COVID Vaccination: District 1 Vaccine News, Lack of Local Vaccine Sites, Vaccine Supply Update, Real-Time Vaccine Availability, and New Vaccine Tools; Seattle Fire Department Work Plan; Sylvan Way Lane Closures; SPD Budget Legislation;

February 26th, 2021

COVID Vaccination: District 1 Vaccine News, Lack of Local Vaccine Sites, Vaccine Supply Update, Real-Time Vaccine Availability, and New Vaccine Tools

Check Vaccine Availability in Real Time:  Now you can check for available vaccine appointments in real time on the state Department of Health’s Vaccine Locator website.  This is a new enhancement to the state’s website that may cut down on some frustration for vaccine seekers – although vaccine supply remains low nationwide.

City of Seattle Vaccine Efforts in D1:  The City of Seattle continues to use its few weekly vaccine doses to speed vaccine to those at the highest risk of death from COVID, as directed by the Seattle City Council resolution on vaccine equity.  While the state’s vaccine shipments were delayed this week due to severe weather across the country, that means next week the City is expecting 5,000 doses – double its usual allocation.

Many of you have asked about the location of West Seattle’s future mass vaccination site, and we now have some news.  This temporary vaccine increase will make it possible to test out adding vaccination at the existing COVIDmass testing sites in West Seattle and Rainier Beach.  On Friday and Saturday, SFD expects to vaccinate 600 Phase 1A and Phase 1B, Tier 1 eligible Seattle residents and workers at the West Seattle site, which will continue providing testing as well. All appointments for the temporary clinics have been filled via partnerships with over 50 BIPOC-led and BIPOC-serving organizations in Central, South, and West Seattle to register individuals for the clinics, with a focus on people who are 65 and older who live in areas of West and South Seattle most impacted by COVID-19 cases.

Since launching its vaccination effort on January 14, the City of Seattle has administered 7,814 vaccinations to eligible Seattleites. The City has provided 6,883 vulnerable Seattleites the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 931 Seattleites the second dose of the vaccine. Roughly 70 percent of those vaccinated by the City identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities.

For more information, visit the City’s vaccination website at www.seattle.gov/vaccine and sign up to receive the weekly vaccination newsletter.

Vaccine Provider Added to the West Seattle Peninsula:  According to the state’s Vaccine Locator, a new vaccine provider has been authorized on the West Seattle peninsula: the QFC Pharmacy at 4550 42nd Avenue SW.  Click here to check for appointments (none were available at publication time).  It’s a good idea to bookmark the Vaccine Locator website and check back regularly, as vaccine providers may change.

More Vaccine Providers Needed on the West Seattle Peninsula:  Many of you have written to me frustrated with the lack of state-authorized COVID vaccine providers on the West Seattle peninsula.  Vaccines are provided by SeaMar Clinics in White Center and South Park; these options are critical for those of us in District 1 impacted by the bridge closure and congestion on detour routes.  But people rightfully have made the case that more access is needed on the peninsula itself.

To become a vaccine provider, enrollment in the federal COVID-19 Vaccination Program is required.  The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) coordinates this enrollment process for providers.

Earlier this week I sent a letter to the DOH Deputy Secretary for COVID Response inquiring into the enrollment process, and advocating for the addition of vaccine providers on the West Seattle peninsula.  My letter stated in part:

I represent the 80,000 residents of the West Seattle peninsula in Seattle – communities that are currently struggling with a significant additional barrier to accessing vaccine because of the 2020 closing of the West Seattle Bridge…  Between the bridge closure and significant congestion on detour routes off the peninsula, my constituents are virtually cut off from both vaccine and healthcare providers.  And District 1 residents – especially those 75 and older, who are the most at risk of death from Covid – are lagging behind other parts of the county in accessing vaccine, according to Public Health – Seattle & King County’s data dashboard.  Only 41% of elders 75+ in West Seattle have received vaccination, compared to 56% of elders county-wide.

Despite the clear need and mobility barriers, there is a single vaccine provider authorized by the State to provide vaccine to the 80,000 residents on the West Seattle peninsula – including 13,500 seniors, the largest number of seniors of any community in King County.  The screenshot below is from DOH’s Vaccine Locator, and shows the single vaccine provider, a QFC pharmacy.

My constituents are rightly asking why West Seattle does not have more than one vaccine provider on the peninsula to serve them.  In turn, I am asking you for more information about how vaccine providers are authorized, and how to increase the number of providers available to West Seattle residents. 

  • What entities from West Seattle have applied to be authorized vaccine providers?
  • Has DOH denied any applications from potential vaccine providers on the West Seattle peninsula?
  • If so, which ones and for what reasons?
  • What state entity is responsible for ensuring geographic equity in accessing vaccination and siting vaccine providers?
  • What is the most effective way to increase the number of vaccine providers on the West Seattle peninsula?

As vaccine supply increases in the coming months, West Seattle residents must have access to local vaccine providers authorized by the state.

I will continue my advocacy with the State to ensure that the 80,000 West Seattle residents are not forced to leave the peninsula by overtaxed detour routes in order to receive vaccination.

Vaccine Supply Update:  Vaccine supply continues to be the main challenge in finding a vaccine appointment.  An estimated 473,000 King County residents are currently eligible to receive vaccination, while just under 303,000 residents have received a first dose.

The City of Seattle is receiving only 2,500 vaccine doses weekly, some of which must be reserved for 2nd doses.  In the short term, most people will not receive a vaccine from the City.  As vaccine supply improves, the City will launch multiple mass vaccination sites; the planned site in West Seattle will eventually have the capacity for up to 1,000 doses daily.  The City estimates these sites may be launched in the next month, when vaccine supply is sufficient.

Washington state’s 3-week allocation forecast from the federal government continues to increase.

  • Week of March 7: 285,200 total doses (156,640 first doses, 128,560 second doses)
  • Week of March 14: 313,280 total doses (156,640 first doses, 156,640 second doses)

New Vaccine Tools In Multiple Languages, On Paper, and For Blind People:  Washington state’s online Phase Finder tool is now available in 30 languages, each with its own unique hyperlink. Phase Finder is the first step to confirming your vaccine eligibility.

The state Department of Health has also created a paper version of Phase Finder, expected to be helpful for those with limited or no internet access. This will help people navigate the eligibility questions and identify if they are currently eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine; as future phases are announced, the tool will be updated.  Translations in 36 languages are expected in the coming weeks.

BLIND COVID empowers blind and low vision individuals during the COVID pandemic.  Blind and low vision individuals can call 360-947-3330 to ask questions regarding access to COVID resources.  Funded by a grant from WA Department of Health, Washington State School for the Blind began working on ways to increase awareness of accessible resources related to the COVID-19 pandemic through the creation of BLIND COVID. A podcast in is in the works.


Seattle Fire Department Work Plan

In the Public Safety and Human Services Committee this week Seattle Fire Department (SFD) Chief Scoggins presented the department’s 2021 work plan. You can watch the presentation here or see the slides here.

As you might remember from the Council’s budget deliberations in the Fall, I championed a couple issues related to SFD including: the restoration of funding for this year’s recruit class of up to 60 new fire fighters, and funding for Automated External Defibrillators, Lucas Devices, and Ballistic Sets. In addition to these items, the Fire Department received additional funding from the Council to a. expand Health One (you may remember me writing about the pilot program in May 2019) to bring on two additional units, b. funding for a consulting nurse to be available as a Health One resource, and c. funding for a crisis counselor.

Sylvan Way Lane Closures

This week Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) sent notification of pavement restoration work occurring on Sylvan Way between Monday and Tuesday. I heard from many of you that a recent road closure was not well-publicized and I’ve asked SPU to ensure, not only adequate notice to the community, but to also partner with SDOT in designing detour routes, especially considering that Sylvan Way is already a major detour route while the West Seattle Bridge is closed.   Here is the notification from SPU:

A contractor for Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) will begin asphalt paving on Sylvan Way SW on Monday, March 1. SPU completed a drainage improvement project on Sylvan Way SW last month and is now permanently restoring the roadway. This paving work had been scheduled for February 15 but was rescheduled due to winter weather.

Work hours are anticipated to be 9 am to 4 pm. On Monday, March 1, one lane near 6950 Sylvan Way SW will be closed. Two-way traffic will be maintained by flaggers. All travel lanes will be open outside of working hours. The following day, on Tuesday, March 2, crews will complete paving within the road’s bike lane near 7194 Sylvan Way SW. Two-way traffic will be maintained via a lane shift into the middle turn lane. Vehicles should use caution near the work area.

Asphalt paving work is weather-dependent, and schedule is subject to change.

SPD Budget Legislation

On February 23rd the Public Safety and Human Services Committee held a first briefing on proposed SPD budget legislation. I’ve invited the Seattle Police Department to present to the committee on March 9; any vote would take place at a future meeting.

Late in 2020, the City Budget Office proposed legislation to increase the 2020 SPD budget by $5.4 million. If the Council did not approve the request, essentially, SPD would not have funding for expenses tied to paid parental leave benefits, separation pay for higher-than-anticipated separations and  overtime funding for staffing testing sites and purchase of PPE for first responders. The Council approved the additional $5.4 million in SPD funding.

There are often additional funding requests from SPD late in the year, which makes fulfilling the Council’s responsibility for setting budgets, and exercising fiscal oversight, much more difficult.

To enhance Council financial oversight, in 2021 the Council has requested monthly reports on SPD’s finances and spending; use of overtime; staffing; and quarterly reports on 911 response. Updates on these reports will be presented quarterly in the Public Safety and Human Services (PSHS) Committee.

The origins of the legislation heard in my PSHS committee this week are with the late addition to the 2020 budget. This came after, in August 2020, the Council adopted Resolution 31962, which stated “The City Council will not support any budget amendments to increase the SPD’s budget to offset overtime expenditures above the funds budgeted in 2020 or 2021.” The additional $5.4 million spending request in late 2020 did not align with the resolution.

Consequently, because we had added $5.4 million in funds in late 2020, contrary to our policy to not do so, the Council stated our intent to propose legislation to reduce the 2021 SPD budget by $5.4 million from.  As proposed, the reduction would come from funds approved for salaries that are not expected to be spent. The Council had previously placed a proviso on a comparable amount of funds, if they didn’t end up being spent on salaries during 2021.

The Council fully funded SPD’s 2021 hiring plan in the 2021 budget.  This means the Council is providing all of the funds that SPD says are necessary to hire the number of officers that SPD believes it can hire in a single year.

Even so, the Central Staff Memo estimates that up to $7.7 million could be available from salary savings during 2021 (while noting separation pay could be $1.1 to $1.8 million higher than anticipated).

The number of officers went down by 135 during 2020. The change in the number of officers from year to year depends on the difference between new hires and separations.

186 officers separated from SPD during 2020, roughly twice the estimate at the start of the year. 51 officers were hired through June (roughly half the expected total), when, after the COVID pandemic resulted in severe budget shortfalls, the Mayor instituted a citywide hiring freeze for the remainder of 2020.

2020 was a difficult year for first responders; the Fire Department lost more employees than usual as well. I successfully sponsored a budget proposal that restored full funding for the 2021 Fire recruit class and for testing. SPD is seeking to have a Seattle-specific training class at the state training academy.

SPD’s memo included in the Central Staff memo notes how it could spend the $5.4 million, including overtime and separation pay, and $1.4 million for civilian hires (four Community Service Officers, two crime prevention coordinators, and reporting-related positions). SPD also raised technology needs.

The Mayor’s proposed 2021 budget included leaving $4 million in civilian positions vacant during 2021; the Council adopted this proposal.  It’s unusual for SPD to come to Council so early in the year to request funding that would make changes to the budget approved by the Council, particularly changes that would undo a priority of the Mayor to leave $4 million in SPD civilian positions vacant.  But, in some ways, this is a feature and not a bug of Council’s efforts to exercise more oversight SPD’s finances.  I look forward to hearing more from SPD in my next committee meeting.

I am interested in hearing SPD’s proposals, in particular regarding civilian hiring. I am also interested in addressing recommendations of the City Auditor’s long-standing recommendations regarding staffing/technology needs for SPD public disclosure, and the Inspector General’s recommendations regarding evidence storage.

An important consideration in these discussions is the Consent Decree with the US Department of Justice. Judge Robart, who oversees the Consent Decree, has stated concern about significant cuts to the SPD budget, and emphasized the importance of  scaling up policing alternatives.

I’ve hosted a briefing on the implementation of some of these alternatives and HSD has been reporting to the Public Safety and Human Services Committee, which you can see here and here.  I will be hosting another update on our efforts in my PSHS committee in March.   Of the $16 million allocated by Council to the Human Services Department for community safety, $4 million has been provided to the Seattle Community Safety Initiative for crisis response, wrap around services, and follow up.  $12 million will soon be provided by HSD to build capacity among community based organizations providing services across the community safety continuum.

Additional Crisis Response efforts are also being considered through efforts associated with Mayor Durkan’s September 2020 Executive Order 2020-10 on Policing and Community Safety.  An Interdepartmental Team (IDT), as part of their workplan to fulfill the commitments in the Executive Order, is working to make recommendations:

  1. Transforming 9-1-1, starting with an independent police emergency dispatch and communications center and striving towards the vision of a resilient, 21st Century unified communications, dispatch, and information referral center for The City of Seattle,
  2. Developing or identifying new models of community-driven public safety or civilian response to be implemented.

Finally, crisis response alternatives are also being developed through The Black Brilliance Research Project, specifically in the priority investment area called:  “Crisis & Wellness…scaling up existing programs which interrupt violence, such as The Silent Task Force, API Chaya, and Community Passageways. It recommends, cultural and community-specific responses to domestic violence, harm reduction approaches for users of drugs, and centering people most impacted by policing to provide services. Specific programs proposed include community-based programs that would provide training and dispatch of community-based emergency services pre-, mid- and post-crisis, such as the 911 Augmentation Initiative or the King County Stand UP Crisis/Emergency Network”  (excerpt from Council Central Staff Memo, page 5, found here).

I have been in contact with the Monitor overseeing the Consent Decree (who reports to the Judge) about this and other issues; the City will be sharing a summary of actions regarding the 2020 and 2021 budgets with the Monitor.

 

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COVID Vaccines – D1 Updates, Vaccine Equity; West Seattle Bridge Updates; SW Precinct Crime Rates; Consent Decree Update/Less Lethal Weapons; Property Tax Relief for Elders; South Park Community Center Redevelopment Open House; Virtual Office Hours

February 22nd, 2021

COVID Vaccines – D1 Updates, Vaccine Equity

Between the West Seattle bridge closure, significant congestion on detour routes off the peninsula, and limited access to the lower bridge, District 1 residents are virtually cut off from vaccine and healthcare providers.  And District 1 residents – especially those 65 and older – are lagging behind other parts of the city in accessing vaccine, according to Public Health – Seattle & King County’s data dashboard:

I’m grateful to District 1 organizations like Villa Communitaria and the Senior Center of West Seattle, which have been doing essential work in identifying and bridging the additional barriers that are keeping the people they serve from getting vaccinated – such as registration that’s only available online, or only in English.   Both organizations, along with El Comite and Seattle Housing Authority, participated in a City-run District 1 vaccination popup clinic that I visited this past week in West Seattle with Mayor Durkan, which is vaccinating 750 eligible local residents in the Latinx community and vulnerable elders.   You can watch our remarks here.

District 1 Vaccine Locations:  As I’ve written before, the City is planning for a District 1 mass vaccination site with an initial capacity to provide 500 doses daily, eventually ramping up to 1,000 doses daily, hopefully by the summer.  Unfortunately, the City is not yet receiving enough vaccine to support any mass vaccination sites.  Once supply from the state increases, the City will open the D1 mass vaccination site within two days.  Sign up here to receive a weekly vaccine newsletter from the City.

Across the County, an estimated 473,000 residents are now eligible to receive the vaccine – but County vaccine providers have only received 275,000 first doses.  In the short term, the state is expected to reserve a higher proportion of vaccine for those who need their second dose within the appropriate timeframe.  This means that over the next few weeks, supply will remain very tight.  As the federal government slowly increases shipments to the states, and begins providing vaccine directly to pharmacies and community health clinics, it will become easier to find a vaccine appointment over the next few months.

I am continuing to advocate to add more vaccine providers in District 1, so that when vaccine supply improves, our unique mobility barriers from the West Seattle Bridge closure do not get in the way of receiving vaccination.

Council Resolution on Vaccine Equity:  The unfortunate reality is that the statewide vaccination rollout has been marked by the institutional inequities already rampant in our healthcare system.  Those most at risk of Covid have been crowded out of the line to receive scarce doses.  It’s essential that the City of Seattle step up to bridge the gaps in the state’s vaccination rollout, and speed vaccine to those most at risk.

On Tuesday, Seattle City Council passed a resolution affirming that vaccine must be prioritized for those most impacted by the pandemic.  The resolution, developed with input from Public Health – Seattle & King County and the Mayor’s Office, includes these guiding principles, along with the specific practices to put the principles into action:

  • Remove barriers that deter access
  • Create an inclusive process
  • Be intentionally anti-racist and accountable to Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color
  • Embrace a multi-modal COVID-19 vaccine delivery strategy

I worked with Council President Gonzalez to ensure that Seattle residents will be able to receive vaccine regardless of their immigration status by adding this language:

Immigration status will not be a barrier to receiving a vaccine. Documentation of immigration status will not be requested during registration, and all locations where vaccinations are provided, including mobile or “pop-up” locations, will proactively communicate this policy.

In addition, I sponsored an amendment that requires vaccine providers to collect and report information about the race of people receiving vaccines, with categories to be defined in collaboration with the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, and analyze that data to quickly identify and address disparities.  This data was initially overlooked in the state’s vaccination rollout, leaving public health officials without crucial information about whether vaccine was reaching the people most at risk of death from Covid.  Last week, Council heard from community advocates who spoke passionately about the need to collect and use this data.

City of Seattle Vaccination Efforts:  The City expected to receive 1,500 first doses and 1,000 second doses this past week, but has not yet received all doses due to shipping delays from the severe weather nationally.

Since launching its vaccination effort on January 14, the City of Seattle has administered 4,722 vaccinations to eligible Seattleites.

  • 4,292 vulnerable Seattleites received a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine
  • 430 Seattleites received a second dose of the vaccine.
  • These vaccinations have occurred at 86 Adult Family Homes, 30 affordable housing buildings with seniors, and six pop-ups.
  • Roughly 70% of those vaccinated by the City identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities.

With last week’s first doses, the Seattle Fire Department’s Mobile Vaccination Teams are vaccinating residents at five Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) buildings, one new Adult Family Home, and Kawabe House. Thus far, SFD has vaccinated vulnerable older adults in 11 SHA buildings across Seattle.

In addition to the District 1 popup clinic, the City is hosting a second pop-up vaccination clinic in partnership with the Archdiocese of Seattle to focus on vaccinating 350 Latinx older adults in Hillman City.  In King County, Latinx residents make up 24.1% of confirmed COVID-19 cases and 17.7% of hospitalizations, despite making up 10% of King County’s population.  In addition, the City is partnering with the Eritrean Community in Seattle & Vicinity, Medhani Alem Church Seattle, and SEIU 775 to convene a pop-up vaccination clinic for approximately 250 Phase 1A and Phase 1B, Tier 1 eligible Seattle residents and workers. The clinic will vaccinate home health care workers and their clients, as well as African American and East African older adults.

West Seattle Bridge Updates February 19

First Avenue South Bridge Lane Closures

WSDOT has announced that southbound lane closures on the First Avenue South Bridge will begin on Thursday, March 4 (they were originally planned to begin in January). Two of the four southbound lanes will be closed so contractor crews working for the Washington State Department of Transportation can repair bearings and steel beams that support the structure. Work does not affect the northbound bridge.

The southbound SR 99 Duwamish River Bridge will be reduced from four to two lanes 24 hours a day for 15 consecutive days starting March 4. The work also will require four overnight closures between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. – two early in the project and two at the end.

West Seattle Bridge

One aspect of the West Seattle Bridge project that hasn’t received a lot of attention is the potential use of a community workforce agreement, and use of geographic hiring preferences.

The City’s Department of Finance and Administration is pursuing an exemption from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to allow us to use a Community Workforce Agreement (CWA)/Priority Hire on the project. Early in the Trump administration, USDOT withdrew proposed rulemaking that would have allowed geographic hiring preferences. In light of termination of the pilot program, these type of issues require FHWA’s consultation with the USDOT Office of the Secretary and Office of General Counsel. SDOT says “We will work in partnership with FAS, with Build America, NACTO, other allies, and our congressional delegation to ensure Secretary of Transportation Buttigieg has this issue near the top of his agenda.”

SDOT is continuing work on scoping for a study for replacing the bridge, which will eventually need to happen. They are coordinating with the Sound Transit Engineering Working Group to discuss Sound Transit’s assumed marine navigational clearance requirements as well as how to best align initial screening of alternatives with their DEIS release for the West Seattle to Ballard Link Extension project.

Lower Bridge

Here are a couple of updates about projects on the lower bridge:

Controls Project: The controls system opens and closes the bridge to maritime traffic. SDOT had been planning an upgrade to the system before the closure of the West Seattle Bridge. This work will include routing communications cables through a new conduit under the Duwamish Waterway. They will also upgrade communications lines between parts, and upgrade the computers that control the machinery that moves the spans and activates gates that prevent traffic and people from crossing when the bridge is open.

Lift Cylinder Project: Two large hydraulic cylinders allow the Low Bridge to swing open for marine traffic. SDOT replaced the west cylinder in 2018, and will replace the east cylinder this year.

King County Metro and Reconnect West Seattle

King County Metro will be adding service hours to three routes (Routes 50, 60, and 128) in West Seattle that were experiencing crowding issues with the COVID bus capacity restrictions for the March 2021 service change.

A December review of the pavement conditions along the West Seattle Bridge detour routes identified 29 potholes that were immediately repaired with another about $400,000 additional pavement repairs in design. A speed assessment along detour routes was also conducted and the outcome of the analysis will be the installation of eight new radar feedback signs and two speed cushions to control motorists’ speeds on arterial streets.

For future Reconnect West Seattle projects, SDOT is using the criteria below to prioritize projects. SDOT is asking for suggestions from residents and businesses for Reconnect West Seattle projects for 2022, to help address the closure of the West Seattle Bridge. You can submit project proposals to WestSeattleBridge@seattle.gov.  Project ideas are due by March 31, 2021.

SDOT has developed a West Seattle and Duwamish Valley Travel Options website. You can access the page here.


SW Precinct Crime Rates

Earlier this year Interim Chief Diaz spoke to the 2020 citywide homicide rate, which increased from 31 homicides in 2019 to 50 in 2020. As he noted, this is the highest number of homicides in 26 years, and it disproportionately affects young black men. He also spoke to the importance of work with external partners about addressing gun violence, which is a public health issue.

Here is crime data specifically for the Southwest Precinct, which has the same boundaries as District 1. Below is data for crime rates in the SW Precinct for 2018, 2019 and 2020, for violent crime and property crime.

Below is a map showing 2020 crime rates, with darker locations having a higher total in the different Micro-Community Policing Plans (Alaska Junction, Alki, Commercial Duwamish, Commercial Harbor Island, Fauntleroy, High Point, Highland Park, Morgan, North Admiral, North Delridge, Pigeon Point, Roxhill/Westwood/Arbor Heights, South Delridge and South Park).

One difficulty in interpreting this map is that population varies significantly in the plan areas. For example, South Delridge and Pigeon Point are small areas with significantly fewer residents than, for example, the Alaska Junction or Roxhill/Westwood/Arbor Heights.

That’s why I worked with SPD to get per capita crime data totals for the SW Precinct. Here’s the December 2017 data.  I have, in subsequent years, requested additional per capita analysis. SPD has been understandably hesitant to repeat this exercise until new census data is available. The basis of the 2017 estimate was 2010 census data, and the further away from a census, the less reliable the data is.  Once 2020 census data is available, we’ll have finely-grained data that will allow for clear per-capita figures.

While overall crime rates were down in the SW Precinct from 2019 to 2020, the monthly rates were higher toward the end of 2020 compared to the same months in 2019. Similarly, rates for January 2021 were higher compared to January 2020, and the highest in January since 2017. The trend is concerning, and I’ll continue to pursue city investments in evidence-based crime prevention and violence disruption strategies.

Consent Decree Update/Less Lethal Weapons

You very likely know that the City of Seattle and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) have been under a Consent Decree and MOU since 2012, after the DOJ found excessive use of force in the Seattle Police Department in 2011. The finding was issued in response to a 2010 request letter from a number of community groups.

A court-appointed Monitor oversees work, and reports to the US District Court Judge Robart. The Monitor has issued ten systemic assessment reports on topics such as use of force, stops, search and seizure, early intervention, crisis intervention, community confidence, and other reports on the use of force.

During late 2020, the Court appointed a new Monitor, Antonio Oftelie. Earlier this month, he submitted to the Court a 2021 workplan and schedule. The workplan focuses on four key areas: 1) Evaluating Status of Compliance with the Consent Decree; 2) Improving accountability; 3) Providing technical assistance to support SPD innovation and risk management; and 4) Providing technical assistance to support re-imagining public safety.

Under the Consent Decree, any policy-making areas included in the Consent Decree must be sent to the Monitor and Department of Justice for their review within 45 days. If the Monitor objects to the substance of the policy,  there is a 14 day period to consult with the Monitor, after which the relevant parties can petition the Court.

That’s the process the Public Safety and Human Services Committee followed for legislation regulating the use of less lethal weapons. The committee voted 4-1 in support of a motion to recommend that a draft less lethal weapons bill “be sent to the Court-appointed Monitor and the US Department of Justice, in line with the process described in the Consent Decree.”

This is an unusual motion; normally, Councilmembers move to approve legislation by vote.  We did not vote on the draft bill itself and instead, the motion recognizes the Consent Decree, and the authority of the Monitor and Court, and role of the DOJ.

Or put another way, the normal process in the City Charter doesn’t apply for legislation that involves subjects covered by the Consent Decree. We tend to take these procedures for granted in our democracy at local, state, and federal levels, whereby a legislative body acts, and a bill becomes a law. Under the Consent Decree however, this extra step is required.

For the less lethal weapons legislation, in June after the murder of George Floyd and local protests with heavy use of less lethal weapons, the Council unanimously adopted legislation sharply restricting their use, prohibiting all use in most cases. In July, before the legislation went into effect, District Court Judge Robart approved a restraining order against the bill going into effect, brought by the DOJ, due to the need to follow the Consent Decree process.

The Court also stated, regarding the legislation and the Chief’s Directive to implement it, “Further, the court agrees that by removing all forms of less lethal crowd control weapons from virtually all police encounters, the Directive and the CCW Ordinance will not increase public safety. This is so particularly because neither the CCW Ordinance nor the Directive provide time for police training in alternative mechanisms to de-escalate and resolve dangerous situations if the crowd control implements with which the officers have been trained are abruptly removed.”

The Court further indicated it wanted to hear the recommendations of the Community Police Commission, Inspector General, and Office of Police Accountability. The Council also requested these recommendations.

Consequently, the Public Safety and Human Services Committee heard the recommendations of the three accountability bodies, and later held a roundtable discussion with them and SPD, and considered a decision agenda based on the recommendations of the CPC, IG, and OPA leading to the legislation draft sent to the Monitor and DOJ. The starting point for the legislation draft was the consensus recommendations of the CPC, OIG and OPA.

In addition, given the Court’s previous statements about the bill Council passed in June, it appeared impossible that Judge Robart would authorize the legislation the Council previously adopted, that prohibited almost all use of less lethal weapons and in almost all circumstances. So changes seemed certainly needed in order to satisfy the Court. The draft legislation sent to the Monitor and DOJ isn’t as restrictive as what the Council unanimously adopted in June of 2020, but given that we are under a Consent Decree, the perspective of the Court and Monitor are of paramount importance, and must be considered.   The draft legislation maintains an absolute ban, with no exceptions, in crowd control instances on blast balls, flash bangs, and launchers that launch chemical irritants like pepper spray.

The  draft bill allows tear gas and pepper spray use in crowd control settings during a violent public disturbance in narrow circumstances.

  • Tear gas: Deployed under direction of or by officers who have received training for its use within the previous 12 months; and 2. Used with a detailed tactical plan developed prior to deployment; and 3. Use is reasonably necessary to prevent threat of imminent loss of life or serious bodily injury.
  • Hand Held Pepper Spray: may be used only in circumstances in which the risk of serious injury from violent actions outweighs the risk of harm to bystanders.

The draft bill defines violent public disturbance as “any gathering where 12 or more persons who are present together use or threaten to use unlawful violence towards another person or group of people and the conduct of them (taken together) is such as would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for his personal safety.”

The exclusions in the draft bill allows less lethal weapon use in non-crowd control settings like hostage or sniper situations, including:

  • 40mm launchers that deploy chemical irritants (only SWAT officers can use)
  • 40mm launchers that deploy projectiles other than chemical irritants
  • Noise flash devices (only SWAT officers can use)
  • Pepper spray (in circumstances in which the risk of serious injury from violent actions outweighs the risk of harm to bystanders)

Any legislation would be introduced formally for a vote only after conclusion of the Consent Decree process.

The legislation adopted by the Council in June, 2020, has never gone into effect, due to the Court’s ruling. Restrictions on less lethal weapons during first amendment activity are as a result of the Black Lives Matter/ACLU lawsuit, and rulings by Judge Jones. His initial June 17 order is linked here.

SPD has sent revised policies regarding use of force and crowd control, as part of its annual requirement regarding policies under the Consent Decree. The City’s filing notes SPD last used blast balls at a protest on September 26, and pepperballs on October 3.

Property Tax Relief for Elders

The Washington State Legislature has made major changes in the Senior Citizens Property Tax Relief program, and King County has made it easier to apply for this program.  The income limit is now indexed to 65 percent of the median household income in King County. The new limit is $58,423. This allows more people to be eligible for savings.  King County Assessor John Wilson shares more about eligibility criteria and how to get assistance with applying in the online article.

You can apply online or visit TaxRelief.KingCounty.gov any time. For more information, or assistance with your online application, you can e-mail exemptions.assessments@kingcounty.gov or call 206-296-3920.

South Park Community Center Redevelopment Open House

Seattle Parks and Recreation invites the South Park community to participate in an Online Open House on Wednesday, February 24,  2021 at 4 pm. This is an opportunity for the neighborhood to learn about the final design and construction schedule for the South Park Community Center and Sitewide design. Register online here. Interpretation in Spanish will be available.


Virtual Office Hours

On Friday February 26, I will be hosting virtual office hours between 2pm and 6pm, with the last meeting of the day beginning at 5:30pm.

Due to the nature of virtual office hours, you will need to contact my scheduler Alex Clardy (alex.clardy@seattle.gov) in order to receive the call-in information and schedule a time.

Additionally, here is a list of my tentatively scheduled office hours which will continue as virtual office hours until indicated otherwise. These are subject to change.

  • Friday, March 26, 2021
  • Friday, April 30, 2021
  • Friday, May 28, 2021
  • Friday, June 25, 2021
  • Friday, July 30, 2021
  • Friday, August 20, 2021
  • Friday, September 24, 2021
  • Friday, October 29, 2021
  • Friday, December 17, 2021
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COVID Vaccination – D1 Updates, 3 Week Forecast, and More; Winter Weather Information; West Seattle Bridge Update February 12; 2021 Neighborhood Matching Fund Deadlines, Workshops; Fire Code Update; Virtual Office Hours

February 12th, 2021

COVID Vaccination – D1 Updates, 3 Week Forecast, and More

Public Health – Seattle & King County is tracking vaccine distribution by region, eligibility tier, and demographics, and sharing information via data dashboards – access them here.  The data shows that District 1 (included with South Seattle below) is doing relatively well in terms of overall vaccination rates compared to other regions – but lags behind in vaccinations for those 65+ and especially 75+ years old, who are at the highest risk of dying from Covid.

Next week, the City of Seattle is planning a District 1 popup site, working with community organizations serving vulnerable elders and the Latinx community.  This popup will use vaccine doses provided by Public Health – Seattle & King County.

As I wrote last week, the City of Seattle receives approximately 1,000 Covid vaccine doses weekly.  With that allocation, they are administering vaccines via Seattle Fire Department’s mobile vaccination teams.  Seattle Fire Department has now administered first doses to 100% of D1 adult family homes that are not served by the federal vaccination partnership with CVS/Walgreens, and began dose two administration this week.

Sites visited in District 1 include: Elders Care Home, European Care Home Inc., European Life Home Inc., Homecomings III Adult Family Home (AFH), Mileta TLC Home, Rose Provence AFH Co., Senior Bestcare Adult Family Home Inc., SHA – South Park Manor, The Right Place Homes LLC, TLC ADULT FAMILY HOME, TLC Adult Family Home Inc, SHA Westwood Heights, and West Seattle AFH.  The map of D1 locations as of today is below.

At my Tuesday Public Safety & Human Services committee meeting, we heard a presentation from Public Health – Seattle & King County, Seattle Fire Department, and the Mayor’s Office on local plans to vaccinate Seattle residents.  You can view the presentation slides, or watch the committee presentation (it starts at around 53 minutes in).

District 1 Mass Vaccination Site:  Planning continues for an eventual District 1 mass vaccination site operated by the City of Seattle, with initial capacity for 500 doses daily.  As I reported last week, the City has already begun purchasing and placing needed supplies, such as tents and lighting, in District 1.  This slide, shared by the City during my Public Safety & Human Services committee meeting on Tuesday, shows those plans.  As I’ve shared before, the City will launch this site within 2 days when we are receiving adequate vaccine supply from the state.

Vaccine supply forecast:  For the first time ever, the federal government has provided a forecast of the number of vaccines each state can expect to receive over the next three weeks.  This is crucial information that will allow the state Department of Health and vaccine providers to develop a multi-week strategy that will help with predictability, and make it easier to communicate what to expect to everyone anxious to receive vaccination.

Week of… # 1st Doses Statewide # 2nd Doses Statewide Total Doses Statewide
February 14th 113,800 92,325 206,125
February 21st 123,160 117,460 240,620
February 28th 128,560 113,800 242,360

Although the total number of vaccines for Washington State will steadily increase week by week, many are reserved for 2nd doses, which must be administered within a specific timeframe after the 1st dose.  This means that if you are still hoping to receive your 1st dose, you may not feel much of an improvement in the system in the short term.  However, with increased predictability, vaccine providers should slowly be able to open up more future appointments.

Vaccine supply will improve significantly over the next weeks and months.  Today, the Biden administration announced they had arranged to get 200 million more doses of vaccine by the end of summer, which amounts to a 50 percent increase.  Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, predicted that vaccine supply would significantly improve by April.  When vaccine supply is sufficient, hopefully by the summer, the City of Seattle will increase to providing 1,000 doses daily at the District 1 mass vaccination site, and launch additional mass vaccination sites.

In the meantime, I know it’s frustrating for everyone who is currently eligible but experiencing difficulty getting a vaccine appointment.  There is significantly more demand for vaccine than supply available throughout the country.  This situation will improve in the next weeks and months.  The best thing to do if you’re eligible is add yourself to vaccine distribution waitlists (starting with your healthcare provider, if you have one), monitor the news for updated information about vaccine distribution, and keep up COVID precautions such as wearing masks and social distancing.   Thank you for your patience, and for helping ensure that those in the most danger from Covid are first in line to receive vaccine.

Here are some vaccination resources:

  • The City of Seattle has a weekly vaccination newsletter – sign up here.
  • Public Health – Seattle & King County’s vaccination website has lists of vaccine providers, and information about the County’s Kent and Auburn COVID-19 Vaccination Sites, which are currently serving adults 75 years and older from the hardest-hit areas of south King County.
  • Not sure when or if you’re eligible? Check here.
  • Decisions about vaccination plans – including who is eligible in upcoming tiers – are made by the Washington State Department of Health (DOH). Read the vaccination rollout plan here, and provide feedback here.

If you are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine but are having difficulty scheduling an appointment, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) COVID-19 Assistance Hotline can help. Language assistance is available.

Dial 1-800-525-0127, then press #. If you can’t reach the hotline, please call the alternate number, 888-856-5816 (a Spanish option is available).

  • 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Friday
  • 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and observed state holidays

 

Winter Weather Information

Snow is arriving in Seattle, so here’s information about City and King County Metro snow response resources:

SDOT Snow Response Interactive Map of Arterials Prioritized for Clearing

Snow is forecast for the next several days in Seattle, so here’s information about SDOT’s snow response resources:  SDOT’s interactive map showing which roads have been treated or cleared in the last hour, three hours, and twelve hours. You can view it by neighborhood.

Here’s SDOT’s Winter Weather Response webpage. They seek to achieve bare and wet pavement on specified streets within 12 hours after a significant lull in a storm.

SDOT’s cameras map shows live road conditions.

SDOT’s winter weather response webpage has information in several languages. You can download a brochure with additional information.

Stay safe out there!

Severe Weather Shelter

The City of Seattle has opened severe weather shelters with 160 beds total for people experiencing homelessness, including:

  • Fisher Pavilion from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m., through Sunday.
  • Bitter Lake (13035 Linden Avenue N, 98133) and Garfield (2323 East Cherry Street, 98122) Community Centers as 24-hour coed severe weather shelters starting Thursday, February 11, at 8 pm through the morning of Monday, February 15.

The City’s HOPE team is coordinating outreach and referrals to severe weather shelters, and distribution of cold weather supplies including handwarmers, emergency blankets, hats, and gloves.

King County has opened the Jefferson Day Center (420 4th Avenue, Seattle 98104) as a men’s only severe weather shelter that can accommodate 25 men. The temporary shelter opened Tuesday, February 9 and will remain open through Saturday, February 13 and is operated by The Salvation Army.

Garbage Collection in Inclement Weather

Snow and ice may affect scheduled collections. I encourage you to check out Seattle Public Utilities’ website here for up-to-date information about when garbage collections will occur.  I recognize it’s frustrating to not have your garbage collected on time (or at all), please understand that the safety of truck drivers and others is paramount, and I ask that you bear with the utility as we get through this storm.

Here’s information from Seattle Public Utilities about preparing, keeping pipes from freezing, and other useful links.

King County Metro Service

King County Metro’s winter weather webpage includes information about snow routes for buses, and  Metro’s Emergency Snow Network. Depending on how much snow there is, Metro may enact its Emergency Snow Network.

You can sign up for alerts there as well. The Service Advisories page will have updates on bus times, and cancellations. Known canceled trips are shown in the Next Departures tool in Metro’s online trip planner, or by texting your stop ID to 62550, Metro’s Text for Departures tool that requires no sign-up or download.


 

West Seattle Bridge Update February 12

The West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force met on Thursday, and received several updates from SDOT.

West Seattle Bridge Repair Update

SDOT has reached an important benchmark this week towards beginning the bridge repair.  The West Seattle Bridge repair is at  a preliminary 30% design and they have shared the design with partner agencies, including the Port, and utilities, to ensure there are no conflicts.

This will inform the final 30% design milestone. After that, SDOT will release a Request for Qualifications for a construction contract in late February or early March:

30% design in considered the ”baseline” for setting cost estimates, and the schedule. The pre-30% design for both the high and low bridges is noted below, with a note it will be updated after 30% design is complete:

Lower Bridge Access Update

There are important updates about traffic on the lower bridge.

First of all, SDOT has been compiling daily traffic counts, and found that traffic has decreased since the start of camera enforcement, by 25% from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m., and 17% overall.

Traffic counts from January 25-31 are shown below in both directions, by date and time of day. The red line is the threshold set for number of trips; it is higher in the morning, since there are fewer bridge openings.

As I reported in last week’s blog post, when I learned that the planned opening of Terminal 5 had been delayed, I immediately requested that SDOT consider allowing additional access to the lower level bridge because increases in truck traffic had been expected in April, but now the opening has been delayed until 2022. This means additional capacity is available (as shown in gray above).  In addition, I have supported community member requests asking SDOT to consider allowing additional access during, e.g. earlier times of weekends, when traffic levels are showing as lower.

In response to these requests, SDOT confirmed that they are working on how to allow additional access, and they are working with the Lower Bridge Subcommittee, which has been meeting for several months.

On-call Health Care Provider Access

SDOT has worked with health care providers and Seattle Municipal Court to set up a process to allow bridge access for health care providers who live in West Seattle, are contractually required to be available on-call and receive a call-out notification to a hospital east of the Duwamish.

In these circumstances, to cancel a citation received, the vehicle owner can submit what is called a Declaration of Non-Responsibility, and documentation from the workplace.  SDOT is working for a long-term solution, but it was important that a short-term solution be implemented in the meantime.

SDOT has been in touch with healthcare institutions to guide longer-term policy:

Reconnect West Seattle 2022 projects

SDOT is asking for suggestions from residents and businesses for Reconnect West Seattle projects for 2022, to help address the closure of the West Seattle Bridge. You can submit project proposals to WestSeattleBridge@seattle.gov.  Project ideas are due by March 31, 2021.

West Marginal Way SW

As noted last week, SDOT is hosting a Virtual Open House on projects for West Marginal Way SW on Thursday, February 18 from 6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

You can use this link to join: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88433928185. If you prefer to just watch the open house, you can view it on YouTube.

To request an interpreter or accommodations for persons with disabilities, please call 206-400-7511 or WestSeattleBridge@seattle.gov at least 3 days prior to the meeting date.

SDOT’s West Marginal Way SW website has more information, including a Virtual Walking Tour.

The confirmed projects include an interim pedestrian signal and painted crosswalk at the Duwamish Longhouse, and a new pedestrian pathway on the west side of West Marginal Way SW between the Duwamish Longhouse and SW Idaho St. These projects have wide support. A walk led by the Duwamish Tribe my office attended a year ago showed the clear need for a pedestrian pathway in this location:

Two project areas are listed for potential projects: a separated bike lane in section 1 shown below, with build/no build options; for section 2,  options include a bike lane, on-street parking, or removing on-street parking.

The SDOT Director has authority over use of city streets.

Here’s a link to the slide deck from Community Task Force meeting regarding West Marginal.

It has 27 slides and a lot of information,  including options, vehicle and truck volume data, and crash data, and estimates of travel times and freight impact (SDOT estimates the project would have negligible or no impact on travel times and freight; some at the task force didn’t agree; there was both support and opposition to the proposal).
 

2021 Neighborhood Matching Fund Deadlines, Workshops

Seattle Department of Neighborhood’s Neighborhood Matching Fund (NMF) has announced its 2021 funding programs and schedule. Its two funds – the Small Sparks Fund and the Community Partnership Fund – support grassroots projects that build stronger communities, with an increased emphasis on projects led by or impacting Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities.

The Community Partnership Fund provides funding up to $50,000 with two opportunities to apply this year. The deadlines are April 5 and September 13. This fund provides opportunities to create large and lasting impacts in your community by supporting community organizing, public art projects, park improvements, cultural events, design and construction of community facilities, and more.

The Small Sparks Fund provides funding up to $5,000 per project, and applications are accepted on a rolling basis through October 29. This fund is perfect for small community activities such as neighborhood clean-ups, block parties, community art projects, workshops, and more.

Neighborhood Matching Fund staff are hosting three workshops for those interested in applying to the fund. Each workshop will provide an overview of the Neighborhood Matching Fund, the qualities of a strong application, and the review process. Neighborhood and community groups interested in the fund are invited to attend.

Workshop dates and times are as follows:

February 20, 2021, 10-11:30am
Register / Join Online: http://bit.ly/NMF_2-20-21
Join by phone:
+1-206-207-1700 United States Toll (Seattle)
+1-408-418-9388 United States Toll
Access code: 146 771 5906

March 4, 2021, 10-11:30am
Register / Join Online: http://bit.ly/NMF_3-4-21
Join by phone:
+1-206-207-1700 United States Toll (Seattle)
+1-408-418-9388 United States Toll
Access code: 146 502 6604

March 17, 2021, 6-7:30pm

Register / Join Online: http://bit.ly/NMF_3-17-21
Join by phone:
+1-206-207-1700 United States Toll (Seattle)
+1-408-418-9388 United States Toll
Access code: 146 993 7073

Get more information and begin your application at http://www.seattle.gov/neighborhoods/nmf.

If you have questions, please contact program staff at 206-233-0093 or NMFund@seattle.gov.

More than 5,000 projects have occurred across the city since this program began in 1988. To learn more about the Neighborhood Matching Fund and its support to community-initiated projects, visit seattle.gov/neighborhoods/neighborhood-matching-fund.
 

Fire Code Update

As I wrote about last week, the Council adopted two bills to update the Building Code. In addition, the Fire Code is typically updated along with the building code to ensure consistency in development standards. The Fire Code was last updated in 2016 and is usually updated every three years.  Last year, both the Building Code and Fire Code updates were delayed due to the public health emergency.

The proposed changes were presented by the Seattle Fire department, and while changes are relatively minor the code plays an important role in public safety. Changes included are:

  • Allowing alternative fuel vehicles on display inside buildings to maintain their battery connection in order to keep their safety systems active.
  • New integrated testing requirements for high-rise buildings to assure fire protection and life safety systems work together as intended and are tested at least every 10 years.
  • Allow mobile fueling of vehicles in designated areas such as parking lots that meet certain requirements.
  • A new chapter to address the installation of large electrical energy storage systems that are more prevalent and unregulated by the previous Fire Code.

 

Virtual Office Hours

On Friday February 26, I will be hosting virtual office hours between 2pm and 6pm, with the last meeting of the day beginning at 5:30pm.

Due to the nature of virtual office hours, you will need to contact my scheduler Alex Clardy (alex.clardy@seattle.gov) in order to receive the call-in information and schedule a time.

Additionally, here is a list of my tentatively scheduled office hours which will continue as virtual office hours until indicated otherwise. These are subject to change.

  • Friday, March 26, 2021
  • Friday, April 30, 2021
  • Friday, May 28, 2021
  • Friday, June 25, 2021
  • Friday, July 30, 2021
  • Friday, August 20, 2021
  • Friday, September 24, 2021
  • Friday, October 29, 2021
  • Friday, December 17, 2021
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COVID Vaccination Updates // Child Care Copay Relief // Don’t Be Fooled by a New Scam // Lower Bridge Use and Delay in Opening of T-5 // West Marginal Way SW Virtual Open House February 18 // South Park Home Zone // Building Code Updates

February 8th, 2021

COVID-19 Vaccination Updates 

I’ve heard from many District 1 residents over the past week concerned, frustrated, and confused about the difficulties of receiving a COVID vaccination.  As many of you have discovered, vaccine providers are generally not offering appointments for the vaccine, because they do not have sufficient numbers of vaccines to distribute.  The problem we are all experiencing is systemic – the federal government is neither producing nor able to purchase enough vaccine for everyone who is now eligible to receive it.   

Right now, if you’re eligible to receive the vaccine, the best thing to do is add yourself to vaccine distribution waitlists (starting with your healthcare provider, if you have one), monitor the news for updated information about vaccine distribution, and keep up COVID precautions such as wearing masks and social distancing.  Over the next weeks and months, vaccine supply will improve and more people will receive the vaccine.   

Not enough vaccine to meet demand:  Consider these numbers as an illustration of the problem:  An estimated 470,000 King County residents are currently eligible to receive vaccination, but fewer than 200,000 first doses have been received throughout the County.  Of the doses that King County has received, 99% have been administered according to Public Health data.  

Washington state receives regular allocations of vaccine from the federal government.  Of those, just over 25% are allocated to vaccine providers in King County.  King County reports on its progress in administering those vaccines here.  When vaccine providers learn they have a certain number of vaccine doses coming, they open up appointments for those doses, or contact eligible people on their waitlist.  Because there is much more demand than supply, those appointments are quickly snapped up, and vaccine providers tend to shut down scheduling again until they learn more doses are coming.  The federal government has announced plans to increase vaccine distribution to the states, meaning Washington may get increased shipments soon.  But it will likely be some weeks before Washington state receives enough vaccine doses for everyone who is currently eligible.  

Chart showing King County incoming COVID doses. Says supply is not steady, drop in doses is causing disruption, and demand far exceeds supply.

West Seattle vaccination sites:  Last week I wrote to you that the City of Seattle is planning for a mass vaccination site in West Seattle.  The City’s Finance & Administrative Services department reports that they are procuring items needed to convert testing sites into mass vaccination sites.  Tents, lighting and chairs have already been delivered to West Seattle in anticipation of a future vaccination site.  Once the City receives sufficient vaccine supply, they will be able to move quickly and open up the West Seattle site within two days.   

There are currently two vaccination sites accessible to those of us living on the West Seattle peninsula without requiring a bridge crossing, both operated by SeaMar Community Health Centers:  one in White Center, 9650 15th Avenue SW, #100 98106; and the other in South Park, 8720 14th Avenue South 98108.  Both are listed at the state Department of Health’s list of vaccination sites.  I am hearing from many residents concerned about the unique mobility problems we face with the loss of the West Seattle Bridge, and am continuing to advocate for additional vaccine providers in West Seattle. 

I appreciate the advocacy and leadership of Senior Center of West Seattle, whose Executive Director and board members have been actively reaching out to me and other elected officials to share the barriers that seniors are facing to accessing vaccinations, including: lack of a computer or internet access, difficulty reading web pages due to low vision, inability to make or receive texts, lack of an email address, and lack of nearby family or friends to help navigate these concerns.  My office has connected the Senior Center with leaders at Public Health – Seattle & King County and the Mayor’s Office who are planning vaccination efforts to address these and other barriers.   

Seattle Fire Department team members wearing masks pose before going out to deliver COVID vaccines.

City of Seattle vaccination plans:  On Tuesday, February 9th at 9:30am, my Public Safety & Human Services committee will host a presentation on the City’s vaccination plans, including plans for a mass vaccination site in West Seattle.  Presenters will include Director Hayes of Public Health – Seattle & King County, Chief Scoggins of Seattle Fire Department, and representatives from the Mayor’s Office.  Sign up to receive the agenda, including a link to the presentation.  You can tune in on Seattle Channel at 9:30am on Tuesday.   

Health care working gives vaccine to woman wearing mask.

Language support:  Getting information about the state’s vaccination rollout in languages other than English has been difficult.  Public Health –Seattle & King County is now providing in-language vaccine information on its website: 

     
አማርኛ — Amharic  한국어 — Korean  Español — Spanish 
العربية — Arabic  Kajin M̧ajeļ — Marshallese  ትግርኛ — Tigrinya 
简体中文— Chinese, Simplified  Afaan Oromoo — Oromo  lea fakatonga — Tongan 
繁體中文 — Chinese, Traditional  Русский — Russian  Українська — Ukrainian 
Français — French  Gagana Sāmoa — Samoan  Tiếng Việt — Vietnamese 
ភាសាខ្មែរ — Khmer  af Soomaali — Somali   

Who can get the vaccine?  The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) determines who is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. Right now the following groups can get vaccinated: 

  • Health care workers 
  • High-risk first responders 
  • Residents of long-term care facilities 
  • All people over 65 years-old 
  • All people over 50 years-old who live in a multigenerational household 

Where can I get a vaccine?  If you’re currently eligible, the FindYourPhaseWA.org will help you find out where you can get vaccinated in Seattle. 

You can also get help over the phone from the Washington State COVID-19 Assistance Hotline: Dial 1 (800) 525-0127, then press #. The hotline is available from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and observed state holidays. Phone interpretation is available. 

PSA saying COVID vaccine is provided at no cost

 Looking for more information about vaccine distribution?  Try some of these resources. 

  • Public Health – Seattle & King County’s vaccination website is an excellent resource, with lists of vaccine providers, and information about the County’s Kent and Auburn COVID-19 Vaccination Sites, which are currently serving adults 75 years and older from the hardest-hit areas of south King County.   
  • Decisions about vaccination plans are made by the Washington State Department of Health (DOH).  Read the vaccination rollout plan here, and provide feedback here.   
  • The City of Seattle just launched a vaccine website and weekly vaccination newsletter: learn more and sign up here.   
  • King County hosts a COVID vaccine data dashboard, showing allocations of doses locally, as well as doses administered. 
  • Covid vaccines must be provided free of charge.   
  • Here’s a handy list of answers to Frequently Asked Questions about the COVID vaccine.   
  • Learn more about the safety of COVID vaccines in the US.   

Preferential Access to Vaccine 

Data shared by Public Health of Seattle & King County show that inequitable distribution of vaccine is occurring systemically in our community.  Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders represent 2.7% of COVID-19 cases, but only .5% of vaccinations.  Black/African-Americans make up 12% of King County’s COVID-19 cases, but only 3.5% of vaccinations.     

After reading alarming reports last week about area hospitals providing priority access to vaccines to their wealthiest donors, on Friday I contacted Umair Shah, Secretary of Health, and Lacy Fehrenbach, Deputy Secretary for COVID-19 Response, at the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) to request corrective action: 

As a Seattle City Councilmember, I was dismayed to read reports of local hospitals offering their top donors preferential access to precious and rare COVID-19 vaccine doses.  I regularly hear from residents of my district in southwest Seattle who are currently eligible for vaccination and desperate to receive the vaccination, especially those with additional vulnerabilities who are all but housebound due to their fear of contracting coronavirus.  I have been particularly concerned as my district is in south Seattle, and many of my constituents belong to BIPOC and vulnerable communities, experiencing the highest levels of COVID-19 impact and often unable to easily navigate online systems such as PhaseFinder to get up to date information about vaccine availability.  The actions of leaders at Overlake and other hospitals amount to selling vaccines to the highest bidder, while many more vulnerable residents wait, and worry, and suffer. 

I was glad to see Seattle Mayor Durkan speak out strongly against this practice, and I believe it is incumbent upon all officials right now to clearly state that this practice is unacceptable.  So many people are desperate to receive the vaccine, and the rollout has been confusing for many.  It’s understandable that people offered the vaccine may be tempted to take it.  We must make it clear that “jumping the line” in this manner is unacceptable, so that vaccine is preserved for those at most risk…” 

Would you put out a statement clearly stating that this practice is unacceptable, and that any providers who are administering vaccines must take steps to ensure vaccine is not prioritized based on wealth?  

 As Chair of the Seattle Council committee with oversight of local and regional public health efforts, I’m also interested in understanding the corrective action you may be planning or undertaking to 1) guard against this practice in the future and 2) admonish providers who have engaged in it.    

Thank you for your leadership. 

On Saturday, the Department of Health issued a statement calling this practice “egregiously inappropriate behavior,” and saying in part: 

…to see such cavalier disregard for allocation strategy that prioritizes the most at-risk and disproportionately impacted populations is unacceptable. 

Plainly said, this kind of practice is inequitable, wrong, and must stop immediately. Facilities or organizations found to engage in this practice risk not receiving additional shipments of vaccines. 

On Monday, Department of Health sent a message to all approved vaccine providers across the state which said in partVIP scheduling, reserving doses for inequitable or exclusive access, and similar practices will not be tolerated. If we find out a provider is giving out vaccine inequitably or is doing behaviors listed above or similar, we may reduce or stop allocations to that provider. 

DOH also sent direct messages to any provider that they knew to have engaged in such a practice with the above message and additional notes that: 

  • We are aware their facility has been offering exclusive appointments for COVID-19 vaccine or reserving doses for privileged groups. 
  • VIP scheduling, reserving doses for inequitable or exclusive access, and similar practices will not be tolerated. 
  • If they continue to give out vaccine inequitably or engage in behaviors listed or similar, we may reduce or stop their vaccine allocations. 
  • Limiting public access to the vaccine continues barriers experienced regularly by vulnerable communities rather than working to overcome them. This not fair to the people of Washington. 

Recipients of these direct messages were asked to verify that they understand this guidance, and DOH’s full vaccine allocation and prioritization guidance. 

I appreciate DOH’s clear statement against the practice of prioritizing vaccines for the wealthiest, and their willingness to cut off supply for organizations engaging in it.  It’s essential that we do everything we can to earn the trust of all Seattle residents right now during a confusing and frustrating vaccination rollout.  Any institution that proves itself unworthy of that trust should not be allowed to distribute vaccine.  We must ensure that our community’s most vulnerable are first in line, not last, to receive life saving vaccine. 

Child Care Assistance Available 

Graphic showing child care copay relief available

The Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) helps families living within Seattle city limits who have with a parent working or attending school to pay for child care for children 1 month to 12 years of age.  Find out if you’re eligible here.  Start the screening process here.   

Don’t BFooled By a New Scam 

Be aware, scammers are at it again… If you receive a call threatening to shut off your electricity or water if you don’t make a payment today,  just hang up the phone.   

Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utilities are not having a widespread problem processing payments, and the City will not turn off anyone’s utilities for failure to make payments during the current COVID health emergency. 

Hands counting money

Lower Bridge Use and Delay in Opening of T-5  

Yesterday evening I heard that the opening date for Terminal 5 will be delayed. Today, I sent the following request to SDOT Director Zimbabwe regarding use of the lower (Spokane Street) bridge: 

Director Zimbabwe,  

I appreciate the work SDOT has been doing with the Lower Bridge Subcommittee regarding future access to the lower (Spokane Street) bridge. Thank you for expanding the committee membership to include health care representatives.  

I further appreciate SDOT’s close monitoring of traffic counts by time of day, with the beginning of camera enforcement.  

Yesterday evening I heard the news that construction and subsequent Phase 1 opening of Terminal 5 will be delayed. I appreciate that SDOT has been, understandably, reserving space for truck traffic in its calculations regarding future use of the lower bridge, given the previously projected start of additional truck traffic as soon as April.   

 SDOT has reported that the lower-bridge access “Current approach allows 450 user trips per day on top of freight, transit and emergency vehicles.  This approach is based on a lot of assumptions: number of trucks, time of day that trips are distributed– includes both T5 projections and current truck volumes” 

 As District 1 Councilmember, I continue to receive regular requests for additional bridge access from residents, businesses, health care workers, and others.  

 Given this change in plans for T5, I am requesting that SDOT:  

  1. Share the previous assumptions on number of user trips projected to be needed in April to accommodate T5 that will not be needed now; 
  1. Calculate the user trips per day that could be newly added now that additional truck volume will not be anticipated in April; and  
  1. Please consider ways to use this additional capacity to facilitate additional use of the lower bridge.   

 Thank you in advance for your consideration of my request and all that you do. 

 Best, 

Lisa Herbold 

District 1 Councilmember, Chair, Public Safety & Human Services Committee 

West Marginal Way SW Virtual Open House February 18 

SDOT will host a virtual open house on West Marginal Way SW on Thursday, February 18, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Information will be available at SDOT’s new West Marginal webpage, which is under construction.     

The project flyer notes the Duwamish Longhouse Crossing and signal. An interim signal is planned for 2021, along with a crosswalk. A permanent signal is planned for 2022. Funding for this project began in 2020 with a Council budget measure I sponsored. This project has received widespread support.  

A proposal for a bike lane has received mixed reception, as noted below.  

A presentation to the West Seattle Transportation Coalition shows additional information about the project area, from near the bridge to the Longhouse, noting no changes are proposed for northbound lanes, though SDOT will continue to work with businesses on freight mobility improvements:  

  Project map

SDOT has options for two different road sections. The first section includes either 1) make no changes, or 2) converting the southbound curb lane into a 2-way protected bike lane: 

Map showing Duwamish Trail connection

Here’s what option 2 would look like: 

A drawing of what a two-way protected bike lane looks like on a street with cars

The proposal for a bike lane has been controversial, and resulted in pushback from businesses, and residents of the northern portion of the peninsula who now use West Marginal as a key arterial to leave the peninsula. The proposal had robust discussion at the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force. 

West Seattle Bike Connections, Duwamish Valley Safe Streets and the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trails Group have expressed support for the project; the Freight Advisory Committee has expressed concerns. 

Many constituents have also contacted my office with concerns that travel times will be adversely affected at a time when congestion on this corridor is at an all-time high because this is a major detour route for the closed West Seattle Bridge. Vehicle volumes on West Marginal have been over 150% of February 2020 level, before the closure of the bridge. In addition,  travel times have been longer during peak hours (SDOT’s December 11 update lists increases in a.m. and p.m. travel times on West Marginal from the 1st Avenue South Bridge to Harbor Avenue at between 24% and 48% for peak travel).    

For the second section of roadway, SDOT is presenting three options: 

A map showing three options for curb lane design 

 

The SDOT Director has authority over use of city streets, including lane configurations.  

Here’s the decision making timeline SDOT foresees: 

A timeline from Jan 2021 to March 2021, with Open House Feb. 18 highlighted in red

South Park Home Zone 

In addition to Highland Park, South Park is the other District 1 neighborhood where SDOT is working with the community to implement a Home Zone to improve pedestrian safety, as one of the priority Reconnect West Seattle projects.  

Here’s the project area, and current proposals that are being planned or considered (you can see a full-size image here) 

A map of south park home zone with many icons in the key

Updates include potential traffic calming on Dallas Avenue South, and evaluating the feasibility of a traffic signal on Dallas at 14th, just south of the bridge.  

Implementation of priority projects could begin in quarters 2 through 4 during 2021, with continued neighborhood collaboration on long-term improvements. 

If you have questions or comments, you can reach SDOT at WestSeattleBridge@seattle.gov.  The Reconnect West Seattle Home Zones website has additional information about work on the South Park, Highland Park and Georgetown Home Zones. 

Building Code Updates to Limit Natural Gas Use 

On Monday the Council adopted two bills to update the building codein order to take steps toward implementation of recommendations of the Seattle Green New Deal 

As the Central Staff memo notes: “Consistent with Resolution 31895 that established a Green New Deal for Seattle in August 2019 and Executive Order 2020-01 (Advancing a Green New Deal for Seattle), the proposed 2018 Seattle Energy Code would add to the code’s intent section the goal of reducing carbon emissions to the existing goal of increasing energy efficiency. To help achieve these goals, the most significant changes from the 2015 Seattle Energy Code are new restrictions on the use of fossil fuels and electric resistance for space and water heating. The water heating restrictions are limited to multifamily and hotel uses, based on the rationale that they have more predictable hot water demand as compared to commercial uses. Both restrictions would have a delayed effective date of January 1, 2022, to allow for additional outreach, and, specific to water heating, provide time for products meeting the requirement to become more readily available.” 

Here’s a link to a presentation, which notes space heating and water heating account for 88% of fossil fuel uses in buildings. This leaves smaller uses such as gas fire places and cooking for further technical changes in the future.    

I appreciate the attention to implementing items included in the Green New Deal which the Council passed in August 2018 . This is just one of the itemsplease see the link to the resolution which has an exhaustive list of the items the City is working to address.  

I want to give a special thanks to former Councilmember O’Brien for spearheading this work at the Council and his sponsorship of the Green New Deal resolution that made this work possible. Additionally, Councilmember O’Brien sponsored a Council budget action requiring the Office of Economic Development for a consultant study to: 

  • Understand the potential impact to workers as the City acts to reduce reliance on fossil fuels;  
  • Analyze where job growth is anticipated in clean energy and related industries; and  
  • Identify strategies for supporting small businesses and their workers as the City transitions away from fossil fuels. 

While the study was unfortunately delayed due to resources being shifted to manage work related to covid, we do expect it delivered later this year. Once this study is received the Council may consider a prohibition of natural gas in residential construction as well.  

In the 2021 budget the Council funded positions to move forward work related to the Seattle Green New Deal. To facilitate this work, the Council added funding for a Green New Deal advisor position that will work with the Green New Deal  Oversight Committee, created to advise the Council and Mayor on implementing the Green New Deal look forward to their recommendations. In a related action, the Council also added climate policy advisor, to oversee implementation of the Climate Action Plan and measure progress toward its goals.   

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Vaccination Site Coming to West Seattle; West Seattle Bridge Funding; Highland Park Survey; Food Banks Proposals; Community Safety Investments; Testimony at State Legislature on Brady List, Youth Rights Bills; Hazard Pay for Grocery Workers; Seattle Hospitality Worker Emergency Relief Fund – Deadline Extended

January 29th, 2021

Vaccination Site Coming to West Seattle

A couple weeks ago, I let you know that the Seattle Fire Department has begun COVID vaccinations starting with mobile teams that will vaccinate up to 1,000 residents and staff of adult family homes and some permanent supportive housing residences. I explained that the City has the infrastructure in place to quickly turn at least one of the existing COVID testing sites into a mass vaccination site – what we don’t have is access to the necessary vaccine supply.  I’ve heard from many of you wanting to know what’s in store for West Seattle, given the closure of the West Seattle Bridge and ongoing restrictions on lower level bridge access and significant congestion on detour routes off of the peninsula.

This week, I received confirmation from the Mayor’s Office that the City is planning to stand up a West Seattle vaccination site as part of its overall testing strategy. I’ll meet with the Mayor’s Office next week to learn more about their plans.  The timing is dependent upon when there is an adequate supply of vaccines; vaccines are in limited supply and the number and timing of doses that Seattle receives is determined by the state and federal government. I know there is a lot of interest in supporting West Seattle vaccination sites, and I will keep you updated about these plans as I learn more and continue to advocate for local vaccinations.

The City of Seattle launched a vaccine website and weekly vaccination newsletter this week: learn more and sign up here.

Where can I learn more about vaccination?

West Seattle Bridge Funding: Regional Funding Secured; State and Federal Options

On Thursday, the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) Executive Board voted to approve $14.4 million in funding for the West Seattle Bridge project.

Thank you to PSRC Executive Board members Council President González, Councilmembers Lewis and Strauss and Mayor Durkan for their work at the Executive Committee. Thanks also to members from King County, Pierce and Snohomish Counties, for affirming the importance of the West Seattle Bridge as a critical regional asset.

Thanks to PSRC Transportation Policy Advisory Board members, Council President González, and Councilmembers Juarez and Pedersen for their work on the PSRC Transportation Policy Advisory Board for making the recommendation to move this funding to the Executive Board for final action.

The Council received updates on Monday about potential funding at the state and federal level.

At the state level, the House Democrats Transportation Revenue Package proposal includes $6.7 billion for state and local capital projects, with $1 billion reserved for the I-5 Crossing Bridge. Other projects are to be determined, which isn’t unusual at this point. The State Senate Transportation Chair’s proposal includes a placeholder for the West Seattle Bridge listed at $25 million.  I appreciate the state legislature’s transportation funding proposals. While proposals can evolve over time, it’s good to see funding proposed or potentially available for the bridge.

At the federal level,  the City’s Federal Goals for 2021 include seeking federal funding for the bridge.

During the update on federal issues the Council heard on Monday, I asked about the potential for funding for the West Seattle Bridge. The City’s federal lobbyist noted the Biden administration plans to first act on a coronavirus relief package. After that, they will move to work on an infrastructure bill for which the bridge could be a good candidate.

SDOT posted a summary of the bridge stabilization work they completed in December, and the eight months of work. Here’s a visual that shows where the work has taken place:


Highland Park Home Zone Survey

As part of the Reconnect West Seattle program to address the impacts on neighborhoods from the closure of the West Seattle Bridge, SDOT initiated work on the Home Zone program in Highland Park, South Park, and Georgetown. A Home Zone involves the neighborhood working together to prioritize improvements that calm traffic and improve pedestrian mobility and neighborhood livability.

SDOT has released a survey on the Highland Park Home Zone, showing the current status of the proposal. The survey is open through February 15. Below are links to the survey in English, Spanish, Korean and Vietnamese.  To request the survey in other languages, contact SDOT at WestSeattleBridge@seattle.gov or 206-400-7511.

The survey links to locations where SDOT is proposing, for example, speed humps, curb bulbs, crosswalks, flashing beacons, all-way stops, signal upgrades’, and other improvements.

Next steps include reviewing survey results and presenting a final home zone plan to the community, and implementing priority projects during 2021, and working with neighbors on construction plans.

The survey includes maps of proposals in different areas in the neighborhood; here’s one example.

Participation in the Home Zone program is one of the ten prioritized projects in the Roxhill, Highland Park, Riverview and South Delridge neighborhoods as part of the Reconnect West Seattle program.

Request for Proposals: Food Banks Serving Delridge, Georgetown, and South Park

The Youth and Family Empowerment (YFE) Division of the Seattle Human Services Department (HSD) is seeking applications from agencies to provide food to low-income individuals and families in Delridge, Georgetown, and South Park.  Applications are due March 24th.   Find the full Request For Proposals and timeline here.

This RFP is in response to a February 2019 report produced by Public Health and partners on healthy food availability, funded by Sweetened Beverage Tax revenue, that found, “healthy food priority areas are clustered near the southern boundary around the Duwamish waterway (including Georgetown, South Park, Delridge, and High Point).”

Briefing on New Community Safety Investments

At the January 26th meeting of the Public Safety & Human Services committee, which I chair, we heard two presentations on investments in community safety and alternatives to the traditional criminal legal system.  Both investments were funded through Council action.

The Seattle Community Safety Initiative (CSI) operates three community safety hubs – including one in West Seattle – which build an alternative to traditional policing that is led by and for Black and brown communities in Seattle.  I sponsored this investment, which Council funded through a $4M appropriation during last summer’s 2020 budget rebalancing process.   You can view presentation materials here, and watch video of the presentation here.

The Human Services Department also gave a brief update on their work to contract $12 million to build capacity in community safety organizations that will provide alternatives to policing and the traditional criminal legal system for both violent and non-violent crime.  I sponsored this budget action, which will help build a public health-centered, harm reduction model of restorative justice, crime prevention, and ameliorating the harm caused by the criminal legal system to individuals and communities most impacted.   You can view a memo about the work here, and watch video of the briefing here.

The community safety capacity investment is still in development.  HSD has agreed to return to my committee in late February to share the results of a landscape analysis of investments in existing public safety programs and a proposed spending plan.

Testimony at State Legislature on Brady List, Youth Rights Bills

On Wednesday the 20th, I testified at the state House Civil Rights & Judiciary Committee in support of a bill that helps to implement the state legislative recommendations of the Community Police Commission and the City’s state legislative agenda. I also noted support for a youth rights bill.

My testimony is below.

Good morning.  My name is Lisa Herbold and I am the Public Safety and Human Services Committee Chair of the Seattle City Council.  It’s an honor for me to be here with you today.

I am here to speak in support of HB 1088 but I’m thrilled that this committee is also considering, under Rep. Johnson’s leadership, HB 1140, a Youth Rights Ordinance.  I was honored to be the prime sponsor of the Seattle Mi’Chance Dunlap-Gittens’ Youth Rights Ordinance.  

I want to thank Chair Hansen, Mr. Speaker Pro Tem Lovick, and the sponsors of HB 1088 for their advocacy for updating statewide standards with best practices to address potential impeachment disclosures of misconduct affecting their credibility, pursuant to Brady v Maryland.

There is an additional opportunity with HB 1088, and that is to address a concern that SB 6188, passed in 2018, may overly limit adverse personnel actions and accountability sought over Brady list officers. I respectfully request that HB 1088 include language that does not require, but allows consideration of adverse personnel actions for Brady list officers are on the list for good reason, who because of investigated and proven misconduct, lack credibility, and consequently may be limited in their ability to completely fulfill the obligations of their job such as testifying in the prosecution of arrests they themselves have made.

In addition, HB 1088 as currently drafted, appears to limit law enforcement agencies from basing hiring decisions on Brady list participation by stating that, it is not itself a bar to employment. I respectfully request that you please include language clarifying that local law enforcement departments are not required to but may refrain from hiring those officers for whom there is a investigated and proven record of engagement in misconduct affecting their credibility and, in doing so, please support law enforcement efforts to hire only those officers who can fully do the job that they are hired to do.

Hazard Pay for Grocery Workers

Last week Councilmember Mosqueda brought forward legislation to compensate our local grocery store workers who have not received hazard pay from their employers for roughly eight months. The legislation provides for an additional four dollars and hour in pay in recognition of the hazards these workers take on every day. Unfortunately, as the pandemic got steadily worse essential grocery store workers lost the hazard pay that many companies had been paying. This, in the face of unprecedented new earnings these grocery retailers were seeing. The Bookings Institute released a report that detailed these findings:

  • Kroger (QFC and Fred Meyer) saw its net earnings for the first two quarters jump to more than $2.031 billion compared to $1.069 billion in the same period of 2019.
  • Walmart’s net earnings was $15.6 billion for the first 3 quarters compared to $10.7 billion for the same period for 2019, a 45% increase.
  • Amazon/Whole Foods saw a $17.4 billion profit for the first three quarters, up $6 billion from the same period last year.
  • Albertsons/Safeway saw an additional $523 million in profits in 2020.

The passage of the hazard pay ordinance recognizes the essential work of grocery store employees who keep stores running safely and smoothly  – while many are able to work form home these workers put themselves in harm’s way every day.

While I wish we could require hazard pay for all essential workers, this legislation is focused on large grocery stores, most who have massive profits from a shift in consumer behavior.

Seattle Hospitality Worker Emergency Relief Fund – Deadline Extended

You now have until February 15th to apply for one-time financial relief from the City-funded Hospitality Worker Relief Fund.  The Hospitality Worker Emergency Relief Fund serves low-income, hospitality workers who live and work in Seattle and have lost their jobs or experienced a pay reduction due to employment changes and business closures during the COVID-19 pandemic. Apply here.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Must live in Seattle
  • Employed or lost employment due to COVID in Seattle
  • Presently work or worked in Hospitality in Seattle
  • Household income at or below 60% AMI (area median income) in Seattle

Applications and answers to frequently asked questions are available in multiple languages:

The City partnered with Wellspring Family Services to provide this one-time cash assistance to help meet the basic needs of workers in the hospitality industry impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

This funding is part of the Mayor and City Council’s December announcement to provide up to $5 million in new financial assistance for small businesses and hospitality industry workers impacted by the most recent COVID-19 restrictions. More than 1 million people have collected unemployment benefits in Washington state since the pandemic began. In Seattle alone, more than 600 restaurants and bars have been forced to close for good due to the pandemic.

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COVID Vaccination Newsletter and Answers to Frequently Asked Questions; Expanded Curbside Pickup at D1 Libraries; Resolution in Support of Impeachment of Donald Trump; Testimony at State Legislature on Police Accountability/Arbitration Bills; Less Lethal Weapons and Consent Decree; 2021 Office Hours

January 22nd, 2021

COVID Vaccination Newsletter and Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Seattle has just launched a vaccination website and weekly newsletter.   The newsletter will provide weekly updates on eligibility criteria, vaccination progress in Seattle and King County, and new City of Seattle vaccination efforts.  Sign up for the weekly vaccination newsletter

Vaccines are in limited supply and how many doses Seattle gets and who gets them is determined by the state and federal government. Washington State Department of Health developed an eligibility timeline that aims to reduce hospitalizations and death and slow the spread of COVID-19.  You can learn more about this work and the vaccination rollout plan here, and provide feedback on the plan here.

Who can get vaccinated right now?  The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) determines who is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. Right now the following groups can get vaccinated:

  • Health care workers
  • High-risk first responders
  • Residents of long-term care facilities
  • All people over 65 years-old
  • All people over 50 years-old who cannot live independently

Where can I get a vaccine?  If you’re currently eligible, FindYourPhaseWA.org will verify your eligibility and help you find out where you can get vaccinated in Seattle.

You can also get help over the phone from the Washington State COVID-19 Assistance Hotline: Dial 1 (800) 525-0127, then press #. The hotline is available from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and observed state holidays. Phone interpretation is available.

The Seattle Fire Department is currently vaccinating residents and workers in Adult Family Homes by invitation only.

When can I get the vaccine?  Right now, only a small number of people in the highest risk communities are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine and vaccine supply from the federal government has been limited. In the coming weeks and months, more individuals will become eligible and more vaccines will become available.

The State’s vaccination timeline was developed to keep people safe and to prevent continued deaths and COVID-19 spread among our highest risk communities.  To contain COVID-19 and fully re-open the region, Public Health — Seattle & King County estimates that it will be necessary to vaccinate at least 70 percent of all adults, or approximately 1.5 million people.

What does vaccination cost?  COVID vaccine will be covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance, and the cost of the vaccine will be covered for people who are uninsured. There may be a copay or office visit fee, depending on your insurance plan or the doctor you see to get vaccinated.

Public Health also is planning free vaccination clinics when supplies of vaccine are available.

Can I stop taking public health precautions once I’m vaccinated?  The short answer is no.  The vaccine will give you a high level of protection against developing COVID disease, but the protection is not 100%. Also, we don’t yet know how well the vaccine prevents people from spreading the virus. That means it’s possible that someone who is vaccinated may get infected—even if they don’t get sick it’s possible that they could still spread COVID-19 to others. Studies are in progress to answer this question.

Even after vaccination, protect others by:

  • continuing to wear masks
  • limit indoor activities outside of the home
  • avoid crowded indoor spaces
  • keep contacts with others brief and distanced
  • improve ventilation indoors
  • wash your hands.

While experts learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide in real-life conditions, our continued use of all COVID-19 precautions will help to end this pandemic.

How is the City assisting with vaccination?  Last week I wrote that the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) approved the City to serve as a vaccine distributor, meaning the City is eligible to receive weekly shipments of vaccine from DOH and can administer vaccine to Seattle residents and workers. Seattle Fire Department has already acted creatively and heroically to provide more than 560,000 free COVID tests for Seattle residents, and now will speed efforts to vaccinate vulnerable Seattle residents, starting with mobile teams that will vaccinate up to 1,000 residents and staff of adult family homes.

In terms of what’s coming next, Seattle will continue to focus its limited weekly doses on its highest risk communities. The City has the infrastructure in place to quickly turn at least one of the existing COVID testing sites into a mass vaccination site – what we don’t have is access to the necessary vaccine supply. The need for increased supply is why Mayor Durkan joined mayors across the country in calling for the Biden-Harris administration to allocate vaccines directly to cities, and is hopeful the new administration will act on that soon.

Where can I learn more about vaccination?


Expanded Curbside Pickup at D1 Libraries

You can place holds on Seattle Public Library items to pick up through curbside service at select branches, including two District 1 libraries:

Southwest Branch: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays – Noon to 6 p.m.

High Point Branch: Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays – Noon to 6 p.m.

Learn more about SPL’s Curbside Services here.

You can return borrowed materials at the Southwest, High Point, West Seattle, and South Park branches.

Need a (free) Library Card?  Apply here.

Resolution in Support of Impeachment of Donald Trump

Last Monday, on January 11, I introduced and the Council voted unanimously in support of a resolution calling on the federal government to immediately remove President Donald J. Trump from office by any means permitted by the Constitution, including impeachment, for violating his oath of office and for committing high crimes and misdemeanors.

The resolution was written with support from Councilmember Pedersen and Local Progress, a movement of local elected leaders who build power with underrepresented communities, share bold ideas and policy among our network, and fight to reshape what is possible in our localities all across the country.  The resolution language was based on the resolution accompanying articles of impeachment proposed by Representative Ilhan Omar and supports the impeachment article which charges him with “incitement of insurrection” in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States.

It further states that Donald Trump suggested that the Georgia Secretary of State should overturn the verified Georgia state results of the Presidential election and repeatedly made false claims that he won the election.

This person used the Presidency to incite violence and orchestrate an attempted coup against our country that injured and killed law enforcement personnel, menaced Members of Congress, the Vice President and staff, and interfered with the Joint Session’s solemn constitutional duty to certify the election results. As demonstrated with his words and actions, he will remain a threat to national security and democracy and warrants an impeachment trial, removal from office, and disqualification to hold any future office in the United States of America. The Senate should move forward to swiftly convict him to bar him from holding future office, receiving a pension from the American people, and to send a clear message that Democracy has and will continue to prevail.

Testimony at State Legislature on Police Accountability/Arbitration Bills

On January 14th I testified at the Labor, Commerce & Tribal Affairs Committee of the State Senate about two bills in support of police accountability, and work to implement the state legislative recommendations of the Community Police Commission and the City’s state legislative agenda.

The two bills are SB 5134, Enhancing public trust and confidence in law enforcement and strengthening law enforcement accountability for general authority Washington peace officers, excluding department of fish and wildlife officers, and SB 5055, Concerning law enforcement personnel collective bargaining.

Thanks to Senators Nguyen and Salomon for introducing these bills. My testimony is below.

I thank the sponsors of both SB 5055 and 5134.

In Seattle we have an appeals backlog – 80 and growing – with misconduct findings of the chief challenged, some unresolved cases of misconduct from five years ago.  In 2019, we only resolved two.

I believe thorough discussion of both bills can lead to enhanced public confidence in police. Seattle’s State Legislative agenda supports both reform of arbitration and removing private arbitration in law enforcement discipline. In this spirit I support both bills.

On SB 5055, I support standards that benefit jurisdictions outside Seattle and, with amendment, potentially benefit Seattle, including:  

  • Appeals deference to the Sheriff or Chief decision
  • Appeals based on the same record as discipline imposed
  • Requiring a preponderance burden of proof in appeals
  • A duty to record hearings.

If outright elimination of arbitration is not the path forward, I request that elements of SB 5134 be considered and recognize, as it does, that:  “Policing is unique due to discretion to engage in state sanctioned force, taking of life, and taking of liberty” and prohibit collective bargaining agreements from requiring: 

  • Waiting periods for misconduct interviews,
  • Allowance for secondary employment
  • Time limits on complaint filing
  • Limits on use of civilian supervisors and investigators and
  • Limits on use of subpoena authority.

Less Lethal Weapons and Consent Decree

The Public Safety and Human Services committee has met several times about legislation to limit use of less lethal crowd control weapons, and will meet again next Tuesday.

The Council adopted legislation in June to prohibit most uses of crowd control weapons.  Under the Consent Decree, any SPD policy regarding use of the force must be sent to the Monitor and the DOJ and approved by the Court; this applies to Council legislation regarding use of force as well.

In the June legislation, I proposed and the Council adopted, an amendment acknowledging that the Council would have to submit the bill, under the requirements of the Consent Decree to the Monitor, DOJ and the Court for their review. US District Court Judge Robart issued a temporary restraining order, sought by the US Department of Justice (DOJ), which has prohibited the ordinance from going into effect.

Judge Robart must ultimately approve the legislation, so before he considers the bill, I believe that it’s worth considering his perspective.  In addition to his wanting to hear from the accountability bodies, Judge Robart was critical of the ordinance adopted by the Council in June, saying “it does not increase public safety.” So, it appears unlikely he would approve the legislation earlier adopted by the Council.

We must also consider the perspective of the accountability bodies, the Office of Police Accountability, the Office of the Inspector General, and the Community Police Commission, and the recommendations that they have made in their reports issued after the Council passage of the June ordinance.  In recognition of their role in policymaking under the Seattle Municipal Code and under the Consent Decree, I proposed an additional amendment to the June legislation that the Council approved, seeking their input to the legislation.  Judge Robart also, as mentioned above, has been clear that he expects the Council to consider their input, and he wants to receive it himself.  This is why the three committee discussions on this bill since December have been focused on review and consideration of their recommendations.

Under the Consent Decree the Court-appointed Monitor can approve the proposal, or determine that it conflicts with the terms of the Consent Decree Settlement Agreement. If the City or DOJ object to the Monitor’s determination, they can meet and confer with the Monitor, and if they choose, petition the Court. Ultimately, Court approval is needed.

Consequently, the Public Safety and Human Services committee will submit draft legislation for review by the Monitor and DOJ, in line with the Consent Decree process and Judge Robart’s decision. The Full Council will not consider legislation until after this review has taken place.

The committee will consider draft legislation on January 26th in the fourth of a series of meetings.

On September 11, at the Public Safety and Human Services committee meeting, the Community Police Commission, the Inspector General, and the Office of Policy Accountability each presented their recommendations.

On December 17th, there was a roundtable discussion with the accountability bodies and SPD.

On January 12th, the committee considered a draft bill that amended the bill adopted by the Council   based on the consensus recommendations of the three accountability bodies, and considered a decision agenda for items where the accountability bodies recommendations varied.

My goal is for this next Public Safety and Human Services Committee to adopt limitations on less lethal weapons, especially in a crowd control context, that will pass the muster of the Court.

There is no city law currently in effect prohibiting the use of less lethal or crowd control weapons.  If the court does not authorize the  Full Council to vote on the Council Bill that the Public Safety and Human Services committee recommends, then we will be in the same position we are now, without any City law in effect. Current limitations on use are a result of the Black Lives Matter/ACLU lawsuit.

2021 Office Hours

On Friday January 29, I will be hosting virtual office hours between 2pm and 6pm, with the last meeting of the day beginning at 5:30pm.

Due to the nature of virtual office hours, you will need to contact my scheduler Alex Clardy (alex.clardy@seattle.gov) in order to receive the call-in information and schedule a time.

Additionally, here is a list of my tentatively scheduled office hours which will continue as virtual office hours until indicated otherwise. These are subject to change.

  • Friday, February 26, 2021
  • Friday, March 26, 2021
  • Friday, April 30, 2021
  • Friday, May 28, 2021
  • Friday, June 25, 2021
  • Friday, July 30, 2021
  • Friday, August 20, 2021
  • Friday, September 24, 2021
  • Friday, October 29, 2021
  • Friday, December 17, 2021
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City of Seattle Authorized to Provide Coronavirus Vaccinations; West Seattle Bridge Update; ST3; OEM Director Appointment Process; Cash Assistance for Hospitality Workers; COVID-19 Business Impact Survey

January 15th, 2021

City of Seattle Authorized to Provide Coronavirus Vaccinations

This week I joined Mayor Durkan and Seattle Fire Department Chief Scoggins to announce that the City of Seattle will soon begin vaccinating nearly 1,000 residents and staff at adult family homes via two new mobile vaccination teams.  On January 9, 2021, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) approved the City to serve as a vaccine distributor, meaning the City is eligible to receive weekly shipments of vaccine from DOH and can administer vaccine to Seattle residents and workers. Seattle Fire Department has already acted creatively and heroically to provide more than 560,000 free COVID tests for Seattle residents, and now will speed efforts to vaccinate vulnerable Seattle residents.

Based on vaccine supply, the City of Seattle can broaden its mobile vaccination efforts during the interim period between the first and second vaccination doses. The City’s expanded effort will likely focus on partnerships with community-based organizations and providers who serve older adults who may be unable to receive a vaccine through traditional health care systems. As vaccines become more widely available to the City of Seattle or other providers in Seattle, the City is prepared to partner and launch mass vaccination hubs, similar to the existing mass testing sites.

Vaccine Phases: The Washington State Department of Health, based in part on national best practices,  determines who is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, and when they are eligible. Currently, Washington is in phases A1 and A2.  The below timeline is estimated.  Locally, Public Health – Seattle & King County wants to ensure people with the very highest risk of serious illness and death from COVID-19 have the opportunity to get vaccinated first before we start to vaccinate those who fall into phase 1B. King County has the largest population of healthcare workers and people in long-term care facilities in the state, so it may take longer to vaccinate phase 1A here than in other counties with smaller populations.

Additional vaccine information:

It is crucial that we step up efforts to rapidly vaccinate vulnerable Seattle residents. The City of Seattle has shown true leadership in the fight against coronavirus from the start, in the absence of federal coordination.  This new effort to speed vaccination will save lives and help us not replicate the unacceptable disparities we have seen in infection rates in BIPOC communities.

West Seattle Bridge Update

Funding update

The City of Seattle is pursuing $15 million in funding from the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) for the West Seattle Bridge project. This week the PSRC Transportation Policy Board advanced the request to the Executive Board. A big thank you to PSRC Transportation Policy Board members Council President Lorena González and Councilmember Debora Juarez for their work on this board to move the proposal forward!

The PSRC Executive Board will consider this for final action on January 28.

On Wednesday, the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force met and heard a number of updates from SDOT.

West Seattle Bridge repair update

Many of you wrote last week asking for a status report on the bridge repair.  Stabilization work on the West Seattle Bridge was completed in December, and the work platforms were removed. SDOT continues to monitor the health of the bridge:

SDOT plans to reach 30% design on the West Seattle Bridge next month. This will set the stage for issuing a Request for Qualifications to select a contractor for repair work for both the high and low bridge. I asked SDOT about this, and they indicated the work involved is similar, and specialized. Consequently, it’s possible this could result in time or money savings.   The goal is to select the contractor by May.

Here’s the schedule shown at the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force meeting on Wednesday:

Here’s additional information, including a note that a number of approvals are needed from external parties, and that the contractor will be involved in the design, which can assist with schedule. Estimated costs and schedule will be updated at 30% design, in February. 30% design is what SDOT uses as a “baseline” for costs and schedule.

Lower Bridge Update

Rehabilitation work is also planned for the lower bridge, including control system upgrades and maintenance of the hydraulic drive system, and structural rehabilitation.

Lower Bridge Access Committee Update

SDOT has been working with a variety of representatives from the West Seattle business community, maritime users, labor, and healthcare providers on access to the lower bridge. They have met 11 times, to work on an access policy as camera enforcement began on January 11, and permitted users transitioned from placards to license plates.

SDOT will be monitoring usage with camera enforcement. Camera enforcement of restrictions may allow for loosening of restrictions on use in the future; SDOT will consider adjusting permitted uses monthly. Here are current permitted users:

Although Employer shuttles are authorized; SDOT indicates there aren’t any employer shuttle choosing to operate currently.  Below are the criteria for business, maritime, labor and government. SDOT notes that if you believe you meet the criteria, please contact SDOT at westseattlebridge@seattle.gov.

Here are some of the conditions affecting capacity during 2021, including Terminal 5:

Based on usage, SDOT has determined the low bridge can accommodate 450 additional daily trips, beyond current permitted users:

The subcommittee is examining healthcare use, and potential criteria. Healthcare workers have long expressed interest in accessing the lower bridge during the COVID pandemic, and I have requested SDOT consider this. SDOT is working with subcommittee members to develop criteria for potential use; factors under consideration include:

  1. Is capacity available?
  2. What types of health care workers need access. How many trips, and when?

Use of the bridge by time of day has changed, as demonstrated in the August and December traffic volumes shown below:

Here’s SDOT’s evaluation of capacity, and usage by time of day. It in informed by, for example, the frequency of bridge openings, which take place less frequently earlier in the morning, so there are fewer times when traffic needs to “reset” after a bridge opening:

King County Metro has a promotion for its vanpool program; vanpools with 2 or more users can use the lower bridge.

Traffic data, 2021 projects

SDOT has made traffic data available online re: West Seattle Bridge closure impacts on, for example the Spokane Street (lower) bridge, the South Park Bridge, 1st Avenue South Bridge and other metrics. The vertical lines note when SPD enforcement began; status of COVID restrictions;  holidays, and when the low bridge was opened to general traffic overnight:

During 2021, SDOT plans to implement 33 Reconnect West Seattle projects, including Home Zone projects in Highland Park and South Park. Here’s a map showing the projects. SDOT is continuing to collect community input for project ideas for construction in 2022.

SDOT is planning outreach on West Marginal Way over the next month, including a Virtual Open House in mid-February. At Wednesday’s Community Task Force meeting, I asked SDOT if they had decided whether to propose the elimination of a traffic lane for a protected bike lane. SDOT indicated they were engaged in the outreach process described below, and didn’t indicate they had reached a conclusion about what decision they will make under the SDOT director’s authority over use of city streets.


ST3 Light Rail to West Seattle Cost Estimate Increases

Sound Transit committees have received two recent briefings about cost increases for the West Seattle/Ballard light rail project.

January 7 Executive Committee

Last week the Sound Transit Board Executive Committee received estimated cost increases for the West Seattle/Ballard light rail project. Other projects included in the 2016 ballot measure have increases as well.  The Sound Transit Board is engaging in a realignment process, scheduled to run through a decision point on program realignment in July, 2021. The page notes,

“Sound Transit is facing an unprecedented and extremely challenging financial environment caused by two major, simultaneous factors: (1) a pandemic-driven recession that has severely reduced consumer spending and government agency tax revenues; and (2) unrelenting pressures in the real estate and construction sectors of the economy that are continuing to drive costs to levels significantly beyond those foreseen in our plans.”

The agency has commissioned an independent review of its cost assumptions and underlying methodologies.  The estimated cost increase for the West Seattle/Ballard light rail project is as follows:

Other projects under development from the 2016 ballot measure also have projected costs increases:

Here’s Sound Transit’s estimates for cost increases for light rail projects by categories, across projects:

Here’s the realignment schedule listed in the Realignment webpage:

Realignment Process

The Board has set the process for capital program realignment, culminating in summer 2021 after gaining input from the public and partner organizations. This will provide time for the financial impacts of the recession to become clearer while we pursue additional funding opportunities. The Board has laid out a month-by-month process: 

January: review project evaluation

  • Board workshop provides common grounding for the 2021 realignment requirements, processes, and decisions. Review project evaluation results, clarify tools available to the Board, clarify project and program elements subject to realignment. Update federal revenue prospects. Provide direction to staff on realignment approaches to develop.

February: discuss realignment approaches

  • Board reviews financial update, previews work on approaches emerging from the Board workshop.

March: define realignment approaches for public feedback

  • Board reviews financial update; discusses public engagement plans.

April: engage with the public and key stakeholders

  • Board asks what is important for them to consider before they make final realignment decisions.

May: discuss realignment options

  • Board hears public engagement results and identifies priorities for a draft realignment plan.

June: develop draft realignment plan

  • Board leadership outlines what they have heard as priorities and requirements for realigned plans. They present and discuss proposals for a realigned plan; identify potential refinements; and direct staff to prepare final plan/action for Board consideration in July.

July: take realignment action

A Sound Transit blog post notes, regarding options to address the funding gap:

The first emphasis in working to close that gap is securing additional financial capacity by seeking increased federal and state funding and employing every creative means that can be identified. 

The Board’s options for addressing whatever gap remains include delaying the delivery of projects to provide longer periods for revenue collection; delivering projects in phases; and reducing project scopes.

The Board also retains the most extreme option, which it has not yet discussed, of suspending or deleting projects if deemed necessary to best realize the region’s critical transit needs within the parameters provided by voter-approved plans.

Additional information is available at the  Sound Transit realignment web page, which  includes presentations from last year, beginning in June. Here’s a link to the presentation heard at the Executive Committee, and  a staff memo.

January 14 System Expansion Committee

This week the System Expansion Committee received an update on cost estimates for construction projects currently in development. The presentation includes additional  information on the West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions section,  beginning on slide 26.

Here are cost estimate increases for segments of the project:

The presentation includes information about right of way acquisition, property costs, and construction.

Other items germane to the West Seattle segment include:

  • Larger, deeper foundations due to ground conditions in Duwamish and Interbay.
  • Straddle bents/long spans along Spokane St and in Duwamish and Delridge.
  • Drainage detention vaults throughout the corridor.
  • Ecosystems mitigation due to potential impacts in the Duwamish River and Salmon Bay.
  • Archaeological and historic mitigation in Duwamish, CID, Downtown and Ballard.

Tunnel alternatives that go to the Junction are estimated to be closer to the cost of an elevated option than previously:

The presentation provides the following timetable for the independent review of Sound Transit’s cost methodologies:

Here are Sound Transit’s next steps:


OEM Director Appointment Process

Early last year the director of the Office for Emergency Management (OEM) retired. Since then interim director Laurel Nelson has led the department and has done a great job helping the City navigate through the pandemic. On December 4 the Mayor announced a permanent director, Curry Mayer.

On Tuesday, my committee – which has oversight authority for OEM – heard from Senior Deputy Mayor Fong and Director Mayer. Just as with other City departments, the head of the OEM will need to be confirmed by the Seattle City Council. Senior Deputy Mayor Fong introduced Director Curry to the committee and she shared with us some of her background and interest in the position.

I am working with my colleagues on questions for Director Curry for when she returns to my committee meeting on January 26, where we will review and discuss her responses and consider a vote to  appoint her.  If you have questions to submit, please send them to: Alex.clardy@seattle.gov

Cash Assistance for Hospitality Workers

Applications are now open for one-time cash assistance from the City’s new Hospitality Worker Emergency Relief Fund.  The Fund will serve low-income, hospitality workers who live and work in Seattle and have lost their jobs or experienced a pay reduction due to employment changes and business closures during the COVID-19 pandemic. To meet income qualifications, households must make 60% or less of area median income (AMI).

Council authorized the Fund in December as part of a $5 million relief package  for small businesses impacted by the pandemic and economic recession and the workers and their families whose livelihoods depend upon them.

Applications are due Monday February 1st, 2021 at 11:59 PM.  Learn more and apply here

Covid-19 Business Impact Survey

Business owners and nonprofit leaders: please take the Covid-19 Business Impact Survey and help regional partners plan for economic recovery.  King County, the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, Greater Seattle Partners, and the City of Seattle are coordinating a regional effort to assess the economic impacts related to COVID-19. This is the third round of a regional survey, which will help partners understand trends in impacts faced by businesses. Information collected in this survey will help develop economic recovery strategies and quantify emergency relief programs for small businesses, non-profits and independent workers throughout the region.

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West Seattle Bridge Update; Find Emergency Food Resources; New COVID Testing Location in West Seattle; Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery; Subpoena Legislation Adopted by City Council; Statement on Coup Attempt and National Capitol’s Violent Occupation; 2021 Office Hours

January 8th, 2021

West Seattle Bridge Update

SDOT announced that camera enforcement will begin on the lower (Spokane Street) bridge beginning on Monday, January 11.  Here’s a reminder of permitted uses; all personal vehicles can use the bridge from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.:

SDOT will be collecting data on bridge usage and traffic patterns after camera enforcement begins, and can update uses on a monthly basis if traffic allows. SDOT has convened a lower bridge stakeholder advisory committee to advise SDOT about allowed uses.  Healthcare workers have long expressed interest in accessing the lower bridge during the COVID pandemic, and I have requested SDOT consider this.   Access for health care workers was the focus of the Low Bridge Access Subcommittee meeting early this week.  Factors under consideration include:

  1. Is capacity available?
  2. What types of health care workers need access. How many trips, and when?

SDOT will continue its work with healthcare representatives and the committee on potential criteria for allowing usage, as they start to monitor volumes during automated enforcement to determine whether traffic data confirms that there is room for additional users.  SDOT expects to know more by the end of the month.

Here’s an update SDOT from December regarding the completion of stabilization work on the West Seattle Bridge.

The most recent traffic data shows high volumes on West Marginal and Highland Park Way, in line with previous trends:

Here is the most recent travel time data:


Find Emergency Food Resources

The City of Seattle keeps an updated, online map of emergency food resources here.  A number of District 1 locations are included.  You can also type in your address and find food resources located near you here.  Please share this important resource far and wide.


New COVID Testing Location in West Seattle

The UW Mobile Medical Van is now providing COVID tests at the Holy Family Church in White Center/West Seattle on Tuesdays and Fridays from 9 am to 3 pm at 9641 20th Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98106.

UW Mobile Medical Van at Holy Family Church, 9641 20th Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98106
Phone: (206) 520-2285
Available: Tuesdays and Fridays, 9am to 3pm
Languages: Phone interpretation available

The City of Seattle has added several new, free testing sites, including new self-testing kiosks; in addition to a number of existing test sites.  Local sites to District 1 are listed below.  If you feel sick or believe you were in proximity to someone with coronavirus, please get tested.  Make an appointment and find additional sites here.

West Seattle Walk-up, 2801 SW Thistle St., Seattle, WA 98126
Make reservations online
Available: Mon-Sat, 8:45am-5:30pm
Languages: Interpretation available including ASL and tactile interpretation

Sea Mar Community Health Centers at White Center, 9650 15th Ave SW #100, Seattle, WA 98106
Phone: (206) 965-1000
Languages: Spanish, Interpretation available

Neighborcare Health at High Point, 6020 35th Ave SE, Seattle, WA 98126
Available: Monday-Friday, 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Call for appointment: (206) 461-6950
Languages: Amharic, Amharic, Arabic, Cambodian, Oromo, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Ukrainian available onsite; interpretation available

Sea Mar Community Health Centers at South Park, 8720 14th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98108
Phone: (206) 762-3730
Languages: Spanish, Interpretation available

Consider using WA Notify, an app that notifies you if you come in contact with someone with coronavirus, using randomized codes to protect privacy.  More than 1.6 million Washingtonians are using it.  Learn more at WAnotify.org.


Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery

On January 5th, 2021, Governor Jay Inslee announced a new regional approach to re-opening the state called Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery.  The regions are mostly based on Emergency Medical Services (EMS) regions used for evaluating healthcare services, using metrics such as hospitalizations, case data and disease mobility.  Seattle and King County are in the Puget Sound Region, along with Pierce and Snohomish counties.  Beginning on January 11, every region – including Seattle’s – will begin in Phase 1.

Basic information about allowable activities in Phases 1 and 2 is contained in the graphic below.  More detailed information can be found here.  Again, beginning on January 11th, Seattle will be in Phase 1.

Moving Between Phases: A region’s phase will be determined by the Department of Health (DOH) in response to four metric requirements. The final metrics for regions will be calculated on Friday, January 8 and will be effective January 11.

To move forward from Phase 1 to Phase 2, regions must meet all four metrics:

  • Decreasing trend in two-week rate of COVID-19 cases per 100K population (decrease >10%)
  • Decreasing trend in two-week rate new COVID-19 hospital admission rates per 100K population (decrease >10%)
  • ICU occupancy (total — COVID-19 and non-COVID-19) of less than 90%
  • COVID-19 test positivity rate of <10%

To remain in Phase 2, regions must meet at least 3 metrics:

  • Decreasing or flat trend in two-week rate of COVID-19 cases per 100K population
  • Decreasing or flat trend in two-week rate new COVID-19 hospital admission rates per 100K population
  • ICU occupancy (total — COVID-19 and non-COVID-19) of less than 90%
  • COVID-19 test positivity rate of <10%.

Regions that fail to meet two or more of the above metrics will be moved back to Phase 1.

The metrics for each region will be updated on the Risk Assessment Dashboard every Friday. Dependent on a region’s metrics, DOH will move into a new phase — forward or backward — the following Monday.  DOH and local health departments reserve the right to move a region outside of this timing, and additional phases may be added as the state’s COVID-19 situation changes with continued vaccine distribution and other changes in public health response.

Of course, information changes rapidly.  The best resource for up-to-date information in Seattle is Public Health – King County & Seattle’s website on Covid-19 and reopening.

Subpoena Legislation Adopted by City Council

The City Council adopted legislation this week that I sponsored to strengthen the Office of Police Accountability (OPA) and Office of the Inspector General’s (OIG) power to subpoena those who have been involved in or witnessed incidents of potential officer misconduct.

For our civilian-led police accountability system to work, investigators must have access to key information in pursuing misconduct complaints.

This ordinance codifies and affirms the City’s stance that the OPA and OIG can seek subpoenas of those who may have witnessed or been involved in potential misconduct incidents. In addition, it creates a process for OPA and OIG to directly issue the subpoena and enforce them by seeking a Court order should the subject of the subpoena fail to comply. The ordinance also requires that individuals and third party-record holders served with a subpoena are provided a written notice of their right to due process. This protection was not codified previously, and this addition is intended to increase civilian participation in OPA investigations and OIG audits and reviews.

The City will negotiate aspects of this legislation in the next police union contract to keep us on the path toward realizing true accountability and transparency.

Statement on Coup Attempt and National Capitol’s Violent Occupation

On Wednesday, when our democracy was assaulted in Washington, D.C., as  supporters of Donald Trump staged an insurrection in the Capitol,  I released the following statement:

Councilmember Lisa Herbold (District 1 – West Seattle), Chair of the Public Safety and Human Rights committee, issued the following statement in reaction to the pro-Trump mob storming the nation’s capitol:

“This is an attempted coup.  This cannot stand in the United States of America we love.  Occupying the Capitol or threatening the lives of policy makers or people who do not support Donald Trump will not change the outcome of the presidential election.  Neither Donald Trump’s veiled threats nor his supporters’ force will be tolerated – especially when Democracy and the future of our great nation hangs in the balance. 

“This is not patriotism, this is tyranny.  Neither violence nor the threat to personal safety will be accepted as the norm. The work of those involved in a hostile takeover doesn’t represent the majority of American people.  And this terrorist coup attempt will not stand. 

“I appeal to Seattleites to stay calm and vigilant.  I anxiously wait for news of the safety of all of those involved.  I hope that all who serve our nation in Washington D.C. are safe and secure.

“I call on decision-makers at the highest levels of our country’s leadership to bring the certification of state presidential electoral votes to a swift and safe resolution.  Those who can must bring the illegal and terrifying occupation of our nation’s Capitol by these angry mobs to an immediate end and I hope that all are safe and protected in doing so.

“A peaceful transition is a core element of our democracy, and what’s best for our country, even if Donald Trump does not support it. The situation before us is horrible and dangerous, volatile and completely unnecessary.  Trump must stop lying about the outcome of this election; there was no fraud.  To tell people to go home while doubling down on these lies is a disingenuous effort to bring this breach to a close. 

“Multiple people have been harmed inside the Capitol building today.  Blood spilled today is blood on Donald Trump’s hands. This violent occupation of our Capitol – and attack on our American Democracy and values – must be ended immediately.” 

I echo President-elect Joe Biden’s comments made yesterday.  “You can’t tell me that if it had been a group of Black Lives Matter protesters yesterday they wouldn’t have been treated very differently than the mob of thugs that stormed the Capitol. We all know that is true. And it is totally unacceptable. Totally unacceptable. The American people saw it in plain view.”

2021 Office Hours

On Friday January 29, I will be hosting virtual office hours between 2pm and 6pm, with the last meeting of the day beginning at 5:30pm.

Due to the nature of virtual office hours, you will need to contact my scheduler Alex Clardy (alex.clardy@seattle.gov) in order to receive the call-in information and schedule a time.

Additionally, here is a list of my tentatively scheduled office hours which will continue as virtual office hours until indicated otherwise. These are subject to change.

  • Friday, January 29, 2021
  • Friday, February 26, 2021
  • Friday, March 26, 2021
  • Friday, April 30, 2021
  • Friday, May 28, 2021
  • Friday, June 25, 2021
  • Friday, July 30, 2021
  • Friday, August 20, 2021
  • Friday, September 24, 2021
  • Friday, October 29, 2021
  • Friday, December 17, 2021
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West Seattle Bridge Update December 18;

January 4th, 2021

West Seattle Bridge Update December 18

In January SDOT will begin automated photo enforcement on the (Spokane Street) lower bridge. With the start of camera enforcement, SDOT will conduct an ongoing evaluation of capacity on the bridge, and consider adjusting access on a monthly basis. SDOT has convened a lower bridge subcommittee to advise SDOT regarding bridge uses, and SDOT reports that they are “working with the health care community to define authorized essential workers and total trips that could be allowed (emphasis added).”

Personal vehicles are allowed to use the bridge between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. daily.

Here’s a summary of allowed bridge use:

I asked SDOT recently about use of the bridge between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m., something constituents have contacted me about. They indicated the bridge is at capacity for the corridor from 5-6 a.m. Here’s the traffic volumes from December 10: 

SDOT notes the trend is consistent over time; below are traffic volumes from September 28 through October 1.  

Here’s information about King County Metro’s vanpool program for West Seattle commuters to access the lower bridge, and eligibility for a promotion to start a new Vanpool or Vanshare and receive up to the first two months free. You can send any questions to vanpool@kingcounty.gov. 

SDOT is planning to finish West Seattle Bridge stabilization work this monthOn Pier 18, they  finished pouring the concrete that will keep the lateral bearings in place, and are completing the final round of carbon fiber wrapping.  

Here is the most recent traffic volume data: 

Here are the most recent vehicle travel times:


Council Adopts 2021 Budget 

In late November, the City Council adopted 2021 City budget that focuses on the key areas of economic recovery, health and safety, and housing.  

The budget process began in late September, when the Mayor proposed a budget. The Council dedicated two months to analyzing and making changes to the proposal.  

The City’s total budget is $6.5 billion, of which $2.76 billion can only be allocated to City Light and Seattle Public Utilities because that revenue comes entirely from ratepayers. The City’s General Fund totals $1.4 billion.  

The adopted budget includes approval to issue $97.2 million in bonds to the overall West Seattle Bridge project, which includes Reconnect West Seattle projects to mitigate traffic impacts, as well as work to maintain the Spokane Street (lower) bridge. This adds $27.2 million to the $70 million interfund loan that I co-sponsored and that was earlier approved by the Council. 

Below are items I sponsored, or co-sponsored as noted. 

District 1 Transportation 

West Seattle Bridge/Reconnect West Seattle: Require reporting for the West Seattle Bridge/Reconnect West Seattle program, SDOT’s mitigation program to fund project that ameliorate impacts of West Seattle detours routes on communities like Highland Park and South Park. 

West Marginal Way Longhouse crossing project; this specifies that $2.8 million will be included in the 2021 budget for this project with full funding. 

Georgetown to South Park Trail I co-sponsored this proposal with lead sponsor Councilmember Morales, which provides $5.2 million toward the trail. 

Community Safety 

Provide funding to a. reverse cut of Fire exams and b. reverse cut of 20 firefighters from SFD recruit class:  Maintains current hiring and testing capacity.  The SFD has recently seen an increase in firefighter separations, and If the same attrition pattern on average over the last five years (38 separations) continues in 2021, SFD could have 75 vacancies with an additional 412 eligible for retirement. 

Add funding to expand Health One: added $254,000 to the Fire Department and $222,975 for personnel to the Human Services Department to expand Health One operationsHealth One is an innovative model that reduces reliance on SPD and SFD resources by better connecting people who call 911 with appropriate and necessary services– whether they need medical care, mental health care, shelter, or other social services.  

Add funding to the Fire Department to fund Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs), Lucas Devices, and Ballistic Sets: AEDs provide an electrical shock in cases of life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias which lead to sudden cardiac arrest. Lucas Devices provide chest compressions (CPR) when it is unsafe for Emergency Medical System crews to do so. Ballistic Sets protect firefighters and paramedics at scenes of violence and allow them to quickly enter these scenes to rescue highly vulnerable patients. 

The role of parking enforcement officers:  Expand the function of the proposed Seattle Emergency Communications Center to include Parking Enforcement Officers (PEOs) and rename the office the Seattle Community Safety and Communications Center (CSCC). Consider expanding the current role of the PEOs to assume functions currently provided by SPD sworn officers, which could include red light camera enforcement, school zone enforcement, response to non-injury collisions, response to and reporting on minor thefts and car break-ins, and traffic control. 

South Park Public Safety Coordinator: This will continue the work of the South Park Public Safety Coordinator. This position was the top priority recommendation in the 2017 South Park Public Safety Taskforce Report funded by the City Council. Current priorities include facilitating community safety dialogue around South Park’s experience around policing and alternatives to police in South Park; street and safety concerns due to West Seattle Bridge closure, business district concerns, and youth engagement. Recent work includes coordinating Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) work in youth art murals and a Clean Streets Initiative, community support during COVID, neighborhood walks, and facilitating and distributing a neighborhood newsletter in English, Spanish and Vietnamese.  Here is a great article about his work. 

Community-Led Public Safety Investments: Appropriate funds for scaling up community-led organizations, to move the City’s community safety strategy toward a public health-centered, harm reduction model of restorative justice, crime prevention, and ameliorating the harm caused by the criminal legal system to individuals and communities most impacted. These strategies will aim to prevent, reduce and mitigate both violent and non-violent crime. 

Restore Funds for Alternatives to Criminal Legal System: Restore funds proposed for reduction to organizations pursuing alternatives to or addressing harms caused by the criminal legal system that were awarded grant funding through the 2020 Collaborative Grantmaking process. 

SPD Budget: These actions reintroduced reductions to the SPD budget adopted in the 2020 summer budget rebalancing, including proposals for out of order layoff reductions in sworn officers and reduction of overtime and travel. Also included was abrogation of vacant positions, and positions not possible to be filled under SPD’s staffing plan, to align funding for positions with staffing, and free up funds not anticipated to be spent. Those dollars will be invested into community-led public safety investments. 

SPD Overtime and staffing tracking: These actions request SPD to report to the Council monthly on use of overtime, and staffing levels. 

Report on traffic stops: This requests SPD report on the demographics of traffic stops for criminal and non-criminal purposes, and racial disparities, as requested in Ordinance 125358 on bias-free policing; and a report with recommendations on training and policy changes consistent with the Department of Justice Consent Decree to address bias and disparities in the report 

Participatory Budgeting:  Council approved significant funding for community safety grants allocated through a participatory budgeting process in the 2021 budget.  Seattle is behind other major cities when it comes to allocating larger dollar amounts and supporting participatory budgeting, although we have experience with participatory budgeting through Your Voice, Your Choice.  Paris allocates about $60 million annually through participatory budgeting Learn more about cities all over the US and Canada doing participatory budgeting at the Participatory Budgeting Project: https://www.participatorybudgeting.org/case-studies/ 

These community safety grants will be informed by the community-based participatory research currently underway by Black Brilliance Project, through a contract with the Legislative Department.  Black Brilliance Project researchers gave Council an update on their research this Monday; you can watch the presentation here.  These researchers aren’t just collecting data; they include young people, elders, and people with lived experience of community safety and our criminal legal system, as well as upstream systems.  The researchers are also diving into the nuance in stories and asking deeper questions about systemic violence and how it effects us collectively as well as individually.  While the research is still underway, here are some early, high-level recommendations: 

Housing and Human Services 

Provide Funding for Landlord Liaison Programfully fund a landlord liaison program that has connected 1,170 individuals to housing by establishing partnerships of landlords that own more than 470 properties. 

Add Funds to Maintain Family Rapid Rehousing Caseloads: Due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, homelessness services agencies report that households enrolled in rapid re-housing programs have required substantially longer to exit the program.   This increases funding to ensure families do not fall back into homelessness, with half of the funds reserved for agencies with culturally-relevant expertise or serving populations disproportionately affected by homelessness. 

Age Friendly Seattle: Restore proposed cuts to Age Friendly Seattle. 

Reduce Overdoses and Overdose Deaths: Add funding to contract with Public Health for services recommended by the 2016 Heroin and Prescription Opiate Addiction Task Force for active drug users in existing low barrier programs with the goal to reduce overdoes and fatal overdoses as well as increase the health of people who use substances. 

Increase Services for Drug Users: Increase services and harm reduction programs at social service agencies that serve people who use drugs daily, allowing them to expand hours, increase staff, expand to additional locations, provide peer and community outreach, implement good neighbor agreements for syringe pickup, provide participant incentives, explore Medicaid reimbursement for services, and make safety improvements. 

Increase Outreach to People Experiencing HomelessnessExpand homelessness outreach and engagement services within District 1 and citywide, and provide flexible financial assistance for serving people experiencing unsheltered homelessness. 

Social Service Provider Academy; this is a career development program that offers higher education opportunities to housing and homelessness social services entry level staff who are interested in advancing professionally in their field. 

One element of the balancing package, proposed by Budget Chair Mosqueda, increased the amount in the Emergency Fund by $32 million, to $38 million. Given the course of COVID-19 and economic uncertainty heading in to 2021, this is a good precaution. 

With the COVID pandemic ongoing, impacts to businesses and workers continue. Earlier this week the Council adopted $5 million in relief fund for small business grants focusing on hard-hit restaurants and bars, and workers in the hospitality industry.  

 

Free Testing for COVID-19 in District 1 

District 1 long term care facilities are again struggling with coronavirus, with both Providence Mount St. Vincent and Park West reporting significant outbreaks and deaths among residents and staff in the past several weeks.  There have been over 500 deaths at long-term care facilities in King County, representing 60% of all Covid-related deaths since the pandemic began.  My heart goes out everyone who is concerned about their vulnerable loved ones right now. 

Early testing is important to help prevent COVID-19 from spreading to friends, family, and the community. If you have a sign/symptom of COVID-19 or were exposed to someone with COVID-19, please get tested. 

  • Get tested for COVID-19 if you have any of the above symptoms, or: fatigue, headache, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, or nausea. 
  • If you have difficulty registering, call the King County COVID-19 Call Center at 206-477-3977 (open 7 days a week, 8 a.m.-7p.m.) If you need an interpreter, please tell us in English what language you need. 

City testing sites can handle more than 7,000 tests daily.  1 in 4 Seattle residents have reportedly used these sites so far.  The City has administered 450,000 tests across the Aurora, SoDo, Rainier Beach, and West Seattle Citywide testing locations since June.   

West Seattle Walk-up, 2801 SW Thistle St., Seattle, WA 98126
Make reservations online
Available, Mon-Sat, 8:45am-5:30pm
Languages: Interpretation available including ASL and tactile interpretation
NOTICE: Will be closed on Dec. 24, Dec. 25, Dec. 31 and Jan. 1. 

Additional testing sites in District 1 – call for appointments and more information: 

Neighborcare Health at High Point
6020 35th Ave SE, Seattle, WA 98126
Available: Monday-Friday, 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Languages: Amharic, Amharic, Arabic, Cambodian, Oromo, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Ukrainian available onsite; interpretation available 

Call for appointment: (206) 461-6950  

Sea Mar Community Health Centers at South Park
8720 14th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98108
Languages: Spanish, Interpretation available 

Call for appointment: (206) 762-3730 

As a reminder, the best ways to keep our community safe and healthy are: 


Free Flu Vaccination and Help with Health Insurance 

For more Health Insurance Open Enrollment events: http://kingcounty.gov/outreach  

To find a vaccination clinic: http://kingcounty.gov/findaclinic 

Eviction Moratorium Extension  

On Wednesday, December 16 the Mayor signed a new Executive Order extending COVID-19 relief measures including an extension of the eviction moratorium through March 31, 2021.  

Further, on Monday the Council unanimously passed an extension of temporarily suspended late fees on utility accounts; and the Utility Discount Program’s Self-Certification Pilot Program is extended until June 30, 2021, which can lower Seattle City Light bills by 60 percent and Seattle Public Utility bills by 50 percent. 

Save the Stone Cottage 

As you may have seen in their recent press release, Save the Stone Cottage is working to fundraise to save the building and move it before it’s demolished. The home needs to be lifted off the foundation and transported to a temporary location as a developer is moving forward with new construction at the property.  

I’m so thankful for the efforts of so many neighbors that have come together to save Eva’s Stone Cottage, and none of it would be possible without the historic preservation efforts of all of those involved including: John Bennett, Kathy Blackwell, Deb Barker, Jeff McCord, Mike Shaughnessy, Ken Workman, BJ Bullert, Shari Sewell, and Lisa McNelis. 

Ive been encouraged by conversations early this year with the Parks Department and help from the Department of Construction and Inspections.  Unfortunately attentions were turned to more pressing needs at the beginning of the public health emergency.  I am hopeful we can return to those conversations in the New Year. 

Shop Your Block 

It’s a great time to support our beloved, local small businesses in West Seattle and South Park – from the safety of your home.  If you still have holiday or year-end shopping to do, check out these online marketplaces. 

West Seattle Junction 

Only In South Park 

Find online marketplaces for additional neighborhoods and a searchable interactive map of businesses here.   


Council Recess 

The Council will be on its regular holiday recess through January 4th, so there will be no City Council or committee meetings until then.  

Happy Holidays to everyone! 

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Public Safety and Human Services Committee; State Legislative Agenda; Leadership Transition at the Human Services Department; State Covid Restrictions Extended; Virtual Office Hours

December 11th, 2020

Public Safety and Human Services Committee

During most of 2020, regularly scheduled City Council committee meetings have not taken place. Committee meetings have mostly been cancelled due to COVID 19, the need for the Budget Committee to meet over the summer in order to amend the 2020 budget due to revenue shortfalls, and the regular fall budget process.

With the budget process completed, my Public Safety and Human Services Committee meeting schedule will resume. Below is a quick summary of items that were considered in the December 8 committee meeting.

CPC/OIG/OPA Update: the Community Police Commission, the Inspector General, and the Office of Police Accountably provided an update on their work. Here’s a link to the presentation.

One highlight from the briefing was that the CPC reported to Council that a challenge they are experiencing is “lack of recommendation implementation.”  The CPC is responsible to: “Identify and advocate for reforms to state laws that will enhance public trust and confidence in policing and the criminal justice system.” (SMC 3.29.300).  For this reason, they are developing a tracker for their recommendations to improve policing practices.  A tracker provides accountability that makes it easier for elected officials to follow up when action is not taken.

Subpoena authority legislation:  this legislation will strengthen the power of the Office of Police Accountability (OPA) and Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) to subpoena those who may have been involved in or witnessed incidents of potential officer misconduct. Subpoena power was one of the issues raised by the federal court and by an assessment of the City’s accountability system. The legislation was developed in collaboration with the Mayor’s Office, Office of Police Accountability, Inspector General, and City Attorney’s Office. A committee vote in planned for December 17th; a Full Council vote will be in early January.

Proposal for Misdemeanor Basic Need Defense: this proposal was briefly discussed during budget, and after requests from other Councilmembers and the Council President we decided to take this up after the budget was passed. The proposal we discussed on Tuesday focused on the concept of creating a basic need defense: making meeting an individual’s immediate basic need an affirmative defense to a crime. Central Staff’s memo (see link) provides background and context about how an affirmative defense fits into the criminal legal system, identifies some policy considerations for a potential future bill, and outlines next steps.

I want to highlight that, this conversation isn’t a consideration of a dramatic new policy. As our City Attorney said (his letter is attached to the memo linked above): “I have worked to move the City Attorney’s Office away from prosecuting property crimes that appeared to be committed out of survival necessity… It’s not only a just choice by prosecutors, it’s also one reenforced by Seattle jurors who are loath to convict for crimes committed out of pure necessity.”  This proposal would simply give defendants the ability to offer this defense in court when there is a prosecution.  A judge or jury will still be tasked with determining guilt or innocence.

State Legislative Agenda

Numerous issues of importance to Seattle constituents require action by the Washington State Legislature. For this reason, each year the City adopts a state legislative agenda. On Monday the Council adopted Resolution 31982, to set the City’s 2021 state legislative agenda.

Below are some of the items I worked with City’s Office of Intergovernmental Relations and Council President González to get included.

The Community Police Commission sent a letter with their legislative priorities, and I worked to ensure they were included in the City’s legislative agenda. Below are areas included in the CPC’s recommendations, and the language adopted in the Council resolution:

  • Remove accountability from bargaining process (discipline, appeals, subpoena authority): “We support prohibiting collective bargaining between law enforcement agencies and officers on topics related to disciplinary action, appeals of discipline, subpoena authority, and any state reforms related to law enforcement.”
  • Remove arbitration as a route of appeal for police misconduct: “The City of Seattle also supports removing private arbitration as a route of appeal in law enforcement discipline cases.”
  • Repair broken decertification system: “We also support legislation to reform the decertification of peace officers, including allowing the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission (WSCJTC) to initiate decertification once the police agency issues a final sustained finding of disqualifying misconduct.”
  • Ensure community is represented in WA State Justice Training Commission (only 3 of 16 members are designated for community members), advocate for at least 50%: “We support changes to the WSCJTC’s membership to have non-law enforcement community members represent at least fifty percent of the voting membership.”
  • Institute truly independent investigations (establish investigative unit in State AG’s office, and entity to review all closed investigations): “We also support the establishment of a statewide use of force database, and an independent state agency to investigate use of deadly force incidents and independent prosecutions of deadly use of force to ensure a fair and impartial assessment can be reached.”
  • End qualified immunity: “The City of Seattle supports efforts to increase accountability and transparency in law enforcement. We support ending qualified immunity, and legislation that broadens the definition of disqualifying misconduct to ensure that police officers who engage in serious misconduct may not work in a law enforcement capacity elsewhere.”
  • Strengthen requirements for officers to intervene when they witness police misconduct: “We support the establishment of statutory duty to intervene, so that police must intercede and report misconduct by another officer.”

Groups such as Black Excellence in Cannabis and King County Equity Now have written the Council about expunging cannabis-related offenses, and lack of ownership opportunities. The legislative agenda notes:

  • “The City also supports review of marijuana licensing and the incorporation of a racial and social equity program that recognizes the historic inequities and harm resulting from the over policing of marijuana offenses in communities of color, including the resulting lack of ownership opportunities. We support expunging all cannabis related felonies and offences to address the disproportionate impact on the Black community.”

As is consistent with my membership on the regional committees for Water Quality and the Watershed Resource Inventory Area: 9 we added in support for Floodplains by design:

  • “We support investments in climate resilient infrastructure, including flood risk reduction, salmon recovery and working lands protection and enhancement through its Floodplains by Design program.”

I’ve heard from multiple constituents and businesses wondering about property tax relief due to Covid-related closures, we added:

  • “We support efforts to lower the taxable value of properties impacted by the stay at home order issued in response to the COVID-19 crisis.”

Finally, in working with the ACLU of Washington, the City supports changes to current laws about Drive While License Suspended 3 (DWLS3), we added:

  • “We support legislation to reduce the impact of economic disparity by de-linking drivers’ license suspensions from non-payment of traffic fines.”

Leadership Transition at the Human Services Department

Last week we heard the news that HSD’s interim Director Jason Johnson will depart at the end of the year, and Helen Howell will join the City in January as HSD’s new interim Director, while a search for a permanent Director is underway.  I understand Director Johnson will stay on for a few weeks in January to help ensure a smooth transition.

As Chair of the committee with oversight of HSD, I appreciate Director Johnson’s commitment to its lifesaving work for the most vulnerable Seattle residents.  Although originally planning to step down earlier this year, with the onset of COVID-19 Johnson extended his time, implementing policies to expand shelter resources and services for people experiencing homelessness, streamline emergency food access, and maintain critical services for aging and disabled residents throughout the pandemic.  Director Johnson and his team at HSD have earned my appreciation and gratitude for their extraordinary efforts this year.

Helen Howell most recently held the position of Senior Director of Policy, Research & Social Impact Initiatives at the King County Housing Authority, while also overseeing Homeless Housing Initiatives and the Housing Choice Voucher Program. Prior to that, Howell served as the Executive Director of Building Changes, a Seattle nonprofit focused on reducing youth and family homelessness across the state.  I look forward to working with her in the coming year.

In 2019, Council passed Resolution 31868, which lays out the steps that Council intends to follow in the appointment process for a new City department head.  This process begins with Council requesting that the Mayor communicate to the Committee Chair about the planned recruitment process prior to identifying a nomination, including a description of the intended process and the engagement of any advisory groups, stakeholders, and subject matter experts who will be involved.  This process helps ensure that both City Council and the public have an opportunity to hear the Mayor’s goals and vision for HSD, as well as learning about the eventual candidate.  I have already reached out to Deputy Mayor Washington, who will be leading the search for a permanent Director, to begin that process.

State Covid Restrictions Extended

District 1 long term care facilities are again struggling with coronavirus, with both Providence Mount St. Vincent and Park West reporting significant outbreaks and deaths among residents and staff this week.  In the last two weeks, Seattle has seen 2,170 new cases of COVID-19 and nearly 100 new hospitalizations of Seattle residents.  My heart goes out everyone who is concerned about their vulnerable loved ones right now.

Governor Inslee has extended temporary restrictions through January 4th, due to increasing illness, hospitalizations, and deaths from coronavirus throughout Washington state.  Currently, nearly 80% of ICU beds are currently occupied, with around 1,000 residents in those units. Even in the best-case scenario, hospitals across the state would need to add surge capacity to ensure enough ICU beds to care for COVID-19 patients in the weeks and months to come. In the worst-case scenario, state ICU capacity would need to be doubled before the end of the year.

You can read more about restrictions here.

The City has administered over 450,000 COVID tests across the Aurora, SoDo, Rainier Beach, and West Seattle Citywide testing locations since June.  Information about free public testing can be found here.

You can track the current level of COVID-19 in Seattle and King County’s on Public Health – Seattle & King County’s data dashboard. The dashboard is updated daily.

As always, the best way to beat the coronavirus and keep loved ones safe during the holidays or any time:

  • Wear a mask around people you don’t live with (even close friends and family).
  • Stay home as much as possible.
  • Follow the Governor’s limitations on indoor gatherings.
  • Quarantine and get tested at the first sign of illness or if you’ve been around someone with COVID-19.
  • The safest option is to avoid gathering with people you don’t live with this holiday season.


Virtual Office Hours

On Friday December 18, I will be hosting virtual office hours between 2pm and 6pm, with the last meeting of the day beginning at 5:30pm.

Due to the nature of virtual office hours, you will need to contact my scheduler Alex Clardy (alex.clardy@seattle.gov) in order to receive the call-in information and schedule a time.

Please look for my office hours for 2021 to be announced early next year.

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