COVID-19 Updates; Southwest Library Reopening for Indoor Service; Utility EAP Expansion; West Seattle Bridge Rehabilitation: Post-Tensioning; Bridge/Transportation Infrastructure Maintenance Funding Proposal; City & County Repurpose $16 Million from Jail; Sound Transit Realignment Update; City Council Homepage Redesign

COVID-19 Updates:  New Vaccine Access Programs for 60+; What You Can Do Once You’re Vaccinated; Hospitalizations Rising At a Dangerous Rate

The City has announced two new programs to ensure seniors can get vaccinated quickly at the West Seattle Vaccination Site at 2801 SW Thistle, and the Rainier Beach site.

60+ Just Show Up:  No appointment is needed for anyone aged 60+ at the West Seattle and Rainier Beach vaccination sites.  Just show up anytime Monday – Saturday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. at 2801 SW Thistle St, and you can receive your vaccine shot.

Be a “Good Neighbor”:  Help someone aged 60+ get vaccinated at the West Seattle site, and you can get vaccinated there, too.  Many older adults face technology and/or mobility barriers that make accessing a vaccination appointment difficult.  Think about whether any of your neighbors could use some help getting to a vaccine appointment, and ask if you can help.  Here are the parameters:

  • One patient must be at least 60 years-old, and the other must be at least 16 years-old.
  • Neither patient has received the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Neither patient has an appointment.
  • Only one additional person gets vaccinated with the 60 year-old patient.
  • Read the full guidelines here.

City notification list:  You can join the waiting list for the City’s vaccination sites – including in West Seattle at 2801 SW Thistle Street:  click here or call (206) 684-2489.

District 1 vaccine sites:  You can always find state-approved vaccine providers in District 1 – and check if they have appointments available – here.

What can you do when you’re fully vaccinated?  With more residents becoming fully vaccinated – 57% in King County have at least one shot – and the weather beginning to improve, here is updated guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control on safe activities once you’re fully vaccinated:

The CDC also notes: We’re still learning how vaccines will affect the spread of COVID-19. After you’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you should keep taking precautions—like wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces—in public places until we know more.

That’s important advice, because hospitalizations continue to rise at an alarming rate in King County:

Infections doubled:  The estimated percentage of the population with active COVID-19 infections almost doubled between March 1 and April 2, and some unusual trends are emerging, according to the State Department of Health:

  • Case rates are increasing across all ages, except people 70 and older.
  • Data as of April 8 show particularly sharp increases and the highest case counts in people ages 10-49
  • Increases were also recorded in children ages 0-9 and adults ages 50-69.
  • Children ages 0-9 consistently had the lowest case rates until mid-March, but now have higher rates than people 70 and older.

If we don’t take immediate action to stop coronavirus spread, our healthcare workers and hospitals will once again find themselves overtaxed and unable to properly care for all of us – regardless of the reason you seek care.

Our individual actions matter right now.  Please choose to:

  • Wear a mask in public and around unvaccinated people
  • Stay 6 feet apart from people outside your household
  • Avoid groups and crowds
  • Wash your hands thoroughly.

Southwest Library Reopening for Indoor Service

Great news for anyone who has missed their library this past year: starting Tuesday April 27th, the Southwest Branch will be open for indoor service!  The branch will operate at 25% capacity for 90 minute time blocks on Tuesdays through Saturdays from noon to 6 p.m.  Precautions such as masks and distancing are required.  The Beacon Hill and Lake City branches will also open for indoor service on the same schedule.  Learn more about how in-building services will operate safely here.

Also on April 27th, the West Seattle branch joins the South Park and High Point branches to offer Curbside Services such as book pickup and return, printing pickup, Grab & Go books, and Peak Picks.  Learn more about Curbside Services here.  Find the hours and services offered at every  library branch here.

Utility EAP Expansion

On Monday the Council voted on CB 120035 and CB 120036 to temporarily expand Seattle City Light’s and Seattle Public Utility’s Emergency Assistance Programs. Typically a customer who meets the income threshold can only access this program once per year, with the passage of this legislation all customers who meet the income threshold will be able to access the program twice per year. This is true even if you’ve utilized the EAP this year, and I confirmed with both utilities that they will be proactively reaching out to customers who’ve accessed the program this year to let them know additional assistance is available.

If you’re in need of assistance, please take advantage of these funds as the expansion is only through the end of 2021.

Additionally, if you are not yet enrolled in the Utility Discount Program, please check this website to see if you qualify.


West Seattle Bridge Rehabilitation: Post-Tensioning

One of the key elements for stabilization work done to date, and forthcoming rehabilitation of the West Seattle Bridge, is the installation of new post-tensioning steel cables, which reinforce the bridge structure and help prevent it from cracking. Some cables were included in the original bridge.

In case you haven’t seen the update to SDOT’s West Seattle Bridge Repair website, here’s a visual that shows how it works:

Here’s a visual showing a cross section of the bridge showing where post-tensioning and carbon-fiber wrapping will be located:

Phase 1 in the visual above refers to the stabilization work done to date; Phase 2 is the rehabilitation work currently being designed; the next design threshold is 60%, anticipated for July.

Here’s a side view of where the Phase 1 stabilization work took place:

Here’s where on the bridge span Phase 2 rehabilitation work is planned:

The next design threshold is 60%, expected in July. At that time SDOT will have updated cost estimates and schedule.


Bridge/Transportation Infrastructure Maintenance Funding Proposal

On Monday I joined Councilmembers Pedersen, Lewis and Mosqueda in co-sponsoring a proposal for $100 million in bonds for multimodal bridges and other transportation infrastructure needs by leveraging the new $20 vehicle license fee, with at least 75% dedicated to bridges.

The proposal would amend SDOT’s bill (Council Bill 120042) for 2021 spending funded by a $20 annual increase in Seattle Transportation Benefit District (STBD) Vehicle License Fees (VLF) due to the passage of Ordinance 126234 in November 2020.  The amendment would seek to generate $100 million in 2022 through bonding, with at least 75% of the bonds going to fix multimodal bridges. The rest of the funds can be used to leverage other federal or state dollars for other transportation infrastructure such as those proposed in SDOT’s spending plan.

The amendment states:

“The Seattle Department of Transportation Director is directed to provide to Council a list of transportation projects that could be funded by $100 million of bond financing in 2022. At a minimum, the list shall include a title, short description, and cost estimate for each project. The project list shall identify a minimum of $75 million of bridge maintenance, bridge repair, and bridge replacement projects. The project list shall be delivered to Council in writing by September 30, 2021.”

In 2021, recommendations of the stakeholder committee would be funded resources going to: Sidewalk Safety Repair Vision Zero, ADA spot improvements, and Major Maintenance of Capital Structures.

Here’s a link to our statement announcing the proposal; at the committee meeting Councilmember Juarez joined as a co-sponsor.

The proposal was presented in the Transportation and Utilities Committee on Wednesday. The City Auditor’s report on the condition of Seattle’s bridges released in September noted the inadequacy of maintenance funding for the long-term health of the bridges we depend on in Seattle, with our waterways and hills.

The Auditor recommended development of a strategic asset management plan for bridges, and the City should develop and implement strategies to fill the bridge maintenance funding gap.

This proposal begins work on the funding side; here’s a link to SDOT’s presentation in response to the Auditor’s recommendations detailing how they will be implementing the Auditor’s recommendations, to be completed in 2023.

The timeline is important, as I noted during the committee discussion. The most likely City long-term funding source is potential renewal of the Move Seattle Levy in 2024. Elected officials will need accurate cost estimates for bridge maintenance, and when the funds will be needed, to plan for that levy.

SDOT’s November memo demonstrates the need for planning; it lists significant increases in costs to seismically retrofit bridges planned for inclusion in Move Levy work. It includes bridges important to District 1 access on 1st Avenue South and 4th Avenue South over railroad tracks in SODO. I asked about the cost increases compared to the amount programmed in the 2016 levy, and SDOT noted that seismic standards have increased in recent years, and where seismic work is needed below ground, it is more expensive compared to above-ground retrofits.


City & County Repurpose $16 Million from Jail

Last year, due to COVID-19, the City and County worked to reduce the number of beds used being used at the jail in order to maintain social distancing and prevent the spread of the virus. The city has an $18 million contract with the County that pays for an average daily population of 180 people.  Average Daily Population of the King County jail has been on the decline for years and in 2020 the Average Daily Population of the jail was 85 people.  With continued efforts to divert individuals out of incarceration, 75 ADP is the estimate of what the City Budget Office realistically thinks we’ll be using in 2021.  So why pay for an ADP of 180 people?

Beginning last Fall, in response to SLI CBO-4-A-2, sponsored by Council President Gonzalez, the City and County began negotiations to redirect funds from jail operations. These conversations were also informed by the City and County’s efforts to reimagine public safety and those most who are disproportionately affected by the legal system and incarceration.

The City and County, with representatives from both Councils, the Mayor, and County Executive met several times, and have come to an agreement.

The joint letter, which my staff sent out on Friday, states in part:

“King County and Seattle share a goal to recognize and address the centuries-old cycle—both national and local—in which systemic racism disproportionately impoverishes communities of color and then criminalizes the poverty and poor health of those same communities through racially disproportionate use of incarceration and the criminal legal system. Understanding how systemic racism has impacted communities of color—most clearly in Black/African American and Indigenous communities—through a cycle of underinvestment and disproportionate policing and incarceration, the King County Executive, the Mayor of Seattle, the undersigned members of the King County Council whose districts include the City of Seattle, and the undersigned members of Seattle’s City Council seek to stop and reverse that cycle.

Those three commitments are:

  1. Divestment of $16 million over 2021 and 2022 from jail operations.
  2. Investment of that $16 million for community-based health and housing programs for communities that are disproportionately affected by the legal system and incarceration.
  3. And a commitment to collaboration and transparency – with a Jail Advisory Group to address areas of interest and concern, to consider all recommendations for improvements in jail operations and the services provided to and fees paid by incarcerated individuals, and  to pursue strategies to decrease the average daily jail population

Sound Transit Realignment Update

The Sound Transit Board met on April 22nd, and included additional discussion about potential realignment of ST3 approved projects, including light rail to West Seattle.

A program realignment update presentation lists decision points, but doesn’t include specifics about individual projects, working toward potential action in July.

A letter from Board members King County Councilmember Balducci, Chair of the Expansion Committee,  Mayor Durkan and Executive Constantine advocates for extending the realignment process until July 2022, while taking some near-term actions in 2021.

Sound Transit has posted a public realignment survey.

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