West Seattle Bridge; Police Recruitment and Incentives Bill Passes; Abortion Access Bill Signing; Metropolitan Parks District Public Hearing; Small Tenant Improvement Fund; Seattle Restored Program – Landlords and Artists/Entrepreneurs Can Apply; King County Assessor Valuations and Appeals; No Newsletter Next Two Weeks

August 19th, 2022

West Seattle Bridge

SDOT announced last week that the West Seattle Bridge is expected to be opened to traffic on Sunday, September 18th, and work remains on track to reopen on that date.

The contractor continues work on the final phase of epoxy crack injection and carbon-fiber wrap installation on the end spans. The west span work is scheduled to be completed this week and the work platform is scheduled to be removed by August 21.

Here’s an update on work completed, in progress, and to do:

West Seattle Bridge Final Repairs Checklist

  • Completed: Let the post-tensioning concrete set and cure
  • Completed: Install post-tensioning ducts
  • Completed: Pre-tensioning epoxy injections and carbon-fiber wrapping
  • Completed: Install post-tensioning strands
  • Completed: Tension post-tensioning strands
  • In-Progress: Complete final epoxy injections and carbon-fiber wrapping
  • To do: Complete cure time for the carbon-fiber wrapping
  • To do: Remove work platforms
  • To do: Load test and inspect the repairs
  • To do: Restore the bridge deck
  • To do: Demobilize the site

Police Recruitment and Incentives Bill Passes

On Tuesday, the Council voted 6-3 on CB 120389 approving the provision of hiring incentives to new police officers proposed by Mayor Harrell, and other items. Following the Council vote, I released this statement:

“Cities across the country face police officer attrition,” said Councilmember Herbold. “These hiring incentives will allow SPD to use funds already in its budget to compete for well-qualified officers and achieve our hiring goals. We know this alone will not be enough. Moving forward, our top priority must be lightening the load on officers and creating new, more effective ways of responding to calls that do not require an armed police response. We can’t keep asking officers to direct traffic and help people in mental health crises when we don’t have enough officers to investigate sexual assaults or respond to 911 calls. Being a first responder is a difficult job. We shouldn’t make it an impossible job.”

In May, the Seattle City Council passed an ordinance sponsored by Councilmember Herbold authorizing $1.15 million from existing funds in SPD’s 2022 budget for police recruitment. 

Today’s bill authorizes additional spending of $289,000 in hiring incentives from existing funds in SPD’s 2022 budget. The second half of the bonus would be paid after the one-year probationary period. Officers who leave the department within five years would need to return the bonus. The results of the partial study from the 2019 bonus program showed that 1 in 5 applicants cited the bonus as one reason they sought to work for the SPD. 20% more people applying matters when the Public Safety Civil Service Commission’s best estimate is that for every 12 applicants in 2021, we hired one police officer.

The bill also transfers $228,000 funds out of SPD to the Seattle Department of Human Resources for four positions to enhance recruiting, to administer tests, and to speed up the hiring process. It allows for funding for moving expenses, per the Council’s earlier legislation.

I appreciate collaborating with the Mayor’s Office, SPD, and Council in developing the bill.

For more information, including a chart detailing how these incentives and SPD salaries compare to other Washington jurisdictions (pg. 9), view this memo.

The bill that passed was a substitute bill to the bill proposed by the Mayor, and included amendments adopted in committee and at the City Council.  Changes included  1. ensuring that officers already hired, and thus not needing an incentive to apply, were not eligible for the bonus; 2. a sunset of the bonus program in December 2024, 3. a requirement to evaluate the effectiveness of the bonus program, 4. ensuring the officers rehired within two years of leaving SPD are not eligible for the bonus. Under Public Safety Civil Service Commission rules, officers may request and receive reinstatement, subject to approval by the Public Safety Civil Service Commission and Chief of Police. Reinstated officers receive reinstatement benefits such as returning to their previous classification, salary step and accrual rates for vacation and sick leave, per the Seattle Police Officer’s Guild contract, for officers that return within two years.  In addition, reinstated officers do not have to re-test and can begin work (and get paid) faster. These reinstatement benefits have economic value as hiring incentives.

 

Abortion Access Bill Signing

The Mayor hosted a bill signing for a suite of bills to protect abortion rights in Seattle, including for two bills Councilmember Morales and I co-sponsored.

My comments are below:

Thank you, Mayor Harrell and Councilmember Morales.

“Everyone in Seattle has heard of the “Big One” – the catastrophic earthquake that will occur at any moment – and most of us have spent time putting together emergency kits and communications plans to help us survive with our loved ones.

The Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs is an earthquake – and it’s the Big One – in its impact on the ability of pregnant people to receive safe and medically sound healthcare and make extremely personal decisions that will affect the entire course of their lives, and their loved ones’. 

Like the big earthquake that we know is coming, Dobbs will also create a tidal wave – in the form of an influx of medical refugees who live in states where they are suddenly unable to get the healthcare they need and are forced to cross state lines in search of it.

Experts expect Washington state to see a four-fold increase in people seeking abortions here – a tidal wave that is gathering force as we speak and is headed our way.

Here in Seattle, we must be ready for them, and meet them with the care and protection that is so lacking in their own home states. 

The reality is that pregnant people – whether residents of Seattle or medical refugees from further afield – do not have the luxury of time to make these difficult decisions, scrape together the funds to travel, seek time off work, and find a local provider with appointments. 

And we know that reproductive healthcare delayed is almost always more difficult, more expensive, and riskier. 

I thank Mayor Harrell for answering Council’s call to appropriate $250,000 this year for the Northwest Abortion Access Fund, which will smooth the way and provide essential care for the tidal wave of medical refugees forced to travel here for reproductive care. 

I thank Councilmember Morales, and Alexis Turla on her staff, for their leadership in identifying the early, savvy regulatory fixes that we are celebrating today. 

And I pledge that I will continue to aggressively seek out ways to protect and expand abortion access for everyone who seeks unbiased healthcare here in Seattle. 

In particular I am concerned about the patients being cared for in religiously-affiliated healthcare facilities – which comprise an estimated half of our hospital beds. 

These hospitals are allowed to deny reproductive healthcare to their pregnant patients due to religious bias – and astonishingly, no one is ever required to tell the patient that they’re being denied care, or that there is a procedure that could help them, if only they’d gone to an unbiased provider.

Some religiously-affiliated hospitals will provide procedures to save a pregnant patient’s life when it is in immediate risk – which is not at all a clear line.

The result is that some patients are literally sent home to wait; they wait to get sicker, they wait until the pain is worse, and they wait until the risk is highest and their life in danger. 

And no one is required to tell them they could get treated and taken care of immediately, if they’d go to a different facility

Our state requires hospitals to post information online about the reproductive, gender-affirming, and end-of-life services that are and are not available there – but they are not required to hand that information over to their pregnant patients.

I want to get that information into patient’s hands when they most need it – when they are making appointments and showing up for emergent care.

There will be more emerging needs as medical refugees arrive, and as opponents of reproductive justice attempt to find ways to stop pregnant people from getting the healthcare they deserve.

I will continue working with our incredible local advocates and providers on the frontlines, Public Health, and our Board of Health to identify and address needs as they emerge.  Special thanks to Legal Voice, Pro Choice Washington, and Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates. 

Lastly, I want to make clear that abortion remains safe and legal here in Seattle, and in Washington state.  There is so much disinformation and fear right now.  I will continue saying – and fighting to ensure – that anyone seeking unbiased, safe, reproductive healthcare can find it here.”


Metropolitan Parks District Public Hearing

Earlier this week the Metropolitan Parks District (MPD) held a Town Hall meeting at the Rainier Beach Community Center to discuss the renewal of the funding for the Park District to repair, maintain, and restore basic services at the City’s parks, community centers, and regional attractions.

The next Town Hall is scheduled for September 7, 6pm at the Northgate Community Center (10510 5th Ave NE). The public has the option to comment virtually or at City Hall during every Parks District Board meeting. These additional hearings are intended to provide opportunities for in-person comment in neighborhoods not close in proximity to Downtown. Due to space concerns and the ongoing pandemic, attendees will be capped at 100 people and masking is strongly encouraged.

RSVP Here

Small Tenant Improvement Fund

Do you own a small business or have a commercial space that needs improvements?  The Seattle Office of Economic Development’s (OED) Tenant Improvement Fund will grant small businesses up to $100,000 to build out commercial spaces and make commercial improvements more affordable. In total, there’s $1.9 million available. If you’re interested, you can apply here.

 

Seattle Restored Program – Landlords and Artists/Entrepreneurs Can Apply

Seattle Restored is a program from the City of Seattle Office of Economic Development (OED) focused on activating vacant commercial storefronts.

Seattle Restored is recruiting landlords to participate by offering their empty commercial space to artists/entrepreneurs – find more info here and here, and here’s how landlords can explore participating: “Please email Andrea Porter and Martin Tran, Seattle Restored Program managers, at seattlerestored@gmail.com to set up a time to connect.” There’s no due date.

Seattle Restored is also recruiting artists and entrepreneurs to occupy and activate the commercial space; applications are due August 26th. There’s an Info session regarding the application process and program on August 23rd at 5:30, hosted in English and as requested in ASL, Amharic, Spanish, Korean, Somali, Thai, Vietnamese, and Chinese Traditional. Find more info here and here.

 

King County Assessor Valuations and Appeals

Property valuations from the King County Assessor are beginning to arrive. These valuations will form the basis for 2023 property taxes.

Here’s the Assessor’s webpage about how to appeal the assessed value of your property.

Information is available here about potential reductions in property taxes for senior citizens or disabled persons.

For more information, or assistance with your online application, you can e-mail exemptions.assessments@kingcounty.gov or call 206-296-3920.

 

No Newsletter Next Two Weeks

The City Council is on its summer recess for the next two weeks, and there won’t be any Council meetings during that time. My next newsletter update will be in September.

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West Seattle Bridge Expected to Open on September 18th; 8/9 Public Safety and Human Services Committee; SPD Before the Badge Website; Firefighter Graduation & Reports of Attacks; August 18 Seattle University SW Precinct Community-Police Dialogue; Local Progress; WRIA 9 Site Visit to Duwamish River Park; Canceled Office Hours

August 12th, 2022

West Seattle Bridge Expected to Open on September 18th

Since the West Seattle Bridge was closed, all of West Seattle, South Park and Georgetown have had the bridge reopening top of mind.

Yesterday we received good news: SDOT announced that the West Seattle Bridge is expected to be opened to traffic on Sunday, September 18th.

Before the bridge opens, SDOT will perform numerous tests to confirm the bridge is structurally sound and ready for the public.

The remaining repairs needed to complete the project require challenging and complex work and include:

  • Complete final epoxy injections and carbon-fiber wrapping
  • Complete cure time for the carbon-fiber wrapping
  • Remove work platforms
  • Load test and inspect the repairs
  • Install permanent inspection platforms inside the bridge structure
  • Restore the pavement on the bridge deck
  • Remove construction equipment and get the bridge ready for the public

The image below that shows work on the bridge no longer includes any blue-colored “Coming soon” items, as major work is either completed (in green) or taking place (in orange).

Once the West Seattle Bridge opens, all restrictions on the Spokane Street Bridge (low bridge) will lift and the automated enforcement system will be turned off. Within a day or two of the bridge reopening, we will remove all the low bridge restrictions signs, the restricted lane paint, and the paint on the bridge columns near the Chelan 5-way intersection. Finally, within a week or two of the bridge reopening, the cameras system will be removed by the automated enforcement vendor, although the system will have been turned off the day the bridge reopens.

The bridge is expected to remain in service for its original projected lifespan, around 40 additional years. Choosing a repair instead of a brand-new bridge is estimated to have saved several years over a replacement, and hundreds of millions of dollars.

8/9 Public Safety and Human Services Committee

The August 9 Public Safety Committee heard several items.

OPA Director appointment: The Mayor’s selection for Director of the Office of Police Accountability, Gino Betts, made a first appearance before the Public Safety and Human Services Committee. Mr. Betts will appear before the committee on September 13th, for questions and answers with Councilmembers, and a committee vote.

Human Services Department Financial Improvement Plan: The Human Services Department and the City Budget Office presented their work to strengthen its financial management controls and practices.  The underlying cause for these issues stem from: the fact that HSD’s budget grew from $142M in 2016 to its FY 22 level of $403M without an increase in financial staffing. This was a follow up to a presentation the PSHS committee received in December 2021 on the same topic, where HSD shared that they had retained a consultant, had completed a preliminary assessment, and was in the process of identifying immediate tasks.

During the budget process, Council added positions to implement a portion of the recommendations in the Financial Improvement Plan. The midyear supplemental budget legislation also included funding for additional work from the consultant.

This effort is focused on these areas: 1. Restoring and stabilizing cash balances 2. Becoming current on billing for Federal and State funding sources 3. Simplifying HSD’s financial structure 4. Eliminating late and/or missed payments to our agencies 5. Optimize budget (funds) management.  Here’s the progress to date and work yet to do.

I appreciate our partners from HSD sharing their progress working through the Financial Improvement Plan.

Update on SPD Staffing, Budget, Overtime, 911 response, 911 alternatives: The PSHS committee heard the 2nd quarterly update requested by the City Council on SPD staffing, finances, overtime and response times.  We also discussed 911 alternatives.

For 911 response times, SPD’s goal for Priority 1 calls is a median response of 7 minutes (the midpoint of responses). The median during the 2nd quarter was 7.2 minutes.  SPD also reported that for January through June 2022, 48% of calls were responded to within 7 minutes, compared to 52% last year.

There were 539 officers assigned to patrol in June 2022, down by 6; the number assigned to 911 response was down by 6, with 463 officers and 69 sergeants.

For the 2nd quarter of 2022, there are 956 fully trained officers in service, and 109 on leave. There were 958 fully trained officers in the 4th quarter of 2021, and 968 in the 1st quarter of 2022. The number on leave has gone down from 181 in the 4th quarter of 2021, and 146 in the first quarter of 2022.

The number of officers serving in the Southwest precinct at the end of June increased to 65 officers and sergeants, up from 58 at the end of March.   Precinct median response times were down or level in most precincts for Priority 1 calls from 2021 to 2022, except in SW, which increased by 0.29 minutes, or 17 or so seconds. It makes sense that the number of officers there has increased.

There were over 153,000 service calls. The presentation notes not every call necessitates contact between the police and the caller. An example is someone reporting a car accident. Such calls are cleared with a “Z” code; there were a total of 755 such calls, all low priority.

Priority 3 calls cover incidents where response time is not critical, and an event is no longer in progress, and a victim is waiting to speak with officers. Priority 4 can include graffiti and noise complaints, and situations where a report may or may not be needed.

The Chief noted that SPD is working with potential vendors to make call backs to people who aren’t receiving a response, because their call was cleared with a “z” code.

Overall SPD spending through June was 95% of the funds budgeted through that time period, though overtime was higher than budgeted.  Overtime use was highest for emphasis patrols such as Pike/Pine, 12th and Jackson, shots fired areas, and nightlife. SPD spending for staffing events and concerts is up from 2021, but lower than 2020. Sporting event staffing is up, in part due to new Seattle Kraken games, which are 100% reimbursable.

Incentives legislation:  The committee considered legislation to establish a bonus program for new officers and additional items.

The legislation:

  • Authorizes spending of $289,000 in hiring incentives during 2022, from existing funds in SPD’s 2022 budget
  • Transfers $228,000 funds out of SPD to the Seattle Department of Human Resources for four positions to enhance recruiting, and ability to administer tests, which can speed up the hiring process; this is in addition to funds the Council previously approved for SPD to hire consultants outside the department to accelerate background checks; and
  • Funds some items during the remainder of 2022 included in the SPD Recruitment and Retention Plan.

In the 2022 budget, the Council adopted funding for the Seattle Police Department’s hiring plan to hire 125 officers; hiring has been slower than anticipated so this bill uses existing funds in support of the hiring plan that we voted for and funded.

A policy basis for the bonuses of $7,500 for new recruits and $30,000 for lateral hires was important to me, so I had my staff compare the figures for other cities noted in the Central Staff memo. Seattle offers the second highest starting salaries of larger departments in the state, by a narrow margin. The combination of starting salaries plus the first year bonus is near the top, though slightly below Kent and Everett; for lateral officers, a comparison is more difficult, but with the top salary step, and the proposed bonus, Seattle would be the second highest, with a few other cities relatively close.

Central Staff raised potential issues: a need for a more detailed evaluation and, given the Executive’s indication that hiring incentives will be offered for at least three years, and a sunset date for the program.

The second half of the bonus would be paid after the probationary period established by Public Safety Civil Service Rules, which is one year. Officers who leave the department within five years would need to return the bonus.

I noted in the committee a draft amendment I’ve been working with Central Staff, the City Attorneys’ Office and the Public Safety Civil Service Commission. This amendment would provide clarity about the groups of police officer candidates that are eligible for hiring incentives per the classification rubric of the Public Safety Civil Service Commission.   Under Public Safety Civil Service commission rules, officers may request and receive reinstatement, subject to approval by the Public Safety Civil Service Commission and Chief of Police. Reinstated officers receive reinstatement benefits such as returning to their previous classification, salary step and accrual rates for vacation and sick leave, per the Seattle Police Officer’s Guild contract, for officers that return within two years.  In addition, reinstated officers do not have to re-test and can begin work (and get paid) faster. These reinstatement benefit have economic value as hiring incentives.

I appreciate the Mayor and SPD bringing this forward. My support of this bill funding recruitment and incentives has been dependent on the Executive’s commitment in developing a new 911 alternative call response program. I believe this is a critical component of our recruitment and retention and public safety strategy.  In their presentation before the committee the Mayor’s Office noted that for some lower-priority call types, an alternative responder could take the report, some of which would need to be subsequently certified by law officers.

Last week a staff group between the Mayor’s Office and Council Central Staff started work (including with SPD, the Community Safety and Communications Center and Fire Department). The City’s quarterly Consent Decree filing notes the workgroup “will recommend approaches that increase SPD or alternative response to priority three and four calls in the near term, through an alternative response pilot and evaluation of existing resource that could be redeployed or more efficiently deployed on projects like Special Events” and notes the Mayor’s Office will propose a preliminary recommendation on the subset of calls that may be good candidates to divert from police or co-response, and estimates this process will be completed in the fall.

CSCC 911 dispatch protocol system: You may recall me writing about funding for a protocol system for 911 dispatchers at the Community Safety and Communications Center (CSCC) in last year’s supplemental budget process.  The protocol system will implement a more consistent process for obtaining key information from 911 callers and support better data analysis to plan for resource deployment, including alternatives to police response. The CSCC, after working through the city’s request for proposal (RFP) process, is finally moving forward with a contractor for providing this system. The contractor is preparing a statement of work to deliver a product within the $700,000 budget the Council allocated. The contractor has experience in this area as our Seattle Fire Department call center uses a similar product from the same vendor. In addition to the statement of work, the contractor is preparing implementation and training documents for the CSCC.

SPD Before the Badge Website

The Seattle Police Department now has a Before the Badge website.

This Seattle-specific program was announced last year by Interim Chief Diaz; I proposed an amendment to a supplemental budget the Council approved to provide the initial funding.

In Washington State, new police officer recruits attend the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission for their mandatory 720-hour Basic Law Enforcement Academy (BLEA) training. The Before the Badge program is a 5-week program before the BLEA training.

The website notes, “Before the Badge is designed to provide pre-academy recruits with foundational knowledge, skills, and relationships to succeed as partners in the community and leaders in this department. Grounded in principles of relational policing, officer wellness, and collaboration, BTB brings recruits together in honest dialogue with Seattle’s diverse communities, department colleagues, and City leaders and reflects SPD’s commitment that its officers provide a safe and supportive culture in which to grow and serve.”

The Before the Badge training, “immerses all SPD recruits in community-based, peer-based, and introspective experiences that will provide them both a lens through which to receive their eventual BLEA training and a foundation upon which to build their careers as Seattle Police Officers. During Before the Badge, SPD recruits will gain a more comprehensive understanding of the people they will eventually swear to serve and protect.”

It further notes,

“Before the Badge is made up of three basic parts:

  • Meet with community groups to have discussions as individuals about policing in Seattle
  • Work with the Wellness Unit to obtain tools to help with the stresses of the job
  • Learn about SPD precincts, officers, opportunities, and leadership

In addition, BTB includes exploration of the policing profession’s racist history, gender responsiveness, and the science of relationship-based policing.”

Interim Chief Diaz has noted the program has proven very popular and has led to interest from current officers.

Firefighter Graduation & Reports of Attacks

In the last two weeks I have received three letters from our local firefighters’ union, IAFF Local 27. In these letters Local 27 has referenced more than 40 attacks since April, and described some specific incidents:

  • A firefighter hit by a rock while extinguishing a fire at an encampment; and
  • An aid response, where the patient pulled a knife on the firefighters

I first want to note that the Seattle Police Department is required to be present at scenes of violence when our firefighters are dispatched. I have reached out to Police Chief Diaz, Fire Chief Scoggins, and Community Safety and Communication’s Center Director Lombard about these incidents to learn more about them and get a fuller picture. I have also requested a description of the 40 attacks and whether SPD was at the scene when the attack occurred.

I unequivocally condemn acts of violence and I support the safety of all in public service, especially first responders who put themselves in harm’s way, both at SPD and SFD.  I’ve supported the SPD staffing plan for each 2021 and 2022, as well as funding recruitment efforts. I’ve added funding to SFD to increase recruit class sizes for 2021 and 2022, and I’ve championed funding for items such as ballistic vests to ensure our firefighters have the appropriate tools to stay as safe as possible. I will be working with Local 27 to learn how we can proactively mitigate these hazards.

I also want to report that this Friday, Recruit class 115 will be graduating. As noted above, I have worked to provide increased funding for more firefighter recruits. There are two recruit classes a year, and this Friday we’ll have 29 new firefighters join the ranks.

August 18 Seattle University SW Precinct Community-Police Dialogue

Seattle University is hosting the third community-police dialogue in the Southwest Precinct on August 18th, and they shared the following message:

“I would like to share with you the Call for Participants for our upcoming community-police dialogues. We will be holding our FINAL dialogue for Southwest Precinct on Thursday July 18, 2022. If you are willing, please share the flyer and link with your network to help make sure the everyone who lives and/or works in Seattle who would like to participate has the opportunity to do so.

 Here is the link to sign up for the 2022 Community-Police Dialogues. The flyer is attached to this email.

 2021 SPD MCPP Reports – Our research team has completed two reports – the 2021 Seattle Public Safety Survey Results and the 2021 Community Police Dialogues Results. Links to the reports are below. The 2021 Seattle Public Safety Report includes results from the 2021 Seattle Public Safety Survey citywide, precinct, and micro-community. The 2021 Community-Police Dialogues Report includes results of the virtual community-police dialogues we conducted last spring/summer separated by precinct:

Helfgott, J.B. & Parkin, W. (2022). Seattle Police Department’s Citywide 2021 Seattle Public Safety Survey Results (149p.)

Helfgott, J.B. & Parkin, W. (2022). Seattle Police Department’s Micro-Community Policing Plans Community-Police Dialogues 2021 Results (41p.)

 2022 SPD MCPP Seattle Police Community-Police Dialogues  

We began conducting the 2022 virtual community-police dialogues on May 19 and will be running them every Thursday night 5:30-7:30pm from May 19 through August 25, 2022 – 3 for each precinct. The purpose of the dialogues will be to provide an overview of the findings from the 2021 Seattle Public Safety Survey and to give community members and police personnel opportunity to engage in dialogue that is precinct-specific.”

Local Progress

I attended the Local Progress conference, a ten-year celebration focusing on resilience, power, and transformation, in Denver late last week.  Upwards of 350 local elected officials and community partners from all over the nation attended.

My staff and I toured the Support Team Assisted Response (STAR) non-police emergency response – a team comprising clinical social workers and paramedics, which is dispatched to calls directly by 911 dispatch, without a police presence. The teams engage individuals experiencing crises related to mental health issues, poverty, homelessness, and substance abuse. In its first 18 months, it has successfully responded to 5,500 911 calls, and has never required a backup from law enforcement.

There was a session on how to create and fund programs like STAR that respond to people in crisis without requiring police involvement.  Denver’s STAR program credits the Denver Police Chief for leadership in creating the program.  The session explored how various funding streams, including federal grants, medicaid, city/county partnerships, and philanthropy can fund community safety and community responder programs.  STAR began as a co-response model, police accompanied social workers and medics.  Again, since they moved away from a co-response model, STAR reports more than 5,000 calls responded to and STAR staff has not had to call for police assistance for a single call.

National organizations provided research showing broad support for such alternatives, which provide an appropriate response for people in behavioral health crisis, while keeping police free to focus on violent crime.

There was also a session on abusive state preemption, which is increasingly a tactic used to suppress local, multiracial organizing for progressive local goals such as strengthening workers’ rights, racial justice, gun control, and environmental protections.  We heard stories of efforts that have successfully fought back.

Additionally, my staff attended a session and hosted a meet up to talk about ways to protect and expand abortion access for Seattle residents, and for the 385% increase in medical refugees seeking abortion here that we expect.

I had the opportunity to address newly elected officials joining Local Progress, here is an excerpt of my remarks:

On November 18th 2012, municipal elected officials from 32 cities in 20 states met in Washington D.C. to declare:  We have gathered together to build a coalition of municipal elected officials dedicated to broadly-shared prosperity, equal justice under law, sustainable and livable cities, and good government that serves the public interest directly. To serve these ends, we hereby proclaim the founding of Local Progress: A national municipal policy network.”

My boss at the time, former Seattle City Councilmember Nick Licata was a founding member along with Brad Lander (New York City), Wilson Goode Jr. (Philadelphia), Chuck Lesnick (Yonkers), Faith Winter (Westminster, CO), Julia Ross (St. Louis Park, MN) and Joe Moore (Chicago) as well as organizational leaders Andrew Friedman (Center for Popular Democracy) and Gloria Totten (Public Leadership Institute).

The idea for this new organization began for Nick when he sponsored and Council adopted a Resolution to recognize the Occupy Movement for economically distressed Americans at the federal and local levels.

We all do a lot for our jurisdictions, but the vision for Local Progress was that a network of municipal elected officials would strengthen our success at the local level.

My experiences at Local Progress convenings have always underscored how important we are to one another. We talk about resiliency, but for me, that is built through the support Local Progress gives to all of us when we get together.

  • In 2014 Local Progress brought Councilmembers from cities nationwide to Seattle for an income inequality symposium that helped build the foundation for Seattle’s $15 minimum wage campaign.
  • In 2016 Local Progress mobilized City leaders from all over the nation to descend on Washington DC to get Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and HUD to stop selling mortgages to Wall Street at a discount, selling our precious housing stock to hedge funds and private equity firms. As a result, these loans at the height of the foreclosure crisis could be purchased by nonprofit organizations.
  • In 2017, Local Progress knew we had to be in Austin, Texas, in the wake of the Trump administration’s immigration crackdown, we marched to the Texas State Capitol and moved, beyond sanctuary policies to defend immigrant communities.
  • In 2018, we gathered in Pittsburgh for the Local Progress convening just days after the murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. Local Progress members decided, on the spot, to ditch our workshops and we joined protestors in the streets. Local Progress sustained its members in that moment, when they needed not to talk, but to act, and this made possible A Policing Policy Toolkit to newly define public safety for our communities.
  • In 2019, Local Progress called on me, and my Seattle City Council colleague and Local Progress board member Teresa Mosqueda to join them in New York City at a summit set up by unions and community groups that opposed Amazon’s plan to expand there and the billions of dollars in government subsidies that helped attract the company. We were there to support labor activists, Amazon warehouse workers, and electeds in NYC and describe how the Amazon’s growth changed Seattle and to warn local politicians to take steps on taxing, zoning and labor standards earlier rather than later.

The common theme here for me is how Local Progress grew from an idea on paper in 2012 for how Local Progress could work toward shared prosperity, justice, sustainability, and livability by sharing legislation that makes government work for more of us, evaluating our best ideas and practices, and then introducing those that could most benefit our own communities. It grew into an organization that was about action to support people where they needed support, when they needed support. I believe that’s what creates resiliency and true transformation in our communities. This is why I keep coming back to Local Progress.

WRIA 9 Site Visit to Duwamish River Park

On Thursday the Watershed Resource Inventory Area (WRIA) 9, which I co-chair and serve on as a representative of the city of Seattle, held its meeting at the the Port of Seattle’s Duwamish River Community Hub in South Park.  At this meeting we voted to approve our budget and workplan. Included in the budget was funding for the first ever Duwamish Basin Steward position. I wrote here about how I’ve been advocating for it since 2019.

After we voted to approve the budget and workplan we did a tour of the Duwamish River People’s Park and Shoreline Habitat. This park opened last month and is the former Terminal 117.   This is the largest habitat restoration site along the Duwamish River in a generation and it could not have happened without the Duwamish Valley community advocacy that the Port pursue a higher standard of cleanup that would transform the site into a public use park and habitat reserve.

Canceled Office Hours

Unfortunately, I have cancelled my office hours scheduled for August 19th. A five-hour long Police Chief Search Committee meeting has been scheduled during this time, and despite my request to find another date the search committee was unable to find another time for this meeting. I will be participating in search committee interviews all day on the 19th.

My next scheduled office hours will be on Friday, September 30.

Here is a list of my tentatively scheduled office hours for the remainder of the year. These are subject to change.

  • Friday, September 30, 2022
  • Friday, October 28, 2022
  • Friday, December 16, 2022
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West Seattle Bridge Update; Police Chief Search Meetings Added: August 11, South Park; Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal Public Comments; Seattle Redistricting Commission Releases New Draft Map, August 9 Public Forum

August 5th, 2022

West Seattle Bridge Update

The West Seattle Bridge repair remains on track for completion the week of September 12th.

Work continues on the final phase of epoxy crack injection and carbon-fiber wrapping.

SDOT has released the checklist showing which work has been completed, per a constituent request to me that I shared with SDOT:

In addition to the work to repair the bridge, other major maintenance work is proceeding at the same time; here’s a picture of work to replace the overhead signs on the bridge:


Police Chief Search Meetings Added: August 11, South Park

The Mayor’s Office has announced two additional in-person meetings to inform the search process for a permanent police chief.  The announcement is below, and includes a meeting on Thursday, August 11th in South Park, facilitated by the Duwamish Valley Youth Corp and Villa Comunitaria:

Seattle residents are invited to attend two additional in-person community-led conversations to inform the ongoing search process for Seattle’s next chief of police. Facilitated in partnership by City staff and community-based organizations, these sessions will build on previous forums held in July, creating a space for community members to share the priorities and values they would like the search to elevate.

The first conversation will be held Wednesday, August 10 from 6:00PM to 8:30PM at the Holgate St. Church (2600 S Holgate St, Seattle, WA 98144). Community partners The Village of Hope, White Center Community Development Association, and King County Equity Now will attend and facilitate the conversation.

The second conversation will be held on Thursday, August 11 from 5:30PM to 7:00PM at South Park Hall (1253 S Cloverdale St, Seattle, WA 98108). Community partners from Duwamish Valley Youth Corp and Villa Comunitaria will be present and facilitate the conversation.

Both conversations are open to the public to make their voice heard and help inform the ongoing search process. These conversations will build on a community survey made available from the beginning of the search here in seven different languages: English, Spanish, Amharic, Somali, Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese.

In April, Mayor Harrell announced a search committee representing a diverse array of stakeholders and community leaders who are responsible for identifying and selecting the final five candidates to move forward to the Charter-required competitive examination phase. In addition to the survey, committee, and forums, community engagement will continue throughout the search process.

An overview of scheduled forums, as well as regular updates on the Chief of Police search process and timeline, is available at the Seattle Police Chief Search web page.

Time and Date Location
Wednesday, August 10 from 6:00PM to 8:30PM Holgate St Church, 2600 S Holgate St, Seattle, WA 98144
Thursday, August 11 from 5:30PM to 7:00PM South Park Hall, 1253 S Cloverdale St, Seattle, WA 98108

 

Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal Public Comments

WSDOT Ferries has released public comments received in during the Level 1 screening public comments period for the Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal project:  Level 1 Screening Community Engagement Summary.

Washington State Ferries is conducting their Level 2 analysis though at least later this year.

 

Seattle Redistricting Commission Releases New Draft Map, August 9 Public Forum

The Seattle Redistricting Commission has released a new draft map for Seattle’s 7 Council districts. The is shown below.  Here is a PDF of the map and here is a web map that allows you to zoom in for a block-by-block view.

Public comment on the new proposed boundaries is open until the date the Commission files the district plan, currently scheduled for November 8, 2022, and no later than November 15, 2022.

You can submit written comments here.

The Commission will hold three public comment meetings; the first is August 9th:

Public Forum #1: Tuesday, August 9th, 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Meetings will be announced for September and October on dates still to be determined.

Beginning August 8, paper copies will be available at City Hall at 600 4th Ave, Seattle, WA 98104. You can request a paper copy of the map here.

The Commission website notes re: the work of the Commission is guided by relevant laws, including an amendment to the City Charter adopted by Seattle voters to establish district elections:

District boundaries will be drawn in accordance with applicable federal, state, and local laws, including but not limited to the following rules.

City Charter

 Subdivision D. COUNCIL REDISTRICTING (3) and RCW 29A.76.010(4):

  • Boundaries shall be drawn to make districts that are as compact as possible and geographically contiguous.
  • Districts shall not be gerrymandered, and population data may not be used for purposes of favoring or disfavoring any racial group or political party.
  • Districts shall be as nearly equal in population as possible to each other; the population of the largest district shall not exceed the population of the smallest district by more than one percent [of the population of the smallest district]. This means that the largest district’s population must be no greater than 101% of the smallest district’s population.
  • The new City Council district boundaries will not be based on the residence of any person. In drawing their map, the Commission and GIS consultants shall not consider the residence of any person.
  • To the extent practical, new boundaries shall follow existing district boundaries.
  • To the extent feasible, new boundaries shall follow recognized waterways and geographic boundaries.
  • To the extent possible, new boundaries shall preserve Seattle communities and neighborhoods.
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West Seattle Bridge Update; Excessive Heat Warning; Funding Available for Nursing Services – Applications Due 8/11; 7/26/22 Public Safety & Human Services Committee; Night Out on August 2; Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal update; Sound Transit Board Decision on Light Rail Alignment

July 28th, 2022

West Seattle Bridge Update

The West Seattle Bridge repair project remains on track for the week of September 12th.

On Monday, SDOT announced that post-tensioning work was completed. The final phase involved tightening the steel wires from 20% tensioning to 100%.

Post-tensioning is one of three key repair procedures SDOT is using to repair the bridge: epoxy injections to fill cracks, carbon-fiber wrapping to add strength, and post-tensioning with steel cables to compress the concrete. Together, these methods will strengthen the entire structure, prevent future cracking, and help keep the bridge safe for decades to come.

With post-tensioning complete, the remaining tasks to reopen the West Seattle Bridge are:

  • Complete final epoxy injections and carbon-fiber wrapping
  • Complete cure time for the carbon-fiber wrapping
  • Remove work platforms
  • Load test and inspect the repairs
  • Restore the pavement on the bridge deck
  • Remove construction equipment and get the bridge ready for the public

A constituent shared a photo of an expansion joint at the bridge and concern about the presumed implication about the appearance. Others have raised this on social media as well. I raised this with SDOT and they noted the barrier below is aligned and that “discontinuity is an optical illusion from the boards closing off the gap while the cover plates are rehabbed.”

Below is a photo of the same expansion joint from the bridge deck:

Photo: SDOT

Excessive Heat Warning

The National Weather Service has issued an Excessive Heat Warning for Seattle this week, through Saturday evening, due to forecasted high temperatures above 90 degrees. Cooling centers will be available across the city and outreach teams are on the ground working with our most vulnerable residents to prevent heat illness in these extreme conditions.

Since most Seattle households don’t have air conditioning at home, it’s important to take precautions to keep yourself and your family safe this week.

Here are some tips to help protect yourself and loved ones:

  • Stay hydrated. Drink lots of water – before you feel thirsty.
  • Close blinds and curtains; cover up your windows.
  • Use fans inside to help with air circulation.
  • Check on your neighbors, particularly seniors and people with medical conditions.
  • Avoid outdoor activities during the afternoon.
  • Don’t leave your kids or pets alone in a vehicle.

There are places you can go if it gets too hot at home:

  • 4 community centers have A/C and will be open at least from 2-8pm this week:
    • Rainier Beach (8825 Rainier Ave S)
    • International District Chinatown (719 8th Ave S)
    • Northgate (10510 5th Ave NE)
    • Magnuson Park (Building #406 6344 NE 74th ST)
  • The Central Library and 17 branches have A/C. You can check for the closest one and their operating hours here.
  • 5 senior centers will be open for cooling with A/C – please call ahead for hours. They include:
    • Central Area Senior Center,
    • Greenwood,
    • Pike Market,
    • Southeast Seattle, and
    • Senior Center of West Seattle.
  • The King County Regional Homelessness Authority is opening additional indoor daytime cooling spaces starting tomorrow for people experiencing homelessness. You can find them here.
  • Malls and movie theatres are good places to spend time with A/C
  • Also consider cooling down at a park with a water feature such as a wading pool or spray park. You can find a list of aquatics activities here.
  • South Park Community members set up their first misting tent at South Park Community Center operating 10am – 4:30pm weekdays throughout the heatwave. Stop by to find some shade, run around in the mist, or have your kids enjoy South Park Community Center’s Summer of Safety programming, which provides a free lunch and free activities for youth.

Funding Available for Nursing Services – Applications Due 8/11

The Human Services Department is seeking applications to provide nursing services.  This Nursing Services Request for Qualifications (RFQ) is focused on responding to referrals within specified timeframes for nursing services that include file reviews, nurse consultant home visits, telephone calls, care coordination, and follow-up.

Up to $165,755 in Federal/State Title XIX Funds is available. HSD intends to fund a maximum of two proposals.  Initial awards will be made for the period of October 1, 2022 to December 31, 2023.  Find more information and RFP materials here.  Applications are due by Noon on Thursday, August 11.

Questions?  Please contact Mary Pat O’Leary, Funding Process Coordinator, at Mary.OLeary@seattle.gov.

7/26/22 Public Safety & Human Services Committee

Abortion Access in King County:  Heather Maisen from Public Health – Seattle & King County gave a sexual and reproductive health update at Tuesday’s Public Safety & Human Services committee, including a review of the family planning services and clinics they operate, and how they facilitate access to abortion.

It’s worth repeating that abortion remains safe and legal in Seattle, King County, and Washington state.

  • Find accurate information about accessing abortion in Seattle and King County at Gov/Abortion.
  • Get help making and paying for an appointment, and travel and transportation support, from NW Abortion Access Fund.

On August 9th, Council will vote on two bills that Councilmember Morales and I are sponsoring to further protect abortion access:

  • CB 120374 adds people who have received or are seeking abortions as a protected class, ensuring their civil rights protections.
  • CB 120376 creates a misdemeanor charge for people who encroach on individuals seeking abortions or gender-affirming care.

I am actively pursuing requiring hospitals and clinics to provide accurate information about the limitations of their reproductive services, using obligations under consumer protection to not engage in deceptive practices.  An estimated 50% of Washington’s hospital beds are in religiously affiliated hospitals, where full reproductive services are not available.  Astonishingly, they are not required to tell their pregnant patients that they can’t receive the full range of healthcare services there.

If you have questions about the range of reproductive healthcare services offered by your hospital of choice, the state Department of Health posts information from every hospital at this website: Hospital Policies | Washington State Department of Health.  Just find your hospital, click on it, and then click on “Reproductive Health Services Provided.”

Gun Violence Prevention:  We also heard from a panel of experts and frontline workers who talked about the drivers of the rise in gun violence here and nationally, and local interventions that are helping.   You can watch the presentation here, at the 7 minute mark.  Our speakers included:

  • Dom Davis, CEO, Community Passageways
  • Deepika Nehra, Harborview Medical Center Hospital Based Intervention
  • Renee Hopkins, WA Alliance for Gun Responsibility
  • Sandra Shanahan, Program Manager, Regional Domestic Violence Firearms Enforcement Unit
  • Eleuthera Lisch, Strategic Advisor & Program Manager, Gun Violence Prevention/Intervention at Public Health
  • DeVitta Briscoe, Gun Violence Prevention Liaison, Mayor’s Office

The Regional Domestic Violence (DV) Firearms Enforcement Unit focuses on removing firearms from homes in high-risk situations, using court orders to surrender and prohibit weapons, and extreme risk protection orders.

Data from four years’ worth of program implementation shows a significant impact on removing firearms from situations where the risk of death is very high.

Dr. Deepika Nehra and Dom Davis presented on the Harborview Medical Center Hospital Based Intervention, which I’ve written about before.  The program provides support to victims of gun violence and their families, in order to prevent escalation and future violence.

It has traditionally focused on young people, but there is an emerging need to expand the age range to serve ages 25 to 40, where we are seeing an increasing amount of gun violence.  I will pursue funding for this expansion as part of Council’s 2023 budget deliberations this fall.

Mid-year accountability reports: the committee heard mid-year updates from the three police accountability bodies, as required in the 2017 accountability ordinance.

Here are the presentations: Community Police Commission ; Office of the Inspector General ; and Office of Police Accountability.

The Office of the Inspector General highlighted their work in coordinating discussions about changes to SPD traffic stops policies, and ongoing work on ruse/deception policies.

OIG also noted they have moved from a practice of quarterly sampling of OPA dispositions as “contact logs” or “supervisor action” to doing this review of all dispositions in real time.  “Contact log” and “supervisor action” are the dispositions that OPA makes when they believe a complaint does not warrant an investigation.  The new approach allows the OIG to consider if there are course corrections that need to be made and, if so, OIG can recommend those course corrections to the OPA. I thanked the OIG for adjusting practices, in response to concerns from public.  The OIG has an additional report on functioning of the office that is forthcoming.  Though the timing of the committee meeting and the timing of the OIG report didn’t allow for the semi-annual report to cover the content of the report’s recommendations; my understanding is that most of the recommendations from the report are already implemented or in progress.

The Office of Police Accountability report noted 93 discipline appeals filed through arbitration between 2016 and 2021 remain open.

The Seattle Police Management Association (SPMA) Contract adopted recently addresses discipline, for SPMA members, and includes significant changes that will help slow that backlog from growing by ensuring cases aren’t being entirely relitigated during arbitration as they currently are (de novo review). It will also ensure arbitrators, who are not generally experts on policing, don’t substitute their judgment for the police chief’s, undermining accountability. Bargaining is taking place for the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG) members.

The Mayor has selected Gino Betts as the permanent director of the Office of Police Accountability; he will appear before the committee on August 9th.

The Community Police Commission spoke to several issues, including the CPC recommendations tracker which compiles the recommendations of the three accountability bodies, and responses, and work on strategic planning.

Police hiring incentives

Legislation on police hiring incentives has generated significant interest; it will be heard at the August 9th committee meeting.

Night Out on August 2

Night Out is a national event promoted in Seattle by the Seattle Police Department Crime Prevention Unit. It’s designed to heighten crime prevention awareness, increase neighborhood support in anti-crime efforts, and unite our communities. This year’s event is on Tuesday, August 2.

If you’d like to officially participate in Night Out and to have your street closed for the event you need to register here. You can close a street as long as it does not close an intersection or an arterial. There is no fee.

Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal Update

This morning Washington State Ferries closed the Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal after what they called a “hard landing” on a Cathlemet ferry trip, which was coming from Vashon.

Around 3:30 in the afternoon Washington State Ferries sent me the following update (also noted on their twitter feed):

The Coast Guard has cleared the Cathlamet to be moved and it has pulled away from the Fauntleroy dock.  It will make crew-move stops at Vashon and Southworth before heading to WSF’s Eagle Harbor Maintenance Facility.

With the Cathlamet moved, and the terminal infrastructure cleared for safe service, we will immediately restore service to Fauntleroy.  Initially, this will be one-boat service with the Issaquah making all-stops on the route.  The Kitsap is on the way to Vashon and when it arrives, we’ll reset the two-boat schedule for the afternoon and evening. 

This has been a challenging day for our vessel crews and terminal staff.  We appreciate our passengers’ patience while WSF staff, the Coast Guard, and Washington State Patrol worked to begin their investigations of the incident.  Safety is always our number one priority and we look forward to understanding the circumstances of today’s hard landing and any recommendations coming from the investigation.

Photo: WSDOT

Sound Transit Board Decision on Light Rail Alignment

As this newsletter was being completed the Sound Transit Board voted to approve a motion to establish a preferred alternative for light rail for West Seattle and Ballard, for the Final Environmental Impact Statement.

For West Seattle, the preferred alternative includes the Medium Tunnel to 41st for the West Seattle Junction; the Andover Street Lower Height station for Delridge; and a south crossing of the Duwamish.

The options selected as preferred alternatives in West Seattle are affordable within Sound Transit’s financial plan.

The Board also identified items for further study: shifting the West Seattle Junction station to 42nd; eliminating the Avalon station; a pedestrian bridge across Andover Street or shifting the alignment south toward SW Yancy Street:

All the alternatives considered in the Draft EIS will carry over to the Final EIS. The Board will make a final decision after the Final EIS is published.

Thank you to Mayor Harrell and Council President Juarez for their work representing on the Sound Transit Board, and King County Councilmember McDermott for his work representing West Seattle.

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West Seattle Bridge Update; South Park Community Center Is Open; Abortion Access Legislation; Chief of Police Search Events/Survey; Hospitals Are Over Capacity Amidst a COVID Surge; Hit and Run Cyclist Death / SDOT Response ; Why is the Grass So Long?; CSCC Staffing and Alternate 911 Response; VOTE!; In-Person Office Hours

July 24th, 2022

West Seattle Bridge Update

The West Seattle Bridge repair remains on track to reopen for the week of September 12th.

The installation of the 46 miles of post-tensioning steel cables is complete. The first phase of the tensioning of the cables, to 20%, is also complete. Work is proceeding on the second phase of tightening the steel cables to 100%.

Work on major maintenance projects is also continuing.

SDOT has released the second quarter 2022 report for Reconnect West Seattle. 59 of 70 projects have been completed, as well as 51 of 64 Home Zone projects. Projects completed in the second quarter include a Sylvan Way SW walkway; a flashing beacon at 17th Ave SW and SW Henderson Street, and intersection improvements at the intersection of 14th and Cloverdale Ave S, and the flashing beacon at the intersection of Dumar Way SW and SW Orchard Street shown below.

Below are upcoming projects, including projects that will be completed after the bridge opens.

Upcoming Reconnect West Seattle projects:

  • Complete left turn (EB and WB) signals at S Cloverdale St and 7th Ave S
  • Crossing improvement at 16 th Ave SW and SW Cambridge St
  • 14th Ave safety upgrades

7 projects are scheduled after the high bridge reopens:

  • 4 th Ave SW/SW Roxbury St/Olson Way SW intersection improvements
  • Dallas Ave S / 14 th Ave S half signal improvements
  • SW Holden St / Highland Park Way SW permanent signal improvements
  • Georgetown Home Zone = Corson Ave S / S Michigan St raised pedestrian crossing in the slip lane and sidewalk repair project
  • Highland Park Home Zone = 12th Ave SW/SW Holden St new signal (removal of 11th Ave SW / SW Holden St RRFB) and Neighborhood Greenway connection
  • Duwamish Longhouse permanent sidewalk and signal improvements
  • W Marginal Way PBL / on-street parking improvements

Upcoming Home Zone projects:

Highland Park:

  • Sidewalk repair on SW Henderson Pl and on SW Webster St
  • Median island at 16th Ave SW and SW Elmgrove St / 16th Ave SW and SW Cloverdale St for traffic calming
  • Finish conveyance swale and wheel stop projects in the fall during planting season at: 14th Ave SW between SW Elmgrove St and SW Kenyon St and 9th Ave SW between SW Roxbury St and SW Cambridge S

South Park:

  • Sidewalk repair on S Concord St
  • Median island at Dallas Ave S / 12th Ave S for traffic calming
  • Finish conveyance swale and wheel stop projects in the fall during planting season at S Elmgrove St between 10th Ave S and 12th Ave S and  S Trenton St between 5th Ave S and 7th Ave S

Traffic mitigation projects:

  • Replace 60+ concrete panels on the west end of the WSB
  • Pave ~10 lane miles on various arterials
  • Bevel sidewalks in the West Seattle Junction
  • Place radar speed trailer at various locations

South Park Community Center Is Open

I’m thrilled to share that Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) has agreed to re-open the South Park Community Center to public use this summer.  The Center will be open and available to community members Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm, until August 22ndIn addition, SPR is offering a wide variety of activities adjacent to the Center, and Late Night programming on Fridays and Saturdays.  Check out this listing for more information.

The Center was closed during the pandemic and didn’t reopen when others did due to long-planned stabilization and redevelopment projects.  Those projects are significantly delayed, however, and now aren’t expected to begin until late November.

In response to significant concerns from community members and SPD officers about the safety of South Park’s young people amid escalating gang activity and the tragic shooting of a 14-year-old, I lifted up their request to reopen the community center, first with Seattle Parks and Recreation, and then with the Mayor’s Office.  I am grateful to both for meeting the urgent need with action.

SPR now reports that they are planning a robust fall schedule that, given the new construction timeline, will occur within the South Park Community Center.  My office will continue monitoring this issue to ensure South Park’s young people are adequately served at their community center.

Abortion Access Legislation

On Thursday, I joined Councilmember Morales and representatives from Pro-Choice Washington, Legal Voice, and Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates to announce new legislation that will protect access to abortion services in our city.

We announced two bills, which were discussed Friday morning at Councilmember Morales’ Neighborhoods, Education, Civil Rights and Culture Committee.  I expect that Council will vote on these bills on August 9th.

  • CB 120374 adds people who have received or are seeking abortions as a protected class, ensuring their civil rights’ protections.
  • CB 120376 creates a misdemeanor charge for people who encroach on individuals seeking abortions or gender affirming care.

On Tuesday, Council will vote to appropriate $250,000 for the Northwest Abortion Access Fund, which provides logistical support, care, and safety for people seeking abortion here.

We are still at the beginning of the crisis caused by the Supreme Court’s overturn of Roe.  Thanks to the extraordinary network of advocates and providers, we can make very educated guesses about its impact and move to meet the challenges.  But its full impact is not yet known.  We cannot accurately guess today everything that will be needed to keep medical refugees, their providers, and those who support them, safe.  More work will be needed.

As a reminder – and we can’t say this enough right now – abortion remains safe and legal in Washington state.  Seattle welcomes all people who need abortion services, no matter where they live.  If you or someone you know is seeking abortion in Seattle, here’s a good to place to get accurate, non-biased information about abortion services here.

Chief of Police Search Events/Survey

The Mayor’s Office has announced the dates for the police chief search events mentioned last week. The events are listed below, and linked at the Police Chief Search website. For the virtual events links will be accessible at the website. Though some events include a community focus, the general public can attend any of the events.

The website also includes a survey to provide input to the Mayor’s Office on the Police Chief Search. Here’s a link to the survey.

The Mayor appoints the police chief, subject to a confirmation vote of the City Council.

Hospitals Are Over Capacity Amidst a COVID Surge

You may have seen recent reporting that local hospitals are operating significantly over capacity right now; Harborview is reportedly at 130% of bed capacity.  King County Public Health Officer Dr. Duchin reports there are many factors, including deferred procedures and lack of space in nursing homes to discharge patients.  Simultaneously, we’re seeing a significant surge in COVID transmission in our neighborhoods.

There are many individual choices we can make to help relieve the extreme stress on the hospital system, and to support overburdened healthcare workers:


Hit and Run Cyclist Death / SDOT Response

On July 15 Robert Mason was the victim of the hit and run near the Spokane Street Bridge while he rode his bicycle. He is the thirteenth person to die from a collision on Seattle streets in 2022.

I’ve heard from constituents with questions about what the City does after fatal crashes, and about potential road safety changes in that location.

After fatal crashes, SDOT evaluates sites from an engineering perspective to see whether there are short term and longer-term safety improvements to be made. This is in addition to the Seattle Police Department’s Traffic Collision Investigation Squad’s work on crash reconstruction and criminal investigation.

SDOT proposed safety improvements this last week, specifically, a project which would redesign the street layout of 4th Ave S near S Holgate St. The proposal includes creating a new median island to reduce conflicts and exposure and reduce the speed limit on 4th Ave S from 30 mph to 25 mph. There have been 7 fatalities within a quarter-mile radius of 4th Ave S & S Holgate St in the past 2.5 years, including Gan Hao Li who was killed while riding a bike in May 2022.

Residents of District 1 must pass through SODO to get to Downtown. Projects designed to enhance safety for cyclists and pedestrians include the East Marginal Way Project to enhance safety between West Seattle to Downtown; the Georgetown to South Park Connection, and the Georgetown to Downtown project.

Why is the Grass So Long?

If you notice longer grass in your local parks where it was usually mowed – that’s likely intentional!  As part of a Pollinator Corridor Project, SPR has worked with wildlife managers, landscape architects, and grounds crews to identify areas of “passive turf” that are not used actively by the public and could support wildlife habitat. Meadow-like conditions are a huge benefit to many of our pollinators and other animals such as our native bees, butterflies, and birds. Other benefits include protecting tree roots from mower damage, adding mulch to tree rings to build soil health, retaining water during the drought season, and creating habitat for insects and birds.  SPR says:

Look for the “Pollinator Habitat” signs in parks that describe these benefits. And share your thoughts about this pilot to Todd.Burley@seattle.gov so we can assess public perception.  Our parks can do so much for people and wildlife, and we hope you’ll agree that increasing biodiversity for pollinators and people is a win-win.


CSCC Staffing and Alternate 911 Response

The Community Safety and Communications Center (CSCC) was established last year. The Council moved the 911 dispatch center from the Seattle Police Department as an initial step towards creating the foundation for building an alternative response for some 911 calls.

Some have called 911 dispatchers the “gatekeepers for the entire criminal justice system.” Moving the 911 dispatchers out of the Seattle Police Department was not performative, as some have said, but essential. Dispatchers send specific and responsive resources to a call they receive; by moving dispatchers out of the Seattle Police Department we set the stage for alternative responses. Without moving dispatchers out of the Police Department, the default resource to call-takers are sworn police officers, even if that’s not what a situation requires.

Funds to stand up an alternative response:  This past week, I sponsored a successful amendment to supplemental budget legislation that will provide $1.2 million for a non-police alternative response for crisis calls.  The funds were being held for former Mayor Durkan’s “Triage One” project, which has since been abandoned.  I appreciate Councilmember Lewis speaking to the amendment in my absence.

Seattle is falling behind on its commitments to create policing alternatives, and those impacts are being felt by community members who are not getting the service they deserve and by police officers who are stretched too thin.  We can’t keep asking police officers to direct traffic and help people in mental health crises when we don’t have enough officers to investigate sexual assaults or respond to 911 calls,

We have long known that “person down” and “welfare check” calls, which eat up 8,000 call hours per year, are good candidates for a non-sworn response. We need to move more quickly to develop a response for this subset of calls.  With this action, which I expect my colleagues to approve on Tuesday, we will hold funds sufficient to identify and fund such a response this year.

Staffing up dispatchers:  Last year, former Mayor Durkan proposed a budget that included funding for 139 positions in the dispatch center, at the time 20 of those positions were vacant, with another 17 having part-time absences due to situations such as medical and military leave. I sponsored a budget amendment and the Council adopted it, adding another 26 positions to address staffing and operational needs at CSCC. This brings their total funded positions up to 165.

To date, the CSCC has hired 24 new positions, more than any of the three years prior. When including separations, we have a net five new dispatchers in 2022, compared to 2020 when we had a net loss of 11 dispatchers. The CSCC currently has a recruit class every month.

Filling these positions is important, because though we talk a lot about the amount of time it takes for police to respond to 911 calls, having sufficient staff to answer the 911 calls is the first step in assigning a first responder. There is a real-world impact when the staffing levels at the CSCC dip too low. Answered call times at the CSCC have suffered due to turnover and previous understaffing of 911 dispatch positions.  Sometimes the non-emergency line isn’t staffed, or if it is, wait times may be prohibitively long. There are also the national standards for 911 emergency call answering times. The Association of Police Communications Officers (APCO), National Emergency Number Association (NENA), and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), recommend that 90% of 911 calls should be answered within 15 seconds.

Due to current staffing levels, the CSCC is not always meeting these standards, but they are making strides and with all hands-on deck, leading up to the busy 4th of July weekend, between June 29 and July 5, 2022, they had a service level of 82.94% of calls answered within 15 seconds. These service levels are why it’s so important that we continue to hire additional dispatchers. During last year’s budget process, when I proposed the amendment to add an additional 26 positions to address staffing needs, we received a letter from the dispatchers which in part said:

Our current telecommunicators are working endless mandatory overtime, 52-56 hour work weeks, being forced to come in on their days off, and constantly are working understaffed.

Working short-staffed increases workload and delays call answering times, which can be life-threatening situationally. Further, these employees are experiencing burnout, PTSD, depression, exhaustion, and a distorted work/life balance.

VOTE!

Tuesday, August 2 is the primary election.  You should have already received your ballot. You can fill it out and mail it back (without a stamp!) or take it to a ballot drop box. Be sure to make a plan to vote. Are you mailing it in or taking it to a drop box? Plan a time to do this and follow up here to make sure your vote is counted.

Some of you may have already read about Republican activists that are organizing surveillance of the ballot drop boxes. These intimidation tactics are an affront to our fundamental right to vote. Washington State law permits people to drop off legal mail-in ballots for other voters with no restrictions, including “ballot parties” to collect votes to turn in together.  Ballot signatures are always confirmed to ensure all votes are legal.

The King County Elections Chief of Staff, Kendall Hodson, has said the signs are illegal under both federal and state law.  The King County Sheriff’s Office is investigating.


In-Person Office Hours

On Friday, July 29, I will be hosting in-person office hours between 3pm and 7pm, with the last meeting of the day beginning at 6:30pm.

As we move back to in-person office hours I am asking that you still please contact my scheduler Alex Clardy (alex.clardy@seattle.gov) to schedule an appointment to ensure too many people aren’t gathering in a small area.

Here is a list of my tentatively scheduled office hours. These are subject to change.

  • Friday, August 19, 2022
  • Friday, September 30, 2022
  • Friday, October 28, 2022
  • Friday, December 16, 2022
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West Seattle Bridge Update; Highlighting Violence Prevention Efforts; July 12 Public Safety and Human Services Committee; Chief of Police Search; Sound Transit Resolution Vote; Strength Over Silence: Minority Mental Health Awareness Month; Touring City Hall with People’s Academy for Community Engagement; Learn About Colman Pool Maintenance Project; Valuing the Work of Social Sector Workers; Truck Parking Meeting in South Park; In-Person Office Hours

July 15th, 2022

West Seattle Bridge Update

Concrete post-tensioning ducts have been completed and, this week, the installation of post tensioning steel cables continues.

After installation of post-tensioning steel cables, the next step is to tension (or tighten) the cables. The contractor is expected to begin this work on Monday.

Tensioning of the cables will be done in two phases: first to 20%, and then to fully tensioned.

In addition to work to repair the bridge, major maintenance work is proceeding at the same time.

The first two of six deck overlay pours are scheduled this week for the Fauntleroy Expressway leading up to the bridge.  The first 10 of the 60 concrete panels being replaced are being poured this week as well.

The project remains on track for opening the week of September 12th.

Highlighting Violence Prevention Efforts

At my Public Safety & Human Services committee on Tuesday, I welcomed several presentations from leaders in regional violence prevention efforts.

Youth LINC (Leadership, Intervention & Change) is a multi-jurisdictional, multi-disciplinary coordinated effort to reduce youth gun violence and gang involvement.  I have served as a member of the Steering Committee of LINC for the past year or so.  LINC is based on the Comprehensive Gang Model, a collaborative response to gangs that has been heavily evaluated since the early 1990s and proven successful in reducing gang-related violence and increasing pro-social outcomes for gang-involved individuals.

LINC engages gang-involved or high-risk young people through street outreach, then provides wraparound services to help them meet goals such as school enrollment or graduation, finding a job and housing, completing probation, receiving behavioral health treatment, and decreasing gang involvement.  You can review the LINC presentation materials here, or watch video of the presentation here.

Next, leaders from the King County Regional Approach for Gun Violence Reduction shared their work.  The City of Seattle has contributed $2M to the Regional Peacekeepers Collective, which joins $7M from the County to ramp up through 2022 and early 2023.  I appreciate that this work takes a data-driven, public health approach starting with a tight focus on the people most impacted by gun violence.

Once identified, the group pulls in and coordinates the multiple systems that touch their lives to provide supports and decrease the likelihood of additional violence.

I very much appreciate that this effort is a regional approach.  We know that both people and violence cross city boundaries regularly, and we need to be able to respond wholistically and consistently regardless of the individual jurisdiction.  You can review the Regional Approach presentation materials here, and watch video of the presentation here.

Many thanks to our presenters: William Hairston, Director, Gina Terada, and Fredericka Pie, Center for Children & Youth Justice; Ted Boe, City of Burien Police Chief; Aaron Fox, Seattle YMCA Director of Young Adult Services; Dennis Worsham, Interim Director; Eleuthera Lisch; Tia Yarbrough; Public Health, Seattle & King County.

July 12 Public Safety and Human Services Committee

In additional to the violence prevention efforts noted above, the Public Safety and Human Services Committee heard two additional items.

First, the committee voted in support of legislation establishing a process for complaints that names the Chief of police. The legislation now moves to the Full Council.

Secondly, Interim Police Chief Diaz presented the Seattle Police Department Race and Social Justice Report.

He noted several initiatives SPD has worked on, including a new civilian hiring process to reduce bias, and expansion of the Community Service Officer team that the Council funded.

He also highlighted the Before the Badge program, an initiative of the Chief that the Council provided funding for last year to help get it started. The program provides 5-week Seattle-specific training for new officers before they begin the training at the state academy and focuses on cultural and community competency; wellness and mental health; RSJI principles; empathy and relationship-building; and community-led instruction. The first class recently completed this program.

He also noted that 40% of hires during 2021 were BIPOC persons, and 50% in 2022.

Chief of Police Search

I am honored to serve as a member of Mayor Harrell’s Chief of Police Search Committee.  See here for more about the search committee composition.  The search process is set by charter. As a search committee member I will help assess candidates and together the committee will recommend up to five individuals to proceed to a competitive examination. The search committee will also help formulate the questions for the written portion of the examination.

To better understand what’s needed from our next Chief of Police the City is holding five community conversations between July 25th and July 30th.  Two of the events will be held virtually and three will be held in-person.

Facilitating the conversations will be Ben McBride, and the Empower Initiative. The conversation focus areas, as well as dates, times, and details to access on: the Mayor’s Seattle Chief of Police Search – Mayor | seattle.gov website. Bookmark the site for additional updates and information regarding the Police Chief Search.

Sound Transit Resolution Vote

The City Council voted to approve the resolution to provide recommendation to the Sound Transit Board regarding their selection for a Preferred Alternatives for the West Seattle and Ballard light rail extensions.

The resolution states support for the Medium Tunnel option for the West Seattle Junction, and for Delridge, that the City is unable to state a preference due to the inadequate Draft EIS analysis of impacted social resources, and states that the City’s future support for the Del-6 option is conditioned on avoidance or mitigation of impacts, or relocation, of impacted child-care and transitional housing providers.

Also, Sound Transit released a summary of comments on the Draft EIS. Here’s the comment summary page. This page includes links to the main summary report, s links to appendices for comments from tribes, agencies and elected officials, businesses and business organizations, and West Seattle businesses and business organizations, West Seattle community and arts organizations and individual public comments.

Strength Over Silence: Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

July is Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. Bebe was a pioneering mental health advocate recognized by Congress for her work to improve public health awareness and access in minority communities.

Looking for local mental health resources and support groups that are BIPOC- or culturally-specific? Check out National Alliance on Mental Illness-Seattle’s resources list at NAMI Seattle | Black, Indigenous & People of Color Mental Health Resources.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has collected stories of courage, culture and community that highlight perspectives on mental health across backgrounds and communities. Watch them here.

We are all struggling with the shadow pandemic – the crisis in mental health that is affecting all of us, brought on by more than two years of isolation, grief, and anxiety caused by Covid.  Last year, Governor Inslee declared a state of emergency due to the mental and behavioral health of Washington’s kids.  Last December, the nation’s Surgeon General followed suit.  We are feeling the crisis in every community, in every home where someone is struggling.  Help exists for you.

Touring City Hall with People’s Academy for Community Engagement

On Saturday, I joined a Civic Engagement and Affordable Housing Education Event hosted by Duwamish Valley Affordable Housing Coalition (DVAHC) & People’s Academy for Community Engagement (PACE).  A cohort of Latinx community members have been meeting over the past 5 months to learn about civic engagement and homeownership; this event celebrated the cohort’s commitment and brought the Latinx community closer to city government and to resources about equitable and affordable housing.  It was a great opportunity to give a tour of City Hall and Council Chambers to the cohort and do a little civic 101!

Learn About Colman Pool Maintenance Project

You’re invited to join Seattle Parks and Recreation at Colman Pool on Sunday, July 17 from Noon to 2 p.m. to learn about and provide input on an upcoming maintenance and improvement project at the pool.

The goal of the upcoming maintenance project is to renovate the locker rooms to increase access for people of all abilities, provide family and non-gender-specific restrooms and changing areas (none currently exist), improve the caretaker residence, and provide several other improvements throughout the bathhouse and on the pool deck that will increase access to all users. This project will also provide general much-needed updates to the unique operation-critical filter equipment essential for drawing and filtering water from Puget Sound, and reinforcement to the walls to ensure that building occupants can safely withstand an earthquake.

If you have questions please contact the project planner, Oliver Bazinet at oliver.bazinet@seattle.gov or 206-427-9086. To learn more about Colman Pool please visit https://www.seattle.gov/parks/find/pools/colman-pool.

Valuing the Work of Social Sector Workers

City residents and visitors rely on our social sector workers to do extremely difficult and demanding work. They show up every day ready to help folks find safe housing, feed their families, heal from trauma, and get connected to services. But human services workers are significantly underpaid for the difficult work they do, which puts the whole sector in a precarious position.

Last year, at the request of Seattle Human Services Coalition, I sponsored a successful budget action to fully fund a wage equity study to address high turnover and compensate frontline workers appropriately for doing the work we desperately need them to do.  This week, the City’s Human Services announced they awarded the funding to the University of Washington School of Social Work, who will conduct a comparable worth wage analysis of the City of Seattle and King County human services sector.  This analysis will compare jobs in the human services sector with jobs in different fields, especially in the private sector, that require similar levels of skills, education, and difficulty.

The rating committee was impressed with the University of Washington’s experience with comparable worth wage analysis, their work on public policy issues, and the team they assembled—including national and international leaders in research who can provide critical checks and balances in the study.

University of Washington will produce a report that will include recommendations for an updated pay structure for human services organizations – the first step in appropriately investing in service providers and their effectiveness.

Truck Parking Meeting in South Park

The City of Seattle and Port of Seattle/The Northwest Seaport Alliance will be addressing the issues related to Port truck parking in South Park on July 18th at the Duwamish River Community Hub, 8600 14th Avenue South.

South Park Meeting / Reunión en South Park
Monday, July 18
6:00 – 7:30 PM
Duwamish River Community Hub
8600 14th Ave S

Food will be provided at the in-person events.

Please contact westseattlebridge@seattle.gov or call (206) 400-7511 if you have accessibility needs or would like to request translations.
Si tiene necesidades especiales o requiere interpretación (traducción), por favor contacte a westseattlebridge@seattle.gov o llame al (206) 400-7511.

Legislation to amend the traffic code to designate truck will be before the Transportation and Seattle Public Utilities Committee next Tuesday. The legislation notes “many drayage drivers currently park their truck tractors in the public right-of-way in Georgetown, South Park, SODO, and other Seattle neighborhoods near Port facilities.” “Drayage” refers to trucks that transport ocean freight.

The legislation includes a map showing the parking locations on Harbor Island, and in SODO. It also establishes a fine which is consistent with the penalty for parking in load zones and other areas designated for specific uses.

In-Person Office Hours

On Friday, July 29, I will be hosting in-person office hours between 3pm and 7pm, with the last meeting of the day beginning at 6:30pm.

As we move back to in-person office hours I am asking that you still please contact my scheduler Alex Clardy (alex.clardy@seattle.gov) to schedule an appointment to ensure too many people aren’t gathering in a small area.

Here is a list of my tentatively scheduled office hours. These are subject to change.

  • Friday, August 19, 2022
  • Friday, September 30, 2022
  • Friday, October 28, 2022
  • Friday, December 16, 2022

 

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West Seattle Bridge Update; Sound Transit Light Rail Recommendations Resolution; July 14th SW Precinct Community-Police Dialogue; Help for Renters Displaced by Large Rent Increases; City Appeals Arbitration Ruling; Visiting the City’s First East African Senior Center

July 8th, 2022

West Seattle Bridge Update

Bridge re-opening remains on track for week of September12.   As I confirmed last week, the specialized concrete needed for post-tensioning on the bridge has fully cured.

Post-tensioning duct installation continued this week.  The contractor has revised how the ducts are being temporarily supported to allow for quicker removal and provide some time savings on the back end of the work. Strand installation on the north girder got underway today.

A reader has suggested that I start to provide updates to the steps below listed as remaining work:

  • Install post-tensioning ducts (11,000 feet of ducts)
  • Complete a pre-tensioning round of epoxy injections and carbon-fiber wrapping
  • Install post-tensioning strands (~46 miles of strands)
  • Tension the strands
  • Complete a final round of epoxy injections and carbon-fiber wrapping after tensioning is done
  • Complete cure time for the carbon-fiber wrapping
  • Remove work platforms
  • Load test and inspect the repairs
  • Restore the bridge deck by closing holes in the bridge deck created for access
  • Demobilize the site, which means crews remove their equipment (like trailers and tools) from the bridge

In response to this request, SDOT has helpfully offered to create a graphic that shows progress towards reopening by several categories of work.  Hopefully we can provide that next week.

Sound Transit Light Rail Recommendations Resolution

The WSBLE project proposes two light rail extensions, one from West Seattle to Downtown continuing north to Everett, and the other from Ballard to Downtown continuing to Tacoma. Riders will transfer between these two lines at expanded CID and Westlake Stations.

The Transportation and Utilities Committee adopted the amended resolution this week.  it moves to the Full Council next Tuesday.  Amendment 1 listed on the agenda was adopted by the Transportation & SPU Committee; the amendment addresses the Delridge segment, and other portions of the line (Chair Pedersen combined separate amendments into one Chair’s Amendment).

My comments from the meeting are below.

For the West Seattle Junction, there is strong community support for a tunnel option. I support that. A tunnel would minimize impacts to the neighborhood and businesses and provide the best approach for long-term success and the health of the West Seattle Junction community.  An elevated alignment into the heart of the West Seattle Junction Urban Village, and on Fauntleroy Way SW would be unprecedented for light rail in Seattle. It would include impacts that could not be mitigated. 

The Medium Tunnel has a comparable cost estimate to elevated options in the Junction, an important consideration for a regional project.

For the Duwamish crossing, there’s a divided community perspective, and both north and south crossings have clear impacts, so it’s important the resolution notes the south crossing it “conditioned on adequate mitigation of impacts to parks, recreational areas, and natural habitat at Pigeon Point and the West Duwamish Greenbelt”

For Delridge, there is no clear community consensus. All alignments have impacts on residents and businesses, that is evident, as noted in the Draft EIS.

I appreciate the Executive’s addition to the draft version of a request for a transit access study for the communities identified in the Racial Equity Toolkit, including South Delridge and White Center (the Environmental Justice study in the Draft EIS only covers ½ mile from station locations). The resolution also added mention of the importance of protections for Longfellow Creek. These are great additions.

The Del 5- and 6 options were developed to minimize the impacts on the Youngstown community adjacent to Genesee; they were added late in the scoping process at the Board level, so potential impacts of these options weren’t discussed during the scoping process. There are a couple of impacts for Del-6 that have come up since the Draft EIS was published.

First, as noted in public comment the Draft EIS does not mention the existence of Alki Beach Academy daycare center in the Social Resources section in Appendix L, where other daycare centers on the line are noted. The importance of a daycare center of this size on the peninsula has been magnified by the closure of the West Seattle Bridge, and this center provides care for over 120 children, and plans to expand to be able to care for 300.

Another impact would be on Transitional Resources, which offers 24/7 services to persons with serious mental illness, through both living facilities and a service center. The living facilities depend on the 24/7 service center—it is a holistic system—and the Draft EIS doesn’t address the integrated nature of this program. Up to 31 high needs individuals could be displaced, with 122 persons per month losing access to treat acute, long-term mental illness (most clients were formerly homeless). The property deed includes a covenant requiring that the property be used for the provision of these services for the foreseeable future.

To address these deficiencies, I developed the West Seattle portion of a Council amendment to the resolution. The amendment states that for the Delridge segment, the City is not able to state a preference given the inadequate DEIS analysis of impacted social resources, and notes it a) did not identify the Alki Beach Academy as a potentially impacted social resource, and therefore did not fully analyze the project’s impact on child care services, and b) that while the DEIS identified Transition Resources in the list, it relies on co-located services to provide comprehensive transitional housing services; and c) states the City’s future support for Del-6 is conditioned on avoidance or mitigation of impacts, or relocation, of impacted child-care and transitional housing service providers.

Update on Hiawatha Community Center Improvements

The Hiawatha Community Center Stabilization Project has been stalled due to new federal guidance on infrastructure projects.  Yesterday the City cleared an important hurdle to addressing this delay.  The State received a waiver from the federal guidance that was holding it up.  The Hiawatha Community Center Stabilization Project is now heading for a FEMA grant award.

Background: I’ve heard from several constituents recently asking for updates on the Hiawatha Community Center improvements, including electrical repairs, water and sewer pipe replacements, furnace and water heater repairs, roof replacement, and more.  Seattle Parks & Recreation has provided this information on the project website:

Seattle Parks and Recreation is waiting on approval of a FEMA grant before we can proceed with bidding and construction for this community center stabilization project.

My office dug a little deeper.  One of the conditions of the FEMA grant is that the project can’t be put out to bid until grant approval is received.  The hold-up at FEMA is connected to the new, federal “Buy American” guidance for infrastructure projects, which has put a hold on all pending sub-grants, including Hiawatha.  This is a national problem facing applicants in two different categories: Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) and Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM).

FEMA and the State were working together on a waiver for Hiawatha, and just yesterday, we learned that the waiver was granted!  Seattle Parks & Recreation reports that the Hiawatha Community Center project is ready to move to award.  We are seeking a timeline for the next step.  Parks further reports that, given the current construction market, this project would not go out to bid until mid-September.  With steps including a. contract award, b. contract execution, and c. a 9-month construction schedule, they estimate completion in August 2023.  I do not want the community to go yet another summer without access to this community treasure, the oldest community center west of the Mississippi. I will be inquiring how we can get it open sooner.

The State’s emergency management division directed us to FEMA Region 10 guidance:

FEMA Region 10 would like to share information with you regarding the “Buy American” preference in FEMA financial assistance programs, including the BRIC grant program. As part of President Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, beginning with awards received on or after May 14, 2022, any infrastructure project receiving federal funding must source their iron, steel, manufactured products and construction materials from the United States.  The below link provides more details on requirements of the Act, including the programs that are subject to BABAA and those not subject to BABAA. Please note, BRIC, PDM and FMA are subject to BABAA.

“Buy America” Preference in FEMA Financial Assistance Programs for Infrastructure | FEMA.gov

As the website states: These requirements apply to new awards made on or after May 14, 2022, as well as new funding FEMA obligates to existing awards or through renewal awards where the new funding is obligated on or after May 14, 2022. Until more guidance is received, FEMA Region 10 will not be issuing new awards or additional obligations to existing awards.  Additional information on FEMA’s Policy implementing OMB Memo M-22-11 is forthcoming and FEMA Region 10 will share any additional information once received from FEMA HQ.

At our request, Congresswoman Jayapal’s office has also been looking into the delay and advocating for speedy approval.

Hiawtha Community Center

Help for Renters Displaced by Large Rent Increases

This week the Economic Displacement Relocation Assistance program (EDRA) went live.  EDRA was passed by Council last fall and provides relocation assistance to tenants who:

  • receive a housing cost increase of 10% or more after July 1, 2022
  • are low income (80% median income or below)
  • notify the landlord of their intent to move

When tenants qualify for EDRA, landlords will be required to pay up to three times the monthly housing cost. This week SDCI deployed an online application portal for renters and a website with forms and explanatory information.

Councilmember Kshama Sawant sponsored the legislation that was passed unanimously by the City Council.  There has long been a similar requirement, the Tenant Relocation Assistance Ordinance (TRAO), for low-income tenants displaced by renovations, demolition or change of use.  In those cases, the city splits the relocation costs with landlords.  A frequently abused loophole in TRAO was that some landlords, to avoid the relocation assistance obligations of TRAO, would give excessive rent increases to displace renters in buildings that they were renovating, such as this example in my district where renters had received a 100% rent increase and that this increase led to 20 of the 23 households being displaced from the building.   Current law also newly requires 180 days’ notice of rent increases.

SDCI has notified landlords of their new obligations via the Rental Registration Inspection Ordinance (RRIO) email list that reaches most landlords and property managers. There was coverage of the EDRA program in the Seattle Times last weekend.

The main information for renters and an application portal can be found at www.seattle.gov/rentinginseattle/edra .

SDCI provides information for landlords at www.seattle.gov/rentinginseattle/landlords/edra.

July 14th SW Precinct Community-Police Dialogue

Seattle University shared the following message about their second community-police dialogue next week:

I would like to share with you the Call for Participants for our upcoming community-police dialogues. We will be holding our second community-police dialogue for Southwest Precinct on Thursday July 14, 2022. If you are willing, please share the flyer and link with your network to help make sure the everyone who lives and/or works in Seattle who would like to participate has the opportunity to do so.

 Here is the link to sign up for the 2022 Community-Police Dialogues. The flyer is attached to this email.

2021 SPD MCPP Reports – Our research team has completed two reports – the 2021 Seattle Public Safety Survey Results and the 2021 Community Police Dialogues Results. Links to the reports are below. The 2021 Seattle Public Safety Report includes results from the 2021 Seattle Public Safety Survey citywide, precinct, and micro-community. The 2021 Community-Police Dialogues Report includes results of the virtual community-police dialogues we conducted last spring/summer separated by precinct:

Helfgott, J.B. & Parkin, W. (2022). Seattle Police Department’s Citywide 2021 Seattle Public Safety Survey Results (149p.)

Helfgott, J.B. & Parkin, W. (2022). Seattle Police Department’s Micro-Community Policing Plans Community-Police Dialogues 2021 Results (41p.)

 2022 SPD MCPP Seattle Police Community-Police Dialogues  

We began conducting the 2022 virtual community-police dialogues on May 19 and will be running them every Thursday night 5:30-7:30pm from May 19 through August 25, 2022 – 3 for each precinct. The purpose of the dialogues will be to provide an overview of the findings from the 2021 Seattle Public Safety Survey and to give community members and police personnel opportunity to engage in dialogue that is precinct-specific. 

City Appeals Arbitration Ruling

As Axios Seattle reported, the City has filed a petition in Superior Court seeking to overturn an arbitrator’s decision to reinstate a parking enforcement officer. Interim Chief Diaz fired the officer over a hateful and racist comment advocating lynching.

I appreciate SPD’s action, specifically Chief Diaz, in this case. I also appreciate the City Attorney role in this decision.  The charter language for the City Attorney reads: “The City Attorney shall have full supervisory control of all the litigation of the City, or in which the City or any of its departments are interested and shall perform such other duties as are or shall be prescribed by ordinance.”  I recognize that the ultimate decision in this case resided with the City Attorney, with the understanding that the client’s interests are an important consideration when they evaluate whether to file an action in court.

Seattle’s current arbitration system for appeals of disciplinary findings is broken. This case was yet another example.  Parking enforcement officers have since been moved out of SPD but were formerly included in the SPD system of discipline.

Decisions of arbitrators that overturn the Chief’s discipline decision was a key item highlighted by Judge Robart in his decision to find the City out of compliance with the Consent Decree.  The Seattle Police Management Association contract approved by the City Council substantially modified discipline proceedings for cases involving Captains and Lieutenants.

Visiting the City’s First East African Senior Center

I recently visited with East African seniors gathering for a home-cooked Ethiopian lunch (delicious!) at the Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands.  The new East African Senior Center operates four days a week in Rainier Beach and at the Yesler Community Center, providing community for elders, culturally appropriate food, classes and activities, support and connections to wraparound services for participants.

I was proud to sponsor the budget addition last fall that made this program possible – the City’s first-ever investment in services focused on East African elders.  With additional funds raised privately by Sound Generations, the program was able to launch with dedicated staff and program supplies, to support East African seniors at two locations every week.

Many thanks to East African Senior Center, Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands, and Sound Generations for hosting me!

An Ethiopian lunch at Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands

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What is 988?; West Seattle Bridge Update; Public Safety and Human Services Committee Update; Fireworks; Free Summer Activities at South Park Community Center; California Avenue SW Pedestrian Safety; Free Summer Meals for Kids; Highland Park Improvement Club Reset Fest; Seattle Department of Neighborhoods Seeks Community Members to Serve as Grant Reviewers for Duwamish River Opportunity Fund

July 1st, 2022

What is 988?

Perhaps you’ve heard about 988, the new, nation-wide phone number to call for mental health crisis?  It’s not quite in operation yet – July 16th is the launch date – but I invited the local leaders who are rolling out 988 to provide an update in Tuesday’s Public Safety & Human Services committee.  Michelle McDaniel, CEO of Crisis Connections, which will operate 988 in King County; and Kelli Nomura and Michael Reading of King County’s Behavioral Health & Recovery Division provided an in-depth presentation, which you can view here, or watch the presentation here.

Beginning July 16, 2022, 988 will be the new three-digit dialing code connecting people to compassionate, accessible care and support for anyone experiencing mental health-related distress—whether that is thoughts of suicide, mental health or substance use crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress. People can also dial 988 if they are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support.

The vision behind 988 is broader than just a number to call for support.  In the long term, 988 will be built out to also increase rapid crisis response services for people in behavioral health crisis; and places for those people to stay and recover while receiving treatment.  You can learn more about 988 here.

988 is a piece of the puzzle that is Council’s work to provide alternatives to an armed response for crisis calls.  For instance, Council has significantly expanded funding for the Mobile Crisis Team, which responds to calls for people in behavioral health crisis.  The 988 and 911 systems will need to be closely coordinated to seamlessly allow referral of callers for appropriate care or response that addresses the unique circumstances present with each crisis.

West Seattle Bridge Update

My office confirmed that last week the specialized concrete needed for post-tensioning on the bridge fully cured.

The contractor is currently working on finishing the duct installation for the steel cables, and looks to start installing the 46 miles of steel cables next week. After they are installed, they will be tensioned in order to strengthen the concrete girder in the bridge.


Public Safety and Human Services Committee Update

The Public Safety and Human Services Committee met on June 28th.

The committee voted to recommend the Full Council approve a mayoral appointment to the Community Police Commission. There is a Council-appointed vacancy for the CPC; if you are interested in serving, please contact my office. Information about the vision and mission of the Community Police Commission is available here.

The Mayor’s Office provided an update on the workplan for 911 call analysis and scoping of future alternative response, appearing in-person in the Council Chambers.

The Seattle Police Department is completing the Risk Managed Demand Analysis, to assess which types of calls require a sworn response, and which may not. Here’s a matrix showing how this could look:

The Mayor’s Office presentation referenced call priority types described in last week’s newsletter. Priority 1 calls are for life-threatening situations and major crimes. Priority 2 calls have a threat of violence which may not be in progress, or major property damage, for example.

Priority 3 calls cover incidents where response time is not critical, and an event is no longer in progress, and a victim is waiting to speak with officers. Priority 4 can include graffiti and noise complaints, and situations where a report may or may not be needed. The Mayor’s Office noted that for some of those lower-priority call types, an alternative responder could take the report, some of which would need to be certified by law officers.

Senior Deputy Mayor Harrell said that the Risk Managed Demand call analysis would be complete any day now; I invited the Executive to present the results of the call analysis at the July 26th committee meeting.

The presentation also provided updates on the Council’s budget requests for reports on Community Service Officer duties, which could potentially be expanded; and mental health responses. The presentation noted Community Service Officers (CSO) may be good candidates for some calls, and King County’s Mobile Crisis Teams that are expanding could be a viable option for some behavior-health related calls. Regarding the Triage One proposal of the previous administration, the Mayor’s Office noted they are not proceeding given estimated costs and lack of clarity about what calls it would respond to, and “the Mayor’s Office believes it makes more sense to first identify what calls are good candidates for a non-sworn response and then determine most appropriate response based on nature & scope of specific calls in question.”

My response is that the Triage One proposal does in fact “identify what calls are good candidates for a non-sworn response.”  Triage One was a proposal to respond to person down and welfare check call, which entail 8,000 call hours per year.  The problem with the Triage One proposal was not a problem identifying “what calls are good candidates.” It was a problem identifying which City workers should respond.  See this report, linked here.  Whether a result of the old Priority Call Handling Status policy or the new Z-disposition protocol, many of these lower priority calls are already not being responded to, why would there be risk in developing a new, appropriate response to calls currently may not be receiving a response?   We need to move more quickly to develop a response for this subset of calls.  Though I support the efforts of the Risk Managed Demand call analysis for the broader universe of call types, there is no excuse for waiting until the completion of the Risk Managed Demand call analysis for this small subset of calls that we should be working to develop a alternative response for now.

As noted above, a presentation on 988 was also heard in the committee meeting.

The committee also considered legislation to establish a process for investigating complaints against the Chief of Police. The committee voted to adopt a substitute version as the version before the committee, for the July 12 meeting. This version reflects additional work with the Office of the Inspector General and Office of Police Accountability.

Fireworks

As I wrote about last week, the Seattle Fire Department visits known firework locations to discourage unsafe behavior. For those that wrote me with specific locations, I have passed them on to SFD to visit – as their time allows. I am hopeful that the new Fireworks ban in King County, sponsored by King County Councilmembers Joe McDermott, will help limit the use of fireworks this year because unincorporated areas of King County will no longer have the fireworks stands where violators of Seattle’s decades-old fireworks can buy their fireworks.  Please have a safe weekend and 4th of July.   If you want to enjoy fireworks, attend one of the area’s annual fireworks displays; they were canceled last year due to the pandemic, but many are back this year (remember mask and social distancing).

Free Summer Activities at South Park Community Center

Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) is offering free drop-in activities for youth ages 11-14 at the South Park Community Center this summer through SPR’s Summer of Safety program. Regular SOS activities will include field trips, arts and craft, as well as sports and athletics. Click here to see a calendar of activities.

Summer of Safety activities at South Park Community Center will run from July 5 through August 22, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Mondays through Thursdays. Free lunch is provided at Noon.

While the community center building is closed for the South Park Community Center Sitewide Renovation, most activities will take place outside in the field area, or to the side of the facility where the wading pool is (once you arrive at the center, staff at the front of the building can help direct you).

Soccer Camps will be held at Highland Park Field. Transportation to and from South Park will be provided. Participants will depart South Park at 8:45 a.m. and return to South Park at 2:15 p.m.

Questions about Summer of Safety at South Park Community Center? Call the center at (206) 684-7451 or email paula.pablo@seattle.gov.


California Avenue SW Pedestrian Safety

On the evening on May 6, Nicholas Wolf was struck by a car while crossing California Avenue SW near SW Findlay Street. In the wake of this tragic death, many constituents wrote to me to request intersection improvements there. I asked SDOT to consider these requests and examine what can be done to improve safety there.

SDOT Director Simpson wrote yesterday to note SDOT recently completed their engineering evaluation of this location, and to shared the improvements they will be implementing:

 In our study, we considered several factors including traffic volumes along both California Avenue SW and SW Findlay Street, turning movement counts, numbers of people walking and biking, transit ridership, travel speeds, roadway geometry, adjacent land uses, proximity of neighborhood greenway connections, potential school crossings, nearby signalized crossing opportunities, existing intersection traffic control, and the collision history of the intersection. Based on our analysis, we plan to upgrade the existing yellow flashing beacons at the intersection to a pedestrian half signal. The pedestrian half signal can be activated by push buttons and will stop traffic on California Avenue SW with a red signal indication. This pedestrian half signal design and operation will be similar to that of the traffic control at the nearby Fauntleroy Way SW and SW Findlay Street intersection. We will be funding this upgrade through our existing programs – including the Levy to Move Seattle – and intend to deliver this improvement by the end of this year, barring unforeseen issues.

In addition, we will be implementing a painted curb bulb in the southeast and northwest quadrants to improve sightlines for pedestrians crossing at the intersection, and installing a median island on the south leg of California Ave SW, in close proximity to the intersection to reduce the open feel of California Avenue SW, prevent the use of the center turn lane as a through lane, and potentially reduce vehicle speeds. We anticipate implementing these improvements by the end of this year as well.

I appreciate SDOT acting on these community requests, and the direct attention Director Simpson has provided.

Free Summer Meals for Kids

If you have a child up to age 18, they’re eligible for free summer meals!  The City’s Summer Meals Program ensures that children receive nutritious meals during the summer months when school is not in session. It provides free meals and snacks during the summer to children 18 and under.

Ready to find your nearest free Summer Meals site?

  • Enter your address to find free, healthy meals being served by organizations in your community. / Ingrese su dirección para encontrar comidas gratuitas y saludables servidas por organizaciones en su comunidad.
  • Text the word “Food” to 304-304 / Envíe un mensaje de texto con la palabra “Comida” al 304-304
  • Call the USDA Hotline 1-866-3-HUNGRY (1 (866) 348-6479) / Llame al 1-877-8-HAMBRE (1 (877) 842-6273)
  • Email SFSP@seattle.gov


Highland Park Improvement Club Reset Fest

It was great to see so many neighbors at last weekend’s Reset Fest, which raised funds to rebuild the Highland Park Improvement Club after it was gutted by a fire last year.  The Club building is near and dear to my heart: I launched my inaugural Council campaign there, and have participated in many panels, community meetings, and events there.

I also sent a letter of support to HPIC to aid their application to the Washington State Department of Commerce’s Building for the Arts program for funding to rebuild.  HPIC functions as a neighborhood hub and bridge that has long held the community together, while nurturing the artists and culture bearers that make this neighborhood so unique.

Photo: West Seattle Blog twitter

Seattle Department of Neighborhoods Seeks Community Members to Serve as Grant Reviewers for Duwamish River Opportunity Fund

The Seattle Department of Neighborhoods (DON) is recruiting community members to serve as grant reviewers for the Duwamish River Opportunity Fund (DROF). Grant reviewers assist the City of Seattle’s DROF program by reviewing submitted grant applications and selecting those projects that will be the most impactful in improving quality of life for communities living within the Duwamish River Valley.

Since 2014, the Duwamish River Opportunity Fund has granted more than $1.5 million to community projects focused on quality-of-life enhancements in the neighborhoods of South Park, Georgetown, and SODO. The fund is one component of a broader City effort to improve the quality of life and restore the health of Duwamish River communities.

Grant reviewers should live, work, or receive services in the Duwamish River Valley and have a clear understanding of community needs and resources. Each community grant reviewer will receive a $500 stipend for full completion of their grant reviewer responsibilities.

 How to Apply

Prospective grant reviewers should visit the Duwamish River Opportunity Fund website to learn more about the program and access the grant reviewer application. Applications must be emailed to DROF@seattle.gov no later than August 15, 2022 by 5pm.

If you have questions, please call 206-733-9916 or email DROF@seattle.gov.

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Devastating Roe v. Wade Decision; West Seattle Bridge Update; Seattle Police Department 911 Call Handling Update; Fireworks; Council Begins Considering Park District Funding; Free Activities in South Park Summer of Safety

June 24th, 2022

Devastating Roe v. Wade Decision

This morning’s Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade is devastating to many millions of women and pregnant people who will be unable to access basic healthcare and be forced into decisions that endanger their safety and lives.  Nearly 1 in 4 people who can become pregnant will have an abortion in their lifetime.  Now, for very many, seeking that abortion will be simply out of reach due to the expense, the time off required to travel to a different state, the misinformation, and the fear.

The burden of not having access to comprehensive health services without having to travel to another state, will fall hardest on poor women, girls, and transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC) people, especially those who are Black, Indigenous, or people of color (BIPOC).  This decision will result in more poverty, death, and abandoned dreams for those who live in states that outlaw their basic healthcare.  You can learn more about how abortion access is more difficult for some in this blog post from Seattle’s Office for Civil Rights: Abortion access and reproductive justice – Civil Rights Now (seattle.gov).

Since the draft decision was leaked in May, I have been working with Public Health and abortion advocates to understand what action may be needed at the city level in a post-Roe future.  My amendment to Council’s Resolution in support of abortion access called for funding “organizations that deliver programs and services in support of abortion care and access, such as the Northwest Abortion Access Fund and independent abortion clinics.”  I am grateful that Mayor Harrell’s announcement today indicates he included $250,000 in supplemental budget legislation for this purpose, which Councill consider in the next several weeks.  I pledge to keep fighting for greater abortion access in our city.

I pledge to also keep working on supporting the state Keep Our Care Act (SB5688/HB1809), which would prevent health system consolidations from moving forward if they negatively impact communities’ access to affordable quality care, including reproductive, end-of-life, and gender affirming care.  Axios reports that “at least two recent hospital mergers have led to changes in the availability of abortion in Washington.”

I also understand that Councilmember Morales is working on legislation to increase buffer zones for clinics to ensure safe passage for people seeking comprehensive health services in Seattle and to do more to prohibit false information at crisis pregnancy centers.  I thank her for that leadership and am glad to be collaborating with her.

Abortion remains legal and safe across Washington state. King County welcomes all people who need abortion services, no matter where they live. Many clinics offer abortion services in King County.  Learn more and help spread the word: kingcounty.gov/abortion.

This is an extraordinarily difficult day for many of us.  I take comfort in knowing that we live in a community that is committed to abortion access, although we have not yet reached that goal for all.  I will continue this work.

West Seattle Bridge Update

As I explained last week, the final structural concrete pour is now curing. Curing is a 28-day process. The final structural concrete pour was done on May 26. By my count, yesterday was 28 days from May 26 and thus the curing process should be complete. I am confirming this understanding with SDOT and, at the time of this newsletter, I don’t have a confirmation.

SDOT provided additional details on the steps for the remaining work for completion of bridge repairs.

Some of the work is sequential:

  1. Let the concrete used for the post-tensioning anchors and supports set and cure (in progress)
  2. Install post-tensioning ducts (in progress) (11,000 feet of ducts)
  3. Complete a pre-tensioning round of epoxy injections and carbon-fiber wrapping (in progress)
  4. Install post-tensioning strands (~46 miles of strands)
  5. Tension the strands
  6. Complete a final round of epoxy injections and carbon-fiber wrapping after tensioning is done
  7. Complete cure time for the carbon-fiber wrapping
  8. Remove work platforms
  9. Load test and inspect the repairs
  10. Restore the bridge deck by closing holes in the bridge deck created for access
  11. Demobilize the site, which means crews remove their equipment (like trailers and tools) from the bridge

Other major activities that don’t involve strengthening the bridge are being done at the same time:

  • Sign structure replacement (11 total signs)
  • Bridge deck repair and concrete overlay on the Fauntleroy Expressway (2+ acres of new concrete)
  • Concrete panel replacement on the western approach to the bridge structure (61 panels)
  • Traffic control signs and road striping
  • Illumination and streetlight restoration (14 miles of new wire) in partnership with Seattle City Light

To reduce schedule risk, the project is:

  • Prioritizing and scheduling carbon-fiber wrapping during good weather days and tarping these work areas during bad weather days to allow work to continue
  • Prioritizing contractor work on the high bridge over working on the low bridge
  • Continuing close coordination with our concrete supplier to get remaining pours on their schedule as far out as possible
  • Maintaining and scheduling project personnel to the critical path and time-sensitive work items
  • Continuing to require all staff working on the bridge to follow project COVID-prevention protocols
  • Collaborating closely with our agency partners such as King County Metro, the Port of Seattle, Northwest Seaport Alliance, WSDOT, and our partners at the City to develop further mitigation measures for any potential issues as they arise

During the concrete/mixer driver strike, work with the contractor was re-sequenced:

  • Changing where epoxy injections and carbon fiber wrapping took place on the bridge
  • Building as many forms (supports used to pour concrete into) as possible before concrete delivery so they were immediately ready for concrete and we could minimize the number of structural pours needed
  • Directing crews to begin major maintenance work, including expansion joint and sign replacement needed to prepare the bridge for reopening

Upcoming road work

Here are announcements from SDOT about upcoming road work during the next week:

On Saturday and Sunday, we’ll finish building curb ramps at the Dumar Way SW and SW Orchard St intersection. This work will include pouring concrete and paving the road in front of the curb ramp. We expect to begin as early as 8 AM and conclude by 5 PM. We do not anticipate any major traffic impacts, however people driving can expect delays in the area.

On Sunday, we’re pouring concrete to repair the lane divider on SW Spokane St in the vicinity of 11th Ave SW near Harbor Island. We anticipate this work to begin as early as 8 AM and conclude by 4 PM. Traffic impacts include a closure of the East Marginal Way S and the lower SW Spokane St ramps. There will be a detour in place for those traveling in the area. Please anticipate travel delays. Please know this work is weather-dependent. If there’s a change in schedule, we’ll include an update in next week’s email.

Plan ahead for impacts on SW Roxbury St between 14th Ave SW and 15th Ave SW as Puget Sound Energy (PSE) completes maintenance work. Work will take place on Monday June 27, Tuesday June 28, and Thursday June 30.

  • Westbound travel on SW Roxbury St: The right lane and sidewalk will be closed from 7AM to 2PM. Additionally, the bus stop will be temporarily relocated 250 feet to the east.
  • Eastbound travel on SW Roxbury St: The right lane will be closed from 9 AM to 3 PM. The sidewalk will be open.

Seattle Police Department 911 Call Handling Update

Last week the Public Safety and Human Services Committee heard an update about the SPD budget and finances, use of overtime and 911 response times.

SPD’s updated call handling practices is an issue that was touched on in the committee presentation last week. There’s been some confusion about the new system, so I want to help clear that up.

Under the old system, much of the time, the lowest priority calls were not being responded to. The new system addresses that, ensuring low-priority calls are seen by a Seattle Police Department supervisor who can best determine whether and how to respond to them.

Additionally, the new system builds in better oversight to ensure officers are responding to calls that are assigned to them.  A recent Office of Police Accountability investigation showed that allowing officers to make those decisions without clear guidance and oversight can lead to negative results. That’s why OPA recommended that SPD provide more guidance and oversight in that area in April.

That said, I still have questions about this program – including about how this new process is being communicated to 911 callers and whether there are policies in place to guide SPD supervisors in making decisions about how to classify low-priority calls properly and effectively.

Here is some background that provides important context to this issue.

What are Priority 3 and 4 calls?

SPD’s 2020 presentation describes the call types

Priority 3: Prompt – Response time is not critical, but usually involves a victim waiting to speak with officers

Investigative Reports: Thefts, property damage
• No suspect in area – immediate apprehension is not likely
• Property alarms (building or car alarms)
• Non-blocking accidents
• Standbys to assure the Peace
• Parking complaints

Priority 4. As Available – Service requests that may not involve a written report

  • Noise complaints
    • Nuisance Calls
    • Request to Watch
    • Found Property

What was the old approach being replaced with the Z-classification system?

The old approach was called “Priority Call Handling.” Priority 3 and 4 calls were screened out by the Community Safety and Communications Center (CSCC), which receives 911 calls.  Priority Call Handling was used for 225 days in 2020, and 223 during 2021, meaning Priority 3 and 4 calls were not getting a response on those days in at least part of the City.

Under the new protocol, there is no Priority Call Handling, so CSCC no longer screens out these calls. In practice, this means more calls will reach SPD supervisors for their review and more calls will be available to be assigned officers for a response.

Fireworks

Fireworks are banned in Seattle and now King County. Every year the Fire Department responds to many preventable fires and injuries caused by fireworks. Please do your part in keeping our community safe.

The Fire Department has been willing to visit known locations of fireworks to discourage unsafe behavior.  In past years, I’ve shared specific locations with Fire Department Chief Scoggins.  This has allowed the Fire Department to visit these locations as time allows on July 4 and the days leading up to July 4.  If you have a specific D1 location that you’d like me to pass on to Seattle Fire Department, please let me know.

Council Begins Considering Park District Funding

On Friday afternoon, I joined my Council colleagues to launch our consideration of the next six years of funding from the Park District – known as “Cycle 2.”  As background, in 2014, voters in the City of Seattle approved Proposition 1, which created the Seattle Park District. Property taxes collected by the Seattle Park District provide funding for City parks and recreation including maintaining parklands and facilities, operating community centers and recreation programs, and developing new neighborhood parks on previously acquired sites.  You can read more about the Seattle Park District here

The volunteer Board of Parks Recreation Commissioners presented their Cycle 2 recommendations on Friday.  These include:

  • Continuing funding from Cycle 1 investments
  • Funding projects that were planned for – but not completed in – Cycle 1 (including development of 3 landbanked sites in District 1)
  • $30 million in new investments

Today’s presentation does not include many details on the $30M in new investments, and this is an area I’ll be keenly watching over the summer, as Council works its way through the recommendations.  If you’re interested in all the details of the Commissioners’ recommendations, you can read them here: Park District Cycle 2 Planning | seattle.gov.

Council will continue its deliberations through the summer and expects to receive a proposed Park District budget from Mayor Harrell in early September, which will require action by the end of the month.

If you’d like to stay informed of Park District deliberations, you can sign up to receive email notifications of upcoming Park District Board meetings at Agenda Sign Up – Council | seattle.gov.

Free Activities in South Park Summer of Safety

Seattle Parks and Recreation will offer Summer of Safety (SOS) at South Park Community Center, a free program that provides structured activities and a safe space for young people not connected to other supervised programs over the summer. Regular SOS activities will include field trips, arts and crafts, as well as sports and athletics.

Summer of Safety will operate at South Park Community Center between July 5th and August 22nd for kids aged 11-14.  No signup is required; just drop in any time Monday through Friday, 10am – 3pm.  If you have questions or need assistance, please email Paula Pablo at Paula.Pablo@seattle.gov.

Next week, staff will be outside South Park Community Center between 12 – 1:00pm to assist families and provide free lunches!

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West Seattle Bridge Update; Public Safety and Human Services Committee; Elder Abuse Awareness; Westcrest Dog Park Now Open!; Lifeguards Needed!; Community Involvement Commission; Scam Warning

June 17th, 2022

West Seattle Bridge Update

Work Continues on the West Seattle Bridge Repair.

The final structural concrete pour is now curing, a 28-day process. While the concrete is curing, post-tensioning ducts in the south girder are being installed and the contractor and design engineer are finalizing the placement for the post-tensioning ducts in the north girder.  Once locations are confirmed, the contractor will place the steel cables that comprise the post-tensioning system through the ducts in the newly poured deviator and anchor blocks.  Once the ducts and steel cable are placed and after the concrete has cured, the cables will be tightened or “tensioned” to compress the concrete and strengthen it.  The post-tensioning work will update the bridge to current standards.

Tensioning will be followed by a final phase of carbon-fiber wrapping in the middle area of the end spans.

In addition, other work that will be completed before the bridge opens includes replacing and installing new overhead signs; restriping and cleaning up on-ramps at e.g. Delridge Way SW; replacing the concrete panels east of 35th Ave SW and sealing the concrete panel joints; installing a concrete overlay on the Fauntleroy Expressway (which leads to the bridge from 35th Ave SW), and other repaving. In addition, the external work platforms will need to be removed.

Some of the road changes made since the closure of the bridge will be changed when the bridge reopens. For example, the transit lane to the low bridge will be removed; when the West Seattle Bridge opens, the low bridge restrictions will be removed. In addition, signal timing that was adjusted after the closure of the bridge will need to be re-adjusted.

The additional investments in transit service will continue through spring 2023, as planned.

Public Safety and Human Services Committee

The Public Safety and Human Services Committee met on June 14th.

The committee meeting included a briefing from the Office of Emergency Management that reviewed the early response to the COVID pandemic, called the  COVID After Action Report, which was released in February. It reviews how the City responded, and measures strengths and areas where improvements can be made. Here’s a link to the Office of Emergency Management presentation.

Part of the City’s approach successfully used both a central site in SODO, as well as a neighborhood-based approach in West Seattle and Rainier Beach for tests and vaccinations. We successfully advocated for a West Seattle testing site, given the closure of the West Seattle Bridge; through September the West Seattle site had provided over 100,000 tests, roughly one per person in West Seattle:

The committee also heard a 1st quarter presentation on Seattle Police Department on budget and response times, which the Council requested in adopting the 2022 budget.

Overall SPD spent 96% of the 1st quarter adopted budget, slightly below the adopted budget. That said, 24% of the annual overtime budget was spent. While this is for 25% of the year,  summer has more events, so overtime spending is usually higher then. Last year, 17% of the overtime budget was spent during the first quarter. Central Staff indicated that SPD believes they can manage spending within the adopted overtime budget.

Overall overtime spending was above 2021, but below 2020. Criminal investigations overtime was higher than Q1 in 2021, but well below 2020.

80% of the miscellaneous category above is for emphasis patrols in for example Pike/Pine, 12th & Jackson, shots fired, and nightlife emphasis.

More overtime spending is dedicated to patrol in 2022 than during 2020 and 2021. This is necessary. But I am concerned that there are significantly fewer overtime hours – the difference from about 12,000 hours in first quarter 2020 to only 6,000 hours in 2022 – being devoted to investigations in 2022 as compared to 2020.

With additional events returning, and fewer officers available to staff those events, I continue to support shifting traffic control for events to Parking Enforcement Officers as much as possible. Some events overtime work can only be performed by sworn officers, but much of it can be done by Parking Enforcement Officers.  I think it’s better to have officer overtime focus on work only they can do.

Overtime tracking systems are something the media reports on from time to time. I’ve been in touch with SPD and the City Auditor about the implementation of the Auditor’s 2016 recommendations. Key to this was the Work, Scheduling, and Timekeeping project the Council funded to update and modernize overtime tracking, which has been delayed; I’ll be following up with SPD about that.  The City Auditor recently let me know that SPD has not performed auditing of overtime and off-duty work, though the SPD Payroll unit does do spot checks to ensure policies and procedures are being followed.  In April a person was hired to assist with audits to identify SPD employees claiming over 24 hours worked in one workday, hours that appear as duplicate OT payments, and hours that are either under or over 80 hours/pay period.

The presentation notes that $2 million in the Discretionary Purchases line item are encumbered (beyond spending listed in Q1), or 58% of the 2022 budget.

SPD has $4.5 million in the Budget Control Level (BCL) for discretionary purchases; they have $1.5 million remaining in the discretionary purchases BCL.  In addition, SPD has the authority to move a sum of funds like $25k between Budget Summary Levels (BSLs) without authorization.  Some recent reports that the Police Foundation was fundraising to fix a Harbor Patrol boat failed to include this information about the availability of SPD funding that could have been made available for this purpose.  SPD reports to me that they did not deny a request to fix the boat.

Response times in Q1 were higher than SPD’s goal of responding to Priority 1 calls within 7 minutes. The median response time citywide is 7.34 minutes (median is the midpoint of responses). The average response time was 10.37 minutes.

This highlights the importance of the ongoing analysis of 911 call types SPD is engaging in, to see which calls could receive a non-sworn officer response and, in doing so, improve the response times for the Priority 1 calls to which only SPD can respond. The next committee update on this effort is scheduled for June 28th.

Elder Abuse Awareness

June 15th was Elder Abuse Awareness Day. I was proud to sponsor a proclamation with Mayor Harrell calling on the people of Seattle to increase awareness of elder abuse issues, support community connections for older people that reduce the likelihood of abuse and learn the signs that abuse may be occurring.

Elder abuse is both widespread and underreported. Confidential and professional resources for abused elders are available by calling 1-866-EndHarm (1-866-363-4276).


Westcrest Dog Park Now Open!

Last Friday, Seattle Parks & Recreation announced they were opening Westcrest Off-Leash Area by the end of the day.  I’ve heard from many dog lovers who were anxious for the drainage and accessibility projects to be completed so that their furry friends could once again enjoy running free.

The announcement also says a few projects will be completed after reopening due to shipment delays and construction sequence:

  • Installation of (1) new accessible picnic table. The contractor will close off individual areas to install the benches once they arrive.
  • Restoration of the temporary off-leash area near p-patch. Fencing around this area will stay up for the contractor to restore this area with soil amendment, hydroseed and allow for lawn establishment.

 We have also kept temporary fencing around two newly seeded lawn areas in the main off-leash area for lawn establishment. Fencing will be taken down once the lawn has established vigorous growth.

I hope to see many furry friends enjoying the newly-reopened Westcrest Off-Leash Area over the weekend!


Lifeguards Needed!

Do you know someone looking for a summer job?  Seattle Parks & Recreation is working hard to recruit, train, and hire more lifeguards and wading pool attendants so that they can offer aquatic fun this summer. Please share these lifeguard job opportunities with your networks.

If you’re ready for some water fun, find information about pools, beaches, spray parks, boat ramps, and wading pools here:  Seattle Parks and Recreation announces Summer 2022 Aquatic Programming  – Parkways.


Community Involvement Commission

The Seattle Department of Neighborhoods (DONS) is currently recruiting to fill seven vacancies on the Community Involvement Commission (CIC). Current vacancies include positions representing City Council Districts 1, 2, 3, and 7, as well as three at-large positions.

The Community Involvement Commission advises the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods and other City departments on coordinated, citywide outreach and engagement activities. The commission is dedicated to holding the City accountable for increasing participation and engagement – especially among communities that have been historically marginalized and underserved.

Those interested in being considered should complete the online application by Sunday, July 10 at 5 p.m.   Within the application page, it is necessary to click the dropdown and select Community Involvement Commission under “Which Boards would you like to apply for?”

Scam Warning

As Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utilities work to inform customers about resources available to help with utility bills, there has been an increase in scam reports of people posing as representatives of the City.

Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utilities will not call customers to demand immediate payment or personal financial information. If someone calls demanding payment rather than working with you to establish a payment plan, that is a scam. Customers who believe they’ve been contacted by a scammer should call (206) 684-3000 to verify their account.

If you or someone you know is behind on utility bills, please know that resources are available. Learn more about short- and long-term payment plans available to all customers. Income-eligible residential customers may also qualify for bill assistance programs.

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