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

September 25th, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

 

West Seattle Bridge Update September 25

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

Cost/Benefit Analysis

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

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

Maintenance and Operations:

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

Constructability

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

Environmental

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

Equity

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

Forward Compatibility

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

Funding Opportunities

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

Business and Workforce Impacts

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

Mobility Impacts

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

Multi-modal Impacts

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

Seismic/Safety

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

Here’s how the attributes will be weighed:

West Marginal Way

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

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

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

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

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

Camera enforcement legislation

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

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

Traffic volumes

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

Below are the most recent travel times:


OPA Reports First Set of Findings re: Protests

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

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

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

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

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

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

Results of those cases are listed on the complaint dashbaoard.

Big Bucks for Food Delivery Drivers

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

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

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

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

This Week in the Budget: 2021 Budget Process and Timelines

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 10: Budget Committee Chair presents proposed Balancing Package

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

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

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

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

Free Family Meals through Seattle Public Schools

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

Two meal programs are available for students and their families:

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

Diaper Need Awareness Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2020 Rebalanced Budget

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Junction Reuse and Recycle with Shredding

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

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

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

Accepted Items Include:

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

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

Alki Point Stay Healthy Street

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SMC/Vera Report Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 23rd, 2020

West Seattle Bridge Update, September 18 

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

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

Here are the project prioritization lists by neighborhood: 

Highland Park, Roxhill, S Delridge, Riverview projects 

South Park projects 

Georgetown projects 

SODO projects 

 Freight connectivity projects 

Bike network connectivity projects 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are the most recent vehicle travel times: 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Air quality is improving, so your parks are reopening 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learn more about the project here.   

 

New grants available for small businesses, applications due September 28 

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

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

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

 

TNC Legislation Update 

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

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

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

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

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

South Park Pump Station Begins Construction 

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

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

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

During construction, you can expect: 

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

 

Virtual Office Hours 

On Friday September 25, I will be hosting virtual office hours between 2pm and go until 6pm, with the last meeting of the day beginning at 5:30pm. 

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

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

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

 

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West Seattle Bridge Update, September 11; Puget Sound Emergency Radio Network; Crowd Control Weapons Recommendations Presentation; Good Things Happening in the West Seattle Junction

September 11th, 2020

West Seattle Bridge Update, September 11

Funding update

Through the end of August, SDOT had spent $7.6 million on high-bridge emergency stabilization, bridge monitoring and traffic mitigation efforts and projects. Future work will cost significantly more.

In order to fund work moving forward, on Monday the Council adopted legislation I co-sponsored along with Councilmember Pedersen, Chair of the Transportation and Utilities committee.  The legislation authorizes the loan of funds in the amount of $50,000,000 from the Construction and Inspections Fund and $20,000,000 from the Real Estate Excise Tax, or REET II, Capital Projects Fund to the 2021 LTGO Taxable Bond Fund for “early phases of work on the bridge repair and replacement project.”

The $70 million will fund:

  • Bridge stabilization work
  • Bridge monitoring
  • Repairs and enhancements to the Spokane Street (Lower) Bridge
  • Traffic and mobility mitigation projects including Reconnect West Seattle project
  • Planning and design of a long-term replacement

The internal city loan will be repaid through issuance of debt in 2021; I thank my Council colleagues for their support.

In addition, SDOT will be applying for a FEMA Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) grant in the upcoming cycle; applications are due on January 29, 2021. By this deadline SDOT will have better project definition, which will assist in developing a grant proposal. Thank you to Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal for her support and advocacy in supporting this application.

Community Task Force Updates

The West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force met on Wednesday, and received updates on several subjects as follows:

Cost Benefit Analysis

There was an update and discussion regarding the cost benefit analysis, which will inform the decision whether to repair or replace the bridge. Both a replacement bridge and an immersed tube tunnel are being used for the purpose of the replacement option analysis.

If replacing the bridge is chosen, a separate Type, Size and Location study would be needed to evaluate the various replacement options before choosing one.

Here’s SDOT’s timeline for the cost benefit analysis, leading to a decision whether to repair or replace the bridge in October (I asked if the timeline for a decision remained October, and SDOT affirmed this):

Here’s a slide that shows the weighting of various criteria as part of the cost-benefit analysis, by SDOT, the Technical Advisory Panel, and the Community Task Force, as well as the combined total:

Here’s a description of how SDOT and their consultant WSP will incorporate lifecycle costs into risk calculations, while noting a new lifecycle range for a repair of 15-40 years, whereas the previous lifecycle estimate for a repair was only 10 years:

Low Bridge Access Policy

SDOT is forming a subcommittee on access to and use of the lower bridge, consisting of members of the Community Task Force, consisting of business, labor, maritime users, employer shuttles, and schools. I suggested including a resident as well, especially from the northern portion of the peninsula.

Stabilization work

SDOT provided an update on stabilization measures, with images of the post-tensioning brackets inside the bridge:

Reconnect West Seattle

SDOT provided an update on implementation of Reconnect West Seattle projects, noting 23 community-projects for 2020, and 32 planned for 2021 (these projects require more planning and/or community feedback on whether a plan meets community desires). The initial investment for these critical mitigation projects is $6 million.

One project listed for implementation raised objections from former Mayor Nickels, and South Park representation: a northbound freight-only lane on West Marginal. SDOT indicated more community consultation would take place about this.

Traffic Update

SDOT is planning speed radar installations by the end of the month: two along Sylvan Way, two on 14th Avenue SW, and two on Cloverdale in South Park.

The most recent traffic volumes are below, with continued high use on Highland Park Way and West Marginal; the lower (Spokane Street) Bridge, the South Park Bridge and the 1st Avenue South Bridge all also have higher volumes than the pre-COVID baseline:

Here are the most recent travel times:


Puget Sound Emergency Radio Network

Today, in my Public Safety and Human Services Committee we heard legislation related to the Puget Sound Emergency Radio Network.  Seattle Fire Department Chief Scoggins presented the legislation but before he did, his opening remarks addressed the fact that today is an anniversary of a tragic event in our nation’s history.  I share his remarks here, as well as sharing in the sentiment expressed:

“We recognize that today is the 19 year anniversary of 9/11 when our country faced some very difficult times when we lost more than 2,900 people as well as 71 police officers and 343 firefighters.  On that day, the fire service made a commitment that ‘we will never forget.’  SFD had events honoring them.  We read the names of all 347 fire fighters at our fire stations this morning to honor our fire fighters who passed away that day.”

Photo credit to SFD

The Puget Sound Emergency Radio Network, otherwise known as PSERN, will be a new digital radio communication system primarily used for emergency response. This system will replace a 1995 analog system at 800 MHz, this older system will still be used by many City departments.

An interlocal agreement between 12 jurisdictions  (Auburn, Bellevue, Federal Way, Issaquah, Kent, King County, Kirkland, Mercer Island, Redmond, Renton, Seattle, and Tukwila) will create a new non-profit to own, operate, and maintain this radio network – that non-profit will be called PSERN.

The new network, once completed in 2023, will provide 97% reliability at street level in the King County area. The goal is to have all of the 12 parties approve the interlocal agreement by mid-September. My committee took action today to approve this interlocal agreement for the city of Seattle; another 50% of the cities/agencies have already signed on.  The Full Council will vote on this legislation on Monday, September 21.

Crowd Control Weapons Recommendations Presentation

Also at today’s meeting of the Public Safety and Human Services Committee meeting, the Community Police Commission, the Inspector General, and the Office of Police Accountably presented their recommendations regarding the use of crowd control weapons. I sponsored an amendment requesting this in the Council legislation adopted on June 15. I also sponsored an amendment to submit the legislation to US District Court Judge Robart, who oversees the 2012 Consent Decree with the US Department of Justice.

The three accountability bodies sent their recommendations in mid-August; each of the three accountability bodies have slightly different roles and responsibilities as part of the 3-legged stool that comprises our civilian accountability system. Here’s a link to their recommendations:

Here’s a summary chart; while it’s not a substitute for the individual reports, it contains a useful high-level comparison of the recommendations, where they overlap and where they diverge, of the three accountability bodies.

All three bodies note support for allowing for the use of some less lethal options outside the context of crowd control. Both the OPA and OIG propose re-authorizing the limited use of crowd control devices during crowd control situations when violence is present; the OIG indicates any re-authorization should be accompanied by changes in policy and training to reduce risk of harm to non-violent protestors; the OPA proposes conditions to minimize use.

Video of the meeting will be available at the Seattle Channel committee archive.

Here’s background about the court cases regarding use of crowd control weapons; US District Court Judge Robart approved a temporary restraining order on implementation of the Council’s ordinance that was requested by the US Department of Justice. A current motion would see resolution of the case in October.

To allow for further consideration of our approach addressing the issues raised by the DOJ, the Court, and the 3 accountability partners, we have requested a short extension of the current deadlines set by the Court. The court had previously ordered the parties to submit memoranda by Sept 12, “analyzing the interaction of the Ordinance with the Consent Decree, as well as with any SPD policies that the Consent Decree governs”. The court also directed the parties to respond to the reports submitted by the OPA and IG. In light of the necessary work to address the issues raised by the DOJ, the Court, and the 3 accountability partners, we recognize that more time will be needed.

In a separate case, On June 13th, US District Court approved a temporary restraining order sought by Black Lives Matter and the ACLU limiting the use of crowd control devices in protests; the City agreed to extend the preliminary injunction limiting the use of crowd control devices through September 30th.  On August 10th, in response to a motion of contempt by BLM/ACLU, the City agreed to the expansion of the injunction to further limit the use of chemical irritants or projectiles, and specifically called out a prohibition on use against journalists, legal observers and medics, and specified that declaring a riot does not exempt the city from its obligations under the order.

Good Things Happening in the West Seattle Junction

As they always do, the West Seattle Junction Association is working hard to promote our neighborhood business district with a critical emphasis on the need on economic recovery for the small businesses there.  Check out this video commissioned by West Seattle Junction Association to promote our beautiful district.

“West Seattle has its own vibe. We are set apart from the rest of Seattle in a very unique way – and it shows through our community, people, and businesses. Set in the heart of West Seattle is the West Seattle Junction: the center of art and commerce for the incredible people that encompass our neighborhood. Whether you’re looking to visit, or for a more permanent change of scenery – look no further than the soulful, vibrant community of West Seattle.”

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West Seattle Bridge Update; High Point Library Curbside Book Pickup; Crowd Control Weapons Recommendations; Mi’Chance Dunlap-Gittens’ Youth Rights Ordinance; Rental Assistance Dollars – County Seeking Feedback; Virtual Office Hours; E-mail Volume / No Newsletter Next Two Weeks

August 21st, 2020

West Seattle Bridge Update

On Wednesday the City Council’s Transportation & Utilities Committee voted  to approve legislation sponsored by Councilmember Pedersen and myself to authorize an interfund loan of up to $70 million to fund work on the West Seattle Bridge and related projects during 2020 and 2021. A Full Council vote is scheduled for September 8th, the day after Labor Day.

This is one of three new actions this week to advance critical work on the West Seattle Bridge. The Bridge is a declared emergency and we can’t use regular planning approaches, so I thank both my Council colleagues for recommending financing legislation to Full Council as well as SDOT for moving quickly to hire a designer, as announced this week. I’m eager to implement the third critical action discussed Wednesday – automated traffic enforcement on the low bridge.

The $70 million interfund loan would be borrowed from the City’s cash pool and repaid with a $100 million bond sale in 2021.  Any needed spending above $100 million through 2021 will be supported by a separate interfund loan, to be established, if necessary, sometime in early 2021. The legislation includes an updated Capital Improvement Budget page that lists an additional $30 million in bond proceeds for the 2021 budget, for the $100 million total.

The legislation will fund:

  • Bridge stabilization work
  • Bridge monitoring
  • Repairs and enhancements to the Spokane Street (Lower) Bridge
  • Traffic and mobility mitigation projects including Reconnect West Seattle project
  • Planning and design of a long-term replacement

The Transportation and Utilities Committee also held a briefing on the West Seattle Bridge. Due to COVID and the Council’s work to revise the 2020 budget due to declining tax revenues, this was the first opportunity for the committee to meet in several months. I thank Chair Pedersen for hearing this at the first opportunity.

SDOT has selected a designer for a replacement for the West Seattle Bridge, which will be necessary for all repair or replacement scenarios.

I appreciate SDOT taking this action now, rather than waiting on the decision of whether to proceed with a replacement or a repair. If we pursue a replacement, this decision will save time.

The design team includes 26 total firms, including 11 woman and minority-owned business enterprise companies.

SDOT will propose legislation to the Council soon for automated enforcement on the lower bridge. This is made possible by the years-long effort of Representative Joe Fitzgibbon to change state law in the 2020 state legislative session to allow for camera enforcement in transit lanes. This could begin as soon as this fall, and is authorized as a pilot project through June 2023. Monetary penalties would begin in January 2021.

Once camera enforcement begins, SDOT will have the opportunity to examine traffic patterns on the lower bridge, and may be able to adjust allowed users. Requests continue to come in for additional access, for example businesses and essential workers.

The West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force also met on Wednesday. Here’s demographic data for the Reconnect West Seattle Mobility Action Plan Survey results:

In South Park, there were 97 paper ballots in other languages, with 63 in Spanish, 27 in Vietnamese, and 3 in Somali.

There are significant community concerns about speeding, and traffic on side streets. Community suggestions include speed calming devices; speeding enforcement and local-only access to neighborhood streets.

Below are additional key themes:

The survey results also include responses about what would help people use buses and the water taxi more often (though it’s important to keep in mind that social distancing due to COVID-19 impacts people’s willingness to use transit). Travel time and frequency of service were the top results for buses; KC Metro will be adding back service in the Admiral neighborhood on buses 55, 56 and 57 on September 19th.

For the water taxi, more parking nearby, more frequent trips, and better bus/shuttle connections were the top results. KC Metro has issued an RFP for a second boat, but outside funding will be needed for a second boat.

SDOT has begun providing access for employer shuttles; KC Metro’s shared employer shuttle program is expanding access for smaller employers.

For biking, there is interest in increasing trips if facilities are improved and if e-bikes are more affordable though weather and time of day limit use.

Below are the most recent traffic volumes, which continue previous trends. The 25% increase over the pre-COVID baseline for the South Park Bridge is higher than previous counts:

Below are the most recent travel time estimates:

Below are the most recent traffic volumes for the lower (Spokane Street) bridge, for August 5 through 13, and since early March:


High Point Library Curbside Book Pickup

The Seattle Public Library system is launching curbside pickup service for library holds, and High Point Library is one of several sites available.  The curbside pickups are currently only available for holds placed before libraries closed on March 13.  If you have holds available for pickup, SPL will contact you by email or phone.

To schedule a curbside pickup, download the myLIBRO app or call 206-386-4190. When you’re on your way, tap the “I’m on My Way” button via the app so the library can gather your materials.  You can also pick up your holds without scheduling in advance. After you receive a notice that your hold is ready to be picked up, come to the branch listed during open hours and wait in the walk-up line.  Either way, bring your library card and a face covering.

Learn more about curbside pickup, including hours of service and directions for the myLIBRO app.  And stay tuned: SPL expects to announce the ability to place new holds soon.

Lowman Beach Park Racket Court Design

Seattle Parks & Recreation is hosting a virtual open house on Wednesday, August 26th from 6:30-7:30pm to gather input about the possibility of a new racket court at Lowman Beach Park .  As part of the Lowman Beach Seawall Replacement project, the existing court will be removed.  Learn more about the seawall replacement project and find links to attend the August 26th meeting here.


Free Covid Testing at Chief Sealth Starting 8/28

Starting Friday August 28th, free, walk-up Covid testing will be available at the Chief Sealth High School Athletic Complex in Westwood.  Register online starting on August 26th for testing between 9:30am – 5:30pm, five days a week.  Translation services are offered at all Citywide testing sites and can be requested while registering.

I thank the Seattle Fire Department for continuing to lead testing efforts by administering tests at the Citywide sites. In the early days of the crisis, SFD developed expertise in administering tests through new pilot programs including testing for first responders and Mobile Assessment Teams in long-term care facilities.  My office worked with SFD to make their excess testing capacity available to front-line service providers in an effort to help protect people experiencing homelessness and those who work with them.  You can learn more about SFD’s efforts to provide testing here.

Testing is free at the City of Seattle sites, and clients are not billed, regardless of health insurance status. For those with insurance, UW Medicine will handle the billing of Medicaid, Medicare, or individuals’ private insurance. Under Washington state law, insurance companies cannot charge co-pays for COVID-19 testing. For uninsured clients, UW Medicine will seek reimbursement directly from the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act Relief Fund for the cost of the test.

This community was successful beating back coronavirus in the spring and we can do it again. With the closure of the West Seattle Bridge making it harder to access testing, this additional testing capacity in District 1 will make a real difference. If you suspect that you are experiencing symptoms of COVID, or have been in contact with someone with COVID, please seek testing.

Crowd Control Weapons Recommendations

Last Friday the Community Police Commission, the Inspector General, and the Office of Police Accountably all sent reports to the Council regarding the use of crowd control weapons, as requested in the Council legislation adopted on June 15. At the time of passage, I sponsored an amendment to the bill requesting these reports by August 15th, along with another amendment to submit the legislation to US District Court Judge Robart, who oversees the 2012 Consent Decree. I appreciate the work of these three accountability bodies guiding our policy work related to policing practices and their necessary reform.

Each of the three accountability bodies have slightly different roles and responsibilities as part of the 3-legged stool that comprises our civilian accountability system. Here’s a link to their recommendations, which I’ve invited them to present to my Public Safety and Human Services Committee in September:

The recommendations of the three bodies are different, in line with their responsibilities as accountability bodies; the OPA perspective is informed by its responsibility to evaluate complaints filed; the OIG focuses on structural issues in SPD’s policies as compared to other law enforcement; and the CPC’s perspective focuses in part on the effect of policing policies on the community’s trust.

All three bodies note support for allowing for the use of some less lethal options outside the context of crowd control. Both the OPA and OIG propose re-authorizing the limited use of crowd control devices during crowd control situations when violence is present; the OIG indicates any re-authorization should be accompanied by changes in policy and training to reduce risk of harm to non-violent protestors; the OPA proposes conditions to minimize use.

The legislation was adopted in response to complaints from numerous residents, especially from Capitol Hill, who were deeply upset by the frequent use of tear gas near their homes for over a week. This resulted in, for example, a family fleeing their residence. Because tear gas seeped into their home, their newborn child woke up coughing and foaming at the mouth; they fled the neighborhood out of fear for their child’s life.

There are two court cases affecting the use of crowd control devices. On June 13th, US District Court  approved a temporary restraining order sought by Black Lives Matter and the ACLU limiting the use of crowd control devices in protests; the City agreed to extend the preliminary injunction limiting the use of crowd control devices through September 30th.  On August 10th, in response to a motion of contempt by BLM/ACLU, the City agreed to the expansion of the injunction to further limit the use of chemical irritants or projectiles, and specifically called out a prohibition on use against journalists, legal observers and medics, and specified that declaring a riot does not exempt the city from its obligations under the order.

In a separate case, US District Court Judge Robart approved a temporary restraining order on implementation of the Council’s ordinance that was requested by the US Department of Justice. He requested the three accountability bodies to submit recommendations to him as well; a decision could come as soon as September.

Mi’Chance Dunlap-Gittens’ Youth Rights Ordinance

In mid-July I wrote a blog post about this legislation, before it was brought to Council.  You can read that article here. I cosponsored this legislation with Councilmember Morales after calls from community members and advocates concerned about youth not understanding their rights when interacting with police officers.

The Mi’Chance Dunlap-Gittens’ Youth Rights Ordinance is named after a teenager who, in 2017, was shot and killed by plainclothes deputies during a misguided King County Sheriff’s Office’s sting operation that wrongly targeted two teens. Dunlap-Gittens’ was a high school senior set to graduate from Federal Way High School. His mother described him as a good son with a big heart, who wanted to be a lawyer and enjoyed writing poetry.

The Mi’Chance Dunlap-Gittens’ Youth Rights Ordinance requires:

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

The Full Council unanimously passed this legislation on Monday. Children of color are disproportionately contacted by law enforcement, incarcerated, and charged with offenses in King County juvenile court. In 2018, 73.2% of the children charged were children of color and 86.5% of the youth incarcerated between January and September of 2019 were children of color.

I want to thank Mi’Chance’s family for testifying before the Council and for their advocacy which made passage of this ordinance possible.

Rental Assistance Dollars – County Seeking Feedback

On Thursday the County announced a plan to spend over $40 million on rental eviction prevention and rental assistance. Landlords must agree to accept 80 percent of the rent or fair market rent, whichever is less, so that public funds can help more households.

  • Large Residential Property Fund ($17.9M)
    To reach the largest number of low-income households as quickly as possible, nearly $18 million is dedicated to a fund that is available to larger residential property managers and landlords with multiple residents needing assistance. Efforts will focus on Low Income Tax Credit properties and properties in the zip codes with the highest unemployment and COVID-19 disease burdens.
  • Individual Household/Small Landlord Fund ($10M)
    Another fund focuses on assisting any individual household that meets the eligibility requirements. Due to expected high demand, tenant selection will occur via a weekly lottery. Potential recipients will submit a form to enter the lottery process, with the first tenants and landlords drawn on September 14, 2020 and weekly thereafter until all funds are spent. Community-based organizations will assist tenants with the application process, and other nonprofit organizations will provide the actual rental assistance.
  • Manufactured Home Park Fund ($2M)
    Specialized assistance and funding is dedicated to help manufactured home park residents, many of whom are Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, including approximately 70 percent Latinx. Similar to the Large Residential Property Fund, non-profit organizations administering the funds will work with park owners to assist households quickly. Community-based organizations will provide residents with language and other assistance, as needed.
  • Eviction Prevention – United Way of King County ($5M)
    Funding is allocated to United Way’s Rental Assistance Program to support households through UWKC’s Home Base program when the state-mandated Eviction Moratorium ends in mid-October, unless the moratorium is extended. If extended, the resources will be reallocated to support the other funds.

The remaining dollars will be spent on outreach and administrative costs. The County is seeking feedback on this proposal, and you can comment here through August 25.

If you are a tenant seeking assistance, please see this link to see if you qualify to receive funds. For small landlords, please see this link.

Virtual Office Hours

On Friday August  28, I will be hosting virtual office hours between 2pm and go until 6pm, with the last meeting of the day beginning at 5:30pm.

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

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

  • Friday, September 25, 2020
  • Friday, October 30, 2020
  • Friday, December 18, 2020

E-mail Volume / No Newsletter Next Two Weeks

E-mail volume recently has been at an all-time high, with tens of thousands of e-mails coming in. I’m sorry it’s taking longer than usual to get back to everyone.

The City Council is on its summer recess for the next two weeks, and there won’t be any Council meetings during that time. My next update will be in September in a couple of weeks.

 

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West Seattle Bridge Update, August 14; Statement on Retirement of SPD Chief Best; Parks & Alki; Jumpstart Veto Override and Spending Plan

August 14th, 2020

West Seattle Bridge Update, August 14

Next week the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force will meet on Wednesday, and continue its review and input to the development of the cost-benefit analysis model that will be used in part to decide whether to repair or replace the bridge.  We will also continue review of and input to the draft Reconnect West Seattle plan.

On Wednesday August 19th, the Transportation and Utilities Committee plans to consider legislation to authorize two interfund loans  of up to $70 million to fund work on the West Seattle Bridge. I serve on the committee and look forward to supporting this legislation.

Through August 3rd, SDOT spent $3.8 million on bridge and related work.

Last week, in my ongoing conversations about the funding opportunities for the West Seattle Bridge with the office of US Representative Jayapal, I learned about a new potential federal funding source, called the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Building Resilient Infrastructure (BRIC) grant program. The application period for this opens on September 30th; applications are due on January 29, 2021. By this deadline SDOT will have better project definition, which will assist in developing a grant proposal.

BRIC grants are for states, local communities and tribes for pre-disaster mitigation activities. BRIC priorities are to incentivize public infrastructure projects; projects that mitigate risk to one or more lifelines; projects that incorporate nature-based solutions, and the adoption and enforcement of modern building codes.

I thank the office of Representative Jayapal for diligently monitoring potential federal grant opportunities, and quickly letting the city know whenever they are available.

According to SDOT, the lower bridge has opened 858 times through the end of July: 757 times for marine traffic, and 101 times for maintenance, testing or aborted openings. The most common operator is Broughton and Beckwith; openings last an average of 12 minutes; 357 openings occurred during peak travel hours.

I asked SDOT about openings in 2019. For the entire year, there were 1390 openings for marine traffic, 502 during peak travel hours, and 371 times for maintenance, testing or aborted openings.

The Coast Guard currently uses a “standard of care” that asks mariners to voluntarily limit their requests for openings during peak travel hours.  502 openings during peak travel hours for the entire year of 2019, as compared to 357 openings during peak travel hours through July of this year, has led me to make additional inquiries of SDOT of whether or not the Coast Guard is using the “standard of care” as intended.

Here are the most recent traffic volumes; traffic continues to be high on Highland Park Way and West Marginal, and above pre-COVID levels on the South Park Bridge and Roxbury, and South Michigan Street in Georgetown.

Travel times are listed below:

Traffic volumes for the lower (Spokane Street) bridge are shown from the start of February through August 1st:

 

Statement on Retirement of SPD Chief Best

Below is the statement I issued in response to Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best’s announcement that she plans to retire next month:

“As chair of the committee that oversees public safety in Seattle, I want to start by sincerely thanking Chief Best for her 28 years of dedication and service to our City.

“Make no mistake:  the Chief’s retirement is a staggering loss to leaders of the Black and Brown community.  I remember the 2018 annual Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration, which occurred during another time of uncertainty for the future of her leadership.  One official after another spoke, each met with polite applause. That day, Chief Best’s speech received not one, but two, standing ovations.  I texted her at the time to say that I didn’t want to jinx her, but that after two standing ovations I believed she had cinched the top job and that I hoped it was the case.  The importance of her tenure and achievement as the City’s first Black woman to lead the Seattle Police Department can not be overstated.

“At times of social unrest, police chiefs are often in no-win situations. I’ve seen it before.  In the wake of the WTO demonstrations, Police Chief (Norm) Stamper resigned in the absence of clear direction from the Executive or obvious support from the Police Union.  The Council, now that we’ve passed a new SPD budget, needs to work with the Chief in order to successfully implement it. If she did so, she could lose the support of the police union, SPOG, which is continuing to move to a more conservative point on the political spectrum.  At the same time, if she doesn’t work to make deployment decisions that only she is authorized to make in order to implement the Council’s budget, she will continue to face criticism.

“Any career in policing, at this time in our nation’s history, will involve engagement with a large segment of the public questioning the third rail of local politics: that larger police departments equal better public safety outcomes.  Every major city in the nation has a police chief who is learning that leadership means understanding that they may need to figure out how to accept – and get their departments to accept – that the public wants less policing and more community safety.

“Policing at the highest levels in our country has been forever changed by what we’ve observed since George Floyd’s death.  We are in an historic time that requires everyone in leadership and service – in Seattle and throughout the country – to question, to learn, and to change.  This is especially true for law enforcement, an institution being called upon to reckon with the harm it has done to Black and Brown communities, while accepting the opportunity to embrace fundamental, structural change that will lead to true community safety.

“I am deeply and sincerely sorry that the Chief feels Council’s actions have been disrespectful toward individual officers and that our journey to reimagine community safety has been personally directed at her. As public safety chair, I take responsibility and offer my apology to Chief Best.

“The Council is in a difficult position as well.  We have to be able to say when we disagree, and strive for accountability when necessary.  We have to be able to ask hard questions about the SPD, and engage in difficult debate about the appropriate role of policing, the SPD budget, and SPD’s recent actions in response to demonstrations against violent policing here in Seattle.  After the first weekend of demonstrations, after the Chief addressed the Council, she told me that the Council had disrespected her in questioning her in committee about the actions of the police.  Indeed, it is the Council’s job to ask questions.  And with Council’s role in appointing a new Chief clearly spelled out in Resolution 31868 re Council confirmation of department directors), any candidate will be subject to the same scrutiny as Chief Best has faced.

“Chief Best deserves our recognition and respect for nearly thirty years of dedication to policing and public safety, duty, and service to the people of Seattle.  I am grateful for her service.  I am also committed to continuing the work around rebuilding community safety and trust in our City.”

 

Parks & Alki

After hearing from many members of the public, and receiving inquiries from my office as well, Parks & Recreation agreed to provide funding for SPD officers to close the gate at Don Armeni and assist with closing Alki Beach.  Specifically the announcement, reported last week on the West Seattle Blog and the Seattle Times, was that:

“The Parks Department has generously agreed to fund a three-officer detail to support Parks staff in closing Alki Beach and the Don Armeni Boat Ramp at night, starting tomorrow (Thursday), August 6th. The officers will work three hours, from 8-11 pm, every Thursday through Sunday night for the remainder of the summer, until Sunday, September 27th.”

My office immediately inquired with Parks Superintendent Aguirre, requesting an update on the situation, and whether we should expect a request for a Council approval of a transfer of funding from Parks to SPD for this purpose.

The question was resolved on Monday when we were informed that Parks will be contracting with off-duty officers to close Alki Beach and the Don Armeni boat ramp at night. Parks has the resources and appropriation authority to pay for this work so no further appropriation authority is needed from the Council.  I still have an outstanding inquiry with the Parks Department why they determined that Parks Ambassadors are not sufficient to close Alki Beach and the Don Armeni Ramp.  I recognize, having been in both locations at night, that there may be some closure compliance issues, but I’d like to understand why they cannot be addressed on a case by case situation, rather than relying on off-duty officers to close the park and boat ramp.

 

Jumpstart Veto Override and Spending Plan

On Wednesday this week, the Full City Council held a special meeting to discuss the Mayor’s veto of the Jumpstart spending plan passed unanimously by the City Council on July 20.

CB 119812 authorized spending from the City’s two emergency “reserve funds” in 2020 to support people and businesses impacted by COVID, including support for small businesses, nonprofits, immigrants and refugees; food security; rental assistance benefiting landlords and tenants; and immediate housing needs. The two reserve emergency funds would be replenished in 2021 with the projected new payroll tax revenue paid only by eligible large employers (with more than $7 million in total payroll) and based only on the number of highly compensated employees (only positions with payroll greater than $150,000/year). The Mayor vetoed this legislation on July 31.

The Council not only voted to override the Mayor’s veto, but we also voted on and passed, 7-1 (with only Councilmember Sawant voting in opposition) a new bill to address some of the concerns expressed by the Mayor in her July 31 veto.  It’s important to understand the Council’s Charter obligations for why we voted to override this veto, even knowing that we had a new piece of legislation to pass that would replace the vetoed bill.

Some argued we should just “mothball” the vetoed bill and introduce a new one to address the Mayor’s concerns.  We are prohibited by the City Charter from doing so.  The City Charter says that the Council “shall” vote to sustain or override the veto.  We don’t have the legal right to take no action.  This Charter requirement has as its foundation that the Council as a Legislative body must do its work in public.  We can’t make a non-public policy decision to ignore a bill that has been vetoed and start with a new bill.

Another suggestion was that, if we were going to propose a new bill to address the Mayor’s concerns with the vetoed bill, we should have just sustained the Mayor’s vetoed bill and then voted on the new “replacement bill” for the Jumpstart spending plan.  We couldn’t do that on Wednesday either, because the new “replacement bill” for the Jumpstart spending plan was drafted as an amendment to the original vetoed bill.

If we had voted to sustain the Mayor’s veto, in order to vote on the new “replacement bill” for the Jumpstart spending plan, we would have had to draft an entirely new bill and that would have to be officially introduced on the Council’s “Introduction and Referral Calendar,” which assigns a bill number to the legislation and creates a public record. The Council cannot vote on a bill the same day it is introduced. The second thing to understand is that the Council has a two week recess period every year at the end of summer (last two weeks of August), August 17th happens to be the last Full Council before recess this year, and unfortunately the Council was not able to introduce new legislation before August 17th that would allow the Council to allocate a smaller amount of money than what was vetoed in CB 119812. Therefore the Council took the action of overriding the Mayor’s veto so that we could act on a piece of legislation that was already introduced so that the City can get relief to people without additional delay.

After overriding the veto, in the same meeting, the Council amended the legislation with a new bill in order to reduce the spending from $86 million in 2020 to $57 million in 2020.  This reduced spending goal was in recognition of the need of the City to access additional emergency reserves in order to address an additional reduction in revenue.  In order to give maximum flexibility to the Mayor and Executive Departments charged with expending the COVID19 relief funding, I requested that the following language be added to the new bill:

“The Council acknowledges that the administration of this program will require new contracts and systems to distribute these critical services and direct relief to the community  may take time and could result in not expending the full $57 million in 2020. If the full amount is not expended in 2020, the Council is committed to working with the Executive to continue funding these critical COVID-19 relief programs in 2021 and to address newly identified 2020 revenue shortfalls.”

It’s important to recognize the importance of these critical relief programs, but it’s equally important to understand the City’s ability to allocate these dollars in a timely fashion. The Council is signaling – through these actions – its intent to work with the Mayor to disperse the $57 million as quickly as possible, but we recognize that it may not be possible to spend all of the money by the end of 2020.

  • $9.55 million of the funds are intended to address the COVID19 economic hardship to small business owners (including non-profits) with 25 or fewer full time equivalent employees (FTEs) and their employees due to loss of business income, grant funding reductions, layoffs and reduced work hours
  • $2.39 million of the funds are intended to address the COVID19 economic hardship to childcare providers and their employees experience due to loss of income, layoffs and reduced work hours.
  • $20.01 million of the funds are intended for existing homelessness prevention programs, rental assistance programs, rapid rehousing programs, and diversion programs, many that serve both tenants and landlords.
  • $3.2 million of the funds are intended for personal protective equipment, overtime and premium pay for staff, food service, and cleaning supplies to support COVID19 health practices as part of the work being done by shelter providers and non-profit housing providers.
  • $700,000 of the funds are intended for mortgage counseling and foreclosure prevention programs, including costs for housing counselors, legal aid, service coordination, and direct financial assistance.
  • $11.3 million of the funds are intended as direct financial assistance to Seattle’s low-income immigrant and refugee households who have experienced the economic impacts caused by the COVID-19 crisis, prioritizing those who experience structural or institutional barriers to accessing support from the government (e.g. language barriers, risk of deportation), are ineligible for other federal or state emergency assistance, or are receiving such assistance in a limited or delayed manner that does not meet their needs, or those who have had or whose families have had adverse health impacts from COVID.
  • $9.09 million of the funds are intended to expand the Emergency Grocery Voucher program to allow more people participating in existing City programs to be served by this program.
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West Seattle Bridge Update, August 7; 2020 Budget Re-balancing Deliberations; New Free COVID-19 Testing Location; Mayor Extends Eviction Moratorium; Community Input for Police Response to George Floyd Protests

August 7th, 2020

West Seattle Bridge Update, August 7

Reconnect West Seattle

Over 15,000 people filled out SDOT’s Reconnect West Seattle surveys in July. For the neighborhood prioritization ballots, Highland Park/Riverview/South Delridge/Roxhill had 1,072 responses; South Park 301; Georgetown 209, and SODO 69.

SDOT reports that most people expressed concerns, in the following order, about traffic and congestion; pedestrian safety and accessibility; speeding; and environmental impacts and pollution.

SDOT shared responses regarding how people travel; the COVID pandemic is a complicating factor in evaluating how people will travel once it recedes.

The survey shows the amount of people working from home has increased significantly, and it appears it may continue after social distancing resulting from COVID. The percentage of people considering the water taxi, vanpools, employer shuttles, and biking also appears higher. Buses register as lower than before social distancing, but significantly higher than current use:

Here’s a summary of responses regarding buses, the water taxi, bikes, and working from home, and what conditions would lead people to choose these options:

One area that did not have a project proposed in the neighborhood prioritization ballots was Sylvan Way, which has become a diversion route to access Holden to leave the peninsula. I heard concerns from residents about visibility, speeding and accidents, and relayed that to SDOT.

SDOT announced it has ordered four radar speed signs they will install in coming weeks, and will be trimming vegetation this weekend to improve sightlines between Delridge and Holly.

King County Metro Bridge Closure Action Plan

King County Metro has released a West Seattle Bridge Closure Transit Action Plan.

The plan notes Metros plan’s through September, and plans from September 2020 to September 2021. It also includes two network planning scenarios for diversion of buses if the lower bridge is closed.

The report notes lower capacity during the COVID epidemic:

Analysis of travel data shows strongest demand from West Seattle in the morning commute to other West Seattle locations, the Central Business District, and SODO, with notable demand to South Lake Union, SeaTac, and Southcenter. Several charts show trips during the morning peak by census tract:

The report includes two network planning scenarios. Scenario 1 is for when the lower bridge is open. This scenario represents current operations, and use of the lower bridge.

Scenario 2 is for if the lower bridge is closed, for either maintenance work, or due to instability or collapse of the West Seattle Bridge, resulting in an evacuation area;  it has two planning tiers, both of which would require reroutes.

Tier 1 of Scenario 2 is for when the lower bridge is closed for e.g. maintenance; Tier 2 of Scenario 2 would be for a closure of the lower bridge due to problems with the West Seattle Bridge (instability or collapse, resulting in an evacuation area). SDOT has indicated they do not believe the bridge is any imminent danger of collapse.

For Tier 1, trips to Downtown currently traveling on the lower bridge would access West Marginal from the Chelan 5-way intersection, then travel onto the 1st Avenue South Bridge, to either SR99 or 1st Avenue South, then continue with regular service.

Tier 2 would be more disruptive, with West Marginal not being accessible from the 5-way intersection. Page 24-25 shows the potential reroutes. A new shuttle would provide service to connect North Delridge to the water taxi at Seacrest dock.

The report also notes potential locations for park and ride locations, planned service changes in September 2020 and plans for water taxi, noting what requires additional budget. It further notes significant capital investment would be needed for either temporary or permanent dock space to add a third boat to the water taxi.

I appreciate King County Metro’s work in developing this plan.

Cost Benefit Analysis

Last week SDOT asked members of the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force for input regarding the  Cost Benefit Analysis SDOT is conducting to inform the decision whether to repair or replace the West Seattle Bridge.

Here was my request that SDOT include an immersed tube tunnel among the six high-level options: “The lack of an immersed tube tunnel in for developing the cost-benefit criteria in the evaluation criteria could make is less likely to be seen a feasible future alternative.  Please include the immersed tube tunnel as one of the options for cost-benefit analysis.”

At the Community Task Force meeting, SDOT clarified its inclusion in the high-level options.

Other comments I submitted about the criteria included:

  • The need to account for short-term and long term impacts to residents and businesses
  • That equity criteria for air quality impacts, traffic impacts also account for both short-term and long-term impacts.
  • The need for criteria considering how available funding will affect the size of the structure i.e. how many lanes are included, and for which users, e.g. cars, freight, public transit.
  • The need for criteria quantifying how an option could have impacts on different communities. If, for example, a replacement option has a smaller number of lanes than the West Seattle Bridge, and thus reduced capacity, it could result in permanent diversion of traffic to the southern portion of the West Seattle to exit the peninsula,  and diversion of traffic on to the South Park Bridge
  • The need for criteria to measure how seismic standards influence decisions about constructability and funding feasibility, and the number of lanes a structure could provide, and for which users?

The cost-benefit analysis will inform the decision to repair or replace the bridge. The graphic below shows how analyzing alternatives for a replacement will work:

Council Consultant Hired

Last month the Council hired an engineering consultant to support the Council on key West Seattle Bridge issues such as review of the stabilization proposal; review of a repair proposal and/or review of replacement proposal. The consultant will focus on the Technical Advisory Panel memos as the key points to engage SDOT and the Council.

The consultant advised the Councilmembers on the Community Task Force re: the cost-benefit criteria proposed by SDOT described in the section above.

Budget Actions

The Budget Committee took action on two Council bills relevant to the bridge, as part of its revisions to the 2020 adopted budget. The Full Council is scheduled to vote on Monday, August 10th.

I’m sponsoring the first bill, which will create a West Seattle Bridge Immediate Response item in the SDOT Capital Program Budget.

The second bill revises city financial policies to specify that Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) revenues can be used to pay off bonds for work  to repair or replace the West Seattle Bridge.

SDOT has provided two relevant updates as well. First of all, SDOT has begun its search for a firm to conduct a Traffic and Revenue Study to study tolling. SDOT notes no decision on funding has been made, though this type of study is a requirement to pursue other federal funding options, such as Transportation Infrastructure Finance Loans.

The study will examine transportation demand over the next several decades, and will include an analysis of equity, and how travel patterns could change with tolls. This could result in additional use of transit, but could also result in permanent diversion of traffic to southern access points to the peninsula and the South Park Bridge, a relevant equity issue.

Secondly, SDOT provided additional information on its blog about the interfund loan legislation it has sent to the Council.

The $70 million interfund loan will provide funds to cover expenses in 2020 and the first quarter of 2021; SDOT will be working to secure other funding. The Capital Improvement Program (CIP) item includes funding estimates for the first two years of work, which SDOT estimates to be between $160 million and $225 million over 2020-2021, while noting a great deal of uncertainty.

The  CIP goes through 2021, and doesn’t include all potential costs related to repair or replacement. SDOT notes, “The $70 million interfund loan would be borrowed from the City’s cash pool and repaid with a $100 million bond sale in 2021.  Any needed spending above $100 million through 2021 will be supported by a separate interfund loan, to be established, if necessary, sometime in early 2021.”

Lower Bridge Use/Access Update

SDOT has extended use of the lower bridge with 13 permits for the West Seattle Chamber and the West Seattle Junction Association, and for additional vanpools for essential workers:

Traffic Update

Below are the most recent traffic volumes. Traffic remains high on West Marginal and Highland Park Way, and above pre-COVID levels on the South Park Bridge and SW Roxbury:

Below are the most recent travel times:


2020 Budget Re-balancing Deliberations

Wednesday’s Budget Committee meeting was a busy one, with Councilmembers voting on a slew of amendments related to the Seattle Police Department’s budget.  Along with Council President González, and Councilmembers Mosqueda and Morales, I introduced a package of narrowly-defined and careful cuts and budget provisos that includes:

  • 38 FTE reductions, starting in November, suggested from specific units, including Mounted Patrol, School Resource Officers, Navigation Team, Harbor Patrol, and Public Affairs, SWAT
  • 30 FTE from expected attrition through officers voluntarily leaving or retiring from SPD
  • 32 FTE suggested general reduction in sworn officers.

It’s important to understand that ultimately, Chief Best holds the authority to make decisions about how and where these reductions may occur.   While Council may determine the overall appropriate size of the police force, and suggest units (such as Mounted Patrol) where layoffs may be made, it’s the Chief of Police who will make the determinations as to where layoffs occur.

In addition, all the reductions take a very specific format, in order to set the City up for the most positive labor bargaining outcomes.  Instead of making cuts of positions, the amendments put a proviso on two months’ worth of salary for each position that is targeted for reduction.  We have received expert advice that it may take between two to four months for each reduction to be bargained.  If it takes longer than that, Council may need to vote to lift the provisos, so that the officers can be paid as the bargaining finishes up.  But the proviso format means that the City will have those dollars on hand, just in case they are needed.

The actions, if approved by the Council and bargained as described above, will result in a reduction of SPD’s police force by 100 officers (from the current level of about 1,400 officers), and result in savings of about $2.9 million in 2020.

The package also includes modest cuts to the SPD’s travel, training, and recruitment budgets, which seemed appropriate given current travel restrictions and the Mayor’s hiring freeze.  These cuts total less than $1M.

Finally, the budget actions also include and intention to create a civilian-led Department of Community Safety & Violence Prevention; and remove certain functions from the Seattle Police Department including:

  • Move 9-1-1 communication functions and funding from SPD to a civilian-led department
  • Move the Office of Emergency Management from SPD to a different City department
  • Move some Harbor Patrol functions from SPD to the Seattle Fire Department
  • Move parking enforcement functions from SPD to the Seattle Department of Transportation

The Budget Committee meets again on Monday and will consider legislation to make investments in community safety, as well as legislation I am sponsoring that re-establish budget spending levels for each of the 5 police precincts. Up until last year, the City Budget included budget control levels for each of the 5 precincts.  With the 2020 budget, the 5 precincts were combined into a single budget level, Patrol Operations, at $147.8 million.  With this amendment, the Council will be able to approve appropriation levels in each of Seattle’s police precincts.  With wild speculation that any cuts to the SPD budget may result in the closure of the Southwest Precinct, this legislation will give Council the ability to ensure this precinct will remain funded.

On Thursday, I participated in a press conference along with Council President González and Councilmember Morales to share the vision behind this package.  Here are my remarks:

Mayor Durkan keeps saying we should be “realistic” and that we’ve been irresponsible for committing to a goal before we had the details.

I have never, in my 22 years in government or 8 years prior as an activist – inside or outside government- seen a single hard thing, shaking up the status quo and responding to a historical moment, accomplished by limiting action to what seems “realistic.” In this instance, re-imagining policing, means imagining what may not at first seem realistic.

By signing onto a stretch goal, Council began a partnership with community that has brought us to the place we are now, a unified Council position on the 2020 SPD budget and a pathway AND A PLAN for how to leverage the decisions we are making now to reduce the size of the police Department in 2021. We have shared information about the very real barriers to our goals in real time with community as we were understanding those barriers ourselves. In doing so I hope we have built trust and made an investment in the leadership infrastructure of the people who are critical to this important movement. The activists, the advocates, the people who have experienced harm at the hands of our criminal injustice system and the allies who have never had these experiences first hand but know that the promise of justice will never be delivered if they remain complicit and silent to injustice that they see every day.

The Executive and Council clearly have a different approach to meeting the demands of the movement for true community safety. From what they have shared so far, it doesn’t seem to involve meaningful, structural change or partnering effectively with and empowering community members with lived experiences.

The Mayor says the Council and community have the right ideas, but this is the wrong time. She tells us that she’s working with the Chief to bring a package that “reimagines the police.” The problem with this is that it ignores exactly what the community has been saying – they’re not at the table and want to be. The community is here now pushing Council and working with us to do what she says we should do later.

The Mayor and Chief seem to be using the structural barriers in our government institutions to say what they CAN’T DO instead of trying to find a way for us to work together to try and accomplish what we all say we want to accomplish, reduce the footprint of armed police response for each and every social problem regardless of whether it’s the RIGHT response. Remember 56% of 911 calls are non-criminal and only 3% result in arrest. We are asking police officers to do too much and in doing so we make our communities less safe – whether in sending a police officer to a situation that doesn’t require an armed response or in reducing police capacity to address real crime.

There’s a lot of interest in the ability of the Chief to do out of order layoffs; this is one of the institutional structural, barriers I mentioned earlier. The bottom line is that the rule exists and thus it can be used. Our challenge is – the Executive and Council together should figure out how to use it to meet our shared objectives; not start from the supposition that a rule that clearly exists to be used can’t be used.

On Monday Daniel Beekman of the Seattle Times asked whether the Chief will submit an out of order lay off request with the Public Safety Civil Service Commission. The Chief answered that the decision lies with the Public Safety Civil Service Commission Director. We all understand that – the community understands that. Our request is whether she’ll work with us in developing a request to the PSCSC that has the best chance to preserve the diversity of the SPD in a way that is constitutional and legal according to labor law, does not choose law offs by race as some have claimed we are asking but instead does so in a way that preserves the efficient functioning of the department as the rule requires.

We’re re-imagining and so are local governments all over the country- how are they going to tackle these same issues? Let’s ask these questions and learn, and above all together, TRY.

And if we are unsuccessful then the council, using the proviso has voluntarily put ourselves in a position to be accountable and we will have to consider lifting the provisos. But if the Executive doesn’t try then they will be the ones being held accountable and the question to that branch of government will be, did you really want to re-imagine policing in our city?

New Free COVID-19 Testing Location

On Friday, July 31 the City announced a third location for free testing. Located at Rainier Beach High School in south Seattle it is a walk-up location that is open: Mon, Weds, Thurs, Fri, Sat, 9:30am-5:30pm.

If you want to get tested, please visit the City’s website here and select the most convenient location to see available times. You will also need:

  • A photo ID with your date of birth. Testing is available regardless of your citizenship/immigration status.
  • Insurance card, if you have insurance. If you have insurance, Medicare or Medicaid you must provide this information and UW Medicine will bill them. You will not be charged for the test.  You do not need to have insurance or a doctor’s note to schedule a test.

If you’re unsure if you need testing, COVID-19 symptoms include:

  • fever or chills
  • cough
  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • fatigue
  • muscle or body aches
  • headache
  • new loss of taste or smell
  • sore throat
  • congestion or runny nose
  • nausea or vomiting
  • diarrhea

Mayor Extends Eviction Moratorium

On Friday, July 31 the Mayor extended the current Seattle eviction moratorium which says that your landlord “shall not initiate an unlawful detainer action, issue a notice of termination, or otherwise act on any termination notice, including any action or notice related to a rental agreement that has expired or will expire during the effective date of this Emergency Order, unless the tenant’s actions constitute an imminent threat to the health or safety of neighbors, the landlord, or the tenant’s or landlord’s household members.  Further, no late fees or other charges due to late payment of rent shall accrue during the moratorium.”

Further, the Mayor extended the moratorium on evictions on small businesses and non-profits. Both of these moratoriums are extended through December 31, 2020.

Community Input for Inspector General Event Review of Police Response to George Floyd Protests: August 13

Office of Inspector General (OIG) was established to “help 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.”

The death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis is a tragic reminder of the long history of deep individual and structural racial injustice in our nation’s policing system. During this critical time, the Office of Inspector General (OIG), in partnership with community and other agencies, is undertaking a sentinel event review of the Seattle Police Department response to recent protests against racial injustice in Seattle.

The OIG notes goal of a sentinel event review is to identify underlying causes of negative outcomes, like a large-scale use of force against protestors, to prevent the same bad outcome from happening again. This process identifies gaps and flaws in the system that contributed to the harmful event, so they can be addressed. Creating an innovative process, with community participation, to assess system flaws can be a way to challenge longstanding assumptions about policing practices and start building a different way of providing public safety that is responsive to concerns being expressed by community

Through this process, OIG seeks to improve the systems that guide law enforcement, in particular SPD’s response to protests, in a manner that is grounded in community priorities and perspective.

The complexity of this review and the thoroughness that is necessary will require that the work happens in phases. You can learn more about ongoing work at seattle.gov/oig/community. OIG is partnering with CPC and other community stakeholders to gather perspectives, input, and questions from community concerning SPD response to recent protests. The OIG will use information gathered from public hearings, news, social media, and speaking with community, to focus on areas of community concern in the formal review of SPD protest response, with community voices at the table.

The will be hosting virtual community listening forums for those who want to share their perspectives  on Thursday, August 13, 2020, from 9:30 am – 11:00 a.m.

There are three ways to join:

  1. Join online by clicking this WebEx link:
    https://seattle.webex.com/seattle/j.php?MTID=ma840e2fd03b2213574b6a50c3c463f46
    Meeting number (access code): 146 760 6561
    Meeting password: ZXw3GPStE53
  2. Join by phone:
    +1-206-207-1700 United States Toll (Seattle)
    +1-408-418-9388 United States Toll
  3. Join using Microsoft Lync or Microsoft Skype for Business:
    From within the app, dial seattle@lync.webex.com
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West Seattle Bridge Update, July 31; Age Friendly Seattle Virtual Events; Seattle City Light Scammers

July 31st, 2020

West Seattle Bridge Update, July 31

Funding

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lower Bridge Use

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

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

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

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

Stabilizing the West Seattle Bridge

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

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

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

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

Additional information is available here.

Traffic

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

Vehicle travel times are below:


Age Friendly Seattle Virtual Events

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seattle City Light Scammers

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

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

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

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

July 24th, 2020

Coronavirus Updates

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

West Seattle Bridge Update, July 24

Reconnect West Seattle surveys open through July 31 

South Park

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

The website also includes bike network and freight network proposals.

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

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

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

Lower Bridge Use 

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

Cost Benefit Analysis: Repair or Replace 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s one of the repair concepts:

Here’s one of the replacement concepts:

Here’s the tunnel concept:

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

Traffic/Travel Times 

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

Here are the most recent travel time estimates:

Seattle Transportation Benefit District Update/Bus Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Statement on Trump Sending Officers to Seattle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Duwamish River Opportunity Fund Seeks Proposals

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

Proposals should fall into one of the follow categories:

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

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

Tuesday, August 4 – 5:00 – 6:30pm  

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

Join by phone:

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

+1-408-418-9388 United States Toll

Access code: 146 718 6791

Wednesday, August 12 – 5:00 – 6:30pm 

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

Join by phone:

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

+1-408-418-9388 United States Toll

Access code: 146 396 9922

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

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

More Protections for Small Business Owners & Nonprofits

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

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

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

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

Updates from the Budget Committee

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

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

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

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

  • $50,000 to convene seniors centers, senior housing and other stakeholders to develop a plan to safely reopen in 2021.  Senior Centers are lifelines for the seniors who rely on them.  Their closure has been keenly felt, but with the unique vulnerabilities of their clients, re-opening is fraught.  These funds would allow for a well thought-out plan that keeps seniors and employees safe, while also balancing the need for the services and opportunities senior centers uniquely provide.
  • $120,000 to expand Stay Connected, a pilot partnership between four senior centers and the UW Alacrity Center. The pilot builds on an established evidence base to train laypersons – such as case managers, social workers or volunteers – to assess the estimated 20% of seniors who may be struggling with social isolation, and provide targeted interventions that can address symptoms of mild depression.
  • $50,000 to provide wifi hotspots at 30 locations around the City, where seniors could make use of wifi safely to access to online opportunities for socializing, reading, gathering information, and using video- and tele-health.
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West Seattle Bridge Update; 2020 Budget Rebalancing Deliberations; New Homeless Service Provider Funding; Director’s Rule for Exceptional and Significant Trees; Jump Start Investments; Seattle Transportation Benefit District; Letter to Mayor and Police Chief re: Free Press

July 17th, 2020

West Seattle Bridge Update

Reminder: Reconnect West Seattle Survey

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

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

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

Declaration of Emergency

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

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

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

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

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

Lower (Spokane Street) Bridge Maintenance

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

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

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

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

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

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

Technical Advisory Panel Update

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

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

Traffic

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

Below are the most recent travel times:


2020 Budget Rebalancing Deliberations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Homeless Service Provider Funding

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

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

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

Director’s Rule for Exceptional and Significant Trees

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jump Start Investments

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

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

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

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

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

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

Affordable Homeownership: Amendment 8 sets aside approximately $6 million annually for permanently affordable homeownership opportunities available to households earning up to 80% of Area Median Income.  The funds would specifically be reserved for households at risk of displacement from their communities, or who have faced barriers to homeownership due to past discriminatory policies and practices such as redlining and restrictive racial covenants.  I’m grateful to Budget Chair Mosqueda for her co-sponsorship of this amendment with me.

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

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

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

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

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

Seattle Transportation Benefit District

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

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

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

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

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

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

Letter to Mayor and Police Chief re: Free Press

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

12A.12.020 – Failure to disperse.

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

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

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

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

Mr. Buncombe ends his article by saying:

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 10th, 2020

West Seattle Bridge July 10 Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are links for surveys in English:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force Updates

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

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

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

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

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

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

Update on Traffic

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

Below are the most recent travel time estimates:


Budget Committee Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mi’Chance Dunlap-Gittens Youth Rights Ordinance

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

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

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

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

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

Research shows that:

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

The Youth Rights’ Ordinance would require that:

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

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

Coronavirus Updates

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

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

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

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

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

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

Neighborcare Health at High Point (West Seattle)

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

Phone: (206) 461-6950

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

Sea Mar Community Health Centers at South Park

8720 14th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98108

Phone: (253) 681-6600

Languages: Spanish, Interpretation available

Sea Mar Community Health Centers at White Center

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

Phone: (206) 965-1000

Languages: Spanish, Interpretation available

UW Mobile Clinic at South Seattle College

6000 16th Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98106

Phone: (206) 744-0400

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

Languages: Interpretation available

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

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

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

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

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

Pediatric vaccinations keep your child safe

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

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

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


Summer Food Assistance and a Public Shower Hotline

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

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

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

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

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

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

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