCSs in those areas.”

In 2018, City Council passed a Statement of Legislative Intent (SLI) that requested the Human Services Department (HSD) perform an assessment of the project, including a full cost estimate, scope, siting recommendation and necessary capital improvements.  You can review that assessment here.  As a separate action, City Council approved $1.3 million in the case that the assessment showed a positive, clear path forward. These dollars were not spent in 2018 and were carried over into 2019, when Council added an additional $100,000.

For 2020, Council approved a budget that included the carried-forward $1.4 million for CHEL facilities.  Earlier this summer, as part of the 2020 rebalancing package, I sponsored and Council unanimously voted to restore the additional $100,000, which had been errantly omitted from the carry forward ordinance.

Despite Council’s work to appropriate these funds, and broad public support of the approach, the City and County have not moved forward with creating CHEL facilities.  The $1.4 million appropriated remains unspent despite the continuing rise in overdose deaths.

The Public Defender Association and ACLU-WA have developed a new approach to supervised consumption that does not rely on establishing a specific new facility to provide supervised consumption services.  Instead, it focuses on providing services in locations that are already serving individuals.

At the 9/22/2020 Public Safety & Human Services committee meeting, Council members heard a presentation on this new approach, which does not require building or siting a new facility.  You can read the Supervised Consumption Services description here and review the presentation slide deck here.  You can watch a video of the committee presentation here; it starts at the 2:06’ mark.  Public Health – Seattle & King County participated in the presentation and stated that this new approach is in alignment with the 2016 Task Force original recommendations.

I have shared this new Supervised Consumption Services model with Human Services Interim Director Johnson and requested his review of the proposal; and requested a legal review of this new approach from the City Attorney’s Office.  I am exploring whether dollars that Council appropriated for a CHEL facility pilot could be used for this new approach.

Need Help With Child Care Costs?

To apply


Construction to Begin at Duwamish Waterway Park

Seattle Parks and Recreation will begin construction of the Duwamish Waterway Park Improvements at 7900 10th Ave S in South Park in October 2020. SPR purchased the 1.3-acre site from King County after a community-led process to make the property a permanent neighborhood riverfront park. Working with the Seattle Parks Foundation, the Friends of Duwamish Waterway Park raised over $1 million for park improvements and catalyzed the renovation effort.

The community vision provides significant improvements to the park to make it a healthy and welcoming space for families, young people, and seniors. The final design provides more welcoming park entries and includes:

  • an improved perimeter pathway with a series of interpretive artwork boulders that enhance the river view with messages relating to the community and area history;
  • an all-ages accessible playground including a climbing structure and zip line as well as boulders, logs, and benches; and
  • new park furnishings with accessible picnic tables, barbecues, drinking fountain and foot wash, additional benches, and bike racks.

Awarding the construction contract for park improvements is expected in late September 2020, with construction starting in late October 2020 and completed in summer 2021.

For more information please contact Jessica Michalak, Capital Projects Coordinator, Seattle Parks and Recreation, at Jessica.michalak@seattle.gov or 206-470-9147 or visit http://www.seattle.gov/parks/about-us/current-projects/duwamish-waterway-park-activation.


Fare Share Legislation

On Monday the Council unanimously passed Council Bill 119876 which will, in addition to establishing minimum compensation standards, establish notice, posting, and data requirements for Transportation Network Companies (TNCs). As I’ve written about before this legislation is the capstone to the Fare Share plan which began in last year’s budget conversations where the City implemented a small fee of $0.51 per ride to support affordable housing near transit, the Center City Connector, and to establish an independent non-profit Driver Resolution Center.

This legislation was built on a months long process where the City connected with stakeholders including over 11,000 drivers, and included a study by researchers James Parrott and Michael Reich which found that drivers are making an average of $9.73 an hour after expenses are taken into account.

TNC drivers are hired as independent contractors, but they do not set their rate, which is controlled by the company for whom they drive. CB 119876 helps bring drivers up to Seattle’s minimum wage and compensates them for expenses they incur as independent contractors such as vehicle cleanings (especially important with the current public health emergency), vehicle maintenance, gas, and cell phone and plan.

CB 119876 also includes transparency requirements for both passengers and drivers, and requires the Office of Labor Standards to coordinate a study on the impacts of the legislation. This legislation will go into effect on January 1, 2021.

Virtual Office Hours

On Friday October 23, I will be hosting virtual office hours between 2pm and go until 6pm, with the last meeting of the day beginning at 5:30pm. These office hours are being rescheduled from October 30 due to a Budget Committee meeting scheduled all day.

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.

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

  • Friday, December 18, 2020

Sidewalk Maintenance Report

Last year the Council adopted Resolution 31908 I sponsored, requesting SDOT develop policy options for maintenance of sidewalks. The committee presentation before the vote noted how hazardous uneven sidewalks can be for wheelchair users, and for vision impaired persons.

SDOT completed the report earlier this year: Policy Recommendations for Sidewalk Repair in Seattle, developed with the Evans School at the UW.

Here’s a memo from SDOT summarizing the findings and recommendations.

The report notes Seattle has over 2,300 miles of sidewalks, with a total replacement value of $5.6 billion (in 2015 dollars), and estimates the current repair and replacement obstruction removal need as between $500 million and $1.3 billion. Funding varies from year to year for sidewalk maintenance, in the range of $1.5 to $5 million per year.

With limited funding, SDOT has prioritized installing shims and bevels to address trip hazards. A bevel is when the uplifted edge of a sidewalk is cut off with a concreate saw; a shim is when a wedge of asphalt is applied to the top of the sidewalk to mitigate the uplifted edge.

The report notes that sidewalk repair in Seattle is generally held to be the responsibility of property owners.

Key findings include:

  • Sidewalk construction in Seattle has historically been privately financed through Local Improvement Districts or through redevelopment of adjacent parcels. The City has never had adequate funding or a workable enforcement mechanism to manage ongoing sidewalk repair after initial sidewalk construction.
  • Property owners are often unaware of their sidewalk maintenance responsibility and trip/fall liability exposure. Even when aware, the sidewalk repair cost usually exceeds the incentive for private property owners to make the necessary repairs. In addition, current permitting processes and external contractor procurement can be complex and difficult to navigate for a typical property owner.
  • Cities in North America typically take one of two primary approaches to sidewalk maintenance:
    • City-managed repairs with a dedicated funding source (e.g. Boston; Vancouver, BC)
    • Property owner repair responsibility with City-led enforcement (e.g. Seattle, Denver)
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how critical safe sidewalks are for everyone to be able to walk and roll around Seattle to access basic services and maintain physical and mental health.

Key recommendations are:

  1. Implement a citywide 5-year sidewalk shim/bevel plan as a first step to mitigate existing sidewalk uplifts and other deficiencies that can create accessibility barriers or trip/fall risks. This would require an additional $3 – $4 million per year, on top of the current annual sidewalk shim/bevel budget (which is a subset of the aforementioned SDOT sidewalk maintenance budget).
  2. Increase property owner awareness and education about sidewalk responsibilities, through citywide mailers, a social media campaign, and sidewalk contractor resources for property owners
  3. Simplify the sidewalk repair permitting process, through online permitting portal implementation and more upfront repair guidance at the time a warning notice is issued
  4. Institute an income-based cost-sharing program for lower-income property owners
  5. Implement clearer enforcement methods, including amending existing RCW and SMC sections that require Council approval to enforce sidewalk repair liens on non-compliant property owners
  6. Seek increased and stable funding for long-term maintenance of Seattle’s existing and growing sidewalk network

A map of work that could be done for the first recommendation if funded is below:

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District 1 Town Hall on Sept 30; West Seattle Bridge Update Sept 25; OPA Protest Findings; Big Bucks for Food Delivery Drivers; 2021 Budget Process and Timelines; Free Family Meals; Diaper Need Awareness Week; 2020 Rebalanced Budget

September 25th, 2020

District 1 Town Hall: Public Safety and West Seattle Bridge, September 30th

On September 30, I will co-host a District 1 Town Hall on public safety and the West Seattle Bridge, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

SPD Chief Diaz and SW Precinct Captain Grossman will be attending, along with SDOT Director Zimbabwe. There will also be a representative from LEAD (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion) to talk about the expansion of the program to the SW Precinct.

The first hour will be on public safety, and the second hour will be on the West Seattle Bridge. There will be plenty of time for questions on each topic.

You can RVSP below; later in the day Tuesday we’ll e-mail information to the RSVP list about how to participate in the Q&A, and view the town hall.

 

West Seattle Bridge Update September 25

We are approaching the decision point for whether the replace or repair the West Seattle Bridge.

Cost/Benefit Analysis

The West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force met on Wednesday, and continued its discussion about the cost/benefit analysis “attributes” that will inform the decision. The task force is scheduled to meet on October 7th, and will receive “rough order of magnitude costs” and other data from the cost/benefit analysis that will be used to develop the cost estimate. A decision from the Mayor is expected on October 21st, along with a presentation on the final cost/benefit analysis findings.

Below are the 10 attributes, and the ”units of measure” that will be used to quantify cost estimates:

Maintenance and Operations:

  • Inspection requirements (frequency, level of effort (high/medium/low)
  • Intelligent transpiration system required (yes/no)
  • Structural health monitoring systems required (yes/no, if so how many)
  • Painting/UV protection required (yes/no)

Constructability

  • Schedule impacts (duration of project)
  • Complexity (standard or complex construction?)
  • Specialty contractors and equipment (required, if so how many?0
  • Utility relocations (minor/average/major)
  • In-water work (amount needed)
  • Demolition (amount and complexity required)
  • Poor soil conditions (is substantial foundation work required?)
  • Staging/laydown area required (is the required footprint minimal, average, or major?)

Environmental

  • Noise and vibration (will pile driving be required?)
  • Duwamish Waterway (timing and duration of in-water work, proximity of construction ground disturbance to shoreline)
  • Section 4(f) resources (use of parks, trails, open space, wildlife refuges, etc)
  • Emissions (tons of greenhouse gases)
  • Wildlife impacts (timing and duration of construction during falcon/Great Blue Heron breeding season)

Equity

  • Duration of bridge closure (years of closure starting 1/2021)
  • Incremental vehicle miles traveled (through marginalized communities)
  • Incremental vehicle travel (crossing the Duwamish Waterway)
  • Incremental travel time (during construction, through marginalized communities)
  • Number of construction events/community disruption (in 75 year timeframe)

Forward Compatibility

  • Future roadway configuration (maintain a minimum of existing configuration)
  • Accommodate light rail (yes/no)

Funding Opportunities

  • Project eligibility (eligible for funding, number of funding sources)
  • Funding revenue general potential (historical experience)
  • Stability of funding source
  • Timing for availability
  • Administrative requirements (whether structure is in place)
  • Legal authority
  • Income and racial equality

Business and Workforce Impacts

  • Bridge closure impacts
  • Direct/indirect economic impacts and industry from construction
  • Economic and workforce impacts
  • Temporary construction easements (number/duration)
  • Utility interruption (number of times project will impact utilities)
  • Access impacts to local properties
  • Industrial and maritime industry impacts (quantitative and qualitative)

Mobility Impacts

  • Travel time (during construction)
  • Travel distance
  • Non-vehicle trips (during construction)
  • Regional mobility impacts
  • Safety (on detour routes)

Multi-modal Impacts

  • Increase transit service during construction
  • Bicycle traffic accommodation (high/medium low)
  • Pedestrian traffic accommodation (high/medium low)
  • Emergency access (response time increase during construction
  • Freight mobility (high/medium low)

Seismic/Safety

  • Seismic hazard levels (100 year, 210 year, and 975 year periods)
  • Operational classification post design earthquake service ((100 year, 210 year, and 975 year periods)
  • In-ground hinging permitted (yes/no)
  • Ventifcation excitations considered (yes/no)
  • Seismic compliance established (year)

Here’s how the attributes will be weighed:

West Marginal Way

SDOT presented six potential projects for West Marginal Way, which has seen significant increases in traffic since the March 23rd closure of the West Seattle Bridge. SDOT is proposing six projects, with funding from the $70 million approved by the Council.

One project is an interim and permanent crossing signal at the Duwamish Longhouse. I proposed funding for this in the 2020 budget, and the Council adopted $500,000 to get the project started; planning and design has continued during 2020.

This will fully fund the project, which was the top priority of the District 1 Community Network for the 2020 budget, and received strong community support. An interim signal is proposed for late summer 2021, with a permanent signal in 2022 (timing will depend on railroad permitting).

A second project is improvements at the Highland Park Way/West Marginal intersection, to reduce wait times at this intersection which has seen traffic increases of over 100%:

Other projects include radar feedback signs by the end of 2020; a west side sidewalk connection to the Longhouse (my March 6 newsletter noted this area in a walk organized by the Duwamish); a Duwamish Trail connection, and freight mobility improvements (which would involve e.g. reducing southbound lane capacity to 1 lane between the bridge and the Longhouse); while SDOT notes 80% of drivers use the middle lane, some members of the task force expressed concern about this (SDOT’s schedule lists late  summer 2021); the decision to repair or replace, and the timeline, will be helpful to know in the context of these changes.

Camera enforcement legislation

On Tuesday, the Council is scheduled to vote on legislation to allow camera enforcement of the prohibition on driving in transit lanes. Under state law, only warnings can be issued during 2020.

SDOT has indicated that uses of and access to the lower bridge can be reconsidered after camera enforcement begins.  SDOT has developed a subcommittee consisting of members of the Community Task Force to make recommendations for changes to lower level bridge access policies.

Traffic volumes

The most recent traffic volumes continue existing trends of high traffic volumes on West Marginal and Highland Park Way?

Below are the most recent travel times:


OPA Reports First Set of Findings re: Protests

The Office of Police Accountability (OPA) has received 19,000 complaints about police conduct since May 30ths regarding demonstrations, resulting in a total of 118 cases.

OPA has a Demonstration Complaint Dashboard to track the 118 cases. It shows the steps in  investigations, from 0% to issuing findings at 100% completion.

It is updated every two weeks, most recently on September 18th; the next update is scheduled for October 2nd.

Last week the Office of Police Accountability released a first set of findings after completing five investigations (a link to a PDF of the release is here).

Two of five cases so far have sustained findings, meaning OPA found that a violation had occurred.  In one of the 2 cases, use of force (an officer’s knee on an individual’s neck during an arrest) was found to be improper and inconsistent with SPD policy and training and the officer made statements that violated SPD’s professionalism policy.  This case is currently before Interim Chief Diaz to determine discipline to be imposed.  In the second case with a sustained finding OPA found that the officer behaved in an unprofessional way in violation of SPD policy

Many people contacted OPA to file a complaint about the child who experienced pepper spray.  This case was one the completed investigations this week with a finding of “not sustained.”  OPA found:  “OPA’s review of bystander and body-worn video found that the boy was not individually targeted. He and his father moved towards a protester who had grabbed an officer’s baton and was pushing into the police line. An SPD supervisor used pepper spray to move the protester back. In response, the protester ducked, causing the pepper spray to inadvertently affect the boy and his father. OPA deemed the use of pepper spray on the protester consistent with policy based on the protester’s actions. While the impact to the boy was an unfortunate result, he was not visible on the video at the time of the pepper spraying and therefore could not have been seen by the supervisor.”

Results of those cases are listed on the complaint dashbaoard.

Big Bucks for Food Delivery Drivers

You may remember that over the summer, the Seattle City Council passed legislation I sponsored, with Councilmember Andrew Lewis, to require premium pay to compensate drivers for the costs of maintaining vehicles in accordance with best health practices, including hazard pay for doing essential work that puts themselves in harm’s way. I wrote about it at the time here.

The Seattle Office of Labor Standards, after workers filed complaints, got an agreement with some Food Delivery Network companies for back pay and interest.  Now, $361,950 is due from gig companies like DoorDash and Postmates.

Thanks to this enforcement, thousands of impacted drivers will receive the money they’re owed.

Learn more about Seattle gig workers’ rights to hazard pay and sick leave here.

This Week in the Budget: 2021 Budget Process and Timelines

The City Council will soon begin consideration of the 2021 budget; the Council will meet as the Budget Committee, which includes all nine members. Here’s the timeline and process as it stands:

September 29: In accordance with state law, the Mayor will deliver to the City Council a proposed budget for 2021.

From September 30-October 2nd: the City Budget Office will provide an overview of the proposed budget, and selected departments will provide additional details on their proposed budget. Here’s the schedule:

9/30: Morning session: City Budget Office overview; afternoon session: Dept. of Education & Early Learning Office of Sustainability & Environment, Office of Economic Development

10/1: Morning session: Seattle Police Department; afternoon: Community Safety, Municipal Court

10/2: Morning session: Citywide homelessness response, Office of Housing; afternoon: Transportation, Parks

October 6th: first public hearing, 5:30 p.m.

October 8th: deadline at 5 p.m. for Issue Identification; Councilmembers can identify issues for the Budget Deliberations and Issue Identification sessions beginning on October 15; these can be questions, high-level proposals, or specific proposals

October 15-21: Budget Deliberations and Issue Identification; Council Central Staff will review the proposed budget and identify potential issues; issues identified by Councilmembers will also be included

October 22nd: 5 p.m. deadline for Council Budget Actions and Statements of Legislative Intent (SLIs) beginning on October 28th; with three sponsors, and specific dollar amounts of potential cut or budget addition identified

October 27th: second public hearing at 5:30 p.m.

October 28-30th: Council Budget Actions and SLIs presented to the Council Budget Committee and Public

November 10: Budget Committee Chair presents proposed Balancing Package

November 12: 5 p.m. deadline for amendments to the Chair’s Balancing Package, and must be self-balancing

November 18-19 Budget Committee votes on Chair’s Balancing Package and amendments

November 23: Committee vote during the morning session of the Budget Committee; Full Council adoption at the regular 2 p.m. meeting

You can sign up here to receive Budget Committee agendas by e-mail.

Free Family Meals through Seattle Public Schools

Seattle Public Schools are offering free meals for students’ families on Mondays through Fridays. To get more information, visit www.seattleschools.org/resources/student_meals or call 206-252-0675

Two meal programs are available for students and their families:

  • Student Meals by Bus provides prepared cold, meals available via eight bus routes, including Madison 3408 in District 1.
  • SPS School Sites provides sack breakfast and lunch meals prepared by SPS; and reheat-able meals prepared by FareStart. Meals are available Monday – Friday, 11:15am – 1:15pm for students, parents and guardians.  Food is available at 40 schools around the City, including these in District 1:
    • Madison Middle School
    • Boren STEM K-8 School
    • Arbor Heights Elementary School
    • Concord International Elementary School
    • Roxhill Elementary School
    • Highland Park Elementary School
    • Denny International Middle School
    • Chief Sealth International High School

Diaper Need Awareness Week

As Chair of the committee with oversight of human services, on Monday I presented a proclamation to representatives of WestSide Baby, signed by all 9 Councilmembers and the Mayor, proclaiming September 21-27 to be Diaper Need Awareness Week in the city of Seattle.  I thank my colleagues and the Mayor for their support of this national effort.

Diaper need is a lack of a sufficient supply of diapers to keep a baby clean, dry and healthy.  This proclamation is part of a national effort to bring attention to a health issue that affects 1 in 3 families in the United States.  Low-income families pay up to 14% of their entire income just for disposable diapers. WestSide Baby estimates a healthy supply of diapers for a newborn costs approximately $75-$100 per month – much too costly for many families making the minimum wage.

In King County, a 2017 survey showed 23% of families found it difficult to afford diapers. Black families, Indigenous families, and families of color (BIPOC) are disproportionately impacted by diaper need in the Seattle area; 61% of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander families and 42% of Black and African-American families are struggling to afford diapers.

WestSide Baby is a District 1 nonprofit that meets the need for diapers among families across our city.  Last year, West Side Baby distributed 1.5 million diapers to Seattle families. In just the first 6 months of this year, they’ve already distributed over 1.1 million diapers already. COVID, and the socio-economic effects of the pandemic, have severely amplified the need.

To help meet the increased need, West Side Baby is collecting donations of diapers and wipes right now.  You can participate in one of two ways:

  • Online, through its wish list at: ly/diapersforallbabies
  • Dropping items off directly at its White Center Hub, 10002 14th Ave SW, on Wednesdays from 10am-2pm or at its South Lake Union Branch, 435 8th Avenue N, on Mondays from 10am-2pm. Unopened boxes of diapers only at this time.

A diaper drive is a great way to show support during Diaper Need Awareness Week.  You can learn more about meeting diaper need at westsidebaby.org/diaper-need.

2020 Rebalanced Budget

At a Special Council meeting on Tuesday September 22nd, I joined most of my colleagues in overriding the Mayor’s veto of Council’s approved 2020 rebalancing budget.  My vote was not taken lightly. I had participated in conversations about an alternate bill, in the hopes of coming to agreement with the Executive. However, the Executive’s offer did not make either the important investments nor targeted, strategic changes to the 2020 budget that Council made through CB 119825.

The alternative bill short-changed community members and organizations who have the expertise we need to build community safety, by proposing a mere $3.5 million investment instead of the $17 million Council had appropriated.  The $2 million the Mayor proposed for investment in violence prevention and crisis intervention is wholly inadequate to the need, given the increase in gun violence that Seattle is experiencing. With the veto, Council appropriates the full $17 million:

  • $4 million to scale up gun-violence intervention and prevention that is necessary for true community safety efforts like the work of BIPOC led organizations like Community Passageways, Urban Family, SE Safety Network Hub Boys & Girls Club, and the Alive & Free Program – YMCA.
  • $10 million to grow the capacity of organizations that respond to 911 crisis calls; provide support beyond crisis intervention to criminalized populations; and interrupt and prevent violence.
  • $3 million for a community-led research process that will help build true community safety and launch a true participatory budget process, that offers a place at the table for everyone who has a stake in the outcome: community members who have been driving the work on community safety, kids, the undocumented, folks experiencing homelessness, the business community and others.

Council can’t force the Mayor to spend these dollars. But I plea with her to do so.

Further, the alternative bill took off the table any and all of the targeted reductions of 100 FTEs in the Seattle Police Department.  Specifically, the 2020 rebalancing package called for 38 FTE reductions, suggested from specific specialty units, that will take several months to bargain and implement.    Of the 38 FTE reductions, there are already 15 vacancies in these units, meaning the reductions will only result in – again, only after being successfully bargained – the net loss of 23 officers across these six specialty units.

The vetoed bill also included a 32 FTE general patrol reductions; I was surprised to learn that this also was off the table for compromise considering the list of 24 officers kept on the “Brady List” by the King County Prosecutor and City Attorney’s Office.  I hope, moving forward, the Executive will support efforts to seek out of order layoffs for these officers who, because of their record of dishonesty, racial bias, criminal charges, and convictions cannot fulfill their obligations as police officers.  Prosecutors are unwilling to file charges on arrests they make because defense attorneys can impeach their testimony.

While the Executive indicates they are open to changes in the Navigation Team operations that will result in more community safety, fewer encampment removals, and better services for people living unsheltered, they were unwilling to commit to putting their new approach in writing.  The Council’s approved budget increases the City’s investment in contracted providers who will do outreach and engagement with people living in encampments and focus on encampment locations that the City identifies as high hazard locations or obstructions of the public right of way.  I hope the Executive will act quickly to expand existing contracts with these providers.

I maintain my optimism that Council and the Mayor can turn the page on this and forge a path forward together in 2021 budget discussions.  I, and the City of Seattle, are indebted to the tens of thousands of people who have participated in this discussion by writing, calling, providing comment, and marching day after day.  This is the beginning of the conversation and the investment of $3 million by this Council to begin a participatory budget process, which was upheld this week, will ensure a true community process that redefines community safety. I will work to ensure that process centers Black and Brown communities who have been, and continue to be, most affected by our current system. To the business community who is asking to also be at the table, Participatory Budgeting is designed for everyone to participate, including you.

Junction Reuse and Recycle with Shredding

Do you have an old appliance, clothing, electronics or other hard to get rid of household goods? The annual Reuse, Recycle, and Shredding event is, while delayed a little this year, is coming up on Saturday, the 26th where you can recycle and reuse many difficult to dispose-of items for free! Masks are required.

When: Saturday, September 26 between 9am and 1pm

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

Accepted Items Include:

  • Styrofoam
  • Household batteries
  • Fluorescent tubes and bulbs
  • Small electronics
  • Paper for shredding (limit 4 boxes) – you CAN bring confidential documents – thanks Junction Windermere
  • Clothing & linens
  • Household goods (for reuse – in good condition)
  • Small appliances (non-freon)

For additional information and to see a list of items NOT accepted please go here: http://wsjunction.org/blog/junctionresuerecycle2020/

Alki Point Stay Healthy Street

Many constituents have reached out to me regarding the Alki Point “Stay Healthy Street.” Stay Healthy Streets and Keep it Moving Streets were launched in April and May of this year by the Seattle Department of Transportation.  These are car-free streets selected to increase outdoor exercise opportunities for people to bike and walk in the road for areas with limited open space options, low car ownership and routes connecting people to essential services and food take out. Local traffic is still allowed on the streets.

The vast majority of people contacting me are very interested in making this area a permanent “Keep it Moving Street” which would result in roads being closed to through traffic. Neighbors have surveyed users of the Stay Healthy Street over the last few months. You can see some of their results in the graph below.

To support their efforts, I wrote a letter to SDOT Director Sam Zimbabwe asking him two things:

  1. That SDOT expedite the analysis that the street meets the Greenway criteria and officially designate Alki Point as a Neighborhood Greenway.
  2. That SDOT allow the community process to fully run its course before opening up the street and in doing so, maintain the Alki Point Stay Healthy Street.

This week I received a response back from Director Zimbabwe. In short, SDOT is considering five possible outcomes for Alki Point:

  1. Return to previous street operation
  2. Convert to a neighborhood greenway, changes would include:
    1. Stop signs at intersecting streets will be added where they currently operate as neighborhood yield intersections (64th Ave SW, Point Pl SW, 64th Pl SW, 64th Ave SW)
    2. Additional traffic calming so that spacing of speed humps and raised crosswalks is approximately every 300 feet. Approximately 3-4 speed humps or speed cushions would be added.
    3. Connectivity to the citywide bicycle network would be enhanced through the addition of sharrow pavement markings and wayfinding signs.
  3. Upgrade to a permanent Stay Healthy Street, changes would include:
    1. All of the neighborhood greenway enhancements listed above
    2. Street Closed and Stay Healthy Street signs at every intersection with durable materials
  4. Upgrade neighborhood greenway with additional space for walking adjacent to beachside curb.
    1. All of the neighborhood greenway enhancements listed above
    2. Removal of parking and delineation (tuff curb and post) of additional space for walking adjacent to the existing sidewalk adjacent to the beach
    3. Increased space for walking would be adjacent to park beach only, not continuous where buildings are between roadway and beach.
  5. Convert street to operate as one-way northbound for vehicles, providing shared walking and biking space adjacent to beachside sidewalk
    1. Delineation of a continuous shared walking and biking space adjacent to the existing beachside curb (8’ to 15’ wide)
    2. Continuous shared walking and biking space would connect from the existing Alki Trail to the end of the Alki Point Keep Moving Street.
    3. Adjustment of the roadway to operate as one way northbound for vehicles, preserving parking primarily adjacent to east/south curbs.

Director Zimbabwe promised to maintain the Keep it Moving Street designation for Alki Point until the community engagement process concludes and there is a final determination regarding a permanent configuration.

I support the continued efforts of constituents advocating for a permanent Stay Healthy Street.

SMC/Vera Report Update

In early July this year I wrote about a report released by the Vera Institute of Justice to Municipal Court Probation Services on Strategies for Improving Policies and Practices. The report was commissioned in 2019 by the Court to evaluate the Courts Probation Services.

Last week, in response to these Vera Report recommendations, presiding Judge Willie Gregory issued a new administrative order to require Personal Recognizance Release for nearly all non DUI/DV defendants. The Bail Reform Working Group work from 2018 reviewed new pretrial strategies and helped laid the foundation for these new policies.  I wrote in September 2018 about Bail Reform.  Related to this, the Court has also announced that they will decrease their 2021 probation budget by 25% and, rather than relying on probation services for cases that do not require it, they will instead “collaborate with organizations to build a community-based intervention where judges can refer individuals to obtain critical support and services.” This has been a change that community has called on for years, notably the Budget for Justice in 2018.  Under state law, Domestic Violence Cases and DUI cases will still require probation supervision.

The Seattle Office for Civil Rights also recently released a report titled An Analysis of Court Imposed Monetary Sanctions in Seattle Municipal Courts, 2000-2017.  The report details the disproportionate impact of legal financial obligations on people of color in Seattle. My committee heard this report on Tuesday, presented by Drs. Alexes Harris and Frank Edwards.  On Wednesday, the Seattle Municipal Court judges announced that they would “eliminate all discretionary fines and fees imposed in criminal cases, representing one step in a court-wide commitment to lessen barriers and increase equity in the legal system.” Probation and records check fees can be $600 and $240 fees per person. More than 1,000 individuals per year are expected to be helped by these changes.

Finally, you might have heard that Community Court is starting up again.  We had a Community Court many years ago that was begun under former City Attorney Tom Carr.  It was suspended in part because criminal justice reform advocates were very critical of the model adopted by Seattle at the time. Community Court participants had to waive their constitutional rights to trial in order to participate in Community Court.  The new Community Court provides pretrial justice for participating individuals to be immediately released from custody and connected to community-based services while maintaining their constitutional trial rights.  In addition, criminal history is not a barrier to program entry.

These are big steps forward in Seattle Municipal Court reform. I want to thank the judges for their actions and for their commitment to re-evaluating our systems and ensuring better outcomes for historically disadvantaged and low-income communities.

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West Seattle Bridge Update // SPD Overtime Budget // Parks are reopening // Input needed for SW Brandon & SW Findlay Streets Trail // TNC Legislation

September 23rd, 2020

West Seattle Bridge Update, September 18 

SDOT has completed the Reconnect West Seattle Implementation Plan. Over 17,000 people responded to the survey and neighborhood prioritization ballots.  

The plan lists projects completed or in progress;  planned for completion during the rest of 2020; and projected planned for 2021.  

Here are the project prioritization lists by neighborhood: 

Highland Park, Roxhill, S Delridge, Riverview projects 

South Park projects 

Georgetown projects

SODO projects 

 Freight connectivity projects 

Bike network connectivity projects 

Here’s a map of where the projects are located: 

SDOT also indicated it will expand the Home Zone Program to coordinate, combine, and deliver safety and speed reduction efforts. Current pilot projects exist in South Park and Broadview.  

The projects are designed to address the closure of the bridge, and reduction in the number of available lanes to cross the Duwamish; there were formerly 21 vehicle travel lanes; now there are 12 lanes open 24/7, with the two lanes of the lower (Spokane) Street bridge open from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.: 

As noted last week, the freight plan included a project that received significant pushback from constituents; the proposal was to install a freight-only lane on West Marginal northbound. The plan published yesterday says “implement freight treatments”. The Community Task Force will discuss West Marginal Way on September 23rd 

SDOT also announced a “refresh” to the East Marginal Way bike lane, which travels between South Spokane Street, and South Atlantic Street. This is a key corridor for bike access from the lower bridge to points north.  

 The link includes a video of what the bike lane looks like heading southbound: 

The most recent traffic data shows continuing heavy traffic on Highland Park Way and West Marginal, and levels above pre-COVID numbers on the South Park Bridge, WSDOT’s 1st Avenue South Bridge, SW Roxbury, and South Michigan in Georgetown: 

Here are the most recent vehicle travel times: 

 

 

SPD Overtime Budget, Auditor Recommendations and Letter to the Chief/Patrol Reallocations

One issue that successive City Councils have struggled with is overtime within the Seattle Police Department.  Early this month, the Seattle Times published a Watchdog Times article entitled:  A Seattle police officer’s extraordinary pay raises questions SPD can’t answer.  They reported one officer was compensated for 4,149 hours of work over the year (just short of twice a typical 40 hour a day52 week year of 2,080 hours).  This same officer was also paid, in a single day on six separate occasions, for more than 24 hours SPD told the Seattle Times that they couldn’t determine whether this officer “worked all of these hours because it can’t effectively track overtime that is still filed on paper forms.” 

In 2016, in response to a request from then Chief O’Toole, the City Auditor studied the issue and then published a report, Seattle Police Department Overtime Controls Audit, which included 30 recommendations regarding budgeting,  and policy and procedures including tracking of overtime and off-duty work. SPD has implemented most of the recommendations.   

Seven of the recommendations were listed as “pending” in the Auditor’s Status Report on Implementation of Office of City Auditor Recommendations as of December 2019 (see p.7-8).  

Most of the recommendations listed as “pending” relate to work with the Seattle Information Technology Department to implement a new Work and Timekeeping system solution, to “automatically prevent payroll errors and instances of policy non-compliance.” The status report update notes “The new solution will contain automated controls for detecting payroll errors and non-compliance.” 

I sent a letter to Chief Diaz thanking him for the attention he is already dedicating to overtime, and asking for an update about implementation of remaining recommendations of the City Auditor. The recommendations relate to automated controls to implement SPD polices by detecting payroll errors; ensuring proper documentation of overtime authorization and approval; tracking of all work time, including off-duty work time, and requiring management approval for hours beyond the maximum allowable level.  

The audit recommended “SPD should either (a) implement new scheduling and timekeeping systems or (b) enhance existing systems to include automated controls and to facilitate tracking and monitoring of overtime.” 

On September 1st, Chief Diaz announced he would reallocate 100 officers from specialty units into patrol; the letter requests an analysis estimating the anticipated overtime reduction. 

The letter also requests an update on implementation of former Mayor Burgess’ Executive Order of September 13, 2017, which directed the Seattle Police Department  to establish an internal office, directed and staffed by civilians, to regulate and manage the off-duty employment of its employees. 

Finally, the letter notes my request of the City Auditor to determine whether SPD is still regularly implementing interim recommended oversight that does not rely on the yet to be implemented automated controls, including queries, spot checks, and analyses of payroll data as well as their report on what we can learn from this review about current practices related to use of overtime and off-duty work. 

Air quality is improving, so your parks are reopening 

Air quality has improved over the last 24 hrs, so parks, boat ramps, specialty gardens, athletic fields and golf courses will reopen starting Friday morning, Sept. 18. Smoke continues to be a concern for children, seniors, & those with health conditions. Stay up to date on air quality and your safety here: https://pscleanair.gov/   

Visit this blog post to find out current status for all activities, amenities and facilities during the pandemic, apart from the wildfire situation. 

As always, it’s important to stay at least 6 feet away from others, avoid groups, and bring a face covering whenever you’re outside your home, including when you visit a park.  If you experience crowds at a park, use this site to discover a new park in your neighborhood. 

Input needed for SW Brandon & SW Findlay Streets Trail Improvements & Wayfinding 

Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) and Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) invite the Delridge and High Point communities to participate in creating better pedestrian connections in the Delridge neighborhood. Please take a tour of the site by watching this video and provide your input via this survey.    

This design project will provide a plan for improving pedestrian paths along SW Brandon and SW Findlay streets and make trail entries to Camp Long and Longfellow Creek more open and welcoming to the public. One of the goals of this project is to improve access for the future new RapidRide H Line stops that will begin service in 2021 at SW Findlay and Delridge. 

Learn more about the project here.   

New grants available for small businesses, applications due September 28 

The Seattle Metro Chamber opened a new round of grant funding, with $580,000 total to be awarded to King County small businesses and 501 (c)(6) non-profit business service organizations (i.e. chambers of commerce, direct marketing organizations, tourism bureaus).    

Businesses with 20 or fewer full-time employees can apply for awards of $5,000, $7,500 or $10,000 through the program, called the Federal CARES Act Small Business Emergency Grant Program.  Priority will be given to applications from: minority and women-owned businesses; most impacted industries including: Hospitality and Tourism, Retail, Air Travel, and Aerospace Industries, as outlined in the Greater Seattle Region Covid-19 Economic Impact Analysis; and most-impacted cities, as outlined in the Greater Seattle Region Covid-19 Economic Impact Analysis  

The Chamber estimates that it will be able to make grants to 60-115 businesses/organizations within King County.   The Chamber is accepting applications through Monday, September 28 at 5:00 p.m. Pacific time. Full details about business eligibility and the application form are available at kingcountyado.com. 

 

TNC Legislation Update 

This week, the Office of Labor Standards presented Mayor Durkan’s proposal to establish minimum compensation standards for transportation network company (TNC) drivers. TNC drivers are colloquially known as Uber and Lyft drivers. These workers are hired as independent contractors and therefore are not protected by Seattle’s local labor laws.   

Council Bill 119876 would, in addition to establishing minimum compensation standards, establish notice, posting, and data requirements for TNCs. Staff from the Office for Labor Standards presented this legislation to the Finance and Housing Committee on Tuesday, and Chair of the Committee, Councilmember Mosqueda, stated her intention to hear amendments and possibly vote on the proposal in a special committee on Thursday, September 24.  

This legislation is the culmination of the Fare Share plan which began in last year’s budget conversations where the City implemented a small fee on TNC rides to fund: 

  • $52 million investment in affordable housing near transit 
  • $56 million investments to fund the Center City Connector streetcar, which has since been suspended 
  • The establishment of an independent and non-profit Driver Resolution Center 

However, due to the public health crisis, there has been a steep drop-off of TNC rides and the city is not currently anticipating collecting any revenue in 2020. 

South Park Pump Station Begins Construction 


This week I was excited to learn that Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) began construction on the long-awaited South Park Pump Station. This project has been over a decade in the making. I last wrote about this in 2019 when I visited South Park with SPU during what’s called a “King Tide” event.  

This pump station – located at 636 and 640 S Riverside Drive – will reduce flooding from heavy rains and high tides. During King Tide events many parts of South Park, but most notably the industrial areas, flood and can cause significant damage. With climate change this is only expected to worsen.  

As I wrote in 2019, community partnerships are working to leverage resources from SPU, Seattle Department of Transportation, Seattle Parks and Recreation Department, Seattle Police Department, Seattle City Light, Department of Neighborhoods, Office of Economic Development, Office of Arts and Culture, and Office of Sustainability and Environment in order to develop climate resilience, affordable housing, safety, and open space in South Park’s residential and industrial areas. 

During construction, you can expect: 

  • Typical work hours are weekdays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday work may be required to meet construction deadlines. 
  • Construction best practices to control noise, dust, dirt, and vibration 
  • Increased construction traffic 
  • Equipment and material staging near the pump station site 

 

Virtual Office Hours 

On Friday September 25, I will be hosting virtual office hours between 2pm 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. 

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

  • Friday, October 30, 2020 
  • Friday, December 18, 2020 

 

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