West Seattle Bridge and Transportation Update; Delridge Farmers’ Market Opens May 14th at Hope Academy; Hiring the City’s Next Aging & Disability Services Division Director; Standing for Abortion Rights; Public Safety and Human Services Committee Update; Advocating for Federal Action for RV Residents and Others Experiencing Homelessness; Comment Letter to Police Monitor; Virtual Office Hours

May 14th, 2022

West Seattle Bridge and Transportation Update

Earlier this week SDOT reported to the City Council that:

“The three pours for the north girder are complete; the three structural pours for the south girder are next. After the final structural pour the contractor can revisit the schedule and provide greater clarity on when their work will be complete.”

SDOT made some modifications for the anchorage systems this week to prepare for the south girder pours. On Thursday, SDOT let us know that there wasn’t a concrete pour this week and instead the contractor is preparing for two final structural concrete pours, not three.  SDOT believes that though these last pours are coming in on a little different sequence than we had anticipated a couple weeks ago, we’re essentially on the same trajectory towards completing the delivery and pouring of concrete.

Carbon fiber wrapping and epoxy crack injections are complete on the inside of the bridge.  Not this work is continuing at the exterior of the bridge.

One issue that emerged recently is the presence of a falcon nest on the bridge. The project environmental team created a falcon management plan that has allowed work to continue around Pier 15, while ensuring the next remains undisturbed during construction.

Below is a what a recently poured concrete support block looks like; the post-tensioning cables that prevent cracking will pass through the two holes:

Wooden forms are used to mold the concrete; after about a week, after the concrete fully sets, the forms are ready to come off. Here’s a time lapse video of what removal of the wooden forms looks like.

SDOT is also beginning the process of replacing the concrete surface of the Fauntleroy Expressway, the structure that connects the West Seattle Bridge to Fauntleroy Way. This involves grinding away half an inch of the bridge’s deck in preparation for adding new concrete in the future, and ensuring the roadway is in good condition when traffic reopens on the bridge.

Spokane Street (Low) Bridge

Here’s a graphic showing the work completed, under construction and coming soon for the Spokane Street (Low) Bridge. The contractor expects to hoist work platforms over the first two weekends in June. This will allow for carbon-fiber wrapping and epoxy injections, as on the West Seattle Bridge.

Reconnect West Seattle

The West Seattle Bridge Agreement with the Port of Seattle includes commitments for SDOT to designate parking for drayage trucks. SDOT will restripe 22 parking spaces on 11th Ave SW on Harbor Island to accommodate larger vehicles and is drafting legislation to allow for the enforceable designation of truck tractor-only parking, that will be sent to the City Council.

SDOT notes nine more projects will be delivered after the High Bridge reopens:

  • SW Holden St & Highland Park Way SW permanent signal (the current one is temporary)
  • 4th Ave SW / Olsen Way SW / SW Roxbury St Vision Zero intersection improvements
  • Myers Way S / 1st Ave S / Olsen Pl SW curb ramps (traffic mitigation)
  • Chelan 5-way curb ramps (traffic mitigation)
  • 12th Ave SW and SW Holden signal / removal of flashing beacon at 11th Ave SW and neighborhood greenways wayfinding signage (Highland Park Home Zone)
  • Dallas Ave S / 14th Ave S half signal (2021 RWS project)
  • Corson/Bailey/Michigan St intersection improvements (Georgetown Home Zone)
  • West Marginal PBL (2021 RWS project)
  • Duwamish Permanent signal and sidewalk (RWS project)

SDOT notes upcoming construction for this week in West Seattle and South Park:

On Saturday, we’ll be replacing three traffic signs on SW Spokane St in the eastbound direction near 26th Ave SW. We anticipate this work to begin as early as 7 AM and conclude by 5 PM. We’ll need to reduce the two travel lanes to a single lane and there may be delays for people driving.  

On Sunday, from 7 AM to 5 PM we will be working in South Park on the Duwamish River Trail from S Trenton St to S Henderson St (east of WA 509) to repair root damage on the trail. The trail will be closed while we make these upgrades, however there will be an escort available for those that need to travel through the area. This work is part of the Reconnect West Seattle Home Zone in South Park

Delridge Farmers’ Market Opens May 14th at Hope Academy

The South Delridge Farmers’ Market launches its second season on May 14th – and this year it will open twice a month, with a larger group of vendors!  The Market started last summer, and puts fresh, local food produced by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color-owned businesses directly into the hands of neighbors.

 

With the goal of supporting the development of small businesses in mind, vendors are not charged a stall fee to participate and are provided with resources, equipment, and technical support as they build their capacity to sell at farmers markets.  The market is a project of nonprofit African Community Housing & Development.

Everyone is welcome to attend.  Robust food access programs are available, including SNAP/EBT, WIC/Senior FMNP checks, SNAP Market Match, and Fresh Bucks. Free bags of produce will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

 

Hiring the City’s Next Aging & Disability Services Division Director

Seattle Human Services is hiring a key position: The Aging & Disability Services Division Director is responsible for the overall direction and management of the Area Agency on Aging, which is charged with advocacy, strategic planning, and system development, and administering contracted and direct services for older adults and adults with disabilities who live in Seattle/King County.  Learn more and apply here.


Standing for Abortion Rights

On Tuesday, I joined my Council colleagues to approve a resolution that states Seattle City Council’s support for access to abortion and the full range of reproductive healthcare.  This is an issue which is deeply personal and impactful, and I believe that Council has a role to play in the crisis to come with the expected overturn of Roe v. Wade.  As a starting point, I have inquired with Public Health whether any City dollars currently support abortion providers, or whether funds support clinics that make referrals that facilitate comprehensive women’s health care, including all reproductive options.

If the Supreme Court issues a majority opinion consistent with the draft authored by Justice Alito, the shift in abortion rights will be among the most significant the Court has ever issued, depriving half the nation of a fundamental, constitutional right that has been held by millions of pregnant people for nearly 50 years.  Pregnant people of color will bear the brunt of further abortion restrictions with higher poverty rates and more difficulties traveling out of state for an abortion.

Here are some of my remarks:

As chair of the committee with oversight of public health and human services, my office added language to this resolution, including:

  • Lifting up Sister Song’s concept of reproductive justice, and acknowledging that there can be no choice without access to reproductive healthcare.
  • A series of recitals that acknowledge limitations to access even here in Washington, caused by almost 50% of our hospital beds being in religiously affiliated hospitals, which may refuse to provide the full range of healthcare that patients require.
  • An intention to consider action that would ensure patients are informed of the reproductive healthcare available to them at their healthcare facility
  • Support for the state Keep Our Care Act (SB5688/HB1809), which would prevent health system consolidations from moving forward if they negatively impact communities’ access to affordable quality care, including reproductive, end-of-life, and gender affirming care.

My office also consulted ACLU-WA, Pro Choice Washington, Northwest Abortion Access Fund, Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates, and Legal Voice, and developed an amendment based on their recommendations.  I felt it was essential that these advocates and experts, long on the frontline of reproductive justice, had the opportunity to review a resolution related to abortion rights at this critical moment.

My amendment, which was unanimously approved:

  • changed some gendered language;
  • added a recital about HB 1851, which the state legislature passed this year and preserves a pregnant individual’s ability to access abortion care; and
  • requested that any funds Council may choose to appropriate in the future would be allocated to “organizations that deliver programs and services in support of abortion care and access, such as the Northwest Abortion Access Fund and independent abortion clinics.”

I want to thank, in particular, Roxana Gomez and Leah Rutman from ACLU – WA, and Kia Guarino from Pro Choice Washington, for convening a group of healthcare providers and advocates at very short notice to offer their feedback.

Public Safety and Human Services Committee Update

On Tuesday the Public Safety and Human Services Committee that I chair met.

The first item considered was a presentation from the Mayor’s Office and SPD about ongoing work to determine whether 911 call types that the National Institute of Criminal Justice Reform (NICJR) identified, in a study commissioned by SPD, are suitable for non-sworn officer response. This was the first quarterly response to a Council request adopted along with the 2022 budget.

With more that 300 sworn officers having left SPD in the last two years, it’s important that current SPD officers be able to focus on work that only they can do.

Council started this effort when, in August 2020, Council requested that SPD undertake the NICJR 911 call response analysis, and in October 2020 the former Mayor issued an Executive Order to “identify areas of SPD response that can be transitioned to civilian and community-based response.”

Last year the National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform report, commissioned by SPD, identified 174 call types as candidates for alternative responses. At a briefing in July of last year, the Executive noted “up to 12% of calls for service can be responded to without SPD involvement in the near-term” (my emphasis added).

SPD agreed that 101 other call types could potentially be appropriate for an alternative response on a longer time horizon.  They are using a Risk Managed Demand analysis to go into additional detail about 911 calls beyond the earlier report, including how the call was resolved.

The high-level presentation at the PSHS committee notes the goals to classify calls at various levels from low to high impact/risk, and by severity, and likelihood of outcomes.

The Mayor’s Office has committed to a collaborative approach on this work, involving Council and external stakeholders to check SPD’s work and assumptions of risk associated with not sending an officer to certain types of 911 call.

The second item heard in PSHS committee this week was a resolution sponsored by Councilmember Nelson. As passed by the PSHS committee, the resolution is 1. an expression of support for SPD to develop a staffing incentives and recruitment support program, and 2. Council intent to consider an ordinance in the future to allow implementation of a staffing incentives program once it is developed and proposed.

Mayor Harrell has indicated his administration “continues to develop a comprehensive plan to restore police staffing.”  The resolution, in essence, says that the Council welcomes receiving and considering that proposal when it is ready.

I appreciate his statement that “We know that reaching national best practice staffing levels for SPD can’t be achieved solely with incentives. Progress requires a holistic effort rooted in our shared commitment to make this a place where officers feel welcome and supported – and where all neighbors feel safe.”

I voted in support, and the resolution passed with a 4-1 vote, and moves to the Full Council on May 24th.

I sponsored the third item before the committee, resulting from a request the Council made during the 2022 budget where the Council requested a report from the Executive on a citywide hiring incentive program, analyzing vacancy issues among front line workers, causing a service issue with the public, or inhibiting a department from fulfilling a core function.

The report indicates there are several positions that departments struggle to fill that are important to city business, including police officers, carpenters, truck drivers, civil engineers and 911 dispatchers.

Consequently, the bill requires the Department of Human Resources (SDHR) to amend its personnel rules to provide appointing authorities greater flexibility to pay for moving expenses for new hires; current personnel rules limit this flexibility to only new hires in the highest pay bands, such as department directors.  If we are recruiting new hires to move to Seattle, because of the same hiring difficulties experienced by jurisdictions all over the county, shouldn’t we pay for their moving costs?  Why would we offer that perk only to the highest paid managers and directors?

The second part of the bill modifies the proviso on spending for the Seattle Police Department to allow SPD to use their funds for this purpose.

Release of funding to pay for the relocation costs of recruits is only necessary for SPD.  It is not needed for other city departments, because other city departments are allowed to use existing funds from position vacancies once SDHR changes the rules allowing hiring authorities to pay the relocation expenses of recruits citywide.  Because of the proviso on SPD’s funds, that is not the case for SPD and to give SPD the ability to use the new relocation rule, we had to modify the proviso.

The proviso modification also allows SPD to fund a recruiter for SPD, a national ad campaign to market police officer positions to potential candidates, and a national search to hire a permanent Chief of Police.

Regarding the funding noted here, these are not new funds for SPD.  They are restricted funds, already in SPD’s budget to fund salaries necessary to support SPD’s hiring plan to hire 125 officers the Council funded in the 2022 budget, now modified to 98 hires.  Releasing this funding works to assist with that now reduced hiring plan, which makes sense, given the earlier Council action to fully fund the hiring plan.

This bill also passed 4-1 and moves to the Full Council for a May 24 vote.

Advocating for Federal Action for RV Residents and Others Experiencing Homelessness

On Monday, I met with Jeff Olivet, Director of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), to discuss unsheltered homelessness in Seattle and urge federal action.  The USICH is the only federal agency with a sole mission focused on preventing and ending homelessness in America.  USICH is in the process of developing a new Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness.  This meeting was an opportunity to continue advocating for programs and funds that help people experiencing homelessness here in Seattle to find safe housing.  We need our federal partners to step up.

I shared the importance of providing safe, dignified shelter that allows people to stay with their families, pets, and belongings, while waiting for housing to become available.  We can’t return to the unhealthy and unsafe days of large open spaces with dozens of mats on a floor.

I also advocated for more funds directed to affordable housing, rather than tenant-based housing vouchers.  With the high cost and competitive rental market in Seattle, people who receive federal housing vouchers have trouble locating apartments that will accept their voucher.  In Seattle a voucher, long considered the “golden ticket” to stable housing, no longer guarantees an end to homelessness.

Finally, I urged Director Olivet to advance solutions that will help RV residents leave homelessness behind in particular.  Many RV residents don’t consider themselves homeless and asking them to abandon their greatest asset – their home – is a hard sell when the alternative is a shelter.  We need USICH to provide leadership for this unique population – guidelines and best practices, as well as model programs and funding.  We can’t continue lumping this population in with car or encampment residents – they need unique solutions.  This guidance is particularly important as the King County Regional Homelessness Authority considers funding applications for implementations of a new RV Safe Lot program.

In addition, another shooting at Andover yesterday, near the RV encampment there and SDOT’s announcement yesterday that resuming full parking enforcement for any vehicle that has remained in one place unmoved for longer than 72 hours also creates additional urgency for receiving this guidance from USICH.  More from SDOT on their announcement yesterday:

Seattle Public Utilities continues to lead the RV Remediation program, which focuses on cleaning up and disposing of debris and waste around RVs to ensure public health and safety. Days prior to a scheduled remediation event, SPU and parking enforcement staff engage with people staying in RVs to make them aware of the upcoming clean-up activity. SDOT will continue to work with SPU to prioritize the locations of these clean-up efforts over time.

The first step of enforcement will continue to be leaving official warning notices on vehicles, giving the owner time to move them voluntarily and avoid enforcement action. If it appears that people may be living in one of the vehicles, they will receive information about assistance, support services, and resources.

Comment Letter to Police Monitor

During the last few months, the Community Police Commission has hosted the Police Monitor overseeing the Consent Decree presenting regarding Preliminary Assessments regarding crisis intervention, stops and detentions, and use of force. The Monitor has also been receiving public comments about the preliminary assessments, designed to inform the submittal he sends to the judge overseeing the Consent Decree.

I submitted a comment letter to the Monitor addressing these three areas, touching on subjects such as alternative mental health response, demographics for use of force in crisis intervention, and disparities in traffic stops and use of force.

Thank you to the Community Police Commission for their analysis, which helped inform my drafting of this letter.

Virtual Office Hours

On Friday, May 27, I will be hosting virtual office hours between 2pm and 6pm, with the last meeting of the day beginning at 5:30pm.

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

Here is a list of my tentatively scheduled office hours.  We are working towards in person office hours…hopefully soon! These are subject to change.

  • Friday, June 24, 2022
  • Friday, July 29, 2022
  • Friday, August 19, 2022
  • Friday, September 30, 2022
  • Friday, October 28, 2022
  • Friday, December 16, 2022
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West Seattle Bridge and Transportation Updates; Sound Transit West Seattle/Duwamish Community Advisory Group Meeting May 10, City Comments; Celebrating National Small Business Week; Funding Opportunity: Comparable Worth Wage Analysis for Human Services Workers; East Marginal Way Project; Pillars of Pride Honors LGBTQIA+ Elders; Virtual Office Hours

May 6th, 2022

West Seattle Bridge and Transportation Updates

The most recent update for the West Seattle Bridge is that concrete pours are expected next week and the following week.  Work is also taking place to replace the overhead traffic signs and the support structures on the West Seattle Bridge.

SDOT will share the reopening date approximately a month before reopening to traffic. Following construction completion, SDOT will test the bridge for strength and resiliency – this test is expected to last about two weeks.

SDOT released the quarterly update for Reconnect West Seattle projects. 56 of 70 projects have been completed. Here’s a guide to the report:

SDOT has released the Q1 2022 Levy to Move Seattle Report. The update highlights completion of two projects in District 1.

One of the Safe Routes to Schools projects completed is a new pedestrian railing on the underpass on South Cloverdale below SR99, to provide a buffer between the sidewalk and vehicle lane.

The seismic retrofit of the SW Andover Street pedestrian and bicycle bridge is completed.

The Move Seattle Levy Oversight Committee issued its 2021 report. In a letter to They noted, regarding thoughts on a future levy, the importance of bridge maintenance as a priority. I appreciate their early focus on this. The nine year Move Seattle Levy was passed by voters in 2015 and runs through 2024.

Here’s an update form SDOT about road construction in West Seattle and South Park this weekend:

Construction in West Seattle this weekend

Starting on Saturday from 7 AM to 4 PM, we’ll be working in South Park to replace the sidewalk on Dallas Ave S near 12th Ave S as part of our Reconnect West Seattle work. We will have a detour in place for people walking and biking as we complete the upgrade. This work will take multiple days to complete and there will be minimal impacts to people driving as we will be primarily working from the parking area. Please anticipate delays and navigate the area with caution.

On Sunday, we’ll be replacing two traffic signs on SW Spokane St in the westbound direction. We anticipate this work to begin as early as 7 AM and conclude by 5 PM. We’ll need to reduce the two travel lanes to a single lane and there may be delays for people driving

Please know this work is weather dependent. If there is a change in schedule, we’ll include an update in next week’s email.

Sound Transit West Seattle/Duwamish Community Advisory Group meeting May 10, City comments

The Sound Transit West Seattle/Duwamish Community Advisory Group will be meeting on May 10, from 5 to 7 p.m.

The topic of the meeting is listed as “Consolidating Feedback.” You can access information about the meeting on the “Advisory Groups” tab on Sound Transit’s West Seattle and Ballard light rail website.

Here’s where you can view the meeting live.

Executive City of Seattle departments submitted comments on the Draft EIS; here’s SDOT’s update about this. The principles guiding that review are dependable transit, equity, climate action, and vibrant communities, with the core values being racial equity, safety and user experience, community, environmental protection and stewardship. Community members prioritized these principles and values in a public survey.

A summary of the City’s comments on the Draft EIS is available on the City’s website for planning for the West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions.

A team of about 100 subject matter experts from 17 departments at the City of Seattle reviewed the Draft EIS and submitted around 1,500 comments to Sound Transit.

Celebrating National Small Business Week

I joined my Council colleagues and Mayor Harrell to support a proclamation celebrating National Small Business Week, May 1st through May 7th.  As a resident of District 1 for 22 years, I am grateful daily for the vibrancy that our local small businesses bring to our community!  To help celebrate, consider patronizing your favorite small business this weekend.  In addition, we know that some small businesses in our neighborhood business districts have been hard hit by crime.  All, the more reason to get out and support them.

And as long as we are singing the praises of small businesses, thank you to the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce for recognizing these winners:

Of course, the pandemic has hit small businesses hard, and we must continue our efforts to support them as we begin to re-emerge.  I’m proud that Seattle City Council approved funding for the Small Business Stabilization Fund early during the pandemic, which provided over $10 million in direct funding to nearly 1,500 small businesses who were impacted by the economic downturn of the pandemic throughout Seattle.  Many of our beloved small businesses in District 1 received the cash assistance.

The City’s Office of Economic Development provides robust support for small businesses in Seattle, including the Only In Seattle Initiative, which provides grant funding and staff support to foster inclusive neighborhood business districts that allow small businesses to thrive.  From business coaching, community festivals, and litter cleanup, to murals, outreach and real estate development, Seattle’s business districts have used Only in Seattle to tackle tough issues, attract new investment and care for their communities. Explore Business District Wins for highlights of the Initiative at work in Seattle’s business districts.

Funding Opportunity: Comparable Worth Wage Analysis for Human Services Workers

The Human Services Department is seeking proposals to conduct a comparable worth wage analysis of the local human services sector, using funds that I sponsored to address high turnover among frontline workers.

We’ve heard a lot about the difficulty our nonprofit organizations are having hiring and hanging onto front-line workers, while working in difficult pandemic conditions.  Human services workers, who are disproportionately BIPOC and women, especially among the frontline staff, are precariously underpaid for the difficult work they do.  Their wages do not reflect the education required, difficulty, or value of their work.  High turnover and positions left unfilled are the inevitable result.

The study will consider the core functions and requirements of human services jobs, including the level of authority and responsibility, required training, autonomy, environment, difficulty, working conditions, hours, and determine a value for those elements across sectors.

Applications are due May 24th, with work expected to begin in July.  Learn more and apply here.

East Marginal Way Project

The City Council recently voted to accept a federal grant that will allow SDOT to proceed with the northern portion of the East Marginal Way project. This segment goes from Spokane Street to Atlantic and is now fully funded.

The project includes constructing a 2-way protected bike lane along the 1.4-mile segment between S Atlantic St and S Spokane St to increase visibility and protect the approximately 1,000 people who ride bikes on this corridor each day. This is a major connection for people who bike between the West Seattle Bridge Trail, Downtown and SODO.

SDOT expects design to be completed this month, and construction to begin later this year.

Pillars of Pride Honors LGBTQIA+ Elders

Celebrate National Honor our LGBTQ Elders Day on May 15 with GenPride, as they prepare to open of Pride Place, a new LGBTQIA+ affirming senior affordable housing and community center on Capitol Hill, scheduled to open in 2023.

Pride Place is the first of its kind in the Pacific Northwest – it will include affordable housing, and a senior community and health services center.  It’s been a long time coming, following years of community advocacy and Council action to support it.  Funds raised through the Pillars of Pride event will support this project.

This generation of elders fought—and won—many of the rights we enjoy today. Their tremendous courage in the face of hatred, discrimination and violence has resulted in a stronger and more loving community.  Learn more, register to attend, and give here.

Virtual Office Hours

On Friday, May 27, I will be hosting virtual office hours between 2pm and 6pm, with the last meeting of the day beginning at 5:30pm.

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

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

  • Friday, June 24, 2022
  • Friday, July 29, 2022
  • Friday, August 19, 2022
  • Friday, September 30, 2022
  • Friday, October 28, 2022
  • Friday, December 16, 2022
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West Seattle Bridge Update; Sound Transit Draft EIS Comment Letter; Letter in Support of SAFE Banking Act; Seattle University 2021 Public Safety Survey, Community Dialogues; April 26 Public Safety and Human Services Committee; Expanding Crisis Behavioral Health Beds and Services; King County Moved to “Medium” Covid Alert Level; Denim Day; PayUp Public Hearing – May 5; May Day Junction-to-Junction Cleanup; Need Help with Your Utility Bills?

April 29th, 2022

West Seattle Bridge Update

The most recent update for the West Seattle Bridge is that the third pour of the specialized concrete is completed. This is the concrete needed to anchor and guide the post-tensioning steel cables that strengthen the concrete in the bridge structure and prevent cracking.

I’ll be sure to include an update when more information is available.

Here is an update from SDOT on construction this weekend:

We are working in several locations in West Seattle this weekend: 

  • On Saturday and Sunday, between 7 AM to 5 PM, we’re updating curb ramps at 16th Ave SW and SW Barton St in the Highland Park neighborhood. We will be working from the parking lanes, but people driving in the area can expect minor delays. 
  • Additionally on Saturday and Sunday, between 7 AM to 5 PM, we’ll be installing traffic signs on southbound SR 99 between S Atlantic S and S Spokane St.  During this work, we’ll need to reduce the two travel lanes to a single lane. People driving southbound on SR 99 may experience delays.   
  • On Sunday between 7 AM to 3:30 PM, we’ll be installing speed bump markings in West Seattle at 12th Avenue SW and SW Kenyon St. We expect minimal traffic impacts and people driving will be able to continue around the work zone in both directions. 

In the South Park neighborhood, the intersection of S Chicago St and 5th Ave S will be closed on Saturday and Sunday from 6 AM to 4 PM for upgrading the main water line under the street. This work is part of the South Park Drainage and Roadway Partnership, which is a project we are working together on with Seattle Public Utilities to improve chronic flooding and drainage issues in South Park.

The construction contractor will maintain access to private properties and 5th Ave S will be reopened during non-working hours. Parking will not be allowed along this section of 5th Ave S and S Chicago St to make room for construction crews and equipment.

Next week: Overnight U-turn closure from SW Spokane St to W Marginal Way

Near the Chelan 5-way intersection, we’re closing the U-turn to W Marginal Way overnight from 10 PM to 5 AM on Wednesday, May 4 and Thursday, May 5 for ongoing West Seattle Bridge maintenance work.

Sound Transit Draft EIS Comment Letter

Yesterday the 90-day public comment period ended for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Sound Transit’s West Seattle and Ballard light rail extensions.

As noted on Sound Transit’s website, the “Draft EIS informs the public, Tribes, agencies and decision makers about the alternatives and potential environmental consequences of building and operating the proposed light rail extensions in the city of Seattle.”

Sound Transit will review the comments, and respond to comments in the Final EIS. The Sound Transit Board will confirm or modify the preferred alternative in the next few months. The timetable below notes the Sound Transit System Expansion Committee will consider public comment in the May meeting, and act to confirm or modify the preferred alternative in June, followed by consideration by the Sound Transit Board.

Here’s the overall timeline for selecting a final alignment:

City executive departments have been conducting a technical review of the Draft EIS, and submitted comments. I submitted comments to the Sound Transit Board specific to West Seattle.

The City Council will hold a first briefing on a City resolution on a preferred alternative for the entire project, from West Seattle to Ballard, in the Transportation and Seattle Public Utilities Committee on May 19. The resolution will be advisory to the Sound Transit Board, with action taken at the Full Council in advance of the Sound Transit Board’s vote.

Letter in Support of SAFE Banking Act

Thirty-seven states, as well as the District of Columbia, have passed some form of recreational or medical cannabis legalization. Medical and recreational sales were estimated to total $25 billion in the United States last year.

However, cannabis businesses in Seattle and throughout the state face a unique difficulty: under federal law they are limited to cash transactions. This has led to an urgent and deadly public safety crisis: cash-only businesses are targets for crime, putting cannabis store employees in danger. In Washington State, at least 80 robberies have occurred so far in 2022, more than the number in 2020 and 2021 combined.

This federal approach is antiquated: it’s time for cannabis businesses to be able to access banking services and use non-cash transactions, for the safety of businesses and employees, and health of businesses.

The SAFE Banking Act is designed to address this and change federal law to allow cannabis businesses to use banking services and non-cash transactions, just like other businesses.

The U.S. House has passed the SAFE Banking Act six times, but the U.S. Senate has yet to act.

I worked with the City’s Office of Intergovernmental Relations to draft a City letter in support of Senate passage. I thank the Mayor and Councilmembers for signing this letter.

The House and Senate have both passed the America COMPETES Act. The House version includes the SAFE Banking Act; the Senate version does not. To reconcile the two versions, some members are meeting as a Conference Committee. The letter is addressed to the Senators on the Conference Committee. I appreciate the leadership of Senator Murray on this issue.

Seattle University 2021 Public Safety Survey, Community Dialogues

The Seattle University Micro-Community Policing Plan (MCPP) Research Team has released the annual 2021 Seattle Public Safety Survey.

In addition, the CMPP Research Team announced they will conduct 2022 virtual community-police dialogues, on Thursday evenings form 5:30 to 7:30, from May 19 through August 25. There will be three for each precinct. The dialogues will provide an overview of the 2021 survey and given community members and police personnel the opportunity to engage in precinct-specific dialogue.

The Micro-Community Policing Plans page has additional information, including links to previous Seattle University surveys dating to 2015.

You can register for the 2022 SPD MCPP Community-Police Dialogues here.

The top 5 public safety concerns in the survey (for both citywide and for the Southwest Precinct) were police capacity, property crime, homelessness, traffic safety, and public safety and community capacity.

The Southwest Precinct Micro-Community areas within District 1 are: Alaska Junction; Alki; Commercial Duwamish; Commercial Harbor Island; Fauntleroy; High Point; Highland Park; Morgan Junction; North Admiral; North Delridge; Pigeon Point; South Delridge; South Park, and Westwood/Roxhill/Arbor Heights.

April 26 Public Safety and Human Services Committee

The Public Safety and Human Services Committee met on April 26th.  As noted below, the committee considered the PayUp legislation, and heard a report on gender-based violence.

The committee heard an appointment to the Community Police Commission; the vote will take place at Full Council.

City Attorney Davison, who took office at the start of 2022, and Criminal Division Chief Walton-Anderson presented on the backlog of criminal cases and the approach her office is taking. Under the City Charter, the City Attorney has authority over criminal prosecutions in the City.

Below is a slide on the backlog, which increased significantly after the arrival of the COVID pandemic in early 2020 to around 5,000.

After the arrival of COVID, Seattle Municipal Court and King County District Court reduced operations, and the King County Jail reduced capacity.

I sent a series of questions to the City Attorney’s Office about the case backlog approach.

The committee also heard a presentation on SPD officer staffing. During the last quarter the number of fully trainer officers went down, though the number of officers in service was up slightly.

There was a discussion on proposals for bonuses. Councilmember Nelson has proposed a resolution to state policy intent; I am proposing a Council Bill that authorizes spending up to $650,000 for moving expenses for new officer hires and for SPD to hire an additional recruiter. The Seattle Department of Human Resources noted SPD has only one recruiter position.

Here’s the Central Staff memo.

Finally, the committee heard a follow-up presentation from Central Staff outlining the potential amendments to CB 120294 (PayUp). You can see the Central Staff memo here.

Expanding Crisis Behavioral Health Beds and Services

I testified in support of a new facility for people in behavioral health crisis at the King County Council’s Budget and Fiscal Management Committee on Wednesday morning. The location will include enhanced shelter, supportive service, and crisis behavioral health services for people who currently sleep outside. Here are my remarks:

As a district representative, I hear regularly from constituents who see neighbors and loved ones pushed to the edge by the shadow pandemic – the two years of fear, grief, isolation, and economic instability that are impacting us all. In response, Seattle City Council increased funding for behavioral health service access by $1M; we expanded mobile crisis teams by $2.5M; and we provided $5M to the County for this new behavioral health facility.  

But as a City Councilmember, I keenly appreciate the County’s leadership in addressing behavioral health. I sponsored a Resolution that acknowledges the shared role that all levels of government have in creating and maintaining a strong behavioral health system; and the recognition that King County is also making new investments in this area.    

As the committee chair with oversight of human services and public health, I will continue to partner with the County to champion expansion of these services.  I thank you for your leadership in these much-needed and life-saving investments.

I’m pleased the legislation passed the committee without amendments, and several County Councilmembers spoke in favor. The full County Council will consider the legislation on May 3rd.

King County Moved to “Medium” Covid Alert Level

On Monday, Public Health of Seattle-King County announced that levels of COVID-19 are increasing in our community and have crossed the threshold into the federal Centers for Disease Control’s “Medium” level, akin to a yellow traffic light. Cases are trending up among all ages, but the most cases are occurring in young adults aged 18-29. Dr. Duchin, King County’s Health Officer, says:

Because hospitalizations and deaths remain low, Public Health is not putting any mandates into place at this time. But COVID-19 risk is clearly increasing for individuals and for our community. Public Health recommends we use this information to lower our own risk and those around us by increasing our protection.

To limit spread of COVID-19, they recommend layered prevention measures:

Denim Day

I was proud to present a proclamation declaring April 27th as Seattle Denim Day to members of the Seattle Women’s Commission at Tuesday’s Council meeting. Denim Day was founded to call attention to misconceptions about rape and sexual assault.  It was created after the Italian Supreme Court overturned a rape conviction. The justices decided that since the victim was wearing tight jeans, she must have helped her rapist remove her jeans, thereby implying consent.

Denim Day coincided with the Legislative Department’s first official day back in the office (although I missed the official photo while attending an Alliance for Gun Responsibility event, unfortunately!). I’m happy to say that many of us wore jeans in solidarity, and to educate others that there is never an invitation to rape.

I especially appreciate the Seattle Women’s Commission for bringing forward this proclamation every year. This year, Commissioners Tana Yasu, Sarah Liu, and Ophelia Parker accepted the proclamation and shared their reflections. And I want to thank my Council colleagues and staff, advocates, providers, the Human Services Department, and everyone who has worked so hard to ensure survivor and prevention services are well funded by the City of Seattle.

On Tuesday morning, my Public Safety & Human Services committee heard a presentation from the Human Services Department about their investments in gender-based violence. It’s important to recognize the $12 million the City provides annually for batterer intervention, legal assistance, mobile advocacy, flexible client assistance, outreach, education, prevention, shelter and transitional housing.  But it’s not enough and we must do more.


PayUp Public Hearing – May 5

My committee will be holding a public hearing on CB 120294, also known as PayUp. This legislation has been heard in committee a number of times, most recently on April 12 (here is the Central Staff presentation and memo) and April 26 (here’s Central Staff’s memo for possible changes to the legislation).

There is significant public interest in this policy and therefore we’ve scheduled a special meeting to hold a Public Hearing on Thursday, May 5 beginning at 2 p.m.

To testify, please sign-up to receive my committee agendas here and when the agenda is published there will be a link to sign-up to testify.

For additional information about PayUp, please visit our website which goes into detail about the background of the issues, what the proposal is, our stakeholder engagement, and links to current media coverage.

May Day Junction-to-Junction Cleanup

Join your neighbors this Sunday, May 1 between 10am and 1pm in a Junction-to-Junction clean-up on California Avenue.

Additional information and how to sign-up here. There are three meeting locations:

  • Admiral Junction 3000 California Ave SW
  • Alaska Junction SW Alaska St &, California Ave SW
  • Morgan Junction Park 6413 California Ave SW

If you want to participate, but are unable to join this weekend, the city if hosting a Day of Service on May 21st, click here for more information.

Need Help with Your Utility Bills?

Seattle City Light (electricity) and Seattle Public Utilities (water/sewer/garbage) understand that the COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult for some of their customers to afford utility services. They offer short- and long-term payment plans and bill assistance programs to help you get caught up and stay current on your utility bills.

Learn more online at seattle.gov/UtilityBillHelp or by calling (206) 684-3000 (interpretation services available).

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West Seattle Bridge Update April 22; Reminder: April 28 Deadline for Sound Transit Draft EIS Comments; SPD Use of Force Data; Get Involved – Planning for the Next 6 Years of Seattle Parks Investments; Approving the King County Regional Homelessness Authority’s (KCRHA) Proposed 2023 Budget; Resources to Cope With Stress; South Park Neighborhood Center Landmark Designation; SFD Protection Class 1 Rating; Virtual Office Hours

April 22nd, 2022

West Seattle Bridge Update April 22

West Seattle Bridge Repair

The West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force met on Thursday, April 21st. There were two updates regarding the specialized concrete needed to anchor and guide the post-tensioned steel cables.

First, there was a second pour of this concrete earlier this week. Secondly, the next pour is scheduled for next week. There are six sections of the bridge that need concrete poured, so next week’s pour will complete three of the needed six pours.

The image below shows how concrete is pumped to the interior of the bridge, passing through small holes in the bridge deck.

The concrete must cure for 28 days, to ensure it has the strength to withstand millions of pounds of pressure.

Here is the update SDOT provided regarding schedule:

Availability from the three concrete providers with approved designs for the specialized concrete is key. Concrete plants are not yet operating at full strength, and there is significant competition from both other public and private projects. Both the contractor and SDOT are actively seeking to attain the concrete needed as soon as possible.

SDOT noted that they will share the reopening date approximately a month before reopening to traffic. The slide notes that following construction completion, SDOT will test the bridge for strength and resiliency – this test is expected to last about two weeks.

Other tasks needed for reopening the bridge include restoring lighting; replacing overhead signs; replacing 60+ concrete panels on the west side end of the bridge; and installing a concrete overlay on the Fauntleroy Expressway.

Spokane Street (Low) Bridge repair work

Work is proceeding on the repair of the Spokane Street (low) bridge as well. Work platforms will be used for epoxy injections and carbon-fiber wrapping, similar to the West Seattle Bridge.

Reconnect West Seattle

Here is the status of the 2022 Reconnect West Seattle projects:

An update on upcoming projects is below; there are some projects awaiting regular concrete:

SDOT staff noted citywide traffic is around 10-15% below 2019 levels, before the closure of the bridge and arrival of the COVID pandemic. Traffic volumes in March were 20% below 2019 levels, compared to 31% in 2021, and 38% in 2020, when the pandemic was arriving in Seattle. They noted that on some Saturday’s traffic has been higher than pre-pandemic levels.

 

Reminder: April 28 Deadline for Sound Transit Draft EIS Comments

Thursday, April 28 is the deadline to comment on the Sound Transit Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the West Seattle and Ballard light rail project. To comment you can click on the “Comment now” button at the top of the West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions webpage.

After the end of the public comment period, the Sound Transit Board will decide which options will be studied in the Final EIS that will be published in 2023. Mayor Harrell and Council President Juarez represent Seattle on the Board.

The City Council Transportation and Seattle Public Utilities Committee heard a briefing from City Executive staff about the Draft EIS, and a related briefing from Sound Transit Staff.

City departments will be providing a comment letter to Sound Transit on the Draft EIS, and the City Executive staff presentation includes information about this. It analyzes questions such as compliance with City Codes, and whether the Draft EIS adequately identifies and mitigates impacts, meaningfully compares alternatives, analyzes impacts to BIPOC communities and proposes mitigation to further the joint Sound Transit/City Racial Equity Toolkit outcomes.

The presentation notes the Executive will transmit a resolution expressing the City’s preferences for Sound Transit’s Preferred Alternative for the Ballard West Seattle project for consideration by the City Council in May/June.

During the discussion, I noted the need for additional analysis to ensure good connections with bus service, and potential displacement in Delridge, especially regarding BIPOC communities and small businesses that were impacted by construction of the H Line.

The staff presentation noted that the City discourages scope reductions that don’t bring commensurate benefit to the system and riders. I thanked the Executive staff for this position, one I hear frequently from West Seattle residents.

There was a second presentation from Sound Transit, on a process approved by the ST Board in 2021 for a “realignment plan,” to address the funding gap that Sound Transit staff estimates at $1.8 billion, due to a rise in real estate and construction costs. While this process is separate from the Draft EIS, it could intersect, depending on the direction the Board chooses to take.

The Board identified two potential approaches to address the identified funding gap.

The first is to delay the Smith Cove to Ballard portion of the project by two years, from 2037 to 2039. This would have an impact to West Seattle riders; currently the West Seattle portion is scheduled to open in 2032, with transfers at SODO needed for the first five years until the Ballard line opens. However, if the Ballard portion is delayed, transfers would be necessary for an additional two years.

The second approach is to consider cuts to the project to reduce costs. There are two potential West Seattle reductions. First, for the elevated alternative to Fauntleroy, shifting the station location at Fauntleroy and Alaska to the east, so that it wouldn’t impact hundreds of residences. This option would result in an elevated line on Fauntleroy Boulevard and is not compatible with the Junction tunnel.

The second option is to eliminate the Avalon station.

I noted that I’d heard a variety of perspectives in West Seattle about the Avalon station. Some emphasize the development on and around Avalon and think it’s important to keep this station, whereas others are OK with removing it, but only if it results in some benefit to the West Seattle community, such as a longer tunnel.

I further noted that a key point of the Racial Equity Toolkit is the importance of ensuring access from lower-income BIPOC communities to the south. While a number of those communities would access the line via Delridge, the High Point community (and others) would be most likely to access the line via the Avalon station at or by 35th Avenue SW. So, eliminating this station would require a clear plan for providing timely access from High Point and adjacent communities on that corridor.

The Avalon station is estimated to have 1,200 daily riders, a relatively low number. Sound Transit’s analysis said ridership would not change without this station; I asked why, and they noted most riders would access the Junction station, as it is relatively close by, and the stations have relatively similar “walksheds.”

I also reiterated a broader point made in a letter to Sound Transit during the scoping process a few years ago:

“An elevated alignment through the heart of the West Seattle Junction Urban Village, and through a built neighborhood in the Youngstown area of North Delridge, would be unique to this line and unprecedented for light rail in Seattle.”

Here’s a link to the 14 pages in the Draft EIS Executive Summary that cover West Seattle.

 

SPD Use of Force Data

Last week, the Police Monitor and the Community Police Commission held a community outreach meeting on the use of force by Seattle police officers. The Monitor released a preliminary assessment on the use of force in advance of the meeting.   There is one preliminary assessment dedicated to each consent decree assessment area of Crisis Intervention, Stops and Detentions, and Use of Force.  These are referred to as “preliminary assessments” because the Monitor wants to share with the public and get feedback prior to the monitoring team making recommendations in the future as to whether SPD has reach “full and effective compliance” with the Decree.

The Monitor’s preliminary assessment, which examined use of force data from 2019 through 2021, showed that use of force is down overall.   SPD’s use of force declined 33% between 2015 and 2019 and almost 50% between 2015 and 2021.  However, it also stated that “SPD officers did not report subject race for 32% of use of force subjects between 2019 and 2021. This is concerning and complicates SPD’s capacity to conduct comprehensive analyses of uses of force across demographic groups.”

I wrote to Chief Diaz expressing my concern about this finding in the Monitor’s Preliminary Assessment

Last Friday the Chief’s office replied (and posted on the SPD blotter) that this is not an issue created because officers are declining to include the required demographic information, but rather an issue that resulted from a “mapping error” between the source system for force reporting (IAPro) and the Data Analytics Platform, which powers the public data source, which resulted in certain subject demographic data not loading properly into DAP and thus reporting as “non specified” in the public data set.

In other words, SPD is responding that the source system data is accurate and complete, but the extract, transfer and load failed on the specific data field that captures race.

The department has alerted both the Monitoring Team and US Department of Justice about this issue and has provided the Monitor with direct access to the source system (IAPro) to verify the resolution.  They report that they expect the data gaps in the preliminary assessment to be resolved before the report is finalized.

SPD noted “The inherent risk of this type of error will be virtually eliminated once we complete the integration of use of force reporting into Mark43 (thus unifying the two records management systems) later this year.”  The integration of force reporting into Mark43 is the $1 million project that was funded by the Council last fall in the 2022 budget

SPD noted the number of “unknowns” will be significantly reduced when the mapping error is fixed.

I have followed up to ask for further clarification on the time period involved in the mapping error; a review of use of force reports from previous years showed significantly lower levels listed as “unknown” in previous years for race; for example 12% in 2014 and 2015.  The Monitor reports: “The use of “unknown” as a racial category has increased substantially and steadily almost every year since 2015 until a decrease in 2021. As the “unknown” category began to increase in 2015, the portion of uses of force with Black or other minority subjects decreased, until an increase in 2021 as “unknown” subjects decreased…. The percentage of uses of force on a subject of unknown race more than doubled from 12% in 2014 and 2015 to 28% in 2021.” 

It is unclear if the data mapping issue, once resolved, will reduce the “unknowns” reported over several years, or only for 2020.  Accepting that there will always be anomalies, I am interested to know what occurs when individual Use of Force forms are reviewed and found to be incomplete, how SPD insures complete data is reported, what supervisors do when it is not, and how the department seeks to correct omissions as they are identified.

Here’s a link to SPD’s public SPD Use of Force Data page.

 

Get Involved – Planning for the Next 6 Years of Seattle Parks Investments

Seattle Parks & Recreation is planning for the next 6 years of investments, and your voice is needed.  In 2014, voters in the City of Seattle approved Proposition 1, which created the Seattle Park District. Property taxes collected by the Seattle Park District provide funding for City parks and recreation including maintaining parklands and facilities, operating community centers and recreation programs, and developing new neighborhood parks on previously acquired sites.

Get Involved:  Three proposed funding packages are available for public review and input:

  • Enhancing Access and Services: proposal here, survey here
  • Restoring Clean, Safe & Welcoming Parks and Facilities: proposal here, survey here
  • Investing for the Future: proposal here, survey here

Surveys are open until May 12th.  A public hearing on the Board of Parks and Recreation Commission’s (BPRC) funding recommendation will be held on Thursday, May 12 at 6:30 pm. More information will be available closer to the date at: https://www.seattle.gov/board-of-parks-and-recreation-commissioners

District 1: My Council colleagues and I will review and weigh in on the BPRC’s funding recommendations this summer and fall.  The draft calendar for our work is below.  My priorities will include ensuring that the three District 1 landbanked sites (48th & Charlestown Park Development, Morgan Junction Park Addition, and West Seattle Junction Park Addition), where work was suspended due to the pandemic, are prioritized for completion in the new cycle.

Proposed Schedule for Council deliberations:

You can read more about the Seattle Park District here, and the six-year plan here.

Approving the King County Regional Homelessness Authority’s (KCRHA) Proposed 2023 Budget

At yesterday’s meeting of the KCRHA Governing Committee, I called for a special May meeting to discuss and vote on the proposed 2023 budget.  My fellow Governing Committee members approved my request, and I appreciate that the Authority has already reached out to schedule the meeting.

I wrote last month about the importance of a public review and discussion of the proposed budget before it is submitted to the City and County on June 1st.  Governing Committee approval is required by the City and County’s Interlocal Agreement establishing the KCRHA; and I truly believe it’s in the best interest of the KCRHA as well.

Governing Committee members who understand and approve the details of what the Authority is requesting will be better advocates in championing those investments before our own bodies – such as the Council’s fall budget process.

In its startup year, the Authority is also working on a required 5-year plan, which will include proposed budgets through 2028.  This plan will build on the National Innovation Service (NIS) report and Regional Action Framework, and help set the Authority’s medium-term vision for helping people leave homelessness behind in our community.  I look forward to reviewing the 5-year plan at the September meeting.


Resources to Cope With Stress

If you or someone you know is feeling overwhelmed with stress, sadness, worry or grief, remember it’s okay to ask for help. Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger. Check out King County’s Community Mental Health Resource Guide to learn about what’s available, get emotional support 24/7, or connect to a counselor.

 

South Park Neighborhood Center Landmark Designation

As I wrote about a few weeks ago, the South Park Neighborhood Center – also known as the former Fire Station 26 – was nominated as a city landmark. The Landmarks Preservation Board met on April 6 where they voted to declare the building as a landmark. You can see the nomination packet here. You can find all the Board’s agenda and minutes here when they are uploaded.

 

SFD Protection Class 1 Rating

It was announced late last week that the Seattle Fire Department (SFD) will become the first department in Washington to receive a Protection Class 1 rating from the Washington Surveying and Rating Bureau (WSRB). This rating puts SFD in the top 1% of fire districts in the nation and confirms what we’ve known for years – the SFD is among the most effective fire departments in the nation. Now, their amazing work will extend even further, saving Seattleites and our small businesses money that can go back into our community.

That the Seattle Fire Department has been able to accomplish this feat while simultaneously serving the City of Seattle during a pandemic, with their traditional firefighting live saving responsibilities, their expansion of Health One, and also standing up testing and vaccine services for our communities is truly awe-inspiring.

The Washington Surveying and Rating Bureau ratings are across criteria including water supply, fire department, emergency communications and fire safety control, so thanks are also extended to Finance and Administrative Services for fleet management and to Seattle Public Utilities for their fire hydrants management.

Beginning in July property owners can contact their insurance companies to see if their premium will upon renewal. Congratulations to Chief Scoggins, Local 27, and the entire department on this impressive achievement.

 

Virtual Office Hours

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

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

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

  • Friday, May 27, 2022
  • Friday, June 24, 2022
  • Friday, July 29, 2022
  • Friday, August 19, 2022
  • Friday, September 30, 2022
  • Friday, October 28, 2022
  • Friday, December 16, 2022
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West Seattle Bridge Update; Economic Forecast Improves; Apply for Market Vouchers; Citywide Hiring Analysis; PayUp Heard in Committee; OPA Annual Report; Youth/Young Adult Behavioral Health Services Funding; Welcoming a Delegation from Nantes, France; Landmark Preservation Board to Consider Alki Elementary

April 15th, 2022

West Seattle Bridge Update April 15

SDOT reports that the first delivery of the specialized concrete needed for the West Seattle Bridge repair will arrive this weekend! This is the concrete that will anchor and guide the post-tensioning steel cables to prevent cracking of the concrete in the bridge. SDOT estimates that 35 cubic yards of this concrete will arrive this weekend; 245 cubic yards is needed.

SDOT says they will not establish the schedule for completing repairs until all the concrete is successfully scheduled, delivered, and poured. With the return to work of the mixer drivers, there are now a total of three companies with pre-approved design mixes for the specialized concrete with whom contractors needing this specialized concrete (KNA) can work.

The interior carbon-fiber wrapping and epoxy injections have been completed in the central span of the bridge, as has core drilling through the bridge pier structures for post-tensioning:

On April 21st the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force will meet at 2 p.m.

Traffic volumes remain high on alternate routes, especially West Marginal Way and Highland Park Way; SDOT has completed West Marginal Way and Highland Park Way intersection improvements with four CCTV cameras, including new fiber, to provide reliable communications. The cameras allow for real-time monitoring of intersection conditions and signal adjustments.

For Home Zone projects, SDOT has six projects to complete in South Park in the first half of 2022; three of them are conveyance swale with planting and wheel stope projects – one is in construction now; and two are in the queue for construction within the next few weeks.

For Highland Park, SDOT has eight projects to complete in the first half of 2022; three are conveyance swale with planting and wheel stope projects; three are in the queue for concrete.

SDOT will be installing a flashing crosswalk beacon on 45th Avenue SW and SW Admiral Way this weekend.

In a separate project, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) will be closing the South Spokane Street/West Seattle Bridge on-ramp to SR 99 for two weeks starting on April 18th. This work is necessary to repair a portion of the onramp where there is a hole on the bridge deck. The hole is currently covered by a patch and a steel plate, which makes it safe for driving. The map from WSDOT below shows the location of the work. Additional information (and visuals of the hole) are on WSDOT’s website. WSDOT has updates on closure and reopening dates here: https://twitter.com/wsdot_traffic.


City of Seattle Economic Forecast Modestly Improved

Last Friday, the new Office of Economic and Revenue Forecasts delivered its updated April revenue forecast for the City, the first since the independent office was created last year by Seattle City Council.  The headline: The City’s revenue is faring somewhat better than expected, while global volatility and inflation are introducing challenges.  You can view the full presentation here.

The newest forecast shows an increase in projected revenue: roughly a $32.5 million increase for the City’s General Fund resources, and an increase of $57.3 million to Non-General Fund resources. JumpStart, the payroll expense tax Council approved in 2020, is performing particularly well.  JumpStart is now expected to bring in $277M this year, an almost $44M improvement over the last fall’s projection.  The spending plan for the JumpStart funds includes:  increased affordable housing, small business support, green new deal, and Equitable Development Initiative investments.

Forecast Council members agreed with Director Noble’s recommendation that the Baseline forecast continue to serve as the basis for the City’s forward-looking revenue estimates.  That means that as the Executive departments, under Mayor Harrell’s leadership, build their proposed 2023 budget, they will use the Baseline forecast as a starting point.

I’ll join my colleagues to discuss this new economic forecast, along with additional revenue estimates from the Central Budget Office, at the Finance & Housing Committee on April 20th at 9:30 a.m. The committee can be watched live on the Seattle Channel.

Though there are budget challenges ahead, those challenges are likely to be greatly reduced by the revenue that JumpStart is providing to the City budget.  Today we heard the City of Seattle defend the tax in the Court of Appeals against the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce.  King County Superior Court Judge Mary Roberts dismissed the challenge last June.  Despite that the Jumpstart revenue was critical in offsetting lost revenue during the pandemic – avoiding lay offs and cuts – and that it will enable the City double investment in affordable housing, as well as support small businesses and support communities, the Chamber appealed that decision.   You can watch the arguments here.

Seniors: Apply Now for Farmers’ Market Vouchers

Older, low-income residents can now apply for one-time $40 “checks” (vouchers) that can be exchanged for fresh produce at farmers markets throughout King County. To apply, all of the following must be true:

  • Age 60+ (or age 55+ if you are American Indian/Alaska Native) by June 30
  • Low income—no more than:
    • $2,096 monthly ($25,142 annual) income for one person
    • $2,823 monthly ($33,874 annual) income for two people
  • For larger households, add $728 for each additional person
  • King County, Washington resident

Download application forms in 11 languages at www.agingkingcounty.org/SFMNP/. Or, use a new online application that saves time and doesn’t require a postage stamp. Applications must be submitted (postmarked, if mailed) on or before April 29, 2022.

For information about SFMNP, other food programs, and other local services for older people, adults with disabilities, caregivers, and family members, call Community Living Connections at (toll-free) 1-844-348-5464.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

On Tuesday, I was honored to present a proclamation declaring April Sexual Assault Awareness Month to representatives of Coalition Ending Gender-Based Violence and Sexual Violence Law Center.  Sexual violence includes a continuum of behavior and includes racist, sexist, transphobic, homophobic, ableist or other hate speech. Harassing comments and behaviors that take place online can and do traumatize victims, and their impacts should not be minimized.

The proclamation notes that, working together as a community, we can alleviate the trauma of sexual violence by ensuring supportive resources are available to all survivors, while standing up to and actively disrupting harmful attitudes and behaviors that contribute to sexual violence.

I am grateful to King County Sexual Assault Resource Center, Coalition Ending Gender-Based Violence, Sexual Violence Law Center, and the many organizations and individuals who work every day to bring justice and support to survivors.  If you or someone you love needs help, click here or call 888.998.6423 (English) or 425.282.0324 (Spanish).  Request assistance in another language here

Water Taxi Summer Schedule Begins April 21 with Weekend Service until 11 p.m.

The West Seattle Water Taxi will begin its summer sailing schedule on April 21. This will include departures on Fridays and Saturdays through 11 p.m. You can view the sailing schedule here.

The summer schedule will run through October 14th.

More information is available at the King County Captain’s Blog website.


Public Safety and Human Services Committee Updates

The Public Safety and Human Services Committee met earlier this week.  We heard items related to public safety, hiring, Seattle Municipal Court, and the PayUp proposal I am co-sponsoring.

Interim Chief Diaz presented an overview of SPD’s participation in 5 separate federal law enforcement task forces. The work on these task forces involves, for example, a focus on reducing gun violence; as Diaz noted, 24 ghost guns have been recovered as of April 12th, compared to 3 during the same time last year. 150 firearms were seized by the FBI Safe Streets Task Force during 2021. Another task force seized 100 firearms.

Here’s the report and the presentation.

The Seattle Department of Human Resources (SDHR) presented their response to the Council’s request for a Citywide Hiring analysis.  One finding from their report is that under the City’s personnel rules, the relocation expenses of new employees moving to Seattle – from other places – to work for the City can only be funded for employees in higher salary bands.  In addition to SPD, there are other City departments with vacancies, who are doing nationwide searches, in a very competitive job market, to fill those vacancies.  Why would we only pay the moving expenses of very high earning employees moving to Seattle to serve the public?  This is an equity issue that I believe needs to be addressed not only for SPD but other departments who are recruiting nationwide to fill vacancies. In addition, SDHR noted that the Seattle Police Department has only one recruiter working to help encourage people to apply to work for SPD.

The Seattle Municipal Court (SMC), and Presiding Judge Willie Gregory, presented an update on the evolution of their probation program. The SMC handles all misdemeanor crimes and civil infractions in the city, and they process thousands of criminal cases and hundreds of thousands of vehicle infractions every year. Probation is post-trial case management with supportive services to individuals with court-ordered obligations to address underlying challenges, such as drug addiction, mental illness, and homelessness. In 2020, the Vera Institute of Justice released a report on the SMC’s Probation Services.  I wrote previously about this report here. The SMC continues to make progress on implementing the recommendations, and notably, effective on March 21, 2022, the SMC eliminated the use of the risk assessment tools. The intended purpose of risk assessment tools is to minimize human bias.   However, studies show that they, instead, perpetuate bias towards people of color, a form of institutional racism. I am happy to see the court move away from this approach.

Finally, the PSHS committee had our first discussion of the bill in the PayUp policy package which addresses minimum payment, transparency, and flexibility.  I wrote about the bill introduction last week.  Central Staff gave a presentation on the history of the stakeholder process, and the changes to the bill since a draft was last heard in committee on February 8. We will discuss the bill again on April 26, and May 10 where we hope to pass final amendments before sending to Full Council. If you haven’t already, checkout the PayUp website including background on the issue, our extensive stakeholder process, and includes links to media articles, as well as a FAQ.

Office of Police Accountability Annual Report

The Office of Police Accountability (OPA) released their 2021 Annual Report. OPA investigates allegations of misconduct.

During 2021, OPA received 2,866 contacts, and investigated 52% of complaints, and opened 558 cases. 26% of allegations in investigations were sustained, meaning the investigation found that a violation of policy had occurred.

OPA issued findings for 1,208 allegations in 312 investigations (more than one allegation can be included); the 26% of investigations that included one or more sustained finding is an 8% increase from 2020:

The three most common complaints were regarding professionalism; bias-free policing, and investigations and reports:

Management Action Recommendations

A little-known function of the OPA, in addition to recommending discipline for individual officers, is the Management Action Recommendations (MARs) they make, principally to SPD. OPA issues MARs when they identify issues “with SPD policies or practices that have implications beyond the case at hand,” and send a recommendation to the Chief of Police identifying specific issues and recommending changes.  The appendix at the end of the report lists the recommendations, SPD actions, and status.

MARs from 2018 to 2022 are listed on the OPA Policy Recommendations website.  MARs are listed by year, date, topic, and status, including responses from SPD. OPA identifies the status as Active, In Progress, Fully Implemented, Partially Implemented, or Declined Action.

2022 MARS issued include policies changes regarding topics such as Subjects with Knives, Bicycles as Impact Weapons, and Vehicle Pursuits.

I thank SPD for their work implementing OPA’s management recommendations.  Management action recommendations were made in 22 policy areas and nine are fully or partially implemented and ten are in progress.  This is how SPD, working with OPA, is proactive in preventing future misconduct.

I am concerned that the racial disproportionality in OPA cases has continued to increase over previous years.  23% and 22% of cases in 2019 and 2020 respectively originated with Black/African American complainants, increasing to 27% in 2021.  Only 7% of Seattle’s population is made up of Black/African American residents.

Closed Case Summaries are posted when OPA investigations are completed.

OPA offers Case and Policy Updates approximately once a month by e-mail, “highlighting cases of significant officer interest, cases that contain information that may inform officers’ day-to-day work, and pertinent policy recommendations.” You can subscribe on the webpage and view previous updates.

Funds Available for Youth/Young Adult Behavioral Health Services

The Seattle Human Services Department (HSD) is now seeking applications from organizations to provide behavioral health support to young people. Eligible services through this Request for Proposals (RFP) include non-residential behavioral health support through clinical treatment and/or non-clinical, culturally specific approaches. Organizations must have documented experience:

  • engaging Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) youth and/or Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer or Questioning (LGBTQ+) youth of color;
  • providing culturally appropriate behavioral health services; and
  • engaging with Seattle’s young people between 8 and 24 years old.

This RFP is investing $938,841 for the period of January 1 to December 31, 2023.  Learn more and find application materials here.

Nantes Park Welcome

My office participated in welcoming a delegation from Nantes, France, on their long-delayed visit to celebrate the 40th anniversary of our Sister City relationship.  First on their agenda was a beautiful water taxi trip to West Seattle to celebrate a new art installation and improvements at Nantes Park in Admiral.  This effort benefitted from more than 500 volunteer hours from Seattle-Nantes Sister City Association, Admiral Neighborhood Association, West Seattle Garden Tour, and others – thank you!

As Seattle’s Nantes liaison throughout the pandemic, I’ve enjoyed virtual exchanges with Deputy Mayor Pierre-Emmanuel Marais, who shared greetings and appreciation for the Nantes Park welcome.  My legislative aide Christena Coutsoubos welcomed the group to District 1, and thanked everyone involved in the Nantes Park beautification project, including the City of Nantes, Seattle Parks & Recreation, and Seattle Department of Neighborhoods.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Art installations designed by Claude Ponti, beloved and prolific French children’s author and illustrator.

Landmarks Preservation Board Considers Nomination of Alki Elementary School

The Landmarks Preservation Board will consider the nomination of Alki Elementary School at 3010 59th Avenue SW / 5817 SW Stevens Street on Wednesday, April 20, 2022 at 3:30 p.m.

Here is a link to the meeting agenda. The agenda includes three links for this nomination: the staff report; the nomination application; and the nomination presentation.

The meeting will be held virtually. The agenda includes links to attend the meeting and to provide public comment.

You can also send written comments to erin.doherty@seattle.gov and/or sarah.sodt@seattle.gov. They encourage written comments in advance of the meeting in order for board members to have time to review.

A landmark nomination provides a physical description of the building, object, or site, and information on its history, current and historic photos, site plans, maps, drawings, and more.

To be designated as a landmark, an object or site must be more than 25 years old and meet one of the six categories listed in SMC 25.12.350.

The staff report states, “Staff does not recommend nomination of Alki Elementary School at 3010 59th Avenue SW /5817 SW Stevens Street as it does not appear to meet any of the designation standards”, and provided additional explanation.

If you support nomination, convincing the Board members that this nomination meets one of the six categories in SMC 25.12.350 will be necessary to attain their approval.

Virtual Office Hours

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

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

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

  • Friday, May 27, 2022
  • Friday, June 24, 2022
  • Friday, July 29, 2022
  • Friday, August 19, 2022
  • Friday, September 30, 2022
  • Friday, October 28, 2022
  • Friday, December 16, 2022

 

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West Seattle Bridge Update; PayUp Legislation Introduced; Sound Transit Community Advisory Group Meeting April 12; Capital Projects Watch List: South Park Street Drainage; Chinatown/International District walk; City Hall Park Land Transfer; Mayor Begins Police Chief Search Process; Monitor/CPC Outreach meeting on Use of Force April 12; Thanks to Our Tireless Public Health Professionals; Covid Boosters, Test to Treat, and Covid.Gov

April 8th, 2022

West Seattle Bridge Update

Concrete work began on the West Seattle Bridge on Tuesday morning.  The first pours were for expansion joints on the bridge deck, as part of the major maintenance work on the bridge.

SDOT’s statement notes:

“Following the expansion joint concrete pours, we’ll then pour concrete inside the bridge for the improved post-tensioning system that will provide additional strength for the repaired bridge. These bridge repairs require 245 cubic yards – or about 30 truckloads of specialized concrete. Once the concrete structures are done, they’ll be capable of holding more than 20 million pounds of force for decades to come.

While we’re encouraged that our construction crews have begun the concrete work delayed by the strike, we now need to see how the deliveries will go and manage the pours for the next month or so. After the pours are done and the work inspected, we’ll be able to revisit the project schedule and share an update about the timing of the reopening, originally scheduled for mid-2022.”

SDOT noted they will be doing the following construction in West Seattle this weekend:

We’re planning to complete several projects this weekend. We expect to begin work as early as 7 AM and be done by 4:30 PM on Saturday and Sunday. We anticipate minimal impacts to travelers, but please navigate with caution through work zones and follow directions from signs and flaggers.

On Saturday, we’ll be updating curb ramps at 16th Ave SW and SW Barton St in the Highland Park neighborhood. On Sunday, we will be updating curb ramps at 45th Ave SW and Admiral Way SW in the North Admiral neighborhood. Parking will be limited in these areas during this work. People walking and biking in the area will be detoured to the other sides of the intersection for crossing. 

In the North Delridge area, we’ll be installing foundations for future radar speed signs on 16th Ave SW between SW Morgan St and SW Findlay St on Saturday and Sunday. The parking lane will be blocked as we complete this work, however we do not anticipate disrupting traffic or impacting people walking and biking in the area.

 

PayUp Legislation Introduced

I have, for years, worked to support workers in the city of Seattle. Locally we have increased protections for employees including Wage Theft protections, Paid Sick & Safe Time, Fair Chance Employment protections, Schedule Scheduling, Hotel Employee protections, and a strong minimum wage. All of these protections are being undermined because they do not protect workers in one of the fastest growing sectors of our economy: app-based work.  App-based workers, or “gig workers,” aren’t considered employees and many do not have protections like the minimum wage.  40,000 workers in Seattle are app-based workers.

In March 2020, when the pandemic became real for us in Seattle and Washington, tens of thousands of workers stayed home.  Many continue to stay home to this day. Meanwhile, on-demand and marketplace workers have continued to show up. That’s why, in June 2020, the Council passed premium pay for app-based workers. This premium pay is tied to the additional work and hazardous conditions these workers found themselves in the pandemic. This premium pay is the only guaranteed compensation these workers get, and it will eventually be lifted when the public health emergency is lifted.  App-based workers need a long-term solution that comprehensively addresses the concerns they have and their subminimum wage earnings.

We began conversations with stakeholders last June and, as of April 2022, there have been 12 large stakeholder meetings which have included companies like DoorDash, Uber Eats, Rover, Instacart, and others.  Independent contractors who work for those companies also participated and shared their experiences with us. We continue to still have smaller meetings to hear and address concerns from individual companies to ensure that the final policy is one that will work for the businesses, but also provide the necessary pay and protections for their workers.

There has been a lot of reporting on the introduction of this policy, but I was particularly struck by this story reported by Ruby de Luna at KUOW:

“West Seattle orders are not that great. Especially because the West Seattle Bridge is closed — and Grubhub will not acknowledge that the West Seattle Bridge is closed. So, your mileage, it’s not going to be correct; your time is not going to be correct. And as you’re going to West Seattle, you’re going to be constantly getting these messages. And I forget what the exact wording of the message says, but the gist of it is: “Hey, you’re going the wrong way,” and, “You’re late. Please correct that.” But as everyone knows, you can’t go over the bridge, because it’s closed. You have to go all the way around.

“I called Grubhub and demanded that they pay me for the mileage and the time, make the mileage and time adjustment. And then I reminded them also that the West Seattle Bridge was closed and to please fix it. They told me the same thing that they tell me every single time — that they will have the information that I gave them, they will escalate it up to the next person and somebody will be in contact with me. I think, the West Seattle Bridge has been closed, what, three years now? Nobody’s ever contacted me.”

While app-based workers sometimes make below minimum wage or even lose money on this work, the companies are reporting unprecedented growth and billions in revenue:

There are six issues areas that are slated to comprise the PayUp policy proposal:

  1. Minimum Payment, Transparency and Flexibility
  2. Restroom Access
  3. Anti-Discrimination
  4. Background Checks
  5. Deactivation
  6. Advisory Board

The first bill is sponsored by Councilmember Andrew Lewis and I.  It was unveiled this week and it addresses minimum payment, transparency, and flexibility:

  • Minimum Payment – Ensuring app-based workers earn the minimum wage plus expenses.
  • Transparency – Providing app-based workers with the information they need to make informed choices about which offers to accept, and to ensure they will be paid minimum wage for jobs they perform. The legislation also provides transparency to customers on the nature of charges, including amounts paid to workers vs money retained by the company.
  • Flexibility – Protecting workers’ flexibility, including the right to freely choose jobs and hours.

The bill will be heard in the Public Safety and Human Services Committee on April 12, as well as on April 26, and May 10 where we hope to pass final amendments before sending to Full Council.

For additional information about the policy proposal, Councilmember Lewis and I published a website about PayUp that further explains the policy proposal, stakeholder engagement, committee discussions, and includes links to media coverage and frequently asked questions.  You can watch the full press conference on the introduction of the bill here.

 

Sound Transit Community Advisory Group Meeting April 12

The West Seattle/Duwamish Community Advisory Group to Sound Transit will meet on April 12 from 5-7 p.m.

The topic of the meeting is listed as “Draft EIS, Potential Costs Savings, Refinements.” You can access information about the meeting on the “Advisory Groups” tab on Sound Transit’s West Seattle and Ballard light rail website.

Here’s where you can view the meeting live.

Information about Community Advisory Group meetings for Interbay/Ballard, Downtown, and CID/SODO are available at the Advisory Group tab at the project website.

 

Capital Projects Watch List: South Park Street Drainage

The Finance and Housing Committee approved a resolution to establish a Watch List of large, complex, discrete capital projects that will require quarterly monitoring reports for the 2022 calendar year. This requirement derives from legislation I sponsored several years ago to establish enhanced oversight, after several capital project cost overruns.

The resolution includes the “South Park Stormwater Program” listed in Seattle Public Utilities. This project is to install a pump station to control flooding in South Park.

There is however a related project in SDOT called the “SPU Drainage Partnership—South Park”. The SDOT 2022-2027 Capital Improvement Program notes, regarding the pump station, “However, that alone will not control flooding. Many streets in the area are in poor condition and don’t have a street drainage collection system. This funding allows SPU and SDOT to partner to install the needed collection systems and repair the deteriorated roads.”

To ensure the SDOT portion of the project is also included in this enhanced review, I sponsored an Amendment to add this SDOT project to the Watch List.

 

Chinatown/International District Walk

Last Saturday night last, I joined the weekly public safety walk in the Chinatown International District.  CID Community Watch was started in June 2020 by Matthew Toles, shortly after vandals smashed their way through several businesses in the Chinatown/International District during protests against racism and police brutality.

Volunteers from the group started patrolling the neighborhood, hoping their visibility would make the neighborhood less of a target for crime or unsafe behavior.  They recently received a grant to teach self-defense workshops for seniors and situational awareness. The workshops will begin in April.

I enjoyed talking to these community members and thanking them for doing their part to promote community safety, every Saturday night rain or shine, for almost two years.  They hand out water, food, and check on the well-being of people living unsheltered in the CID, going tent to tent all along Jackson.  They have resolved conflicts that could otherwise turn into violence and they have provided life-saving assistance to their neighbors.  I know that they are also excited the SPD has a new officer, assigned to the King Sector (CID), who is Chinese American and speaks three dialects of Chinese:  Mandarin, Taishanese, and Cantonese.

 

City Hall Park Land Transfer

At the end of last year, then-Mayor Durkan proposed a transfer of land between the City and King County.  King County would receive City Hall Park, an important and rare open space in south downtown, and the City would receive thirteen much smaller properties scattered around the City, including three properties in South Park, and two in West Seattle.  You can find a list of the properties  here.

At Wednesday’s Public Assets & Homelessness committee meeting, Council began its deliberations on the proposed transfer by hearing from representatives from King County, the Mayor’s Office, Seattle Parks & Recreation, and advocates for the park’s neighbors including Seattle Parks Foundation and Alliance for Pioneer Square.   You can watch the discussion here, starting at about 24’.

There are several questions I’ll be raising as Council considers the legislation to transfer the land.

  • Preserving Park Use: For hundreds of downtown residents, City Hall Park is their local green and open space, and the only significant size park in the area. Just like any other neighborhood, we must safeguard their access to local park and open space.
  • Activating the Park: King County employees have expressed safety concerns about the park, which they must navigate to access their workplace. Simply transferring ownership of the park will do nothing to address these concerns.  Instead, we must collaborate with partners to activate the park.  It’s been done to great success in Occidental Park and others, and we should replicate that model for City Hall Park.  There is a park design to facilitate necessary changes to the park as well, championed by former City Councilmember Bagshaw.
  • The Spirit of I-42: The ordinance adopting Initiative 42 requires that the City, in exchange for park property, must receive “land or a facility of equivalent or better size, value, location and usefulness in the vicinity, serving the same community and the same park purposes.” Some of the 13 properties proposed for the swap are less than 300 square feet; and they are scattered throughout the city as far away as Ballard and Wedgwood.  I am concerned about setting a poor precedent if we supersede those requirements.
  • District 1 Impact: I’d like to better understand the condition and intended use for the thirteen properties proposed to exchange for City Hall Park – and particularly, the five in District 1, below. The property on S Rose Street is adjacent to South Park Plaza, currently under development with significant community involvement, and appears to offer Duwamish River access.  I want to ensure communities can weigh in on these properties before they are transferred for parks use.

1239 S Rose Street, #218500-0895, 17,268 sf

Cesar Chavez Park – 2 properties, 700 S Cloverdale St, #788360-3130, 7,980 sf

W Duwamish GB – SW Othello, #211520-0100, 3,030 sf

Duwamish Head GB – SW Walker St, #915160-0735, 291 sf

 

Mayor Begins Police Chief Search Process

Mayor Harrell has announced the first steps in the search for a permanent police chief in Seattle.

The position of Chief of Police is one of the most important in City government. This is underscored by the unique requirement in the City Charter that the Chief be chosen from among the three highest ranking candidates in a competitive examination. I thank Mayor Harrell for committing to public outreach to help inform his decision on making this appointment, and for noting this Charter requirement in his announcement as well.

 

Monitor/CPC Outreach Meeting on Use of Force April 12

The Consent Decree Monitor and the Community Police Commission will hold a community engagement meeting on the Use of Force preliminary assessment published by the monitor.

You can sign in for the meeting here.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation e-mail containing information about joining the webinar.

Here’s a link to the Monitor’s Preliminary Assessment: Use of Force page. That site includes the Use of Force Preliminary Assessment  and a Community Feedback Form, where you can provide written comments to the following questions:

  • Based on this assessment data and insights, what specific ideas do you have to improve Use of Force in Seattle?
  • Based on the assessment data and insights, what research or advocacy on Use of Force should the Seattle Community Police Commission pursue in 2022?
  • Based on this assessment data and insights, what Use of Force policy and practice areas, if any, should the Federal Monitor oversee implementation on in 2022?

The goal of these Community Engagement Sessions is to inform the public on the overall progress of the Consent Decree, to get the Community’s direct input on what comes next in Seattle in police reform and how the City proceeds after the Consent Decree.

 

Thanks to Our Tireless Public Health Professionals

This week is National Public Health Week, a time to celebrate the dedicated people working to improve public health across the country and here in King County.  We’re all familiar with the difficult, life-saving work that public health employees have been doing to combat Covid over the past two years.  Because of their efforts, Seattle and King County have led the nation in reducing caseloads and deaths.

Here in King County, they’ve also continued ongoing work to improve health and wellness, leading efforts as varied as:

  • equitable wastewater planning
  • reducing tuberculosis by identifying latent infections
  • parent-child health programs to ensure healthy pregnancies and babies
  • improving access to healthy food
  • promoting medications to suppress HIV; and
  • combatting overdose deaths by lowering the barriers to medication-assisted treatment.

For all this, they have earned our deep gratitude, and I send my personal thanks to our tireless Public Health workers.

 

Covid Boosters, Test to Treat, and Covid.Gov

Covid Boosters: Everyone age 50 or older is now eligible for a 2nd Covid booster shot – along with everyone age 12 and up who is immunocompromised.  If you are eligible, you can get the second booster at least four months after your first booster. COVID-19 vaccine is free and no insurance required at this time at King County’s vaccination sites.

Enter your zip code in Washington’s Vaccine Locator tool or check King County’s Getting Vaccinated page to find a vaccination site near you.

One-Stop “Test To Treat” Clinics:  The federal government has launched “Test To Treat,” a new way to quickly access free lifesaving treatment for COVID-19.  All in one place, you can get tested for Covid – and if you’re positive and eligible for treatment – and receive and fill an appropriate prescription from a qualified health care provider. If you got a positive test result from an at-home test or another testing site, you can also use a Test to Treat location to receive a prescription from a qualified health care provider and treatment on the spot, if eligible.  Learn more and find a location near you at Test To Treat (hhs.gov).

Covid.Gov:  COVID.gov is a new one-stop shop website to help all people in the U.S. gain even better access to lifesaving tools like vaccines, tests, treatments, and masks, as well as get the latest updates on COVID-19 in their area.  Check it out for free masks, tests, and other resources.

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West Seattle Bridge Update; Citywide hiring SLI response; Design Commission April 7 meeting on Duwamish crossing and Delridge station; Call for musicians at WS art walks; HSD’s new Farm to Table RFP; SCL looking for feedback on an RV charging station proposal for Morgan Junction; SDOT seeking advisory board members, deadline extended to April 10

April 1st, 2022

West Seattle Bridge Concrete Update

The work to attain the specialized concrete needed for the guiding and anchoring the steel cables for the West Seattle Bridge has continued this week.

The most recent update is that, on Monday, Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) Materials Laboratory approved the concrete mix design, a necessary step before concrete can be delivered.  Kraemer, the West Seattle Bridge repair contractor, is now trying to schedule deliveries from Cadman.   When the concrete is delivered, the SPU Materials Lab will be on site testing and taking samples to assure SDOT that the quality of the delivered concrete is up to standard and suitable for the task.

SDOT has announced it will be carrying out several road projects over the weekend, as follows:

On Saturday, we’ll be working in several locations. 

  • Updating curb ramps on 45th Ave SW and SW Admiral Way. We may need to shift travel lanes slightly to complete this work, but the street will still be accessible to traffic.   
  • Making several pavement updates on 16th Ave SW in the Highland Park neighborhood, including such as:
    • Installing crosswalks at 16th Ave SW and SW Myrtle St
    • Installing pavement markings and crosswalks on 16th Ave SW between Cambridge St and Roxbury St
    • Restoring the pavement markings at 16th Ave SW and SW Barton St
  • Restoring pavement markings on West Marginal Way between 2nd Ave SW and Highland Park Way. We’ll also be installing reflectors on West Marginal Way to help with visibility on rainy days. This work will take multiple weekends to complete.
  • Installing a speed hump and completing remaining construction activities on SW Webster St between 12th Ave SW and 15th Ave SW in Highland Park where we built a natural drainage system earlier this month. Traffic will still be allowed in both directions.
  • Replacing overhead signs on West Marginal Way as it approaches the Chelan 5-way intersection and on the Fauntleroy Expressway just before the West Seattle Bridge onramp.

Citywide Hiring SLI Request

Last week, the Executive delivered a report the Council requested during the budget process on Citywide hiring incentives.  I raised this issue during 2022 budget discussions.

The report notes several positions across departments that are critical to city business needs and are challenging to fill, including but not limited to police officers and 911 dispatchers, as Council suspected when requesting the report. The report notes:

“The following positions were listed as critical to City business needs and challenging to fill:

Carpenter; HVAC Technicians; Plumber; Skilled Trades; Truck Drivers; Cashiers; Recreation Attendants; Electrical Inspectors; IT Programmer; Public Safety Auditor; Sr. Civil Engineer; Veterinarian; Police Officers; 911 Dispatchers.”

The report says that hiring incentives have both potential benefits and drawbacks. It notes that while hiring bonuses can be successful in producing a clear benefit, it may have only limited impact on employee retention, and can affect morale of existing employees (I observed this in meeting with 911 dispatchers). The report emphasizes the importance of competitive wages, supportive work conditions, and career opportunities for employee retention:

“Signing bonuses for newly hired external talent can negatively impact employee morale. Employees promoted internally or already working in the job can feel undervalued and unappreciated when their financial package does not match what external recruits receive. The potential for breaking trust is greater now, with many of the current City employees in identified hard-to-fill jobs working on the front line during the pandemic.”

The report notes, regarding incentives offered late in 2021,

“The Seattle Police Department (SPD) did not experience an increase in hiring since implementing a hiring incentive into their process in October 2021. The Community Safety and Communications Center (CSCC), however, did see an increase in candidates entering the hiring process since the implementation of an incentive in October 2021.”

The report also notes “The issue of whether SPD has seen benefits from incentives is incredibly difficult to conclude because the incentives have been offered and removed several times.”

In 2019 SPD completed a Recruitment and Retention Report as recruitment had begun to be more difficult during years prior to 2019.  The report focused on four initiatives: consistent engagement throughout the hiring process; speeding up the background check process needed for officers; flexible testing (the report noted only 30-35% of candidates who apply completed the entry-level exam); and what it called a “Seattle Sampler” of enhancing relationships with the Seattle community.

The Council has funded a number of these initiatives, and recently the Public Safety and Human Services Committee held a briefing with Chief Diaz’ initiative, Before the Badge training, to implement the recommendation for enhancing links with the community for officers before they enter the state academy.

The report notes, regarding bonuses the Council authorized earlier that year, “Approximately 18% of SPD applicants (20% among applicants of color and 19% among female-identifying applicants) cited the incentive as an “important factor” in their decision to apply with those who more recently started exploring a career in policing showing a more pronounced effect.”  That’s a small percentage of applicants that say the bonus was important to their decision to apply.  Further it includes no information about whether more people applied when the bonus program was in effect for a year.

A final evaluation of the incentive program was due to the Council in April 2020 but was never completed due to the COVID pandemic.

Chief Diaz has explained that a one-size fits all bonus for all SPD recruits may not be the right fix.  Instead, a way forward might be to allow city funds to be used when newly hired officers from other jurisdictions need to relocate to Seattle.   Officers who relocate to Seattle are often coming from departments in cities that offer significantly lower salaries than Seattle.  Those officers sometimes do not have enough personal savings for moving expenses. Chief Diaz has suggested that being able to offer relocation costs can be particularly helpful for recruiting officers of color working from smaller jurisdictions, who may find that they have better opportunities working in a large city like Seattle.

It’s noteworthy that the City of Seattle pays relocation costs for some employees, usually department heads relocating from other places.  Extending this to police officers and other city positions identified in the SLI report as “critical to City business needs and challenging to fill” is a path forward that I could support.

More discussion will take place during coming weeks.

Design Commission Meeting on Sound Transit Delridge/Duwamish crossing

On April 7, the Seattle Design Commission will review the West Seattle portion of Sound Transit’s light rail project. The review will be of the guideway portion in Delridge and the crossing over the Duwamish.

Here’s a link to the meeting agenda, which includes links to make a comment to the Design Commission, or for accessing the online meeting.

Call For Musicians at West Seattle Junction Art Walks

The West Seattle Junction Association plans to present several performances by musicians in the heart of the West Seattle Junction to take place during the Junction’s Second Thursday Art Walks, beginning this summer.  Apply here to be considered for performing for 90 minutes at an Art of Music event (6:00 pm to 7:45 pm with one 15-minute break at the midway point).  All locations are in West Seattle.

Musicians/bands chosen to perform for The Art of Music will receive a payment of at least $150 and can set out a tip jar, business cards, self-promotional fliers, and CDs for sale.  Applications will be accepted until performers are hired for all the 2022 events; the earlier your application, the more events for which you can be considered. Apply Here.

Funding Opportunity: Farm to Table Food

This week, the City’s Human Services Department (HSD) announced that $839,815 will be available for organizations and farmers interested in food equity for Seattle Preschool Programs, serving low-income children and families.  The Farm to Table Support Services Request For Proposals (RFP) will invest in healthy, local, sustainable, culturally relevant food access and education in approximately 50 Seattle Preschool Programs across the city, serving 2,000 young people aged three to five. There are two program components:

  • Nutrition Education: Increase education on healthy, nutritious, and culturally relevant foods for children, families, and staff in Seattle Preschool Programs
  • Farm to Family Food Bags: Increase access and consumption of fresh and local produce to Seattle Preschool Program children, families, and staff by providing take-home Farm to Family Food Bags

HSD hopes to invest in food that is culturally relevant; sourced from Washington State farmers; and sourced from farms owned and operated by Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) farmers and business owners, immigrants and refugees, and women.

Initial funding will be for the period of January 1, 2023 to December 31, 2023.  Applications are due May 3rd.  Learn more here.


Morgan Junction EV Charging Station Proposal

Seattle City Light (SCL) owned property at 4118 SW Morgan Street is being considered for an electric vehicle (EV) charging station with up to eight chargers. The project would include new trees, landscaping, paved areas, and fencing.

If built, anyone with an electric vehicle will be able to use the charging station for a fee which is designed to pay for electricity and the cost of the station. Construction could begin as soon as the 4th quarter of this year and take approximately three months to complete.

SCL also notes:

“Many of the existing trees are dying or in poor health. Because the contamination requiring removal extends throughout most of their roots, the existing trees will not likely survive after the environmental cleanup, even with the contractor using best practices for tree preservation to remove the contaminated soil. City Light will therefore remove the trees on the property to ensure that all contamination is cleaned and allow for the construction of the charging station and new tree and vegetation plantings.

As part of the charging station project, City Light will plant replacement trees at the property to provide healthy, long-term greenery for the neighborhood. Crews will replace each removed tree with two new trees, per City of Seattle Executive Order 03-05. The utility will plant some replacement trees at other locations because of the limited space at the former substation property.

To improve the property’s appearance, City Light proposes to remove the existing chain link fence and replace it with a decorative fence along the alley and around the planned transformer at the eastern edge of the property. Shrubs are proposed for the north and south parts of the property to beautify and provide a visual barrier. Crews will plant native groundcover in non-paved areas. Where possible, City Light will use vegetation that offers local ecological benefits, such as for pollinator species”

You can fill out the survey here to provide your feedback through April 22.

SDOT Seeks Advisory Board Members; Deadline Extended to April 10

SDOT is seeking applications to serve on several of the department’s advisory boards, including the Pedestrian, Freight and Transit advisory boards, the Levy to Move Seattle Oversight Committee and the School Traffic Safety Committee.

You can apply for any of the boards listed below on the City Clerk’s website.  More information, including links to the individual board pages, is posted here on the SDOT blog.

They have extended the deadline to apply to April 10.

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West Seattle Bridge Update; Reminder: March 30 West Seattle-Specific Sound Transit Public Hearing; Libraries Adding Operating Hours – Masks Encouraged; Public Safety and Human Services Committee Update; Andover Area Update; 3rd/Pine Bus Stop Temporary Closure; South Park Neighborhood Center Landmarks Board Nomination; Industrial Maritime Engagement in South Park; Vision Zero Signs; Apply to Become an Affordable Home Owner

March 25th, 2022

West Seattle Bridge Update

Earlier this week—March 23rd—marked just over two years since the closure of the West Seattle Bridge. I want to take a moment to acknowledge how difficult this has been for residents and businesses on the peninsula and Duwamish communities.  Getting the bridge open as soon as possible remains a high priority for all of us.

Concrete

The need to obtain the specialized concrete that can hold more than 20 million pounds of force and sustain that strength for decades, has been the key issue impacting the schedule.

The return of concrete mixer drivers to work at some companies has provided an opportunity to source concrete needed to guide and anchor steel cables needed for the West Seattle Bridge repair. I appreciate the willingness of concrete mixer drivers to return to work, despite the strike not being resolved.

Of the companies that mixer drivers have resumed work at, only Cadman can provide the specialized concrete required for the bridge. In mid-week, SDOT let me know that the next step was to receive a concrete mix design from Cadman, which will need to be certified by the Materials Lab at SPU.

The concrete mix design was received yesterday from Cadman and it is now  at the Materials Lab (at Seattle Public Utilities) for certification.  I checked with SPU about the certifications process, and how long it might take.

Regarding the process, the Materials Lab “receives a package of proposed concrete mixes from our Contractor.  In that package are proposed concrete mix proportions, certifications, material test results and product information that Materials Laboratory staff compares with the City of Seattle Standard Specifications, as well as project specific specifications, to determine if the proposed mix(es) are compliant and suitable for the proposed purpose.  There are several possible outcomes of this review, from outright rejection to unconditional acceptance. It is not uncommon to return the submittal and ask for more information before final disposition of the proposed mix(es) is made.  Concrete mixes are not approved until the SPU Materials Laboratory is comfortable that they comply with all applicable standards and that they can be mixed, transported and placed to achieve project design criteria and provide lasting service.”

The Materials Lab noted they received the proposed concrete mix design late yesterday.  They helpfully noted the need to expedite review.  They have let me know that they expect to have the review for the proposed mix done in fairly short order.  I appreciate their recognition of the importance of this project and willingness to prioritize this work.

They also emphasized they are working with the project structural engineer in the review for concurrence.

Reconnect West Seattle Updates

Here are a few updates on Reconnect West Seattle projects.

SDOT has installed traffic monitoring cameras at the 2nd Ave SW and Highland Park Way SW intersection and the West Marginal Way SW and Highland Park Way SW intersection.

They will use these cameras to monitor how traffic is flowing on the detour routes so that they can make signal timing changes as needed.

SDOT provided the following update on Home Zone projects:

In the next few months, we’re building several Home Zone projects in West Seattle and the Duwamish Valley. Exact timing of these projects depends on our SDOT crew availability and weather conditions. Neighbors living near these projects are being notified of the upcoming work.

Here are a few upcoming projects used to help slow down traffic and make conditions safer for people walking, biking, and rolling:

  • 9th Ave SW, S Trenton St, S Henderson St, 14th Ave SW, and 6th Ave S: Adding vegetation, installing drainage, and building concrete curbs throughout the South Park Home Zone.
  • 16th Ave SW and SW Myrtle St: Installing new flashing beacons at one of the existing crosswalks. The crosswalks and parking lines will also be repainted (note: installation is planned for this weekend)
  • 16th Ave SW between SW Cambridge St and SW Roxbury St: Repainting center lines, parking lane lines, and bike lane lines for the whole block. New painted curb bulbs will also be installed on either side of the existing mid-block crosswalk.
  • 16th Ave SW near South Seattle Community College: Installing radar speed signs for southbound traffic at 16th Ave SW and SW Findlay St and northbound traffic at 16th Ave SW and SW Morgan St. Pavement markings and traffic signage will also be updated along the corridor.

 

Reminder: March 30 West Seattle-Specific Sound Transit Public Hearing

Sound Transit will be holding a West Seattle/Duwamish crossing-focused virtual public hearing on the Draft Environmental Impact for the West Seattle and Ballard light rail project.

The public hearing is on March 30th, starting at 5:30 p.m.

You can add this meeting to your calendar, and find the zoom link for the meeting at the “Get Involved” tab of Sound Transit’s project webpage.

Here’s a link to the 14 pages in the Draft EIS Executive Summary that cover the three segments for West Seattle: 1) Duwamish crossing; 2) Delridge (which includes both the Delridge and Avalon Stations); and 3) West Seattle Junction. This includes the alternatives shown on maps; cost estimates; impacts; charts showing the height of stations and elevated guideways; and some visual simulations.

You can also provide written comments on the “Comment Now” tab of the project webpage; the public comment period is open through April 28.

You can view presentations and videos of the West Seattle/Duwamish Community Advisory Group on the “Advisory Groups” tab.

After completion of the Draft EIS public comment period, the Sound Transit Board will select options to be analyzed in the Final EIS.

 

Libraries Adding Operating Hours; Masks Encouraged

Additional Hours:  Starting Wednesday, Seattle Public Libraries announced they will add back some operating hours, after a winter of reductions driven by staffing shortages.  Tom Fay, Chief Librarian of The Seattle Public Library said, “This is another step toward our return to pre-pandemic levels of operation. We also look forward to offering some additional hours in the coming months, fulfilling the promise we made to Seattle residents when they generously supported the 2019 Library Levy.”

D1 branches will be open these hours, starting Wednesday, March 30.  Changes from the current schedule are highlighted.

Masks Encouraged:  As of Saturday, March 12, Library visitors are strongly encouraged, but no longer required, to wear masks while inside Library buildings. To protect the most vulnerable patrons and staff, Library staff will continue to wear masks, and offer free masks to patrons at dispensers in each Library.

Any Library patron can request curbside service for pickup of your holds.  Just call the branch’s phone number (find it here) to let staff know you have arrived and need assistance with your holds’ pickup.

 

Public Safety and Human Services Committee Update

The Public Safety and Human Committee met on March 22nd to consider several topics; updates are included below.

First, the committee voted to affirm the process the Mayor is following for selecting a permanent director to the Office of Police Accountability, which investigates allegations of misconduct. Under the 2017 accountability ordinance, the Mayor appoints the OPA Director, subject to Council confirmation. June 30 is the date listed for the Mayor to nominate from among three finalists recommended by a search committee. The 2017 accountability legislation requires one quarter of the search committee members to be Community Police Commission commissioners.

Secondly, Police Chief Diaz presented the SPD 2022 Strategic Plan. The plan includes a high-level description of the approach SPD is taking on crime, gun violence, reform, technology and data, recruitment and other issues.

Next, the committee voted to approve $3 million in UASI (Urban Areas Security Initiative) grants; SPD manages receipt of the grants, though the funds go to several local jurisdictions. As the staff memo notes, “Project funding decisions are made through a collaborative process involving multiple public safety emergency response agencies located throughout Snohomish, King, and Pierce Counties.”

I proposed an amendment the committee adopted noting that any equipment purchased with these funds by SPD is subject to SMC 14.18, the City’s surveillance technology law.

Finally, the Office of Emergency Management also presented their 2021 Race and Social Justice Initiative Report.  Some of their accomplishments include:

  • Realigning staffing for equitable engagement
  • Planning policy codified engagement practices
  • Pilot focus groups
  • Equity Analysis of earthquake impacts
  • Afghani community outreach (which is important because of the increased number of refugees after the US withdrawal)
  • Low barrier application process for partner organizations, and
  • Seismic retrofit of the Bremer apartment

 

Andover Area Update

Many constituents have written to me over the years and more recently as well regarding the several RVs located on SW Andover next to Nucor and the West Seattle Health Club.   A shooting this week highlights the need for additional efforts to address this location. Fortunately, the victim is in stable condition and a suspect is in custody.

Before I get into how I have been trying to address the issues at this location, I need to explain the legal context.  While the City had not been enforcing the 72-hour parking law at all during the COVID pandemic, it is important to note that the decision to limit enforcement of this law towards people living in their vehicles predates the COVID19 moratorium. Even before the enactment of the 72-hour parking law moratorium in response to COVID19 and CDC guidance, SPD had been using discretion, and generally only enforcing the law against people living in their vehicles after outreach and referral efforts, and generally focused on areas specifically selected for the RV remediation program.

This Seattle Times article explains why.  This Washington State Supreme Court case places legal limits on how the City enforces parking laws against individuals living in their vehicles.  This court’s ruling in this lawsuit is the reason why SPD so carefully uses its discretion, rather than simply towing every vehicle in violation of the law.

I have repeatedly advocated for city action at the Andover location, both under the previous administration, and I, in January, confirmed that the new administration was aware of the Andover neighbors’ concerns. On February 9, I met with the Mayors’ Office, SPU, the City Attorney, and SDOT to discuss how SDOT is mostly maintaining the moratorium on enforcement of the 72 hours parking ordinance, and only enforcing as relates to abandoned vehicles. Additionally, in a recent article about RVs in Ballard SDOT was quoted:

“SDOT parking enforcement is continuing to focus on clearing abandoned and unoccupied vehicles,” said press secretary Ethan Bergerson. “SDOT at this time is not impounding vehicles which are occupied by people refusing to relocate.”

The City of Seattle did conduct a clean-up for the area with the SPU RV Remediation program between November 30 and Friday, December 3. At that time, SPU collected 7,600 pounds of debris during their efforts.

Last week I again reached out to Mayor Harrell’s office to follow up on our February meeting about the Andover location and was told last week that: “On 3/3 SPU conducted a site assessment of the Andover location and it is currently ranked high enough for a Remediation next month.” Just like the SDOT quote above about the RV’s in Ballard, the Mayor’s office told me that the planned remediation next month for Andover does not include enforcement of the 72-hour parking ordinance. Additionally, the Mayor’s Office let me know that SDOT is developing a policy for enforcing – when appropriate – the 72-hour parking ordinance for vehicles being used as residences and doing so in a way that addresses the limitations created by the State Supreme Court decision referenced above.

Finally, it’s important to include that last year I helped obtain funding for a “safe lot,” a location for RVs to park. The funding wasn’t implemented by the previous Mayor.  The King County Regional Homelessness Authority (KCRHA) now has jurisdiction for homelessness response in both the City of Seattle and throughout King County.   Consequently, the safe lot funding that I championed was transferred from the City of Seattle to the KCRHA.  In January, KCRHA voted on their budget which included the City’s funding for RV Storage and RV Safe Lots. The Request for Proposal will be released this month for almost $2 million, you can see an overview of that here. KCRHA has convened a vehicle residency workgroup that is working on solutions for vehicle residents across a lot of specific subplans, you can see that presentation here.

In addition to regularly calling SPU for garbage pick-ups, RV remediation visits, and septic pump outs, and regularly asking Southwest Precinct Captain Rivera for increased SPD patrols in the area, I repeatedly emphasize to the Executive that the neighbors in this area have had a significant number of RVs as neighbors for 3 years now and deserve some additional attention to address the community impacts.

3rd / Pine Bus Stop Temporary Closure

King County Metro announced the temporary closure of a bus stop at 3rd Avenue and Pine Downtown. The announcement notes:

“In partnership with the City of Seattle’s public safety efforts, the northbound bus stop at Third Avenue and Pine Street in downtown Seattle will temporarily close April 2, and bus service will shift one block south, near Third and Pike.

The stop (No. 578) serves routes 15, 125, and RapidRide C, D and E Lines. Riders for all affected routes will be able to board a bus or exit at the new stop (No. 575), located on Third Avenue just south of Pike Street next to the Ross Dress for Less store (301 Pike St.), until further notice.

The temporary stop relocation is part of efforts by the City of Seattle to enhance public safety in the area.”

 

South Park Neighborhood Center Landmarks Board Nomination

The Landmarks Preservation Board met earlier this month and voted to nominate the South Park Neighborhood Center, also known as the former Fire Station 26, as a city landmark. You can see the nomination packet here. The Board will make a final decision about whether to designate the building as a landmark at a future meeting.

 

Industrial Maritime Engagement in South Park

The City of Seattle is studying options to updating zoning for industrial areas with potential changes to shape new buildings and activities within industrial areas. For additional information about the City’s Industrial and Maritime strategies go here.

The South Park meeting is in-person on Tuesday the 29th starting at 6pm at the South Park Community Center (8319 8th Ave S). Below is a list of engagement meetings in other areas throughout Seattle.


Vision Zero Signs

SDOT has announced they will be installing signs at 13 intersections to promote pedestrian safety, as part of the Vision Zero program, by encouraging drivers to stop for pedestrians.

The signs note the percent of drivers who stop for pedestrians at the intersection, as required under state law.

The first signs were installed in West Seattle at 34th Ave SW and SW Morgan, and at Sylvan Way SW and SW Sylvan Heights Drive.

SDOT’s announcement notes this is based on a traffic safety approach used in St Paul, Minnesota, that found signs doubled the number of drivers who stopped for pedestrians at those intersections.

 

Apply to Become an Affordable Home Owner

Applications are now open to purchase affordable townhomes on 15th Avenue SW in Delridge, offered by Habitat for Humanity-King County to anyone making less than 80% area median income, which is about $82,000 for a family of three.

  • For 2-bedroom homes, the housing payments will be between $1,550.00 – $2,200.00.
  • For 3-bedroom homes, payments will be between $1,850.00 – $2,500.00.
  • Homes will be resale restricted to provide permanent affordability.
  • Must be willing to partner and complete sweat equity hours.
  • Must meet lender requirements and secure financing to meet minimum mortgage amount.

Learn more and apply here.

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West Seattle Bridge Update; Seattle Transportation Plan Update; Water Outage Planned March 22/23 in South Delridge; State Legislative Agenda; Groundbreaking at Pride Place, Senior Housing for LGBTQ+ Elders; It’s Budget Time Already at the Regional Homelessness Authority; Delridge Expansion of Seattle Preschool Program – Apply Now

March 18th, 2022

West Seattle Bridge Update

On Tuesday March 15th, Teamsters Local 174 concrete mixer drivers offered to return to work at three locations: Salmon Bay Sand & Gravel, Cadman Seattle, and Lehigh Cement.

Their statement recognized the importance of the West Seattle Bridge repair; I thank them for noting this. The companies responded, noting they needed five days to reinstate the mixer drivers.

The City’s contract language for public works projects like the West Seattle Bridge gives contractors autonomy to select concrete suppliers. Kraemer North America has already reached out to all three of the companies.

Since November, Kraemer North America, the contractor for the West Seattle Bridge repair project, has made the decision to honor the strike and not find another way to get the concrete.  This is both because of the safety concerns with sourcing concrete from other suppliers and because there are a number of other construction unions who have taken a position of solidarity with Teamsters 174.  Had Kramer North America made a different decision, we could see other workers walking off the job, such as the Carpenters and Ironworkers.

The West Seattle Bridge program requires specialized concrete, capable of holding more than 20 million pounds of force and sustaining its strength for decades. This is different than the kind of concrete that is needed for a street or sidewalk, which does not need to hold up to the same kinds of force.

Kraemer has reached out to all the concrete suppliers to determine who can supply the special type of concrete needed for the West Seattle Bridge and other details about timing and logistics.

Work on the bridge is continuing every day, and there are several concurrent construction efforts underway, including:

  • Filling existing cracks with epoxy injections
  • Increasing the strength of the bridge using carbon wrapping
  • A variety of other activities like core drilling for the post-tensioning system.
  • Limiting future cracking by strengthening the bridge’s post-tensioning system. This system will ultimately require concrete and cannot move forward until concrete is poured and cured.

The sequencing of some other work has been adjusted to enhance the ability of continuing other work that can be done without the concrete.

 

Seattle Transportation Plan Update

SDOT is beginning work on a new Seattle Transportation Plan.

The City Council’s Transportation and Seattle Public Utilities Committee held a briefing and presentation about this on Tuesday the 15th.

One goal of the plan is to integrate, and replace, the various “modal” master plans, of which there are currently four: Transit, Bicycle, Pedestrian, and Freight. The various plans are at SDOT’s Transportation Planning page.  Some plans have annual implementation plans; during the committee discussion I asked about what SDOT plans to replace that with; that is to be determined.

Work is planned to continue through summer of 2023, when the plan will be completed, with three phases of public engagement, starting in Spring through Fall of this year.

You can take a survey and sign up for e-mail updates at the Seattle Transportation Plan webpage. The survey is available in several languages.

Below are links for the plan in several languages:

አማርኛاَلْعَرَبِيَّةُ繁体字日本語ភាសាខ្មែរ한국어ລາວOromiffaрусский языкaf-SoomaaliEspañolTagalogภาษาไทยትግርኛTiếng việt

During the 2022 budget process, the Council approved a budget action requiring SDOT to provide a workplan explaining how the Pedestrian, Bicycle, Freight and Transit Master Plans will be integrated into one citywide plan. Another provision of the budget action required SDOT to report on an outreach plan; they have, and it includes outreach with community-based organizations, including the Duwamish Valley Sustainability Association and other groups.

In addition, the Office of Planning and Community Development is working on an update to the Citywide Comprehensive Plan. Coordination of these efforts is critical.

 

Water Outage Planned March 22/23 in South Delridge

Between 9 p.m. on March 22 and 6 a.m. on March 23, SPU will be performing work on a water main in parts of Westwood, South Delridge and White Center. This will entail temporarily shutting off water access for residences between Barton and Roxbury between 15th and 26th, as well as some blocks to the south of Roxbury, some of which are in White Center (here’s a link to the Seattle City limits map in case you’re interested, where you can see a small segment between Roxbury and SW 98th is part of Seattle).

The map below is from SPU’s Water Outages page, which lists planned outages, and shows where this outage is planned:

Here is advice for SPU for affected residents:

Here are some ways you can prepare for the upcoming water outage:

 Before the water outage:

  • Fill pots on the stove with water for cooking.
  • Fill a couple of buckets with water for washing.
  • Fill potable water containers for drinking.
  • Fill bathtubs with water and use buckets to flush toilets. A toilet will flush when approximately a gallon of water is dumped into the bowl.

 During the water outage:

  • Try not to operate the water faucets. This will prevent air from entering your plumbing.

According to SPU, planned water outages are sometimes needed to keep Seattle’s regional drinking water system flowing with clean, safe, and reliable water to the more than 1.5 million people we serve.

SPU’s Water Outages page has additional information, or you can call (206) 684-5800.

 

State Legislative Agenda

In addition to the gun control legislation the State Legislature adopted and that I wrote about in a previous newsletter, here are some other bills that were included in the city’s State Legislative Agenda and that I lobbied the legislature for, that passed.

Catalytic Converter Theft

l worked with SPD and the City’s Office of Intergovernmental Relations to include in the City’s State Legislative Agenda to address catalytic converter theft:

“We support action to address the theft of catalytic converters, including repealing state’s preemption of the regulation of scrap metal processors.”

HB 1815 passed and was amended to include elements of some of the other bills.  Here’s the final bill report, which includes:

  • A requirement for scrap metal businesses to provide photo ID and street address for a transaction involving a catalytic converter, and to document the catalytic converter in the seller’s possession is from a vehicle registered in the seller’s name
  • A three-day waiting period for payments above $30, and no more than $30 may be in cash;
  • Violations are punishable by $1,000 fine per catalytic converter; 10% of the funds go to a “no–buy” list
  • A catalytic converter theft work group to make recommendations for changes to state law to target illegal purchasers and sellers, strategies for development and maintenance of relationships between local law enforcement agencies and licensed scrap metal recyclers, with a focus on deterring unlawful purchases and identifying individuals suspected of involvement in unlawful metal theft.

Legal Financial Obligations

In addition, SHB1412 passed in this year’s Washington State Legislative session.   This bill relates to the imposition of Legal Financial Obligations (LFOs).  As a recent Seattle Times editorial explains, new and existing research on legal fines and fees illustrate the high social and economic costs of LFOs and show that such policies are badly in need of reform.  HB 1412 establishes standards to reduce legal fines and fees.

In July 2020, my Public Safety and Human Services Committee heard the recommendations in Dr. Alexes Harris’s Legal Financial Obligation report that:

“We suggest that Seattle Municipal Court engage in a broader penological discussion with judges and stakeholders in Washington State about the aim of sentencing and citing people for law violations. What is the aim of sentencing fines and fees to people who violate laws? Is there a way to hold people accountable for violations even when they cannot afford the fines and fees? Are there alternatives to LFO sentences that could possibly improve public safely and to hold people accountable?”

And: “We suggest justice officials work collaboratively to further public safety and enforce a penalty structure that does not lead to racial and economic inequalities such as long-term debt burdens and increased likelihood of incarceration.”

These recommendations led to the inclusion of this issue as a priority in the City of Seattle’s State Legislative Agenda:  “The City supports providing low-income Washington residents with relief from Legal Financial Obligations (LFOs).”

Under the leadership of Presiding Judge Gregory, Seattle Municipal Court (SMC) eliminated all discretionary legal financial obligations (LFOs) for criminal cases in September 2020. In addition SMC consistently suspends or waives criminal fines/fees for individuals who are indigent. As I promoted in my newsletter last month, SMC has also launched a debt reduction calendar to support low-income individuals with unpaid Seattle tickets.

The court has actively supported Seattle City Council initiatives related to understanding the impact of legal financial obligations including conducting a fine and fee inventory as part of the Seattle Reentry Workgroup, collaborating with Seattle Office of Civil Rights to support Dr. Harris’ 2020 report on monetary sanctions in SMC, and they are actively working on SLI SMC-001-A-002 requesting the court report on all fines and fees imposed on court-involved individuals and analyzing associated disproportionality.

I thank the State Legislature for their work reforming LFO policy and I also commend the SMC for leading the way by not only reforming its own LFO policies, but participating in statewide efforts to address the impact of LFOs on low-income individuals across the state, including the Washington State Supreme Court’s Minority and Justice Commission’s LFO Committee. They have provided data and analysis on SMC fines and fees to support the Washington State Institute for Public Policy legislatively mandated effort to understand the imposition of LFO’s across Washington State as well as the Washington State Budget and Policy Center’s work with the Vera Institute to understand non-restitution LFO’s.

 

Groundbreaking at Pride Place, Senior Housing for LGBTQ+ Elders

It’s been a long time coming, but Seattle is on its way to its first affordable housing specifically designed for LGBTQ+ seniors.  Pride Place broke ground in Capitol Hill last fall after years of community advocacy and Council action to support it.  Rents will be affordable to households earning 30% to 60% of the Area Medium Income.

Planned services include…

  • Affordable meals for seniors with an on-site community kitchen and dining space
  • Improve wellness, support, and social network to combat health challenges and isolation by providing recreational, educational, and an on-site health services center
  • Caregiver support, case management, LGBTQ-friendly referrals
  • Facilitate intergenerational LGBTQ mentor and chat programs
  • Trans-specific referrals and support
  • Train regional senior centers and housing providers on how to include culturally competent care in an LGBTQ-affirming environment
  • Serve older LGBTQ adults and their families in King County and beyond

A brief history of the long path toward Pride Place:

  • A 2015 report found that across every Census division in the U.S., Seattle had the least developed services for LGBTQ older adults and their families. And unlike most large cities, we are also running behind on developing housing for LGBTQ seniors.
  • In April of 2016 Council passed legislation that put the Housing Levy on the November 2016 ballot – and specifically called out LGBTQ seniors as a priority population.
  • Capitol Hill Housing (now Community Roots Housing) applied for levy funds for LGBTQ senior housing in 2017, but that request was turned down.
  • Undeterred, the community tried a new approach; and in 2018, Council approved funding for a housing needs study for low-income LGBTQ seniors. Over 500 people completed the survey, which called for creating an LGBTQ Senior Center, and affordable LGBTQ senior housing.
  • Community Roots Housing and GenPride tried again, and secured $9.8M from the Office of Housing for Pride Place, which broke ground in September 2021.

I appreciate the community’s tenacity in pursuing this vision, and I was thrilled to welcome a presentation on the project at Wednesday’s Finance & Housing committee.  You can view the presentation materials here, and watch the presentation here, at the 23:33‘ mark.  Many thanks to Chair Mosqueda for inviting this presentation.

 

It’s Budget Time Already at the Regional Homelessness Authority

On Thursday, I joined the King County Regional Homelessness Authority (RHA) at its Governing Committee meeting, where we received a preview of the RHA’s 2023 budget.  The presentation provided some information about the process they are using to develop next year’s budget and the strategies they hope to fund.  You can view the full presentation here.

My colleagues and I will be asked to approve the RHA’s 2023 budget proposal by the end of April, before it is sent to the County and Seattle for consideration.  I called for an additional meeting in April to review the budget proposal in depth, ask questions, and understand the strategies and outcomes the budget proposal supports.  The RHA is still in its startup phase, and it’s important that the Governing Committee – and interested members of the public – deeply understand its first formal budget proposal.

The RHA also presented on its wholly unique approach to this year’s Point in Time count, a federally-required census of people living unsheltered and in temporary shelters in King County.  RHA staff worked with the federal Housing & Urban Development (HUD) and University of Washington to create a unique methodology that will send qualitative researchers to encampments to ask residents what they need to find housing.


Delridge Expansion of Seattle Preschool Program – Apply Now

This week, Mayor Harrell announced that the award-winning Seattle Preschool Program will expand to Refugee & Immigrant Family Center Bilingual Preschool in Delridge, a Spanish/English program, and six other new sites around the city.  Seattle Preschool Program provides preschool programming for up to 2,144 Seattle three- and four-year-olds, with free or affordable tuition and high-quality learning environments that promote kindergarten readiness.

Learn more, find other locations, and apply at seattle.gov/applySPP. Translated applications are available and additional language assistance is provided for those who need help completing the application process by calling DEEL at 206-386-1050 or emailing preschool@seattle.gov.

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West Seattle Bridge; Gun Bills Pass at State Legislature; Sound Transit Draft EIS Public Hearings and Open House; New Bus Stops for West Seattle Routes; SPD Grant Legislation; Apply for a Paid Summer Internship with Seattle Youth Employment Program; Annual Recycling Event; Human Services Department Reports on its Race & Social Justice Accomplishments; Virtual Office Hours

March 11th, 2022

West Seattle Bridge

Last week SDOT began work to start installing carbon-fiber wrap to the west side of the exterior of the bridge. This work will continue on the exterior and inside of the bridge.

Here’s an SDOT photo of exterior carbon fiber wrap:

Carbon fiber wrap works in conjunction with epoxy injections into the cracks to strengthen the concrete.

Below is a chart showing the hourly openings on the lower bridge, and duration, from February 28 through March 4th. There were two occasions with two bridge openings during a one-hour period, on February 28th and March 3rd:

In last week’s blog post I wrote how I inquired with the City’s Department of Finance and Administrative Services (FAS is a City department that manages many city contracts) regarding the procedures used for to debarment of contractors.  The City Council in 2005 adopted legislation to establish procedures for this, with a new section 20.70 to the Seattle Municipal Code. One of the grounds for disbarment includes “The Contractor has colluded with another contractor to restrain competition.”

Specifically I inquired about how the debarment power had been used in the past and whether the city has ever initiated a disbarment investigation, and if so, what were the allegations?  I made this inquiry because the Teamsters have argued that the 5 concrete companies are acting as a sort of cartel, perhaps triggering the prohibition against colluded to restrain competition.

FAS responded that last known debarment was in the 1980s against a construction contractor who violated the federal substitution rules for a minority contractor on a federally funded project.  You can read more about it here:  Gary Merlino Constr. Co. v. City of Seattle :: 1987 :: Washington Supreme Court Decisions :: Washington Case Law :: Washington Law :: US Law :: Justia

FAS also explained that: “Typically, FAS would reserve debarment for only the most serious and egregious instances of violating fair contracting practices. With the current information available, FAS does not see that the City would be able to reasonably initiate an investigation to seek evidence that there is collusion occurring among the five companies.”

This week King County Executive Constantine’s letter to Attorney General Ferguson raises similar concerns that “coordination among the concrete companies has created an effective oligopoly and rendered fair and effective bargaining, including mediation, untenable:”

2022-0225- Request for Attorney General Office from King County re Concrete Strike[66] – DocumentCloud

In response, I have requested the FAS pursue additional inquiry on this matter and review the information to determine how we might best seek assistance from the Seattle City Attorney to a. determine whether this is sufficient evidence to initiate an investigation and b. to conduct the investigation.

 

Gun Bills Pass at State Legislature

We have seen an increase in gun violence in Seattle and the region, as in numerous other locations throughout the country. Addressing this requires local, regional and statewide action. In recognition of the need for state action, the Council included in the 2022 State Legislative Agenda it adopted the following:

“We support common sense, responsible solutions to reduce gun violence, including efforts to limit high-capacity magazines, rejecting intimidation by limiting open carry of firearms in politically charged and contentious environments. We believe in maintaining funding for critical gun violence prevention research and intervention projects and that local governments should have the ability to regulate firearms or weapons to ensure the safety of their communities in accordance with local circumstances.”

The state legislature has voted to approve three important gun control bills during the session that just concluded.

First of all, ESHB 1705, regarding ghost guns; secondly, ESHB 1630, establishing restrictions on the possession of weapons in certain locations; and third, ESSB 5078, limiting large capacity magazines.

The Alliance for Gun Responsibility notes, HB 1630 “restricts the manufacture, assembly, sale, transfer, purchase, possession, transport, and receipt of ghost guns—untraceable, unserialized firearms and unfinished receivers.” Ghost guns are not serialized, so it is difficult for law enforcement to track the origin of these guns.  HB 1705 “prohibits open carry at local government meetings and restricts firearms at school board meetings and election-related offices and facilities” Last year the legislature established similar limitations for the state Capitol. This extends these safeguards.

HB 5078 prohibits the manufacture and sale of high-capacity magazines holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition. It provides limited exemptions for the military and law enforcement agencies.

I noted during my testimony to the state legislature,

“This is a public health crisis; the easy access to magazines holding more than 10 rounds – puts our families and communities at great risk. 

These magazines were used in all 10 of the deadliest mass shootings since 2009.  High Capacity Magazines increase casualties by allowing a shooter to fire continuously without reloading,  In many tragic situations, including the 2014 shooting at Seattle Pacific University, lives have been saved during a pause to reload. When large capacity magazines are used, there are fewer pauses, and fewer chances for victims to escape.” 

The three bills have been delivered to the Governor; who must sign for the bills to become law.

 

Sound Transit Draft EIS Public Hearings and Open House

Next week Sound Transit will begin holding public hearings about the Draft EIS for the West Seattle and Ballard light rail project. Virtual public meetings will take place as follows, with the West Seattle focused meeting on Wednesday, March 30:

  • Tuesday, March 15, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. (Interbay/Ballard focused)
  • Tuesday, March 22, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. (Downtown focused)
  • Thursday, March 24, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. (CID/SODO focused)
  • Wednesday, March 30, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. (West Seattle focused)

In addition, they will hold an in-person open house on Thursday, March 17 from 12 – 6 p.m. in the International District Station plaza next to Union Station at the intersection of 5th Avenue S and S King Street.

More information on attending the public meetings is available on the online open house site at wsblink.participate.online. Sound Transit is seeking public comments on the Draft EIS through April 28. In addition to providing comments at the public meetings, comments may be sent via email to WSBLEDEIScomments@soundtransit.org or by voicemail at 800-471-0879.

On March 8 the West Seattle/Duwamish Community Advisory Group to Sound Transit met to hear a “deep dive” into detail about the Draft EIS from Sound Transit, as well as the City of Seattle Draft EIS Review.

Here’s a link to the meeting presentation; the City of Seattle portion of the presentation begins on slide 77, and lists “opportunities” and “concerns” about different options. Here’s a link to Sound Transit’s Visual Affects presentation, which shows several slides showing visual representations of the options.

After completion of the Draft EIS public comment period, the Sound Transit Board will select options to be analyzed in the Final EIS.

 

New Bus Stops for West Seattle Routes

Metro King County recently opened two new bus stops on Alaskan Way on the waterfront for routes that serve West Seattle, including bus routes 55, 56, 57, 113, 120, 121, 125 and the RapidRide C Line.

These stops provide better access to the stadiums and Pioneer Square.

The northbound bus stop is at South Jackson Street, and the southbound bus stop is at South King Street. Last month, Waterfront Seattle completed installing new roadway markings on the east side of Alaskan Way, allowing King County Metro buses to begin using the new northbound transit lane.

Bus shelters will be added this summer.

 

SPD Grant Legislation

This week, the Public Safety and Human Services Committee voted to approve legislation that I sponsored to accept two grants. The first is from the US Department of Justice to continue the work of the Northwest Regional Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force to address technology-facilitated child exploitation. The second is to continue the work of the Human Trafficking Task Force.

The legislation moves to the Full Council for a vote on Tuesday.

 

Apply for a Paid Summer Internship with Seattle Youth Employment Program

Applications are now open for a paid summer internship with Seattle’s Youth Employment Program.  Land a six-week paid internship that matches your skills, career interests, and availability, while receiving pre-employment training and work experience.

  • Get professional support from a trusted mentor throughout the program.
  • Gain practical experience to build your resume and potential connections to advance your career or education.
  • Be paid $17.27 per hour to intern with City departments and participating non-profit organizations.

To qualify, you must:

  • Be between the ages of 16 and 24 years old at the start of the program
  • Live within the Seattle city limits or attend a Seattle School (SPS or Seattle College)
  • Live in a household with income at or below 80% Area Median Income

Learn more and apply at www.seattle.gov/syep.  Applications are due by March 25th.

 

Annual Recycling Event

If you have hard to recycle items such as styrofoam, batteries, paper for shredding, or electronics, this annual event has you covered. Seattle Public Utilities partners with the West Seattle Chamber and the West Seattle Junction Association for this annual reuse & recycling event.

Please remember your masks and maintaining social distancing when dropping off materials is required at the event.

When: Saturday, March 19th, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Where: South Seattle Community College, Entrance #1, 6000 16th Ave SW

See here for more information about the event and for items not accepted.

 

Human Services Department Reports on its Race & Social Justice Accomplishments

Every year, each City department identifies goals towards ending institutional racism within their department and achieving racial equity across our community.  This work is led by the Seattle Office for Civil Rights’ Race & Social Justice Initiative.

At my Public Safety & Human Services committee meeting this Tuesday, the Human Services Department (HSD) presented their 2021 race and social justice accomplishments and provided a look forward toward their 2022 goals.  Here’s a snapshot of some of HSD’s most impactful actions in 2021.

…and some goals for 2022:

You can review the presentation deck, and watch the presentation, starting at about the 1:40’ mark.

 

Virtual Office Hours

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

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

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

  • Friday, April 29, 2022
  • Friday, May 27, 2022
  • Friday, June 24, 2022
  • Friday, July 29, 2022
  • Friday, August 19, 2022
  • Friday, September 30, 2022
  • Friday, October 28, 2022
  • Friday, December 16, 2022

 

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