This Week in the Budget // City Council Meeting Update // Earthquake Safety // Seattle Home Fair // Before the Badge Community-Police Dialogue // Sound Transit October 25 planning meeting at Alki Masonic Center

October 13th, 2023


This Week in the Budget

The Select Budget Committee met for three days this week for Issue Identification presentations on select departments. Council Central Staff presented an analysis of the Mayor’s Proposed Budget, and identified policy issues for the Council to consider. The presentations and memos are below.

Wednesday, October 11

Thursday, October 12

Friday, October 13

Next week the Select Budget Committee is scheduled to meet on Monday, October 16th at 10 a.m.; hold the first public hearing on the 2024 budget on Wednesday, October 18th at 5:00 p.m.; and meet on Friday, October 20th at 11 a.m. At the meeting on the 20th, it is anticipated that the Chair will present a balancing package.

For the public hearing, the sign-up sheet for in-person public comment in Council Chambers in City Hall will be available at least 30 minutes prior to the meeting starting time. For remote public comment, the sign-up sheet will be available at 3 p.m. on the Public Comment webpage. Additional information is available on the public hearing agenda.

The Office of Economic and Revenue Forecasts will release the October revenue forecast on Tuesday, October 17th. The Mayor’s Proposed Budget is based on the August forecast.

The deadline for Councilmembers to propose amendments is noon on Tuesday, October 24th. Amendments must be self-balancing (any additional proposed spending must be balanced by an equal proposed reduction).

You can view meeting agendas at the City Council Committees and Agendas page.

City Council Meeting Update

On Tuesday the City Council approved a Council Bill funding two substance disorder facilities as well as voting to approve two resolutions I sponsored.  One resolution related to Seattle Police Management Association (SPM) bargaining, the other was about new Unreinforced Masonry (URM) Standards. The Council also voted to schedule a hearing to amend the Comp Plan to include Transportation impact fee related policies.

Two Substance Disorder Facilities Funded – Council Bill 120669 provided the Human Service Department (HSD) with the appropriation authority needed to expend $7 million on facilities for post-overdose and other substance abuse care.

One facility will be a post-overdose recovery center for individuals who have experienced an overdose, or any medical emergency related to substance use. This facility will provide medical stabilization for individuals in need of these services for up to 23 hours.

The second facility is an outpatient treatment center for individuals with opioid use disorder and/or other drug dependencies that will offer low-barrier access

HSD updated its 2023 Notice of Funding Availability last month to reflect the new funding and the process to select a provider is anticipated to begin later this month with a contract start date in 2024.

SPMA Bargaining – The Council adopted Resolution 32112 to affirm the City’s good faith intent to consider public recommendations and recommendations from the City’s three police oversight agencies in developing the bargaining objectives for the next Seattle Police Management Association contract negotiations. Background on the resolution is available in the September 26 Public Safety Committee summary.

Unreinforced Masonry Resolution – Council voted to adopt Resolution 32111to recognize the new URM Retrofit Technical Standard as an acceptable standard in future legislation to create a voluntary retrofit program.  This step will help to promote voluntary seismic retrofits before mandatory standards are legislated to go into effect.

Transportation Impact Fee hearing –The Council voted to amend the Introduction and Referral Calendar to schedule a public hearing on Council Bill 120635 at the City Council meeting on November 7th. A public hearing must take place before Council can vote on the bill; a vote could take place November 21st.

Council Bill 120635 would amend the transportation element of the Comprehensive Plan to allow for transportation impact fees if the Council created such a program in the future. The bill would not establish a transportation impact fee program. Any proposal to create an impact fee program would need to be a separate, future action.  As noted in a committee presentation in March, low-income housing and early learning facilities could be exempted; some jurisdictions exempt accessory dwelling units.

Earthquake Safety

This past Sunday, at 7:21 PM, many in Seattle felt a small earthquake originating just south of Port Townsend. ShakeAlert and other automated earthquake warning systems did not send notifications as this quake did not reach the minimum magnitude 4.5 threshold for their alert systems. This weekend’s earthquake registered at a magnitude of 4.3.

Though small and with no significant damage and no injuries reported, I know this earthquake has made many Seattle residents nervous. Though we cannot prevent earthquakes, we can prepare for them.

Last month, I wrote about available emergency management training resources from the Office of Emergency Management. That post includes online videos and opportunities to attend and even request in-person trainings to develop disaster management and response skills.

In preparation of disasters, Seattle’s Office of Emergency Management has worked with community members to develop 135 Community Emergency Hubs across the city. These hubs are places where people can gather to offer resources and support after a disaster emergency. You can find your nearest hub on this map, and make a note in your emergency preparedness kit.

It also just so happens that October is the WA Great ShakeOut Month. On October 19, at 10:19 AM, organizations and individuals across Washington will participate in the largest earthquake drill ever.  You can register your household, workplace, or yourself at the Great ShakeOut website. Participants will be practicing what disaster preparedness experts agree is the appropriate action to reduce injury and death during earthquakes – “Drop, Cover, and Hold On.”

  • DROP where you are, onto your hands and knees to protect yourself and reduce your chances of being knocked over or struck by falling or flying objects.
  • COVER your head and neck with one arm and hand. If you’re able to crawl under a sturdy shelter like a desk or table, do so. If not, crawl over to position yourself next to a wall. In either case, stay on your knees and bend over to protect vital organs.
  • HOLD ON to the shelter you’re under with your other hand and be ready to move with your shelter if it shifts. If no shelter is available, use both arms and hands to protect your neck and head.

Finally, once again, remember to sign up for emergency alerts via AlertSeattle.

Seattle Home Fair

On Saturday, October 21, from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM, Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections will be hosting an in-person Seattle Home Fair at the Filipino Community Center (5470 Martin Luther King Jr Way S).  Homeowners, landlords, renters, and potential homeowners are all invited to attend to learn more about permitting processes, inspections, code requirements, and rental housing rules.

SDCI staff will be available to answer questions as well as hosting three presentations throughout the day:

  • Learn about ADUs and DADUs
  • An Overview of Seattle’s Tree Regulations
  • Renting in Seattle Q&A.

SDCI will also be offering virtual lectures tomorrow, October 14 via a virtual Home Fair. The schedule for those lectures is below:


  • New Tree Protection Code Information and Tree Regulations
  • Renting in Seattle


  • Building Codes, Electrical Codes, and Inspections
  • Earthquake Home Retrofits


  • Landslides
  • Tips and Tricks Regarding the Seattle Services Portal

You can sign up at Seattle Home Fair – SDCI | to participate in these virtual sessions. SDCI will also offer recordings of these lectures available at this website in following weeks.

Before the Badge Community-Police Dialogue

SPD’s next round of Before the Badge Community-Police Dialogue sessions begins next week on October 16th at 5:30 PM. The Before the Badge Program is SPD’s training program focusing on interpersonal relationships and wellness before law enforcement tactics. SPD’s new recruits complete this program before moving on to their mandatory Basic Law Enforcement Academy training.

Community members attending the dialogue will get to meet new recruits, officers, command staff, crime prevention coordinators, community service officers, and administrative professionals.  Recruits will get an opportunity to learn more about the communities they will be serving.

I sponsored the initial funding to build this program. Before the Badge immerses recruits in community-based experiences to develop a lens through which to receive their future law enforcement training and establishes a community-centered foundation for their careers with Seattle Police Department. These relationships are crucial to the shifts in police force culture that our city is developing.

The first of these conversations for the Southwest Precinct for this season will begin on Monday, October 16 at 5:30 PM via Zoom. The rest of the events in the series are below:

  • Monday October 30 – WEST
  • Monday November 6- EAST
  • Monday November 13 – NORTH
  • Monday November 27 – SOUTH
  • Monday December 4 – SOUTHWEST
  • Monday December 11 – WEST
  • Monday December 18 – EAST

You can sign up to participate in the dialogues, meet the new SPD recruits, and share your insights as a community member by going to this website.

Sound Transit October 25 planning meeting at Alki Masonic Center

Sound Transit is holding a planning forum on West Seattle Link light rail on October 25th at the Alki Masonic Center.  Sound Transit’s announcement notes the Final Environmental Impact Statement is expected to be published in late Spring or Summer of 2024. After the Final EIS is published, the Board will select the project to be built, and the Federal Transit Administration will issue a Record of Decision; the Record of Decision is the final step of the environmental review process.

Here’s the notice:

“Please join us on Wednesday, Oct. 25 to see updated designs for future light rail stations in West Seattle and SODO and share your ideas and feedback.

In the summer of 2022, the Sound Transit Board identified a preferred alternative for the West Seattle Link Extension (WSLE). The project team has worked to design the four proposed stations along the alignment, taking into account the community’s input since the start of the project in 2018. This fall, we will share our station design progress and gather community feedback on concepts for access, urban design, and transit-oriented development at the station. Your input will help us advance the design for station areas in collaboration with the City of Seattle and other agency partners.

In early 2024, we will report on our findings and share how your input influenced the design of the stations in West Seattle and SODO. Stay tuned! More information will be shared later in the fall.


  • Date: Wednesday, Oct. 25
  • Time: 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
  • Location: Alki Masonic Center, 4736 40th Avenue SW

If you can’t join us in-person, we will be hosting an online survey on our online open house. We will provide notice through another project update email when the survey is live.

Additionally, we are continuing our ongoing environmental review process. The WSLE Final EIS is expected to be published in late spring or summer of 2024. Following the WSLE Final EIS publication, the Sound Transit Board will select the final project to be built, and the Federal Transit Administration will issue a Record of Decision. For more information about the next steps in project development please read our latest Platform blog post.

Stay current with the West Seattle Link and Ballard Link Extensions projects here.

按此了解有關West Seattle LinkBallard Link擴展項目的最新資訊。

请在此处获取有关West Seattle LinkBallard Link扩展项目的最新消息。

Tìm hiểu về các Dự án Mở Rộng Tuyến West Seattle Link và Ballard Link trên trang web dự án của chúng tôi.

Manténgase informado sobre los Proyectos de extensiones de Link a West Seattle y Ballard aquí.”



Staffing News // This Week in the Budget // See If You Qualify for Food Assistance // Celebrate Banned Books Week! // City Clerk Archives Gazette, 1983 Film on Trees // District 1 Parks Updates // SW Library Closure // Indigenous People’s Day

October 6th, 2023


Staffing News

Maybe you’ve heard the bittersweet news that Christena Coutsoubos has taken a new step forward in her public service, but alas, it’s also a step out of the Team Herbold office. I wanted to let you, constituents of District 1 and other City of Seattle residents, know this news because many of you have received her assistance over the four years of her dependable public service.

Christena has aided the constituents of District 1 with compassion and persistence. She has helped you over the years, maybe to address a park’s maintenance issue, to get help for a neighbor living unsheltered, to find a COVID19 vaccine, or to get help accessing housing assistance or a small business loan. The assistance she had provided District 1 residents is abundant!

On the policy side, please also join me in recognizing Christena for the many policy accomplishments that would not have been possible without her able staffing, effective analysis, and tenacious organizing.  I know Christena will accomplish much more in her future, here are some of her projects in my office:

  • A two percent wage increase for human services workers included in Mayor Bruce Harrell’s proposed budget, in response to Resolution 32094, a call to closing the pay penalty gap.
  • COVID emergency legislation implementing a moratorium on rent increases for small businesses and nonprofits, during the civil emergency and requiring lessors to accept a rent payment plan during the emergency and for six months following.
  • Legislation awarding $10.4 million to strengthen organizations that provide community-led public safety initiatives.
  • Council Bill (CB) 120374, adding people who have received or are seeking abortions as a protected class, ensuring their civil rights protections, CB 120376, prohibiting people from encroaching on individuals seeking abortions or gender-affirming care, and CB 120399, ensuring that crisis pregnancy centers cannot make public statements that are false or misleading to persuade people from having abortions.
  • Funding for LEAD’s 2022 expansion
  • $4 million to sustain the community safety hubs in West Seattle, SE Seattle, and the Central District operated by Seattle Community Safety Initiative
  • Funding to support a workgroup of people with lived experience of domestic violence to recommend alternatives to incarceration that address misdemeanor domestic violence.
  • $1 million to expand behavioral health services in Seattle Public Schools, and in community clinics for new mothers, seniors and the uninsured
  • $1.5 million for mobile services to address increased needs of survivors of gender-based violence
  • Resolution 32026 requesting King County and the State of Washington increase services to address behavioral health conditions.
  • $5.1 million for food support through most of 2022, to help families struggling with the ongoing pandemic stay healthy and nourished.
  • Funding for services and on-site programming for residents of affordable housing as well as behavioral health supports, addressing staff retention, and client assistance
  • The City’s first investment in East African seniors, to provide wraparound services at existing meal programs
  • Funding a landlord liaison program connecting individuals to housing by establishing partnerships of landlords.
  • Funding for Rapid Re-Housing to ensure families do not fall back into homelessness
  • Restored proposed cuts to Age Friendly Seattle
  • $1.5 million in funding for services recommended by the Heroin and Prescription Opiate Addiction Task Force for active drug users in existing low barrier programs to increase the health of people who use substances and services and harm reduction programs at social service agencies that serve people who use drugs daily, allowing them to expand hours, increase staff, expand to additional locations, provide peer and community outreach, implement good neighbor agreements for syringe pickup, provide participant incentives, explore Medicaid reimbursement for services, and make safety improvements.
  • Expand homelessness outreach and engagement services within District 1 and citywide and provide flexible financial assistance for serving people experiencing unsheltered homelessness.

This Week in the Budget

My staff, Council analysts, Council colleagues and I have spent the week digging into the Mayor’s proposed changes to the 2024 budget to understand what’s new, what’s changed, and what’s missing.

Budget Hearings Start 10/11: Next week, we’ll hear three days of presentations from Council analysts on the proposal.  Watch budget hearings live by livestreaming Seattle Channel.  Watch budget hearings later here: Select Budget Committee |  Here are the expected topics each day.

Public Comment:  Your next opportunity is 10am on 10/11.  Sign up starting at 8am that day here: Public Comment – Council |

My Budget Priorities:

  • Equitable wage increases for human services workers to address the city’s staffing crisis, consistent with Resolution 32094, passed earlier this year.
  • Inflationary increases for federally funded homeless services that moved from the City to the King County Regional Homelessness Authority this year
  • Funding the Office of Labor Standards to enforce Minimum Compensation, Paid Sick and Safe Time, and Deactivation protections.
  • Mental health support for frontline community violence responders
  • Adequate staffing for the 911 call center in the Community Assisted Response and Engagement (CARE) department (formerly knows as the Community Safety and Communications Center)

Understanding Budget:  Use these award-winning tools to make sense of Council’s budget process:

Upcoming Budget Dates: Here’s a glance at the next few weeks.  Please note: Some of these dates have changed since last week.


See If You Qualify for Food Assistance

Newly-expanded eligibility requirements mean more Washington families can receive food assistance.  Now, families with incomes up to 400% of the federal poverty level are eligible. Four hundred percent of the federal poverty level is $58,320 for a single person and $99,440 for a family of three.  Food banks also cannot require anyone to show identification or a social security number, nor can they require proof of income, household size, or immigration status.  Read more here.

Public Health’s Community Health Access Program (CHAP) at 1-800-756-5437 is a great place to start. The CHAP line provides help in multiple languages with getting connected to programs for food like Basic Food or SNAP and the WIC Program, as well as other support services. You can also find information about many food banks and meal programs across King County here.

Celebrate Banned Books Week!

This week is Banned Books Week.  Here are some suggestions to celebrate from Seattle Public Library.

Read a banned book, of course: Check out these helpful lists of Frequently challenged nonfiction books and Frequently challenged fiction books.


Spread the news about censorship and efforts to stop it: Book  Riot is doing a stand-up job of covering censorship news (see their results of a new survey about what parents think about book bans), as is the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom. And our partners, the Brooklyn Public Library just launched a podcast series on the stories and stakes around our nation’s “ideological war with its bookshelves.”

Tell out-of-town friends about Books UnbannedSeattle Public Library offers a free Books Unbanned e-card for teens and young adults (ages 13 to 26) across the nation who live outside of our service area.  Anyone eligible can sign up and get access to our entire collection of e-books and e-audiobooks within 1-2 days at

City Clerk Archives Gazette, 1983 Film on Trees

The City Clerk’s Archives section publishes a quarterly gazette with featuring items from their archives. The Fall 2023 edition includes mention of a 1983 documentary on the evolution of Seattle’s street trees, called Green City: the Reforestation of Seattle. It was produced by the Washington Department of Natural Resources and the City of Seattle. It includes images of parks and public spaces, streets and traffic, and residential neighborhoods. It was recently posted to the Seattle Municipal Archives YouTube Channel. Here’s the link to the Reforestation of Seattle documentary.

District 1 Parks Updates

South Park Community Center Programs Temporarily Move to Concord Elementary School: Starting 9/15, programming has moved to Concord International Elementary School, at 723 S. Concord St, Seattle, WA 98108. All programs will be held in the gym and cafeteria at Concord.

You’re Invited to Review Design for Future West Seattle Junction Park: Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) invites the community to review the design and provide final community input on possible additional features for the West Seattle Junction future park site. More info here

Camp Long “Trail Or Treat!”: Celebrate the fall festivities in the best setting imaginable at Camp Long! Parks will designate a trail that loops around some of our main cabins where local organizations/ vendors/companies will offer handouts. We will also have fun, nature themed programming at various locations throughout the park! For information contact or call 206-684-7434.  10/28 Saturday 4-8 p.m. FREE

SW Library Closure November 6-19

In the 2022 budget, I joined Councilmember Pedersen in approving $1.7 million to provide air conditioning at the SW and NE Library branches.  At long last, that work is about to start!  Here’s an update on the HVAC upgrade from Seattle Public Libraries:

The Southwest Branch will be closed from November 6-19 and will reopen with normal hours on November 20. The Southwest Branch meeting room will remain open until the branch closes on Nov. 6.  Over the next few days you will begin to see signage on the buildings and online about the impacts and changes to operating hours of our Northeast and Southwest Branches due to the HVAC work.

Indigenous People’s Day 2023

Indigenous People’s Day is Monday, October 9th.

There will be three events to commemorate this city holiday. First of all, celebratory march starting at Westlake Park at 9:30 a.m.; an event with the City of Seattle Native American Affinity Group at Seattle City Hall at noon; and a Celebration at Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center at 5 p.m.


9-26 PSHS Committee Summary / South Park Pump Station and Roadway/Drainage Event Saturday / Spokane Street (Low) Bridge closed October 7-14 / Order Free At-Home COVID Tests / It’s Budget Season

September 29th, 2023


9-26 PSHS Committee Summary

The Public Safety and Human Services Committee met on September 26th and 1) considered a resolution in support of seismic retrofitting of unreinforced masonry buildings; 2) a resolution related to future Seattle Police Management bargaining; 3) bills concerning the 2024-2028 Consolidated Plan for Housing and Community Development, and Community Development Block Grant funding; 4) a network company fee discussion, and 5) a new appointment to the Community Police Commission.

Before we turned to these PSHS agenda items, I spoke to my previous statements regarding the January death of Jaahnavi Kandula after being struck by a vehicle driven by an SPD Officer Kevin Dave traveling at high speed and the fact that SPD released body-worn video from an officer response, where a SPOG leader said her life “had limited value.”  I also spoke about the recent disgusting hate speech of another officer off duty.

We heard testimony from members of the public urging that Officer Kevin Dave be prosecuted.  I explained that it’s not a decision in Council’s purview, and I requested that the King County Prosecutor Attorneys’ Office provide more information about the process KCPAO uses in making that decision and a typical decision-making timeline. Here’s their response:

“Law enforcement agencies handle investigations, and those are conducted separately from the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. In the Officer Kevin Dave case, Seattle Police is the investigating agency. The police reports and all available and collected evidence, including all digital evidence available, in a vehicular homicide investigation is submitted to the KCPAO and a deputy prosecuting attorney is assigned to review the material.

When a case is referred and under review, the deputy prosecutor reviewing the case determines if there is sufficient evidence to prove a charge beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the requirement to file charges. The deputy prosecutor determines what evidence may be admissible at trial, what defenses may be available, and whether a jury would have sufficient evidence to convict beyond a reasonable doubt.

The case involving Officer Kevin Dave, is under review and with the Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney who is the head of King County’s Felony Traffic Unit. The KCPAO will share publicly the results of the review when it is complete.”

URM Resolution: In 2017, Seattle’s Unreinforced Masonry (URM) Policy Committee released final recommendations concerning over 1,100 Unreinforced Masonry buildings in Seattle, which posed a public safety risk. In the four years following that report, I worked with the Mayor’s Office, the state legislature, Seattle’s Office of Emergency Management, and the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections to deliver the work product identified by the 2021 resolution. That resolution represented a joint commitment by the Council and the Mayor to work on developing a phased mandatory seismic retrofit program.

This year, SDCI released new technical standards that they discussed on Tuesday as we introduced Resolution 32111. This resolution continues the work by identifying the Draft URM Retrofit Technical Standard as acceptable standards in future legislation that will be proposed next year to promote voluntary seismic retrofits before mandatory standards are legislated to go into effect.

The Alliance for Safety, Affordability, and Preservation joined SDCI in chambers to discuss this resolution with the committee.

Since this is my last term on the Seattle City Council, I am grateful that SDCI allowed me this opportunity for one more legislative action to promote the URM work still ahead of us. This resolution is a strong step towards an ordinance codifying the SDCI’s technical standards that will protect these buildings, their occupants, and their neighbors.

SPMA Bargaining Resolution: The committee voted unanimously in support of Resolution 32112, affirming the City’s good faith intent to consider raising issues raised by the public and the City’s three police oversight agencies during the forthcoming collective bargaining process. The purpose of this resolution is to memorialize the public comments the Council heard from the public at the August 8 public hearing on SPMA bargaining, as well as from the three police accountability bodies.

The Council adopted a similar resolution in early 2020 before the current round of negotiations with SPOG, Resolution 31930.

The public hearing is required under SMC 4.04.120 (F) prior to bargaining with Seattle’s two police unions, in this case, the Seattle Police Management Association (SPMA).

The resolution does not limit the issues the City can consider when setting parameters for bargaining.

It’s important to affirm the City’s intent to consider these comments in good faith, as required under SMC 4.04.120 (G). Once bargaining begins, it is confidential, so memorializing this input is important to accountability for the City, as it allows the public to examine any subsequent contact and compare it to what’s included in this resolution.

Seattle has two different unions that represent police officers. The Seattle Police Management Association (SPMA) represents lieutenants and captains, while the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG) represents officers and sergeants.

In the letters listing priorities for the next SPMA agreement (included as attachments to the resolution) each of the City’s three police oversight agencies identify the significant improvement and gain in police accountability in the SPMA 2022 contract.  The resolution names those prior gains, here are some:

  • Clearly acknowledging “preponderance of evidence” as the standard for appeal;
  • Clearly repudiating de novo review and clearly describing what evidence may be considered in appeals, with deference to decisions of the Chief;
  • Providing that discipline review hearings will be made publicly available for viewing;
  • Acknowledgement that the City may implement the accountability ordinance while reserving rights to potentially bargain effects;
  • Allowing any OPA staff to investigate SPMA members;
  • Subpoena power consistent with the due process protections added in Ordinance 126264.

As I have explained before, this positive progress toward reform, embraced `by SPMA members, has yet to be mirrored in a SPOG contract.

I thank the members of the public and the accountability bodies for their comments and recommendations. The City Council will consider the resolution on October 10.

$7M for Post-Overdose Treatment Facilities:  Committee members passed two bills that guide federal funding for the City’s human services department, including Council Bill 120669 which appropriates $7 million to fund two new post-overdose treatment facilities.  I’m pleased that the Human Services Department is moving quickly to get these dollars out to a provider of services; they’ve already updated the 2023 Notice of Funding Opportunities with their intention to open the grant process on November 1st.

Council Bill 120668 approved a draft five-year plan for the City’s use of U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) funding, after a required public hearing.  We expect to receive almost $18 million from HUD in 2024; you can learn more here.  The five-year plan includes one new category that will help us respond with urgency to our overdose crisis:

Committee members recommended both bills for passage.

Network Company Fee Discussion: Over the past three years, the PSHS Committee worked to pass protections for app-based workers to protect a vulnerable and fast-growing population of Seattle workers. Most recently, the City Council voted to pass the App-Based Worker Deactivation Rights Ordinance.  At the time, we notified stakeholders that it will be necessary to create a future funding mechanism to support enforcement of app-based worker protections.

As the Office of Labor Standards (OLS) noted in their September 11 Annual Certification on OLS Functions and Resources, the Office is responsible for enforcement of a wide array of worker protections that cover 54,000 employers and almost 600,000 employees. In that memo, they touched on Seattle’s leadership in building protections for app-based workers:

 “Much of the policy team focus has been on advancing labor standards for non-standard workforces, especially gig workers, domestic workers, and independent contractors. This work is time-consuming as few jurisdictions have tackled such initiatives. Consequently, OLS must create the roadmap, rather than relying on the experiences of others.”

On Tuesday, Council Central Staff presented a proposal for a small per-transaction fee to help OLS continue to create this roadmap for the nation.

Eagle-eyed viewers may have noticed that the presentation was updated since it was originally posted. Up until last week, my office had been in conversations with stakeholders and the Mayor’s Office about a per-transaction tax. After considerable conversations and hearing a preference from many stakeholders, we’ve moved towards consideration of a fee. A fee has stronger restrictions on the spending options for the collected income – primarily restricting them to enforcing the regulations on the entities they are levied upon. This conversation can be a little in-the-weeds, so I recommend watching the committee meeting to learn more about the differences between a tax and a fee.

Right now, the collective interdepartmental discussions with stakeholders have been around a 10 cents per transaction fee. For a family that orders a service through the delivery apps or marketplace apps once a week, that would be a total of $5.20 a year. This would have a small impact on users of the apps, but a strong impact on the workers who will have their rights protected via OLS’s enforcement.

I remain committed to deeper conversations with the Mayor’s Office, network companies, and workers and their advocates to collaborate toward a funding solution that guarantees all workers can benefit from the protections that Seattle has worked so hard to pioneer.

South Park Pump Station and Roadway/Drainage Event Saturday

Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) has completed the installation of the South Park Pump Station and Phase 1 of the South Park Roadway and Drainage Project.

To commemorate these milestones, SPU and the Duwamish Valley Program will host an event to commemorate these milestones. Here’s the event information from SPU:

Where: South Park Pump Station, 636 S Riverside Drive, Seattle, WA 98108

When: Saturday, September 30 from 11 am – 2 pm


Tabling and information sharing

  • “Why does it flood” demonstration
  • Duwamish Valley Action Team (IDT)
  • Flood preparedness information
  • Capital projects information
  • Arts celebration

Free lunch and entertainment by local artists!

This event is co-organized by SPU and the Duwamish Valley Program with support from SDOT and the Office of Arts & Culture. The Duwamish Valley Program is co-led by the Office of Sustainability & Environment and the Office of Planning & Community Development.

South Park Pump Station

This facility is now operational and will help reduce flooding in northeast South Park by enabling drainage pipes to flow into the Duwamish River during high tide. It will reduce flooding during many (but not all) high tide events in locations where we have drainage infrastructure.

South Park Roadway and Drainage Project, Phase 1

This project, a collaborative effort between SPU and the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), installed ten blocks of new roadway and drainage pipes within the industrial area, connecting those areas to the pump station. Sidewalk and landscape improvements were also included on some blocks.


Spokane Street (Low) Bridge Closed October 7-14

SDOT announced the Spokane Street (low) Bridge will be closed to people driving, walking, and biking from October 7 through October 14.

The intended purpose of the closure is to:

“reinstall the turn cylinder that was removed from the low bridge’s east pier housing last winter for refurbishment. When the east pier’s cylinder was removed last December, preparations to overhaul all four of the bridge’s hydraulic turning cylinders were actually already underway as part of our comprehensive repair and maintenance effort. When the unexpected damage to the cylinder occurred, the planning work we had already completed enabled us to quickly jump into developing a response plan and likely allowed us to complete repairs sooner than if we had been starting from scratch.”

The Bridge was built in 1991 and requires ongoing maintenance. SDOT’s website on the Spokane Street Bridge Rehabilitation program has information about maintenance from 2020 to 2022.

Order Free At-Home COVID Tests

Every U.S. household may place an order to receive four free COVID rapid tests delivered directly to your home!

Before you throw out “expired” tests: Check FDA’s website to see if your COVID-19 tests’ expiration dates have been extended.

Need help placing an order for your at-⁠home tests?  Call 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489).  Info also available in Español and 简体中文.

It’s Budget Season

On Tuesday, Mayor Harrell transmitted his proposed 2024 budget adjustments to Council.  On Wednesday, we received a briefing from our Council analysts on the Council’s budget deliberation process and from Budget Director Julie Dingley on the Mayor’s proposal.  Watch the discussion here.

Budget Tools: Here are some budget tools to help you follow along:

Here’s a preview of what’s next:

My Priorities: As I wrote in last week’s budget preview, my top priority is funding equitable wages for human services workers, consistent with Resolution 32094 passed earlier this year.   Heartening news on this front: Mayor Harrell’s proposed budget includes a 2 percent wage increase for human services workers.  I released this statement in response:

We rely on human services workers to tackle the city’s biggest crises, from homelessness to hunger, childcare and elder care. In the wake of a landmark University of Washington study that demonstrates how underpaying these workers negatively affects our entire community, I am thankful Mayor Harrell included wage increases in his proposal. This will serve as a solid foundation as we begin discussions about how to create real wage equity for our mission-critical human services workers.

I’m also concerned about the $250 million General Fund deficit projected for 2025.  We must begin taking action now to close that gap.  With 85% of the City’s budget growth coming from labor agreements to fairly pay our employees, cuts cannot be the entire answer.  I believe we should be considering new progressive revenue sources, consistent with the Revenue Stabilization Workgroup options.  I will be asking questions to understand how Mayor Harrell’s proposed budget helps us prepare for 2025.


Health 99 Event / Working Washington’s PayUp Party / Saturday Gathering with South Asian Community Leaders / SDOT West Seattle Bridge Update / Federal Tree Grant Includes Delridge Native Forest Garden / 2024 Budget Preview / Opioid Settlement Funding Resolution / Free Tutoring in South Park and High Point / Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month With a Book / New Covid Vaccines Arriving / SPU Requesting Water Conservation / Prioritizing Diversion Over Prosecution for State Drug Law / Diaper Need Awareness Proclamation

September 22nd, 2023


Health 99 Event

On Tuesday, I joined Mayor Bruce Harrell and Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins in an event providing a progress update for the newly launched Health 99 overdose response unit. This unit of the fire department’s Mobile Integrated Health program is staffed by a firefighter/EMT and a Human Services Department case worker. Exemplifying the city’s interdepartmental collaboration for the vision of a strong public health and safety network, this team responds to individuals who have experienced an overdose and works directly with service providers to connect these individuals to outpatient services, primary care, homeless outreach services, and more.

Health 99 continues Seattle’s reputation as a national leader in health initiatives to address the opioid crisis, faced by cities across the nation. Follow-up care and warm handoffs to services are essential to reduce the likelihood that an overdose is repeated.  Accessible emergency care wrapped in inclusive and supportive services helps more people enter addiction recovery.

Public health and public safety are intertwined issues; the Seattle Fire Department is doing this work to build a healthier, safer Seattle.

To support the urgent funding for one element of Mayor Harrell’s April Executive Order, specifically: “access to mobile opioid medication delivery,” last month I successfully championed $1 million in funding to support Treatment in Motion, a mobile medication vehicle at three additional locations, with the capacity to serve up to 360 people each day.

Next week, I’ll be hearing legislation in my PSHS committee to appropriate $7 million in support of Mayor Harrell’s $27 million investment announced in his April Executive Order, to support an overdose recovery center so Health 99 has a location to take people after non-fatal overdoses to recover, get stabilized on medications, and access resources.

A data finding in the public use and possession bill that the Council voted this week documents that between January and July of this year there were eleven overdose responses on average each and every day in a public place.

If we hope that by adding an enforcement tool that successfully prioritizes diversion over arrest will help people, we must increase the places available for people to go.

If you have someone you care about and love, who is an addict, what you care about most, and first, is that they don’t die in the throes of their addiction. By investing in Health 99, Treatment in Motion, and a Post-Overdose recovery center, we are expanding access and breaking down barriers to proven treatment for our most vulnerable residents. We cannot end the fentanyl epidemic and drug overdose crisis without treatment – and we need more treatment, not less.

Working Washington’s PayUp Party

On Thursday evening, joined workers in celebrating our city’s recent wins in gaining protections for app-based workers. The event was hosted by Working Washington in their new office space and included testimony from staff, gig workers, and myself.

I am grateful for the privilege of standing alongside this worker-led movement over the last three years to build these necessary and common-sense protections for workers. In the years 2012-2016, we worked so hard to improve labor rights, with paid sick and safe leave, minimum wage, and secure scheduling.  That the so-called gig economy expanded exponentially soon after, systematically and intentionally designed to deny the largest growing employment sector from these hard-fought rights, exploiting the fact that they aren’t considered legal “employees;” we simply could not let that stand.

I’m proud to have had dozens, if not hundreds, of workers join me in Council chambers across dozens of committee meetings, council briefings, full council meetings, and meetings with my office to build the policies we came together to celebrate this week.

As the organizing adage goes, nothing about us without us. Thursday was not a celebration of the legislative body that voted on these policies, but a celebration of the worker-leaders that made Seattle a national leader in app-based worker protections. Hundreds of pages of policy were drafted with direct feedback by these workers, and I am humbled to have co-sponsored that legislation and to have worked with passionate people with direct lived experience to get the votes to pass each one at full council.

But we aren’t done yet. We’ve passed significant protections, but we now need to ensure that every worker gets to enjoy the benefits we’ve fought for. This Tuesday, we’ll be having a pre-introductory briefing and discussion on a potential revenue source to ensure the Office of Labor Standards is able to enforce the protections we’ve spent the last three years building.

Saturday Gathering with South Asian Community Leaders

In January, Jaahnavi Kandula died after being struck by a vehicle driven by an SPD officer traveling at high speed.  Last Monday SPD released body-worn video from an officer response, where a SPOG leader said her life “had limited value”

The video has since resulted in numerous articles worldwide, and widespread anger, in particular in India. India’s ambassador to the United States has raised the issue with the Biden administration.

On Saturday I joined Mayor Harrell, Chief of Police Diaz, and others to meet with leaders and organizations representing the South Asian Community. My statement in the press release is copied below:

“On behalf of the City of Seattle I’m so sorry for the appalling conversation, devaluing human life, between two officers whose job it is to be guardians of all members of our community. This failure, reflected now on the global stage, must not stand as representative of the Seattle we all love. To restore trust, begin to heal, and achieve justice for Jaahnavi, we must act. I heard community leaders today call for accountability for the officer whose actions resulted in tragic death and the officers who spoke so callously about her death. I heard a call for officer training in empathy, support for Jaahnavi’s family, pedestrian safety investments, and support for additional Seattle’s services to our immigrant community. I pledge to carry forward this call to action.”

Officer Auderer was one of 11 SPD officers trained as a drug recognition evaluator (DRE), a police officer trained to recognize impairment in drivers under the influence of drugs other than, or in addition to, alcohol.  Officer Auderer made these comments after performing an investigatory function related to the death of Ms. Kandula; he is also the SPOG Vice-President.  SPOG’s role, as an organization, is to assist SPOG members in defending themselves against complaints and discipline.   Last week, I expressed my strong concerns to SPD and the Mayor’s Office that there could be a potential conflict of interest when SPD dispatches to the investigation of another police officer, someone who in one role works as a leader of an organization that has a responsibility to assist SPOG members in defending themselves against complaints and discipline, and in another role, perform a function that will be considered as part of the complaint process and discipline outcome.

The Mayor has also asked SPD to “review whether or not restrictions can be placed on SPOG leadership in investigations of possible officer misconduct” and SPD confirmed they are reviewing the policy.

In addition, the Community Police Commission sent a letter to Chief Diaz recommending the officer be placed on indefinite unpaid leave.

SDOT West Seattle Bridge Update

Photo: Madison Linkenmeyer

SDOT published an update on the West Seattle Bridge, one year after the reopening, that the bridge is performing as expected. It states, “Since reopening, the bridge has been monitored by the bridge structural health monitoring (SHM) system 24/7, with physical inspections occurring on a regular basis. All monitoring shows that the bridge is functioning as it should.”

Here is the one-year monitoring report. The update includes background on the repairs that were performed.

The update says, “Based on these results, SDOT will continue to operate the bridge structural health monitoring system at all times and visual inspections will shift back to the 2-year cycle required by FHWA.”

It also says, “The bridge now includes SDOT’s most extensive, sophisticated bridge monitoring system which allows us to detect subtle movements or any growth of existing cracks. The safety system runs 24/7 and automatically alerts engineers immediately of any issues that would require further inspection. In reviewing the system data over the last year under different traffic and transportation conditions, the rehabilitation and safety measures completed are performing as anticipated.

Over the past year, the bridge has also undergone regular visual inspections of the carbon fiber wrapping and post-tension repair systems, which show no signs of distress.  To ensure that all repaired systems were performing as expected, SDOT has conducted these inspections at a higher frequency than is required by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for a bridge after being returned to service.”

Federal Tree Grant Includes Delridge Native Forest Garden

Seattle received a $12.9 million award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service to plant and maintain trees where people live, learn, and play to combat extreme heat and climate change, improve access to nature, and support green careers for young people.

Seattle’s two funded projects, covered by the Justice40 Initiative, were made possible by President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act.

One of the two projects is for the Delridge Native Forest Garden:

$900,000 for the Delridge Native Forest Garden will enhance approximately four acres of City-owned parcels and unimproved rights-of-way in the Longfellow Creek basin in West Seattle. The project will remove invasive species and plant native conifers and understory plants with cultural significance to regional Tribes. The project will include a footpath, and planting will be coordinated with local communities to provide educational and volunteer opportunities.

Earlier this year, Seattle released the 2021 Canopy Cover Assessment which found that neighborhoods that experience racial and economic inequities have 27% less canopy than more advantaged neighborhoods. This award is an opportunity to address canopy inequities by focusing planting and tree care in these neighborhoods. By funding projects aimed at engaging community in areas where trees get planted, improving the tree canopy in neighborhoods that suffer most from extreme heat, poor air quality, and health disparities, and expanding access to nature near schools and housing, cities like Seattle can deliver tangible economic and ecological advantages to overburdened communities.

2024 Budget Preview

On Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Harrell will transmit his proposed 2024 budget changes to Council.  This marks the start of Council’s eight weeks of budget deliberations, culminating in an expected final vote on November 21st.   If you’d like to stay informed about budget conversations, sign up for the Select Budget Committee email list here.

2024 is the second year of the 2023-2024 biennium, and we are expecting relatively minimal changes from the 2024 budget that Council endorsed last year (which you can find here).

My budget priority this year will be funding equitable wage increases for human services workers to address the city’s staffing crisis, consistent with Resolution 32094, passed earlier this year.  If the City were to provide a wage equity increase of 3.5 percent in 2024 the cost would be $7.34 million in 2024.

One big change in Council’s process, however: every amendment we propose must be “self-balancing” from the start.  That means if we propose increased spending, we must also identify a corresponding cut right away.

Important Dates

Wednesday 9/27 at 9:30am Council receives a public briefing on the Mayor’s proposed 2024 budget changes
Wednesday 10/18 at 5:00pm Public Hearing #1 – an opportunity for the public to provide comment on the budget changes they’d like to see
Thursday 10/19 Council receives an updated revenue forecast for 2024 and beyond
Monday 10/23 at Noon Councilmembers’ proposed amendments are due
Monday 11/13 at 5:00pm Public Hearing #2
Week of Monday 11/13 Councilmembers discuss and vote on amendments
Tuesday 11/21 Council votes to approve the amended 2024 budget

Opioid Settlement Funding Resolution

Last year, the Washington State Attorney General’s Office settled litigation against three opioid distributors (McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health Inc., and Amerisource Bergen Drug Corp) for $518 million, which will be paid out over 17 years and shared among the state, counties, and cities. King County expects to receive between $1M and $1.5M annually.  Seattle expects to receive about $550K or slightly more per year for the first seven years of this settlement (HSD staff are currently working to refine annual revenue projections and that information will be available soon).  In addition, Seattle and King County will receive additional funding because Washington joined another multistate resolution with the opiate producers and sellers CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, Teva, and Allergan.  This 2nd settlement will pay out $434 million over 15 years, which will provide approximately an additional $14 million to the City over the next 15 years.  While this is a significant amount and much-needed new resource, when spread over so many years, it will not be transformative.

That’s why it is so important to invest these resources in the most effective services.  Yesterday, the King County Board of Health approved a resolution I developed that urges all cities within King County to align their opioid settlement funds and invest in services recommended in the Opioid Settlement Stakeholder Feedback report, which draws on the expertise of community members with lived experience of substance use disorder.

The overdose crisis continues to devastate communities across King County; as of today, 941 residents have died from overdose, the vast majority from opioids, according to Public Health – Seattle & King County. We are easily on track to eclipse last year’s 1,001 deaths for the entire year. The opioid settlements provide an unusual opportunity to address the crisis directly, although the resources are still insufficient for the size of our crisis. That’s why combining forces and funding is so important.

Free Tutoring in South Park and High Point

The Seattle Public Library’s free K-12 after-school tutoring service, Homework Help, is now available at nine branches, including South Park and High Point in District 1. The Library will continue to offer virtual one-on-one tutoring through seven days a week, as well as many other programs and services to help students of all ages succeed.

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month With a Book

To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 to October 15), Seattle Public Library has selected a list of 25 recent nonfiction titles by Latinx and Latine authors, from Isabel Allende to Javier Zamora.  Check out the recommendations here.  And if you don’t yet have a library card, what a great reason to get one!   Learn how.

New Covid Vaccines Arriving

Last week, the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended that everyone 6 months and older get an updated COVID-19 vaccine to protect against the possible increases in infection this fall and winter.  Dr. Eric Chow, Chief of Communicable Disease Epidemiology & Immunization at Public Health – Seattle & King County, said:

Here is something I’ve been really struck by: studies are showing that people who are up-to-date with vaccinations have less long-lasting symptoms (“long COVID”).  Long COVID symptoms include “brain fog” or difficulty thinking, difficulty breathing, depression, and fatigue, all conditions that interfere with daily living. Long COVID can affect anyone… the new vaccine provides important protection for everyone.

COVID-19 hasn’t gone away—in fact, we’re seeing a rise in the number of people going to King County emergency departments and hospitals for COVID-19. Updated vaccines protect against more recent variants even if you have had previous vaccinations or infections.

Check with your healthcare provider or clinic to see if they have the new COVID vaccine, or check the list of pharmacies and other locations on  Read more about the new vaccine here.

SPU Requesting Water Conservation

Chester Morse Lake, September 17, 2023.  Photo by Kevin Johnson

With water levels below average after an unusually dry summer, Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) is requesting that residents and businesses voluntarily reduce their water use.

While Seattle may be known for its rainy weather, the last few months have been anything but wet in the Pacific Northwest. In fact, the region has experienced an unprecedented stretch of dry weather.

The unusually dry summer, coupled with a forecast of continued dry conditions including a potential delay in sustained fall rains, have the water supply managers at Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) concerned about having sufficient water for people and fish.

That’s why SPU is asking Seattle residents and businesses to voluntarily reduce their water use until further notice.

Here are ways people can reduce their water use:

  • Stop watering lawns. (It’s OK to efficiently water newly planted lawns, young plants and trees, and vegetable gardens).
  • Take shorter or fewer showers.
  • Check for and fix leaks now, especially running toilets.

Find more water-saving tips at  and see the progress the City is making each week in reducing water use at:

Prioritizing Diversion Over Prosecution for State Drug Law

On Tuesday the City Council approved legislation proposed by Mayor Bruce Harrell, that will put treatment and diversion at the forefront of the City’s response to public drug use and possession.

As a legislator, sometimes you must have the conviction to vote ‘no,’ to get to a better version of ‘yes.’ The bill that passed is vastly improved over the bill that failed in June. While this compromise legislation is not perfect, it makes unprecedented legal commitments to noncriminal intervention of public drug use while allowing police to take action under specific circumstances.

We know a police-only response to addiction will not work. This legislation acknowledges that and, for the first time in Seattle, explicitly states that diversion and treatment should be the foundation of our response to drug use.

This measure is the result of collaboration and compromise between advocates, elected officials, and law enforcement. The legislation, which creates a new framework for police policies that will be developed following the bill’s passage, will:

  • Establish diversion, treatment, and other alternatives to jail as the City’s preferred approach to public drug use and possession;
  • Creating clear guidance for when and how Seattle police officers should use pre-arrest diversion and pre-booking diversion, the former doesn’t include any arrest at all; and
  • Limiting prosecution to be a last resort.

As the legislation gives new authority to the City Attorney’s Office, the legislation includes important comprehensive and independent reporting requirements to assess the impact of the legislation. It also establishes a behavioral health advisory committee to advise the city on any needed changes.

My statement after the vote included the following from the managers of the LEAD program:

“We manage a diversion model, LEAD, that arose directly out of years of systemic litigation challenging racial discrimination in Seattle drug enforcement. It is a concern that most diversion efforts nationally over many years tend to exacerbate racial disparities among those left to the criminal legal system when they are not offered diversion; knowing this, we explicitly designed LEAD to have safeguards to prevent that pattern from playing out here,” said Lisa Daugaard and Tara Moss, Co-Executive Directors of Purpose. Dignity. Action. 

They continued, “Those concerned about implicit bias in enforcement practices are, of course, correct. This is always something to guard against—in all criminal enforcement, not just with respect to this one ordinance. Therefore, it is essential that Seattle’s framework establishing a presumption of diversion, have a requirement of data collection and regular reporting on the race of those diverted and the race of those facing jail and prosecution, if any.” 

“We appreciate Councilmembers Herbold and Lewis for building in that safeguard, and the Mayor for welcoming it and underscoring how valid these concerns are. We know it is possible to create a diversion system that actually advances race equity—a U.S. research team has found that all of LEAD’s benefits have been distributed proportionately to BIPOC participants, and our project management team is oriented to ask this question daily with regard to all aspects of LEAD practice. It’s important that such an approach be built into Seattle’s legal framework for responding to drug activity,” they concluded.

My comments from the Council meeting are below:

“The bill before us clearly states that “diversion, treatment, and other alternatives to booking are the preferred approach to incorporating a state law that already makes possession and public use of a controlled substance a gross misdemeanor.

This state law applies everywhere in the state. So, the state law adopted in May making possession and public use gross misdemeanors already applies in Seattle, and SPD can arrest, whether we act on this bill or not.

I see the signs in the room, saying this bill grants discretion to police officers.  It does not grant discretion to police officers, this bill guides officer discretion that officers already have under state law, to create a course of action based on a threat of harm assessment, for pre-arrest diversion, resulting in no arrest, and when there is an arrest, pre-booking diversion to avoid prosecution.

This does not create new arrest authority, it seeks to limit it, in a way that does not exist under state law.

It does create new authority for prosecution, and for that reason it is so important to have ongoing review to ensure the bill goals of limiting arrest and prosecution are realized in implementation: the amendment that was passed in committee last week establishes a behavioral health advisory committee to advise the city regarding the needs for changes in police protocol, legislation or other policy and provide data as recommended by the state, and separately, review by the City’s Office of the Inspector General.

The legislation also requires reporting to this new committee, of data, including demographic and other information related to individuals who are diverted prior to arrest, and prior to jail booking when there has been arrest, and prior to referral, if the City Attorney is considering prosecution. The intent is not only to align the data requirements under state law, but to add additional data collection requirements for the cohort of people that this law strongly recommends police do not arrest.

There is an undeniably racially biased history in this country in the enforcement of drug laws. This history is a big part of the reason why so many do not trust the enforcement of drug laws.

I believe we must face this history squarely.

During a previous committee briefing, the Mayor’s office noted the approach is informed by a desire to balance public safety objectives with the Mayor’s own experience with the war on drugs.

In the Mayor’s legislation, it states, “The City of Seattle recognizes that prior federal, state, and local drug offense law enforcement and policies, including the “war on drugs,” disproportionately impacted Black, Indigenous, and People of Color and caused trauma and pain that lingers still today in these communities;”

It further states “The City of Seattle is committed to not repeating the errors of the past and will work to have the implementation of this ordinance balance public safety with the well-being of individuals using controlled substances;”

This is a commitment to not repeat the errors of the past. And we need all of you to help ensure that in implementation this commitment is realized.

This is why the policy statement emphasizing diversion in the City of Seattle is so important.

We know that even a small period of time in jail can result in people losing jobs, housing, and other important connections. We heard in early public comment that a misdemeanor can have this kind of life-changing impact.

That’s why specifically, the emphasis pre-arrest diversion is so important: unlike the Blake Fix, it does NOT tangle people who are not harming others in the criminal justice system as a default approach.

In the first seven months of the year, the Fire Department reported an average of more than 11 public overdoses each day in Seattle. Those are overdoses specifically occurring in public places.

It is important to address this; this morning I participated in an event reporting out on the efforts of the Fire Department’s Health 99 overdose response team, a pilot program part of the Fire Department’s Mobile Integrated Health Program. Since its launch on July 7, Health 99 has responded to 68 overdoses and conducted 20 client outreach visits.

It’s also important to address implementation in a way that doesn’t drive people into the shadows and thereby increase the likelihood of additional overdoses. When people are forced into the shadows, there is limited ability for intervention.

We know that 40 percent of first overdose reversals given to patients on an Fire Department overdose reversal call were actually administered by bystanders.

The collaborative approach in developing this legislation, working with groups like LEAD and REACH and We Deliver Care again, are intended to guide and limit officer discretion, and to identify people who this policy says loud and clear, we don’t think should be eligible for arrest, and steers that group of people to pre-arrest diversion. This is not an option that was considered under the Blake fix legislation at the state legislature. And I think it’s an important element of this legislation. If we don’t act on this legislation, police will still be able to arrest people, and I think it’s really important for this Council to guide the policies that define how and when people are arrested.

Diaper Need Awareness Proclamation

This week, I brought forward a proclamation declaring September 18 – September 24 as Diaper Need Awareness Week. This proclamation was presented during Full Council to members of WestSide Baby. We know that about 1 in 4 families in King County experience diaper need, and we know certain communities are disproportionately impacted by diaper need and by this public health crisis. In these communities, caregivers are often having to make hard decisions between buying diapers on a limited income, or groceries for the week. I am grateful to WestSide Baby’s team and volunteers for their work in supporting Seattle babies and families.


9-12 PSHS Committee Meeting // SPOG Leader Says Woman Killed by Another Police Officer “Had Limited Value” // Vacant Building Monitoring Program Legislative Update // Hiawatha Playfield Reopening // Are You Raising a Grandchild? // Seattle Rescue Plan Progress // Impact Fees Update

September 15th, 2023


9-12 PSHS Committee Meeting

The Public Safety and Human Services met on September 12th and considered legislation to incorporate state law concerning possession and public use of controlled substances into the Municipal Code, and stating that “diversion, treatment, and other alternatives to booking are the preferred approach…” There are two kinds of diversion; pre-arrest diversion and diversion that happens after arrest, but before the City Attorney files charges.

The legislation, proposed by Mayor Harrell and sponsored by Councilmember Lewis and myself, passed by a 4-1 vote.

It now goes to the Full Council for a vote on September 19.

I appreciate that the Executive has taken a nuanced approach in this proposal to implement the authority granted by the state legislature, consistent with the role of the Mayor as head of the Executive branch of city government. I appreciate the delineation of how the authority will be used in practice when deciding whether to pursue pre-arrest diversion or post-arrest arrest, and providing clear, practical direction to officers for how to use this authority.

During a previous committee briefing, the Mayor’s office noted the approach is informed by a desire to balance public safety objectives with the Mayor’s experience with the war on drugs.  Further, a law-enforcement only approach wouldn’t work with the limited number of officers and limitations on jail capacity (the jail has a staffing crisis as well).

State law applies everywhere in the state. So, the state law making possession and public use gross misdemeanors applies in Seattle, whether we act on this bill or not.

Councilmember Lewis and I co-sponsored a substitute Amendment, drafted in collaboration with the Mayor’s office, to both address the calls for clarity in legal advice, technical issues identified by Central Staff, and to address non-controversial areas of agreement, all consistent with the policy intent of the original version sent by the Mayor.

Given that this is new authority, it’s important to have ongoing review: the amendment establishes a behavioral health advisory committee to advise the city regarding the needs for changes in police protocol, legislation or other policy and provide data as recommended by the state.

Policies will be developed to implement the bill, if it passes, as is standard for SPD. Other departments also develop rules for implementing legislation, including the Department of Planning and Development, and Office of Labor Standards, so this is a normal procedure. Policies can’t be developed until legislation is adopted.

In closing I want to highlight two recitals included in the bill transmitted by Mayor Harrell. Given the history of how we have enforced drug laws in this country, it is critically important to explicitly state our commitment to not repeat the errors of the past:

WHEREAS, The City of Seattle recognizes that prior federal, state, and local drug offense law enforcement and policies, including the “war on drugs,” disproportionately impacted Black, Indigenous, and People of Color and caused trauma and pain that lingers still today in these communities; and

WHEREAS, The City of Seattle is committed to not repeating the errors of the past and will work to have the implementation of this ordinance balance public safety with the well-being of individuals using controlled substances; and

This commitment, along with the emphasis on diversion, in particular pre-arrest diversion, are key reasons I am co-sponsoring this legislation.

SPOG Leader Says Woman Killed by Another Police Officer “Had Limited Value”

Jaahnavi Kandula, 23, was struck and killed by a Seattle police officer responding to a nearby medical incident.

On Monday the Seattle Police Department released body worn video from an officer response to the death of Jaahnavi Kandula, a student from India who died after being hit by a police car traveling at high speed.

The video has since resulted in numerous articles worldwide, and widespread anger, in particular in India. India’s ambassador to the United States has raised the issue with the Biden administration.

At the start of the meeting Public Safety and Human Services Committee meeting on Tuesday morning, I made a public statement addressing the bodycam footage and audio recording containing inhumane and careless messages about the police killing of Jaahnavi Kandula. I agree with Joel Merkel, Co-Chair of the Community Police Commission, who described this video as heartbreaking and shockingly insensitive, and as damaging to the trust the department is trying to build with Seattle communities.

While I am angry and disappointed to hear the way this detective talked about a fatal collision, I appreciate the role that the accountability system plays to daylight this type of culture within the department.

As horrifying as this conversation was, I am thankful to the SPD employees who discovered this and appropriately escalated this issue through the chain of command to the Chief’s Office. I also appreciate that Chief Diaz referred the matter to OPA for investigation.

As Seattle hires police, we need to be focusing on those who would be guardians, not warriors, so SPD can shift their culture as well as retain officers with an interest in protecting human life and upholding the peace and wellbeing of our city.

The Council and Mayor, working with the Office of Police Accountability, Office of the Inspector General, and the Community Police Commission, have set the priorities for the next SPOG contract with consideration of the 2017 accountability ordinance improvements sought by Judge Robart and memorialized in Resolution 31855 in 2018.

SPOG should embrace this opportunity to restore trust by supporting accountability system improvements, just like SPMA did last year.

Vacant Building Monitoring Program Legislative Update

This week, Land Use Committee heard a briefing and discussion on legislation to update the Vacant Building Monitoring Program, run by the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI). The Vacant Building Monitoring Program was last updated by several bills that I sponsored in 2018 and 2019, before the COVID-related recession significantly changed the landscape of our city’s economy and public safety services.  In the first year of the program alone, 77 vacant properties in D1 were being monitored, a huge improvement over only 2 vacant buildings in District 1 being monitored before the passage of the new program.

The Vacant Building Monitoring Program requires monthly inspection of vacant buildings, which (1) have received three notices of violation for failure to maintain the property in accordance with the Vacant Building Code, (2) are located on a property with a redevelopment plan (a filed master use permit or building permit application), or (3) are included on a list maintained by the police or fire departments of vacant buildings that have generated large numbers of calls for dispatch and take resources for public safety. Properties are enrolled in the program and charged fees until they have been found to be in compliance for three consecutive inspections.

Between 2021 and 2022, SDCI found a 41% increase in unsecured vacant buildings – buildings with windows or doors open and free to entry. In the same year, there was also an increase in buildings found to be generally secured, but with violations – buildings where the active points of entry were secured but other safety standards were not met.

The new legislation raises technical standards required to meet compliance with the program in the interest of improving public safety by requiring stronger reinforcement of entry points, allowing requirements of clear polycarbonate for window coverings to allow line of sight for first responders, and requiring buildings be kept free of graffiti.

The bill also streamlines interdepartmental communication by allowing fire and police to refer a call for dispatch to SDCI to add a building to the program instead of maintaining three separate databases of vacant buildings. My hope is that this allows police and fire departments to have better tools to protect neighbors of vacant buildings without new criminal code changes.

Finally, the bill would give SDCI the authority for an administrative filing for a lien to address nonpayment of fees. The collection rate of fees charged by the Vacant Building Monitoring Program dropped from 57% in 2019 to 37% in 2022. This authority gives SDCI the opportunity to enforce their fee structure with lower cost to the City.

These updates are intended to encourage compliance with the program. I was glad to hear that Seattle Fire Department, Seattle Police Department, SDCI, and the Mayor’s Office have formed a special workgroup to identify the most hazardous buildings in our city and get those buildings taken down more quickly. I am looking forward to hearing the plans being developed by this special workgroup.

Hiawatha Playfield Reopening

Hiawatha Playfield is now open to the public and the Hiawatha Playfield Turf Replacement project is substantially complete. This project replaced the aging synthetic turf at the field with markings for baseball, soccer, football and softball, resurfaced the rubberized three-lane running track, and replaced the batting cage.

A few items are still being finalized: new soccer goals, completing the batting cage frame and tunnel, and safety fencing for the outfield.  For more information on the project, visit or contact Kellina Stamm at or (206) 584-1690.

Are You Raising a Grandchild?

Last Sunday was National Grandparents Day!  I hope my fellow grandparents got to connect with their grandkids.  In your honor, I wanted to share these thoughts from Karen Winston, who coordinates the City’s annual Grandparents Day celebration:

No matter which relationship grandparents have with their grandchildren, they have influence. They pass on family history and cultural identity. In many cultures, grandparents and other elders are highly revered cornerstones of their communities. And many grandparents exude (and also enjoy) unconditional love.

A sizeable number of grandparents have custody of their grandchildren. If you are a grandparent who is working so you can support a grandchild, and are responsible for that grandchild’s care, you may have trouble making ends meet. Help is available.

The King County Kinship Navigator program directs caregivers to the community resources such as food, clothing, household items, transportation, legal fees, school and youth activities, and one-time help with rent or utilities to prevent eviction or shutoffs. For more information, e-mail or call 206-328-5951.

Seattle Rescue Plan Progress

In the early years of the pandemic, my Council colleagues and I rapidly appropriated $302 million in federal relief funding to help Seattle residents survive the compounding health, economic, and mental health crises.  I focused my efforts on securing critical funding for seniors, artists and culture-bearers, and mental health supports.  This legislation was known as Seattle Rescue Plan; you can read up on it here and here.

The City’s latest performance report illustrates how the Seattle Rescue Plan continues to help residents recover from the pandemic. The report highlights accomplishments across 35 programs with new performance data from 2022-2023.


Seattle funded over 350 community organizations and non-profits through the Seattle Rescue Plan. The City and its community partners have delivered a wide range of services, including the following achievements:

  • Purchased four buildings that will offer 445 new affordable housing units
  • Provided services to over 3,500 small businesses and grants to over 50 business associations
  • Funded over 300,000 meals and supported an additional 1,000,000 food bank visits
  • Supported public events that saw over 700,000 attendees
  • Provided free childcare for 690 children and awarded funding to projects that will provide childcare services for an additional 311 children
  • Supported over 800 Seattle Promise scholars to complete or re-start their college education
  • Collected over 3.2 million pounds of litter and cleaned 100,000 square feet of graffiti
  • Invested $3 million in downtown revitalization to bolster our region’s economic engine

More achievements are detailed on the Seattle Rescue Plan Transparency Portal and in the 2023 Seattle Rescue Plan Performance Report.

I am especially proud that a Brookings Institute report found that Seattle led the way in quickly distributing federal relief to boost household and economic recovery.  An analysis by the Center for American Progress found that during the 2008 Great Recession, economic recovery was swifter and unemployment lower in the 30 states that increased government spending, compared to the 20 states that cut spending.

Impact Fees Update

On Wednesday, the Land Use Committee heard a briefing on a bill to amend the Comp Plan to include Transporation impact fee related policies.  In last week’s newsletter, I reported that there would also be a Public Hearing scheduled for this meeting.   It was canceled unfortunately.  Before Council action on this bill, a 30-day public notice is required, so consequently it will need to be re-scheduled, to allow for passage before adoption of the 2024 budget.

The legislation Councilmember Pedersen and I are co-sponsoring would amend the transportation element of the Comprehensive Plan to allow for impact fees if the Council created such a program in the future. The proposal would not create an impact fee program; that would need to be a separate, future action.

The presentation in committee showed impact fees in other local cities:

The presentation also showed comparison charts developed in response to questions about the cumulative impact of various fees in housing production, including transportation, school, and fire impact fees, water, drainage, and wastewater fees, and affordable housing fees, compared to other jurisdictions.

The charts below are illustrative examples designed to answer public questions about the total cost of housing production and 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.





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

September 8th, 2023


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:


August 14 PSHS Committee Recap / Community Police Commission August 31 Event, Executive Director Appointment / Alki Beach Pride / Register for Fall 2023 Classes and Activities / Fire Safety Fair / Unreinforced Masonry Tour with Congresswoman Jayapal / WRIA 9 Visit to Chinook Winds Project

August 18th, 2023


August 14 PSHS Committee Recap

On August 14 the Public Safety and Human Services (PSHS) Committee held a special meeting to 1. hear a panel discussion to discuss gaps in the diversion and treatment services landscape for people using fentanyl or other controlled substances as well as to 2. invite the Executive to present legislation proposed by the Mayor that will, if passed, incorporate into the Seattle Municipal Code a new State Law making possession and public use of illegal drugs a gross misdemeanor.

The panel consisted principally of service providers, such as LEAD and CoLEAD, REACH, the We Deliver Care Third Avenue Project, Mobile Integrated Health/Health One (Fire Department), VOCAL-WA, the Seattle Office for Civil Rights, and Department of Public Defense SEIU 925. Several presenters had lived experiences that they shared with Council.

Some of the key points made were the importance of stability for people trying to address addiction and related issues—things like sleep, food, and safety. This ties into the lack of availability of housing and barriers to access to housing and/or long-term care. We Deliver Care, for example, can regularly get people into detox, but often there is nowhere for persons coming out of detox to go afterward. This misses a key opportunity for stability; the need for a treatment center was highlighted.

One presenter spoke of being homeless, selling drugs to finance an addiction, stealing from Target, being accepted into LEAD, and achieving stability that led to a new life. Panelists spoke of the history of disparate impact of drug law enforcement on BIPOC, especially Black, communities, and the need to not replicate that cycle of harm.

Another presenter shared a story of a client who the court determined needed substance use treatment.  This person had very high medical needs, their health was so compromised that there was no treatment facility in the entire state that would admit this individual. “This client who had very high medical needs and needed substance use treatment, had no options to get care.  What happened, after this client sat in jail for four months, the City prosecutors dismissed his case…and he was released to the streets with no care.”

Representatives for SFD’s Health One spoke to the difficult cycle of withdrawal from fentanyl, and the importance of stability.  As a result of the Mayor’s April Executive Order, Health One has established a new specialized unit to respond to overdose calls.  Between January and July 31, 2023, first responders and bystanders have, on average, responded to eleven overdoses a day in a public place.  Currently, after a successful overdose of a person living unsheltered, Health One saves a life and then has no other option but to leave the person whose life they’ve just saved where they found them.  The panel spoke to the need for a post-overdose diversion facility where EMS can bring people after non-fatal overdoses to recover, get stabilized on medications, and access resources.

Here is some background on issues of behavioral health:

In 2021, Council passed a resolution I sponsored that called for King County and the State of Washington, and our federal government to increase services to address behavioral health conditions, which includes substance use disorders.

I’m not sure if it’s always clear to the interested public that behavioral health is primarily a responsibility of the county and state – not the City.  We do not have dedicated funding sources for this purpose, unlike the other levels of government

I applaud the County’s leadership, following that resolution, in proposing and passing the Crisis Care Centers levy, which will create a countywide network of five crisis care centers, restore and expand residential treatment beds, and grow the community behavioral health workforce.  Thank you also to the voters for their strong approval.

These are significant and desperately needed improvements – and yet they still will not fully build out the array of substance use treatments we need.

While this is not the City’s prime responsibility, the City cannot walk away from the desperate need of our residents.  As we’ve seen here, there are evidence-based treatment and intervention options that save lives and improve the health and well-being of people who use drugs.  We need partnership and increased funding from all levels of government who bear responsibility for addressing this crisis.  And we must do our part as well.

After the panel presentation, the Mayor’s Office presented the proposed bill. The bill designates diversion and treatment as the approach preferred over arrest and describes a new “threat of harm” standard that is intended to guide officer discretion in enforcement decisions.

The Mayor’s Office described the framework of the bill, when to arrest, and when to divert, based on the threat of harm assessment.  Organizations that participated in the panel will likely play an important role in diversion efforts. The Mayor’s office noted the approach is informed by a desire to balance public safety objectives with the Mayor’s experience with the war on drugs.  Further, a law-enforcement only approach wouldn’t work with the limited number of officers and limitations on jail capacity (the jail has a staffing crisis as well).

I appreciate that the Executive has taken a nuanced approach in this proposal to implementation of the authority granted by the state legislature, consistent with authority over public safety in the City Charter.  In particular, I appreciate the delineation of how the authority will be used in practice when deciding whether to pursue diversion or arrest and providing clear, practical direction to officers on how to use this authority.

Legislative findings in the bill note:

  • Diversion is preferred as an approach over arrest
  • King County has a designated Behavioral Health services division for mental and behavioral health and substance use disorder care and treatment
  • Prior federal, state, and local drug enforcement and policies, including the “war on drugs” disproportionately impacted Black, Indigenous, and People of Color and cause trauma and pain that lingers still today in these communities, and
  • “The City of Seattle is committed to not repeating the errors of the past and will work to have the implementation of this ordinance balance public safety with the well-being of individuals using controlled substances”

Clearly stating that commitment to a balanced approach is vitally important. I also appreciate the Mayor’s proposed bill included some of the input I provided as a workgroup member.

With the City Council’s next day vote on the Introduction and Referral calendar (IRC), the bill was formally introduced at the City Council meeting. The IRC is developed by the Council President and voting on it is a necessary step before a vote can take place on a bill. This will allow for a vote at the next PSHS committee meeting in September.

The Public Safety and Human Services Committee is scheduled to consider amendments and vote on the legislation on September 12th.

You can view the video of the meeting on the Seattle Channel website.

Community Police Commission August 31 Event, Executive Director Appointment

The Community Police Commission (CPC) will hold a New Beginnings Community Meeting and Annual Report Presentation on August 31 from 6-8 p.m. at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute at 104 17th Avenue South, at 17th and East Yesler Way.

The CPC is hosting this event in recognition of 10 years of the Seattle Police Accountability System and the memory of John T. Williams, whose death brought community groups in 2010 to call for the federal investigation that resulted in the current Consent Decree.

This meeting fulfills a requirement of Ordinance 125315 to “Convene an annual meeting to receive public comments and present to the community highlights of CPC’s annual report.” The CPC will be presenting the 2021 and 2022 Annual Reports, re-engaging with the community to introduce the work of the CPC in the police accountability system, strengthening partnerships, and learning about community needs and concerns in 2023.

A variety of food from local restaurants will be provided, as well as music and cultural programming.

On August 16, the CPC members voted to appoint Interim Executive Director Cali Ellis to the position of permanent Executive Director.

Under the 2017 accountability ordinance, the initial appointment for a permanent Executive Director is subject to confirmation by the Council. Any subsequent re-appointment is not. The term is for six years.

The appointment requires Council approval and is scheduled to be heard at the Public Safety and Human Services Committee meeting on September 12th.

Alki Beach Pride This Sunday

Celebrate the love in our community at Alki Beach Pride this Sunday!  All are welcome at this family-friendly event to enjoy live music, waterfront dining, inspiring performances and the breathtaking views of the Puget Sound. It’s Pride’s most soulful (and sandy) celebration of the summer.

Founded by two black women, this is an LGBTQ+ event that promotes awareness and inclusion for all ages and families to enjoy festivities along the beautiful shores of Alki Beach. Uniquely the first Pride located “At the Beach” in Washington State aims to annually celebrate the LGBTQ+ community in a safe, strong, respectful, collaborative, diverse, and inclusive way with visibility for those who feel don’t feel seen, heard, or accepted.

Register for Fall 2023 Classes and Activities

Seattle Parks and Recreation’s Fall 2023 program brochures are here! You’ll find all the in-person, drop in, and virtual programs that are coming up soon in the catalogs below.

Scholarships (financial aid) are available!  Financial aid materials available in 繁體中文 (Traditional Chinese), Soomaali (Somali), Español (Spanish), Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese), አማርኛ (Amharic), Afaan Oromoo (Oromo), Tagalog, ትግሪኛ (Tigrinya), and English.

Fire Safety Fair at Station 13

Seattle Fire Department’s Station 13 (3601 Beacon Ave S.) will be hosting the department’s next Fire Safety Fair on Saturday, September 9th, 12-2 PM. This free all-ages event is open to the public and provides families an opportunity to learn fire prevention and life-safety tips.

Visitors to the Beacon Hill fire station will get to meet local firefighters, explore a working fire engine and fire station, and watch CPR demonstrations. The event also includes hands-on activities and an arts and crafts table for more fun learning opportunities.

Unreinforced Masonry Tour with Congresswoman Jayapal

Last week, I joined SDCI’s Amanda Hertzfeld on a tour of the Cadillac Hotel and a discussion of Seattle’s URM issues and our ongoing efforts in that arena. The visit gave City leadership (including SDCI, OEM, CM Lewis, and myself) the opportunity to highlight the work Seattle has done to develop a URM retrofit program and the need for federal support to Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal.

Through the meeting, City staff shared information about outreach to business owners, historic preservation work, and the cost-effective minimum seismic safety thresholds identified and established by structural engineers. Because the estimated average cost of retrofitting a URM building is estimated to be $750,000 per building, SDCI has identified potential funding mechanisms, including FEMA grants.

The City of Seattle has requested $20 million from FEMA’s Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) grant processes. These discussions equipped Congresswoman Jayapal with the information she’ll need to best support our BRIC applications and secure future support for federal prioritization of earthquake retrofit grants.

The meeting finished with a tour of the Cadillac Hotel’s own retrofits to improve earthquake resilience.

WRIA 9 Visit to Chinook Winds Project

I represent Seattle on Watershed Resource Inventory Area (WRIA) 9, and serve as a Co-Chair. Thursday of last week the members toured the Chinook Winds project, which has recently been completed.

King County’s Mitigation project website notes,

“The Chinook Wind Mitigation Project is located on 5.912 acres at river mile 6.7 on the north bank of the Duwamish River in the City of Tukwila. Construction began in 2021 and the completed project created more than 4 acres of new estuarine wetland, aquatic, and riparian habitat area. The project includes off-channel aquatic and intertidal mud flat habitat, as well as low and high marsh, and riparian habitat. Chinook Wind is downstream from the City of Tukwila’s Duwamish Gardens Shoreline Restoration project and together the sites provide critical, rare, off-channel and shallow-water edge habitat for Chinook and other salmon.

The Chinook Wind Mitigation Project will provide immensely important habitat in the Green Duwamish system: transition zone rearing and refuge habitat for endangered Chinook salmon, which in turn are a primary food source for endangered orca whales. The Chinook Wind Mitigation Project is important for species recovery and watershed function because there are no remaining naturally occurring estuarine wetlands of this size in the Duwamish River system, due to many decades of urbanization and intensive industrial uses in the Duwamish River valley.

The Chinook Wind Mitigation Project will compensate for unavoidable permitted impacts to wetlands and aquatic resources in Water Resource Inventory Area (WRIA) 9.”

King County purchased the property in 2015 and removed buildings and impervious surfaces. Soil contamination and clean-up were completed in 2020; the final design was completed in 2021, and construction began in 2021.

97% of the estuarine wetland habitat in the Duwamish River has been lost in the last 150 years.


App-Based Worker Deactivation Rights Ordinance Passes / Midyear Budget Bill Victories / August 8 PSHS Meetings / Community Police Commission ED Position Interviews / Backpacks for Kids Summer Bash Friday 8/18 / Expanded Fall Hours Coming to Delridge

August 11th, 2023


App-Based Worker Deactivation Rights Ordinance Passes

This recent Tuesday, at the Seattle City Council Meeting, our council made history yet again by passing a nationally groundbreaking ordinance to ensure deactivation protections for delivery network company workers and marketplace network companies.

In 2020, app-based work became and continues to be one of Seattle’s fastest-growing job sectors. By providing vital services such as food and grocery delivery or in-home services, thousands of app-based workers in Seattle were considered essential workers since the beginning of the COVID pandemic.

Unfortunately, many of these essential workers did not enjoy the same workplace protections offered to virtually all other workers in the city. As these platforms grew, and with no workplace protections because these workers aren’t considered employees, I could see the erosion of a decade’s work creating labor protections for employees. Many app-based workers had to work under unfair conditions while being underpaid. In fact, after expenses such as mileage, vehicle maintenance, and other business expenses are considered, some workers were even losing money on a job.

That was the problem we set out to solve with the PayUp suite of legislation. In 2022, this Council passed the first PayUp bill, guaranteeing a minimum wage for app-based delivery drivers.

But a guaranteed minimum wage was just the first step.  Across apps, workers can be deactivated without receiving any notice or reason at all, often due to algorithms with little to no human review. This bill builds basic protections for these workers in one of the fastest-growing sectors of our economy, building reliability and stability for a growing workforce. This reliability for thousands of workers will help prevent homelessness, fight displacement, and allow families to meet their basic needs.

The App-Based Worker Deactivation Rights Ordinance requires that companies notify workers before they get deactivated and provide an explanation of the reasoning and evidence that triggered the deactivation process. It directs companies to build internal appeal processes with human review to allow workers to challenge their deactivations. We are not banning deactivations, simply requiring that workers be allowed to challenge an unjust and unwarranted deactivation.

Opponents of the bill during public testimony seem to rely on an unamended draft, citing concerns relating to safety and privacy. To address these concerns, the Public Safety and Human Services Committee had already adopted a series of amendments before the bill was voted out of committee.

One amendment allowed for immediate deactivations for “behavior by an individual app-based worker that: (1) endangers the physical safety of the customer, or a third person, the network company, or an animal; or (2) intentionally causes economic harm to the customer, a third person, or the network company; or (3) is threatening, harassing, or abusive to the customer, a third party, or the network company.” This amendment was drafted in collaboration with marketplace apps like Rover and delivery apps like DoorDash and received their support.

Another amendment allows for the network companies to “take measures to anonymize information related to that customer or third party” when they believe that information related to a deactivation could compromise the customer or third party’s safety.

We’ve also heard from some opponents that they don’t believe unwarranted deactivations to be an important problem for this Council to address, but earlier this week, the Seattle Times reported on a UW study of the Drivers Resolution Center.

The study evaluated Transportation Network Company protections, created by Seattle City Council several years ago.  This was also legislation that opponents said we did not need. In a review of 1,420 cases processed through the city’s resolution center, drivers of color were deactivated at similar rates as white drivers, but that drivers of color were reactivated at a higher rate. The authors of the study stated, “We interpret this difference as drivers of color being deactivated more frequently for resolvable infractions than their white peers.”

Over half of all driver deactivations processed by the resolution center were for “minor” issues, including submitting a scanned copy of a document instead of an original.  Thanks to the deactivations protections Council passed, about 80% of drivers were able to get reactivated.

It’s true that with this ordinance, we set out to build something different, but it is similarly innovative. These are different platforms offering different services and to a mostly different group of workers. But what is the same is that workers were asking us for help. This bill comes from years of engagement and outreach with workers, workers’ advocates, network companies, and city staff.

I am proud that Seattle is a national leader on labor protections, and I am proud of my fellow councilmembers for continuing to live up to this reputation by passing this ordinance at our Tuesday, August 8 City Council meeting.

App-based work is work. It is done by human beings who deserve a stable work environment. Their livelihoods should not hinge on the decisions of an algorithm. This law, the first of its kind in the nation, will protect app-based workers from arbitrary deactivation and give them meaningful recourse to appeal to a human being if they are deactivated. Thank you to everyone who has been involved in deep community engagement and difficult dialogue, doing their part to stand up for these workers.

Midyear Budget Bill Victories

The Tuesday vote on the midyear supplemental budget brought the 911 Dual Dispatch/Alternate Crisis Response program across another hurdle.  Among other things, the bill moved $1.6 million to the Community Safety and Communications Center and grants position authority for the city’s new dual dispatch pilot program.

The new dual dispatch program will send mental health professionals as the first responders to 911 calls involving people in behavioral health crises. Those mental health professionals will have police backup available to them, but SPD officers would only approach if needed.

The funding, in Mayor Harrell’s proposed midyear supplemental budget, moves the funds held for this purpose for the last two budget cycles, to pay for the facilities costs, vehicles, and the long-awaited new position authority for the Community Safety and Communications Center to hire new staff that will be used to set up three teams including mental health professionals. The majority of these funds have been held in the “Finance General” account of the budget since allocated by the Council in the fall of 2021.

This budget add allows the CSCC to begin the process of recruiting, hiring, onboarding, and training the new responders to be deployed later this year. Further, on Wednesday I learned that the hiring process had started.  The plan, shared by the CSCC at the June 27 Public Safety and Human Services Committee meeting, is to activate the dual dispatch pilot this fall.

With this action, we can finally take the next step toward our community’s calls for policing alternatives. We know we cannot continue to ask police to do it all. This program will help focus our approach to public safety and free up officers to more quickly respond to the types of emergencies that only they can.

In addition, the bill includes critical opioid treatment funding to support one element of Mayor Harrell’s incoming Executive Order, specifically: “access to mobile opioid medication delivery” in Pioneer Square. Evergreen Treatment Services is on the frontlines of the opioid epidemic, providing life-saving medical treatment and counseling for people struggling with addiction throughout the region. Their innovative program, Treatment in Motion (TIM), brings comprehensive mobile medication and counseling to people struggling with opioid addiction downtown, with the capacity to serve up to 120 people daily.

The new funding will allow Evergreen Treatment Services to add an additional mobile medication vehicle and three more locations, including one in Pioneer Square, with the capacity to serve up to 360 people each day. The organization is also seeking to purchase a transport van to circulate between “hot spots” and pick up patients to deliver them to the mobile unit to receive care, further lowering barriers to treatment. Without this funding, they would likely seek funding from a different jurisdiction, with a result of fewer service days per week within the city, and no Pioneer Square service site.

If you have someone you care about and love, who is an addict, what you care about most, and first, is that they don’t die in the throes of their addiction. By investing in this mobile treatment approach, we are expanding access and breaking down barriers to proven treatment for our most vulnerable residents. We cannot end the fentanyl epidemic and drug overdose crisis without treatment – and we need more treatment, not less.

About the funding, Seth Soth, Director of Health Integration & Innovation at Evergreen Treatment Services said, “Treatment in Motion ensures that vital and lifesaving services will be available to those most in need in our community. These funds protect a community-based outreach program that brings medication for opioid use disorder along with case management, counseling, and medical services directly to the most marginalized in our community.”

August 8 PSHS Meetings

Appointment of Josh Sattler as SMC Court Administrator

We were joined at our Tuesday Public Safety and Human Services Meeting by the Seattle Municipal Court Presiding Judge Faye Chess to present an appointment of Josh Sattler as Court Administrator of the Seattle Municipal Court.

SMC 3.33.060 requires a Court Administrator to be appointed by the judges of the Municipal Court, subject to confirmation by a majority of the City Council.

The Court Administrator guides a staff of 200+ employees to coordinate all administrative and operational functions of the Seattle Municipal Court as the Court’s operations executive. This work includes leading much of the Court’s internal diversity, equity, and inclusion work, leading strategic initiatives, and allocating resources for the efficient function of the Courts.

Mr. Sattler has been serving as Interim Court Administrator for about a year now and has 9 years of service with the Seattle Municipal Court. As Interim Court Administrator, Mr. Sattler is already in the process of guiding the Court through a technological upgrade to their case management system built in the 1980s. At the committee meeting, he shared a commitment to build SMC systems with a customer service-focused lens.

Mr. Sattler received unanimous support from the PSHS Committee and will move on to the full City Council for confirmation of his appointment.

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline Serving King County – Year One Report

988, the 24/7 suicide and behavioral health crisis hotline, has been open for just over a year.  We invited Michelle McDaniel, CEO of Crisis Connections, to share the results of their first year of operations and preview the next steps, including 911 integration.  I’ve written previously about 988 here and here.

Washington is one of only four states to rapidly pass a 988 infrastructure bill with funding attached; I testified in support of a bill to add additional behavioral health workers earlier this year.  Because of the state’s leadership, 988 was able to scale up to handle the 300% increase in calls it received this year.  Most calls were safely resolved without needing additional resources; less than 2% needed intervention from a first responder.

The vision behind 988 is broader than just a hotline, but it will take some time to build out the entire continuum of services that are needed:

Towards the end of this year, the City will launch its dual dispatch program, where both SPD officers and a new CARE team of behavioral health responders will come to the scene of certain 911 calls. It’s important to have clearly defined response protocols so that we are sending the appropriate resources.

A recent landscape analysis authored by professionals at the UW School of Social Work looks at the statewide behavioral health crisis care continuum and calls out the necessity of integrating 988 and 911, including these recommendations:

  • Every region of the state should have both police and fire-based co-response programs available as an essential crisis service.
  • These co-response programs should share information and closely collaborate with the 988-led behavioral health response system, including call centers, mobile crisis teams, and crisis stabilization facilities.

The rollout of dual dispatch later this year and the passage in April of the King County Crisis Care Centers levy are important milestones in re-envisioning how we think about crisis response.  True systems integration will take time and will require ongoing public attention and oversight.

Seattle Community Safety Initiative (SCSI) and King County Regional Approach to Gun Violence

The Seattle Community Safety Initiative (SCSI), first funded by Council in 2020, returned to committee to share data on their work and impact.  SCSI operates community safety “hubs” here in West Seattle, as well as Rainier Valley and the Central District.  You can view the presentation here.

As you can see, as of May this year, SCSI has already responded to as many critical incidents as they did in each of the last two complete years.  Dom Davis, CEO of Community Passageways, believes that increase is due to more shots fired incidents, coupled with increasing trust in SCSI by both the Seattle Police Department and community members – either of which may call SCSI to the scene.

We also received an update from Eleuthera Lisch, Director, Regional Gun Violence at Public Health- Seattle & King County. You can view her presentation here.

I sponsored $300,00 to expand the Harborview Hospital-Based Intervention (HBI) program to serve victims of gun violence between the ages of 25 and 40: the age range that has been driving the increase in gun violence.  Harborview provides point-of-contact support at the hospital to connect individuals admitted for gunshot injury to Urban League staff for restoration, case management, and follow-up services such as mentoring, therapy follow-up, financial services, housing, substance abuse, treatment, and job opportunities.

The City of Seattle has also provided $2M to Regional Peacekeepers Collective, which joins $7M from the County to ramp up through 2022 and 2023.

Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) and Co-LEAD Quarter 1 and 2 Metrics Reporting

Finally, we heard from Human Services Department (HSD) and PDA (Purpose Dignity Action; formerly Public Defenders Association) representatives to review the first six months of performance metrics for LEAD and Co-LEAD.  I wrote in May about PDA’s new contract with HSD that will allow us to learn more about LEAD’s and Co-LEAD’s impacts over time.

HSD and PDA collaborated to present significant amounts of data about their Q1 and Q2 2023 performance.  You can find the presentation here.

HSD and PDA will be back in December to share Q3 performance metrics with committee members.

August 8 SPMA hearing: The committee also held an evening public hearing on the 8th regarding bargaining with the Seattle Police Management Association (SPMA).

The Community Police Commission, Office of the Inspector General, and Office of Police Accountability provided testimony, along with members of the public.

The hearing is required to be held 90 days before bargaining begins, so public testimony can still be provided. Feel free to e-mail me.

You can view the Seattle Channel video of the hearing here.

Community Police Commission ED Position Interviews

The Seattle Channel has posted interviews with two of the finalists for the position of Executive Director of the Community Police Commission. You can view the interviews here:

Here are written responses to questions from all three candidates.

The Community Police Commission is scheduled to select a permanent Executive Director next Wednesday, August 16th.   Seattle Human Resources is facilitating the search for the Community Police Commission Executive Director and has posted a brief survey to inform the hiring decision. Responses are anonymous.  An overview of the survey responses will be shared with the CPC prior to their nomination of the Executive Director and will become part of the public record.  Here’s a link to the survey.

Backpacks for Kids Summer Bash Friday 8/18

  • Date: Friday, August 18th
  • Time: 4:30PM – 7:00PM
  • Location: South Park Community Center | 8319 8th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98108

Network with community-centered resources, enjoy some grilled BBQ with family & friends, pick up school supplies (limited amount), and build community relationships.  All community members are welcome to participate!

Expanded Fall Hours Coming to Delridge

Starting September 11:  Delridge Community Center: M-F, 9:30a.m. to 9p.m.; SAT, 9:30a.m. to 6p.m.

Thanks to funding from the Seattle Park District, Delridge Community Center will expand to serve the public 66 hours weekly starting on September 11th, up from 43 hours weekly currently.  Seven other community centers will also see expanded hours.

Allocation of hours was determined based on a variety of factors, including evaluating how these hours could further support racial equity, as well as honoring existing partnerships (Seattle Housing Authority, Seattle Preschool Program, etc.).  Learn more at Expanded Public Hours Coming to Several Community Centers this Fall! – Parkways (


Council Blog Post re Police Union Negotiations, August 8 SPMA Hearing / Terminal 5 Quiet Zone Construction / Expanding Opioid Addiction Treatment / Visiting the Rainier Valley Food Bank / Duwamish River Festival this Saturday / Rainier Beach Shooting / Rent Control Preemption Trigger Ordinance

August 4th, 2023


Council Blog Post re Police Union Negotiations, August 8 SPMA Hearing

Below please find a blog post, reprinted from the Seattle City Council Blog, about how labor negotiations work with Seattle’s two police unions, and the August 8 public hearing on Seattle Police Management Association (SPMA) contract negotiations.  The most recent SPMA contract adopted in 2022 included several recommendations received during its public hearing back in 2019, including improvements to the discipline review system regarding subpoena power, standard of proof for dishonesty and preponderance of evidence, the 180-day clock, and arbitration. That’s why these public hearings are so important and how input from the public can result in real accountability reform in police contracts.

Seattle City Council to hold public hearing on Seattle Police Management Association contract

The Seattle City Council will be holding a public hearing to gather community input on the upcoming Seattle Police Management Association (SPMA) contract negotiations. It will be on August 8 at 5:30 pm inside Council Chambers at Seattle City Hall.

It’s a crucial moment, as it will be the public’s only opportunity to give input before the contract is negotiated.

The City of Seattle agreed to an updated contract with SPMA last year. Among other important reforms to the police accountability system, things, it created a new Discipline Review System. That new system, which sets the rules for how police managers can appeal cases in which they have been found to have violated policy, addressed many of the shortcomings found in the previous, traditional arbitration system.

That agreement is only scheduled to last through the end of this year. Contract negotiations will get underway in the coming months. Under city law, a hearing must be held at least 90 days before negotiations begin. The current contract will remain in place until negotiations are complete.

What are Seattle’s two police officer unions?

Seattle has two different unions that represent police officers. The Seattle Police Management Association (SPMA) represents lieutenants and captains, while the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG) represents officers and sergeants.

What are police contracts

Seattle’s police contracts are the result of negotiations between Seattle’s police unions and the City. Among other things, they establish how much police officers are paid, what benefits they receive, and how police officers can be held accountable when they violate policy.

Importantly, both SPMA and SPOG negotiate their contracts independently of one another. That means SPOG officers and SPMA officers work under different police accountability rules.

How police contracts affect police accountability

In Washington State, police contracts do more than establish what wages and benefits officers receive – they can limit how the City can hold police officers accountable when they violate police department policies. Police contracts can limit how police officers are investigated, make it harder to determine if officers have violated policy, and ultimately hold them accountable.

Who negotiates police contracts?

City leaders, including five of Seattle’s nine councilmembers, oversee the negotiations through the Labor Relations Policy Committee (LRPC). Following a public hearing, the LRPC will establish its priorities or ‘bargaining parameters.’ Once parameters are set, negotiations with the union begin. Once negotiations have started there are limitations on each party’s ability to raise new issues. Generally, no new issues can be raised, unless approved by the union.

As of the current SPOG and the last SPMA negotiations, Seattle’s civilian-led police accountability agencies participate in the LRPC parameter-setting process and serve as technical advisors to LRPC members. The Office of Police Accountability, the Office of Inspector General, and an appointed Community Police Commission representative all have access to the confidential process to advise on police accountability issues.

In negotiations, the City is represented by the Negotiating Committee. That includes representatives from the Executive’s staff and a Seattle City Council Central Staff member. The Negotiating Committee meets with union representatives and reports back to the LRPC.

When a deal is reached and confidentially approved by both the LRPC and the union’s negotiators, the deal is called a “tentative agreement.” The police union’s members then vote on the deal. If the union approved, the City Council approves the contract.

If the Council then votes against the tentative agreement after members approved it in the LRPC, the City could risk drawing an Unfair Labor Practice complaint from the police union and be subject to sanctions.

What happens if no deal is reached?

Unlike many other employees, police cannot legally go on strike due to the nature of their jobs. Instead, if a police union and the City can’t reach a deal, the negotiations can go to interest arbitration. In that process, a neutral arbitrator would make binding decisions to resolve disagreements about the contract. That process is governed by RCW 41.56, specifically RCW 41.56.430 through RCW 41.56.490.


Terminal 5 Quiet Zone Construction

Construction of the Terminal 5 Quiet Zone has begun. SDOT’s project page has a list of what to expect during construction:

  • Maintained access to businesses
  • Temporary lane closures on West Marginal Way SW
  • Detours in place for people walking, biking, riding foot scooters, and driving to travel safely around work zones
  • Temporary on-street parking restrictions, with “no park” signs placed 72 hours in advance
  • Flaggers directing people driving, walking, and bicycling through detours around the work
  • Typical construction equipment, materials, noise, workers, dust, vibrations and activity in the area during work hours
  • Typical weekday work hours are 7 AM – 5 PM, Monday through Friday
  • Weekend and night work as needed

Construction is anticipated to continue through Summer 2024.

This is a long-awaited development.  In my first year as a Councilmember, in 2016, I sent a letter to the Port advocating for a quiet zone. The letter said “I want to encourage your efforts to look into applying a quiet zone. Many constituents have written about the noise that is emitted from trains entering and leaving T5 at the Chelan Café intersection and have suggested making the area a quiet zone.”

This led to the development of a Statement of Legislative Intent (SLI) in 2016, SLI 66-1-A-1, in 2016, requested SDOT work with the Port of Seattle, the Federal Railway Administration, and the railway companies doing business at T-5, to extend the quiet zone along W Marginal Way between Delridge Way SW and 17th Ave SW.  In addition, the obligation to install a quiet zone was included in the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspection’s permitting requirements for the Terminal 5 expansion.

In 2021 the Council approved Council Bill 120138, authorizing the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) to acquire property needed to construct the necessary improvements for a quiet zone.

See here for more about quiet zones. You can sign up for updates at SDOT’s Terminal 5 Quiet Zone page.


Expanding Opioid Addiction Treatment

On Wednesday, members of the Finance & Housing committee approved my proposal to expand access to opioid addiction treatment for Seattle residents with a $1 million addition to the Human Services Department budget.  This coming Tuesday, the full Council will have an opportunity to approve the budget legislation.

The treatment vehicles take 5 months to order.  For this reason, it was important to me to take action now in order to support Mayor Harrell’s intention expressed in the recent announcement of his coming Executive Order to support “access to mobile opioid medication delivery.”  We could not wait until the passage of the 2024 budget in the fall, with those funds only becoming available next year.

This funding will expand Evergreen Treatment Services’ Treatment in Motion (TIM), a licensed mobile dispensary/mobile medication unit that provides all forms of medication for opioid use disorder in the community, including methadone, buprenorphine, and long-acting injectable Sublocade.   TIM staff also provide field intakes, medical evaluations, dose evaluations, counseling, and community and patient outreach, all within a specially outfitted vehicle.   You can learn more about medication for opioid use disorders here.

TIM currently serves 30-40 people daily downtown but has the capacity to serve up to 120.  With this funding, TIM will:

  1. Serve a second site with the existing vehicle, this one in Pioneer Square.
  2. Order a second mobile dispensary vehicle with twice the capacity of the existing one and serve two additional sites, locations to be determined.
  3. Purchase a used ADA van to transport people to the mobile dispensaries.

With this expansion, TIM will have the capacity to treat up to 360 people for opioid use disorder every day, at four distinct locations in Seattle.  Thank you to Evergreen Treatment Services for this timely proposal.  Our overdose deaths are at crisis levels, and this work will save many lives, as well as help many hundreds of people recover from their addictions.

Visiting the Rainier Valley Food Bank

Last Friday, I visited the Rainier Valley Food Bank during their twice-weekly Grocery Shopping service. Scores of volunteers unloaded pallets of food and helped guests find what they wanted on well-stocked shelves. More volunteers greeted guests waiting in line and kept up spirits with music and conversation. Guests can also access City Council-championed hygiene trailers with showers on site, ready-made meals to go, and talk with a Community Connector about rental assistance, job training, benefits, and more.

Rainier Valley Food Bank plans a significant expansion to better serve the community with fresh, healthy, culturally-appropriate food, and bring even more resources to guests. They have been fundraising and grant-writing to support that expansion as well as a vision that expands beyond their own footprint. They are working towards a neighborhood revitalization with the planned renovation of nearby Rainier Beach High School and the City-funded rejuvenation of Be’er Sheva Park.

Hunger, and the need for services like this, increased significantly during the pandemic and have not returned to pre-pandemic levels.

With the leadership and advocacy of the Seattle Food Committee, I’ve fought for increased resources to help people struggling to feed themselves and their families, including $5 million in the 2022 budget to replace federal relief funds that had run out, in order to maintain current levels of food support for Seattle residents.

Duwamish River Festival this Saturday

Duwamish River Festival is this Saturday at Duwamish River People’s Park and Shoreline Habitat! Learn more at Duwamish River Festival — Duwamish River Community Coalition (

Rainier Beach Shooting

Last Friday, our city was shaken by yet another senseless act of gun violence. I’ve written in this newsletter several times about gun violence. In this instance, a shooting took place at a Rainier Beach community event held to prevent gun violence and support community members in healing from gun violence. I am grateful that there were no fatalities, but otherwise, I am still heartbroken to again write another blog post detailing another shooting in our Seattle neighborhoods and the work we must do to curtail them.

I am appreciative of the Mayor and Chief Diaz showing up at the Safeway parking lot during the National Night Out to discuss their plans to address community gun violence. Still, like all of you, I am frustrated and fed up with reading about yet another terrible shooting.

It seems every few weeks I write how we are hopeful because of SPD’s work with their Community Safety Task Force, the arrests they have made, the record-breaking number of guns they have confiscated, the ongoing investigations they are conducting, as well as the significant and impactful investments we have made through the Human Services Department in the Seattle Community Safety Initiative.

Readers of my weekly newsletter understand the budget actions the Council has taken to fully fund SPD’s hiring plan, and their recruitment blueprint, our investments in community-centered safety initiatives, and funding to expand existing gun violence interruption programming. We’ve shared the good news of legislative victories in the state legislature in 2023 and 2022, but also the knowledge of the state preemption limiting local gun regulations, and how our legislature must give cities and counties the ability to legislate common sense gun control.

I have written time and time again about how heartbroken I am every time we lose another Seattle resident to gun violence. But this time, I am not just sad and angry. I, like many of you, am fed up.

In this exhaustion and frustration, I remain inspired by the resolve of the SE Network SafetyNet program, which has led the Community Healing Space Activation events in Rainier Beach. I am moved to continue searching for legislative and budgetary solutions by their persistence. Week after week, this group has built community in Rainier Beach, holding space for healing and difficult conversations, prioritizing the youth of our communities, and saving lives.

We cannot let our frustration and fear shake us. As we pause to process and mourn when we need to, we must keep working. Seattle, the Washington State Legislature, and the federal government must come together to better figure out what we can do to end this terrible scourge of gun violence across the country.

Rent Control Preemption Trigger Ordinance

This Tuesday, Council voted 6-2 to reject an ordinance that could have possibly gone into effect sometime in the indeterminate future, and only if the state legislature were to remove the statewide preemption on regulating the increase of rent payments. I was part of the majority that voted to reject the ordinance, and I’d like to share why I voted as such.

Speaking first to the opponents of rent regulation laws generally, I don’t agree with the opposition.  There are more than 200 cities across the country with some form of rent regulation, and each city has tailored their laws to fit their housing markets.

The main arguments against rent control are that rent regulations:

  1. lead to high vacancy rates,
  2. slow new construction, and
  3. result in deterioration and abandonment.

Economist Phillip Weitzman, a former director of research and policy with the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development has said, “The existing empirical literature does not take into account the rise of second generation [moderate] rent controls.” A review of cities with these later laws shows that most of the arguments used against regulating rent are associated with these strict first-generation rent control laws. In NYC there are about 38,000 rent-controlled apartments compared to about one million rent-stabilized apartments. The term “rent-regulated” encompasses both rent-controlled and rent-stabilized units.

Landlords say rent control doesn’t work, but I’ve never heard of a person living in a rent control unit moving out because it didn’t work for them.

Speaking specifically to the content of the proposed bill, it was promoted as having no loopholes, meaning no exemptions for certain housing units.  For instance, the bill did not exempt newly constructed housing. To address concerns that rent control results in new construction slowing, most cities exempt newly constructed buildings. The most recent experience with a policy that did not include such an exemption, St. Paul passed a no-exemptions rent control law in 2021, similar to the bill the Council voted on this week.

Yet, five months after it took effect, St. Paul saw a 30% reduction in building permits, while nearby Minneapolis (a city that did not impose rent control on newly constructed buildings) saw a 30% increase in building permits. In response, St. Paul elected officials to amend the bill they passed in 2021 to exempt newly constructed buildings from rent control.

Why does it matter that construction might slow if new buildings aren’t exempted from rent control?  It results in a reduction in the increase in the supply of housing units that we cannot afford.

The Myths and Facts document at the bill sponsor’s webpage says: “recently, UC Berkeley researchers have found that the six cities that had rent control in the Bay Area actually produced more housing units per capita than cities without rent control.” All six of these cities studied also have new construction exemptions. In other words, the bill sponsor’s own research supports new construction exemptions.

I believe it would have been better if this bill considered exempting new construction and created incentives for owners of new buildings to participate. For instance, in NYC, owners of new buildings are exempt but largely voluntarily opt-in in exchange for tax abatements. I might have offered an amendment but for the sponsor’s constant admonishment that amendments to add loopholes or water down the policy were not welcome.

I was a tenant organizer with the Tenants Union for nearly 4 years. When I chaired the committee with oversight of civil rights issues, I was able to work with tenant advocates to mobilize and successfully sponsor and pass Fair Chance Housing, Source of Income Discrimination and First-in-Time Protections and 5 separate bills related to WA CAN’s Losing Home Report Recommendations and a law Broadening Reasonable Accommodations Required in Housing

I say so only to emphasize that I know how important it is to lift the state pre-emption that bans rent regulation, but I did not see how legislation that fails in Seattle would build a movement of support for change in Olympia. To build momentum for change in Olympia, re-working the legislation when it became apparent it would fail was necessary.

I was also concerned that this trigger law would have instead harmed the efforts of legislators and tenants’ rights advocates to lift pre-emption. This bill, if passed, would have broadcasted, to the opponents of legislative change in the state legislature, what version of rent control to continue to pre-empt. Even worse, Seattle’s law could be used as a reason to oppose lifting the pre-emption at all.

Further, it’s important to remember that the most recent rent stabilization bills in Olympia did not propose to lift the pre-emption at all; they would have instead created statewide rent regulations. If that is the approach that the legislature continues to pursue, this bill would have never been enacted anyway.

Though I support lifting the State preemption as well as instituting laws regulating rent, I voted against this particular bill.


July 25 Public Safety and Human Services Committee / Seattle Police Management Association Public Hearing Aug 8 / Council Adopts Racing Zone Legislation

July 28th, 2023


July 25 Public Safety and Human Services Committee

At the July 25th  Public Safety and Human Services Committee we followed up on four separate important Council initiatives. You can watch the video here.

Abortion Access:  In 2022, when news leaked that the Supreme Court planned to overturn the right to abortion in its ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, this Council moved quickly to shore up legal protections for people seeking abortion, and to increase access to safe abortion services.

Committee members received an update on the City’s historic, first-ever investment in providing abortion services directly ($250,000 in 2022 and $1.25M in 2023) from Public Health-Seattle & King County and the City’s Human Services Department.  You can see the presentation materials here, and watch the discussion here.

Between April 2022 and March 2023, Washington state saw its number of monthly abortions increase by 16.5%, or an additional 290 procedures per month, according to the Society of Family Planning.  In the past year, the City’s funding, along with $500,000 from King County, supported 757 individuals in accessing abortion services locally.

  • 72% of the funding paid for medical services and 28% paid for travel and lodging
  • Pregnant people are traveling from surprisingly long distances to receive healthcare here, including Florida, Tennessee, and Texas. 55% come from Washington, and Idaho residents make up the next largest group.
  • These funds are reaching pregnant people who are uninsured, and truly without resources to travel or access services.

Abortion IS healthcare.  Abortion remains legal and accessible in Seattle, King County, and throughout Washington state.  Anyone seeking an abortion, or information about it, can learn more at www.KingCounty.Gov/Abortion.

Domestic Violence Workgroup Recommendations:  For the past year, at Council’s request, local domestic violence survivors, advocates, and policy experts with experience intervening in domestic violence outside of the criminal legal system met as a workgroup to identify and make recommendations to expand community responses to domestic violence.  The result: an insightful report entitled Transformation Is Possible, which deserves wide readership, and this presentation to committee members on their recommendations.

Why a community-based model?

  • Many abusive behaviors and patterns are perfectly legal, yet survivors deserve assistance and support.
  • The City Attorney’s Office’s first quarterly report shows that in up to 65% of domestic violence incidents investigated by SPD, charges are not filed, often because DV survivors do not want to testify or have charges filed. In these cases, the criminal legal system offers no support or assistance.
  • While domestic violence is a learned behavior, there are few resources for people who are abusive to get help changing their behavior, whether of their own volition or at the urging of a survivor, their children, families, friends, or broader communities.
  • Criminal legal responses have been disproportionately harmful to Black and Indigenous communities and other communities of color; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer communities; and immigrant and refugee communities.

The thoughtful recommendations of this workgroup include establishing durable public funding for community responses that reach people being abusive; investing in strategies developed by marginalized survivors; and launching a 3-year pilot program with community-directed investments.  You can watch the presentation and committee members’ discussion here.

Retail Theft Audit: In early 2022, Councilmember Lewis and I requested the City Auditor conduct an audit regarding retail theft in Seattle, in response to increasing incidences of retail theft.

The Auditor presented the report, The City Can Do More to Tackle Organized Retail Crime in Seattle, to the PSHS committee. The report has a lot to say about what Seattle can be doing differently.

Retail theft continues to be a serious problem adversely affecting retailers throughout Seattle; all five City police precincts are included in the chart in the report showing the 10 most affected retail locations for SPD service calls:

Presenters included representatives from the City Auditor’s Office, Washington Retail Association, Seattle Police Department (SPD), King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, and the Washington State Attorney General’s Office.

The recommendations in the report included:

  1. City collaboration with other law enforcement agencies, including the new Organized Retail Crime Unit in the Washington State Attorney General’s Office.
  2. Leveraging federal and state crime analysis resources.
  3. In-custody interviews of “boosters” — people who steal on behalf of fencing operations— should also ask for information on fencing operations.
  4. Updating antiquated Retail Theft Program with new technology to address ORC.
  5. Following the King County Prosecutor’s Office checklist for organized retail crime cases.
  6. Using place-based approaches to disrupt unregulated street markets.
  7. Considering City support of legislation that addresses ORC.

A key focus of the report is on fencing operations in the chain of organized retail theft:

“Fencing” is the practice of reselling stolen goods through online marketplaces, unregulated markets such as illegal street markets, storefronts that buy stolen goods, and by shipping goods for sale outside of the U.S.

The report highlighted the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design report completed by the West Precinct Crime Prevention Coordinator for the 12th and Jackson neighborhood in Little Saigon as an example of a place-based approach to disrupting open-air markets.

My office has notified the City’s Office of Intergovernmental Affairs of the identified recommendation to support legislation for inclusion in the City’s 2024 State Legislative Agenda.

The audit describes the approach of the City of Kent (in England) using rapid video, with a link to a video call with an officer. Response times are 656 times faster; a Cambridge University study found this approach also had an unexpected benefit of officer retention.

SPD reported that they would be considering the recommendations carefully and would keep the Council informed about implementation efforts.

Pre-filing Diversion Program Expands to 25+: In 2017 the City began a pre-filing diversion program, for young adults aged 18-24. In 2021, the Council added funding in the 2022 budget to expand pre-filing diversion for individuals 25 and over, after funding a Pre-Filing Diversion Racial Equity Toolkit Report for Adults 25 years Old and Older, completed in 2021.

The Human Services Department and the City Attorney’s Office presented about contracts that have begun or will soon begin for providers. Here’s a primer about how pre-filing diversion works, referencing CHOOSE 180, a provider for the 18-24 cohort:

The City Attorney’s Office shared data demonstrating the benefits of pre-filing diversion; the chart on the right shows a lower incidence of recidivism.

The presentation includes summaries of the different program models, which vary.  Agencies will report monthly on the number of referrals, participants, graduates, and other categories.

Work on these issues date back to the establishment, in 2015, by the City Council of a Prisoner and Community Corrections Re-Entry Workgroup in a resolution sponsored by then-Councilmember Harrell, which issued its final report in October 2018.

Seattle Police Management Association Public Hearing Aug 8

There are two labor unions that represent Seattle police officers: the Seattle Police Management Association (SPMA), and the Seattle Police Officer’s Guild (SPOG). SPOG represents officers and sergeants; SPMA represents captains and lieutenants and has fewer than 100 members. An upcoming public hearing applies to SPMA.

On August 8th at 5:30 p.m., the Public Safety and Human Services Committee and the Select Labor Committee will jointly hold a Public Hearing on necessary changes to the City’s police accountability system that should be included in future negotiations with SPMA.  Information about how to testify is included on the agenda. Opportunities for both in-person and virtual testimony will be provided.  Sign-in for in-person testimony begins at 5 p.m.; virtual sign-in begins at 5:30 p.m.

This Hearing must be held at least 90 days before the City begins collective bargaining agreement negotiations with the Seattle Police Management Association (SPMA) and in accordance with Seattle Municipal Code 4.04.120.

It’s the point in time for the public to testify about what should be included in a new contract.  Once negotiations begin, they are confidential and closed to the public until negotiations conclude.

The public hearing requirement is unique to SPMA and SPOG bargaining processes (it exists for no other city unions) out of recognition that, “the City and the public have a strong interest in the conduct and operation of the police department given its impact on public safety.”

SMC 4.04.120.G states, “The City of Seattle will consider in good faith whether and how to carry forward the interests expressed at the public hearing. Those suggested changes that are legally required to be bargained with the SPOG, SPMA or their successor labor organizations will be considered by the City, in good faith, for inclusion in negotiations but the views expressed in the public hearing will not dictate the city’s position during bargaining.”

The Council adopted CB 120332 June 2022 with SPMA for an agreement that runs through the end of 2023. My newsletter from June 2022  addressed changes we heard about from members of the public.

Additional information will be available on the City Council Blog in the coming days about how labor negotiations work with SPMA and SPOG.

Council Adopts Racing Zone Legislation

The Council adopted legislation establishing racing zones, making those streets eligible for safety camera enforcement. The previous week the legislation had passed out of committee.

Here are the zones, and maps:

  1. Alki Ave. SW between 63rd Ave SW and Harbor Ave. SW.
  2. Harbor Ave. SW between Alki Ave. SW and SW Spokane St.
  3. West Marginal Way SW between SW Spokane St and 2nd Ave SW.
  4. Sand Point Way NE between 38th Ave NE and NE 95th St.
  5. NE 65th St between Sand Point Way NE and Magnuson Park.
  6. Roadways inside Magnuson Park including, but not limited to, NE 65th St and Lake Shore Dr NE.
  7. Seaview Ave NW between Golden Gardens Park and 34th Ave NW.
  8. 3rd Ave NW between Leary Way NW and N 145th St.
  9. Martin Luther King Jr Way S between S Massachusetts St and S Henderson St.
  10. Rainier Ave S from S Jackson St south to the city limits.

What’s next?

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is in the process of completing the equity analysis as required by the State law prior to installing the enforcement cameras. The Council anticipates the Mayor’s Office will propose additional implementation details in the coming weeks, which should include collaboration between SDOT and our Seattle Police Department.


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