This week in the budget; Reminder: Neighborhood Street Fund Applications Open through November 19; Funding to Reduce Flooding in D1; Salmon Returning; Status Report on Developer Impact Fees to Augment Transportation Funding; Seattle Police Officer’s Guild contract

November 16th, 2018


This week in the budget

This week the Budget Committee met on Wednesday to vote on the balancing package proposed by Chair Bagshaw.

The committee also voted on items brought forward by Councilmembers to amend the balancing package, with corresponding reductions to balance the budget.

New items I proposed that the Council approved included:

  • Concord Elementary: $60,000 in funding for the Community Learning Center
  • RV Remediation Funding
  • Citizenship Program funding for Neighborhood House at High Point
  • My resolution to resolve the uncertainty created by the “Mutual Offsetting Benefit Leases” held by the Greenwood and Central Area Senior Centers and Byrd Barr
  • Utility Discount Program Statement of Legislative Intent to address enrollment barriers
  • Funding to help address unforeseen construction costs at Town Hall

Below are my items that were included in the budget balancing package developed by Budget Committee Chair Bagshaw. These items were also approved as part of the “Consent Package.”

District 1 Specific Proposals:

Citywide proposals:

 


Reminder: Neighborhood Street Fund Applications Open through November 19

Applications for the 2019 Neighborhood Street Fund are open through November 19th.

The Neighborhood Street Fund provides funding every three years for community-driven transportation-related improvement in the city’s right-of-way with an anticipated cost between $100,000 and $1 million. Anyone can apply. Funding comes from the 2015 Move Seattle Levy; $8 million is available for this cycle.  Applications are open through Monday, November 19. I have asked SDOT for a two-week extension of the application period.

The application has been simplified, and takes about 15 minutes, and requires a specific location and proposed solution. Application forms and materials are also available in Chinese, Somali, Spanish, Vietnamese, Amharic, and Tigrinya. Thanks to SDOT for doing this.

In January and February there will be public meetings to rank proposed projects, and narrow the number of projects in each district. A public vote will take place after that.

Additional information is available at the Neighborhood Street Fund website, which includes applications in several languages. If you have questions, additional translated material, or need help with accessing the application, please contact nsf@seattle.gov or 206-733-9361.

Projects awarded in the 2016 cycle include safety improvements at Harbor Avenue SW and SW Spokane Street, and walkway, lighting and safety improvements on 25th and 26th Ave. SW, connecting Chief Sealth High School and Westwood Village.

 


Funding to Reduce Flooding in D1

One of my ancillary duties as a Councilmember is to represent Seattle on a several different regional committees – three specific committees that I sit on are the Regional Water Quality Committee (RWQC), the Flood Control District (FCD) Advisory Committee, and Watershed Resource Inventory Area (WRIA) 9. All three of the committees work on issues related to water quality, flooding, and salmon habitat restoration. Much like the City, these committees and the County are finalizing their budgets, and I wanted to share some great news with you.

I, with the help of Seattle Public Utilities (SPU), requested $14.9 million to be added to the 2019 FCD Capital Improvement Program budget for two high priority urban flood control projects in District 1. The two projects are: $13.1 million for the South Park Drainage Conveyance Improvement Project and $1.8 million for the Puget Way Culvert Replacement Project.

The South Park Drainage Conveyance Improvement Project will address a problem that has been of particular importance to constituents. This funding will allow SPU to construct a system of pipes to manage stormwater and will eventually connect to the South Park Pump Station (another project I’ve been working with SPU to get funded). In addition to providing a system to manage the stormwater this project will pave many of the streets, and specifically South Monroe will be paved which will help the businesses and residents of the area.

The Puget Way Culvert Replacement Project will reduce flooding impacts to West Marginal Way and Puget Way. Flooding caused by undersized culverts has damaged one of the warehouses along West Marginal Way and also caused lane closures to the street. Additionally, Puget Way is the only road access for 12 residents and if a culvert failure were to occur it would cut off access to these homes and prevent emergency services from rendering assistance.

 


Salmon Returning

Many of you may have already heard the great news, but for the first time in eight years SPU staff observed a pair of Chinook salmon spawning in Thornton Creek. SPU has been working on restoring much of this creek, and in 2014 completed the Thornton Creek Confluence project where SPU replaced 1,000 feet of streambed to keep in place high-quality gravel for spawning salmon.

In addition to this great news, I want to share with you the annual Salmon in the Schools report. A big thanks to Judy Pickens for her work with Salmon in the Schools. Here are a few highlights from this year:

  • Supported 54 salmon-release field trips – 23 in partnership with the Carkeek Watershed Community Action Project, 14 with the Fauntleroy Watershed Council, and 17 elsewhere in the city.
  • Helped 11 schools with transportation costs for release field trips.
  • 7 in-class salmon dissections at participating West Seattle schools and 29 more during field trips to Piper’s Creek.
  • More than 101 visits to schools and responded to 1,800 email requests about tank set-up and maintenance.

 


Status Report on Developer Impact Fees to Augment Transportation Funding

Impact fees are authorized fees by Washington State law to allow local jurisdictions to charge developers to address the needs for capacity improvements to transportation, parks, schools, and fire facilities. Local jurisdictions are only allowed to charge to address the impacts associated with growth. Impact fees cannot be used to pay for infrastructure needs that are backlogged.

In 2015, the City Council began to take steps towards developing an impact fee program. In 2015, the Council recommended a work program for: (1) development of an impact fee program for parks and transportation and (2) exploration with the Seattle School District of a program for public schools.

In 2017, through Resolution 31732, the Council docketed consideration of Comprehensive Plan amendments for impact fees. It is a long, arduous but necessary process. Myself and Councilmembers O’Brien and Bagshaw wrote about our commitment to this effort here.

This year the Council issued an Environmental Impact Statement on the proposed amendment to the Comprehensive Plan establishing a list of projects, for which capacity improvements are needed to accommodate growth.

From the Council Central Staff analysis: “Establishing the list in the Comprehensive Plan is a necessary, but not sufficient, step towards implementing an impact fee program. The Council and Mayor would need to approve future legislation establishing substantive and procedural requirements of an impact fee program.”

We’d planned to, in December 2018, consider 2018 Comprehensive Plan amendments for a transportation impact fee program.

After passage, then from December 2018 to February 2019 the City Council would continue analysis and development of a potential impact fee rate schedule, development of options for credits based on planning geography, and legislation drafting.

Finally, the Council had planned from March to April 2019 to consider legislation implementing a transportation impact fee program.

The Environmental Impact Statement required for a Comprehensive Plan Amendment resulted in a Determination of Environmental Insignificance (DEIS). This triggered a statutorily required appeal process. Thursday, November 15 was the deadline to appeal. On Wednesday, November 14, two appeals were filed to oppose the Transportation Impact Fee Comp Plan amendment, which actually is a purely procedural decision.

One appeal was from Roger Valdez representing Seattle For Growth and the other was from land use attorney Jack McCullough.

The appeal means that we are unable to act in December as planned, but let’s see what the Hearing Examiner has in store for us.

Yesterday the Seattle Planning Commission sent the Seattle City Council its recommendations. They said:

“The Commission supports adoption of the proposed amendment enabling the potential development of a transportation impact fee program. We recommend approval of the proposed transportation project list as an appropriate representation of investments needed to implement the current Capital Improvement Program, the adopted transportation modal plans, and projects identified through the Move Seattle levy planning process that are not funded by the current levy. The Planning Commission recommends adding replacement of the 4th Avenue S. viaduct to the transportation impact fees project list. We look forward to providing input on the policy implications, including the cumulative effects of a transportation impact fee program with Mandatory Housing Affordability requirements, and the particulars of any proposed impact fee program”

I think that the Seattle Planning Commission’s recommendations include a very good assessment of yet another balancing act that the City Council has to do.

Read more here: http://www.seattle.gov/council/issues/impact-fees

 


Seattle Police Officer’s Guild contract

The collective bargaining agreement between the City of Seattle and the Police Officer’s Guild (SPOG) through 2020 covers wages, hours and working conditions. The City Council voted to approve the agreement by an 8-1. I voted in favor.

With this vote, Seattle police officers will see an accumulated 17% pay increase, and back pay for salary increases. The legislation appropriates $65 million for three years of accumulated officer increased back pay.  This means that the salary increases included in the contract will be given to the officers for the 3 years that they didn’t have a contract.  In addition to the back pay, total spending for salaries will increase by $40 million in 2019, and $50 million in 2020, as noted in the fiscal note.

In the interest of transparency, I moved to add a Clerk File to the legislative record that includes the Memoranda of Understanding and Memoranda of Agreement that are incorporated into the agreement, but were not provided in the legislation sent to the Council by the Mayor. They are now publicly available.

Negotiations on this contract began in 2014, and an agreement was reached in 2016. However, after the Guild membership voted “no” (a summary of the agreement was leaked), the two sides returned to the negotiating table. There were a number of factors that made this negotiation more complicated than most, principally due to the intersection of police accountability issues and working conditions.  It’s also important to understand that all labor contracts must be voted up or down. They cannot be amended by the Council, unlike other legislation.

First of all, the City of Seattle and the Department of Justice entered into a Consent Decree and MOU in 2012 after the DOJ found excessive use of force in 2011 in response to a 2010 request letter from a number of community groups. As part of this process, in 2017 the Council adopted the accountability ordinance. In addition, former Mayor Murray ordered the use of body-worn cameras. Then in June of this 2018, the Janus decision by the US Supreme Court overturned 40 years of precedent regarding union dues for public employees. In this new environment, public sector unions must show value to their members.

In addition, while the contact adopted by the Council in 2017 for the Seattle Police Management Association (which represents captains and lieutenants) included a provision that said “the City may implement the Accountability Ordinance,” the SPOG contract didn’t include a similar provision, so understanding the practical impact required a more detailed analysis of the 96-page agreement.

I have heard from numerous supporters and opponents of this agreement, and I’d like to say a few things to each of you.

To supporters, I want to be sure you know that opponents of this contract were very clear that they support the wage increases for officers included in the agreement. I didn’t hear a single person speak against the long overdue wage increases—in fact, many who spoke against the agreement explicitly advocated for approving salary increases. Their concerns were about implementation of the police accountability legislation.

To opponents, I’d like to you know SPOG could have challenged the inclusion of the accountability ordinance and body cameras in this agreement, because they were not included when bargaining began in 2014. Bargaining rules require that all issues have to be on the table at the beginning of bargaining.  SPOG voluntarily agreed to include these issues, which showed a willingness to collaborate on implementing reform.

While the lack of a contract may not have hindered new officer hires in 2016 and 2017—both years had a record number of hires— it appears to be now in 2018: this is a real issue. I’ve voted to add 112 new officer positions over my time as a Councilmember, and I will vote to add 40 more at Monday’s Full Council budget vote. This contract is a necessary step to filling those positions. I’ve asked SPD about providing incentives for hiring new officers, as other local cities have done.

Finally, officers have played an important role in implementing reform. The court-appointed Federal Monitor issued a Use of Force report in 2017 that credited officers for clear improvements regarding use of force, saying “credit for this major milestone goes first and foremost to the men and women of the Seattle Police Department.”

With the Council’s vote, the agreement is ripe for review by US Judge Robart, who is overseeing implementation of the Consent Decree. On November 5th, he stated he would review it only after a Council vote. In January, he noted that “The court has previously indicated that it will not grant final approval to the City’s new police accountability ordinance until after collective bargaining is complete.” The Council also adopted a resolution requesting review of three items related to police accountability.

I’ve included my remarks at the City Council vote here. It’s a bit long, so I wanted to provide a more concise summary, but also include this for anyone interested in reading it.

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This Week in the Budget; Seattle University Public Safety Survey; Constituent Budget Emails

November 9th, 2018


This Week in the Budget

On Wednesday Councilmember Bagshaw, chair of the Budget Committee, released her proposed budget balancing package.

Next Wednesday, November 14th, the Budget Committee will vote on the proposed balancing package, and any amendments proposed by Councilmembers. Amendments to the balancing package must be balanced.

A number of items I proposed, as noted in last week’s budget update, are included the balancing package, including:

District 1 Specific Proposals (successfully included in Chair Bagshaw’s balancing package):

Citywide proposals (successfully included in Chair Bagshaw’s balancing package):

Some items I proposed were not included in the balancing package. At the Budget Committee meeting on the 14th, I will propose funding, and cuts elsewhere in the budget, for:

  • SPD/SPU RV remediation program
  • The Community Learning Center at Concord International Elementary School
  • Citizenship programs at High Point
  • Funding to complete Town Hall capital work

Confirmation of meetings and agenda items can be found at the Budget Committee meeting schedule. You can also sign up to receive the agendas in advance by e-mail here. Here’s a link to the Budget calendar and background on the budget process.

 


Seattle University Public Safety Survey

Seattle University is rolling out their 4th annual citywide Seattle Public Safety Survey. The purpose of the survey is to solicit feedback on public safety and security concerns from those who live and/or work in Seattle. A report on the survey results will be provided to the Seattle Police Department to assist them with micro community policing plans.

The survey is accessible at publicsafetysurvey.org through November 30th and is available in Amharic, Arabic, Chinese, English, Korean, Oromo, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog, Tigrinya and Vietnamese.

If you would like to work with a Seattle University researcher to setup outreach and assist in the facilitation of the survey to your communities or organizations, or you would like more information about the survey, please contact Taylor Lowery at lowerytaylor@seattleu.edu.

 


Constituent Budget Emails

I wanted to let you all know what issues I am hearing from the public. Below is a tally of the emails I have received from the public about the budget items. The shaded rows are related to D1 specific proposals.

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This Week’s Budget Update; Re-Entry Lunch and Learn Thursday December 6, 2018; October Constituent Email Report

November 2nd, 2018


This Week’s Budget Update

This week the Budget Committee met to consider specific budget proposals to amend the proposed budget, on October 30, October 31, and November 1.

Next week, Councilmember Bagshaw, as Chair of the Budget Committee, will present a proposed budget balancing package on November 7th. That balancing package will be considered for votes the following week.

Below are links to highlights of budget items I’ve introduced.

New Legislation to Create Enhanced Oversight of Capital Projects  City Capital projects such as the Seawall, NCIS utility customer service system, and the Center City Streetcar have had cost overruns. Too often the Council finds out about this at the end of the process, when it’s too late to scale back a project, decide not to proceed, or reprioritize funding for other projects if necessary.  This will be a new financial policy giving the Council more oversight of how the taxpayers’ dollars are spent on these large projects.  Here’s coverage from KING 5 and KIRO-7.


District 1 Budget Priorities

Adding three inspectors to the Vacant Building Monitoring Program Since 2013 complaints related to vacant buildings have increased by 64 percent. The proposal would provide resources in SDCI for the Code Compliance division to enhance the existing Vacant Building Monitoring Program. The enhanced program would add a. buildings in the development pipeline, b. buildings that SFD and/or SPD are monitoring, and c. buildings that have had three or more violations within a 36 day period to the monitoring list and those buildings will be monitored monthly by the three new inspectors.

Funding for Community Learning Center at Concord International Elementary School  This is to provide bridge funding for a before & after-school program for at risk students; to replace funding when the YMCA decided to end the program.

South Park Public Safety Coordinator This is to continue the community-driven work begun  during the 2016 budget, when Council created the South Park Task Force, which recommended a bilingual, community resident for position. Last year’s budget funded the position, which was not maintained in the Mayor’s proposed 2019/2020 budget.

Funding to allow Colman Pool stay open for an additional 4 weekends a year. The price has been reduced to $40,000 which will be offset by the revenue generated from fees paid to attend to pool.

Trail Access on SW Brandon Street The Parks Department has indicated they can do this work next year and will incorporate it into their current budget allocation. This will allow the Parks Department to begin the community planning and outreach process for trail access on SW Brandon Street.

Highland Park Way SW/SW Holden Street Roundabout project and CIP entry This would establish the project in the SDOT’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP). In coming months WSDOT is expected to announce awards for a grant SDOT has applied for.

35th Avenue SW and CIP addition  This would add road paving for 35th Avenue SW between Morgan and Roxbury to the SDOT CIP.

South Park Playfield, this will add a new CIP project to reserve already committed $1.8 million in funding in the Parks and Recreation CIP.

District 1 Planning report for Westwood/Highland Park, Avalon/Admiral, and Delridge neighborhoods in 2019 and 2020.

Adding and funding an additional Animal Control Officer, to be funded with pet licensing fees.

Move Levy spending plan   SDOT is presenting a revised spending plan because of the inability to move forward on the current plan because of too rosy estimates of costs to deliver proects and increased labor and construction costs.  This action would require Council’s to approve SDOT’s revised spending plan scheduled for presentation to the Council by December 1.  This approval will be necessary before SDOT can implement the new plan.


Citywide Budget Proposals

Center City Streetcar This report will insure that any proposal for operations include performance measures and identify funding sources for construction to close the $60 million funding gap, a funding gap that could increase based on ongoing engineering analysis.  This report is in line with a similar requirement Council included in the 2017 budget, when cost estimates were lower, that led to Mayor Durkan putting the project on hold.

Additional proposals, you can find more details at the link:

Funding for creating restorative pathways out of the criminal justice system for youth and young adults

Encampment monitoring reports

Eviction prevention

Transgender Economic Empowerment Program

SPU position reduction  in order to add funds to RV remediation program  this increase in funding for the RV Remediation Pilot will allow SPU and SPD to conduct one additional (seven total) cleanup a month.

Town Hall capital funding

Confirmation of meetings and agenda items can be found at the Budget Committee meeting schedule. You can also sign up to receive the agendas in advance by e-mail here. Here’s a link to the Budget calendar and background on the budget process.

 


Re-Entry Lunch and Learn Thursday December 6, 2018

Please join the Re-Entry workgroup and the Seattle City Council for a special meeting of the Civil Rights, Utilities and Economic Development (CRUEDA) committee.  On Thursday December 6, 2018 the CRUEDA committee will host a lunch and learn to hear Seattle’s Reentry Work Group’s final recommendations and update on their work to examine and address the barriers individuals face when living with a criminal history.

The Seattle Reentry Work Group was created by City Council Resolution 31637 and passed unanimously by City Council in 2015 to coordinate and strengthen the City’s efforts to assist reentry.  The Work Group is comprised of community and institutional stakeholders working on reentry issues.  Everyone is welcome to bring a bag lunch to Seattle City Hall Council Chambers and learn from this important work.

 


October Constituent Email Report

Constituent correspondence is a very important task in my office.  My staff and I spend time every day helping you improve our community, whether that’s through getting you help from a city department with our constituent case management services or giving you information about legislation that the Council is considering.  The unshaded categories and numbers are problem-solving emails answered in October, what I refer to above as “case management services.”  The shaded categories and numbers are emails answered in October related to policy or legislation the Council is considering.

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This Week’s Budget Update; Capital Project Oversight; Neighborhood Street Fund Applications open through November 19; Rapid Ride H Line Online Open House/Survey; SPU Syringe Pickup Program; The Vera Project GOTV

October 29th, 2018


This Week’s Budget Update

Last week the City Council Budget Committee held a public hearing on Tuesday evening, and continued into the phase of budget negotiations referred to as, “Issue Identification,” when Council Central Staff presents highlights of department budgets and issues for potential changes that the Council might want to consider, as well as issues and proposals identified by Councilmembers themselves.

This week the Budget Committee is scheduled to meet beginning Tuesday to consider specific budget proposals. Confirmation of meetings and agenda items can be found at the Budget Committee meeting schedule. You can also sign up to receive the agendas in advance by e-mail here. Here’s a link to the Budget calendar and background on the budget process.

Below are links to Issue ID presentations, along with a few highlights:

Parks and Recreation (DPR) – I have proposed funding for two items in DPR:

Open Colman Pool for An Additional Month in Summertime – This proposal would add $60,000 in ongoing funding, with entrance fees as a revenue source, to support opening Colman Pool for one more month in the summer. Currently the pool is budgeted to operate for approximately 14 weeks (between late May and early September).

Enhance Trail Access Points on Southwest Brandon Street – This proposal would add $50,000 in one-time funding for a community planning process for enhancements to trail access points along Southwest Brandon Street in West Seattle, as recommended in the North Delridge Action Plan.

SDOT

I proposed adding the Highland Park Way SW/SW Holden Street Roundabout project to the SDOT Capital Improvement Program (CIP), to show a city commitment to completing this project. SDOT submitted an application to WSDOT City Safety Grant to fully fund the $2.5 million cost, and is has allocated $200,000 to design, and is reserving $300,000 for a local match for the grant. If awarded the grant, construction is targeted for completion by September 2021.

I also raised the issue of SDOT’s paving plan, listed in the SDOT CIP as the “Arterial Asphalt and Concrete,” and geographic equity.

The original 2016-2024 paving plan included Avalon and 35th to Alaska; Roxbury from 16th to 35th in 2021; and 35th SW between Morgan and Roxbury in 2023.

SDOT is proposing to revise the paving plan, along with other programs included in the Move Seattle Levy. The revised version would remove both the 35th and Roxbury projects, and add Delridge Way SW from Sylvan Way to the West Seattle Bridge entrance. The revised proposal notes that of projects completed or underway, none are in District 1, and of the 18 planned through 2024, two are; two of the nine projects proposed for delay are in District 1.

I’ve heard more constituent comments about the condition of 35th Avenue SW than any other major arterial. SDOT will be completing an updated pavement condition report in the first quarter of 2019; the most recent report, from the 2015 SDOT Asset Management Report, is based on a 2013 review of pavement conditions, and confirmed what we all know, that portion of 35th in bad shape.

This week to address this, I’ll be proposing budget actions to add paving for 35th into the CIP for 2023. The CIP entry doesn’t currently list specific paving projects, so it is trickier to add a CIP entry for this project than other individual projects listed in the CIP.  Also, the Council can only condition spending for next year’s budget, not future budgets. I’ll also be proposing that the Council require that the new, revised Move Levy spending plan, due to be submitted by December 1, 2018, be approved by the Council before SDOT is authorized to implement the new plan.

 


Capital Project Oversight

I am proposing legislation to state the City’s intent to establish enhanced reporting requirements for the City’s Capital Improvement Program projects, and to use a “stage-gate” appropriation process for selected projects.  This resolution memorializes the work that the Council, Mayor and CBO have done over the last few years to increase capital project oversight.

The resolution outlines the use of two new key tools: 1) enhanced quarterly reports for projects on the “Watch List,”, which show project risk in green, yellow, or red, based on risk factors re: scope, schedule, budget, coordination, community impact, and political risks; and 2) Selecting projects for “stage-based” appropriations, where the Council establishes spending limits for certain phases or activities on a capital project (such as we’ve done for the Delridge Multimodal Corridor project).

The resolution notes the intent to add projects to the Watch List with unclear scopes, shifting estimated costs, uncertain capital funding plans, ill-defined operating costs, plans, or funding plans; or other perceived significant questions about scope, schedule, and budget. The Mayor will propose a Watch List early in the year, and the Council will adopt it; projects can also be added during the year.

Work on updating capital project oversight began with a resolution the Council adopted in 2016 to “institute new rigor in capital project oversight that will increase appropriate and timely oversight and provide more transparency to the public”; Councilmember Johnson and I called for additional capital project oversight in 2016 as well.

As the resolution notes, “City capital projects such as the Elliott Bay Seawall Project and the utilities’ New Customer Information System cost millions of dollars over their original proposed budget and enhanced, timely reporting could have improved Council’s oversight by communicating potential project risks before the risks were realized.” The Move Seattle levy oversight Committee sent a letter to the Mayor and Council recommending “regular reporting on progress and challenges as projects move through their development process, especially as the true cost to deliver these projects comes into greater focus”.

The first batch of the new quarterly reports arrived in September, for the 2nd quarter:

The resolution also requests the Executive work with the Council’s Central Staff to develop a method for enhanced reporting for selected ongoing programs, or components of ongoing programs, for potential inclusion in the Watch List. Efforts up until now have focused on discrete project reporting.

Additional presentations:

 


Neighborhood Street Fund Applications Open through November 19

Applications for the 2019 Neighborhood Street Fund are open through 2019.

The Neighborhood Street Fund provides funding every three years for community-driven transportation-related improvement in the city’s right-of-way with an anticipated cost between $100,000 and $1 million. Anyone can apply. Funding comes from the 2015 Move Seattle Levy; $8 million is available for this cycle.  Applications are open through November 19.

The application takes around 15 minutes, and requires a specific location and proposed solution.

In January and February there will be public meetings to rank proposed projects, and narrow the number of projects in each district. A public vote will take place after that.

Additional information is available at the Neighborhood Street Fund website, which includes applications in several languages. If you have questions, additional translated material, or need help with accessing the application, please contact us at nsf@seattle.gov or 206-733-9361.

Projects awarded in the 2016 cycle include safety improvements at Harbor Avenue SW and SW Spokane Street, and walkway, lighting and safety improvements on 25th and 26th Ave. SW, connecting Chief Sealth High School and Westwood Village.

 


Rapid Ride H Line Online Open House/Survey

King County Metro has an online open house about the Rapid Ride H Line. Bus 120, which runs from Burien, White Center, Delridge, and Downtown Seattle is planned to convert into a Rapid Ride line in 2021.

The open house for the overall project is available here; you can list your priorities for the Delridge/Westwood Village area here.

SDOT also has an online survey open through November 11.

The City’s Capital Improvement Program refers to this as the Delridge Multimodal Corridor project. The next update from SDOT on 30% design is expected in December, as required by an amendment I sponsored. SDOT and King County Metro are in negotiations about roles, responsibilities and cost sharing for the project.

 


SPU Syringe Pickup Program

Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) manages the City’s needle pilot program. This program, which began in 2016 when I sponsored, and the Council allocated $200,000 to address the accumulation of trash and the public health impacts of unsanctioned encampments. Then in the passage of the 2017 budget the Mayor and City Council added additional funding for this purpose.  These funds were used by SPU to develop and support three pilot programs: The Litter Pilot, The Needle Pilot, and The Unsanctioned Encampment Bag Pilot.

Specifically, the needle program operates in two ways to help remove sharps from public property. The first is responding to reports of needles. You can report a needle to SPU by calling (206) 684-7587, reporting it online here, or the Find it, Fix it smartphone app. SPU will collect sharps the public property within 24 hours.

Secondly, SPU manages 11 drop-off locations, you can see their locations on this map. In addition to these drop-off locations you can dispose of needles at the North or South Transfer Stations.

Since the pilot program has launched SPU has collected more than 111,760 syringes through reports and the disposal drop-boxes.

If you see a needle on private property, do not pick it up with bare hands. SPU has produced a video with instructions on how to pick up needles safety.

 


The Vera Project GOTV

The Vera Project is hosting a youth-led, community driven Get Out the Vote celebration on November 1st at 6:00PM. There will be live music featuring Sassyblack, Cumulus, and KEXP’s DJ Troy Nelson. There will also be appearances from community leaders and Seattle City Councilmembers, including myself.

You are encouraged to bring your ballot and questions. The event is free, but sign up to get tickets here as it’s likely to sell out.

You should have already received your ballot in the mail. If you haven’t please visit the King County Elections website to learn how to get a replacement ballot.

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District 1’s Young’s Restaurant and RainWise; This Week’s Budget Update; Accessory Dwelling Unit Environmental Impact Statement and Racial Equity Toolkit; Promised Land Movie Showing at City Hall, Wednesday 10/24; Comment on Technologies Subject to the City’s Surveillance Ordinance; In-District Office Hours

October 19th, 2018


District 1’s Young’s Restaurant and RainWise

I was delighted to learn recently that a beloved District 1 business, Young’s Restaurant, became the first commercial site to complete the RainWise program!  If you’re unfamiliar with the RainWise program, it’s a Seattle Public Utility (SPU) lead effort to install rain gardens or cisterns to better manage rain. Rain that falls onto our roofs, driveways and roads most often runs into ditches and pipes. However, the runoff can carry harmful chemicals such as oil, metals, and lawn chemicals. Rain gardens on the other hand can hold and soak up this runoff and filter out the chemicals and cisterns can hold and better direct the water so that it doesn’t flow into and contaminate our waterways. The RainWise program offers a rebate where homeowners and businesses can apply for, and if they qualify, potentially pay for all the instillation costs. I hope other businesses will follow the example of Young’s Restaurant in being good environmental stewards by contacting SPU to see if installing a RainGarden is possible!

Last week NW Asian Weekly covered the story about Young’s Restaurant. If you’re interested in seeing if you’re eligible for the RainWise program, please go here.

 


This Week’s Budget Update

This week the Budget Committee met, beginning the stage of Council budget deliberations referred to as “Issue Identification,” where Council Central Staff presents highlights of department budgets and issues for potential changes that the Council might want to consider, as well as issues and proposals identified by Councilmembers themselves.

The highlights of Thursday’s Identification presentations can be found here:

Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) – you can see at the link that my top budget objective for SDCI is to enhance the Vacant Building Monitoring Program, which I’ve written about here and here because of the problems we have in District 1 with vacant, abandoned buildings.

Seattle Police Department (SPD) –  The budget proposes funding sufficient to hire 10 new patrol positions in 2019 and 30 in 2020.  In order to successfully meet that goal, the city will have to hire 104 new officers both years, to also fill the positions of officers that retire, get promoted to non-patrol positions, or make a lateral transfer.  For this reason, we spent a lot of time in this budget discussion talking about recruitment incentives.  We have generous lateral hire incentives, but we have no new hire financial incentives.

We also talked about the plan and funding necessary to reinstate the Community Service Officer program and the need to address the City Auditor’s 2017 Report on SPD special events staffing because SPD’s cost for staffing events exceed the fees we receive from promoters of special events.

Seattle Fire Department (SFD) – SFD reports that 40% of SFD’s medical responses serve “low acuity calls,” which can include alcohol- related issues and mental health issues, as well as less severe injuries for which the appropriate treatment is something other than a hospital emergency room.  We spent time during this presentation talking about an alternative response model to reduce non-emergency 9-1-1 calls by working directly with service agencies and individuals in high-use areas to better align needs with appropriate health or social service agencies.

Next week Issue Identification is planned to continue through Wednesday. The tentative schedule includes for Monday: Sweetened Beverage Tax Funds; Tuesday: Homeless Services, Human Services, and the proposed Office of Employee Ombud; Wednesday: Parks and Recreation, SDOT, and cross-cutting issues and other departments with fewer identified issues.

Confirmation of meetings and agenda items can be found at the Budget Committee meeting schedule. You can also sign up to receive the agendas in advance by e-mail here.

The second budget public hearing is planned for 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday the 23rd. It will be in the Council Chambers on the second floor of City Hall at 600 4th Avenue. A separate hearing will also be held on the proposed expansion of the Seattle Aquarium.

Information on accessing City Hall, accommodations, a discounted parking rate, and childcare is available on the public hearing notice.

Here’s a link to the Budget calendar and background on the budget process.

 


Accessory Dwelling Unit Environmental Impact Statement and Racial Equity Toolkit

The Final Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was released on October 4, 2018.  The ADU EIS evaluates the potential environmental impacts of proposed changes to the Land Use Code related to the creation of accessory dwelling units in single-family zones.

There are two kinds of accessory dwelling units, attached and detached ADUs (DADUs).  Attached ADUs are often referred to as an in-law unit or basement apartments and are contained within or attached to a single-family home.  A detached ADU is sometimes called a backyard cottage and is a separate structure contained in a single-family lot.  The final EIS contains a Preferred Alternative that contains elements of two alternatives evaluated in the draft EIS and is reflective of input received during the draft EIS comment period.

The key features of the Preferred Alternative include:

  • Allowing two ADUs on one lot
  • Removing the off-street parking requirement
  • Allowing DADUs on lots of at least 3,200 square feet
  • Removing the owner-occupancy requirement
  • Requiring one year of continuous ownership before establishing a second ADU
  • Allowing DADUs of up to 1,000 square feet, the same size currently allowed for ADUs
  • Increasing DADU height limits by 1-2 feet, to allow flexibility for green building strategies
  • Providing flexibility for one-story DADUs accessible to people with disabilities or limited mobility, with limitations on tree removal
  • Establishing a new floor area ratio (FAR) standard that limits the maximum size of new mega-size single-family homes

On Friday October 12, 2018 there was a special meeting of the Sustainability and Transportation Committee to discuss the ADU Racial Equity Toolkit (RET).  The Racial Equity Toolkit is a framework provided by the City’s Race and Social Justice Initiative.  It lays out a process to evaluate the racial justice impacts of city policies, initiatives, and programs.  As part of evaluating the impacts of potential ADU legislation Councilmember O’Brien’s office helped to conduct a Racial Equity Toolkit on this issue.

One of the key RET findings was that “the benefits associated with increasing the rental housing stock through the creation of ADUs will disproportionately be accrued by wealthy, primarily white, households.”  This is because, not only is this demographic more likely to own their home but also because “due to the high cost of construction, ADUs are still typically priced above what households with lower-incomes and households of color can afford.”

But removing some of the regulatory barriers in the Land Use Code could help increase the number and variety of housing choices in single family zones and could positively impact affordability and decrease displacement by decreasing the teardown of existing single-family homes.

The RET also highlighted the limits of land code changes to fully mitigate generations of redlining and unequitable planning and housing policies.  The RET explored several different strategies for reducing the cost and barriers to building ADUs including financing support, reducing construction costs and pre-approved Detached Accessory Dwelling Unit plans.  You can read the entire ADU RET report here and watch the committee discussion here.

Following the Council’s passage of the 2019-2020 Budget (late November), Councilmember O’Brien will lead the development of legislation which will be informed by additional public comment opportunities.

This week, the City Council got notice that an appeal to the Final EIS was filed with the Hearing Examiner.  This appeal adds a layer of uncertainty to the timing.  You can follow this issue on the City’s ADU webpage here or you can email the project team at ADUEIS@seattle.gov.

 


Promised Land Movie Showing at City Hall, Wednesday 10/24

On Wednesday, October 24th I’ll be co-hosting with the Office of Arts and Culture, the Faith Action Network, and Real Rent Duwamish a showing of the movie Promised Land in City Hall, in the Bertha Knight Landes Room on the main floor of City Hall. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., a welcome is at 5:45, and the movie showing at 6 p.m. Admission is free, and so is the popcorn!

Promised Land is an award-winning documentary about the fight for two tribes in the Pacific Northwest, the Duwamish and the Chinook, as they fight for the restoration of treaty rights they’ve long been denied. In following their story, the film examines a larger problem in the way that the government and society still looks at tribal sovereignty.

From the Promised Land website:

“Indigenous recognition is at the frontline of the battle for native sovereignty. These tribes—who signed treaties, helped settlers, and lost their land—are asking for their treaties to be honored. To redefine their recognition, to put blood quantum restrictions on who is and isn’t native enough, to redefine treaties over and over, continues a toxic cycle of colonialism where the government, and the corporations it partners with, continues to unlawfully profit off of the resources of indigenous lands at great peril to our increasingly climate-challenged world.”

We’ll be joined by filmmakers Sarah Salcedo and Vasant Salcedo, and Cecile Hansen, Chair of the Duwamish Tribe.

More information about the movie is available at the Promised Land website. More information is available at the Facebook event page.

Wednesday, October 24th

Door: 5:30 p.m.

Welcome: 5:45

Movie: 6 p.m.

 


Comment on Technologies Subject to the City’s Surveillance Ordinance

The City is holding a series of public meetings to ask the public for comment on the first six of 29 technologies that meet the City’s definition of surveillance as defined in this ordinance.

This recent article about GrayKey, a technology that, reportedly, the Seattle Police Department is in the process of acquiring, explains why privacy rights advocate believe that the Surveillance Ordinance is so important.

Please go here to learn more about which technologies are currently under review, and to get a one-page summary of each technology.

On Thursday, October 25th the City will be taking public comment at the American Legion Post 160 of West Seattle (3618 SW Alaska St).

You may provide comments in three ways:

  • attendance at any of the meetings listed below
  • mail comments to Attn: Surveillance & Privacy Program, Seattle IT, PO Box 94709, Seattle, WA 98124
  • submit a comment online at gov/privacy.

Public Meetings

Please contact Surveillance@seattle.gov if you require any language or other accommodations.

 


In-District Office Hours

On October 26, I will be at the Southwest Customer Service Centers (2801 SW Thistle St) from 2:00 p.m. – 6:45 p.m. The final meeting of the day will begin at 6:30 p.m.

These hours are walk-in friendly, however, appointments that have been made in advance will have priority. To schedule an appointment, please contact my scheduler Alex Clardy (alex.clardy@seattle.gov).

Additionally, my last tentatively scheduled office hours for this year are:  Friday, December 14, 2018 at the South Park Community Center (8319 8th Avenue S).

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Update on Request for 1st Avenue Bus Lane & Access to Downtown after Viaduct Closure; Solid Waste Collection Delay; This Week’s Budget Update; SPD Launches 911 Data Dashboard; Elected Leadership Group Recommendations for Light Rail Options; Thank you to Pearl Jam for Helping to Address Homelessness; Seattle Art in Parks; In-District Office Hours

October 12th, 2018


Update on Request for 1st Avenue Bus Lane & Access to Downtown after Viaduct Closure

SDOT Interim Director Laird sent a reply to my letter asking SDOT about reserving a dedicated lane for buses on 1st Avenue while the Alaskan Way Viaduct is being removed. WSDOT plans to permanently close the viaduct on January 11, 2019.

Eventually, buses will access Downtown of SR 99 through an exit onto Alaskan Way. For 9-12 months before that, they’ll need to arrive by other paths.   In 2017, there were more than 29,000 daily boardings for buses from West Seattle and adjacent communities that access Downtown on the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

West Seattle commuters will bear a heavy share of the burden for the closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

Laird’s reply notes that SDOT engineers are examining the ability of the 1st Avenue road structure to handle buses; the curb lane could require strengthening in order to support curb bus loads. Without additional strengthening, buses and freight vehicles would need to be in the inside lane, which would not allow for an exclusive bus lane. SDOT studied this area in 2014; they are revisiting that study and conducting additional analysis in coming weeks to “refine specific actions needed to improve the corridor capacity and provide a dedicated transit lane along 1st Avenue.”

I thanked Laird for her response, and requested that she let me know when she has additional information from the SDOT Roadway Structures engineering team about providing a dedicated transit lane on 1st Avenue.

The reply also notes there will be two time periods for rerouting bus service after the viaduct closure on January 11.

For the first 4-5 weeks, buses from West Seattle that access Downtown on the viaduct will travel on temporary bus lanes on the Spokane Street Viaduct and 4th Avenue South. Some special afternoon peak routing will be available for trucks and buses connecting from Alaskan Way to E. Marginal Way S.

After the first 4-5 weeks, buses that access Downtown on the Alaskan Way Viaduct will use 1st Avenue between Dearborn and Cherry/Columbia (that’s the subject of my letter).

SDOT notes they will be taking measures to keep traffic flowing through Pioneer Square, including parking restrictions to create two travel lanes instead of one on 1st Avenue.

The letter also notes that SDOT is working with King County Metro to provide other options for West Seattle commuters during this 9-12 month period. The 2019 proposed budget includes “microtransit” shuttles to bring riders to the RapidRide C Line in the Alaska Junction, and to the water taxi in West Seattle, a new “First Mile/Last Mile” service to connect riders in West Seattle.  Service is planned to begin by the end of 2018. Service will be during weekday peak periods (e.g. 6-9 a.m. and 3-7 p.m.) The exact route is to be determined; SDOT expects to have additional information in coming weeks. Funding comes from the Seattle Transportation Benefit District, and is included in the Mayor’s proposed 2019 budget.

In addition, King County Metro’s SR 99 closure information page notes that the West Seattle Water Taxi will add a second vessel on the during the SR99 closure during weekday commute times to significantly increase capacity. Vessels will depart every 20 minutes during commute periods.

When the Alaskan Way Viaduct is closed, SR99 through Downtown will be closed for three weeks, to realign SR99 with the new tunnel. Some ramps will be closed for up to six weeks. WSDOT has a webpage about the closure, and recommends preparing in advance.

The plan to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a tunnel was approved by the state legislature in 2009; background WSDOT documents and planning reports from 2004 to 2011 are available at WSDOT’s project website.

 


Solid Waste Collection Delay

Many have you have probably read about the natural gas pipeline that ruptured just outside Prince George British Columbia. No one was injured in the explosion. However, this gas line supplies two thirds of Puget Sound Energy’s (PSE) natural gas supplies. This affected some garbage collection because many of our collection trucks now run on natural gas and are not able to operate on other fuel sources.

Waste Management released a statement saying garbage collection would be delayed for many of their customers, this included the Broadview, Bitter Lake, Beacon Hill, and Columbia City neighborhoods. These neighborhoods will now be collected today. The Greenlake, Wallingford, Hillman City, and Rainier Valley neighborhoods will now be collected on Saturday.

Seattle Public Utilities has communicated with their customers in a number of ways and have posted current service information at this link.

If you live in a Recology service area your collection schedule has not been affected.

 


This Week’s Budget Update

While the Budget Committee didn’t hold any meetings this week, there was a key deadline on Thursday to propose items for discussion during Issue Identification meetings. Issue Identification meetings are scheduled for October 17, 18, 22, 23 and 24, though it’s possible some sessions may be cancelled if additional time isn’t needed.

Confirmation of meetings can be found at the Budget Committee meeting schedule. You can also sign up to receive the meeting agendas in advance by e-mail.

During Issue ID meetings, Council Central Staff will present highlights of department budgets and issues for potential Council consideration, as well as issues and proposals identified by Councilmembers. At this stage budget deliberations, proposals don’t necessarily need to be detailed.

For reference here are a couple of example of Issue ID memos from last year’s budget process: Police Department and Parks and Recreation.

Here’s a link to the Budget calendar and background on the budget process.

 

SPD Launches 911 Data Dashboard

I get a lot of emails about 911 response time.  The Seattle Police Department has launched a new public data site with data about 911 calls. It’s called the “Calls for Service Dashboard.”

The Calls for Service data includes 911 calls from the public, as well as officer-initiated calls. They can be for criminal or non-criminal activity, handled in the field or over the phone, and do not always result in a report being taken.

You can search for Calls for Service by type of call, precinct and neighborhood from 2010 to 2018.

The site also includes a field for citywide Response Time by call priority and methodology, including how SPD lists calls by priority.  There is no nationally recognized standard for police response time. Public and officer safety, staffing, geography, call volume, and priority are unique in each event.

According to SPD, Calls for Service are most appropriately used in analyses of public disorder (e.g., suspicious, disturbance, noise, intoxication, etc.)  and officer activity (e.g., officer-initiated calls). Call groups and descriptions do not indicate a final disposition.

SPD previously made available its Crime Dashboard. The dashboard covers confirmed incidents documented in a report.

Thanks to the Seattle Police Department for making this information publicly available, and for increasing transparency.

 


Elected Leadership Group Recommendations for Light Rail Options

On October 5th the Elected Leadership Group (ELG) for Sound Transit’s West Seattle and Ballard light rail extensions, of which I’m a member, met to consider potential options for alignments.  In order to facilitate constructing light rail as quickly as possible, the goal is to select a preferred alternative by April 2019.

The starting point for the discussions was the recommendations of the Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG), which is advisory to the ELG. SAG members were selected from communities along the rail line.

The SAG recommended pursuing the Pigeon Ridge/West Seattle Tunnel (purple) option, and the Golf Course/Alaska Junction Tunnel (blue) option. Back at the May ELG meeting, my reaction to a recommendation to eliminate the Golf Course/Alaska Junction Tunnel (blue) option was to ask Sound Transit to instead convert that option into one that didn’t impact the golf course.  Sound Transit agreed and the ELG moved it forward for consideration.  I’m glad they did, otherwise we wouldn’t have had the Golf Course/Alaska Junction (blue) option for the SAG to support.

The SAG further recommended exploring a Junction station at 41st/42nd instead of Fauntleroy, like that in the Pigeon Ridge/West Seattle Tunnel (purple) option; and a crossing north of the current bridge. Here’s a link to the options that were considered in West Seattle.

The Pigeon Ridge option would cross the Duwamish south of Harbor Island, and go through Pigeon Ridge, come out with a station by Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, then proceed at a low height along Genesee, and enter a tunnel on Genesee with a station at Avalon, then continue underground to a station at 42nd and Alaska.

The Golf Course (blue) option would cross the Duwamish to the south of the West Seattle Bridge, then proceed on Delridge, then turn onto Genesee, then enter a tunnel in the hillside on Genesee, with stations at Avalon and on Fauntleroy in the Junction. The “Golf Course” name is an artifact of the earlier version mentioned above that went across the golf course with an elevated guideway.

The SAG recommended not moving forward with elevated and tunnel options that entered the Junction on Oregon Street, and have high elevated guideways on Genesee.

I spoke in support of the two options recommended by the SAG.

For the Pigeon Ridge option, I noted strong community support from both the Delridge and the Junction communities; Sound Transit’s Racial Equity analysis said it was the best options for transit connectivity with buses; the Seattle Design Commission’s strong support, for having fewer turns, and a low guideway that mostly avoided Delridge Way SW. The Seattle Planning Commission also supports this option. A letter from Transportation Choices Coalition, Futurewise, Feet First, the Cascade Bicycle Club, the Housing Development Consortium and the Transit Riders Union recommended moving the option forward “with reservation” due to concerns about costs. I wanted to move this forward and see if concerns about costs could be addressed.

For the Blue Golf Course/Tunnel option, I noted community support, including from people who had originally supported the Pigeon Ridge option. It was the 2nd choice for many in Delridge who preferred the purple option. The Planning Commission supported moving this option forward, and Sound Transit’s Racial Equity analysis noted the potential opportunity for transit-oriented development, and neighborhood amenities such as a grocery store (this theme also came up in the Delridge station charette Sound Transit held). This option also has a lower guideway. The Blue Golf Course/Tunnel option also minimizes impacts on the park and skate park, concerns that had been raised about the Pigeon Ridge option.

I also noted my support for considering a station location in the Junction on Alaska at 41st or 42nd as an important component of the Pigeon Ridge/West Seattle Tunnel (purple) option that should move forward.

I further noted I’d like to see the Delridge station, as represented in the Blue Golf Course/Tunnel option, to be moved be at least partly along Delridge Way, like the station alignment for the Pigeon Ridge/West Seattle Tunnel (purple) option.  Doing so would improve the transfer environment for bus transfers from neighborhoods to the south, such as South Delridge, Highland Park, and White Center; Sound Transit’s Racial Equity Toolkit noted these were communities with a majority of people of color, along with High Point.

During the discussion at the Elected Leadership Group, it was clear the Pigeon Ridge option didn’t have support, due to concerns about costs, so it didn’t move forward.

The Blue/Golf Course option did move forward in the ELG recommendations, including recommendations to consider a) a Junction station location at 41st or 42nd,  and b) a moved Delridge Station.  I’m glad that the ELG agreed with the SAG that these were both important components of the Pigeon Ridge/West Seattle Tunnel (purple) options that should move forward.

The ELG accepted the SAG recommendation to move forward exploration of a crossing to the north of the bridge, which could reduce the cost.

Finally, consideration of a station location at 44th was also included at the request of King County. 44th and Alaska is currently a KC Metro bus transit hub; a station at 44th had been included in the Oregon Street options that didn’t move forward.

Sound Transit has indicated it will be moving forward the “Representative Alignment” included in the ballot measure for comparative purposes; this is an elevated option that goes on Delridge, Genesee, Fauntleroy, then Alaska to 42nd.  The ELG accepted the SAG’s recommendation to move the Alaska Junction station east and oriented north/south, and move the Delridge station further south.

The ELG also made recommendations for other neighborhoods along the alignment (Ballard/Interbay, Chinatown/ID, SODO, and Downtown). The recommendations are available here.

Here’s background information about how Sound Transit is developing options, and the April, 2019 target for developing a preferred alternative. The Elected Leadership Group earlier narrowed the number of options under consideration in May.

 


Thank You to Pearl Jam for Helping to Address Homelessness

Last week the band Pearl Jam confirmed earlier estimates that their “Home Show” at SafeCo Field this summer raised about $11 million to help address our region’s homelessness crisis.  This money was raised by more than 170 businesses, foundations and restaurants and thousands of individuals.  Most of the partners designated regional organizations to receive, $7.8 million of the funds. An additional $1.3 million will be distributed to non-profits selected by Pearl Jam with guidance from a 19-member advisory group.   The last $1.7 million will be granted by Pearl Jam, the advisory group and Partners based on future needs.

I want to extend a special thank you to a home town band for their leadership and generosity in helping to address our region’s homeless crisis.

 


Seattle Art in Parks

On October 2nd Seattle Parks and Recreation released in an interactive map where you can take a virtual tour of public artwork in our parks.

As you know, there are many public art pieces around our parks which can be enjoyed free by the public. Now you can view them virtually as well, check out some of the great artwork in District 1!

 


In-District Office Hours

On October 26, I will be at the Southwest Customer Service Centers (2801 SW Thistle St) from 2:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. The final meeting of the day will begin at 6:30 p.m.

These hours are walk-in friendly, but if you would like to let me know you’re coming in advance you can email my scheduler Alex Clardy (alex.clardy@seattle.gov).

Additionally, my last tentatively scheduled office hours for this year are:  Friday, December 14, 2018 at the South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S.

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Everyone Doing Their Part to Rescue Bernard the Cat; Seattle Rainbow Housing Report- Aging In Community: Addressing LGBTQ Inequities in Housing and Senior Services; This Week’s Budget Update; September Constituent Email Report

October 5th, 2018


Everyone Doing Their Part to Rescue Bernard the Cat

We’ve all heard the story before – a cat gets stuck up a tree and the local fire fighters come to the rescue to bring the cat down. In this case it was a utility pole and an adorable orange and white cat named Bernard, or as he’s affectionately known, Tubby. Unfortunately, the firefighters were unable to perform their rescue due to high-voltage wires atop the utility pole.

We’re not sure why, but Bernard’s Friday morning started out on top of this utility pole, 40 feet up, in the West Seattle Junction. Bernard’s owner, Abi, was concerned because he hadn’t come home the night before, so in the morning she went in search of him and found him meowing on the utility pole.

Abi reached out to the police and fire departments, as well as animal control, all unable to assist because of the high-voltage wires. City Light had sent a crew out, but they didn’t have the proper equipment to reach the top of the 40-foot pole.  Later quoted in the Seattle Times, Abi said “There was a lot of back and forth — no one was agreeing to do anything. It was sort of like everybody was pointing fingers at everybody else.” So, a political friend suggested contacting her local City Councilmember, me. I received an email shortly after 5:30pm on Friday, and Alex, my staff member who saw the email, promptly sent an email to our Council liaison at City Light.

I can’t say for sure that City Light jumped into action after the email, but about an hour later I received word that City Light had sent a truck out and was able to rescue Bernard. I do know one thing, harkening back to my days as a neighborhood organizer, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

I’m happy to say that Bernard is now safely home, and I want to extend my thanks to all the City staff involved in helping in the rescue as well as the neighbors, and especially Abi for your patience with the system. While it’s a little unusual for Councilmembers to get involved in situations like this, I was very happy to play a small part.

 

Seattle Rainbow Housing Report- Aging In Community: Addressing LGBTQ Inequities in Housing and Senior Services

On Tuesday September 25, 2018 I, along with Mayor Durkan, Councilmember González, and King County Councilmember Joe McDermott, spoke at the release event for the new report Aging in Community: Addressing Inequities in LGBTQ Housing and Senior Services.  This project was funded by the Seattle City Council under Councilmember Lorena González’ leadership and commissioned by the City of Seattle Office of Housing (OH) to examine the needs of LGBTQ older adults.

One of the reasons that the Council funded the study was to encourage OH to act on specific direction that the Council gave back in 2016, but still hasn’t been acted on.  In April of 2016, the Council passed legislation that put the 2017 Housing Levy on the November 2016 ballot.  The legislation required that the Office of Housing consider prioritizing specific subpopulations who are underserved or have limited access to culturally appropriate housing.

Because I had learned that a 2015 study showed that, unlike most large US cities, we have no housing for LGBTQ seniors, I worked to amend the legislation to specifically call out LGBTQ seniors as a priority population for levy housing production.  LGBTQ seniors were the only specific demographic that was named in the prioritization request, because the Council wanted to emphasize the importance of meeting the completely unmet need for this population.

Then, in 2017, the Council passed an Administration and Finance Plan to guide the use of Levy funds. Again, I worked to amend that legislation too to prioritize housing development for LGBTQ seniors.  l wrote about this in 2017.

So when we learned last year that Capitol Hill Housing was applying for Housing Levy funding for an affordable senior housing to support LGBTQ seniors, a mixed-use building on Capitol Hill, we were so encouraged.  We believed then that Seattle would finally be funding its first affordable, LGBTQ elder affirming housing. Imagine our disappointment when OH declined to fund the project, despite the 2015 study, the Council direction, and all of the community organizing towards this goal.

Undeterred, the community decided they needed a different kind of study than the 2015 study and consequently, in last year’s budget deliberations, with leadership from Councilmember González and co-sponsorship from me, the City Council passed a 2017-2018 budget action supporting a housing needs study for low-income LGBTQ seniors.

Over 500 surveys were completed that represented a diversity of respondents, including 30% age 70 and older, 32.5% who identify as people of color and 17.8% who are transgender and/or non-binary.

According to the results of the survey the challenges in supporting LGBTQ elders that emerged were:

  • Inadequate services prevent LGBTQ seniors from remaining in their homes and aging in community.
  • A lack of affordable, stable, safe, and accessible housing for LGBTQ seniors.
  • Limited cultural capacity of providers to ensure LGBTQ affirming housing environments.
  • High rates of discrimination and bias in housing, with most not obtaining legal recourse.
  • LGBTQ racial inequities in access to affordable housing and senior services.
  • Insufficient community engagement and advocacy for LGBTQ aging and senior housing.
  • Lack of information necessary to proactively guide and monitor decision-making to better support LGBTQ communities and eliminate inequities in the allocation of City and County resources.

The report found what we already knew, that Seattle is “falling behind other major metropolitan areas in providing services to LGBTQ seniors.  Other finding include:

  • Among the LGBTQ older adult participants, 2% lived alone with elevated risk of housing instability since they were less likely to have someone available to support them when needs arise.

  • More than six out of ten LGBTQ older adults wanted to stay in their current homes, yet many were vulnerable to losing their housing due to a number of risk factors including the impacts of rising rents and housing costs.
  • LGBTQ older adults had elevated disparities in disability and health.
  • LGBTQ older adults experienced high rates of discrimination, with trans older adults reporting nearly double the rates compared to their non-transgender peers. More than four out of five LGBTQ older adults did not report the discrimination they experienced.
  • Most LGBTQ older adults were not accessing needed senior or housing services because the services were felt to be non-LGBTQ affirming, too costly, and/or not accessible.
  • LGBTQ older adults of color reported higher levels of housing cost burden, lack of support, and lack of access to many housing and aging services.
  • LGBTQ older adults reported higher than average housing cost burden and living in unaffordable housing; most were living on fixed incomes. Twenty percent or respondents experienced homelessness in the past five years.

Recommendations Include:

  1. Promote aging in community via funding an LGBTQ Senior Center with LGBTQ affirming services and programs to support these resilient at-risk older adults.
  2. Fund and provide affordable, stable, safe, and accessible LGBTQ senior housing.
  3. Enhance cultural capacity and create LGBTQ affirming housing environments and services with attention to high-risk groups through trainings and resources.
  4. Ensure the reporting of discrimination and legal recourse.
  5. Promote LGBTQ community support, engagement and advocacy.
  6. Expand the collection and utilization of data to monitor LGBTQ housing and aging-related service needs, and to ensure equity in budgeting and the allocation of City and County resources.

I’m optimistic that the Council, Mayor Durkan, OH, and the community will find a way to work to address these recommendations.  The LGBTQ community has been saying for decades, “we won’t go away.”  They’re saying it now and I’m saying it with them too. As an ally on this issue, I’m not going away.

You can read the executive summary here and find the full report here.

 

This Week’s Budget Update

This week the Budget Committee met twice on issues related to the City budget.

The first meeting was a 10/3 Budget Work Session dedicated to funding across several departments to address homelessness included in the Mayor’s Proposed 2019-2020 budget, as well as spending and performance measures for 2017 and 2018. Here are links to the three presentations:

Homeless System Performance and Investments

Navigation Team Outreach

Clean-up Activities

Secondly, the Budget Committee held its first public hearing on the Mayor’s Proposed Budget. The second public hearing will be on Tuesday, October 23rd at 5:30 p.m. in City Hall.

Next week no meetings are scheduled, but there is a key deadline on Wednesday the 10th @ 10 a.m., for Councilmembers to propose items to be heard during Issue Identification, which will begin the following week.

Here’s a link to the Budget calendar. You can sign up here to receive future meeting agendas of the Budget Committee. Here’s background on the budget process.

 

Delridge RapidRide H Line Open House October 10

SDOT and King County Metro will hold an open house about the future Rapid Ride H Line planned for Delridge Way SW on Wednesday, October 10, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Mount View Elementary at 10811 12th Avenue SW, in White Center.

King County Metro’s role in the project is to convert Route 120 into the RapidRide H Line in 2021. SDOT’s role involves improvements to Delridge Avenue SW designed to increase transit speed and access. It’s listed in the City’s Capital Improvement Plan as the “Delridge Multimodal Corridor.”

During last year’s budget I sponsored a proviso requiring SDOT to return to the Council to authorize additional spending after completing 10% design. In July SDOT presented in the City Council’s Sustainability and Transportation Committee; here’s their 10% design concept and their presentation.

In the legislation approving spending beyond 10% design, I added an amendment requiring SDOT to return to the Council at 30% design, in line with the “stage-gating” approach for large capital projects.

Additional information is available at the project websites for SDOT and King County Metro. An online open house will begin at the King County Metro website on October 10.

 

September Constituent Email Report

Constituent correspondence is a very important task in my office.  My staff and I spend time every day helping you improve our community, whether that’s by getting you help from a city department with our constituent case management services or giving you information about legislation that the Council is considering.  The unshaded categories and numbers are problem-solving emails answered in September, what I refer to above as “case management services.”  The shaded categories and numbers are emails answered in September related to policy or legislation that the Council is considering.

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This Week’s Budget Update; Honoring the Seattle Symphony; Diversity Career Fair; Evictions in Seattle

September 28th, 2018


This Week’s Budget Update

On Monday, September 24th the Mayor presented her 2019-2020 Proposed Budget and 2019-2024 Proposed Capital Improvement Program.

You can access individual department budgets in the links above; here’s a link to a summary and high-level summary charts, and the budget homepage. Here’s the Mayor’s budget information page.

The Mayor identifies her priorities as:

The proposed budget will be reviewed by the Council, meeting as the Budget Committee, over the next two months.   The Council’s budget page is here.

On Wednesday and Thursday this week the Budget Committee heard budget overview presentations from the City Budget Office (CBO) and selected departments.

In Wednesday’s Budget Committee meeting, we discussed CBO’s Revenue Overview, and budget overview presentations from the Office of Civil Rights, the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, Seattle City Light, Seattle Public Utilities, and SDOT.  At Thursday’s Budget Committee meeting we heard presentations from the Office of Housing, Parks and Recreation, the Office of Labor Standards, the Human Services Department and the Seattle Police Department.

Check out the links above.  The departmental budget overview presentations each identify:

  1. Primary services and performance measurement for each selected department
  2. Strategic Priorities for 2019 for each selected department
  3. Annual Department Budget Comparisons (2016-2019) for each selected department
  4. Legislative and Policy Framework (recent law changes and how those changes impact how each selected department does its work)
  5. Major Proposed Changes (adds and cuts to each selected department)

During the Police Department briefing, I emphasized with Chief Best the support I’ve heard across District 1 for hiring additional police officers; I noted that residents of all 12 residential micro community policing plan areas in the SW Precinct listed Police Capacity as the #1 Top Public Safety Concern.

Next week the Budget Committee will meet on October 3rd for a Budget Work Session on focused on homelessness spending across all departments. On October 4th, the Budget Committee will hold a public hearing on the proposed budget and capital improvement program at 5:30 p.m.


Honoring the Seattle Symphony

The Seattle Symphony was recently named the Orchestra of the Year for 2018—a tremendous honor that recognizes artistic excellence. To salute this achievement, my office drafted a proclamation from the Council and Mayor, and named September 24, 2018 “Seattle Symphony Day”.

Here’s the proclamation, and a photo of Krishna Thiagarjan, President & CEO of the Symphony and others; Vice President of Artistic Planning & Creative Projects Elena Dubinets is holding the award.


Inaugural Public Sector Diversity Career Fair

This Saturday, September 29 between 10am and 2pm at the Renton Pavilion (233 Burnett Ave S, Renton), Seattle is partnering with 28 other local government entities in hosting a FREE career fair.

“At the City of Seattle, we’re stepping up our game and strengthening our community engagement,” says Deena Pierott, Equity Advisor and organizer of the event. “We recently released a report that shows we have some deficits based on our new City standard for measuring equity in our workforce and we’re going to change that narrative.”

There will be information sessions on how to apply for public sector jobs, assistance in navigating the NeoGov Application System used by most government agencies, and one-on-one evaluations of resumes and interview style.

The Career Fair will have free admission and parking and is easily accessible from a nearby transit center.


Seattle Women’s Commission Housing Justice Study on Evictions in Seattle

On Friday September 21st the Seattle Women’s Commission presented their report, Losing Home: The Human Cost of Eviction in Seattle, to my committee, the Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development and Arts Committee.  The Seattle Women’s Commission, in partnership with the Housing Justice Project (HJP), conducted research on the ways by which current policies and the practices of courts, landlords, attorneys and other private actors impact the mass eviction of low-income tenants in Seattle.  The research looked at factors such as:

  • as unpaid rent that triggers evictions
  • how much additional debt in the ways of late fees, court costs, and attorneys’ fees, tenants accumulate as a result of eviction rulings
  • how evictions affect tenant and family health
  • where people go after being evicted.

The researchers did a manual review of all 1,218 residential eviction actions filed in Seattle in 2017 and gathered support data through surveys and interviews of tenants conducted in 2018.  They also conducted interviews with homeless prevention providers, cross-referenced evictions with Medical Examiner’s records and examined the Department of Construction and Inspection records regarding code violations.

The researchers stress that the 1,218 evictions they reviewed do not comprise all of the evictions that occurred in Seattle in 2017, because many tenants leave before an eviction is filed.

A number of important findings came out of this research including:

  • The most common reason a tenant faced eviction was for nonpayment of rent; of all nonpayment of rent cases, 86.5% of evictions filings were for nonpayment of rent and of these more than half (52.3%) were for one month or less in rent
  • Women in single tenant households were more likely to be evicted over small amounts of money. Of the cases were a tenant owed $100 or less were 81% women.
  • In general, people of color were more likely to be evicted for smaller amounts of money. Black tenants faced the greatest disproportionality; they represent 31.2% of tenant with evictions filed against them, 4 times their demographic proportion of the population.
  • When tenants fall behind on rent due to an emergency they face very tight timelines to catch up before the eviction process begins. The majority of people (51.1%) received notices on or before the 9th day of the month, with only 3 days to pay after receiving a notice.
  • 87.5% of evicted respondents became homeless; with 37.5% ending up unsheltered, 25% living in a shelter or transitional housing, and 25% staying with friends or family.
  • When interviewed, tenants reported falling behind on rent because of loss of income (51.4%), a medical emergency (8.6%) and a death in the family (2.9%); 3% of respondents said that they could pay some, or all, of the rent owed.

The report also includes a number of recommendations.  These recommendations are divided into 3 categories; make it possible to pay rent, improve the Landlord-Tenant Relationship and Rebalance the Scales of Justice.  The recommendations include but are not limited to:

  • Require Landlords to Offer Payment Plans
  • Increase Time Period to Cure Nonpayment of Rent
  • Expand Cohabiting Rights to Help Address Affordability
  • Curb Abuses of Mutual Termination Agreements
  • Increase Coordinated Funds for Legal Defense and Tenant Outreach Funds
  • Provide Funding for an Eligible Guardian Ad Litem or Appointment of Counsel

You can read the sobering report in its entirety here.  You can watch the Women’s Commission presentation at the 9.21 CRUEDA meeting here and find additional presentation materials here.

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Budget Calendar/Key Deadlines; Richard Hugo House Re-Opens at New Building/Old Location on Saturday; Tree Legislation Update; Recycle Roundup; Diaper Need Awareness Week; Request to Sound Transit for Visualizations for Avalon station area

September 21st, 2018


Budget Calendar/Key Deadlines

On Monday, September 24th Mayor Jenny Durkan will submit her proposed 2019-2020 City Budget and 2019-2024 Capital Improvement Program. The Council will then begin meeting as the Budget Committee in a two-month process for consideration, amendment, and finally, approval of the City budget. Here’s a brief rundown the of the calendar, process, and key upcoming deadlines.

On September 26th and 27th, the Budget Committee will hear department overviews from the City Budget Office for individual city departments. On October 3rd, the committee will hold a Work Session.

On October 4th at 5:30 p.m., the Budget Committee will hold the first of two public hearings, at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers on the 2nd floor of City Hall.

On October 17-18 and 22-24, the committee will meet for the stage in the deliberation process that we refer to as “Issue Identification.” For these meetings, Central Staff provides highlights of the budget and issues for potential Council consideration. Councilmembers can also submit their own issues or proposals for consideration.  The deadline for submitting “Issue Identification” proposals is October 10th at 10 a.m. At this stage in the deliberations, proposals don’t need to be detailed.

The 2nd public hearing will be at 5:30 p.m. on October 23rd, in Council Chambers.

The next key deadline is on October 25th at 10 a.m.; that’s the deadline for “Green Sheet” proposals to amend the Mayor’s proposed budget. Those proposals will be heard in committee between October 30 and November 2nd. “Green Sheet” is the term we use for the document we use to amend the budget with either a reduction or addition of funding.  Green Sheets include specific dollar amounts, descriptions of purpose, and named departments to receive funding as well as revenue sources from where the funds originate.

On November 7th, the Budget Committee Chair, Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, will present a Balancing Package. Votes on the Balancing Package, and any Green Sheets (amendments to the Mayor’s Budget) proposed by Councilmembers, will be on November 13 and/or 14. A majority vote of Councilmembers is needed to place items on the agenda before the committee; proposals must be self-balancing (spending and revenues must match).

A Full Council vote to adopt the budget is scheduled for November 19.

Here’s a link to the calendar for Budget Committee meetings.

The meeting schedule may change, with some meetings cancelled if additional time isn’t needed. Confirmation of meetings can be found at the Budget Committee meeting schedule. You can also sign up to receive the agendas in advance by e-mail here.

I’ll be providing weekly updates in this newsletter on meetings of the Budget Committee.

 


Richard Hugo House Re-Opens at New Building/Old Location on Saturday

For twenty years, Hugo House has been Seattle’s literary center.  In 1996, three Seattle writers Linda Breneman, Andrea Lewis, and Frances McCue, hatched the idea of creating a hub for writers and readers to meet.  Richard Hugo, the center’s namesake, was a nationally recognized and locally beloved poet, famous for saying, “humanity will always survive civilization.”

From October 1998 until May of 2016, Richard Hugo House was located in an old funeral home on Capitol Hill.  It relocated temporarily to First Hill after the demolition of its old home.

After a multi-year, $7.5 million capital campaign – including $1 million secured by Rep. Nicole Macri from the Washington State Building for the Arts program, $250,000 from the City of Seattle’s Cultural Facilities fund, and $250,000 from King County’s 4 Culture – this weekend, the Richard Hugo House is ready to open in its new home, at the same location where it first opened in 1998 and stayed until 2016.  It will have classrooms and a 150-seat auditorium.

This was made possible in part because the developer of a mixed-use six-story dedicated to Hugo House 9,527 square feet on the new building’s first floor.  Upstairs are 80 apartments, reportedly with 2-bedroom units renting for $4,425.

It’s an interesting outcome, juxtaposed against the current debate around the future of Showbox.  The building that once housed Hugo House, an old Victorian House, did not have the elements that made it eligible as a Historic Landmark, and did not receive landmark status when nominated.   In its application to the City Landmarks Board, Historic Seattle attests that the Showbox does have these attributes.

Recently, Hugo House became the first literary institution in Washington State to be designated a literary landmark by the Literary Landmarks Association, a division of the American Library Association that works to encourage the dedication of historic literary sites.

Time:  5pm – 9pm

Place:  1634 11th Ave

Host: Nancy Guppy

Special guests: Maria Semple, The Vis-à-Vis Society, and the Bushwick Book Club.

Readings by: Anastacia-Renee, Quenton Baker, Kristen Millares Young, and Amber Flame

Also, open mic and DJ Gabriel Teodros

See these links for some poignant stories from local youth about the ways in which Hugo House has helped them:

 


Tree Legislation Update

Many of you have to written me about the draft tree legislation that the Planning, Land Use, and Zoning (PLUZ) Committee has been considering over the last couple of months. While legislation has not been officially introduced to the Council nor referred to PLUZ, the committee has heard draft language a few different times and have been working to create a version, before it is introduced and formally referred to the PLUZ committee, that meets the expectations of the community.

At the last 2 PLUZ committee meetings, members of the public have lobbied us to not vote on the bill.  People are still writing to me now to ask that I not vote on the legislation. It is important to understand that bills *cannot be voted on until they are introduced & referred to a committee.* Again, this draft bill has neither been introduced or referred.  All introduced & referred bills are found here.

Last week the committee released a statement, you can read it in full here. As is said in the statement, we’ve heard from community members that we should take more time to consider the effects of the draft legislation and that new tree replacement requirements are not enough protection for exceptional trees. The committee has heard that the hazardous tree designation has been misused to remove exceptional trees that should be preserved.  Additionally, I will be advocating that there be 1. a maximum limit to the number of trees that can be removed from a property in a year (as opposed to using canopy percentage as the measurement), 2.  protections for groves of trees, and 3. better approaches to addressing enforcement challenges.

Council staff will continue to work on a new draft of this legislation while we are in the budget process, after which the committee will pick this legislation back up.

 


Recycle Roundup

1 Green Planet is recycling – for free – all sorts of hard to depose of items. Check out the list of what they are and are not accepting here.

The event is Sunday, September 23 between 9am and 3pm at the Fauntleroy Church (9140 California SW).

The Fauntleroy Church Green Committee puts these events on for free but appreciates donations because they help to continue the service.

 


Diaper Need Awareness Week

Monday September 24th kicks off the 2018 Diaper Need Awareness week.  We bring the observation of Diaper Need Awareness Week to you, thanks the WestSide Baby.

WestSide Baby is a nonprofit organization that collects new and used items for children and babies and distributes them free of charge to King County families in need.  Recipients include families who are homeless, living in transitional housing, or who may just need of a little help during a difficult transition.

Since opening in 2001, WestSide Baby has distributed over $19.5 million in clothing, diapers, safety equipment and other items to nearly 279,000 children.  In 2017 alone, they served 46,000 children!  I’m grateful to have such a robust community organization based in District 1.

On average, infants and toddlers need roughly 50 diaper changes per week.  Diaper need is the condition of not having enough clean diapers to ensure that infants and toddlers are clean, healthy, and dry.  We know that not having enough diapers can adversely affect the health and welfare of infants, toddlers, and their families.  National data reports that one in three mothers experience diaper need at some time while their children are less than three years old and 48% of families delay changing a diaper in order to stretch out their supply of diapers.   Unfortunately, there are no government assistance programs that help parents to purchase diapers.

There are many ways to help close the diaper need gap, you can find more information about WestSide Baby and where to donate locally here.

 


Request to Sound Transit for Visualizations for Avalon station area

As part of its “Level 2” evaluation of alternatives for light rail to West Seattle and Ballard, Sound Transit has provided visualizations of alternatives. Visualizations for West Seattle and the Duwamish crossing are on pages 3 through 14.

These are very helpful in helping in public understanding of the alternatives. Last week I thanked Sound Transit for providing these.

I believe additional visualizations, in particular of the Avalon station area, could further enhance public understanding, and help meet the goal of attaining a preferred alternative by April 2019. In that spirit I sent the following request to Sound Transit CEO Rogoff:

 

Dear CEO Rogoff, 

Thank you for your responsiveness to the community and elected officials’ request for visualizations of Level 2 Alternatives for the West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions. These visualizations of bridges, elevated guideways, and stations are helpful in enhancing public understanding of how stations and guideways fit into neighborhood context, and interact with existing streets and adjacent properties. I am hopeful this will assist us all in meeting the goal included in the joint Sound Transit/Seattle agreement of achieving a preferred alternative by April 2019.

The Seattle Design Commission, in order “to better understand the urban design implications of the various station and alignment alternatives under this phase of review,” has been engaging with the Seattle Planning Commission, Transit Advisory Board, Bicycle Advisory Board, Pedestrian Advisory Board, Renters Commission, Community Involvement Commission, and the LGBTQ Commission.  On September 7, the members of the Elected Leadership Group received a letter from the Seattle Design Commission.  The letter included a recommendation to “immediately provide visualization of stations, guideways, bridges, and portals in three dimension context before alternative analysis proceeds.  Visualizations need to be provided at different scales and orientations, from adjacent streets and street level, to understand how people interact with these facilities.”

While the visualizations provided to date are helpful for the neighborhood context of the Alaska Junction and Delridge station areas, visualizations of the elevated options for the Avalon station area and nearby elevated guideways would enhance public understanding, and contribute to the City and ST’s mutual goal of achieving a preferred alternative by April 2019. Could you please provide visualizations of the elevated options for the Avalon station area and nearby elevated guideways?

Also, please consider the additional recommendation of the Design Commission.

Sincerely,

Lisa Herbold

Seattle City Councilmember, District 1

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Releasing Xiyue Wang; Bus Access after Viaduct Closure; ST3 Light Rail Visualizations; Bail Reform; SPU Drainage and Wastewater Rates; Ferries Open House; Office Hours

September 14th, 2018


United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention Calls for the Release of Xiyue Wang

This week the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention ruled that Iran’s detention of Xiyue Wang, an United States citizen and University of Washington Alumni imprisoned in Iran since August of 2016, is illegal and arbitrary and that he must be released immediately.

In July of 2018 the City Council wrote a letter asking the Trump administration to submit a request to Iran and other appropriate international bodies calling for the release of Mr. Wang.

I share hope with many others that the U.S. will take up this ruling of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention when the U.N. holds its General Assembly meeting in New York next week.  You can read more about this case and the United Nations Working Group ruling here.

 


Letter to SDOT re: Bus Access to Downtown after Alaskan Way Viaduct Closes

During coming months WSDOT will permanently close the Alaskan Way Viaduct, and open the SR99 tunnel.  WSDOT has announced that they will provide about a month’s notice before the start of the closure. The tunnel will open around three weeks after the closure of Viaduct; WDOT has an information page about the planned three-week closure of SR99; their webpage includes suggestions for travel alternatives.

The closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct will impact bus routes from West Seattle that currently access Downtown on the Alaskan Way Viaduct, such as the C Line, the 120, and several other lines.Bail Reform

Eventually, permanent access to Downtown from West Seattle on SR99 will be through a an exit onto Alaskan Way. Buses will turn onto Columbia, then continue northbound on 3rd Avenue. During most of the interim period while the Viaduct is being removed—likely much or all of 2019—those buses will exit SR99 at Dearborn, then travel on 1st Avenue to Cherry, then continue on 3rd Avenue.

It’s important that we do what we can to ameliorate what will undoubtedly be a significant impact, and facilitate timely bus travel as much as possible. According to 2017 data, there were more than 29,000 daily boardings from West Seattle and adjacent communities on buses that access Downtown on the Alaskan Way Viaduct. It’s clear that West Seattle commuters will bear a heavy share of the burden for the closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

I’ve written to SDOT’s Interim Director highlighting the importance of Downtown access for West Seattle, and to ask if SDOT intends to reserve a dedicated lane for buses on 1st Avenue. A dedicated transit lane was planned for the Center City Streetcar project, currently on hold.  The letter is linked here.

The plan to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a tunnel was approved by the state legislature in 2009; background WSDOT documents and planning reports from 2004 to 2011 are available at WSDOT’s project website.

 


Sound Transit 3 Light Rail Visualizations Available, Online Open House

Sound Transit’s webpage for West Seattle and Ballard light rail now includes visualizations of alternatives being considered as part of the  Level 2  analysis that includes more detail than before, including “high”, “medium” and “low” evaluations for 50+ measurements. Here’s a link to the visualizations document.

An online open house is also in progress. At Sound Transit’s website you can comment on any of the project areas (West Seattle, Downtown, Chinatown-International District/SODO, Ballard-Interbay).

Here’s a link to the West Seattle alternatives. You can comment on West Seattle alternatives here, as well as review comments submitted by others.

 


Bail Reform Working Group Report Part I

During the 2018 budget deliberations I sponsored a Statement of Legislative Intent (SLI) requesting the Seattle Office of Civil Rights, the Seattle City Attorney’s Office, Seattle Municipal Court (SMC), and the King County Department of Public Defense to develop recommendations for how the City could reform its pretrial bail practices.

According to SLI 303-1-A-1, “A 2013 Arnold Foundation study funded by the City on pre-trial criminal justice practices showed that more than 60 percent of inmates across the country are being held in detention while their cases move through the court system. In Seattle, research from an SMC study showed that 31 percent of individuals in custody who were charged with misdemeanors in 2014 remained in jail while waiting for their next court date because they were unable to come up with cash for bail.”

The ACLU issued a 2016 position paper entitled “No Money, No Freedom”, detailing the two-tiered monetary based justice system created by cash bail. It stated that “[j]udges in Washington often impose bail at an amount much higher than many people can afford to pay, and without consideration of individual financial circumstances and resources…This two-tiered approach denies justice to individuals, undermines the fairness of the court system, and imposes unacceptably high costs on the accused, their families, and our communities.” Though the purpose of bail is a deposit that under law imposes “the least restrictive conditions reasonably necessary to assure appearance” to their court date, it has “become an excessive financial burden, one so great that it prevents the accused from getting out of jail while his or her case is pending.”

Part 1 of the report was completed in August of 2018 reviews the benefits and promise of new pretrial strategies such as:

  • Text message hearing reminders
  • Electronic monitoring
  • Day reporting
  • Community-based pretrial release strategies
  • Risk assessment tools
  • Unsecured appearance bonds

In addition to this survey of new pretrial release strategies, the report discusses best practices associated with these new strategies, and potential racial equity outcomes associated with each strategy.  A full copy of the report can be found here.  Part 2 of the report will

Report back on whether LAW and SMC plans to implement any of these alternative strategies or tools as part of bail reform as well as a timeline and community engagement process necessary for reforms.  Part 2 is expected later this year.

 


SPU Drainage and Wastewater Rates

On Tuesday my committee heard the first of two presentations regarding Seattle Public Utilities’ (SPU) Drainage and Wastewater rate proposal. The Drainage and Wastewater rate proposal stems from the SPU Strategic Business Plan which the Council passed last year and I wrote about here. The Strategic Business Plan is a six-year outlook and guiding document that the utility updates every three years to reflect the most accurate and up to date information about the utility rates needed to support projects and their costs. Included in the Strategic Business Plan is a projection for the rate path for all lines of business which includes: Water, Drainage and Wastewater, and Solid Waste. Rotating every year, each line of business presents Council with a three-year rate path, which is informed by the Strategic Business Plan. This year, we are considering the Drainage and Wastewater rate.

The Strategic Business Plan that the Council passed last year endorsed a six-year average annual rate increase of 5.2% across all lines of business. The Drainage and Wastewater package before us lowers that rate by 0.1%.

SPU can achieve this reduction by lower-than-expected wastewater treatment rates from King County, updated cost assumptions and reductions, favorable bond issuances in 2017, and lower spending and higher revenues than expected in 2017.

SPU is scheduled to return to my committee on September 21 at 9:30am to continue our discussion of these rates.

 


Washington State Ferries Long Range Plan Open House September 17th in Fauntleroy

WSDOT is currently updating the Washington State Ferries Long Range Plan, and will hold an open house on Monday, September 17th at Fauntleroy Church, 9140 California Avenue SW, from 5-7 p.m.

This is an opportunity to provide comment on the Draft 2040 Long Range Plan. You can also submit comments through October 25th at their Online Open House.

The timeline calls for delivering a final plan to the Governor and State Legislature in January 2019.

After that process is complete, WSDOT Ferries will begin public outreach on the Fauntleroy Ferry Dock. The dock is 60 years old, with old pilings, and needs to be brought up to current seismic standards, and raised due to sea level rise and climate change. Construction is estimated for six or seven years from now.

The Draft 2040 Long Range Plan also notes that during the 2018 session, the state Legislature appropriated funding to the UW Evans School of Public Policy to complete a study titled “Improving Loading, Ticketing, and Rider/Community Relations for the Washington State Ferries’ Triangle Route” (Fauntleroy, Vashon, Southworth). The study began in June, and is expected to be delivered to the Legislature in January.

 


In-District Office Hours

On September 21, I will be at the South Park Community Center (8319 8th Ave S) from 1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Please note the different time and be sure to arrive no later than 5:30 p.m., the final meeting of the day will begin at 5:30 p.m.

These hours are walk-in friendly, but if you would like to let me know you’re coming in advance you can email my scheduler Alex Clardy (alex.clardy@seattle.gov).

Additionally, here is a list of my tentatively scheduled office hours. These are subject to change.

Friday, October 26, 2018
Southwest Neighborhood Service Center, 2801 SW Thistle St

Friday, December 14, 2018
South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S

 

 

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