Delridge light rail alternatives: initial assessment results, public comment open through October 4; 508 installation and PDA advocacy; Solid Waste Rates – Good News; Bike Legislation Amendments; No September In-District Office Hours



Delridge Light Rail Alternatives: Initial Assessment Results, Public Comment Open through October 4

Sound Transit has taken a critical next step in implementing Sound Transit 3 in releasing its “initial assessment” of potential additional alternatives to study in the Draft Environmental Impact statement for the West Seattle/Ballard light rail project.   If you recall, in May the Sound Transit Board selected options to study in the Draft EIS, and to do an initial assessment of other options, and decide later whether to include them in the EIS.

You can review and comment on the initial assessment results here.   The additional alternatives for Delridge are called “Yancy/Andover   Elevated” and “Pigeon Point Tunnel.”

I proposed this version of the Pigeon Point tunnel at the Sound Transit Stakeholder Advisory Committee meeting, as a more direct alternative to the earlier, longer version proposed – but ultimately unsupported – by Sound Transit that went further south.  Previously, it was called the “Pigeon Ridge tunnel” option. The good news is that this version of the tunnel is estimated to cost $200 million, which is $300 million less than the earlier $500 million version.

Public comment is open through October 4, 2019. Here’s a link to the presentation at the Sound Transit System Expansion Committee on September 12th.

This will be presented at the Sound Transit Board on September 26. On October 10, the System Expansion Committee will consider potential action to recommend whether to further study this in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement.  The Sound Transit Board is scheduled to make a decision on October 24th.

508 Installation and PDA Advocacy

September 7 was International Overdose Awareness Day. To mark the occasion and kick off a campaign about drug user health, the Public Defender Association (PDA) erected an art installation highlighting the 508 overdose deaths since the 2016 release of recommendations from the Heroin and Opiate Task Force. This installation seeks to raise the public awareness that over $1.4 million earmarked for drug user health hasn’t been spent. The installation was erected by Steve Lambert in partnership with PDA.

Photo courtesy of Public Defender Association (PDA)

The installation is intended to be interactive for people to leave messages, flowers, and tokens in honor of the lives that have been lost.

The PDA represents people of color and people living on low incomes who are disproportionally impacted by the criminal legal system.  The PDA works to “shift from a punishment paradigm to a system that supports individual and community health.” I’ve had the honor to partner with PDA on issues of homelessness policy and criminal justice reform efforts such as the development of the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) Program.  Since 2016, LEAD has worked to divert people from the costly and ineffective revolving door criminal justice system toward more effective community-based intervention agencies.

Earlier this summer, PDA asked the City to commit the 2019 funds dedicated to treatment to a pilot program for Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) for methamphetamine users in Seattle. The letter states:

“Providing a stimulant analog (MAT) in a controlled, legal, subsidized context may allow patients to refrain from using illicit stimulants, enable them to engage in medical care for their mental and physical conditions and access services that will lead to greater stability and less incidents of hospitalization and incarceration.”

Health care facilities in Washington state are authorized to use MAT treatment for opioid-users, and PDA’s recent advocacy is focused on employing this strategy for methamphetamines. This effort is specifically in reference to new data from the Seattle-King County Public Health Department showing a significant increase in the rate of overdose deaths by methamphetamine use.

The “Yes to Drug Users Health” campaign emphasizes the need to house people with the most severe housing barriers, including people with substance-use disorder and co-occurring mental health needs and people with criminal histories; funding tenant education and prevention; and piloting safe consumption strategies in supportive housing settings.

On Thursday, the PDA hosted a closing ceremony and, before taking down the installation, noted that another 32 people had died in the past month from overdose.

Solid Waste Rates – Good News

In my committee meeting last week we received an update from Seattle Public Utilities on its proposed Solid Waste Rates for 2020 – 2022. Solid Waste is one of three lines of business that SPU manages, the other two are Drainage and Wastewater, and Water (think drinking water). The rate proposal stems from the SPU Strategic Business Plan which the Council passed in 2017 and I wrote about here. The Strategic Business Plan is a six-year outlook and guiding document that the utility updates every three years to reflect the most accurate and up to date information about the utility rates needed to support projects and their costs.

As you can see from the chart below, rates were predicted to go up 4.0% next year, 3.0% in 2021, and 3.8% in 2022; however, they will only go up 3.2% next year, 2.9% in 2021, and 2.9% in 2022.

The savings are due to:

  1. Solid Waste Collection Contract savings. SPU negotiated a contract that we passed which saves the utility roughly $5 million a year. This contract also helped deliver to Seattle the country’s first class 8 electric garbage truck!
  2. Increased demand for solid waste services due to an increase in population which results in $6 million in unanticipated revenue over the three-year period
  3. Updated financial policies
  4. Better projections for Utility Discount Program customers. SPU previously projected more single-family homeowner participation in the UDP, but the new assumptions show that there will be more multifamily UDP customers. SPU estimates that it will cost $7.8 million less over the three-year rate period to serve customers that live in multifamily buildings.

The official rate setting bill will be included in the budget the Council will pass in November.

Bike Legislation Amendments

Earlier this month the Council voted on two pieces of legislation regarding bicycles; I proposed amendments to both.

The first bill increases transparency and fiscal oversight regarding bicycle lane projects, and ensures projects are sequenced together to save money. Approved projects are included in the Bicycle Master Plan; it’s more expensive to add bicycle lanes separate from major road construction projects, and more time consuming, so this provides for efficiency and fiscally responsible oversight.

The legislation increases transparency by requiring the SDOT Director—who has authority over City streets—to provide a report to the Council if a bicycle lane is not included in a major street project, what alternatives were analyzed, and how connectivity could be advanced without a bike lane.

My amendment, which was incorporated into another amendment, added language to note the “expectation that the final scope and design of the project reflects continued community engagement.” This amendment is modeled on an earlier amendment I proposed for the Delridge Multimodal Corridor project; the process included in this legislation is more or less what’s happened on that project.

The second piece of legislation is a resolution regarding the Bicycle Master Plan and implementation projects. My amendment adds the Georgetown-South Park Trail, which was requested by the community.

No September In-District Office Hours

The Mayor will be proposing her 2020 budget on Monday.  Due to the scheduling of City Council Budget Committee meetings on Friday September 27, I am unable to hold in-district office hours as originally planned. I apologize for this inconvenience and hope to see you at my next office hours on October 25 at the Southwest Customer Service Center (2801 SW Thistle St).

If you have a more immediate issue, please email me to let me know and I or one of my staff will be happy to work on getting it resolved.

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