Council Vote on Police Chief Appointment / South Park Flooding Update / Spokane Street (low) Bridge Update / Neighborhood / Gender-based Violence Survivor Services / The WRAP Act


Council Vote on Police Chief Appointment

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

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

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

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

South Park Flooding Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spokane Street (low) Bridge Update

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

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

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

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

(photo: SDOT)

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

SDOT’s December 31 update said:

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

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

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

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

The low bridge processor was successfully reprogramed on Wednesday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gender-Based Violence Survivor Services

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

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

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

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

The WRAP Act

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

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

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

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

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