Consent Decree Ruling / Impact Fees / You Can Help Prevent Overdose / Applications Due 9/20 for Seattle Youth Employment Program / Myers Way Encampment Resolved / Back to School / OEM Emergency Management Trainings / SDOT Draft Transportation Plan & Public Comment Open


Consent Decree Ruling

On Wednesday U.S. District Court Judge Robart issued a ruling releasing the City from several elements of the 2012 Consent Decree, while retaining authority in others and requiring some additional reporting and actions. Here is the statement I released:

“While progress has been made, our work is not yet done. Court supervision will remain in the areas of police accountability, including review of any collective bargaining agreement with the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG), allowing the City to continue negotiations with SPOG to address the issues flagged by the Court memorialized in Resolution 31855. The Seattle Police Department must also rebuild trust within our community, address serious concerns regarding racially biased policing, and revamp its response to protests.”

“The Court is clear that SPD’s use of force during protests must be addressed, and the lack of sufficient safeguards is keeping the department out of full compliance with the Consent Decree. The Court has ordered the City to submit draft crowd management policies within the next 90 days, by December 6th. Those policies must include implementation of Ordinance 126422, passed in 2021. 

“Legislation that I sponsored, and the Council passed over 2 years ago, will be given consideration only in the final month I hold office. SPD was prepared to submit sooner. In the proposed agreement, the City informed the Court that SPD would be prepared to submit the policies within 60 days of approval of the March submittal. I urge Seattle’s future elected leaders to ensure meaningful, community-driven change, that I believe the Court supports, is realized.”

“I thank officers who have worked to implement the Consent Decree. My hope is this allows Seattle to begin a new chapter in which our community, elected leaders, and police work together to truly reimagine what public safety looks like and implement new, more effective, more accountable approaches that work for everyone.” 

Impact Fees

Councilmember Pedersen and I are sponsoring legislation to amend the Transportation element of the Comprehensive Plan to allow for transportation impact fees if a fee program is later adopted under a separate ordinance.  The bill also includes policies that a transportation impact fees program will consider exemptions for low-income housing, early-learning facilities, and other development activities with a public purpose as authorized by RCW 82.02.060.  The bill also amends the Transportation Appendix to incorporate projects. That would be eligible to receive transportation impact fees if a fee program is later adopted under a separate ordinance.

This proposal would not establish an impact fee program. There is no current fee proposal, nor can there be unless action is taken to first amend the Comprehensive Plan as described above.

On August 10 a public hearing was noticed for in the Land Use Committee for the September 13 meeting.

In March the Transportation and Seattle Public Utilities Committee heard a presentation about the project list for potential transportation impact fees.

A presentation slide showed transportation impact fee rates for other local cities. One question that came up from members of the public was how adding transportation impact fees would impact the cost of producing housing. I agree that the impacts of any fees on housing production costs need to be considered as part of any consideration of impact fees.

Council Central Staff has developed comparison charts with other local cities and Portland, showing the cumulative impact of various fees, including transportation, school, and fire impact fees, water, drainage, and wastewater fees, and affordable housing fees.

The charts below are illustrative examples designed to answer public questions about the total cost of housing production; the illustrative example for Seattle is based on the average transportation impact fee for Western Washington. There is not currently a fee proposal by a Councilmember. That would be a separate step possible only if a Comprehensive Plan amendment is adopted.

It’s clear to me that a reasonably sized impact fee program will not chill housing development.  The first illustrative example is for a typical single-family home; the second is for a 100-dwelling unit. The examples do not include permit fees:

Single Family Home example:

Multi-Family Development example (100 units)

A SEPA appeal was before the Hearing Examiner earlier this week.  What has kept Council from deliberating about this revenue tool has been successive lawsuits opposing even the recognition of these 25 priority projects as ones that would be eligible if a program were enacted in the future.  The City has been trying hard to identify new revenue in anticipation of a 2024 revenue gap.  Those most benefiting from growth shouldn’t stop civic stakeholders from having this necessary policy discussion that we have repeatedly made commitments to consider.

In 2017 Council made a commitment that the City would consider including in the Comprehensive Plan a list of priority transit, pedestrian and bike safety, and bridge projects that we could consider funding with a transportation impact fee program if legislation implementing the program was adopted later.

In 2018 a rate study and SEPA threshold determination were issued; the SEPA determination was appealed to the City Hearing Examiner, who remanded the determination to the Council in October 2019.

Council restated that commitment to the public by passing additional resolutions in 2020, 2021, and 2022. As planned, the 2023 SEPA threshold determination was published in February.  Unfortunately, it was appealed in March and went before the Hearing Examiner earlier this week.

You Can Help Prevent Overdose

August 31st was Overdose Awareness Day.  I have often written about our increasing crisis in overdose deaths (see here and here); unfortunately, we are losing more precious human lives than ever in 2023.

You can help prevent overdose.  The State Department of Health advises that every resident can take these three actions.

1.  Be Prepared: Learn the signs of overdose and carry naloxone.

Naloxone – also known as Narcan – can reverse an opioid overdose.  I carry it every day and you can, too.  Naloxone is free without a prescription to everyone in Washington state.

2.  Talk to your loved ones about substance use disorder.

Talking to your loved ones regularly about substance use — even if you don’t know if they are using — can empower people to seek help, encourage young people to ask questions and learn about the risks of substance use, and reduce stigma.

3.  Lead with empathy to help loved ones recover.

Substance use disorder is complex and requires care, connection, and community – and recovery is possible.  Over 22 million Americans have recovered from addiction.  Leading with empathy means setting aside fear, confusion, frustration, or anger toward a person who is experiencing substance use disorder. By showing empathy, we can empower people to seek support and recovery.

Applications Due 9/20 for Seattle Youth Employment Program

Young people aged 16 to 24 can apply to “learn & earn” while developing skills for life and work.  Learn more and apply by 9/20 at Seattle Youth Employment Program.  Information available in English | አማርኛ  |  Español  |  Oromiffa  |  af Soomaali  |  Tagalog  |  Tiếng Việt  |  简体中文 .

Foundations: for participants with limited or no previous job readiness training or backgrounds and need pre-employment training and mentorship. Get paid to attend trainings while preparing for your first or next job and making new connections along the way.

Pathways: for participants who have had previous job training experiences but need intermediate or certified trainings, pre-apprenticeship, and apprenticeship internship opportunities. Participate in professional training and programs to gain skills & credentials for specific career tracks, which can lead to professional-level internship(s).

Myers Way Encampment Resolved

I’m happy to share that the encampment at Myers Way has been resolved, under the leadership of the State Right of Way Safety Initiative and King County Regional Homelessness Authority.  Importantly, almost everyone living there has moved into a safe shelter or housing that meets their needs and has a pathway to permanent homes.  I appreciate the patience of the encampment’s neighbors to allow this work to move forward.

Here’s the update provided by WSDOT last week:

After two months of state partners actively working with service providers, local partners, law enforcement and neighbors, WSDOT crews posted a notice to vacate the encampment at Myers Way this morning. Service providers with KCRHA (REACH and PDA/CoLEAD) have offered services and housing that would reasonably match the needs of the people on site. Over 80% of those who were staying at the site have been matched with shelter or housing that will work for them; many have already moved to those accommodations. Outreach workers will continue to help everyone who has accepted housing to move off site over the next several days. Next week, WSDOT will begin cleaning and repairing the site, removing excess vegetation and making other modifications at the site to help prevent resettlement.

This approach to resolving encampments – building trust with residents, assessing their needs individually, matching them with the right shelter, and identifying a pathway to permanent housing – is the only approach proven to work for permanently closing encampments.  Otherwise, encampment residents simply set up camp at a new location – or leave temporarily and return in a few days or weeks.  Learn more about this approach:

Back to School

I was excited to attend West Seattle Elementary School’s annual Be There Rally on Wednesday.  I look forward to the annual call out to community members to “be there” for our young scholars as they start a new year of school.

This year’s addition the annual event included a Ribbon Cutting to celebrate the West Seattle Elementary School’s renovations.  Thank you to the voters for supporting the levy that renovated West Seattle Elementary School.

Pictured: School Board Director Leslie Harris, School Superintendent Dr. Brent Jones, West Seattle Elementary Principal Pam McCowan-Conyers

OEM Emergency Management Trainings

The Office of Emergency Management (OEM) works with Seattle communities to prepare, respond, mitigate impacts, and recover from disasters. As a city, we regularly hear from OEM throughout the summer as they warn us and prepare us for heat waves and wildfire smoke heading toward our region.

OEM also has resources available to the community to prepare for other emergency events. You can go to the department’s Event Calendar to learn more about their virtual training events including Disaster Preparedness: The Basics, where participants gain an overview of the hazards that can impact Seattle and steps you can take to develop a disaster plan, build a disaster supply kit, and organize with neighbors to become better prepared. Disaster Skills Workshops provide training on key skills including water storage and purification and emergency sanitation.

Your community group, school, or business can also request these trainings for your groups via the OEM Preparedness Training Request Form. OEM also has trainings available for neighborhood groups, workplace preparedness, and emergency planning for childcare providers, all accessible via that request form.

Disaster Skills Workshops covering fire extinguisher use, utility control, water storage and purification, and emergency sanitation are also available in English, Arabic, Amharic, Cambodian-Khmer, Chinese, English, Kiswahili, Laotian, Moldavian, Oromo, Romanian, Spanish, Somali, Tigrinya, Thai, and Vietnamese. You can schedule these trainings via the OEM Training Request Form.

Finally, OEM’s website has a plethora of online skills training videos available. You can learn how to shut off your gas or water, and how to use a fire extinguisher at the OEM website. This website also includes links to online courses available from the Federal Emergency Management Association, including Animals in Disasters: Awareness and Preparedness.

SDOT Draft Transportation Plan/Public Comment Open

SDOT has released the draft Seattle Transportation Plan, which is open for public comment through October 23rd at the Seattle Transportation Plan Online Engagement Hub.

The plan replaces separate modal plans, and includes the eight elements listed below:

The Seattle Transportation Plan Online Engagement Hub has numerous links, including summaries, maps, and (in the “Review the entire draft STP section) the different sections of the plan, as well as the entire 720-page plan, as well as well as he Draft EIS.

SDOT’s Presentation at the Transportation and Seattle Public Utilities Committee showed the timeline for final adoption:

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