Black History Month Proclamation / More Tragic Gun Violence in Vulnerable Communities / Memphis Police Video / Mayor Harrell Nominates Deputy Chief Rebecca Gonzales for CSCC Director / West Seattle High School Parking Lot Gate Installation / City Hall Severe Weather Shelter Open / South Park Tide Update / 4th Quarter Reconnect West Seattle Report / Resuming Late Fees for Unpaid Tickets / Committee Recap

January 27th, 2023

Contents

Black History Month Proclamation

This week the Council and Mayor jointly proclaimed February as “Black History Month.”

This proclamation was drafted by the Human Services Department in partnership with Mayor Harrell’s office and the Mayor’s Council on African American Elders (MCAAE).  I was given the opportunity to bring it forward for the City Council’s consideration.

The proclamation notes that “recorded African American heritage in Seattle dates to the mid-19th century” and affirms that “Black History Month is a reminder that Black history is Seattle history, Black culture is Seattle culture, and Black stories are an essential component of the story of our city.”

It also states, “the City of Seattle acknowledges the long history of institutional racism towards Black people and other communities of color; has committed itself to undoing racism and promoting racial equity and social justice on an ongoing basis since 2005; and continues to identify and analyze manifestations of racism and develop shared culture and leadership”.

The 2023 Black History Month theme is “Black Resistance.” The proclamation recounts how the concept of Black Resistance stems from Henry Highland Garnet’s call to action in an address to the National Negro Convention of 1843, in which he said, “No oppressed people have ever secured their liberty without resistance. What kind of resistance you had better make, you must decide by the circumstances that surround you, and according to the suggestion of expediency”.

More Tragic Gun Violence in Vulnerable Communities

This past weekend was Lunar New Year, a beautiful and culturally significant holiday for so many Asian American communities across the country, especially for Chinese American and Vietnamese American families. It was to be a weekend of deeply rooted traditions, of joyous celebrations, and of the hope that the new spring season brings. To all those that celebrate, I wish you good health and fortune in the coming year.

Unfortunately, these celebrations were marred on Sunday morning when the nation woke up to devastating news. Late Saturday night, on Lunar New Year’s Eve, the San Gabriel Valley in California saw yet another senseless act of gun violence. Unfortunately, this was only one in a series of mass shootings across California this weekend.

Mass shootings claimed the lives of at least 19 individuals across at least three shootings in California on Saturday and Sunday, including farmworkers in Half Moon Bay and another shooting in Oakland.

It is important to know that gun violence is not a Californian problem. It is an American problem. This week, Yakima too experienced the gun deaths of three people in a mass shooting.  There were several shootings here in Seattle as well.

We know that gun violence disproportionately and horrifically affects communities of color. Underregulated access to firearms and lack of access to mental health resources combine with a lack of institutional investments in our most disenfranchised communities and result in inequitable violence across the nation.

I strive to stand in solidarity with these communities by continuing to find ways to invest City resources in strengthening gun violence prevention efforts, expanding mental health resources, and ensuring that communities of color are being heard.

Memphis Police Video

This evening, Memphis Police Department will release a video of a traffic stop that ended in a senseless and brutal tragedy.  This is only one of many steps towards accountability for grieving Memphis residents.  For Mr. Nichols’s family, for Memphis, and for all those who question – in the face of such needless and horrific violence – how to have trust in the oversight of those charged with our safety, I call on Seattle, as a city, to join the call for a thorough and transparent investigation and to do so peacefully.

Mayor Harrell Nominates Deputy Chief Rebecca Gonzales for CSCC Director

Last week, Mayor Harrell nominated Seattle Fire Department Deputy Chief Rebecca “Reba” Gonzales to be the next Director of the Community Safety and Communications Center (CSCC).  I appreciate that the statement making this announcement underscored that the CSCC will implement “a pilot civilian response team that will be dual dispatched with police to priority 3 and 4 calls with a mental/behavioral nexus.”

Deputy Chief Gonzales has served the City within SFD for almost three decades, most recently overseeing the Emergency Medical Services Division.

The CSCC was created in 2021 after Seattle City Council voted to move the 911 call and dispatch center out of SPD in preparation of expanding the scope of dispatch to include alternative response models. In effect, the CSCC is our city’s main 911 call center, dispatching SPD (and eventually, a civilian co-response) or routing to SFD’s Fire Alarm Center.

I have had the pleasure of working alongside Interim Director Lombard during his time leading the CSCC through uncharted territory as a new department. I thank him for his creativity and leadership in standing up the CSCC and look forward to working with the incoming Interim Director Gonzales.

The Public Safety and Human Services Committee will begin preparing for Interim Director Gonzales’s confirmation hearing. After considering her initial performance in the role as Interim Director, information gathered and shared during the Committee’s confirmation process, and weighing public testimony, the Committee will make a recommendation to the full City Council whether to confirm Mayor Harrell’s nomination and appoint her to the permanent role of CSCC Director.

West Seattle High School Parking Lot Gate Installation

Thank you to the Seattle School District for installing a gate at the entrance to the West Seattle High School parking lot.

Constituents have contacted me about racing and reckless, loud driving late at night at this lot for some time, and I advocated with the school district to add a gate. The lot at Chief Sealth High School has a gate.

The first constituent to write to me, in July 2020, noted that the late-night activity started shortly after the COVID school closures. I reached out to then-SW Precinct Captain Grossman in August 2020. He noted that officers were focused on high priority calls, and that some officers at that time were regularly being reassigned from patrol to demonstrations in Capitol Hill.

Then SW Precinct Captain Grossman made the suggestion that closing the parking areas with fencing or gates could help address the problems. I then reached out to the school district about a potential gate.

City Hall Severe Weather Shelter Open

This weekend the weather forecast calls for late-night temperatures in the 20s.

An overnight severe weather shelter will be open for persons experiencing homelessness starting at 6 p.m. on Saturday, January 28th. The shelter is expected to operate between 6 p.m. and 9 a.m., through Thursday, February 2nd.

The shelter will be on the lower floor of City Hall, by the red doors adjacent to 4th Avenue.

South Park Tide Update

Photo: Seattle Public Utilities

Thank you to the crews from Seattle Public Utilities, SDOT, and Finance and Administrative Services for their work to prepare for the King Tides this week that started on Tuesday, with sandbags, concrete blocks, and jersey barriers to protect against potential flooding. There was no flooding during these King Tides this week.

SPU had personnel and back-up water pumping systems on site for any potential impacts, and worked with the Fire and Police Departments and the Office of Emergency Management to ensure response capability was in place. The Office of Emergency Management held a coordination call on Monday to ensure a coordinated response.

Work on long-term solutions to address high tide inundation and sea level rise will continue with the King County Flood Control District, Army Corps of Engineers, and County and Federal elected officials.

4th Quarter Reconnect West Seattle Report

SDOT has released the 4th quarter 2022 Reconnect West Seattle report.

This will be the final quarterly report for the program developed to ameliorate the closure of the West Seattle Bridge in West Seattle and the Duwamish Valley communities.

64 of 70 Reconnect West Seattle projects have been completed, and 56 of 64 Home Zone project elements in South Park, Highland Park and Georgetown.

Here are upcoming projects.

The design was completed: for intersection improvements at Dallas Avenue South and 14th Avenue South

Here are the remaining Home Zone projects:

Seattle Municipal Court Resuming Late Fees for Unpaid Tickets

Seattle Municipal Court (SMC) previously suspended late fees for unpaid parking, camera, and traffic tickets in March 2020 during the first height of the COVID-19 pandemic, due to economic hardships exacerbated or caused by the pandemic.

Beginning on January 30, SMC will resume these late fees for past due tickets at $25 for late parking and camera tickets, and an additional $52 for late traffic tickets.

You can use SMC’s online portal to find any tickets you may have and pay them online or in person. SMC also offers payment plans or community service plans if you are unable to pay your ticket in full, as well as the opportunity to sign up for a Seattle Ticket Debt Reduction Hearing for low-income residents.

For more information about the late fees and options for responding, disputing, or paying outstanding tickets, please see SMC’s blog post on their website.

Public Safety and Human Services Committee Meeting Recap

The Public Safety and Human Services Committee met on January 24th.

The agenda included a presentation on the work of the Public Safety Civil Service Commission (PSCSC), which plays an important, but little known, role in hiring and promotion, and some disciplinary reviews, of firefighters and police officers.

Prior to the presentation from PSCSC Director Scheele, I shared an update from the Mayor’s Office on the efforts to implement the SPD hiring plan, a detailed update on the “top-to-bottom review and reimagining of the hiring systems” that the Mayor’s Office and SPD have been facilitating, using the funding approved by the Council in the 2023-24 budget.

The testing service used by police departments across the country allows applicants to send their scores to multiple departments.  SPD reports losing candidates to other local police departments “because their testing and backgrounding processes were faster and more simplified, allowing those departments to more swiftly make job offers and hiring decisions.”

Here is the status of the implementation that I shared in the PSHS Committee this week:

  • A new digital background system, replacing a system where candidates filled out paperwork which extended wait times for requested documents like questionnaires and references.
  • Increased the number of entry and lateral exam administrations to 14 annually (from 11) – meaning more opportunities for candidates.
  • Three local physical agility testing locations and a virtual option for out-of-state candidates and establishing more accessible and timely medical screenings, reducing the number of trips out-of-state candidates are required to make to Seattle during the hiring process
  • Implementing preference points for community services, established in the 2017 Accountability Ordinance, prioritizing candidates who have significant experience serving community to put them at the top of the list for hiring consideration.
  • Hired additional staff to help with candidate throughput processing in recruitment, in the process of hiring two additional backgrounders to process applicants, a recruiting manager, and two additional recruiter positions.

PSCSC’s presentation that followed covered their mission to make and enforce rules for examination, appointments, promotions, transfers, demotions, reinstatements, suspensions, layoffs, discharges, and connected matters; directs development and administration of merit-based entry-level and promotional civil service exams for the Seattle Fire and Police departments (with support of Seattle Human Resources); provides sworn police and uniformed fire employees with a quasi-judicial hearing process for appeals concerning serious disciplinary actions, and examination and testing; and investigates alleged violations of enabling legislation, the Seattle Public Safety Ordinance, SMC 4.08.

Here’s where the PSCSC fits within the hiring process, by conducting examinations:

In addition to exams for new police officers and firefighters, the PSCSC conducts promotional exams:

COVID required the PSCSC to develop new testing procedures. Prior to COVID, all tests were in-person, which wasn’t possible when the pandemic arrived.

The committee also voted to move the reappointment of Director Andrea Scheele to the Full Council.

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Preparation for King Tides in South Park / Spokane Street Bridge Presentation / Fauntleroy Watershed Annual Report / Move Seattle Levy Oversight Committee / Public Comment on Zoning Modifications at West Seattle High School

January 20th, 2023

Contents

Preparation for King Tides in South Park

On December 27 and 28, South Park experienced flooding resulting from the confluence of an extreme storm, very low pressure, an extreme King Tide, and heavy rain. King Tides are very high tides.

High tides are predicted from January 21-27, with King Tides early in the morning January 23-25. The City has been working with community to prepare for this.

Photo: SPU

This Seattle Public Utilities blog post describes the City efforts in collaboration with community to provide temporary flood barriers, including concrete block and sandbags, as shown in the photos above and below.

They encourage people to sign up for Alert Seattle by texting SEATTLE to 67283 or by going to alert.seattle.gov to receive updates about emergencies.

Photo: SPU

On Tuesday, I and several other elected officials from City (Councilmember Morales), County (King County Executive Constantine and King County Councilmember McDermott), and Federal jurisdictions (Congresswoman Jayapal) met with community leaders and City departments and Senior Deputy Mayor Harrell. Region X EPA Administrator Casey SIxkiller was with us as well.  I sincerely appreciate how seriously they have responded.  A long-term solution is only possible with collaboration between the City, County and federal governments.

Photo: Lisa Herbold

Spokane Street Bridge Presentation

The Transportation and Seattle Public Utilities Committee hosted a presentation on the Spokane Street (Low) Bridge on Tuesday, January 17th.

Here is the presentation, and a link to the Seattle Channel video.

Though the bridge is reopened, only one hydraulic turn cylinder is operational.  This increases the amount of time that the bridge is up and waiting time.  During the discussion, I asked about the timeline for the refurbishment of the cylinders, which had been planned for 2023, before the closure.

SDOT said they need time to determine root causes of what failed on the cylinder, and that technology upgrades are part of the cylinders’ refurbishment, to attain the longest life, so they need time to determine best methods for rehabilitation and time necessary to complete it.

I also asked about plans for public notice of duration of openings because one constituent wrote to me to say:

“If you add that to the 10-15 min current time when open, that could mean as much as a half hour, in which case it would definitely be quicker for bicyclists to take the 1st Ave bridge detour. Seems important for people to know that info, because if you’re leaving West Seattle for work, a meeting, or any other timebound event, a half hour is a pretty significant delay.  Having updated times would also benefit Harbor Island freight traffic, allowing trucks to decide whether or not to detour.”

The traffic operations division is considering how best to communicate to people about bridge opening wait times and noted they have asked the Coast Guard to notify mariners about the additional length of bridge openings by 10-15 minutes.

Thank you to Chair Pedersen for hearing this in committee, and to his attention to this work as Chair.

The image below shows the location for the structural rehabilitation, lift cylinders and control and communications lines.

Fauntleroy Watershed Annual Report

The Fauntleroy Watershed Council has published the 2022 Fauntleroy Watershed Council Annual Report. It includes a summary of salmon-related activities.

The report includes information about their work, including a chart with several years of useful data about salmon eggs, fry, smolts and spawners.

In 2022, volunteer watchers documented 254 coho spawners, an increase of 10 from 2021, and the highest total since 2012.

The Fauntleroy watershed site is http://fauntleroywatershed.org/, and includes additional reports on exoskeletons, smolt, benthic and other annual reports.

Move Seattle Levy Oversight Committee

The Levy Oversight Committee for the Move Seattle transportation levy has two vacancies. Applications are open through February 9, 2023. Information on how to apply and commission responsibilities is available here.

Meetings take place the first Tuesday of each month from 5-7 p.m. Here’s an archive of previous meetings.

Public Comment on Zoning Modifications at West Seattle High School

Seattle Department of Neighborhoods will be hosting a public comment session to gather feedback regarding the development plans for West Seattle High School. Read the full public notice published by the Department of Neighborhoods copied below or use this link to share the information with your neighbors and friends.

The public is invited to share its feedback regarding the development plans for West Seattle High School located at 3000 California Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98116. The Seattle School District is requesting modifications (also known as “departures”) from City zoning regulations per Seattle Municipal Code, SMC 23.51B, and the Public School Departures Process, SMC 23.79.

1) Reduced vehicular parking quantity

2) Amended bicycle parking performance standards

The Seattle School District has a detailed presentation of the modifications which you can view on the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods website.

Upon receiving your feedback, the comments will be shared with the Director of the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods. After review, the Director will provide their recommendations regarding the proposed departures to the Director of the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections for the final decision.

Please submit your written comments by Friday, February 17, 2023, to:

Nelson Pesigan

E-mail: Nelson.Pesigan@seattle.gov

Mailing Address:

Seattle Department of Neighborhoods
PO Box 94649
Seattle, WA  98124-4649

For additional information, visit our website or contact Nelson Pesigan at 206-684-0209.

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Spokane Street (Low) Bridge Update / PSHS Committee Updates / Regional Policy Committee Vote Supporting Behavioral Health Levy / Landmarks Ordinance Amendment / Fire Department Ride-Along for District 1 Stations 37 and 26 / January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month Proclamation / MLK Day

January 13th, 2023

Content

Spokane Street (Low) Bridge Update

SDOT announced the re-opening of the Spokane Street (low) Bridge at 2 p.m. today, following successful repairs.

SDOT’supdate from earlier this week notes, “While the eastern bridge span runs with one cylinder, opening and closing the bridge for passing ships will take about 10-15 minutes longer than usual.”  This will continue for a substantial part of 2023, as previously planned refurbishment of the four bridge cylinders proceeds; SDOT expects to have a better estimate in a few weeks. My office has asked SDOT about providing notice for when bridge closures are estimated to end.

SDOT also announced they will remove the temporary bike detour on 1st Avenue South on Saturday, January 14th, keep the temporary protected bike lane along West Marginal Way SW, and continue conversations with nearby businesses and community members about a protected bike lane in this location.

Below is background on the work to repair the bridge.

Preparations to overhaul all four of the Spokane Street (low) Bridge hydraulic turning cylinders (including the damaged one) began several months back as part of this comprehensive repair and maintenance effort. When the unexpected damage to the cylinder occurred during last month’s ice storm, the planning work SDOT had already completed allowed them to quickly jump into developing a response plan and likely allow for the completion of repairs sooner than if they had been starting from scratch.

The graphic above shows the three main components that lift the bridge, turn the cylinders, and rotate the bridge span to allow it to open and close.

On Sunday, SDOT removed a damaged 15,000 pound turn cylinder to transport it to repair. Below is detail about the turn cylinder that crews removed and will have refurbished.

SDOT’s Roadways and Structures staff have been in the bridge daily since December 23rd.  I sincerely appreciate the work they have been doing.

While the cylinder is being refurbished, SDOT will operate the easter span of the bridge on the remaining single turning cylinder (both on the western span are in place).  Engineers have reprogrammed the computer system that controls the bridge equipment.

On Wednesday, SDOT carried out repairs to valves on the hydraulic pumps; during testing on Monday they found that 3 of the 4 values were broken. SDOT then moved to 24-hour testing, to assess the operations of the bridge with this work.

SDOT quickly added a temporary bike lane on 1st Avenue South and West Marginal Way, and has checked the traffic cones three times a day to ensure the bike lane stays well-marked.

The Transportation and Seattle Public Utilities committee meeting on Tuesday, January 17 will include an update briefing from SDOT. Thanks to Committee Chair Councilmember Pedersen for scheduling this.

PSHS Committee Updates

South Park Flooding:  I invited City departments to present to the Public Safety and Human Services Committee on Tuesday about response to flooding in South Park resulting from the confluence of an extreme storm, very low pressure, and extreme King Tide, and heavy rain.

Here’s the presentation from the Mayor’s Office, Office of Emergency Management, and the Human Services Department.

49 properties were affected; here is a slide showing the locations affected by flooding:

The Human Services Department is working on the needs of affected residents, including housing, food, transportation and medical support. They are coordinating with community-based organizations who are taking the lead on culturally appropriate and in-language service for impacted communities, in Spanish, Khmer and Vietnamese.  They announced that temporary housing vouchers will continue to the end of the month.

Seattle Public Utilities is preparing for another King Tide the last week of January from the 23rd to the 26th. It is predicted to be two feet lower than the December flooding.

Moving toward a long-term solution for climate change related flooding, beyond the infrastructure investments already underway to address storm and wastewater flooding in South Park, will require work with other agencies for planning and funding.

At the presentation SPU highlighted the interest of the Army Corps of Engineers in helping to address this need. Other potential funding could come from FEMA and the King County Flood Control District.

In August I took a tour that SPU hosted with Senator Murray and Rep. Smith’s office to support the Army Corp of Engineers funding for a feasibility study to address river topping and searise related flooding; thanks to SPU for your work on this, and for taking Rep. Jayapal’s team on a separate tour.

An after-action report will be developed once operations have concluded.

 

OIG 2023 Work Plan – We were also joined in the PSHS Committee by Inspector General Judge who presented the Office the Inspector General  (OIG) 2023 Work Plan.

The Office of the Inspector General is one of the three civilian-led police accountability agencies, joined by the Office of Police Accountability and the Community Polie Commission.

Each of the three civilian-led agencies have a specific role in police accountability.  The City of Seattle Office of Inspector General (OIG) helps to “ensure the fairness and integrity of the police system as a whole in its delivery of law enforcement services by providing civilian auditing of the management, practices, and policies of the [Seattle Police Department (SPD) and Office of Police Accountability (OPA)] and oversee ongoing fidelity to organizational reforms implemented pursuant to the goals of the 2012 federal Consent Decree in United States of America v. City of Seattle, 12 Civ. 1282(JLR), as noted in section 3.29.010B of Ordinance 125315, the 2017 police accountability legislation.

One of the key updates, in line with the mention of the Consent Decree above, is the work to begin carrying out monitoring assessments of SPD. Since the Consent Decree, the Police Monitor has conducted these reports. The Monitor’s Comprehensive Assessment of May 2022 combined use of force, crisis intervention, and stops and detentions. Earlier assessments were mostly for one subject area.

Before OIG can be approved by the Court that oversees the Consent Decree to take over this work, OIG must develop a methodology that will also need to be approved.  The City, including SPD and OIG, are working with the Monitor and DOJ to address remaining, important work that the DOJ and the City agree needs to continue. They are also working on preparing OIG to take on the role of the Monitor and to continue provide robust oversight in the future–even after the Consent Decree ends.

Last year during the Monitor’s Preliminary Assessment of the City’s performance under the Consent Decree, I sent the attached letter as my input.

Here’s the OIG presentation.

Regional Policy Committee Vote Supporting Behavioral Health Levy

Though I am only an alternate to the Regional Policy Committee (RPC), I appreciated the opportunity to participate this week on this critical discussion and action.  I thank you King County Executive Constantine, bill sponsor Councilmember Zahilay, and DCHS Director Flor and staff for their work to bring forward this ballot measure.

The proposed levy would support the creation of five new regional crisis care centers distributed throughout the county, with one of the centers solely focused on serving youth; restore mental health residential treatment bed capacity and expand treatment availability and sustainability in King County; and support area behavioral health workforce needs.

If approved by the voters, the nine-year levy (2024-2032) would have an initial levy rate of $0.145 per $1,000 of assessed value in 2024 and generate a total of approximately $1.25 billion in revenues during the nine-year levy period. A $0.145 per $1,000 AV levy would be estimated to cost the owner of a $694,000 home in King County (2022 median home value) approximately $121 for 2024 in property taxes.

This proposal responds to a request of the Seattle City Council in passing a 2021 resolution that I sponsored, requesting that King County and the State of Washington increase services to address behavioral health conditions and uplifting the fact that in Washington, 46% of adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depression, and 30% were unable to get the counseling or therapy they need.  More than half of 12 – 17 year-olds who have depression did not receive any care in 2021, according to research by NAMI|Washington.

In a ranking by Mental Health America of low prevalence of mental illness and high access to care in 2020 places Washington forty-sixth out of all states and the District of Columbia

The ordinance putting the behavioral health levy on the ballot lifts up the fact that in the study year:

  • 62 percent of adults and 80 percent of youth enrolled in Medicaid having an identified substance use disorder need, and half of adults and over a third of youth with an identified mental health need did not receive treatment.
  • People who need mental health residential services must wait an average of 44 days before they are able to be placed in a residential facility
  • Position vacancies in agencies that provide mission critical services to this population have doubled.

To place this in a global context, in December I attended an international mental health conference.  I was heartened that cities all over the world are recognizing that our people are suffering.  I’d like to share parts of our call to action, as follows:

  • 300 million people across the world are affected by depression and 1 billion suffer from a mental disorder of some kind. Over 700,000 people commit suicide every year. It is even the fourth most common cause of death among young people between 15 and 29 years old.
  • The WHO’s finding is indisputable: during the first year of the pandemic, rates of depression and anxiety disorders increased by 25%.
  • Taking care of health doesn’t just mean combating “visible” diseases. Healthcare professionals and the WHO remind us of the fact: health is a complete state of physical, mental and social wellbeing.
  • On a global scale, the share of national budgets dedicated to mental health only accounts for 2% of overall healthcare budgets.
  • It is here that we have a role to play, by make a top priority of combating inequalities and discrimination, by taking action to create an environment supportive of health and prevention.

This King County levy will next be voted on by the King County Council.  That it passed RPC unanimously this week shows strong bipartisan and regional agreement that this levy will provide our residents needed access to care when they are experiencing a behavioral health crisis. Further, that these services will help to bolster our safety net and the supportive housing system by relieving pressure on our housing providers.

Landmarks Ordinance Amendment

On Tuesday, the Council considered Council Bill 120312, which adopted controls and incentives for the First National Bank Building at 566 Denny Way.

The nomination of a landmark is the first step in the historic landmarks process; the second step is approval of the nomination by the Board. The Landmarks Preservation Board voted to approve the nomination, designating this site as a landmark, in 2006.

The third step is for the Board staff and the property owner to negotiate what is called a Controls and Incentives (C&I) agreement. Controls delineate the features of the Landmark that must be maintained.  In exchange for doing so, the C&I provides incentives including zoning flexibility, exceptions to building and energy codes, and financial incentives, such as Special Tax Valuation. The Seattle Municipal Code states that: The negotiation period may run for a maximum of seventy-five (75) days from the date of service of the Board’s report on designation on the owner. In this case, although the building owner received approval from the King County Assessor in 2020 for a property valuation reduction of $5 million, the Board reached agreement with the property owner and the owner signed the agreement in December of 2021.

The final step is for the Council to pass legislation approving, denying, or amending the controls that the owner has agreed to follow as well as the incentives that the City is offering. In this case, the bill doing so was voted down 4-0 in committee in December. At Full Council a substitute version was brought forward that, if approved, instead removed the controls and incentives for the designated landmark.

Though Walgreens is not selling the property, there is no development proposal, and the underlying zoning allows for other non-housing uses, such as office or hotel development, opponents of adopting controls and incentives said that controls would limit the capacity for development for housing. I voted with my Council colleagues in 2017 to significantly increase the zoning capacity in this area (Seattle Mixed-Uptown 160). This zoning provides incentives to preserve landmarks, including increase FAR (floor area ratio) for projects that preserve a landmark on-site, and provisions that allow for transfer of development rights (TDR) and the transfer of development potential (TDP) from designated landmarks to other sites.

I proposed an amendment to meet both the goals of increasing the potential for housing while also supporting landmarking by removing the controls for the parking lot while retaining the controls and incentives for the building. This approach would allow for the use of the landmark building FAR bonus or transferring TDR to other sites.

The Council adopted this amendment. With passage of the amendment, development can take place in the parking lot area; Councilmember Lewis proposed an additional amendment that removed the signpost, drive through, breezeway. The Council unanimously adopted the bill as amended.

In developing the amendment, at my request Central Staff examined three different options for development, as follows:

The site is 25,920 square feet. The parking area is approximately 11,700 square feet. The building is approximately 8,055 square feet above grade. The site is zoned Seattle Mixed-Uptown 160 – a mixed-use zone with height limits up to 160 feet. 7 FAR are allowed for residential or non-residential projects.

In the Seattle Mixed-Uptown zone, there is an incentive of 1 FAR for development that preserves a landmark on site. Another 0.5 FAR is provided for a project that includes at least 10 large units (>900 square feet, 3+ bedrooms). Consequently, the most residential development that could occur would be the result of development on the lot (and potentially above the bank building) that preserves the building as a landmark and provides 10 large units.

Here are the three different development alternatives:

  1. If the entire site were to be redeveloped, the maximum amount of development that could be built would be approximately 275 units or 181,000 square feet of non-residential space.
  2. If the entire site were to be landmarked and development rights were transferred, that would facilitate approximately 250 units or 173,000 square feet of non-residential space on other sites in the Uptown Urban Center (the building area is removed from the floor area that can be transferred, however the building area is retained).
  3. If the parking area were to be removed from the designation and development were allowed on the parking lot while retaining the landmarked building, the maximum amount of development that could be built would be approximately 310 units or 207,000 square feet of nonresidential space, plus the area within the existing building. Note that this would be hard to fit on the lot without building above the bank building.

 A larger building could be built on the lot under alternatives 1 or 3 if an arts or school facility were incorporated into the project.

This Central Staff estimate is based on an average of 700 square feet sized unit, nearly the City average of 711 square feet per unit. It also includes the Uptown family size bonus which requires at least 10 units with three bedrooms and more than 900 square feet.

Option 3 has the highest estimate for any potential housing development even compared to the scenario where there are no controls placed on the building (Option 1). It’s worth noting that is not unusual for developers to undertake a development that preserves the façade of the building but builds above it.

The two amendments result in over 13,000 square feet of space with neither controls nor incentives, of 25,920 total square feet.

During public comment at the City Council meeting, there were statements that the lot would be too small for this level of development. There are examples in Seattle over the last decade of development on lots smaller than this:

  • The 24-story (188 unit) Martin Apartments at 2105 5th Avenue (by Lenora) was built in 2012 on a 12,720 square foot lot which was a parking lot next to the Cinerama
  • The building where Caffe D’arte was located on 2nd and Steward was torn down and replaced with a 40-story condo tower with 264 units on a 8,358 square foot lot (called the Emerald at 121 Stewart Street)
  • A developer has a proposal for a 14-story building on the 6,272 square foot site of the landmarked Hahn building at 103 Pike Street
  • Two towers on the same block as Town Hall have a smaller floorplate – approximately 9,000 square feet
  • Right across the street from the Walgreens, 600 Wall Street, there is a 40-story tower that was built on a 10,665 square foot lot

I believe this amendment is a good compromise to balance historic preservation with enhancing capacity for potential housing development.

The Central Staff memo from the December 5 committee meeting includes useful background on the landmarking process.

Fire Department Ride-Along for District 1 Stations 37 and 26

In March 2020, Chief Scoggins championed the safety of District 1 with a decision to place a ladder truck for the peninsula at Fire Station 37 in High Point and a medic unit at Fire Station 26 in South Park. I proudly sponsored a budget action to sustain these services and am grateful to my Council colleagues for passing the legislation and reducing response times in West Seattle by life-saving minutes. Readers of the newsletter read regular updates throughout the budget process.

This week, Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda and I accepted an invitation from Chief Scoggins to meet the brave men and women at these stations and see them in action on a visit to both stations and a ride-along in the Medic Unit and Fire Station 26 to respond to a medical emergency in progress.

I learned so much about the infrastructure of the stations and how the work done there helps our SFD medics and firefighters stay healthy and supported on their long shifts, about the bonds they build, and about the passions that drew them to commit to providing these life-saving services.

For instance, providing the funding to maintain the presence of the ladder truck and the aid unit is only part of the story of what it takes to maintain these life-saving services.  We learned about how the department addressed the space constraints of having a greater number of personnel at stations that are staffed 24 hours a day; 7 days a week.  Fire Fighters have sleeping quarters on location, in the case of these two stations, closets and gym exercise area had to be converted into sleeping quarters for the additional personnel that staff the ladder truck and the aid unit.

I am grateful to have taken the opportunity to hear from them and thank them in person. Thank you to SFD for meeting with me yesterday and giving me a close-up view and hands-on demonstrations to just some of what your work entails.

After all, I’ll be looking for a new job next year!

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month Proclamation

I brought to the Seattle City Council a proclamation declaring the month of January as “Human Trafficking Awareness Month,” and emphasizing our collective commitment to protect and empower survivors of human trafficking.  Mayor Harrell joined the City Council in support.

Human trafficking can affect anyone, regardless of race, religion, occupation, educational level, culture, or sexual orientation. Native Americans, people of color, LGBTQIA+ individuals, immigrants and refugees, and those made vulnerable through socioeconomic barriers, homelessness, and disability are disproportionately affected.

In 2010 President Obama first proclaimed the equality and freedom inherent to all people, to advocate for legislation and protections for survivors, to educate leaders, and to encourage public awareness and action against various forms of human trafficking;

The proclamation further notes “the City of Seattle is striving to become a place where human trafficking does not exist, where people have opportunities available to them so as not to fall into financial vulnerability, and where all people are treated as fully human and worthy of fair pay, safe working conditions, and freedom from human rights violation”, and

A recital references “the Sex Buyers Intervention Program (Johns School), facilitated by the Seattle Municipal Court and the Seattle Human Services Department, aims to reduce the demand for commercial sex by educating men arrested for soliciting sex about the reality of prostitution”

MLK Day Seattle

For forty years Seattle and King County residents have had a rally, march, internships, workshops, youth led programming and a job fair to honor the legacy and the mission of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The March and Rally are this Monday, January 16th! Like every year before,

Youth Event and Workshops are happening leading up to the event. Find out more aboutwhat is happening next here

Also, there’s a City of Seattle MLK Unity celebration on Monday at 10 a.m., tune in here www.seattlechannel.org/watch-live

Thanks to Seattle Office for Civil Rights for coordinating.  We’ll hear from:

  • Mayor Bruce Harrell
  • City Councilmember Tammy Morales
  • Seattle Office for Civil Rights Director Derrick Wheeler-Smith
  • Josephine Howell, vocalist
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Council Vote on Police Chief Appointment / South Park Flooding Update / Spokane Street (low) Bridge Update / Neighborhood / Gender-based Violence Survivor Services / The WRAP Act

January 6th, 2023

Contents

Council Vote on Police Chief Appointment

At Council’s first meeting of the year, on behalf of the Public Safety and Human Services Committee, I recommended final confirmation of Adrian Z. Diaz as Seattle Police Chief. Chief Diaz has served the Seattle Police Department since 1997 and was appointed Interim Chief of Police in September of 2020. Council President Juarez and I served on a nationwide search for our permanent Chief of Police, which included a community engagement processes, candidate interviews, and written examinations that were evaluated by an expert panel.

Chief Diaz also responded to 21 questions developed by the Council as part of the consideration of his appointment. In his 15-page response, he noted his commitments to community engagement, public accountability, offer wellness and development, among other core values that we need in our police leadership. He referenced his experience in patrol, specialty units, and department leadership. He also stated a commitment to a collaborative partnership with Council as we consider alternative responses, including the work of developing a new non-police crisis response and support for community-based initiatives like Community Passageways.

During the last 2022 meeting of the Public Safety and Human Services Committee, Senior Deputy Mayor Monisha Harrell presented Interim Chief of Police Adrian Diaz as the appointment for confirmation of the Chief of Police position. After consideration of his response, reflection on the work of the Police Chief search committee, and review of Mayor Harrell’s statements during the nomination of Adrian Diaz, the Public Safety and Human Services Committee unanimously recommended confirmation of the appointment to the full council.

This recommendation is aligned with the scores of community leaders who have written, called, and shown up to testify to support his nomination. On January 3rd, City Council voted 8-1 to confirm the appointment of Adrian Diaz to the role of Chief of Police.

South Park Flooding Update

On December 27, a storm surge combined with very low pressure, high winds, and extremely high spring tide to create a devastating flood of the Duwamish River in the South Park neighborhood. 18 homes and several businesses were flooded, displacing many families.

The Office of Emergency Management has since facilitated Seattle Public Utilities and Human Services Department’s response in partnership with other departments and community partners. SPU is the City’s lead department for urban flooding response, working to stand up a coordination trailer in South Park. Through OEM’s facilitation and SPU’s coordination, the City has deployed portable toilets, sinks, showers, and laundry services, assessed infrastructure and laid out sandbags to reduce further flooding, and found emergency housing in the form of hotel rooms for 13 families.

There are many questions about how we move forward from here to support our South Park neighbors. The Mayor’s Office, OEM, HSD, and SPU will be presenting at the January 10 Public Safety and Human Services Committee about the city’s response to the flood. This will inform our emergency preparedness planning so we can reduce the likelihood of similar damages in the future. We expect another high spring tide January 23rd, so OEM and SPU are already preparing to reduce the impacts of potential flooding in the near future.

There are several infrastructure investments underway to address flooding in South Park.  The South Park Drainage and Roadway Partnership project will construct streets and a drainage system to improve chronic flooding and drainage issues.  The South Park Pump Station will send stormwater runoff to the Duwamish Waterway during high tide events when the storm drain system cannot drain by gravity.  The South Park Water Quality Facility will treat stormwater from the drainage system before it flows into the Duwamish Waterway.

Though these projects can help mitigate the impacts of flooding, they will not stop flooding associated with a King Tide.  The system is not designed to address the volume of water that is experienced during the time the river is overtopping in a King Tide. The types of flooding are interrelated and require different solutions. The sea level rise and river overtopping need to be solved by a berm, seawall, or some other major design.  SPU is working with the Army Corps of Engineers to do an assessment for such a project.

In the meantime, City departments will continue their recovery work of the neighborhood including solid waste and debris collection, in-home clean-up, and culturally responsive support and planning for the displaced families.  My Public Safety and Human Services committee meeting on Tuesday will hear more.

Spokane Street (low) Bridge Update

The Spokane Street (low) Bridge was closed on December 23rd. SDOT machinery was damaged after the ice storm.

Well before the December storm damage, a number of projects occurred already and were planned for 2023 on this bridge, including structural rehabilitation that was completed late last year. Maintenance work planned for this year includes a lift cylinder replacement and replacement and overhaul of electrical and hydraulic components. Work was prioritized on completing repairs to the West Seattle Bridge during the last few years.

Electricians completed repairs to a flooded underground power conduit at 3 a.m. and replaced 500 feet of damaged power lines.

The hydraulic cylinder that lifts and turns the bridge was damaged. Below is a photo of the cylinder, and the damage:

(photo: SDOT)

After the storm, leaking on the hydraulic cylinder quickly intensified. This photo shows yellow fluid coming from the machine (Photo: SDOT)

SDOT’s December 31 update said:

Here are some of the other repairs that we have been working on over the past week:

  • Reprogramming electrical components and analyzing the machine programming.
  • Conducting comprehensive inspections on all hydraulic bridge components.
  • Building and assembling the equipment necessary to move the 15,000-pound cylinder.
  • Working with our contractors and suppliers to order necessary parts and equipment.
  • Examining and repairing flooded power conduits and damaged high-voltage power cables.

Here’s link to SDOT’s updates specific to this bridge. The most recent update from January 3 says “will know more about the remaining timeline after we remove the cylinder.”

On Tuesday SDOT indicated their goal to remove the cylinder within the following week; yesterday SDOT affirmed they are working toward that timeline. Moving the cylinder is the most complex piece of the repair plan.

The low bridge processor was successfully reprogramed on Wednesday.

Here’s the map of the temporary bike detour route. Work took place on 1st Avenue on Wednesday, and on West Marginal Way began on Thursday. Here’s the update SDOT posted about this: A Better Detour for People Biking During Spokane St Swing Bridge Emergency Closure.

SDOT announced Friday afternoon that the Transit GO Ticket app can be used to ride the Water Taxi or bus using free credits during the low bridge closure. Information on how to access this is included in the link.

Neighborhood Street Fund Awards: 26th Ave SW & SW Cambridge

SDOT announced nine new community-prioritized projects for funding in the 2022-2024 Neighborhood Street Fund cycle.

One project is included from District 1: 6th Ave SW and SW Cambridge St Safety Enhancements. Design is scheduled for this year, with construction in 2024. The project page notes,

The intersection of 26th Ave SW and SW Cambridge St is in the South Delridge and Roxhill neighborhoods. Many people cross 26th Ave SW to access Roxhill Park and Roxhill Elementary students wait for the school bus at this intersection. The project will build crossing improvements to improve sightlines and encourage slower speeds on 26th Ave SW, including new curb bulbs and curb ramps on all corners.

Project funding for this cycle focused on Geographic Equity Areas, as shown in the map linked in the announcement; this includes the SW portion of District 1.


Gender-Based Violence Survivor Services

In December, the Department of Human Services and the Mayor’s Office on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault announced the results of a request for proposals for Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Survivor Services. The results informed investment of $10.9 million toward 25 GVB providers under the umbrella of GBV, which includes domestic violence sexual assault, and commercial sexual exploitation.

Because of the increased need, Council has worked through the pandemic, as well as coming out of it, to increase funds for these life-saving and sustaining services. Gender-based violence survivors often experience barriers that prevent them from getting help, whether it’s the lack of safe housing, the stigma, or the need to care for dependents. These are all factors, for those living below the poverty line, that can result in a more economically precarious situation.

More information is included in this press release; the following agencies were awarded funding:

  • API Chaya
  • Aurora Commons
  • Chief Seattle Club
  • Domestic Abuse Women’s Network (DAWN)
  • Eastside Legal Assistance Program (ELAP)
  • Filipino Community of Seattle
  • Harborview Medical-Abuse and Trauma Center (HATC)
  • Interim CDA
  • Jewish Family Services (JFS)
  • King County Sexual Assault Resource Center (KCSARC)
  • LCYC – Legal Services for Youth
  • Mother Nation
  • New Beginnings
  • Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP)
  • Northwest Justice Project (NJP)
  • Organization for Prostitution Survivors
  • Real Escape from the Sex Trade (REST)
  • Refugee Women’s Alliance (ReWA)
  • Salvation Army
  • Seattle Indian Health Board (SIHB)
  • Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP)
  • Solid Ground
  • Somali Family Safety Task Force (SFSTF)
  • YWCA
  • Youthcare

The WRAP Act

On Wednesday, January 4th at the Seattle Aquarium, I participated in a press conference that recognized the Aquarium’s involvement in work on plastic reduction, marine impacts of plastic, and revealed new legislation sponsored by Sen. Christine Rolfes and Rep. Liz Berry to help reduce waste and ensure that what we are putting in recycling bins will be responsibly recycled.  The Washington Recycling and Packaging (WRAP) Act supports a Producer stewardship programs like those in place for decades in Europe, for 10 years in Canada, and four states in the US have passed this law (ME, OR, CO, CA).

Washington has been a leader in environmental issues and in passing some of the most cutting-edge solid-waste laws over the past decades.  The WRAP Act is important for our local communities, and so many others across the state- because the cost of recycling has increased, which impacts our residents.

Nearly 80 other city council members from across Washington signed a letter in support of modernizing our recycling system and that letter will be submitted at the first hearing on the WRAP Act in the legislature.

While Seattle is proud to have built a strong and successful recycling program, 60% of our waste is recycled or composted, our residents want to do more to hold producers accountable for their packaging and paper products by incentivizing producers to become a partner in achieving outstanding recycling outcomes.  In addition, the WRAP Act includes a bottle deposit program for beverage containers to incentivize people to keep them out of the waste system or litter.

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Public Safety and Human Services Committee Update // COVID/flu vaccines and masking recs // Duwamish Basin Steward Legislation // Speed Bumps in Alki Neighborhood // Winter Weather Information: Roads, bus service, SPU, and shelter

December 16th, 2022

Public Safety and Human Services Committee Update

During this week’s Public Safety and Human Services Committee, Senior Deputy Mayor Monisha Harrell presented Interim Chief of Police Adrian Diaz as that appointment for confirmation to the Chief of Police position. Chief Diaz has served in the interim position since September of 2020 and was appointed to the permanent role, this September, by Mayor Bruce Harrell.

Chief Diaz’s experience spans patrol, specialty units, and police leadership.  His emphasis on community engagement resulted in testimony, delivered by several community members, to the Public Safety and Human Services committee, noting Chief Diaz’s work building relationships with those most disenfranchised.

The Public Safety and Human Services Committee unanimously recommended the confirmation of Chief Diaz. The appointment will go to Full Council for a final vote on January 3.

PSHS Committee also received an update from Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) and Office of Emergency Management (OEM) in collaboration with The Alliance for Safety, Affordability and Preservation (ASAP). This update on the development of the Unreinforced Masonry program derives from Resolution 32033, which I sponsored, and Council passed exactly one year prior to this presentation.

Unreinforced masonry buildings are typically older buildings that pose a high safety risk in the event of an earthquake. The URM program in development will ensure a safer, stronger Seattle by reducing risks to people within and nearby URM buildings by eventually phasing in a mandate for retrofits to these buildings, developing technical standards for retrofitting, and providing support for residents and owners.

SDCI will continue to convene community stakeholders and subject matter experts to complete the tasks outlined by the resolution and will return to present the next quarterly progress report on this work on March 1st.

Masking Recommendations, COVID/Flu Vaccines

Two people fist bumping while masked.

Local health officers and health care leaders are now recommending wearing masks indoors.

I met with Dr. Khan, the Seattle-King County Public Health Director earlier this week, and they have asked for our help in pushing out this masking message not only for the general public, and for the neighborhood and downtown business communities as well.

It’s been a rough start to the flu, cold, and COVID season so far. Communities across our state and around the U.S. are experiencing an unprecedented surge in viral respiratory illnesses, including respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), influenza and COVID-19. Health officers and health care leaders working to improve the health of Washington residents, recommend that everyone wear a high-quality, well-fitting mask when around others in indoor spaces to protect against both acquiring and spreading these infections to others.

With COVID hospitalizations rising again after a Thanksgiving lull, people over age 50 are at the greatest risk for both hospitalization and death. Many don’t know that the updated COVID booster shot offers better protection against Omicron variants that are spreading. We’re asking for your help sharing information to older adults and their families.

In addition to RSV and influenza, new COVID-19 variants are taking hold and immunity from past vaccination is waning for many people who have not yet received an updated booster shot.

Unfortunately, in KC only 26% of eligible people have received all of their immunizations through the most current booster. Everyone 6 months and older should be vaccinated against these diseases and those who are eligible for an updated COVID-19 booster should get it now.

Just in the last few days, the CDC has expanded the use of updated (bivalent) COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 6 months through 5 years. Children ages 6 months through 5 years who previously completed a Moderna primary series are eligible to receive a Moderna bivalent booster 2 months after their final primary series dose. Children ages 6 months through 4 years who are currently completing a Pfizer primary series will receive a Pfizer bivalent vaccine as their third primary dose

Here is information from King County Public Health about Why people over age 50 should get an updated COVID-19 booster before the holidays – PUBLIC HEALTH INSIDER

Here’s King County Public Health’s website about getting vaccinated, which includes links to the Washington Vaccine Locator where you can search by ZIP code, and additional information.  

Duwamish Basin Steward Legislation

On Tuesday, the City Council adopted legislation that approves an agreement to create a Duwamish Basin Steward position.

The Duwamish Basin Steward will develop and implement Chinook salmon habitat restoration projects in the lower eleven miles of the Green-Duwamish River in coordination with willing landowners, the local jurisdictions, the Cities of Seattle and Tukwila, the Port of Seattle, Boeing, Central Puget Sound Watershed (WRIA 9), and non-profit partners.

This is an interlocal agreement with King County, the City of Tukwila, and the Port of Seattle to share costs for the new position. The position will be housed at King County.

A Duwamish Management Team that includes Seattle Public Utilities will be formed to develop the workplan and manage the budget for the position

Under the agreement, Seattle would cover 38% of the base cost share, or $79,000 in 2022. If external revenues are available, the base share can be reduced. In 2022, for example, WRIA 9 contributed funds that have the effect of reducing Seattle’s adjusted share to 32%, or $66,500.

Speed Bumps in Alki Neighborhood

Speed bumps in West Seattle.

Photo: SDOT Director Greg Spotts

I have met twice in recent months with residents of the Alki/Harbor Avenue neighborhood, along with SDOT, SPD and Parks, regarding several issues of concern to the community.

One longstanding issue is speeding and road safety. Above and below are photos of where SDOT has recently added speed bumps in six total areas, mostly adjacent to Seacrest Park and the Don Armeni Boat Ramp.

I am also interested in potential use of speed enforcement cameras, per added authority provided by the state legislature earlier this year and have been in touch with SDOT about how to implement this authority.

More speed bumps near Alki.

Photo: SDOT Director Greg Spotts

Winter Weather Information: Roads, bus service, SPU, and shelter

Graphic saying "Safety Tips and Resources for Winter Weather"

Colder temperatures are arriving in Seattle, so here’s information about City and King County Metro winter and snow response resources, and for cold weather shelter.

The City’s Winter Storm Response webpage is available in multiple languages, and has links to resources from SDOT, City Light, Seattle Public Utilities, Parks, home and pet safety, and shelter and food.

Here’s information about SDOT’s snow response resources: when snow arrives, SDOT’s interactive map shows which roads have been treated or cleared in the last hour, three hours, and twelve hours. You can view it by neighborhood.

SDOT’s winter weather response webpage has information in several languages. You can download a brochure with additional information.  They seek to achieve bare and wet pavement on specified streets within 12 hours after a significant lull in a storm.

SDOT’s cameras map shows live road conditions.

Here’s Seattle Public Utilities’ (SPU) advice has advice on protecting pipes from freezing, and what to do if they burst. If icy road conditions may prevent regular collection, SPU recommends following their blog for updates about garbage, recycling, or food/yard wasted collection.

Here’s King County Metro Winter snow guide  page, including information about the Emergency Snow Network. KC Metro may activate this network when snow arrives.

You can sign up for alerts there as well. The Service Advisories page will have updates on bus times, and cancellations.

Metro’s Text for Departures feature provides real-time updates for the next departure time for transit service at that stop, by texting your bus stop number to 62550, no sign-up or download is needed.

You can also sign up for Transit Alerts by route.

Cold Weather Shelter

The King County Regional Homelessness Authority has activated severe weather response for December 14 through 22nd; here is their webpage showing shelter locations for Cold Weather Shelter, Dec 14-22, including regularly operating daytime warming centers.

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My Plans for 2023 / Police Chief Confirmation / Delridge Pedestrian Bridge Retrofit / Mental Health in Cities / Heating Oil Tax Repealed

December 9th, 2022

Contents

Plans for 2023

After 25 years working in the very best branch of municipal government and using my role to lift the voices of those in our City fighting for workers’ rights, tenants’ rights, more funding for affordable housing and life-sustaining services, community-led safety interventions, police reform, progressive revenue, and constituent services for D1 residents, I’m so proud of all that we’ve accomplished together:

List of Herbold Policy Accomplishments 2016-2022
(Non-inclusive of budget actions)

Housing Policy

Workers’ Rights Policy

Pandemic Help

Police Reform Policy

Civil Rights Policy

District 1 Ordinances     

I will not be running for re-election in 2023.  Above my love of public service to the constituents of District 1, I don’t want the Council to lose a progressive voice on the Council.

The 2022 elections last month were good for progressives.  I feel like it’s time to do my part to create an open seat election in District 1.  I believe that an open seat can better drive turnout and deliver District 1 to another progressive.

When a segment of the Seattle left says that they intend to “primary” sitting Council members who are not proposing a 50% cut to SPD’s budget, I am reminded that we cannot repeat the 2021 race for the City Attorney when a very strong and proven progressive didn’t advance to the general, forcing a choice between a carceral system abolitionist and a Republican.  In a similar 2023 scenario, progressives could lose District 1, and a seat on the Council.

On the other side of the political spectrum, I’m not worried about the center right or the Chamber of Commerce or any of the cynical big money Independent Expenditure campaigns in what would be yet another likely very ugly re-election bid if I were to run again.  There was $4,395,075 spent in independent expenditures in the 2019 Council races; I won my re-election by nearly 12%.  Rather, my choice is because I love and honor the work the progressive left has done in Seattle and I don’t want to do anything that makes it less likely for a non-progressive to be elected to represent the great District 1.

I will continue to represent and advocate for District 1 over the next year.  We’ve still got a lot of work to do!

Chief of Police Confirmation in PSHS Committee December 13

The Public Safety and Human Services (PSHS) Committee will hear the appointment of Adrian Diaz as permanent Chief of Police on Tuesday, December 13th. Diaz has served as Interim Chief since September, 2020.

The meeting begins at 9:30 a.m., and will be broadcast live on the Seattle Channel.

In accordance with the Seattle City Charter, the police chief must be confirmed by the City Council. At Tuesday’s meeting, Interim Chief Diaz will be present in person to answer Councilmember questions. The appointment is listed on the agenda for discussion and possible vote. If approved by the committee, the full Council would consider his appointment at its next meeting on January 3.

Mayor Bruce Harrell announced his appointment of interim Chief Diaz to the position in late September, in accordance with the process established by the City Charter. That was too late for the Council to consider the appointment before regular committee meetings were suspended for the Council to review and pass the 2023-2024 budget, as was previously scheduled.

Councilmembers submitted and received answers to written questions from interim Chief Diaz, as is standard with high-level appointments. You can view those answers here.

Delridge Pedestrian Bridge Retrofit

SDOT announced at the Levy Oversight Committee meeting on December 6 that they will be proceeding with a seismic retrofit of the Delridge Pedestrian Bridge adjacent to the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center and the Delridge Community Center, and SW Youth and Family Services.

They will advertise for construction in the 4th quarter of next year and identify construction timing in 2024.

SDOT considered pedestrian and vehicle counts, collisions during the previous 3 years within 4 blocks, adjacent uses, and community outreach. 63% of survey respondents wanted the bridge to be retrofitted, and people preferred not wanting to see more changes to the neighborhoods.

Mental Health is Also a Matter for Cities

This was the title of an international mental health conference that I had the privilege of representing Seattle at last week in Nantes, France.  I am heartened that cities all over the world are recognizing that our people are suffering.  I thank the municipal government of Nantes, France for bringing us together to join this call to action, as follows:

300 million people across the world are affected by depression and 1 billion suffer from a mental disorder of some kind. All societies are impacted. Women, men and children in all countries are afflicted, their daily lives seriously undermined. Everywhere, this is an illness that kills: over 700,000 people commit suicide every year. It is even the fourth most common cause of death among young people between 15 and 29 years old.

COVID 19 and forced isolation made the situation even worse. The WHO’s finding is indisputable: during the first year of the pandemic, rates of depression and anxiety disorders increased by 25%. What this shows is simple enough: our environment plays a significant role in our wellbeing.

The influence of the environment is clearly acknowledged for diseases that afflict the body. It is of urgent importance that we also assert its responsibility for the ills impacting our mental health.

We are not all equal in the face of such diseases. Major social, economic and societal determinants increase vulnerabilities. Economic situation, level of education, income, work, family and friends, neighbours, colleagues, housing, access to water and sanitary facilities, security, green spaces, sporting activity, existing solidarities in the event of job loss or health problems, presence of art and culture, and citizens’ ability to take action – all these play a clearly identified role not only in wellbeing but also in good or poor mental health. This is evidenced by the high suicide rates among people facing discrimination, such as refugees and migrants, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people, as well as among well as among prison inmates.

Nonetheless, in this field, individual responsibility is all too often singled out. Nobody accuses someone who has breathed polluted air all their life of being responsible for their cancer. It makes no more sense to think that someone suffering from depression could simply pull themselves together and get better. Taking care of health doesn’t just mean combating “visible” diseases. Healthcare professionals and the WHO remind us of the fact: health is a complete state of physical, mental and social wellbeing.

However, the responses provided are still inadequate. On a global scale, the share of national budgets dedicated to mental health only accounts for 2% of overall healthcare budgets. And 70% of these low sums is devoted to psychiatry in middle-income countries. A whole, absolutely essential area of necessary action is neglected: promotion and prevention, along with support to people afflicted with mental disorders.

It is here that cities have a role to play, by make a top priority of combating inequalities and discrimination, by taking action to create an environment supportive of health and prevention. Although the therapeutic approach is indispensable and a fully rounded healthcare system structured by qualified professionals is essential, what we want to do is act upstream, before distress makes its appearance.

Our cities have undertaken a wide range of actions over the last many years, in particular by participating in the health policies implemented in our countries in the context of the WHO’s Global Action Plan for mental health and the Sustainable Development Goals. By making happier cities a priority focus, the Copenhagen Consensus, adopted by many cities in 2019, confirmed these goals.

As community Mayors and Federations, we are resolute in asserting that mental health must play an integral part in the design and implementation of public policies. It is our direct responsibility to create cities that foster good health, mental health included.

In order to do so; we intend to play our part to the full, alongside States and all actors in civil society, citizens, associations, companies, professionals, academics, and non-governmental organizations, all stakeholders in fact.

Hence, by signing this call born of fruitful dialogue that took place in the city of Nantes in France, in the context of a “Cities and Mental Health” international colloquium held on 1 and 2 December 2022, following the 2019 Barcelona Declaration, we undertake to mobilize in order to:

  • We promote societies in which people with mental health problems are no longer excluded or discriminated against. This means combating prejudice and stereotypes in order to break their isolation and prevent their exclusion.
  • It is alongside all those who have or have had mental health problems that we intend to make our action part of a “health democracy” that gives a voice and the power to take back control of their lives to those primarily concerned.
  • We advocate an interdisciplinary approach to mental health and the stepping up of collaboration between all actors involved. This is an essential condition if we are to transform our immediate environments and so lastingly and effectively improve the physical and mental health of all those who live in our cities.
  • We demand that mental health be integrated into primary health care and social offers alike
  • Every urban project designed by urban planners and developers must take account of the determining criterion of mental health.
  • We undertake to integrate mental health into our public policies, for example by encouraging a psychosocial approach to schoolchildren’s health from the earliest possible age, improving everybody’s access to sport and culture, and developing parks, gardens and areas where there is no internet connection.
  • We shall add to the current global momentum by continuing this ongoing dialogue with all actors concerned, via organization of a biannual colloquium held in one of the signatory cities.
  • We call upon all governments to increase resources dedicated to mental health, in particular for children and young people, as well as for all the most vulnerable groups, and to create cooperation contracts with cities in order to develop the necessary policies in close collaboration with local authorities and fully in line with these needs.

In addition to presenting at the Mental Health Conference I also had the privilege of meeting with municipal officials to learn about the Nantes Participatory Budgeting Program, the Nantes Gender Neutral CIty, and the Nantes Cultural District.  Seattle and Nantes have a Sister CIty relationship, or a “twinning” relationship. This exchange would not have been possible without the support of the Seattle Nantes Sister City Association (SNSCA) and Susan Kegel, the SNSCA Board President.  See here for more:  SNSCA | Seattle-Nantes Sister City Association.

Municipal Court to Start Taking Action on Unpaid Spokane Street (low) Bridge Tickets

Last month Publicola reported that as of late October, over half the traffic camera citations for using the Spokane Street (low) Bridge remain unpaid.  89,041 of the 192,432 citations issued during the period restrictions on bridge use were unresolved.

The article quotes Seattle Municipal Court saying that “People with unpaid tickets from 2020-2022 should plan to respond to their tickets by January 30, 2023,” and “People can respond to their tickets by setting up a payment plan, setting up a community service plan if they are low-income, or scheduling a hearing.”

The article further notes “The court also plans to start sending unpaid fines to a collections agency, which tacks on a 15 percent fee on each ticket, as soon as the end of April.”

The 89,041 citations issued during 2021 were 46% of the citywide total camera citations. 41,535 were issued for the low bridge during 2022.

Here’s Seattle Municipal Court’s Traffic Camera Infractions data page. The “Traffic Camera Citations by Location tab includes this data.

Here’s a link to Seattle Municipal Court’s page for paying tickets.

Here is information for low-income persons, and how to apply for payment plans and community service, and other options.

Here is the page for Parking and Traffic Ticket debt reduction hearings for low-income people.

To dispute a ticket, you must request a hearing within 15 days of the date the ticket was issued.

Heating Oil Tax Repealed

In late November, along with adopting the 2023 budget, the Council repealed a tax on heating oil adopted in 2019. Councilmember Morales sponsored the measure during budget discussions.

The Council has delayed implementation of the legislation on three occasions, to avoid any additional financial burden on residents with heating oil during the pandemic, so the legislation had never gone into effect.

The original intent of the tax was to provide funding to assist low-income persons and seniors in decommissioning their heating oil tanks and transitioning to energy-efficient electric hearing pumps.

Instead, the JumpStart payroll tax dedicates funds to this purpose, as recommended by the Green New Deal Oversight Board and the 2023-2024 budget reflects this. Consequently, with this funding source, the tax can be repealed.

When the tax was adopted, the Office of Sustainability and the Environment estimated 16-18% of residential carbon emissions were from oil, accounting for 8-9% of the overall total in Seattle.

City Council Seeking Candidates for Seattle Public Safety Civil Service Commission

The Seattle City Council is now accepting applications to be appointed to the Public Safety Civil Service Commission (PSCSC).

About the PSCSC

The PSCSC is made up of three commissioners. The Mayor and Council each appoint one and the third is elected by eligible City of Seattle employees.

The PSCSC oversees and directs a civil service system for sworn personnel of the Seattle Police Department (SPD) and uniformed personnel of the Seattle Fire Department (SFD). The Public Safety Civil Service system governs appointments, promotions, promotional testing, layoffs, recruitment, retention, classifications, removals, and discipline, in certain cases, pursuant to state and local law.

Commissioner duties

PSCSC commissioner duties vary depending on the workload of the commission. The minimum commitment can be as few as eight hours per month but can be greater at times. Commissioner duties include, but are not limited to:

  • Overseeing entrance and promotional examinations for ten ranks within the police and fire department;
  • Hearing and deciding some employee appeals of serious discipline and civil service-related matters with support from the City Attorney’s Office and PSCSC staff;
  • Participating in PSCSC’s monthly meetings; and
  • Supervising the work of the PSCSC’s Executive Director.

Commissioners are also expected to be well-prepared for meetings, be responsive to communications, and participate in trainings. Commissioners will receive a stipend of $200 every two weeks.

Who should apply?

Current and former PSCSC commissioners have been employment and/or labor lawyers, elected or appointed government leaders, human resources professionals, members of the judiciary, and community leaders. This flyer includes more details on the selection criteria.

Applying

Interested applicants should send a letter of interest and CV/resume to PSCSC Executive Director Andrea Scheele at andrea.scheele@seattle.gov.

One Seattle Climate Portal

The Office of Sustainabilty and the Environment (OSE) announced the launch of the One Seattle Climate Portal. Below is information shared by OSE:

The One Seattle Climate Portal is a publicly available map-based website that houses more frequent and granular data indicators of emissions in Seattle’s neighborhoods to allow for better policy and programmatic decision making.

Seattle has typically relied on our biennial communitywide GHG emissions inventory reports to track progress towards our climate reduction goals. However, the data in these reports are annual and city-wide, meaning that they are not a good base from which to make equitable policy and program decisions. To address this, the Green New Deal Executive Order directed OSE and IT to develop more frequent and granular indicators of our climate progress.

Over the past 18 months, OSE worked with both internal and external stakeholders to identify data improvements, gaps, and community needs. The Portal as launched today is a culmination of those efforts, and will improve on the data in our GHG inventories in the following ways:

  • Transportation: trips by mode, VMTs, and emissions estimates are now available by census tract and paired with the City’s Race and Social Equity Index as a base layer.
  • Buildings: emissions from building energy use (gas and electricity) in the residential, commercial, and industrial sectors are now available on a quarterly basis and by census tract. This data is also paired with the City’s Race and Social Equity Index as a base layer.

OSE is collaborating on new updates to the portal which aim to incorporate community-led data efforts, as well as ways to spatially track city-led investments like those through the JumpStart funded Green New Deal Opportunity Fund, share climate stories, and track more indicators of a healthy and sustainable city. 

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Council Adopts 2023/24 Budget / Together We End Gun Violence Symposium / East Marginal Way Project Update / OPCD One Seattle Plan Update

December 2nd, 2022

Contents

Council Adopts 2023/24 Budget

On Monday, the City Council adopted the 2023 budget and endorsed the 2024 budget. I am grateful to Budget Chair Mosqueda for her work in developing this balancing package, which was unusually challenging with the updated revenue forecast last month. While this was a difficult process with plenty of difficult decisions, we as a city have a lot to be proud of in this budget and I’d like to highlight a few items that I sponsored. You can learn more about all of Council’s budget actions and the votes they received via this online tracker. 

HSD Provider Contract Inflationary Wage Adjustment: The King County Regional Homelessness Authority notes the 5 largest homelessness service providers in King County have 300 vacancies. These vacancies hinder the ability of providers to carry out their mission. They note “The low wages paid to direct service staff is believed to be one of the most substantial reasons for those vacancies.” 

The work of social service provision comes down to people helping people, it is hard work, it can be trauma-inducing work, and staff has been at the frontline of public health risks for the past two and a half years. The ability of the safety net to function depends on staff. Without a workforce, the whole system falls apart. I am thankful for the work of these contractors and for my fellow councilmembers for voting to pass this inflationary wage adjustment as part of our budget. 

LEAD/CoLEAD: This budget adds $3 million to the proposed budget for LEAD and CoLEAD in 2023 and $2 million in 2024. LEAD is a nation-leading model that has been replicated in over 80 other communities, including internationally. It’s the strongest model out there for a collaborative response to high volume illegal activity that is related to drugs, mental illness, or poverty. 

While LEAD currently serves approximately 750 participants, LEAD unfortunately must turn down most referrals because they lack capacity, and that creates the sense on the street that there is no plan and no one is coming. In the 2020 budget. I am proud to be the primary sponsor of one of two LEAD budget actions that passed as part of the consent package. 

Ladder Truck 13 and Medic Unit 26: The preservation of Ladder Truck 13 at Station 37 and Medic Unit 26 will reduce the travel time for associated calls in some parts of West Seattle and South Park from 10 minutes to approximately 6 minutes. Ladder Truck 13 operations will also reduce travel times in parts of South Seattle by an estimated 2-3 minutes. As scores of emails that I’ve received from constituents who have experienced their vital services will testify, these are life-saving minutes. 

These units will serve some of our city’s most economically, environmentally, and socially marginalized communities, and I am thankful that my fellow councilmembers passed this as part of the consent package. 

Office of Labor Standards (OLS) Funding: Earlier this year, Council unanimously passed PayUP, a legislative package which ensures app-based delivery workers are paid minimum wage plus expenses and tips. The legislation also creates more transparency in terms of employment and how payments for services are split between workers and the app-based companies. Since the end of the Civil Emergency Proclamation and the Gig Worker Premium Pay Ordinance that depended on that proclamation, we’ve received emails from app-based delivery workers who are struggling without these protections. 

Budget funding for OLS ensures the office will be able to develop the rules and the enforcement policies for when PayUp goes into effect. These protections will cover one of the fastest-growing sectors of our economy. 

Gun Violence Reduction: I am proud to have sponsored a budget action that includes funding to expand the King County Public Health gun violence prevention initiative based at Harborview to the 25-40 age group. Currently, the programming serves only those 24 years old and younger. Data from Seattle Police Department has shown that this is a necessary expansion of our funded programs. 

Dual Dispatch: Council has allocated funding for the dispatch of civilian staff to augment the current response to 911 calls with a mental/behavioral health nexus, strengthening our public safety network by diversifying our 911 response options. 

Emergency Communications Dispatchers: Additionally, I want to thank Budget Chair Mosqueda for her leadership and Council Central Staff for their ingenuity in finding the funds necessary to propose and pass an updated version of a budget action I proposed in our original amendment package, increasing the capacity of our Community Safety and Communications Center. 

Seattle Police Department: The Seattle Times editorial board incorrectly wrote today that Council voted to permanently decrease the size of the police department.  The correct information is that Council abrogated 80 unfunded vacant positions that SPD will not be able to fill for several years.  The Seattle Times Editorial Board did not explain that there are 130 additional unfunded vacant positions still in the budget that can be funded in the future if hiring increases beyond projections in response to the hiring incentives that the Council funded.   

If hiring trends keep pace with the predicted net increases of 15 officers per year in 2023 and 2024, it will take an additional ten years to achieve all of those 130 unfunded vacant positions that remain in the budget.  If SPD is vastly more successful at hiring than the current pace, the Mayor or Council could propose adding more positions.  The abrogation does not have to be “permanent” as the Seattle Times claims.   

For instance, the Mayor proposed the abrogation of 26 911 positions that won’t be filled, even though staffing is far below what is needed according to a 2016 study and the non-emergency line sometimes goes unanswered. Council, in our budget, added 2 more funded 911 positions into the budget because we believed the Community Safety and Communications Center could fill those positions despite the recruitment challenges they face. 

The idea that what is voted in one year’s budget could be “permanent” suggests either a misunderstanding of our municipal legislative body or an intentional effort to misguide the public.   

The editorial goes on to say that if Mayor Harrell “wanted the 80 cop positions, he should have publicly fought for them.”  What a terrible and divisive suggestion!  I’m grateful that the Mayor understands that a public fight about a vote on a sensible budgetary policy to promote transparency, that has no impact whatsoever on police hiring, should not be turned into a misinformation campaign about Council support for police hiring.   To do so might result in fewer people applying to become officers and more current officers leaving, like we’ve seen over the past 2 years. The last Mayor misinformed the public about a similar amendment last year.  Mayor Harrell knows what’s most important- that Council support for funding SPD’s hiring plan is most important.  His One Seattle vision is that we are stronger when we amplify our policy areas of agreement and we are weaker when what is heard most loudly is where we disagree.  I’m sorry that the Seattle Times editorial board wants us to go back to that way of governing.  It will not make us safer. 

 

Together We End Gun Violence Symposium 

Last month, I had the privilege of participating in a symposium entitled Together We End Gun Violence, convened by King County Executive Dow Constantine, Mayor Bruce Harrell, and Renton Councilmember Ed Prince. It was an incredible opportunity to learn from the people doing this deeply impactful work in our community. 

The one-day symposium centered around amplifying commitments to work together to support community-led solutions to combat gun violence, strengthening our region’s multi-initiative, multi-organization networked approach to provide intervention, prevention, and restorative services.  

The Alliance for Gun Responsibility has posted a video from the symposium on Youtube. You can watch the entire symposium here to learn more about the work our region is doing to prevent involvement in gun violence, intervene when necessary, and create pathways to restoration for all that are impacted by trauma, for survivors, for people involved in the criminal legal system, and for families and community members. 

 

East Marginal Way Project Update 

SDOT has reached a final design for the north segment of the East Marginal Way Corridor Improvement Project, now advertising for construction contractors to bid on this segment of the project. The multimodal improvements will increase safety and accessibility for bicyclists, pedestrians, and drivers alike along the corridor. 

The North Segment project construction is scheduled to begin in 2023. A more specific groundbreaking schedule will be announced once a contractor is selected and material procurement processes begin. Construction will disrupt traffic on East Marginal Way S, with detours and rerouting planned for all non-Port of Seattle vehicle traffic, and for people walking or biking. 

This project was made possible by a variety of funding sources at the federal, state, and local levels, but most notably by the 9-year Levy to Move Seattle, approved by voters in 2015. 

 

OPCD One Seattle Plan Update 

The Office of Planning and Community Development has reached some significant milestones in their update to the city’s comprehensive plan. In November, they published the plan’s Environmental Impact Statement scoping report and detailed comment summary.  

OPCD is also holding a series of public meetings to gain additional feedback around the One Seattle Comprehensive Plan. One of these public engagement events will be next week in District 1. 

Please consider joining me at one of the first large in-person meetings that OPCD has been able to host since the COVID outbreak. 

This meeting will be an opportunity to learn more about the One Seattle Comprehensive Plan and how it might shape our neighborhoods, and to provide critical feedback and insights that will help to shape how the City invests in our District over the next 20 years.  

The meeting info is below.  

Thursday, December 8:
South Seattle College, Brockey Center
6000 16th Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98106
6:00-8:00 p.m.
Accessible via Metro Bus: 125 and 128 

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Budget Update // Public Safety: The Budget Reality vs. Rhetoric // Ingraham Students Rally // Public Safety Civil Service Commission Adopts Community Service Preference Points // Redistricting Commission Adopts New Council District Boundaries

November 18th, 2022

Contents

Budget Update

On Monday, the Budget Chair presented her initial Balancing Package for the 2023/24 budget.

The Budget Chair’s balancing package incorporates some of the amendments Councilmembers proposed to amend the Mayor’s proposed budget discussed during the last several weeks. Now that the Chair’s balancing package is out, the next step is for City Councilmembers to propose new amendments to the Balancing Package.

Those new amendments were due on Wednesday.  They will be made public today to prepare for votes planned for the Budget Committee meeting on Monday, November 21st.   A final City Council vote is planned a week later, for the 29th.

The priority amendments I sponsored are included in the Balancing Package:  funding to maintain a ladder truck at Fire Station 37 and a medic unit at Fire Station 26, and funding for human service provider contract inflation, and Office of Labor Standards funding to enforce new labor standards that I have championed, like PayUp.

Additional information about the Chair’s balancing package is linked here on the Council’s budget website.

Public comment will be taken at the start of the November 21st meeting.  You can sign up for public comment here.

Public Safety: The Budget Reality vs. Rhetoric

Public safety problems in Seattle are real. Concern about crime is understandable; homicide and gun violence rates have risen and addressing these issues must be a very high priority for everyone at City Hall.

Strong concerns deserve strong communication. It is important that elected officials be transparent with Seattle residents to ensure we have an informed city of neighbors that will hold us accountable. In order to discuss the major public safety issues of Seattle, we must work collaboratively and from a place of fact sharing.

As a matter of fact, we’ve seen some welcome encouraging trends during the last few months.

SPD’s Crime Dashboard notes that overall crime, while higher than anyone would like, has trended below 2021 levels during the last two months. In October, it’s been lower than during 2020. Interim Chief Diaz has noted these trends during our regular meetings.  I understand that statistics are cold comfort to anyone who has been a victim of crime.

2021/2022 overall crime trends:

2022/2020 overall crime trends

Police officer hiring has had bright spots recently as well. In September, SPD hired 12 new officers,  five above the hiring target. In October, only 4 officers departed the department.

The Budget Chair’s balancing package fully funds the SPD hiring plan, the same as this year and the previous year. Though hiring fell short, it was not from a lack of funding in the SPD budget, which again was fully funded for more hiring.

To improve hiring, the Council adopted legislation to offer hiring incentives and allow for relocation costs to be covered.

Most reductions to the SPD budget made in previous years consisted of shifting functions to other departments from 2020 to 2022 (911 call center, parking enforcement, emergency management, victim advocates). Those functions totaled $45 million in the 2022 budget.

If you add the 2022 SPD budget of $355 million, and the $45 million, you get total funding of $400 million, as high as the City has ever funded these services. As reported by several news outlets over the last couple years: “defunding” really happen.

In addition to the funding in past years budgets for traditional public safety approaches, there is broad public support for alternative approaches. This spirit is reflected in the ongoing collaborative work between the Mayor’s Office, Council Staff, the Seattle Police Department and the Community Safety and Communications Center by way of the Risk Managed Demand (RMD) research and analysis presented in the Public Safety and Human Services committee. Many constituents who write in support of hiring police officers also express support for alternatives.

In the Public Safety and Human Services Committee, we’ve also heard presentations about the innovative violence prevention work done by King County Public Health.

We have a collective responsibility to emphasize what actions we are taking for public safety, using both traditional and alternative approaches. If we stick to the facts about the actions we are taking, it will help with recruitment and retention in community safety jobs, whether traditional public safety—the Police Department—or in our innovative alternative community safety approaches.

Unfortunately, some seem unwilling to highlight the things we are doing in their communications or even note positive trends. This creates false narratives, fear, and ultimately is a contributing factor towards making our City less safe. For example, because of misinformation, constituents are often surprised to find out, when informed, that the SPD hiring budget is fully funded and has been fully funded in the last two years’ budgets.

King County Councilmember Zahilay recently wrote an editorial titled “Public safety is about solving tough problems, not scoring political points.” The editorial notes, in the context of a restorative justice program, “It’s about a political strategy that capitalizes on the public’s fears while hiding the full story.”

Debate about community safety, and any other issue, is vital to democracy. When your starting point, however, doesn’t acknowledge that, future location of parking enforcement officers aside, 99% of the Mayor’s SPD proposed budget is included in the current balancing package; that, once again, the SPD hiring budget is fully funded; and that hiring and staffing have shown some promising recent trends – it does not help public safety. Especially when minor reductions to the remaining 1% of that budget are emphasized and exaggeration and harmful rhetoric are used to describe the impacts of those very small reductions.

Local public safety debate often mirrors national politics, with no agreed upon set of facts. It’s a fact that crime is higher than during previous years. It’s a fact that we have significantly fewer police officers than before. It’s a fact that there was not a single officer laid off as a result of minor SPD budget reductions.

It’s normal to debate budget issues, and fear of crime is understandable. However, false narratives do not make us safer.

Ingraham Students Rally

On Tuesday, November 8, Seattle’s Ingraham High School lost a student to gun violence on campus, in an act of violence that shook our entire city to its core. We must do more. And I am proud of the students of Ingraham High School and other members of the Seattle Student Union for organizing a powerful rally in City Hall Plaza this recent Monday.

I am thankful to Budget Chair Teresa Mosqueda for allowing the Budget Committee to go into recess so that we could join the students in their demonstration and listen to their demands for justice and safety. This inspiring display of activism is a reminder that our youth are not the leaders of tomorrow, they are the leaders of today. And we must do more to hear them and protect them.

Ingraham students at the rally shared their heartbreaking stories of that day – the terror they felt, the courage they were called to act on, and the rage they rightfully felt in the wake of more gun violence. They called on the City to further invest in mental health counselors in their schools, and Council is working towards meeting this demand with a proposed $2 million increase to funds I championed for in 2022, expanding mental health services in schools. This is in addition to Mayor Harrell’s proposed increase of $500,000.

As a City, we must come together and continue to find ways to support our young people in their safety as they build their educations. As Washingtonians, we must also press this importance upon our state legislators, who are able to pass impactful gun legislation and act as the primary funders of school districts.

As many of the students’ signs and chants echoed, now is not the time for thoughts and prayers alone. Now is the time for action.


Public Safety Civil Service Commission Adopts Community Service Preference Points

The Public Safety Civil Service Commission (PSCSC) has voted to support adding community service preference points for entry level police officers.

I began work on this policy changes to expand the use of preference points during budget deliberations in 2016, to help recruitment. Under state law veterans can also receive preference points. These are points that are added to the test score of an applicant who passes the civil service exam.

This action helps implement a section of the May 2017 police accountability legislation adopted by the Council, which said,

“Consistent with Chapter 4.08, SPD shall use preference points in hiring sworn employees who are multi-lingual and/or have work experience or educational background providing important skills needed in modern policing, such as experience working with diverse communities, and social work, mental health or domestic violence counseling, or other similar work or community service backgrounds.”

In 2019, the PSCSC adopted a rule to adopt preference points for people who fluently speak a language other than English. Former Councilmember González and I sponsored the language.

Some have suggested that when SPD is hiring all qualified applicants, as they are now, that language and community service preference points are meaningless.  This is incorrect.  When recruitment materials publicize that the City grants extra points in hiring for language skills and community service experience, it lets a broader segment of the public know that their skills and experiences are valued, and helps to attract and hire more people as police officers who have demonstrated commitment to service and community

Here is the rule the PSCSC adopted earlier this week:

PREFERENCE FOR COMMUNITY SERVICE (2022 PROPOSED RULE) 9.21 –

In an open graded examination for police officer, candidates who receive a passing grade, and  who have two or more years of verifiable full-time professional or volunteer experience or  equivalent (4,160 cumulative hours) delivering direct human/social services, such as but not  limited to the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, domestic violence counseling, mental, or behavioral  health care, and/or homelessness programs, shall have 10% of their examination grade added to  the passing mark, grade, or rating only, based on upon a possible rating of one hundred points as  a perfect percentage. Said credit may be applied anytime during the life of the examination register. Candidates who qualify for preference points under any other Rule shall be limited to the application of a maximum of only 10% in preference points, regardless of the type of points that are applied. Rule 9.21 shall be effective June 1, 2023

The PSCSC is an independent body that administers the civil service system for police and fire department recruits and employees. They direct development of entry-level and promotional civil service exams in those departments, an increasingly important role given staffing shortfalls, approve rules, and hear some disciplinary appeals.

Redistricting Commission Adopts New Council District Boundaries

The Seattle Redistricting Commission has adopted updated boundaries for Seattle’s seven City Council districts, that will go into effect with the 2023 election cycle.

The ballot measure Seattle voters adopted to establish Council districts called for a commission to establish updated boundaries.

The 2020 census showed a 21.1% increase in Seattle’s population since 2010. The increase has not been equally divided in the seven districts, and redistricting criteria requires each district have the same population, within 1%. This amounts to about 105,288 people per district. This means that Districts 1, 2, 5 and 6 must increase in population, and Districts 3, 4, and 7 must decrease in population.

Because population growth in District 1 is less than in other parts of Seattle, District 1 needs to expand by roughly 6,000 people, and over larger area of geography. It will expand from West Seattle and South Park to include Georgetown, SODO, and Pioneer Square.

Here are the links to the new map provided by the Seattle Redistricting Commission, and the new map. The area to the east of the Duwamish is the new portion:

 

 

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Ingraham High School Shooting // This Week’s Budget Update

November 10th, 2022

Contents

Ingraham High School Shooting

While in attendance at the City Council’s second Budget Public Hearing on Tuesday morning, I was heartbroken to receive news of a devastating act of gun violence at Ingraham High School. Gun violence is a national epidemic.  We must advocate for local gun violence prevention programs and support gun control legislation being passed at every level.

My heart goes out to the victim, their loved ones, and the students, staff, families, and neighbors of Ingraham High School. No student should have to go to school worrying about the threat of gun violence. No parent should have to experience the heart-wrenching feeling of wondering if their child is safe at school. This is unacceptable.

Devastatingly, this act of violence shows that Seattle is not immune to America’s school shooting epidemic – nowhere is. With two months still left in this year, there have been more shootings at schools in the U.S. than any other year on record. The K-12 Shooting Database has logged 271 shootings this year, compared to the record high of 250 set just last year. We also know that firearms are the leading cause of death for American children, according to recently released data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Seattle has a gun problem. I sincerely thank all of the first responders and school faculty. I want to specifically thank the Seattle Police Department for their work seizing 1,237 illegal firearms last year, an unheard-of number, and we’re on track to meet or exceed that with over 1,000 seizures already this year. Whether it’s through gun violence prevention we do at the city and county level or gun control legislation passed at the state and national level, we must do more. Our kids’ lives depend on it.

I have proposed to add to the Council’s 2022-2023 Budget $600,000 to the Human Services Department to increase the City’s current investment from $1.5 million to $2.1 million in a gun-violence reduction program that is housed in Public Health – Seattle & King County Public Health. That program, the Regional Peacekeepers Collective (RPKC), supports a multi-initiative, multi-organization network that provides intervention, prevention, and restoration services including critical incident and hospital-based response, intensive engagement, and wrap-around life-affirming care to those most impacted by gun violence and unjust systems.

Students at Ingram High School are gathering at City Hall on Monday.  Among other priorities, they are calling for more investment in mental health counselors in the schools.  Mayor Harrell’s proposed budget continues funding that I championed for in 2022, $500,000 allocated to expand mental health services in schools.


This Week’s Budget Update

This week, the Budget Committee met to hold a second public hearing on November 8th. The final public hearing is scheduled for November 15th, at 5 p.m.

The Budget Committee is scheduled to meet on Monday the 14th at 11 a.m., to hear the Chair’s Balancing Package. We’ve been eagerly awaiting this next step of the budget deliberations.  Councilmembers will then have until noon on Wednesday to propose amendments to the Balancing Package. Votes in the Budget Committee are scheduled for November 21st, with Full Council action on the 29th.

Photo: Alex Garland

On Tuesday morning, I spoke at the Essential Workers, Members, Friends, and Allies: RALLY for Human Services & Dignity!  gathering. I spoke in support of the importance of a budget amendment I am sponsoring in support of covering inflationary increases for human service providers in 2024, as required by a law passed in 2019. My comments are below:

“The work of social service provision comes down to people helping people, it is hard, trauma-inducing work, and staff has been at the frontlines of public health risks for the past two years. The ability of the safety net to function depends on staff. Without a workforce, the whole system falls apart.

By law, the City budget must include an annual increase for human services providers, pegged to the rate of inflation, so that they don’t fall behind financially.  This year, that figure is 7.6% – but the Mayor’s proposed budget only includes 4%.

Council’s intent is to advance nonprofit workers wages, not force them further behind. 

The proposed budget represents a nearly $20 million blow to the nonprofit organizations and their staff, who provide absolutely mission-critical services to Seattle residents and are often unable to offer living wages to the frontline staff who do this essential work.

I can point to numerous instances in the last two years when Council has provided funding to accomplish an essential and desperately-needed goal, but the funds went unspent because of nonprofits’ difficulty finding staff willing to work for such low wages.

  • The King County Regional Homelessness Authority reported that, “The five largest service providers alone have more than 300 vacant positions.”
  • Recently, the Seattle Times reported on affordable housing and shelter buildings remaining empty, because of severe staffing shortages.
  • During a public hearing, nonprofit leaders testified that they have already passed budgets that provide modest but essential wage increases for staff, on the strength of their trust in the City to follow the law and fully fund the required increase..

The majority of social service providers are women, and often women of color. Anything less than a full inflationary increase will have an unacceptable and disproportionate impact on those workers.

This failure to provide an increase that acknowledges the crushing reality of inflation on nonprofit providers – will come back to haunt us, if it stands.  I am pursing every opportunity to address this gap and ensure our nonprofit partners receive the funding they are entitled to by law.”

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This Week’s Budget Update / Public Safety in Alki / Together We End Gun Violence Symposium / Alki Point Healthy Street Open House November 9 / Community Graffiti Clean Up in South Park / 5th Annual Seattle Black College Expo

November 4th, 2022

Contents

This Week’s Budget Update

This week, the Office of Economic and Revenue Forecasts, together with the City Budget Office, presented the November 2nd revenue forecast. Revenue forecasts are used to estimate next year’s revenues, and hence what can be funded in the annual budget. The forecast shows a projected decrease in general fund revenues of over $9 million over the next two years, and a reduction of $64 million over the next two years for the Real Estate Excise Tax, which is principally used for capital projects. The decreases are compared to the 2023-24 budget proposed by the Mayor in late September, which was based on an earlier revenue forecast.

Consequently, the Budget Chair has released a revised calendar to provide an additional week for consideration of the 2023/24 budget. The revised calendar is copied below. The Chair will now propose a balancing package on November 14th, and votes are scheduled for November 21st.

Next week the Budget Committee will hold a public hearing on November 8, beginning at 9:30 a.m. Information is available at the Council’s Budget Committee website. All nine Councilmembers serve on the Budget Committee.

Final action by the Budget Committee is scheduled for Monday, November 28, with final Council action on Tuesday, November 29.

Public Safety in Alki

I and other city departments (SPD, SDOT, Parks) recently met with some area residents about both dangerous driving behavior and other unlawful activity on Alki. Residents are promoting removal of back-end angled parking spaces because people gather there for hours and sometimes that activity results in disruptive behavior, noise and violence.

Chief Diaz briefed me last month that, though August was a tragic month in Seattle for gun-related homicides, citywide trends for violent crimes (aggravated assault, homicide, rape, robbery) overall are starting to show a slight decrease.  In the Southwest Precinct, the violent crimes from June through September showed a slight decrease compared to the same period of time in 2021.  Though crimes rates – whether they are up or down – are never a comfort to those impacted by violence, violent crime in the Southwest Precinct is 29% lower than the city’s overall average in 2022.  We have much to do as a city.  The Council, in 2020 and 2021, fully funded SPD’s staffing plan and is poised to vote to support it fully this year.  I sponsored legislation, and a majority of Councilmember voted to support, enacting Mayor Harrell’s SPD hiring incentive plan.

We have effective, evidence-based gun violence prevention programs aimed at young people under age 25.  Yet, more than 60 % of gun violence is happening in a population that we don’t have a gun violence intervention program for yet, people aged 25 and older.  I have been calling for an expansion of this gun violence prevention program since July when I heard a gun violence report in my committee from Seattle King County Public Health.  It is urgent.  I am proposing such a program in the Council’s budget deliberations, linked here. The most recent update from SPD today shows an increase of 23% in shots fired incidents during 2022 citywide, compared to 2021 (the Southwest Precinct rate of shots fired incidents is in line with the City rate).

At relates specifically to this senseless shooting on Alki on October 31st, Southwest Precinct Captain Rivera let me know that this shooting was the subject of SPD’s weekly Gun Violence Reduction meeting this week.  Prior to the shooting, SPD had already deployed an emphasis patrol throughout the area.  Detectives are actively searching for relevant video evidence and contacting witnesses.  They planned to speak with the victims as of yesterday now that they are both in stable medical condition.  32 casings were recovered on the scene.  SPD has no information at this time at the victims were connected to the shooters in any way and it seems that they were caught in the crossfire of at least three individuals who were shooting at each other.

Together We End Gun Violence Symposium

Today I had the privilege of participating in a symposium entitled Together We End Gun Violence, convened by King County Executive Dow Constantine, Mayor Bruce Harrell, and Renton Councilmember Ed Prince.  It was an incredible opportunity to learn from the people doing this work in our community.  Their experiences and expertise must lead the way.

Today’s gathering brought together thought leaders, community members, and local and national government officials who are leading the way in finding an end to gun violence. This one-day symposium is centered around amplifying commitments to working together to support community led solutions to combat gun violence in King County, and beyond.

The regional approach to gun violence is a multi-initiative, multi-organization, network that provides intervention, prevention, and restoration services, including critical incident and hospital-based care and resources to high-risk individuals and families most impacted by gun violence and unjust systems. The regional approach to gun violence seeks to prevent and eliminate gun violence, and ensure equitable health outcomes for all by providing life-affirming care and resources to the individuals and families who are most impacted by gun violence and unjust systems. Our work prioritizes a community violence, intervention approach that uses evidence-informed and data-driven strategies to ensure intensive support and wrap-around services for those most directly involved in incidents of gun violence.

Gun violence is a fatal epidemic that continues to plague cities.  Across the US and in our region, we have seen alarming increases over the last three years, impacting our beloved communities daily and leaving many residents, wondering what actions can be taken to address the issue.  We believe that gun violence must be addressed through a robust public health approach that centers community-led solutions, enlists multi-sector supports, ensures broad investments, and garners lasting commitment.  We must do the work necessary to understand and address the causes.  We must work to prevent involvement in gun violence, intervene when necessary, and create pathways to restoration for all that are impacted by trauma, both generational and recent, for survivors, for people involved in the criminal legal system, and for families and community members.

We recognize the need for a comprehensive and collaborative, regional and statewide approach to addressing the public health crisis of gun violence and believe that by working together from the grassroots to the grasstops, we can identify and implement lasting solutions.

Alki Point Healthy Street Open House November 9

SDOT will host an in-person open house on November 9th on the Alki Point Healthy Street. Details are listed below:

In-person Open House

Stop by any time! Several SDOT team members will be at the event to share information about the project and collect your comments on the early design. Food will be provided.

Here’s information about the virtual open house:

Virtual Open House

Join any time! We’ll have virtual breakout rooms, where SDOT team members will be available for your questions and comments on the early design.

  • Location: The online meeting link will be available on our website in early November.
  • Date: Tuesday, November 15
  • Time: 12 to 1 PM

Questions and comments can be sent to AlkiKeepMovingStreet@seattle.gov or shared in a voicemail to (206) 727-3565. If you have a request for a public engagement event or would like SDOT to attend an existing community meeting, please email us at AlkiKeepMovingStreet@seattle.gov.

After the in-person open house on Wednesday, November 9, SDOT will send another email with the early design and post the design on our webpage for your feedback. SDOT is requesting you share your comments by December 9, 2022.

According to two SDOT studies and one SDOT citywide survey, Alki Point is the most used Stay Healthy or Keep Moving Street in the city.


Community Graffiti Clean Up in South Park

Last month I wrote about I a South Park Public Safety forum of residents and business owners in South Park.   Police Chief Diaz and Southwest Precinct Captain Rivera and I together answered questions from community members seeking to learn more about how SPD is investigating what appears to be an arson fire targeting a neighborhood business and an increase in gang recruitment of young people in the area.  The forum resulted in plans for a community graffiti clean up and was also a good opportunity to share information about public safety resources devoted to South Park and the Southwest Precinct, specifically the deployment of an SPD Community Service Officer to South Park, the South Park Public Safety Coordinator from Seattle Neighborhood Group, and the Southwest Safety Hub staff from the YMCA’s Alive and Free Program as part of the Seattle Community Safety Initiative.

These community resources came together this week for a community graffiti clean up.  The Community Service Officers worked with South Park community organizers to build a graffiti abatement program to augment the efforts of SPU’s Graffiti Rangers program who have a complaint backlog. The goal of residents is to create more awareness and empower residents and local businesses to reclaim their neighborhood, and have a more immediate, safe, and effective response to remove graffiti tagging around the neighborhood.

Thank you everyone for pulling together to support the Project #TagBack paint-out! Neighbors especially appreciated the sworn officers who came to assist, and special thanks to Captain Rivera for taking the time to participate.

 

5th Annual Seattle Black College Expo

The 5th Annual Seattle Black College Expo will take place on Saturday, November 5th, from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm at Renton High School, 400 South 2nd St., Renton, WA  98057. At the free event, students will have access to 30+ colleges, including historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), and other educational institutions.

The 5th Annual Seattle Black College Expo™ presents an opportunity for students to be accepted to a college on the spot, have their college application fees waived, and receive scholarships. This event will help high school seniors and college transfer students looking to transfer to a four-year college. To promote college planning at an earlier age, parents are also encouraged to bring students as young as 6th grade.

For free registration visit: www.ncrfoundation.org or call 877-427-4100.

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